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fukufics: Wait For Sleep 3
Filth
kurushi_ficage
Title: Wait For Sleep

Rating:  pg

Length:

Summary:


 

Usagi stood on Venus, watching the sand blow in the soft breeze.  Even with the rumours she’d heard about blindness, she’d had to risk it.

And there was Minako, standing near the centre of the garden.  Usagi moved away from the side of the dome, and waved to her.

Minako-chan!”

Ah!  Usagi-chan!”

They met with enthusiasm, but it was tempered.  Usagi could remember when they had been younger, and had rushed, squealing, to greet each other.  But the darkness that had fallen upon them as their reality slid away from their destinies had muted their voices as well as their powers; there was always the fear that they would not be helping, but harming, when they fought.  Killing innocents…

It was that insecurity about their powers more than their weakening that had called that final battle.  The demons had vanished, but so had so much more.  It had been a hollow triumph; a tie, really.  In Usagi’s mind, they had lost that battle.

She pulled back from Minako’s arms and smiled softly.

I met Ami yesterday, and apparently she’s been researching hyperspace.  All that time since she left us, since you left us, she’s been studying to try and find out what happened to Mamoru.”

Minako’s smile faltered, and she took Usagi’s hand.

Usagi, I always fight for the lover, the strong heart that beats inside of you.  But Mamoru is missing, probably dead.”

Usagi smiled, and winked.

Probably, but possibly not.  Let’s get some coffee.”

 

Minako smiled over her coffee cup at Usagi.  She had tied her hair back in a soft braid, and was sitting calmly opposite her.  When she spoke, however, some of her old exuberance and energy shone through.

You see, Ami found out that there was this crash or something in hyperspace once, involving the mafia; it was all hushed up.  But this one man survived for a few days.  He was found, and they opened the gateway with a stone that could channel the energy.”

Minako spilt some coffee on the table as her hands shook with shock.

And if Mamoru was there at the time of the gate implosion…”

Usagi grinned.

Then he could still be there!  We just have to find a way to get to him!”

They clasped hands, and nearly jumped with shared joy.  Then Minako fell sober again.

How long has Mamoru been in there?”

If he was imprisoned then, he’d have been in there for many decades.”

Minako frowned.

And did this other man survive?”

Usagi hung her head, reality sinking in.

No.  They couldn’t even get him out of there.”

What happened?”

Usagi shook her head, and sobbed softly.

It didn’t say.  Ami can’t find out how it all ended…”

 

***

 

 

Ed sat, swinging Ed’s legs on a fountain outside the temple and eating the chocolate that Jet had bought for her.  Jet had gone in there to find Mars.  Ed watched Ein run around chasing birds, and waved at them occasionally.  Then, a girl that Ed remembered sat down beside Ed.  She had grown taller, and was wearing a similar dress to the one she’d worn the last time they’d met.

She smiled at Ed, and said;

Water.”

Then trailed her hand in the fountain.

I gave it up, you know, after Father died.  But when I fell over in the street a month ago I saw another sunstone, just lying in the gutter.  The movements, the sunlight, the shape of the shop’s sign that I saw from where I lay…  everything that’s been happening since then has convinced me that I’m supposed to help with whatever is going on around here.”

Ed looked at her, confused.  This was the love-child that was visiting before, wasn’t she?  Ed finished her chocolate, and threw the wrapper in the air, watching it flutter towards the ground with rapt eyes.  The girl beside her also watched the wrapper, but with a determination that confused Ed.

Nearby, Ein growled softly, and ran behind a nearby cement lantern chasing a bird.  Then a young girl with long, dark hair came running out of the temple.

Pervert!” She screamed.

Jet, following, was restrained by the crowd around him.

Hey, what’s the idea, picking on a nice girl like that?”

Ed!  Catch her!”

Ed looked up, and saw their target running towards her.  She shouted out in surprise, as the girl met her eyes.  Her line of sight was interrupted when the bird that Ein had been chasing flew from the side.  She turned, and saw Ein growling in her direction, and backed away with rushed steps.

As she stepped unwittingly onto the discarded chocolate wrapper, her other ankle caught on the edge of the fountain, and she fell neatly between Ed and Meifa into the water.

You can’t!” She exclaimed, and raised her hand.

Burning Mandala!”

But her fingertips sizzled; the ki of the water was too strong for her fire to ignite.

 

***

 

 

Rei sat with a blanket around her shoulders, sneezing intermittently.  They had caught her because of the bounty the cops had put on her head, but for some reason the young girl was arguing against turning her in.

She peered at them in the next room, discussing her fate.

The girl with two brown plaits was holding up a dark, lumpy black rock, and was shouting with energy.

Look!  This is the key!  I know that this will open another hyperspace pocket.  And I know that this is important.  This girl is the key!  Her personal life ki is incredibly potent, and the board led me to the temple!”

The tall, bulky man grunted, and clasped his hand over her shoulder.

Even if that’s true, we still have to wait until Faye and Ranma get back.”

Rei leant further in.  Ranma?  So this is where Ranma had run off to.

The girl with brown pigtails walked into the room, sulking.

Look, Meifa, I…”

The man sighed, and walked off down the hallway.

I’ll be in the cargo, making some small repairs.  Call me if you need to talk.”

She ignored him, and sat down beside Rei.

Hi, I’m Meifa.  Um…” She lifted her board, and examined it.

I know this sounds insane, but do you know anyone who has been lost in hyperspace recently?”

 

***

 

Ranma sipped tea thoughtfully, and helped herself to a biscuit.

So, you knew me before I went into the deep freeze…”

Yes.”  The woman took Ranma’s hands in her own, and took a deep breath.

I’m not sure if you should hear this from me, but… when we first met, it was immediately before then.  Haruka and Michiru, who you saw on your way in, they paid for the process.  It was the least we could do.”

Ranma felt an uneasiness creep up on her.

What… why was that necessary?”

We chased the demons, even as they sought out the weak and darkened corners of human hearts and dreams.”  She began.

When we found the young girl, it was already too late.  They had overtaken her, and much faster than any of the others before; she had welcomed the bitterness and the dark power, and the force of her emotions helped even more.  We could only trail her, unable to draw close, until she had reached the church and reduced it to rubble…”

Ranma felt nausea and began to sweat…

 

A block of marble fell from above, and Ranma grabbed Akane.  They barely made it to safety, and guests began to run screaming through the main doors.  He held her close to his chest, and turned to run to safety.  As he turned, and she turned with him, a dark burst of energy shot through the doors and caught her in the chest.

Akane fell limp in his arms, and Ranma shouted her name, but to no avail.  Akane would not wake up.  He lifted her in both his arms, and ran for the door.

As he reached where Nabiki and Kasumi stood, shocked and gasping, the entire building began to crumble.

Was that an earthquake?”

I.. Akane?  Is she alright?”

I don’t know…”

Ranma lowered her body to the ground, into Kasumi’s waiting arms.

I’ll see what caused this, and get help.”

He looked towards where the dark burst of energy had originated; there stood Kodachi.  She was grinning maniacally, and staring at Ranma.

You are mine, Saotome!  How DARE that little rat take you from me!  I’ll destroy her, and then take you back, as is my right…”

She gasped, and fell to the ground, hands clasped to her throat.

No… I… you said that you wouldn’t… Ranma, help!”

She choked on her words, and fell to the ground.  After a few spasms, her body fell still, and then raised itself on two stiff arms.

Humans are so EASY to trick; so gullible.”

 

Ranma felt the burning tea on his hand as he regained consciousness, and held a hand to his mouth.  He felt that he would be ill.  Usagi’s attack had destroyed everything with a high concentration of dark energy in the area, including…

Including Akane, whose unconscious body had been drenched with it.

They killed her.  They killed her, and when I was patched enough to serve their needs, they dressed me up and sent me off to do their work.”

He glared at Setsuna, and shook his head angrily.

I thought I was a girl because of them.  I lost everything, and went through hell all over again, just so that their pretty pretty princess could be all happy and smiles.”

Setsuna stood, and slammed down her cup.

There is more, and since I have had the grace to serve you, since Haruka and Michiru thought that Usagi’s decision was wrong, and that we owed you a great debt, please.  Listen.”

Ranma wiped his hand on a napkin, and sat back sullenly.

Talk, then.”

I have guarded the timeline of everything for all time.”

Everything?”

She ignored him, and continued.

Usagi was destined to become the queen, ruler of a peaceful Earth with her lover, Mamoru.  However, I had never seen the battle that you and your love were victim to.  When it happened, although I was not there, I felt the repercussions immediately.  By killing an innocent, the Senshi’s powers and confidence were inhibited, and they began to stumble down the path to an unpredictable future.  The battle that was fated to save the Earth and establish Usagi’s queendom… although they defeated the source of the demons, the Senshi were injured in more ways than one.  Their united worldwide state could not be achieved, and neither could peace.  Although immortal now, the Senshi could be nothing more than the mundane.”

Ranma laughed bitterly, and tilted his chair to rest only on the two back legs.

So, her pinkness didn’t get a pretty ending.”

Setsuna scowled at him.

No, and neither did half a million others, who died in a similar way to that of your fiancée.”

Ranma fell backwards, and recovered solemnly.  Setsuna continued, her cold voice extending icy fear into Ranma’s gut.

And if humanity is not protected by the peace that Usagi’s rule can bring, this style of events will recur.  It is the nature of human spite and bitterness, and pain.  If there is no spiritual protection, a demon will manifest somehow…”

Ranma wiped his eyes, and looked down at his feet.

So, how can I stop this, then?  Is there a way?”

Setsuna weighed him up, and he shifted under her scrutiny.

I’m doing it for Akane,” he explained.  “It’s all I can do for her, even if it’s too late.”

 

Faye sighed, and sank down against the side of the wall.  Ranma had been in there for hours.  When the woman had agreed to come without a fuss, it had seemed perfect.  But her condition had been that Ranma would talk to her, and have a cup of tea.  Alone.  They’d better come out soon, or she’d have half a mind to…

The large doors to the expensive manor-style house opened with a heavy groan, and the bounty stepped outside with a young man.  Looking closely, Faye could tell that Ranma was in her male form, though why she couldn’t quite understand.

Or had the woman wanted more than a little chat when she’d found out?

Faye!  Hurry up!” Ranma called out, and Faye walked over to see what was happening.

 

***

 

Meifa looked proudly at the lineup.  She’d employed Ed and Rei perfectly to the task of locating the others that should be involved.  And when she used universal feng shui, piloting a ship hadn’t been too difficult.  It was nice that Jet had decided to go along with it, but it hadn’t been necessary for him to take over the ship’s controls.  She had been having fun.

But she was still proud of herself.  She’d found, with help, all of the Senshi.  They all had similarly strong personal ki, and she just knew that they’d be needed for what was coming.  It had been half an hour since Ranma’s call in, and they all knew what they had to do.

It was up to Meifa to convince them to do it.

Now, when the Redtail fires at the sunstone, and it explodes, the shockwaves of released energy will tear open a doorway to the pocket of hyperspace.”

The Senshi nodded, and Ami gently pushed Ed away from her leg.

Uh, is… Ed… house-trained?”

Meifa slowly shook her head.  Luckily, Ed wandered off on her own, and they returned to the business at hand.

When the gateway opened for my father last year, it wasn’t big enough to travel through, and it only lasted a few seconds before the entire pocket collapsed.  This will happed again, unless we have a way to maximize the effect of the sunstone’s stored power.”

Rei stood up, and tried to stare Meifa down.

Usagi’s soul is connected to the crystal.  I will not allow you to risk her life.”

But what if Mamo-chan is in there?”  Usagi protested.

Their voices all began to argue back and forth, their words losing all meaning in the cacophonous din.  They were interrupted by the airlock cycling open, and Ranma stepped through.

Are you still arguing about this?” he asked, eyes cold.  “I don’t have to be here, and after all you’ve done, I think you should just shut up and follow someone else’s bright idea.”

But there’s no sense in this!  Usagi could die!” Rei shouted, glaring at him.

He looked back at her, and she faltered at his cold stare.

Akane did die, so let’s try things my way this time.”

He took a deep breath, and backed away.

Meifa… you deal with them.  I’m going to go and get ready.”

The girl nodded, and turned to the Senshi.

 

***

 

Ranma doused himself with hot water, just to be safe, and changed into the second-hand spacesuit that Jet had given him.  Faye… he wanted to say goodbye to her before he left, but she’d vanished as soon as they’d got back to the Bebop.  He sighed, and picked up the red helmet.  Apparently, this had been Spike, their former crewmate’s property.  Just like the bedroom, he’d inherited it.

Perhaps Faye was upset that he was a man.  She seemed to have issues with them, really.

Anyway, there was nothing he could do but follow through with his plan for now.  He stood, and walked slowly down the corridors.  How bleeding tall had that Spike guy been?

As he reached the airlock he was going to leave through, he saw Faye standing in his way.  As he approached the door, she grabbed his arm.  Her eyes were panicked, her whole body tense with unspoken emotion.

Don’t you tell me that you’re ‘going to see if you’re really alive’, or that you’ve been ‘watching a dream you can never wake from’!  Life is life, and the past is in the past!”

Ranma frowned, and held her hand in his own.

Faye, I… Thank you for everything, really.  I thought I was a girl, too, and you were uh… ahem… a sister figure…” He blushed awkwardly, and scratched his head.

The truth is, I remembered my past.  And it doesn’t mean anything here and now, but to the person I am… the person I was… Akane was everything.  That’s why I’m going now.  To settle with the past, so I can move on.”

Faye scowled, and let go of him, leaning back against the wall.

Men, you’re insane.  You all jump at the chance of dying for a woman.”

Before Ranma could answer, she walked off, and he sighed.  Girls were still impossible to deal with.

Jet?” He called over the radio in his helmet, “I’m ready to go out, on your signal.”

 

***

 

Jet checked on Faye as she strapped herself and Usagi into the Redtail, and then on Meifa as she stood, hand holding the sunrock carefully above the bowl of the toilet.

Faye lifted off, and took the Redtail and Usagi to a safe distance.  Jet moved over towards the point that the anomaly was focused on, and gave Meifa her signal.

She dropped the sunrock into the toilet and pushed the flush, and the rock fell out through the pipes of the Bebop.

Ranma then received his signal, and released the magnetic lock on the suit’s soles.  He kicked off with as much power as he could, and began slowly floating towards the black speck of a sunstone.

The Bebop sped up, to safe distance on the other side of the anomaly.  As she reached a safe distance, Faye shot at the sunstone.

In the Redtail, the magical crystal that contained the focus of Usagi’s energy, wedged in place to focus the laser’s power, shone and trembled in its place.  Usagi gasped out loud, and dug her fingernails into the seat.

Don’t wriggle like that, or you’ll ruin my aim!” Faye shouted, but she’d already hit true.

 

In front of Ranma, a large white light shone against the background of hyperspace, and then a void was opened in the side of the tunnel.  He made it through the huge, wide window, and squinted into the darkness ahead.

 

***

 

The stability of decades had been insulted and interrupted in an instant; the old metal hull groaned and shuddered.  As Ranma finally reached the airlock, which had burst open, the opening back into hyperspace had shrunk to a pinpoint of light in the distance. He entered slowly, and again deactivated his magnetic soles.  He let himself rise halfway to the ceiling, and then pushed off from the wall, only to ram into the other side of the corridor.  Swearing, he pushed himself to the ground and tried again.  A soft push off, and he was floating down the corridor.

The ship was unlike any that Ranma had seen before; it was old and less efficient than the ones made recently, but it was obviously made of expensive materials.  He eventually found the cockpit in the silent, resonant darkness, and found himself in a huge room filled with metal flotsam.  Over in a chair, there was a skeletal body strapped in, wearing what looked to be a crash helmet.

A small light caught Ranma’s eye, and he slowly pushed his way over to the computer panel.  It was an incredibly old style of display.  Not with computer access, but lights beside each status, one that would light up green, and the other red.  All were blank, empty, except for one.

Stasis Chambers”

 

Ranma followed the markings on the walls, painstakingly finding his way to the stasis chambers.  Unless they were in those chambers, nobody else would have been able to survive the vacuum.  As he floated down the long, shadowed corridors, he fell into a numb revision of recent events.

Setsuna had told him about Mamoru Chiba, and his relationship with Usagi.  Of what they had been promised as an inevitable future; eternal bliss.  And even though Ranma still felt angry at her; still could not forgive her for what she had done to Akane, he felt that she would have wanted him to do this.

To save a man that a girl loved.

And Setsuna had also explained it to him that if Mamoru was to return, then when the demons did return, Usagi would have more power to fight them; that she had grown inestimably weaker since he had disappeared.  That if Ranma was involved, it would help save her.

Ranma didn’t care much for Usagi, but he did care for the universe.  He cared… he cared for Faye and Ed, and Ein and Jet.  And if something like that demon he’d seen could possibly threaten them.

Ranma felt a soft bump on his forehead, and realised that he’d reached the right door.

He tugged at it in futility for a moment, then gave in and pulled the small capsule that Jet had given him out of a sealed pocket.  It had one blue bulb, and one orange bulb, and if what Jet had said was correct, when he twisted the middle of the capsule they would mix.

He twisted it, and threw it at the door, backing off and shielding his eyes.

 

The blast pushed him further back down the corridor, and by the time Ranma got back there were small melted chunks of metal drifting through the space near the doorway.  He made his way through, and then came to witness a small room, with four silently glowing stasis beds.  Inside them, four unconscious bodies floated in the same viscous liquid that Ranma had felt drain from his body as he had first regained consciousness.  He moved to the first, and pulled himself down on top of it.  Inside there lay a young woman, pale and beautiful.  But there, there.  In the veins, the veins were blue.  During Ranma’s stay at the hospital, when he’d thought himself a girl, some of the unsuccessful resuscitations had resulted in a similar sight; the preservation liquid had frozen the veins, and if she was warmed again, the girl was sure to die.

He shuddered, and moved on.

The next contained a corpse; there was no question of it.  The young man had only barely made it in before it closed.  Probably an emergency closure due to the depressurization.  In any case, his arm hadn’t made it in, and there was a deep reddish brown tinge to the bottom of the capsule.

The third was empty.

In the fourth, despite all chances of catastrophe, there lay a young Japanese man.  His eyes were shut as if he were in a dream, and a faint smile was frozen onto his lips.

Ranma realized that if anyone was his quarry, this man must be it.  But the plan wouldn’t work; Ranma couldn’t tug the capsule back to the Bebop, and if he took the man out of the stasis chamber, he’d die as they entered the Bebop’s warm airlock…

Ranma paused for a moment as the idea came to him, and then he acted as fast as he could.  Reaching again into the sealed pocket, he pulled out a small bottle of water.  Then, he took a deep breath and removed the helmet.

As the water touched his forehead, activating the curse, she was already pulling out her talisman.

Earth power, Make up!”

 

Ranma choked, once, and then recovered.  Whatever protected the other Senshi in the vacuum of space was also protecting Ranma. She shucked the spacesuit, and brought her fist down heavily onto the keypad of the man’s capsule.

The lid cracked open, and she shoved the suit into the capsule, first filling it with the gel-like liquid, then easing his legs into the suit.  As it had been made for a taller and older man, his thin boylike limbs slid easily in.  And if all else failed, he would have a reasonable padding of coolant.

Making sure that it was as full as could be, Ranma hooked the helmet onto the man’s face, and checked that it was airtight.

She wrapped her arms around his middle, and pulled him around until he was suspended awkwardly beneath her.  She braced her legs again against the wall, and pushed.

 

***

 

Usagi and Faye saw Ranma enter the hole, and then disappear from sight.  The Bebop sent out no more radio signals, and the silence affected them more than any noise could have.

Faye watched the interruption in hyperspace boil and crackle with abused energy, and over the minutes she also saw how it was slowly and steadily knitting together again.  The girl was still exhausted from the blast, and she was holding the crystal close to her chest as if it would somehow make everything right again.

At least he had Julia.” She muttered, unable to control her anger.

What?”  the girl asked, opening her eyes for the first time since Ranma had vanished into the beyond.

The last man I knew who went off and died.  At least he did it for a woman who was still alive.  There’s nothing out there for him to look for; no need to fight for someone else.”

Usagi was silent, and watched the darkness beyond the rift.

Mamo-chan…”

 

Meifa watched nervously from the Bebop, from the cockpit.  The other girls had all made a fuss, so they’d channeled the image through to the computer terminal in the main room.  Meifa was glad to be with Jet in the cockpit, because she would probably have set the others off again with her worry.

It had been almost ten minutes, which was a long time compared to the brief few minutes she had had with her father.  Or perhaps the crystal was far more powerful than she had anticipated.  Either way, she wished that something would happen.  Inactivity was almost physically painful, and every second stretched out like a thousand moments, each focused on the pinpoint of darkness beyond the rift in hyperspace.

 

***

Ranma, still holding the man around the waist, braced herself to kick off from the inert vessel.  In the distance, the hole back to hyperspace and the Bebop looked smaller than ever.  But it was supposed to, she reassured herself.

They took what seemed like hours to reach the opening, and it was nearly closed by the time they came close.  Ranma realised that they would not make it through in time, and she glared at it.

There was not enough time to think, but she had to accomplish the mission.  She’d never lost anything before, not in a fight, not in any way, and she’d be damned if she gave in after all that effort.

She carefully turned the man’s body around in her arms, until he was facing towards the rift.  Then, she angled herself in what she hoped was a good manner, and pulled her legs inwards.  Desperately with every iota of power she could muster, she kicked out and sent the man’s limp body floating even faster towards the rift.

And sending herself speeding in the opposite direction.  But she saw it, as she floated helplessly away from the Bebop.  She saw his dark form in the oversized spacesuit, silhouetted against the light that the mouth of the ever-closing hole had.  Then he was inside it, between the burning sides.

Then he was through, and hopefully safe.

But Ranma knew what would follow; Meifa had told her what had happened before.

The pocket would destabilise, and collapse, crushing everything within.

Ranma smiled wryly, and let go of her powers.  Her Senshi costume dissolved, and she floated in the ice of space alone.

She couldn’t breathe; the veins all over her body were aching and stretching out from her muscles in an effort to pull oxygen from somewhere.

Her muscles spasmed, and she felt a cold hand press down on her lungs.

Closing her eyes, she felt blinding light everywhere behind them; the world was all one big white source of pain…

 

And then the pain faded, and it was warm.  There was a smiling face leaning down above her, and a soft hand caressing her face.

Ranma reached out, and embraced her.  Closing her eyes again, she wrapped herself in warmth and let herself drift off into a marvelous sleep.

 

***

 

They had lost hope until they saw the red suit, floating slowly in the wake of the implosion of the pocket.  It had been too far away to see before then.

Faye shouted out first, eyes widened with disbelief.  Had he come back?

She fired up the Redtail, and quickly retrieved the unconscious body.  As she saw the unfamiliar face, Faye crumpled into her chair, and she felt an inexplicable surge of bitterness as Usagi shouted out, joyfully.

Mamoru!”

 

***

 

Jet sighed, and faced Faye.

Look, you wouldn’t have had me kill the poor guy, just because you have a problem with his girlfriend, would you?”

She sulked, and walked away without answering.  They’d rushed the girls and their gushing leader to a hospital on Mars, and left them to resuscitate him.  No money.  Not even a thank-you.  Just a smile and a wave goodbye.

He shook his head, and turned to Ed.  “Where to next, then?”

Faye swore under her breath, and left the room.  She didn’t want to begrudge the girl her boyfriend’s life.  If Faye had ever found a decent man, she’d have done anything to keep him alive.  But it seemed wrong, that everything had happened so fast.  For a moment, she had seen in Ranma that recklessness that Spike had had, but with a difference…

He, no.  She rubbed between her eyes and shook her head.  She’s always end up seeing Ranma in her mind as a woman.  She had had stubbornness, and had lost a love, but she’d still had this ineffable sense of being alive.  Of being, in a way, larger than life.  She lay down in her bed, and for the first time since Spike had left, she felt the warm darkness of sleep reach up with welcoming arms.