Of all the substances favored in old women's tales, silver has pride of place. Some folk whisper that when pure silver is forged into a weapon, the wielder can slay that which is dead yet still walks. Others say that a rose carved of silver can discern whether a love is true. Still others say that when silver burns, the flames will not consume ashwood, though all else be destroyed in the pyre. Perhaps all of them are right, perhaps none. Perhaps what matters is strength of will, and strength of heart. Perhaps.
A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon / Ah! Megami-sama crossover story
by Jonathan Rosebaugh
BSSM is the property of Naoko Takeuchi. AMG is the property of Kousuke Fujishima.
Usagi skidded to a halt in front of her home, suddenly apprehensive. She'd failed a test again. Mother wouldn't be too pleased. She paused, listening for signs of activity indoors. If she were lucky, maybe she could dash up to her room before Mother could intercept her.
Sneaking up to an open window, she heard voices inside. "What news from my sisters, Huginn?" That was Mother's voice; she recognized it immediately.
"My Lady Urd and my Lady Verdandi salute you and charge me to give you this message: 'To Our dear sister Skuld Ravenhair, She Who Builds Tomorrow, Captain of the Valkyrior, and Lady of the Dawn, greetings.'" The voice was raspy and small, and heavily accented. It was about to continue, but Mother interrupted.
"Come off it, Huginn. Urd wouldn't bother with a message at all, and Belldandy would never be so formal." A bit of dry humor combined itself with wistfulness in Mother's voice. Usagi didn't think she'd ever heard Mother speak like that before. "Father isn't here right now, so just forget the formal courtesies."
"Very well. The gist is this: 'Skuld, everything's ready. Bring your kids too; we haven't seen them in a while. Good luck and Godspeed.' It was actually my Lady Verdandi's consort who composed the message, but your sisters subscribed to it their names."
"I might have guessed. By the way, you can come in now, Usagi."
Caught. Darn. Usagi opened the door and stepped inside, hiding the test paper behind her back. "Hello, Mother. Who's here?" Hopefully, Mother had forgotten about the test today, even though she'd helped her study for it.
Mother sighed. "Show me the test, Usagi."
Usagi handed it over, bowed her head, and prepared to dash to her room and safety. Then she remembered her unanswered question and looked up — in time to see a large raven land on Mother's shoulder. It peered its head at the paper, as if it were actually reading her score. "56 out of 92? My Lady, were it not for the obvious resemblance I would wonder if she were your child!"
Usagi's mouth gaped. "Y-You talk?"
"Of course I do. And apparently I know Japanese better than you do, if this test is any judge. Really, I'd expect better from the daughter of a Norn."
"Calm down, Huginn. If you'll remember, I was much the same before circumstances required me to make full use of my abilities."
Things were really confusing Usagi now. "What's going on here?" she said.
Mother smiled. "We're going to go visit my sisters and brother-in-law. Oh, hello, Chibi-Usa," she said, waving to the pink-haired girl who had just come home from school.
Chibi-Usa smiled. "We're finally going to go see Auntie Urd? Hurray!" She started upstairs, presumably to pack.
Usagi was beyond confused by now. "Auntie Urd? Who's that? What's happening?"
Chibi-Usa paused on her way up the stairs, turning on her heel. "Well, actually she's Great-Aunt Urd to me, 'cause she's your aunt, but she told me she doesn't want to feel any older than she has to, which is a lot 'cause she's Goddess of the Past, but I don't think she pays much attention to that, 'cause there's a lot less past than there is future, which is why everyone in Heaven got so upset when Ikuko-mama came here for a while, but anyway she's said she'll find me someone who's lots less annoying than Elios, and anyway I gotta pack," she said, and scampered breathlessly up to her room.
Usagi decided to fall down for a while.
When she woke up, she saw Chibi-Usa and Mother leaning over her. "You okay, Mom?" Chibi-Usa asked.
Usagi groaned. "Ixnay on the ommay, remember?"
"Oh, Ikuko-mama knows all about that. She's known ever since I got here. It's 'cause she's Skuld. Why shouldn't she know about the future?"
Usagi looked at Mother. "And you're not angry?" She'd dreaded this sort of revelation for some time.
"Well, no. Though I am disappointed that you haven't tapped your full potential when you fight out there."
"Full potential? Mother, I haven't understood anything since I came home."
Mother smiled ironically. "Well, to explain, or rather, to sum up, I'm a Norn, one of the three goddesses responsible for time and fate. Since I'm the youngest, I'm the goddess of the future. You're my daughter, so that makes you a goddess as well, which is the 'full potential' I was talking about. Your daughter," she said, pausing at Usagi's shudder. "Oh, stop that. I know you love her. Your daughter normally would be a fairly ordinary human, since you're only half-divine, but circumstances have, hrm, intervened." She stood up, helping Usagi to her feet. "Is that any clearer?"
"As mud. But that's not too unusual." Usagi shook her head, trying to take it all in.
"No, I don't suppose it is. Go pack, dear. I'll send Chibi-Usa in to help when she's done with her things."
As Skuld watched her daughter ascend the stairs, she suppressed a giggle. 'Oh, sisters, you have no idea what you're getting yourselves into.'
Usagi sighed and slumped in her seat. The train ride was taking forever and Chibi-Usa's oblique hints that Mother could have chosen a faster method of transportation were infuriating. Mother herself seemed to almost be communing with the train, perhaps taking solace in the regular click-clack noises. Usagi didn't take that much stock in the traditional Shinto belief in spirits residing in everyday objects, and given Mother's newly-revealed nature, she didn't see any reason for Mother to believe anything similar, but that's what it looked like to her. Mother was always hard to understand.
Somewhere around halfway through the trip, a brown-haired girl got on the train, surveyed the mostly empty compartment, and decided to sit right next to Usagi, on the other side from Chibi-Usa. The latter girl's eyes lit up as if she recognized the newcomer, but she said nothing. Usagi, who by now could notice when her daughter recognized someone she knew from the future, decided to introduce herself. "Hey," she began, offering her hand. "I'm Usagi. What's your name?"
The brown-haired girl smiled and shook hands. "Good to meet you, Usagi. I'm Sakura Morisato." She dug around in her pockets and eventually pulled out a small paper bag. "Would you like a jelly baby?" she asked, opening the bag and handing it over. Usagi smiled delightedly — Setsuna was very secretive about where she got those peculiar candies, and Usagi wasn't about to miss an opportunity to find out. She took two, handing one to Chibi-Usa, and handed the bag back.
"So whrm dghfrnd." Usagi realized that conversation would be futile until she'd finished the treat, and quickly swallowed. "Where do you find those things? I've never found a store that sells them."
Sakura laughed. "Oh, that's easy. There's this tiny shop in Azabu; it's really easy to miss it, but once you find it, you're a customer for life." Usagi allowed that she could see as how that might be so, and the two girls continued chatting in that and similar veins, occasionally including Chibi-Usa (whom Usagi introduced as her cousin from out of town, as usual), until the train drew near to the Tsukinos' destination.
Usagi lost sight of her new friend in the crowds as the three of them exited the station. For a moment, she wanted to go look for her, but both Mother and Chibi-Usa were urging her to hurry. "Your uncle Keiichi's probably waiting for us," Mother explained.
Indeed, he was, in an antique car that had been lovingly restored to what Usagi suspected was higher than the manufacturer's usual standards. "Just one more minute," he said, once they'd all climbed inside. "My daughter should be here any second."
Moments later, Sakura emerged from the crowd, carrying shopping bags in both hands. She quickly put them in the trunk and joined the two Tsukino girls in the back seat. She didn't seem very surprised to see them. "Bet you didn't know I was your cousin, did you?"
Chibi-Usa piped up with an "I did!", but was drowned out by Usagi's emphatic "You could have told me!" Not to be silenced, she re-introduced herself. "Hi, I'm Usagi Tsukino the second."
"Girls don't use 'the second'," Usagi pointed out to her precocious daughter.
"Yeah, but royalty does!"
"Excuse me? 'Royalty'?" Sakura broke in.
Up in the front passenger seat, Mother sighed and said, "It's a long story, Sakura, so we'll explain it to everyone at the same time, okay?"
Sakura nodded, satisfied.
The trip was a quick one, and before long, they'd pulled up in front of an honest-to-Serenity temple! Chibi-Usa looked strangely approving of this development. Usagi merely added it to the list of things she didn't comprehend, a list that as yet showed no signs of shrinking. As they piled out of the car, a moderately young woman with white hair dashed out of the main building. "Skuld!" she yelled, waving a piece of paper. "Father wants to see us — all three of us, plus your kid — in his office, yesterday. Get ready for some fast talking!"
Mother looked at Usagi. "I guess that full explanation will have to wait a bit. You get to help us save the world. Feel up to it?"
To be continued.
Author's notes and Omake: I don't know exactly when I got the idea for this fic. It was, I think, sometime in the early spring of '03. At first, it was intended to take place before Usagi ever met up with Luna, and would take Usagi into an entirely separate set of adventures. Here's a scene from that, the first scene I wrote:
The raven circled overhead, black against the red setting sun. She ran quickly down to the edge of the water, following him. A sword lay there, bare, just inches from the edge of the water.
She knelt there on the sand, her blonde hair pooling around her knees, and lifted up the sword. Experimentally, she turned it this way and that. The raven circled lower and landed upon her shoulder, cawing. She silenced him with a gentle tap on the beak.
Holding the sword level with her head, she stared at the way her blue eyes were reflected in the rippling water-pattern of the metal. It was called Damascene steel, she suddenly knew, and, as if that were a key, memories came flooding into her. She danced there, taunting the lapping waves, glorying in the feel of the weapon as it sang its way through a hundred forms.
Just as quickly, though, she snapped to a standstill. She didn't know why; it felt as if she had just completed some ancient ritual, though she had no idea what. A small strand of her hair slipped loose and fell against the blade. The edge was incredibly sharp, she saw, for it sliced the strand in two. She absently brushed the hair back behind her ear and picked up the other part, marveling at the fineness of the cut.
Tucking it into her pocket, she turned back towards her brother. "Are you ready?" she asked.
"Ready for what?" His voice seemed to fill the air; the high, clear voice of a young boy.
"I don't know," she replied. "But whatever comes, we must face it."
Then, on May 20, 2003, I discovered Undocumented Features. I quickly devoured the series; reading consumed most of my spare time. I especially liked the nomenclature for the Aesir, nomenclature which I've borrowed (among other minor things) for this fic. On May 23, I believe it was, I pulled this idea out of mothballs and started into it. I quickly shifted the time-frame to sometime after the Black Moon arc (but before Galaxia), since I wanted to have Chibi-Usa in it. (I do wonder how Usagi's going to be Queen in a world with the Aesir around.) It was finished on June 2, which is 1,556 words in a little over a week. This is the first fic I wrote almost entirely in Microsoft Word. It will also be the last, as Word is vastly inferior to EMACS. I don't exactly know how, if at all, I'll continue this. I wouldn't mind giving it up to a good home, if anyone's interested in pursuing it, but here's a snippet from a possible future:
Ami looked up from her calculus textbook to see what the noise was. The cause was immediately obvious; a manga volume, one Usagi had given her at the beginning of summer break, had fallen to the floor and was now lying open. She stood and walked over to pick it up, but before she reached it, the page began to glow brightly. The light level quickly shot up to a near-blinding glare, and when it faded, Usagi was standing in front of her.
"Um." For once, Ami was speechless, briefly. "Did I just see you climb out of a shoujo manga, Usagi?"
"Yep! Sorry I'm late, I mixed up the volume I gave you with the volume I gave Naru, so when I popped out in her room I just had to explain everything and that took a while, but I'm here now. So, what do you want?"
"'Late'? 'What do I want'? Usagi, I don't know what you're talking about. And how'd you do that, anyway?" Ami picked up the book and peered at it. It seemed to be a perfectly ordinary manga volume to her.
Usagi giggled. "Oh, that's right, you didn't know what my summer job is." She cleared her throat and struck a pose vaguely reminiscent of one of her "Sailor Moon fighting for love and justice" poses. "I'm Usagi Tsukino, Goddess Fourth Class, with the Goddess Relief Office. You, Ami Mizuno, have been selected to receive one wish."
"Goddess? What, did the others help you teleport here to play a practical joke on me?" Ami had never really believed in gods or magic or anything supernatural before her, ah, recruitment for the Senshi, but she'd never really ruled it out either. Either way, though, this was more than a little bit strange.
Usagi, smiling still, began to explain. "No, see, one day and then Aunt Bell and we really have to introduce Aunt Urd to Mina some day, they'd get along like a house on fire and then Grandpa Odin agreed, and Mother decided that I should have a summer job to teach me responsibility, and the Goddess Relief Office had an opening, and here I am. So, what do you want to wish for?"
Ami sat back down. "I don't know. So you're a goddess now? I don't have to worship you or anything, do I?"
"Don't be silly!" Usagi waved it off. "I'm still your friend, and very few gods go into that sort of thing. Aphrodite over in Olympus does still, but she's the exception, not the rule."
"Hm. I wonder what it's like up there. I'd kinda like to visit someday, see everything, meet your aunts, and all that." Ami turned to look out the window at the stars. "I guess I never really imagined anything like that. I just pictured the supernatural as a giant machine or computer or something, ticking away, keeping the universe running. I sometimes wish I could work with a computer like that, you know — huh?" She looked over at her friend, to see Usagi with her face tilted towards heaven, a look of intense concentration on her features.
For a long moment, she stood there, and then a pillar of light shot out of her forehead up to the sky. It was accompanied by a gust of wind, which curiously avoided blowing any of Ami's piles of paper around the room. After about thirty seconds of this phenomenon, Usagi lowered her head and blinked her eyes. "Wow. That felt incredible. Okay, Ami, you now sometimes work with a computer like that." She handed the blue-headed girl a large envelope.
"It's all in the envelope," Usagi said, nodding. "I'm going to lie down for a bit, okay? That was a bit tiring."
Ami nodded distractedly and opened the envelope, spreading the contents out on the desk. There was a letter from Skuld Ravenhair, welcoming her to her internship at Yggdrasil Engineering Solutions, Ltd. and telling her a bit about the company, the pay scale, and under what circumstances she could look forward to having a permanent job once she graduated from school, a letter from Charles Babbage welcoming her to the Yggdrasil team and explaining a little about the Computer itself, a revised schedule for the next school term, noting her internship in place of the usual required English course (Ami spoke it like a native), and a handwritten note from Odin Himself, notifying her that her first four months of pay would be withheld to cover the legal costs of starting up a company in Japan for her cover story. "Wow," Ami breathed. She couldn't wait!
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