Sailor Ranko - Tunnel vision : Prologue
A continuation of "Sailor Ranko" by Fire and "Twice in a Millennium" by Kevin D. Hammel
By Bill Heineman
Ranma 1/2 is property of Rumiko Takahashi. Publication Rights are held by Viz in The US and Shogakukan in Japan. Sailor Moon is property of Naoko Takeuchi. Publication rights held by Kodansha Ltd. in Japan and Mixx Entertainment in the US. Terminator characters created by James Cameron. Other characters are owned by their respective owners. My purpose is to honor these creators and their works. No infringement intended.
Ranma and Akane hadn't been in Nerima for several weeks and were happy to be back. They were visiting the Tendo dojo for the weekend. Living in Juuban in their new apartment had been an adventure of boredom. Since the wedding, there just hadn't been the usual number of psychos trying to pummel, beat, maim, marry, kidnap or otherwise introduce mayhem into the Ranma Saotome household. In fact, it was rather dull.
Even the weekly meetings with the other Sailor Senshi were just reruns. Setsuna was sitting by herself off to the side. Rei complained about Ami, Minako, and Makoto comparing potential boyfriends and Usagi was eating everything in sight. Although Ranma was welcome to the meetings as a guy, lately he had been changing into a girl for the meetings. It just seemed more comfortable. Akane, or Sailor Io as she was now known, had truly been accepted among the Senshi and had made friends with all of them.
Ranma still taught the other Senshi martial arts to improve the other's battle skills. These lessons were almost always in the form of a guy. Sometimes that cursed old woman with the ladle happened to cross his path. Without easy access to hot water at the dojo, the lesson was with Ranko. However Usagi's whining was really getting on Ranma's nerves. How can this crybaby become a queen someday? Seeing the stress in Ranma, Akane suggested that they spent the weekend away from it all.
So in the span of two hours, the time it took to get from the bus station to the Tendo dojo, Ranma was smacked with a battle spatula, ran over with a bike, listened to really bad poetry and had someone demand payment for his dad's debts. He also had four sex changes. Yes, nothing had changed in Nerima.
Akane immediately started chatting with Kasumi about life as Mrs. Saotome. Kasumi gave some suggestions about being a good wife and had a tinge of envy in her voice. Ranma thought, "Now if only Akane learn to not attempt culinary homicide, I'll be set."
Cooking, shopping, and cleaning were the duties that Akane performed at the apartment with an air of happiness. She was now a married woman. Finally. She performed her duty for the love she had of her husband. Yet Ranma seemed so out of touch. He felt he should be happier. No one had tried to kill him in the last four weeks if you didn't count today.
"What is wrong with me?" thought Ranma. He excused himself from the one sided conversation that Akane was having with her sister and went upstairs to his former bedroom. He looked at the very barren looking room and remembered the time he spent there with his dad. There was a place for two to sleep here. Just like old times. Now, Nodoka slept where Ranma used to. Sometimes things changed, sometimes they didn't.
A new addition to the room was a large mirror near the closet. He remembered that it belonged to his mother and stood before it. Ranma looked at himself in the mirror. Then a feeling came over him as if what was reflected was wrong.
He gazed at the outline of his face, raised his hand and softly touched the glass before him. The past few months have shaken his outlook on life and his future. Ranma placed a hand on his cheek and softly stroked his skin not really aware that he began to tremble.
In a quick motion, Ranma turned and went to the bathroom. A rapid turn of the faucet, a small cup was filled and a flick of the wrist later. Ranko stared into the bathroom mirror. Once again, the left hand went up to the chin and Ranko looked into her own blue eyes. "Who am I?" asked Ranko to herself.
This was a valid question indeed. All of Ranko's life had been spent in the pursuit of martial arts. Training, traveling and a splash in a Chinese spring had brought her to where she is today. Genma spent the last ten years teaching Ranko the ways of the art and giving what now appeared to be very bad advice. Boys didn't hit girls. Boys didn't eat ice cream in public. Boys didn't sing karaoke. Boys didn't cry. Boys ran off from their wives. Boys lied to people for food. Boys made stupid promises. Boys married off their sons to everyone they meet. Boys shouldn't act like girls.
In a normal world, boys didn't become girls. Ranko's world was far from normal. Looking at herself and the two big clues on her chest that gave away the gender of the hour, she gave out a very soft sigh. Lifting her right hand, she produced the henshin stick. The awesome power that she possessed in her hand once again reminded her that she had a new destiny before her. But where did Ranma fit in this? True, she spent most of her time as Ranma recently, but when the world was in peril, Ranma was almost powerless.
Sailor Sun had not been called upon for four weeks. Ranko missed her. The past months had finally gotten Ranko to accept that the girl-side was truly a part of her. Something that needed to be protected instead of "cured". Removing that part of her was the same as lopping off her arm. Ranko was Ranma. Ranma was Ranko.
"But where am I going? Why me? Who am I really?"
"Why, you are my child, that's who." Ranko turned to the bathroom door rather startled and flung her stick at her mother. Nodoka caught it and continued, "You need to mutter a little more quietly."
"Whew, you scared me mom!"
"Scared you? I didn't mean to. What is troubling you? Is there something you want to talk about my child?" Nodoka looked at the henshin stick and asked, "This is beautiful. Is this why you are talking to yourself?"
Ranko realized that she was so focused in thought that she let her guard down. Normally, she would have heard her mother coming from downstairs. Yet, she was able to scare her and even get a hold of the stick. "Oops," thought Ranko, "Can I have that back please mom?"
Nodoka looked at the stick and guessed correctly what it was and asked, "What is it like?"
"What is what like?"
"Being a Senshi of course."
Ranko was not prepared to answer that question. She came to the realization right then and there that that was the issue all along. "Well, it's difficult to explain. You get a feeling of power. You just can't describe it. Nothing I've ever done even comes close to that feeling. And when we work together, I feel a sense of belonging."
"To the Senshi?"
"No, more than that. Like I've been shown my destiny and I'm still... Uh... I don't know. It's not what I expected how my life would turn out."
"What else is it like? Being a magical girl I mean?"
Ranko thought about that question. Only months ago, She would have gotten a fit of depression about being called a magical girl. But now, it felt like a compliment. She had never really sat down and talked about this new part of herself and she was certain her mother was dying of curiosity. After all, there are news reports of Senshi sightings but no one had actually interviewed one on TV. So only rumors were what fueled the urban legend that was the Sailor Senshi.
"Well, when I am Sailor Sun, I can heal really fast, run faster, jump higher, I mean, I can almost fly. It's just something you can't put into words. The other Senshi are very supportive of me and they're my friends. They help me get in touch with my powers and help me to use them."
"It must be amazing. Being able to possess this power. Is there anything else about being a Senshi?"
"Ok, how about this. Why are you called Sailor Sun?"
"Do you have about a week?"
"Really long, mind blowingly long, Akane still is getting used to the idea. But then, my whole life has been one long story."
Nodoka turned to face Ranko, "How is Akane taking this? I mean being married to a Senshi is something most husbands would have a difficult time with, but a wife?"
Ranko shuddered; She forgot that her mother didn't know that Akane was a Senshi too. In fact, mom was the only person here who knew about Sailor Sun. "She actually is quite happy for me."
"She is? I'm glad Ranko," mom smiled. "Women in the Saotome clan go through so much stress."
"You can say that again mom." Ranko kept her thoughts to herself, "Ranko? Yes, that was the name my mother knew me by for the longest time. Damn you dad! The Mr. Panda and Ranko act sure did more harm than good. All that time that I was with my mother and I couldn't show her that I was her child. Now my mom can remember all those times and feel bitter that she was so close and yet so far from me. I'm amazed my mother didn't get dragged to the funny farm after the deception was finally exposed."
"I'm curious. How does this thing work?" Nodoka finally handed back the stick to Ranko and she took it.
"Well, I can't exactly use it right now. It's not something I'm supposed to show off."
"Oh, I see. Do you want to go somewhere more private?"
Huh? Thought Ranko, "did she want me to transform for her? Sure, why not, after all, she already knew I'm a Senshi and she is my mother." Ranko said, "Ok, but it does make some noise when I use it."
"Well the house is empty right now. Kasumi and Akane just went to the store to get groceries for dinner and the rest are not here."
Ranko shut the bathroom door and held the stick in the air. "It goes like this mom, Sun Star Power, Make Up!" The light from the henshin stick blinded Nodoka for just a second and she held her eyes onto her child as she did a pirouette and became Sailor Sun.
Instinctively, Sailor Sun made a pose. "Ta da! And now for my next trick!" Sailor Sun made the henshin stick disappear into thin air.
Nodoka looked at her daughter and a tear welled up in her eye. Sailor Sun pulled at her red miniskirt, "I still think this dress looks silly." Sun looked up and stared at her mother. "What's wrong?"
"You look beautiful."
"Yes, you do." Nodoka turned toward the sink and bowed her head down. "You are the daughter I.. I.. never had."
Sun was not expecting that statement. "Daughter?"
"You have no idea what is was like for me do you? Spending all those years wondering where your father took you? Wondering if I would ever see you again?" Nodoka began to sniff but held back from actually crying. Sun could see the anger at her father well up inside her mother. "I so badly missed you."
Sun felt for her mother. Genma's failure as a father was obvious. He had never even spoken about Nodoka and Sun didn't even know her mother was alive until recently. Had she known, she would have sought out her mother much earlier in life and could have lessened the pain that her mother experienced. Again Sun thought about the year as Ranko and Mr. Panda and how that whole ordeal just put salt on her mother's open wounds.
Yet, Genma was not a total failure. He rose Sailor Sun to be a person of honor and virtue. The bravery she had shown during those months with Akane in Solitude would have broken lesser men. It was the code of the martial artist that got her to even agree to be a Senshi in the first place. Protect the weak and helpless. That was the duty of a true martial artist. That was also the duty of a Senshi.
It was this side of Sailor Sun that her mother saw that allowed her to know that Sun truly was a man among men. So what if Sun was a girl part time? The honor she brought to the family was all that truly mattered.
"I secretly wished that you were a girl so that you would never had been taken from me." Nodoka blurted out, "I guess I got my wish. I only wanted you back in my life." She turned back to Sun, "All I want is be a part of your life. No matter who you are. Please don't ever leave me again." Nodoka then grabbed her daughter in a hard embrace.
"Mom, I never left you. If you want someone to blame, blame dad. Uh oh." Sailor Sun then pushed back her startled mother and changed back into Ranko. The bathroom door burst open and a small old pervert jumped in the room and grabbed Ranko's chest.
"Hey Ranma! I missed the both of you!" Happosai exclaimed as he buried his face in Ranko's chest. With a move honed by lots of practice, Happosai achieved mach speed down the hallway and into the wall.
"Get off of me you little pervert!! Oh! He just... Ooohhh... Errr..." Arms stretched downward, fists clenched and a face turned purple with rage, Ranko stormed down the hall. Happosai was still unconscious when he boarded his flight aboard Air Ranko into low earth orbit. "That should give me at least an hours peace!"
Ranko heard the door to Nokoda's room shut. She was about to knock when she can hear a soft sound of crying. "Mom, may I come in?"
Nodoka was lying on the futon face up. Her hands clasped together on her stomach. Only the faintest hint of crying could be heard. Ranko knelt beside the bed and held her mother's hand. "I am not leaving you anymore mom", Ranko whispered.
Nodoka looked at her daughter and smiled. "You make me proud my child. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would give life to someone as gifted as you."
"Gifted? You mean more like cursed," thought Ranko. "Try to cope with demonic creatures from another plane wanting to wipe the floor with you. I'd better think of something nicer to say." Ranko said, "Yes, being able to use magic is pretty gifted. But mom, while we are talking about being magical. I want to let you know that me being a Senshi is a huge secret. I mean a real big secret. You see there are things out there that would want to hurt you to hurt me. I just can't let anyone know or they can be hurt."
"Oh great," Ranko thought, "open my mouth and insert the foot."
"So, you are saying that you want me to leave? I've never told anyone."
"No, no! It's not like that. It's that I want you to be part of my life, but if my secret gets out then I'll have to distance myself because you can get hurt. I can't live with myself if something was to happen to you. Uh, it's err..." Ranko tried to find the right words that didn't involve shoe leather. Carefully she says, "As long as no one knows, I can be with you and you can be with us. Otherwise, bad things can happen. Please don't tell dad or the Tendos or anyone else. I don't want anyone to get hurt because of what we have become."
Mom looked at her daughters eyes and asked, "And what have you become Ranko?"
"I don't know. But I do know this, I was meant to become what I am. It's a long story. It's where I'll end up is what I haven't a clue about."
Then it sunk in. "We? Who is we?"
"Uh. We?" Ranko paniced and silently thought, "Oh oh, did mom suspect about Akane being Sailor Io? Should I tell her?"
"You said what we have become?" Nodoka got a little suspicious. Mother's intuition kicked in but jumped to the wrong conclusion, "I've never heard you refer to yourself as we."
Saved! "Well, I didn't start the day looking like this. And with me being the water magnet, I'll probably change before the day is out."
"Yes and now I have three children instead of one."
Ranko just couldn't help herself and let out a little giggle. "Yep, me, myself and I!"
Finally, Ranko thought, my mother fully accepted my girl side. I finally accepted my girl side too. I felt complete, who knows what I can do now. Who knows what I will be able to do in the future.
"Well, it's time to go downstairs and help with dinner." Nodoka got up and brushed herself off and went downstairs. A little warm water later and Ranma followed.
"I hope Akane didn't make the meal," thought Ranma. "I'd like my mom to live long enough to be a part of my new life. Now where can I get the antidote?"
On the other side of the earth, deep in an underground complex, plans were completed. The last time ended in massive failure. This time all errors have been corrected.
The simulations were complete. The outcome is now certain. Final checklist completed, operation has been approved. The probability of success is 99.99%. Time is now under control.
The plan has been set in motion. Survival is now assured. Phase one commences in 44 hours, 22 minutes, 14 seconds. Mark.
This story would not exist without the inspiration I got from "Sailor Ranko" by Fire and "Twice in a Millennium" by Kevin D. Hammel
Additional public and private C&C welcomed!
October 5, 2002