Negawarrior

A Ranma ½ / Sailor Moon crossover fanfic by jimra

Since we are fanfic authors, inherently, in our practice of this art, we technically violate the copyrights of legitimate, published authors, correct? So, it would not be remiss to borrow a disclaimer from a fellow fanfic author, would it? This one is borrowed from Lord Archive, the author of the very first fanfic I ever read:

Characters are owned by Rumiko Takahashi, Viz Video,
etc..., and are used without permission. I'm only borrowing them. I'll
return them. I can't afford the overdue charge Nabiki insists on.

Thank you, Lord Archive.

Also, of course, Sailor Moon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, et al.

Chapter Three: Dreaming in Moonlight

Episode Eight: Trials By Fire (Part 1)

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Exhausted from the battle at the harvesting station, Usagi had headed for bed immediately upon arriving at her home, but Luna, since she hadn't fought, remained downstairs, intent on gathering information via the local news. Curling up on the floor in front of the couch, the black guardian cat rested her head on her forepaws, affecting a bored expression. It would be another five minutes before Usagi's father changed the channel, and the inane commercials were mildly annoying to her.

A hand briefly scratching her neck surprised her, but in a pleasant way, especially when she looked up. Ikuko was just setting a dish of cream on the floor before her, and Luna purred her approval before delicately beginning to consume the proffered liquid. Even if she wasn't really a housecat, she could still enjoy some of the finer things in such a cat's life.

Luna was almost halfway through her snack when Kenji flipped the channel over to the ten o'clock news, but the lunar guardian tuned out the initial offering of upcoming stories in favor of the delicious dish before her. In fact, she was so engrossed in her indulgences that she almost missed the very point of her attendance; thankfully, the news anchor managed to say something that piqued her interest.

"…story tonight comes from southern Shinjuku ward, where hundreds of missing persons were found in an abandoned warehouse. Minano-san?"

Luna listened to the reporter discuss the situation at what had once been a Dark Kingdom stronghold, basking in his unknowing praise of her charges. The fact that there had been no fatalities, at least in humans, only made her pride in the Senshi grow larger. Unfortunately, the anchor had more to say after Minano finished his report.

"In related news," the anchor continued in a business-like voice, "the nine o'clock bus on B line in Minato ward, Azabu Juuban district, mysteriously vanished after stopping at the Hikawa shrine. An estimated thirty passengers, as well as the driver, have not been seen since."

With a sinking feeling, Luna abandoned what remained of the cream in her dish, and the lunar advisor slowly made her way up to Usagi's room, knowing that the following day would be another busy one for her Senshi.

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Using an invisibility construct, Zoisite was still in the process of exploring the vast mansion to which the dedicated, though idiotic, Kuno boy had led him, looking for any sign of the ginzuishou. Despite the numerous traps, mazes, and toxic plants he had found within, there hadn't been any sign of the lunar focusing crystal, and the strawberry-blonde dark general was becoming frustrated. Honestly, what was the purpose of having a giant whirlpool under one's home, anyway?

Zoisite was about to abandon the effort as futile when he heard it, a laugh that was equal parts megalomanical hilarity and narcissistic revelry. Intrigued by the sound and remaining invisible, the effeminate negawarrior followed the laughter to a greenhouse he had explored earlier, which was now occupied by a teenage girl in a purple leotard embroidered with black roses.

Careful not to be heard, Zoisite crept forward, watching the girl's actions. Apparently, the girl was working with a chemistry set, possibly making some form of plant extract from the roses on the table next to her. Wondering what she could possibly be making from common black roses, Zoisite evoked several sensory constructs, only to receive a great shock. The girl was, apparently, using some low-level sorcery fueled by her own lifeforce to alter the compounds on which she was working, though the level was so low as to possibly be unconscious. Still, the spell was working, altering a nominally innocuous powder into a compound that would cause paralysis in anyone it touched.

This aptitude for sorcery, something that could even precurse a talent for construct use, got the wheels turning in Zoisite's head. Ever since Nephrite had arrived back in the Kingdom talking about his new apprentice, Beryl had given him unparalleled latitude in his work as a general, and that was something Zoisite would kill for. Not only that, but from what some of the dark general's spies, dormant possession youma in various human hosts, had reported, Nephrite's apprentice, this Ranma, was rapidly growing in power and skill. Perhaps, this girl could be his ace-in-the-hole, a player that no one else knew about. As he continued to watch the girl work, Zoisite continued to consider his options, and half an hour later, the blonde general had made his decision.

Quickly forming one of his own, tailor-made constructs, Zoisite struck quickly, paralyzing the girl and wrapping her mind in a compulsion construct powerful enough to control the strongest-willed individuals. Releasing his invisibility construct, the blonde general walked toward his thrall, who gracefully turned and knelt at his feet.

"Now, child," Zoisite said in a patient, almost kind voice. "Tell me about yourself, and we shall see if you are worthy of my teachings."

"My name is Kuno Kodachi, Master," answered the girl, her voice filled with artificial adoration, and as she continued, telling the dark general about herself, Zoisite couldn't help but grin. She would be perfect for his purposes.

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Ami had just reached the gates of Juuban Junior High, the following afternoon, when a cheerful voice called her to a halt, and the midnight-blue-haired girl looked over her shoulder to see Usagi racing to catch up with her. Smiling brightly, the sometime Senshi of Mercury greeted her friend, and Usagi responded in kind.

"Luna wanted to meet with us after school," Usagi stated and Ami fell into step with her. "She said that she saw something on the news last night that is probably another Dark Kingdom plot."

Ami nodded, replying, "They don't give us any breaks, do they?"

The blonde teen sighed, saying, "Nope. Now you see why I was so happy when you awakened."

The rest of the trip to the Tsukino home was made in silence, both girls pondering the depressing fact that their enemy never seemed to take a break. As they arrived, Ikuko greeted them warmly.

"Hello girls," said the blue-haired woman. "I just got back from the market; would you like a snack?"

Ami quickly preempted her friend, replying, "No thank you, Tsukino-san. We were just stopping by to get Luna before going to the park."

Despite Usagi's obvious wish to the contrary, the blonde agreed with her raven-haired friend, and scooping up Luna, who had chosen that moment to walk down the stairs, the girls departed, Usagi's mother cheerfully waving to them as they left. It took another fifteen minutes to walk to the park where Luna normally instructed them in magic, and as they entered the small copse of trees, the lunar guardian spoke.

"I'm glad you could get here so quickly," she began, worry evident in her voice. "Last night, on the news, I saw that a bus disappeared in Juuban, and you know that sounds like the Dark Kingdom's work."

Both sometime Senshi agreed, and Ami asked, "Where?"

"Near a place called the Hikawa shrine," Luna answered. "I think we should investigate the shrine; it could at least be a good starting point even if it isn't controlled by the enemy."

Agreeing, the girls set off for the shrine, Ami wondering what the Dark Kingdom had in store for them this time.

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Unazuki was smiling cheerfully, walking with her friends Ranma and Akane toward the Crown Parlor, the grin on her face from both the history test she had aced due to Ranma's tutoring and the fact that she didn't have to work today. Consequently, the three of them were planning to spend the day together, and the redhead had the perfect plan.

"Hey guys," she began, getting the attention of her dark-haired companions. "Why don't we go down to Cherry Hill Park today? The trees are all blooming, and I wanted to watch you two spar again."

Immediately, Akane brightened, and though Ranma appeared slightly apprehensive, he quickly gave in to his two female friends' enthusiasm. Excited, Akane immediately started chatting with Unazuki about martial arts, despite the redhead's lack of knowledge, so when they turned a corner and Ranma was nowhere to be found, it was quite a shock to the two girls. Rather than their mutual friend, a short redhead was standing ahead of them, her shirt dripping soapy water.

"Huh?" said Unazuki in a puzzled tone. "Where did Ranma go? And who are you?"

The shorter redhead opened her mouth, but Akane spoke first. "Oh, I know! You must be Ranma's sister! I recognize you from his description."

"I didn't know Ranma had a sister," the green-eyed redhead commented. "But where did he go?"

"He he," answered the blue-eyed redhead, sounding embarrassed. "Um, Masato needed Ranma for something, so I came to tell him."

"He could have at least said goodbye before he ran off," grumbled Akane.

"Um, it was an emergency," replied the new girl. "I'm Saotome Ranko, by the way."

"Pleased to meet you," said Unazuki, bowing politely to the newcomer. "I'm Furuhata Unazuki."

Akane bowed as well, saying, "I'm Tendo Akane."

"Yeah, my brother told me about his friends," replied Ranko.

"Oh," said Unazuki, quickly cheering up. "Well, since Ranma had to leave, do you want to hang out with us today?"

The shorter redhead brightened quickly, answering, "Sure."

"Ranma said you practice martial arts too," said Akane. "Would you like to have a match? I may not be as good as Ranma, but I still practice the Art."

Shrugging, Ranko nodded her assent, and the three girls began walking again, their destination the park just west of the Hikawa shrine.

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Jadeite was sweeping in the courtyard of the Hikawa shrine, clandestinely observing the visitors coming and going when his construct-enhanced senses picked up a source of negaforce approaching. Turning his attention to the steps leading up to the shrine, the blonde negawarrior's eyes widened when he saw a familiar redhead arrive, followed by two other girls.

"What is Nephrite's apprentice doing here?" the dark general mentally growled. "I don't need extraneous factors; this project is complex enough as it is."

"You're just as good as your brother," one of the girls with Ranma was saying, this one wearing a yellow gi. "I can't even hit either of you!"

The blue-eyed girl just chuckled, scratching her head beneath her pigtail in embarrassment. The other girl with Ranma, this one wearing a high school uniform, chipped in, "You're both really good! I can't believe you guys learned to do all that just with a lot of practice."

For the barest of moments, Jadeite hoped that Ranma wouldn't see him, but those hopes were dashed as the girl's blue orbs locked with his own eyes. Sighing, the dark general made the barest of motions with his head, communicating to Ranma to go toward a more secluded area of the shrine, and the redhead's small nod told him that she got the message.

Turning to her friends, Ranma said, "I want to take a look around the shrine since I've never been here before. I'll catch up with you guys here in a few minutes."

"Okay," answered the other redhead in the trio. "I'm going to buy a charm or two. You want to come with me, Akane?"

The raven-haired girl nodded cheerfully, and the two walked off while Ranma walked toward the area indicated by Jadeite, the blonde negawarrior following a moment later.

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Ranma was worried, with obvious reason: if Jadeite was here, then another harvesting operation must be in the works, and she definitely didn't want her friends getting involved again. After a moment of pretending to study the construction of the wall around the shrine courtyard, Jadeite approached, still sweeping with his straw broom.

"What are you doing here, Ranma?" asked the blonde dark general in a low tone, mild annoyance in his voice.

"I'm visiting the shrine with my friends," answered Ranma in an equally quiet voice, "just like any other normal teenager. What are you doing here?"

"Executing my mission of course," Jadeite replied. "This is a harvesting operation."

Ranma sighed; that was what he expected. "Listen, I need you to avoid trying to harvest from my friends, okay?"

"I can arrange that," said the elder negawarrior. "I assume you were referring to the two girls you arrived with?"

"That's them," replied Ranma, nodding. "What is your plan this time, anyway?"

"You don't watch the news, do you?"

"Nope."

Jadeite sighed. "We're behind the buses that have been disappearing. Since the Senshi destroyed the Shinjuku harvesting station, I'm trying to replace that stock. Did I hear right that you are taking the next bus from here?"

"That's right."

"Well," the dark general whispered, "then you'll be on a bus that 'vanishes.' I'll give you a token to show my youma on the bus, and she'll release you and your friends. Do you know a construct for rendering someone unconscious yet?"

Ranma shook his head, and Jadeite sighed again, quickly showing Ranma the pattern without powering the matrix. "Can you handle that?"

"Sure," answered the redhead, "that was actually pretty simple compared to the rejuvenation construct Nephrite's been teaching me lately."

"Alright then," the blonde negawarrior said, smirking, "here's the plan. Use a shield to block the draining construct once the bus leaves Terra, and then use the construct I just showed you to knock your friends out. That way, they'll be alright, and they won't find out anything about my plans. Don't worry, the sleep construct isn't painful."

"Nice plan," commented Ranma.

"You don't reach the rank of general by being a shoddy tactician, you know."

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Hino Rei, resident miko at the Hikawa shrine, was uneasy, a feeling that had begun the previous night when her grandfather, the shrine priest, had invited that wayfarer to stay at the shrine, and it had simply grown since then. Something about that man was just not right, but the black-haired girl couldn't put her finger on what that something was. Normally the empathy that went part and parcel with being a Shinto temple maiden was helpful, but it could be annoying at times, especially when she couldn't figure out what was wrong. Negligently brushing back her knee-length hair, Rei tried to focus on her chores, but the feeling continued to nag at her, disrupting her concentration.

Suddenly, the feeling of darkness spiked, and Rei gasped, her eyes snapping up to see a group of people at the shrine entrance. Three, two redheads and a girl with dark hair, were leaving, and two were entering the shrine, one with dark blue hair and one with blonde. Rei's eyes focused on the blonde, and she reached into her baggy white shirt, pulling out an ofuda between her right index and middle fingers. Racing up to the blonde, the black-haired miko called out her incantation.

"Rin pyou tou sha kai jin retsu sai zen Akuryou Taisan!" The spirit ward snapped taunt in her hand, energized by her ki, and she slapped it on the blonde girl's forehead, hoping that would banish the dark power she felt. Immediately, Rei realized her mistake, that the girl wasn't the source of the energy she felt, but it was too late. The blonde fell unconscious, barely avoiding a nasty head injury as the raven-haired girl at her side caught her.

"Why did you do that?" asked the girl who was still conscious, sounding both confused and angry.

"I'm sorry," Rei replied, feeling chagrinned. "I felt some kind of dark power, and I thought it was coming from your friend. I guess I made a mistake, since I don't feel it anymore and it doesn't feel like my ofuda is the thing that banished it. Come on; let's take her inside so she can rest. That ofuda should wear off in about ten or fifteen minutes."

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Ranma felt some trepidation as she boarded the bus behind her two friends; while Jadeite's plan was probably the best idea, she didn't have to like intentionally knocking her friends out. Unazuki and Akane took seats in the middle of the bus, and Ranma sat between Unazuki and the aisle, the seat being barely large enough to accommodate the three girls.

"I was quite a coincidence running into Usagi-chan and Ami-chan while we were visiting the shrine, don't you think?" asked Unazuki, to which Ranma shrugged, simply hoping the younger girls wouldn't get caught up in Jadeite's plan.

"Oh, that's right," the taller redhead continued, "you haven't met them yet, Ranko. They're second year Junior High students; your brother met them."

Ranma, not really paying attention to what the other redhead was saying, shrugged again, her real concentration on forming the anti-construct shield around her and her friends as the bus began to move. Once she'd formed the lines, the red-haired negawarrior powered the construct with annihilation energy, and she formed the new construct Jadeite had taught her, ready to put her friends to sleep as soon as the draining construct began affecting the other passengers.

Almost as soon as the bus left the curb, Ranma felt the driver concentrating negaforce in her aura, and a black rift opened in front of the bus. The other passengers didn't even have time to realize what was happening before the young negawarrior felt the tickling sensation of a draining construct being deflected by her shield, and as the other passengers began to fall unconscious from the ki drain, Ranma made her move, powering the new construct and applying it to her friends. Unazuki was out immediately, but Akane required almost fifteen seconds of treatment before she fell asleep. Ranma sighed, and after making sure all the passengers were out cold, the pigtailed girl stood, walking toward the front of the bus.

"Huh?" exclaimed the only other conscious being on the bus, the driver. "Why aren't you unconscious?"

"I'm Ranma, Nephrite's apprentice," answered the redhead, reaching into her pocket and pulling out the small black crystal Jadeite had given her. With a negligent flick of her wrist, Ranma tossed the stone to the youma in human form. "Jadeite told me to give you this when I got here."

The youma caught to stone easily, closing her eyes for a moment, and when they opened again, she asked, "Which two are under your protection?"

Blinking at the youma for anticipating her request, Ranma pointed out Unazuki and Akane. The youma nodded, saying, "Alright, you keep them unconscious until we offload the subjects, and then I'll drive the bus back to Terra."

When the youma said 'we,' Ranma finally noticed two other youma in human form entering the bus, these quickly and efficiently picking up unconscious humans and carrying them off the bus. Seeing that there was little for her to do, Ranma settled in to wait.

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Luna sat quietly beside her unconscious charge, the blonde teen lying on a spare futon in a guest room in the Hikawa shrine. After helping the mystically sleeping girl into the shrine, Ami and the miko, Rei, had left the room, talking. The small black guardian could just barely hear their conversation in the hallway, and sensing something similar to what she had felt from Ami before her awakening from the black-haired girl, Luna surreptitiously eavesdropped on their talk.

"What do you mean, you felt a dark presence coming from Usagi?" Ami was asking.

In an embarrassed tone, Rei answered, "Being a temple maiden and having Shinto training, I can sense strong emotions and dark or evil intentions. I'm still in training, so that's probably why I thought it was coming from your friend. Ever since last night, I've had an uneasy feeling."

The two girls moved out of hearing range at that point, and Luna contemplated the miko's words as a man with short blonde hair entered the room bearing a bucket of water. Looking at the man's face, the small lunar guardian could feel a certain uneasiness herself about him, his face seemingly familiar, but Luna couldn't remember where she might have seen him before. Either way, the man simply knelt beside Usagi, and pulling a cloth from the bucket and wringing it out, he gently placed it on the unconscious girl's forehead before silently rising and leaving the room.

Before Luna could return to her contemplations of the all the strange feelings she was having at the shrine, Usagi stirred, a small groan escaping her mouth as the blonde's eyes clenched before fluttering open.

"Ug," Usagi moaned before sitting up and looking around the room. Her eyes focusing on Luna, the sometime Senshi of the Moon asked, "What happened, Luna?"

"The miko at this shrine thought she felt dark power coming from you," replied the moon cat. "She tagged you with an ofuda, but it just knocked you out. I'm willing to bet the real source of the dark power she felt was that red-haired girl who was leaving when we arrived."

"Red-haired girl?" puzzled Usagi. "You don't mean Unazuki, do you?"

"No, the other one," answered Luna. "She was shorter, had blue eyes, and her hair was done in a pigtail. The last time you fought that ice woman, that same girl was just standing there watching the fight."

"I didn't see her then," the blonde replied, "but that sounds like a girl I saw killing a daemon last Sunday."

Luna mulled over that one for a moment, but before she could answer, Rei entered the room. Feeling that strange sensation again, the black lunar guardian studied the miko carefully, trying to discern if Rei was indeed another unawakened Senshi.

"Feeling better, I hope," the black-haired miko asked in an apologetic tone.

Smiling brightly, Usagi answered, "I'm fine."

Helping the blonde teen to her feet, Rei continued, "I'm sorry about that."

"It's okay," forgave Usagi, and as the two girls walked toward the door, Usagi asked, "By the way, do you know anything about the buses that have been disappearing after this stop?"

The black-haired teen visibly bristled at the question, growling back, "The police have been by twice since last night asking about that. Like I told them, we don't know anything about that!"

Usagi put her hands up in a placating gesture, replying, "Sorry, sorry, I was just asking."

By that point, the two girls had passed out of hearing distance, and Luna realized that she was being left behind. After a moment more of contemplation, the moon cat made her decision, and performing her double-flip maneuver to access her subspace pocket, a red henshin stick fell to the tatami.

'Honestly,' Luna thought, now racing to catch up with her blonde charge and leaving the new henshin wand on the floor, 'I don't know why the subspace pocket designers used acrobatics as the key action to open my pocket.' She could almost hear the souls of those Silver Millennium developers laughing at their own joke.

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Ami had wandered into a more secluded area of the shrine while her friend was recovering, idly typing on her computer. It surprised the teenage genius that she wasn't really getting any negaforce readings from the shrine or the area around it, so Ami widened the search to include the whole of Minato ward. A moment later, the computer finished its cursory scan, surprising Ami by indicating that the largest source of dark power was actually coming from an amusement park called Dream Land, half-way across the ward. Keying the computer to make a more detailed scan of that area, Ami looked at her watch, surprised that she had been working on the computer for nearly half an hour. Turning back to the shrine, the raven-haired girl spied Rei, who had returned to her sweeping.

"Has Usagi recovered yet?" asked Ami, approaching the miko.

"Yes," replied Rei. "Actually, since we didn't see you, she headed for the bus stop. She said something about meeting you at the Crown Center."

Ami winced, and throwing a quick "arigatou" behind her, the young genius raced away, hoping to catch up with Usagi before she boarded the bus. Unfortunately, the bus was just pulling away from the curb when Ami reached the bottom of the stairs, and to the sometime Senshi of Mercury's horror, a black portal appeared before the bus, the mass conveyance vanishing into its shadowed depths.

Not knowing what to do, Ami pulled out her henshin stick and knelt, blindly pulling energy from her mana-bind and praying that Usagi would be able to return from where ever the Dark Kingdom had sent her.

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As the uneasiness she had been feeling all day still had not abated, Rei abandoned her sweeping, and thinking that perhaps she could find the answer in the sacred fire, the black-haired temple maiden walked into the shrine proper. As she passed the room where Usagi had recovered, a small object, about the size and shape of a pen, caught her eye, and Rei kneeled to pick it up.

'I guess that Usagi girl dropped this,' the miko thought, slipping the object into her pocket. 'I'll have to return it to her later.'

Continuing on to the center of the shrine, the large fire that had been burning for over two hundred years due to her ancestors' efforts, Rei's uneasiness became more pronounced. Finally, she knelt before the flames and arranged her robes, beginning her meditation.

"Oh sacred fire," the teen intoned, feeding a tendril of her ki into the flames. "Show me the source of my uneasiness and the dark power I've been feeling around the shrine. Answer my prayer and easy my mind."

At her question, the fire roared higher, and in the miko's mind's eye, she saw the face of the new acolyte. Rei gritted her teeth, thinking, 'I knew there was something wrong with him!'

Rising quickly, intent of telling her grandfather so that they could kick the man out of their shrine, Rei was startled to find him standing in the doorway, his face now looking like stone. Eyes widening at the dark power she could now sense in the acolyte, the miko tried to run away, heading for the other door in the room, but the man moved like lightning, grasping the collar of her robes and lifting her off the ground as though she weighed nothing.

"That's an interesting little sorcery you have there," the blonde grated out, "but it makes you too dangerous to have around."

Much to Rei's horror, a black rift opened to the man's right, and she tried to struggle out of his grip, desperately hoping to escape whatever terrors that lay beyond the shadowy portal, but his hand held her like a steel vice. With a flick of his wrist, Rei sailed through into the unknown.

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Usagi knew something was horribly wrong when the bus she was on entered a black portal, and when the other passengers began to collapse, the blonde teen knew that there was no time to lose. Opening the rear door of the bus, Usagi hopped down, and grasping her broach, she whispered, "Moon Prism Power, Make Up."

A quick show of light and power later, Sailor Moon stood ready to face any horrors that the Dark Kingdom could throw at her. Taking stock of her situation, Moon saw at least eight buses lined up in what appeared to be a bubble of Darkness, but every one of them, except the one on which she had ridden, seemed to be empty of passengers. Wincing at another perceived failure to protect people from the enemy, the lunar Senshi crouched, looking underneath the bus for whom ever was behind this trap, and she didn't have to look very far. Three apparently human women, one of them recognizable as the driver, were quickly carrying the unconscious passengers off the bus, each passenger vanishing after being placed on the smooth ground.

Moon raced out from behind the bus, shouting, "Bus are for moving people around the city, not for kidnapping them! I am the pretty soldier for love and justice, Sailor Moon, and in the name of the Moon, I'll punish you!"

Ignoring the corny lines, the driver said, "Shit, not her! Corporal, go report to Master Jadeite!"

One of the other youma in human form replied, "Yes Captain," and vanished, but the other two held their ground, both transforming into their monstrous natural forms. The one referred to as captain gained a meter in height, her skin shifting to a nauseating yellow-green. The woman's eyes became solid red, and her hands were replaced with vice-like pincers. The other one actually shrunk, her back hunching and growing spines. The second youma's hands and forearms shifted form into sharp blades, and the lower portion of her face grew into a long, dog-like muzzle.

Before Sailor Moon could attack, the smaller of the youma jumped five meters into the air, the spines on her back suddenly launching at her, and the lunar Senshi frantically dodged the meter-long needles, managing to get away with only a few small lacerations from near misses. Performing a shoulder roll forward, Moon closed with the descending youma, launching a powerful uppercut into its gut as the beast landed. Even as her fist connected, Moon realized her mistake as the youma made a scissoring motion with her bladed arms, and the Senshi cried out in pain as her left forearm was sliced to the bone before she could retreat.

Tears of pain streaming from her eyes, Moon managed to dodge two thrusts from the creature's sword-like arms before a cry of fear distracted her. Even as her opponent managed to stab deeply into her left shoulder, Moon saw Rei fly out of a dark portal toward the higher ranked youma, and to her horror, the monstrosity snagged the black-haired teen out of the air by the neck, the vice-like appendage slowly closing, cutting off the captive miko's breath.

Forcing down the pain, Moon threw herself backward, shoulder rolling to gain distance while planning her attack. Before the blonde Senshi even regained her feet, her tiara was already in her hand, and with a cry of "Moon Tiara Action," Sailor Moon threw the disk of light at the offending appendage. Having no time to see what her weapon would do as the other youma raced forward to the attack, Moon desperately dodged, hoping that the black-haired miko would survive her encounter with the Dark Kingdom.

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Luna watched from the door of the bus, seeing Moon hurl her tiara at the youma that was trying to kill Rei before continuing to dodge the smaller monster. The black lunar guardian knew that the disk of light couldn't destroy an uninjured youma, but it was the only chance the miko had to survive the current situation. Luna almost cheered aloud when the tiara unerringly struck the youma's arm at the elbow, easily sheering it off. The youma cried out in pain as her arm was severed, falling to her knees and clutching at the wound with her other vice-like hand, but the flow of black blood spraying from the wound didn't seem to slow at all.

With the creature distracted, Luna raced forward, and casting a status spell, the moon cat quickly assessed Rei's condition. 'She's barely breathing,' Luna thought desperately. 'I'll have to work quickly.'

Casting a quick purification spell on the severed limb, Luna disintegrated the youma's dead flesh, and then she cast her most powerful healing spell on Rei, hoping against hope that the girl would regain consciousness in time to help Sailor Moon. A glace toward her charge revealed that the blonde superhero's battle was not going well.

Although her most powerful healing spell was weaker than the weakest of those used by Queen Serenity in the Silver Millennium, it was still sufficient enough to ease the half-asphyxiated girl's breathing, and a moment later, Rei's eyes fluttered open, a groan escaping her lips.

Not wasting a moment, Luna said, "Did you find the henshin stick I left for you, Rei?"

Upon hearing the cat talk, Rei's eyes widened, replying, "Did you just talk?!"

"There's no time!" the black guardian answered in an exasperated shout. "Do you have it or not?!"

Reaching into a pocket on her robes, Rei produced the wand, asking, "Do you mean this?"

"Yes!" the cat answered, speaking rapidly. "Now, just raise it above your head and call out what ever first comes to mind. Quickly!"

Looking dubious, Rei complied, and after she got to her feet, the black-haired miko lifted the pen high, calling out, "Mars Power, Make Up!"

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Rei thought that she was dreaming when the cat began to speak, and the surreal nature of the area, seeming to be a bubble of Darkness, just served to reinforce that assumption. Still, she could see a blonde girl fighting for her life against another monster, and the pain she could still feel from where the first daemon had been choking her lent a sense of reality to the situation, so the black-haired miko moved quickly.

Holding the henshin stick high over her head, Rei called out, "Mars Power, Make Up!"

For the briefest of moments, nothing happened, but then, in a spectacular burst of red light and power, Rei felt the transformation flow over her. Moving with the swirling energy, the miko felt her clothing disintegrate, replaced with a tight bodysuit and short skirt. She could feel the high-heeled pumps on her feet, and across her forehead, she felt the cold metal form of a tiara. The choker around her throat was a little much for the usually conservative miko, but the sheer feeling of the power now at her disposal made the black-haired teen ignore it. Finally, she struck a pose, taking in the scene before her.

Sailor Mars could see that the creature that had been trying to choke her to death was still on its knees, trying to staunch the flow of blood from its severed arm, so the newest Senshi chose to ignore that one in favor of helping the blonde Senshi. For some reason, seeing the other superhero bleeding badly while dodging the blade-armed youma's attacks made her blood boil with rage, and Mars raced forward even as she pulled a spirit ward from…somewhere and began chanting to charge it.

"Rin pyou tou sha kai jin retsu sai zen Akuryou Taisan!" she shouted, and as soon as the ofuda snapped taut, the black-haired Senshi flung it at the enemy. Once the ward attached itself to the creature's forehead, the beast froze, paralyzed from the mystic binding, and with the enemy frozen, Mars felt another power within her, crying out to be used to destroy this abomination. Without a second thought, the red-skirted Senshi clasped her hands before her, index fingers extended, and with a cry of "Fire Soul!" intense flames burst to life at the tips of those fingers, flowing forward in a spiral like burning napalm to blast into the daemon. With a scream, the flames overwhelmed the creature, and all that was left after Mars' attack was a small pile of ash.

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Captain Daiyokou was in a great deal of pain, considering her severed arm, and with that kind of distraction, she didn't look up until her subordinate's death scream pierced the haze of agony in which her mind was submerged. However, when that pain-filled yell caused her to look up, what she saw filled her with terror: there was a second Senshi standing near Sailor Moon, and it was not the one she had heard about in the latest briefing. And much to the youma captain's horror, both Senshi were now looking at her, and she could see her death in their twin gazes. Realizing that facing two Senshi in her injured state was a quick way to become a pile of dust, Daiyokou did the only thing she could: forming a teleport construct, the youma negawarrior vanished from the nul-space bubble, hoping to find a healer at the Juuban east harvesting station.

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Tuxedo Kamen relaxed as the injured youma vanished, happy that he would not need to help the Senshi this time. Replacing the rose he had been about to throw at Moon's opponent in his cloak, the tuxedo-clad superhero listened as the newly awakened Mars and the guardian cat both fussed over the blonde Senshi's injuries, the cat casting a spell to reduce the damage in Moon's nearly severed arm and pierced shoulder. Suddenly, a sense of urgency overtook him, and without understanding why, he knew that they had to leave quickly.

"Hey, Sailor Moon!" he called out, getting their attention. "We should get out of here before the portal closes!"

Suiting actions to words, Kamen immediately started the bus in which he sat, driving carefully through the shadowy rift, and once he returned to Terra, he felt a strange, light-headed sensation that always occurred when his job was done. Leaping out of the bus and to a nearby rooftop, Tuxedo Kamen left the scene, confident that the Senshi could handle it from that point.

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Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars, and Luna, after making a quick search of the other buses in the strange bubble to determine that there were no other passengers, followed the bus Tuxedo Kamen was driving, leaving the dark bubble for the cheery daylight of earth. On the other side, Moon saw Kamen leaping away, but when she called out to him, he didn't slow. The second thing the blonde Senshi saw was Ami, kneeling with her eyes closed and sweat pouring down her forehead and cheeks, and she walked up to the girl, gently saying, "Ami, we're back now."

As soon as Ami's eyes opened, the black rift snapped out of existence, and Luna looked surprised, saying, "Ami, did you improvise a spell to keep the portal open for us?"

Looking exhausted, Ami nodded, trying to get to her feet, but the sometime Senshi of Mercury stumbled almost immediately, only avoiding a painful fall to the asphalt because Moon rushed forward to catch her. The dark-blue-haired girl smiled her appreciation at the blonde superhero, and Moon said, "C'mon, Ami; let's get you somewhere you can rest."

"Let's go back to the shrine," agreed Mars, moving to help Moon with Ami's weight. "You can use one of our guest rooms to rest."

"Just a moment, girls," said Luna in a cautionary tone. "You two should transform back to your normal forms before going in."

Looking chagrinned, both Senshi quickly released their transformations, reverting to Tsukino Usagi and Hino Rei, and Ami looked mildly surprised at the normal form of their newest compatriot, though she said nothing.

Slowly helping Ami up the steps, the three sometime Senshi returned to the Hikawa shrine for some well-earned and much-needed rest.

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It was chaos in the small village as a huge, rampaging boar charged through the streets, and the citizens of that village were running for their lives, a man in his mid-thirties clanging a hammer on the bell in the center of town to warn everyone of the danger. A young man wearing a yellow tunic and black pants walking calmly down the main road through town carrying a huge pack with a red bamboo umbrella strapped on top, however, surprised the man, and he shouted urgently, "Hey, kid! Look out!"

When the teenager didn't show any indication that he'd heard the man's warning, the man winced, muttering, "Oh man, that kid is dead meat."

Sure enough, the boar charged directly at the seemingly unconcerned boy, and the man held his breath, silently mouthing an old Shinto prayer for those doomed to die. However, a moment later, the boy reached up and pulled the umbrella from his backpack and spun, stopping the boar's charge by pressing the tip of the umbrella against its nose.

"He stopped a rampaging boar," the man whispered in utter amazement, "with a bamboo umbrelli?"

The bandana-clad boy, however, was obviously not done yet, and in one quick, smooth motion, he pulled the umbrella back and thrust it forward again, this time slamming the cone under the boar. One quick heave later and the boar was airborne, flying into the forest that surrounded the village, and with a contemptuous "humph," the now smirking boy turned away from his handiwork as the villagers all surrounded him, cheering. The man who had been ringing the bell stepped forward, asking, "Where'd yall learn ta do that?"

"its just martial arts," answered the boy, his tone making it clear that such things were easy. A moment later, the boy pulled a map from his pocket, and showing it to the grateful villagers, he asked, "Where is Juuban High School?"

The man studied the map for a moment before replying, "This is a map of Tokyo."

"Of course it is," the young man answered, sounding annoyed.

"But this is…Shikoku," said the puzzled man.

A look of depression settled on the boy's face, and he replied, "I see. Thanks anyway."

As he turned to leave, the man called out, "Wait! Tell you what, for saving the village and getting rid of that boar, I'll buy you dinner and a train ticket to Tokyo. How does that sound?"

The bandana-clad boy stopped and turned, his eyes shining with unshed tears, replying, "Doumo arigatou gozaimasu."

The man smiled brightly, saying, "No problem, youngen. Just follow me."

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Jadeite and Nephrite were discussing strategy at the Juuban east harvesting station's command center when the injured youma captain teleported in and collapsed, prompting both dark generals to go to her aid. While Nephrite quickly used a regeneration construct to hopefully stabilize the wounded youma's condition long enough to get a healer, Jadeite questioned her.

"Daiyokou, what happened?" asked the blonde negawarrior, and though Nephrite thought that the youma was too delirious from blood loss to answer, she surprised him.

"Master Jadeite," Daiyokou groaned out. "Another new Senshi appeared in the nul-space void."

With that, the youma captain fell unconscious, and a few moments later, an amorphous green youma arrived to begin the healing process. As the healer took over, Jadeite ordered, "Keep me apprised of her condition, Lieutenant Koshi."

"Yes, Master Jadeite," answered Koshi as she began using her pseudopods to coat Daiyokou's wounds with healing secretions.

Once Koshi moved the injured youma out of the command post, Jadeite turned to Nephrite, fury not focused on the brown-haired general on his face, and he growled, "Another one so soon?! How can this be happening?!"

"Relax, my friend," answered Nephrite. "You'll get sloppy if you don't calm down."

Taking a few deep breaths, Jadeite did calm somewhat, but Nephrite could still see anger in his eyes as he said, "You're right, Nephrite, but you're not the one whose subordinates are dying or whose plans are being destroyed by those damned Senshi."

"True," Nephrite sighed. "In any case, it's almost time for me to begin Ranma's lessons for the night."

"Very well," replied Jadeite. "I'll see you later."

Nephrite gave his fellow dark general a quick wave before teleporting to the apartment he shared with Ranma, thinking, 'Three Senshi already? I bet Queen Beryl will be calling me back to active duty soon, so I had better get Ranma another teacher for when I can't be there.'

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Author's Notes:

Well, a new update for negawarrior, and although it isn't as long as some of the previous chapters, it is only part 1 of Trials by Fire. I explained the changes in the Author's Notes in the previous episode, so I won't waste space here re-explaining my reasons for this new methodology. Sufficed to say, I'm hoping that this will allow me to publish new episodes faster. In any case, review and let me know what you think of it.

I'm sure someone will want to mention that Ryouga shouldn't be riding the train into Tokyo, but I just don't have the time in the fic to wait a week for him to show up, so this seemed like the most expedient and plausible way to get the lost boy from Shikoku to Tokyo in time to confront Ranma when I want him to do it.

Not much else to say, other than thanks for reading and please C&C. Later all.