A Ranma ½ / Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon crossover
© 2004–2009 by gsteemso
Author's notes (updated Sat. 2008/04/26):
I will be giving all personal names in Japanese order (family name first), because that's what the names are. However, everything else will be in English unless I can't find a reliable translation, because that's the only language I have in common with most of my readers. Among other things, this means: Girl-Ranma, not Onna-Ranma; Happosai is referred to as a pervert, rather than a hentai; and so on.
When I started this story, I followed the above guideline perhaps a little too enthusiastically, and translated even the component words in place names (whoops). While there is still no place called "Juuban" in Tokyo, and the word itself does mean "number ten in a sequence," the proper name of the area in Minato ward (translated literally, "Harbour" ward) that the Sailor Moon cast frequent appears to be "Azabu-Jūban" (just like the local subway station), even in English. (Thank you, Google Maps Japan.) My previous use of "Tenth District" was extremely incorrect, and I apologize for any confusion or unintended absurdity that may have arisen.
Of the intended absurdities, of course, I remain wholly unrepentant. One such is my brazen relocation of the Tokyo outer suburb called Nerima, within the fictional Furinkan district of which Ranma ½ is set, to be adjacent to the noticeably more built-up and expensive Minato ward. I claim artistic license.
Permutation is set post-canon in the manga continuum for both series. However, although I have done considerable research on it and I have even been sent a scanslated copy, I've never actually read the Sailor Moon manga (and, considering the reputed low quality of the English translation, have little desire to), so if I screw up please let me know so I can fix it.
I understand that "senshi" translates approximately as "soldier," but for some reason everyone tends to call them "Sailor Scouts" instead. As "Sailor Soldiers" sounds a bit less silly, I will be using that in this story. (Yes, this is a reversal of my original policy.)
Not my characters — Ranma ½ belongs to Takahashi Rumiko and Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko.
It was around 4 PM on a beautiful afternoon in the late summer, in the Tokyo ward named Minato. On a bus headed for the Minato Zoo, a pretty girl named Tendo Akane was reflecting — with a certain degree of disbelief — on the chain of events that had led to her being there. First, she had found a ticket for the zoo in her diary when she came home from school an hour previously, along with a note telling her how to get out of Nerima ward without notice being taken of it. She had been inclined to ignore it as one of her older sister Nabiki's schemes — which, however optimistically one tried to view the matter, tended to be rather "ethically challenged" — but then she had seen her fiancé Saotome Ranma, wearing quite a good disguise, disappear using an advanced martial arts technique, and her eldest sister Kasumi waving at him as he left! Kasumi had then looked at her with a greatly dismayed expression and asked, "Why are you still here? Nabiki will be home in less than ten minutes! Didn't you look in your diary?"
That had been surreal. Kasumi, of all people?
However, she'd managed to overcome the urge to look a gift horse in the mouth long enough to escape Nerima unobserved, and had since concluded that it would be nice to have an afternoon with Ranma and without all their rivals. She just hoped that he would be in one of his less childish moods — they'd both come close enough to accidentally revealing their true feelings for each other that she no longer felt quite as insecure towards him, and when he felt the same way enough to respond to her as a teenager would, rather than a twelve-year-old, they both felt on top of the world. Of course, she still occasionally found it necessary to chastise him for what she thought were womanizing ways.
Meanwhile, a few dozen blocks away, a bandanna-wearing boy bounded across the rooftops on a direct line from the Tendo house to the same zoo. This was Saotome Ranma, fairly convincingly disguised as his friend and greatest rival, Hibiki Ryoga. He was just as surprised at Kasumi's plan as Akane, but agreed with her that it was a good idea. His disguise would be shot if anyone noticed that he wasn't apparently lost yet, but no one was watching him for long enough to tell, so he soon arrived safely, with no one the wiser.
The admissions lady took his ticket and waved him through, and he quickly ducked into a washroom to shed his disguise. Emerging a few moments later, he scanned the crowd and realized there was a minor hiccup in the plan. Where was he supposed to meet Akane? Looking around again, this time at the buildings, he saw a tallish structure further into the zoo that looked like it would command a good view of the grounds around the entrance, and bounded off towards it.
Vexingly, there were no other buildings nearby to use as stepping stones — just a tall hedge that concealed most of the building and its grounds from view. Ranma was on the back side of it, in a different zone of the zoo that was devoted to large herbivores like yaks and reindeer. He wasn't sure what the building was for, but he thought he'd seen a lot of birds on the other side of the hedge while bounding towards it, so he ignored the whole subject in favour of figuring the best way to get to the roof. He soon settled on a running jump, and in mere moments discovered his mistake: The building had a false front that extended all the way around it, and he, having jumped over this, was now plunging helplessly towards a glass roof over some kind of large animal pens.
Naturally, it was the back of the tiger exhibit.
The tigers were not pleased to be showered in bits of broken glass. They approached the strange ærial she-human in their swimming pool and complained about it.
Meanwhile, at the front of the tiger exhibit, a handsome man wearing a sequinned vest was explaining to a small but enthralled audience how tigers were tamed for the circus, with the aid of various props such as a bullwhip and a large, bloody steak. At one end of the front row, Tsukino Usagi and her friends Aino Minako, Hino Rei, Kino Makoto and Tomoe Hotaru hung on his every word. They were secretly the Sailor Soldiers Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, respectively, enjoying a rare afternoon off.
They'd come just to see the tamer of big cats, on the slightly boy-crazed recommendation of Minako and Makoto, and so far were quite happy they had. Their comrades Mizuno Ami, Ten'ō Haruka, Kaiō Michiru, and Meiō Setsuna — respectively, Sailors Mercury, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto — had been variously unable to come, or else not particularly interested, and sent their regrets. Hotaru, being the youngest by several years, hadn't been especially interested in the trainer's manly attributes either, but had come along anyway on the grounds that she needed to get out more.
The show was about half over when, suddenly, there came a faint crashing noise from the back of the exhibit. A few minutes later, the show was abruptly cancelled as several frightened tigers came running out, at full speed, as though there were a demon at their heels. The crowd screamed as both they and the tigers realized the wall was not high enough to restrain a truly terrified big cat, and within seconds the chaos was total. The off-duty Sailors quickly ducked behind the hedge they were sitting next to, and made it into the lee of the foliage, up against the building. A few seconds of pushing and some unladylike swearwords got them far enough in that no one could see them, and they quickly transformed to their Sailor identities.
"I counted four tigers. You guys go after them and I'll try to calm down the crowd. Go!" cried Sailor Moon, who had transformed directly to her Eternal form after forming her plan on the way into the hedge. The others split up and headed after the tigers. Moon concentrated on projecting an aura of peace and confidence as she addressed the crowd. Soon she'd arrested the wave of panic — due in no small part to the tigers having each left as soon as they found a way out — and she was just about to leave to help with the roundup, when something in the now-empty tiger pit caught her eye.
It was a redheaded girl who appeared to be in her early teens, wearing baggy clothing. Inexplicably, it looked almost like she was covered in fine cuts and lacerations, and — and this was really strange — she was walking on all fours, and doing it so casually, it almost looked more natural to her than walking upright!
Eternal Sailor Moon boggled at her. How had she gotten in there? And was that blood?
Ranma-the-cat was not happy. She was wet and covered in small cuts, she was in a strange place outside of her territory, and not only was her mate conspicuously absent, so was everyone else she knew! Not finding any other way to go, she wandered aimlessly after the Other Cats she'd chased off. She soon emerged into a bright sunny place outdoors, which seemed like a positive start. She poked around the tiger stage long enough to make certain no one familiar could be scented, and was just finishing when a shouting figure in khakis impinged on her awareness. She puffed herself up and hissed, but that didn't seem to work very well; the shouter merely called over more shouters. She was starting to feel hemmed in, and began seeking a good place to jump to on the wall above them.
Who was that? Her aura spoke to Ranma's feline mind of warm laps, and a mother cat's caring petting. Ranma, cat or otherwise, had a powerful desire to be mothered when she felt as lousy as she currently felt, though she almost never let herself show it. As her human perspective was not around to foul things up with shyness or excessive machismo, there wasn't even a decision to be made, really. With a joyous "Prrp!" noise — which meant, "Mommy!" — Ranma-the-cat bounded over the astounded zookeepers and landed on the wall next to Eternal Sailor Moon, who backed away a few steps with some alarm.
The blonde superheroine stopped when the strange girl looked beseechingly at her and meowed piteously. "Do— do you need help?" she asked hesitantly.
"Mrraow!" replied Ranma-the-cat brightly, with the kind of authority that only a cat can manage. She hopped down off the wall and came closer. Sailor Moon stood her ground, watching carefully. The strange girl was obviously not herself, but didn't seem to be dangerous. Still, was she what the tigers had fled from? Sailor Moon may not have been running away, but she wasn't exactly relaxed either.
Just then, the other Sailors returned, the zookeepers having taken the tigers off their hands. They came around the corner of the hedge that marked the pathway past all the exhibits, just in time to see a faintly blood-covered lunatic on all fours hop off the wall at Sailor Moon — whose body language stated emphatically that she would rather not be in its way. They broke out into a run, crying out to Sailor Moon as they went.
Ranma-the-cat was spooked. Loud, powerful strangers, running right at her! She decided she didn't feel like fighting until she had a nap and something to eat, preferably in a familiar place, and ducked behind the one with the friendly aura. (Give her a solid meal, mind you, and she'd love a good challenge; but none seemed to be forthcoming.)
The onrushing Sailors saw her change in behaviour and relaxed. It was hard to think of the strange girl as a threat when she was hiding behind Sailor Moon and blinking owlishly at them around the other side of the Pretty Soldier's knees. They pulled up a few paces short so as not to spook the girl any further, and began trying to talk to her. They naturally enough completely failed to elicit any kind of human response, and were baffled as to what they should do next, when Saturn hit on the idea of treating her as the cat she obviously thought she was.
"Hey there kitty cat, wanna be friends? Prrrroww? Here, kitty, kitty…" she asked, hunkering down in front of Ranma-the-cat and gently extending her knuckles to be sniffed.
"Come on, Saturn, that can't possibly wor— good GODS, it DID," said Sailor Mars, watching Ranma-the-cat cautiously sniff Saturn's hand and then tentatively rub her cheek up against the Sailor's knees, purring hesitantly. The cat-girl squeaked and pulled back, looking miserable, as the little and not-so-little glass cuts all down her side and arms protested this treatment.
"Awww, the poor thing's all hurt!" said Saturn, and gently reached down with faintly radiant hands to heal the cuts.
The purring came back, much louder than before, and Ranma-the-cat fairly glowed with joy as the other Sailors all gently began petting her too. These people may have been powerful, but they obviously meant her no harm. Weird, but she wasn't about to complain.
"Hmm, I wonder…" said Jupiter, looking around. She quickly spotted an abandoned balloon-on-a-string vendor's cart a short way off, and borrowed a length of twine from it. When she came back, she tried dangling the string for the cat-girl to chase.
Sure enough, the twitching end of it was eagerly pounced on by the redhead, who was grinning almost from ear to ear by this point. The way she somehow managed to shred the pavement where she came down, as well as the string, was rather sobering for the Sailors. While Ranma-the-cat hadn't apparently touched the ground yet at the precise moment of its laceration, it pretty much had to have been her that did it, so none of them felt too inclined to treat her as a cuddly house pet any more.
"Is she a monster in disguise? But she's so friendly and shy!" said Venus, voicing the confusion they all shared.
"I saw her aura flare when she did that. The outer part just past her fingertips — which is what did the cutting, I think — it was practically blinding, it was so bright. She's got way stronger chi than a normal girl should… but it felt normal, not evil or corrupt like a demon's would have," put in Mars. "Come to think of it, it looks a lot more… ordered? …than most auras do, too. I'm sure I've seen that somewhere before, but where?" she mused, half to herself.
A little ways off, Sailor Jupiter was trying to stop Ranma-the-cat from picking up the longest fragment of string in her mouth, but with the necessary precaution of staying out of the invisible claws' range, Jupiter wasn't having a lot of luck. Fortunately, the redhead seemed to be treating her attempts at dissuasion as some sort of game of tag. Less fortunately, the ground wasn't terribly clean where Ranma-the-cat was trying to close her teeth on the string. Finally, Jupiter gave up and picked the thing up herself, this time dangling it in the air in front of the cat-girl rather than on the pavement, in hopes that it would last longer that way.
"Possession victims?" suggested Saturn uncertainly, distracted by the disconcerting sight of Ranma-the-cat rolling on her back in order to use all four limbs to swat at the end of the string.
"Mmm, no, I doubt it. The added structure with those is all dark and twisted, I mean really wrong, on so many levels… What I'm seeing with kitty-girl here is GOOD GRIEF!" Ranma-the-cat had just manifested a full set of hind claws as well as the ones on her hands, to the shrine maiden's consternation, which quickly spread to the others as they figured out what they were looking at. (While only Sailor Mars could actually see the claw-shaped modifications to Ranma-the-cat's chi flows at toe- and fingertips, the others could discern eye-wateringly faint ripples in the air if they looked hard enough.) "Um, that is, everything about her aura just screams 'health and vitality'. It's not twisted into the wrong order like with a possession victim, it's like… almost the normal pattern, but taken to a ridiculous extreme of high intensity and definition." Mars gave the upside-down cat-girl a puzzled look.
After a short pause while they all digested this, Jupiter suggested, "Maybe she's a normal girl that something happened to?"
Even as she spoke, Ranma-the-cat succeeded in yanking the string out of her fingers, and rolled onto one side to gnaw on it, making happy but possessive little growly noises as she chewed. (Any readers who have ever heard a cat, forced by circumstance to share a large kill, will know exactly what she sounded like.)
"That's got my vote. We should get her away from here and try to help her. Use the string, she should follow it," decided Sailor Venus.
"Come on, we're drawing a crowd," agreed Moon, wincing as the redhead swallowed a big shred of the rapidly dwindling string.
After a brief delay while they determined that the string was in an extremely posthumous condition and rustled up a replacement, the five girls who were magical and the one girl who was a cat (and also magical, or at least cursed) quickly made good their escape from the public eye. They came to rest soon after on the broad expanse of roofing over the aquarium exhibits, in a low spot where no one could see them. The Sailors took seats on a cluster of squat HVAC units and proceeded to argue about the cat-girl, who meanwhile was rubbing up against their legs and trying to get them interested in either petting her or playing with the string again.
Abruptly, she leapt into Moon's lap, purring loudly, and curled up. "What do I do⁈" squeaked Sailor Moon. "What if she starts to knead, with those claws?"
"Don't push her off, she might try to claw into your lap to keep her balance!" said Mars, urgently.
"What if we help her right now, before anything bad has time to happen?" asked Saturn.
"Huh?" asked everyone else.
"If I try to use my healing on her head and Sailor Moon helps me with the Silver Crystal, we might be able to bring her back to herself!" explained Saturn eagerly.
"Worth a shot glass in the night, I guess," said Venus. The others ignored the hideously mangled figure of speech with hardly any wincing at all.
Just then, Ranma-the-cat rolled over in Moon's lap, hands and feet curled up above her, with a huge smile on her face and still purring loudly. She appeared to be hoping the Pretty Soldier would rub her… let's just call it her belly. "Whew!" said the deeply embarrassed Sailor Moon, pulling out the Silver Crystal with impressive speed. "Quick, let's do it now while it's safe!"
One display of powerful sparkly lights later, Ranma-no-longer-a-cat sprang ramrod-straight in her position across Moon's lap, and before anyone could recover enough from their startlement to catch her, promptly rolled off onto the roof in a painful-looking manner.
"Unconscious, but her pulse is okay," reported Jupiter, kneeling beside the stricken redhead.
"I suddenly have this sinking feeling we goofed. Shouldn't she be awake?" asked Saturn, with trepidation.
"You'd think so," replied Moon, looking concernedly at the girl sprawled awkwardly at her feet.
Mars suggested, "Let's do what we should have done first, and try a fire reading or ask Pluto or something."
"Good plan. Let's do a Sailor Teleport to Saturn's house and ask Pluto," said Venus decisively. The others agreed, and it was quickly done.
Akane was becoming very worried. The bus had gotten her to the zoo just in time to see a pair of tranquillized tigers get hauled away on carts, right out in the middle of all the people. She'd been relieved at first that there was no sign of a terrified Ranma, and decided to go check where the tiger exhibit was so they could avoid it on their date when he did show up. Then, to her astonished distress, she'd come around a corner only to see a female Ranma-the-cat merrily chasing some Sailor Soldiers into the convoluted roofline over the marine animal exhibits, far enough away that she knew she had no hope of catching up. Seeing an urban legend come to life was all well and good, though not very exciting compared to the chaos that swirled around Furinkan district on a regular basis, but she knew it couldn't be a good thing that Ranma-the-cat had apparently decided they were his lunch.
Akane continued trying to find out from the other eyewitnesses where the Sailors might have headed to, but she knew in her heart it was hopeless.
With a gentle pfmf of equalizing air pressure, five girls in indecently short skirts and one unconscious girl in really baggy Chinese silks appeared in Hotaru's bedroom. The Sailors quickly dropped their transformations before their erstwhile passenger could wake up and ask awkward questions, laid her carefully on the bed, and fanned out to look for Setsuna, Sailor Pluto.
Setsuna was nowhere to be found, in uniform or out of it. They met back in Hotaru's room to decide what to do instead.
Makoto suggested, "Maybe we could take her to Ami's mom at the hospital?"
"Would they be able to do anything about a magically induced state of unconsciousness, though?" wondered Rei.
The point quickly became moot, as a loud groan brought all eyes to bear on the former cat-girl they'd rescued.
"You're awake! Can you sit up?" asked Minako, who was closest.
"Glrzbv… ungh… oggg… Er. Hhhhhk. Hhheh. Hhel-hello?" said the girl on the bed, groggily, as though working out from scratch how to assemble the sounds of speech using a human throat.
"Oh, goody! You're talking now, instead of meowing. Can you remember anything?" asked Usagi.
There was a short pause while the girl thought about that, an increasingly baffled and distraught expression forming on her face. "No! Nothing! Do any of you know who I am?" she burst out desperately.
The other five girls all looked worriedly back and forth, silently asking one another how they could possibly answer their luckless guest when each of them was entirely too aware they didn't know her from a hole in the ground. After a few awkward moments of this, Minako belatedly put on a reassuring smile and said, "Well, we don't know your name, but SOMEBODY out there has to, and we'll help you find it. It's just a matter of time, right?"
"Yeah!" chimed in Usagi. She was about to continue, when it became obvious that something weighty had occurred to the amnesiac she was addressing.
"Umm… if you don't know me, how did I get in your bedroom? It's not familiar at ALL, so I doubt it's mine…" The nameless girl was looking rather apprehensive, glancing suspiciously from side to side as though expecting a nasty surprise at any moment.
Makoto hastened to set the girl's mind at ease. "We were asked to look after you by the Sailor Soldiers… you were, um, not exactly yourself when they found you."
" 'Sailor Soldiers?' " the girl asked skeptically.
"They're, ah, kind of the local magical girls," supplied Rei carefully. "They kill demons and rescue people, and save the world and stuff like that."
"Oh." The still anonymous Ranma looked a bit lost at this, as indeed she would have even with her memory intact. Magical girls were something more or less entirely outside her experience, as even the fictional ones were generally to be found in manga aimed at young girls — a type of literature which Ranma would ordinarily not be caught dead near, out of the absolute certainty that someone would misinterpret the situation and develop an inappropriately extreme reaction.
Seeing that their guest really didn't know how to take that, and not liking to see anyone worry more than they needed to, Hotaru piped up with, "Don't worry, you'll be okay with us! We may not know your name, but we're really good at taking care of people!"
Unfortunately, bringing attention back to their complete lack of any knowledge of the stranger wasn't the best possible move. Despite herself, the ex-cat-girl in question was just short of panicking as she thought her situation through. "Where will I go? I don't even know my own name, I can't find where I live without any clues!"
"For the moment, you can stay here," said a new voice from the doorway.
"Michiru-mama!" exclaimed Hotaru happily. Parents always know what to do, right?
"Oh, thank you so much!" cried the girl, blowing out a huge sigh of relief. "I didn't know what to do!"
Michiru didn't disappoint as a parental figure, and immediately began laying out solutions. "Setsuna, our other housemate, works at Hotaru's school, and she should be able to find out if you're in the education ministry's computers anywhere. In the meantime, we should pick a name for you. 'Hey, you!' just lacks that certain something, I find."
"She's Koneko!" said Usagi at once.
"Ixnay!" hissed Rei behind the redhead's back.
"'Kitten?' Why would you name me after one of those evil little monsters?" the girl wondered.
"Just calling you 'cat' would be kinda weird, but 'kitten' is — wait a minute, since when are kittens bad?" Usagi was puzzled. Still behind amnesiac-Ranma's back, Rei clapped her hands to her head in frustration. Usagi didn't notice.
"I just don't like them. I don't know why, I just know they're evil," said the girl.
"Well, if cat names are out, we'll have to think of something better. Why don't you go get cleaned up, and we can think of names for you to pick from while you do that?" suggested Michiru. "I'm sure you'd feel better showered and in clean clothes."
This idea met with general acclaim, and Hotaru enthusiastically dragged the still nameless redhead out of the room to show her the facilities.
Michiru waited with one ear cocked at the hallway until they were out of earshot, and then addressed the others. "Now maybe you can explain what's going on that you couldn't say over our communicators."
"Yes, we were wondering too," said the newly arrived Ami, following Haruka in from the hallway.
"I mean… cats? What's up with that?" added Haruka.
The four Inners who'd been at the zoo managed to get the important points across by the time Hotaru came back a few minutes later, looking a bit confused. "Mama? Papa? Why would a bathroom make somebody nervous?"
"Huh?" said everyone.
"What do you mean?" asked Michiru.
"She got kind of twitchy and said the shower-bath made her nervous. She didn't know why," explained Hotaru.
"Simply put, conditioning from about a year and a half of having 'water' come to imply 'humiliation and misery' whenever she encountered it," came a voice from behind Usagi.
"Eeeeek!" she screamed, whirling around. "Don't DO that!"
Setsuna merely cocked an eyebrow and continued. "Her name is Saotome Ranma, she is one of the best martial artists in the world, and although she seems not to realize it, she has been mistreated for most of her life, usually in the name of training or honour. The worst thing that was ever done to her is that body she was wearing. She's really a boy who is cursed to flip genders when doused with water — cold water makes him female, hot makes her male—"
A gut-wrenching scream of terror echoed through the house from the bathroom, serving as a backdrop to the tableau of horrified expressions in Hotaru's room.
"—like that," Setsuna finished sadly.
The nine girls piled to a halt outside the bathroom door, through which it could be heard that the water had stopped — but, to judge by the gibbering and sobbing, the terror had not. The younger of them automatically looked to the three older girls for guidance — the person on the other side of the door needed their help, but was probably a naked male. A certain amount of indecision resulted.
"Only one or two of us should go in. A horde of strangers will throw him even further off balance," said Setsuna quietly.
"Me and Hotaru. I certainly don't care about a guy's privates and Hotaru was the one he saw most of before he got in the shower," said Haruka crisply. "You can look the other way," she added to the furiously blushing Hotaru.
"It's all right! We know what happened to you! Hotaru's coming in to help you!" called Michiru through the door, as encouragingly as possible. The gibbering stopped, though the sobbing didn't change.
Haruka led Hotaru into the bathroom, pushing the door to behind her but not latching it. "It'll be okay," said Hotaru gently, her concern overriding her shyness sufficiently for her to wrap one arm around the huddled emotional wreck in the shower stall. It helped that he was balled up so tightly that nothing embarrassing was visible.
"How can it be okay? I'm a freak!" sobbed the amnesiac Ranma, miserably. "I don't even know if I'm a girl or a guy!"
"Really? Neither body feels wrong to you at all?" asked Haruka, surprised.
Ranma pulled himself together a bit at that, and thought about it while absently wiping some of the tears away. "No," he said finally, looking a bit puzzled. "So which am I? You must know, you knew what happened to me."
"You started off as a guy, but it sounds like you've grown since then. Now you're both."
"Doesn't that make me a freak? No one else changes like this, do they?" Ranma felt very, very lost, small and most of all alone, despite Hotaru hugging him.
"I think it makes you very special," Hotaru said shyly. "Do you want to be friends?"
Ranma looked at her incredulously. She smiled and nodded. Ranma's tears started flowing again, this time with relief and gratitude. "Yeah, Hotaru-chan, I'd like that a lot," he said huskily, smiling tremulously. Then he looked at Haruka, nervously.
"I'd like us to be friends, too," she smiled. He smiled back, a bit more firmly this time.
"Awww!" said the Inners, watching from the gap in the door.
Ranma suddenly realized he was naked and in a bathtub with two girls, with a whole pile of other girls watching. Reflexes took over. "Aack! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" He cringed back into a ball again, this time with his arms over his head. Hotaru let go of him in surprise.
"Huh?" "What happened?" the girls asked each other.
"Er, why are you apologizing?" asked Hotaru, hesitantly.
"Um… I'm, ah, in the bathtub and there's GIRLS and I didn't mean to be naked ACK I said it! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, please don't hit me…" He trailed off into incoherent mumbling. The Sailors developed a variety of dismayed and worried expressions.
" 'Humiliation and misery'… maybe from abuse?" muttered Ami to herself.
"Here's a towel," offered Haruka, feeling awfully ineffectual.
"I know!" said Usagi brightly. She came in and briefly turned the shower on Ranma, with cold water. Then she gently pulled her to her feet and helped Hotaru wrap the towel around her. "See? No one can get mad at you, we're all girls here and you're covered. Anyway, I wouldn't hit you, that's mean. Will you be my friend too?"
Ranma stared at her searchingly, totally thrown. "You… really?"
"Really," she smiled. "We all want to be friends with you, right girls?"
"Yeah!" they all chorused.
Ranma was amazed. "I, I don't know what to say. I'm so happy! Thank you all!" she said emotionally. "Only—"
"Do any of you know what my name is?"
A little while later, Ranma had been named to herself and persuaded to have another go at the shower. The Sailors piled into the kitchen to talk about their unexpected charge while Michiru, aided by Makoto, made food for everyone.
Minako started the discussion with a question they all wanted the answer to. "Setsuna, why did he expect us to hit him back there? WE walked in on HIM, not the other way around!"
"I have to admit, that one I'm not sure about. When I looked at his recent past in the Time Gates, I did notice that he seems to get attacked quite often, and that one of the girls he lives with often calls him a pervert for no obvious reason. Maybe she did something to him once." Out of long habit, Setsuna was careful not to reveal too much about how the Gates actually worked as she spoke.
Truth be told, however, the ancient artefact was a lot harder to use than most who knew of its existence would expect, partly because it could open onto anywhere as well as anywhen. Also, while the view through the Gates could be moved around a bit once they were open, in space if not in time, technical reasons made it almost impossible to exert particularly fine-grained control over the precise time, location and orientation of that initial opening. All of this meant that trying to get a useful summary of one person's life, using the damn thing, usually took at least half as long as just watching the individual in question live their life in real time. Even at her most bored, Sailor Pluto had never had that kind of time to spare.
"Did you have anything else important to tell us about him? You were interrupted earlier," reminded Ami.
"Thank you. I was getting to that. I told you he was treated very shabbily for much of his life, generally in the name of training or honour. The feline mental state you originally found him in was the result of a botched martial arts training exercise in his childhood. The technique, called the Cat-Fist, was originally intended to create a more controllable type of berserk, but it was banned decades ago because it drove the subjects insane. Ranma's dislike of cats is a natural result of being repeatedly thrown into a pit of starving ones while tied up with fish products, when he was only a child."
There was a shocked silence. Hotaru, her eyes wide, leaned up against Haruka for comfort. Finally, in hushed tones, Usagi said, "That's horrible!"
Ami spoke up again. "Please tell me the rest of it's not that bad? You haven't explained how a person can be abused in the name of honour…"
Setsuna sighed. "I wish I could say that, Ami. He seems to have been engaged multiple times by his father, often in exchange for small amounts of food or money, such that he cannot choose any of them without dishonouring the others and himself. To make matters worse, his personal honour is the only thing he truly owns. Losing it would be the final blow to his sense of self-worth. If he were less naturally optimistic or a less determined fighter, I think he would have committed seppuku some time ago, as the only way to appease everyone's honour. Mind you, he seems to cope with it all remarkably well by simply not thinking about it… of course, that causes its own set of problems."
Setsuna left unsaid that she only knew about the horrors of Ranma's upbringing by the fluke of having opened the Gates onto a time when Ranma was telling his mother about them, and then making a series of educated guesses about where and when else to look. A reputation for omniscience was hard to maintain sometimes, especially since the actual focus of her powers was the defence of Time from external manipulation, not espionage or performing such manipulation herself.
"That's horrible, too!" said Minako. "As Sailor Venus, the Soldier of Love, I can't stand by and do nothing. I will help him and those poor girls who are trapped along with him!"
"I really feel for him. He looked so lost and alone in the bathroom. I want to help him too," said Ami.
"We can all help him!" enthused Usagi. "With all nine of us working at it, there's no problem we can't solve!"
In a disused office building on a military air base in the American Midwest, the Murphy's Law Gremlin suddenly developed a splitting headache and an intense desire to get drunk, as an unwelcome sensation that it had an awful lot of work to do in the near future abruptly came over it…
END PART ONE
Latest revision as of Weds. 2008/04/09