Insertion

Part 15

New things...

+++++++++++++

Ranma sat in front of a small computer screen in his room. It was
a laptop, and looked relatively normal. The display gave away
something more though, it was showing some very advanced plans to some
kind of electronic device.

"You mean, I can make one?" said Ranma in shock as he stared at it
in awe.

"Yes," replied the computer with some onscreen text. It had a
voice option, but Ranma had turned it off to prevent others from
overhearing.

"Oh man, this is so cool! Can you, I dunno, put out some
simplified instructions?" he said as he leaned forward and smirked.
After a moment, his face fell. "Oh boy. This is simplified?"

++++++++++

Akane sat up from where she was lying with a manga in her hands.
She blinked and looked down at the watch Ranma had given her in
surprise as it gave a small beep. "The Alarm?" she wondered out loud
as she pushed the button he had told her too when it happened.

"Hey! Akane," said Ranma's voice.

She jumped in surprise. "What the?" she gasped in shock.

"What? You sound surprised," said the boy with a small chuckle.

"I thought you were kidding!" said the girl in shock.

"Yeah, well now you know better," replied the boy in an amused
tone.

"Right..." she muttered to herself. She wondered how much of the
rest of what he had told her was more than a joke. Surely the whole
mess about having to maybe fight off monsters and senshi was. After
all, those were just tabloid stories...right?

"Anyway, I'm goin over to see the guys. I got some stuff I want to
go over with them," said the boy casually.

"Should I come?" she asked nervously. The men were far from ugly,
but also made her slightly nervous for some reason she couldn't
explain.

"If you want, but this is technical stuff. I don't really want to
go myself, it's gonna be pretty boring," he said with a small sigh.
"Just wanted to test out the watch, and let you know I was going."

"Right, I'll stay here then," said the girl with a small sigh.

"Okay, back later."

+++++++++++++++

"You want me to make some of these?" said Nephrite with a smirk on
his face.

"You're the techno geek," said Ranma with a shrug.

The man frowned at this and simply sat down. "I hate it when you
call me that, but I am rather bored."

"How long?" asked Ranma with a smirk on his face.

"With the equipment we stole? Probably about an hour for one,"
replied the man with a small shrug of his shoulders.

"Great. I want to have a couple for myself and Akane tonight
then," said the boy cheerfully. "You can make em for the others
whenever you feel like it, but we're going to need them."

"Oh? What exactly is it?" said Nephrite as he peered at the screen
for a moment.

"Memory erasers," said Ranma with a small shrug.

"I've never heard of anything like that," replied the man with a
frown.

"I asked the computer a few questions," replied Ranma with a small
shrug. "Is this possible? How could I do it if it is? Can I make it
compact, say the size of a pen? You get the idea."

"Right," commented Nephrite as he tapped a few keys on his own
keyboard. "I take it these are for adjusting the length of the memory
you want to erase?" He pointed out several dials along the length of
the pen like object.

"Basically," said the boy with a small shrug. "I'm more worried
about parts than anything else," said Ranma with a small frown.

"There's actually nothing too advanced in these things, not by
Mercury standards anyway," replied Nephrite with a small shrug. "It's
probably just a case of the need for things like this never coming
up."

"What's with these two piles?" asked Ranma as he noticed that the
large dump of equipment was now arranged in two separate areas. They
had managed to swipe more than two hundred different objects.

"One side is for equipment of kinds," said Nephrite as he pointed
at the larger pile. "This is weapons."

"Cool," said Ranma cheerfully. He lifted a couple of gun shaped
objects in his hands and hefted them. "What are these again?" He
fumbled for the memory for a moment and frowned.

"Plasma guns," replied Nephrite calmly.

"They don't feel like metal," commented the boy with a frown.

"They aren't, they were designed to avoid detection. There's
nothing in this time that can spot them as far as I know," said the
man with a small shrug.

"Great, I'll take these then," said Ranma as he put them into his
belt and covered them with his shirt.

"Good," said Nephrite with a small nod as he began to set up his
tools.

"Say...this isn't what I think it is...is it?" muttered Ranma as he
eyed four long round objects that were lined up together. He lifted
one up in his hand, and pushed a button on the side. It emitted a
small snap and a blade of light burst from the top. "No way."

"Like that do you?" said Nephrite with a small chuckle.

Ranma turned it off and put it back down, noticing a particularly
long one. "Heh. This one is better. It'll fit in with my new way of
fighting better." There was a double snapping sound as the blades on
either end came to life, creating a bladed staff of light.

"Oh yes, the martial arts thing," said Nephrite coolly as he
started to work.

"Yup," commented Ranma as he picked up a few clips and hooked them
onto his belt. "Where are the others?"

"The bar down the street," said Nephrite. "I was there, but it's
pretty boring tonight."

"Right," said Ranma cheerfully. "I know you don't want me around
while you're working, so I'll go hang out for a few hours then."

"When I'm done, I'll leave them on the table for you. I'm getting
kind of tired actually. I'm interested enough to stay up and see how
this comes out though." Nephrite chuckled a bit and hunched over to
really begin.

++++++++++++++++

Ranma was walking home cheerfully, his hands in his pockets as he
strolled down the street. His sunglasses were rather unusual looking
for as late as it was getting.

"Aiya! Destructo!" cried a familiar voice. "Shampoo find you at
last!" The Amazon rushed up to grab the boy, and he turned to face her
with a smirk on his face.

"Hey, look at this for a second would you?" he asked calmly as he
held up what appeared to be a large silver pen. It flipped up and she
noticed a small red set of crystals on the top half.

The girl paused in mid glomp and blinked. "What is talking?"

There was a flash of red light, and the pigtailed boy waved his
hand in front of her face for a moment before smiling. "Heh. You
passed a guy on the street who kind of looked like me, it wasn't
really me though, and you just went back to what you were doing." He
turned away and started walking again, leaving her standing there
dumbly.

Shampoo blinked and seemed to jump awake suddenly. "Aiya. Almost
thought was Airen..." she muttered as she continued on her way.

Ranma chuckled to himself as he heard her. The rather unpleasant
gleam in his eyes was hidden away by his shades.

+++++++++++++++

"A what?" muttered Akane in shock.

"A memory eraser. Look, it works like this." The boy pulled his
own out and opened her door, causing Nabiki too fall into the room
with a glass in her hand.

"I um...was thirsty..." muttered the girl.

"Sunglasses," said Ranma calmly.

Akane put hers on, and looked at him for a moment in confusion.

Ranma flashed the light in Nabiki's face causing her to go blank.

"Nabiki, you just overheard us talking about...losing our
virginity to each other, without any strings attached."

"What!?" cried Akane angrily.

"Akane! Don't you dare! I mean...um...I was just passing by...and
I heard...you wouldn't would you?" gasped the girl as she clutched her
sister's shoulders.

The girl simply stared at her in horror.

Ranma was behind her back, pointing at his memory eraser with a
grin on his face.

The young girl nodded, and pointed it at her sister. Another flash
of light later the girl was standing dumbly in front of her.

"You didn't hear anything interesting at all, and fell through the
door when you tried to stand up and tripped," said Akane with a dark
frown on her face. She turned her head towards Ranma and stuck her
tongue out at him. "Pervert!"

"Hiya Nabiki, any in particular reason you came in here?" said the
boy cheerfully as he turned to look at the girl.

She had a huge blush on her face and turned away. "I just tripped,
that's all. Sorry." She shuffled away and left them alone.

"Where did you get this?" said the girl as she stared at the
strange object in awe.

"It's actually called a Neuralizer. Nephrite made it for me, he's
good at stuff like that," replied the boy with a shrug.

"Oh," said the girl as she sat down on her bed. "So, what time do
we leave?"

"About two hours," said Ranma cheerfully. "The party only lasts
about two hours, it's some private invitation thing. We should be just
for show this time. Museum security will take over after it's over."

"Oh, okay," said the girl with a small shrug. "I'll be ready
then."

++++++++++++++++

"This is it?" muttered Akane as she stared at the mask for a
moment. It was in the lobby of the museum, and was encased in glass on
a pedestal.

"Yeah," muttered Ranma uncomfortably.

"Something wrong?" asked the girl as she turned to face him.

"It's nothing, I've just seen something like this before. It was
bad news," replied the boy calmly.

"What? Is it cursed or something?" asked the girl with a small
snort.

Ranma merely nodded silently as he peered at it. It was simple
enough, a flat face made out of wood, with a strip of metal running
from the forehead to the tip of the nose.

"Don't tell me you believe in stuff like that," said the girl with
a small chuckle.

"Go get me a glass of water, and I'll show you," said Ranma
calmly.

Akane blinked and turned to look at the thing for a moment. "I
never thought of it that way."

"Well, nothing should happen we can't handle during the party. You
kind of have to wear it for it to do anything to you as I recall."

The pair turned towards the doors as they were opened and guests
started to enter. They took their positions and prepared for a long
boring stay.

+++++++++++++++

"I don't believe it!" said Carrot excitedly. "This is so cool!"

"What? It's just some stupid mask," grumbled Ranma.

"What's the big deal?" grumbled Dan.

"It's the Mask. The Mask."

"So?" snorted Ranma.

"You don't understand, this thing is really cursed. It turns
people into a sort of invincible demon thing, but it isn't really
evil. It bases what it does to you on your deepest desires. Some
people would become a superhero, others would become a sort of
monster. It's pretty cool, but I don't think it would be good to have
it running around."

"I think you've read too many comics," snorted Dan irritably.

"I think it's kind of pretty," said Pissant.

"That cruddy old thing?" snorted Dan.

"Well, in an oldish kinda way," said the voice sheepishly.

"I wonder what it would do to us?" said Ranma.

"We'd probably short it out or something, there's too many of us,"
said Carrot with a small chuckle.

"Anyway, things are looking good so far," said Dan as he peered at
the crowd. "Not near as many as that diamond."

"Well, who want's to play charades?" asked Carrot.

"You dope, we can't see each other!" snapped Ranma.

"Twenty questions?" offered Pissant.

"How about the quiet game?" said Dan irritably.

"Hey! That sounds fun!" cheered Pissant.

"What the heck is that?" muttered Ranma.

"We see who can shut up for the longest. First one to talk loses,"
said Dan.

Carrot said nothing, and resisted the urge to hang their head in
shame as Ranma and Pissant instantly agreed to the game.

++++++++++++++++++

Ranma and Akane walked out of the museum, the job completed.

"Well, that's that," said the girl with as she walked down to the
taxi waiting for them below.

"Somehow, I doubt it," said Ranma with a frown on his face. He
looked back at the doors and started after her.

++++++++++++++++

"Ranma! How dare you take my little girl on such a dangerous job!"
cried Soun angrily as he appeared in front of the boy.

Ranma frowned and picked up the man's keys from a small table by
the door. He reached over and put them into his pocket.

"What are you doing son?" snapped Soun angrily.

The boy then raised his neuralizer and flashed the man in his
face. "You were looking for your keys to go somewhere, but can't find
them."

"Are you sure that's okay?" said Akane as she stepped by her
father.

"Relax," said Ranma as he strolled up to his room.

After a moment, Soun was moving through the home, muttering about
not being able to find something.

"Daddy? What are you doing?" said Nabiki as she walked down the
stairs to find him rummaging through a pile of magazines.

"Looking for my keys, I can't find them," said the man irritably.

"What do you need them for?" she said as she arched her eyebrow
slightly.

"I was going to go somewhere...but..."

"Go somewhere?" she said as she looked up at the clock. It was
after midnight.

"If only I could remember where I was going!" said Soun angrily as
he continued his search.

++++++++++++++++++

"Stop right there!" cried one of the security guards. The dark
clad figure was standing over the broken remains of the glass case
used to house the mask. It was firmly in his grip, and he spun around.


"Shit! I didn't expect them to be so fast!" grumbled the man as he
rushed towards the front doors. They were locked, but also made of
glass. He burst into the street and started running. Unfortunately, he
never saw the truck that was speeding down the road. "Huh?" It was all
he managed to get out before it slammed into him.

The mask sailed from his dead hand, and into a nearby drainage
ditch. It floated away, bobbing up and down in the water as it went.

++++++++++++++++++

"He's been like this all night?" muttered Akane as she stared at
her father in shock. Soun was scouring the floor under the table, in
search of his elusive keys. His eyes were bloodshot, and tears were
running down his face. The entire living room was destroyed by his mad
search.

Ranma stood just behind her. "I never thought he'd take it this
far," he grumbled irritably.

"This is your fault!" snapped the girl as she spun around to face
him.

"Calm down! I'm sorry!" he said with a small frown. "Look, it's
not like he's got a job to go to, or classes to teach. He can go to
sleep anytime he needs too. I didn't mean for this too happen, but
getting mad about it won't fix anything. We'll just have to be more
careful in the future."

Akane stomped away from him and he sighed. "Great."

Soun sat down at the table, running his hands through his hair in
frustration.

"Um, hi," said Ranma as he sat down next to him. Kasumi was
setting out breakfast, and Nabiki was simply staring at her father in
fascination.

"Good morning Ranma. Tell me, have you seen my keys?"

"They aren't in the dojo either, Tendo," said Genma as he walked
back into the room and frowned. "I've got no idea where they might
be."

Ranma began to sweat nervously as Akane gave him an angry glare.
"Um? Mr. Tendo? Did you check your pocket? I do that sometimes with
stuff."

Soun blinked at him and then frowned. "What are you saying? I'm
not that absent..." He reached into his pocket and came up with the
missing keys.

Everyone stared at him for a moment, and he hung his head for a
moment, and then lifted his head into the air and screamed before he
passed out.

"He took that rather well," said Kasumi sweetly.

Ranma was looking rather uncomfortable under Akane's harsh glare.
"Sorry," he muttered again.

"Don't be, he'd have kept looking for those keys for days. This
isn't the first time this has happened," commented Nabiki as she
started to eat.

Everyone looked at her, the three Tendo sisters looked rather
embarrassed. Ranma and Genma merely looked confused.

"I guess it wasn't as bad as I'd thought," said Ranma with a shrug
as he started to eat as well.

+++++++++++++++++

"Give us your lunch money punk!" screamed one of the trio of
masked boys standing around Hikaru Gosunkugi.

"But, then I won't be able to buy lunch!" whined the boy
pathetically.

"So you're hungry are you?" said one of the masked boys
arrogantly.

"Well, not at the moment," said Hikaru as he scratched the back of
his head nervously.

"Well then, you can eat my shoe!" cried another one of the boys as
he kicked the rather pathetic boy in his gut.

"No! Don't hit me again! You can have it! I probably won't get
hungry anyway!"

"Too late for that! I think you need a drink to go with that!"
snapped the lead gang member.

"Huh?" muttered Hikaru dumbly as he found himself lifted into the
air by the trio. They tossed him over the fence, and into the drainage
ditch, laughing crudely as he floundered about in the water.

Hikaru stumbled back to his feet, finding himself knee deep in
water. He clenched his fists and cried. He tried to stop, but it was
just too much. He smirked a bit as he looked down at his school bag.
"At least I've still got my lunch money." He paused as something
struck him on the leg. A quick glance down revealed a small wooden
mask. It was floating against his leg, staying in place as the water
flowed on behind him. "What the?" He lifted it up and shook some of
the water off, peering at it in confusion. "What's this? Some old
mask?"

He was about to toss it over his shoulder, when something stopped him.
Not certain why, he put the mask into his bag, and started to climb
out of the ditch.

++++++++++

A short time later, a bit further down the road.

"Hey little girl, goin to school?"

"Y-yes..."

"Did daddy give you any lunch money?"

"A little...why?"

"I think you should give it to us."

"But..."

"Come on, be a good little girl and give us you're money."

"What the heck is she doin?"

"Look kid. You'd better give it up, or else my friends and I are
gonna have to get mean. We're nice guy's see..." The mask wearing
bully made the mistake of grabbing Hotaru by her collar.

"Let go," she said quietly as she put her arm between his and
snagged his wrist. With a simple twist, he was pulled down to the
ground and held firmly in place.

"Haw! Getting beat up by a little shrimp!" cried another of the
bullies. He poked at her with his finger.

Hotaru wasted no time, she released her first victim and snagged
him before he could react, pulling down with her hand, and tapping his
wrist, dislocating the finger.

"Ouch! You little shit!" screamed the boy angrily.

"Get her you idiots!" snapped the lead gang member.

The trio rushed forward on full assault.

Hotaru merely stepped back, her hand flew out and she snagged one
of the outstretched punches, redirecting the momentum so that it
slammed into one of his friends.

"Little..." That was as far as he got. Hotaru snagged his wrist
and spun around fluidly, twisting her own weight and flipping him over
almost casually. There was a snapping sound as the boy's wrist broke,
causing him to scream in pain.

The first boy was back on his feet, he pulled a knife out and
glared at her. "Now I'm gonna have to cut ya ta teach ya a lesson!"

Hotaru narrowed her eyes as he dove for her. She shifted back,
extending her leg out into his solar plexus, and grabbed his arm. In a
single fluid motion, she cause him to stab his own leg and rolled
under him as he fell.

The trio was lying on the ground, groaning in pain as she strolled
away towards her school calmly. Her face was a mask of complete ice as
she left them there. After a moment, she seemed to snap out of it and
gasped for breath.

"Saotome-sensei was right. I'm going to have to work harder, I'm
really tired," she moved over to a small set of stairs on an apartment
building and sat down for a moment to catch her breath.

++++++++++++

On a distant world, far away from the Earth...

"Where the hell am I?" snarled Ryoga as he continued to walk
through the wilderness.

A hissing noise caught his attention, and he turned to glare at
the things that were following him.

"Don't you ever give up?" he snarled.

The things hissed at him, there were about a dozen of them. They
were eight feet tall, with black skin and no eyes. One of them opened
its jaws, revealing another set inside that slid outward
threateningly.

Ryoga snorted and put up his fists. "I don't have all day you
know."

The things charged him in a swarm, and he screamed in rage as he
met them.

A moment later, a loud chorus of screeching noises sounded, and
the things scurried away in terror. Ryoga was standing unharmed and
glaring at them as they ran.

"Don't come back this time!" he called after them as he shook his
fist in the air. "Stupid things, like giant ants or something." He
continued on his way, trying to find his way into Nerima once again.

++++++++++++

TBC...

Next Time: Senshi vs. MIB?