Ranko, master of the Clow
Ryouga does not replace Li (but I have not forgotten either of those two).
All right, time for my usual unusual disclaimer…
There are many things that are a part of the story that I do not own, the full list is longer than Dumbledore's full name, not only do I not own them but I am not making any money off of this. What I do own is this story, which is (hopefully) better than Neville's potion grade.
Ranma was sinking through the floor, bound helplessly by Shadowy's hair. She grunted as she tried to escape in vain. Gosunkugi's laughter could be heard as now even her head began to be pull under. "Kuso!" Ranma swore. Somehow her key became free of her shirt and began to emit a bright light that caused Shadowy to screech in pain…
Kero-chan hit the pause button on the remote and thought for a moment. "After you defeated this Gosukugi kid he couldn't remember anything?" He asked, frowning. Ranma and Nabiki nodded in unison, which caused the small animal to frown more deeply, "I'm sorry guys, but I just can't think of anything relevant right now. Before now I haven't known of anyone to actually use a Clow card. Maybe the memory loss is normal, but if so why haven't you and General Tetis been affected in the same way?"
"I don't know, maybe it doesn't affect me because I'm protected by the contract. And the general probably was protected in some similar way."
"You could be right, Ranma. There is one thing I know for certain…"
"Oh? What's that?" Nabiki asked as she popped out the videotape. Kero struck a pose, his eyes tearing up, "You still haven't taped me."
"How'd I see that one coming?" Ranma asked, sweat dropping. Nabiki nodded in agreement, "You know, I was kind of expecting that as well. But I tell you what; I'll make a tape of you right now."
Kero-chan cheered at this, causing Ranma to sigh, "It must be nice to have such simple concerns." "What do you mean?" Kero asked, concerned. Ranma groaned, "Today we had a math test…"
"That doesn't sound so bad, Saotome. I thought you were doing better academically."
"I am, but I sill hate math… it ought to be outlawed or something."
"What about you Nabiki, how was your day?"
"Profitable, very profitable; all the pictures I took at the cosplay club sold out, though I managed to keep some copies for myself."
"You really ought to share some of those profits with the club, we could use more outfits," Ranma said, crossing her arms under her breasts. Nabiki sweat dropped, "Ah come on, at least I give you guys free advertising."
"Can I see the pictures?"
"Yeah, sure thing," Nabiki replied, getting out a little album she put together before returning home that day. She laid it out on the floor and opened it up to the first page for Kero-chan. The first page had pictures of Nabiki, whom had been somehow shanghaied into dressing up as well. In the pictures she was dressed up as Yura of the Hair, from Inuyasha. She had on a one-piece, black leotard with a low cut that showed a surprising amount of her generous cleavage. Tied around her waist was a yellow sash, her hands were covered with fingerless gloves and feet were covered with black socks that left the toes bare. On her face around her eyes was purple makeup.
She was posing in a few of the pictures with Ranma, who was dressed up in a black dress that left absolutely nothing to imagination. "I'm not so sure I recognize that character," Kero-chan said. Ranma shrugged and said, "That's Raneko, from Sunshine Temple."
"I think I've heard of her."
"Yeah, but check out these pictures," Nabiki said, flipping to the next page. There was a series pictures with Shampoo dressed up as Ayeka from Tenchi Muyo. It was so unusual to see her looking so meek and calm. Her long, purple hair had been taken from its usual odango style and was pulled back in a very prim and proper looking twin-ponytail. She was wearing a deep purple kimono with black obi.
With her was Ukyo, who was dressed as Ryoko. She had on a silver wig that had been styled into a spiky look, and the bangs came so low that they touched her breasts. She had on a blue dress with yellow stripes on the arm length sleeves and the floor length skirt. There was also a few pictures of Akane, who was dressed as Mohomoro from Mohoromatic, and she looked so cute in the maid outfit she was wearing too.
There were various other pictures, including the actual meeting. There was a shot of Ranma dressed up as grown up Washu, she was standing in front of a projector screen pointing out the Nerima Convention Centre, which would soon host a local Anime Fan Convention. There were still more pictures, and Nabiki was flipping through them for something interesting to show Kero-chan, but someone was knocking at the door.
"Nabiki are you in here?"
Nabiki put Kero on her bed and motioned for him stay still. After that she said, "Yes Kasumi, I'm here!" The older girl poked her head through the door, smiling.
"I'm about to head on out for lunch and was wondering if you wanted to come with me."
"No, we got our own plans," Nabiki said, shaking her head.
"Okay, but don't stay inside all day though… and try to behave yourselves," she added with a wink. She left, giggling as she went. Ranma looked confused for a moment before asking, " What did she mean by 'behave yourselves'?"
Nabiki giggled loudly, "You can be so clueless sometimes, Saotome."
"Well, whatever. So what are our plans anyway?"
"Nothing special, we're just going to a meeting at Uchan's."
"Isn't that the cook you guys are always talking about?"
"That's right Kero-chan. She's one of the very best cooks I know." Ranma exclaimed, beaming at the thought being able to eat some of her cooking. Kero grinned widely, "Could bring something back with you?"
The girls nodded in reply, intending to back some of Ukyo's famous sweat okonomiyaki for him, seeing how Kero-chan seemed to enjoy sweats beyond all else. Nabiki smirked, thinking that the strange creature was the perfect companion for Ranma. The red headed girl had a sweat tooth as well and between the two of them they could probably put a huge dent in the world's chocolate supply.
The thought actually brought a genuine smile to her lips. "Quit staring off, Nabs. Lets get over there right away!" Ranma exclaimed, pulling on Nabiki's arm in her excitement. Nabiki decided let the 'Nabs' comment to slip by unchallenged for now, it gave her a good feeling to be called that at times by a friend…
An hour latter at Uchan's a meeting was taking place was taking place in the top floor of the restaurant. Attending were Ranma and Akane, along with Shampoo and Ukoyu. Standing in front of them was Nabiki. She was currently an old army uniform, including a steel helmet; Nabiki had even procured a chocolate cigar, which she had clamped between her teeth. "Nabiki, what are we doing here?" Akane asked tentively, not sure of what to make of this situation.
"I will get to that in a moment, please be patient," Nabiki said sternly, taking a 'pull' from the cigar. It was more like taking nip out of it, though. "Some of you may be wondering why I called this meeting into place," she continued, causing the others to sweet drop slightly, "It is this!"
She pointed to the map of Japan, which did not clarify matters in the least. "All over the country, young people our age are spending their last free weekend of summer having fun in the sun. It is a completely unacceptable outrage if we do not participate!" Nabiki exclaimed, going into a pose that could loosely be described as heroic.
For a moment there was no response, and then Ranma said, "I think I was actually moved by that."
The others nodded in agreement. And so it was decided that they would go to the public pool…
Meanwhile in a less sunny dimension, Tetis was decidedly not in a good mood. This was not really surprising since she never was unless she was giving pain to someone else by whipping, scratching, or cutting him or her. Really, she was a borderline psychopathic masochist and she had a certain red-haired someone in mind that she wanted to whip, scratch, or cut. The humiliation of her defeat she would visit ten-fold upon Sailor Earth in the most graphically explicit way imaginable.
First she had collect the Clow cards in order to avenge the only man she ever wanted to whip, scratch and cut in bed; that and to avoid a fate similar to his. That not-so-vague threat that Queen Beryl made of being put into a nightmare dimension was a compelling motive to do as she said… for now.
But she knew the power that Clow Reed had wrought could dwarf the power that even Queen Beryl wielded, who was unworthy of being a ruler anyway. She would displace her than use the awesome power of Metellia to pull Jedite out of the nightmare dimension, then she would rule over all of reality unopposed. First she had to find and capture the cards before Sailor Earth, which would be easy because she could scry for them since she knew their energy signature.
And so she poured a pitcher of water into a large silver bowl. Gazing into the bowl she cast her scrying spell, where she got an immediate hit on the location of an active Clow card. It was at a public pool in Nerima, which made her frown in distaste. Humans were such loathsome creatures in her opinion, and she planed to wipe them from the face of the Earth at her earliest convenience.
Maybe she could have a little fun with these particular humans to help alleviate her stress, and then she would take the Clow card hidden there. Then she would be one more step closer…
The group was headed for the Nerima Public Pool after everyone fetched their bathing suits and Nabiki, thankfully, had ditched the military outfit. All in all it was a beautiful spring day, though somewhat hot. Ukyo was walking hand-in-hand with Shampoo and talking to Ranma who was walking along side them. "You seem to be taking being stuck as a girl very well, Sugar. I thought you hated being a girl."
The red head girl looked at her curiously, "What made you bring that up?"
"Well, it's just something I've been wandering for a while ever sense that wizard sealed up your transformation. Though come to think of it seems you've been well-adjusted to it for longer."
"Well, my mother has been giving me training ever since summer started, you know that," Ranma replied inelegantly. But Ukkyo was not so easy to brush off as that and said, "No, it goes back further than that. Come to think of it I never have seen you complain about it."
Akane nodded and Nabiki said, "Like when Cologne used the Cat-Tongue on you, you were in your female form for so long that you menstruated. You griped a little, to be sure, but you carried on."
"Okay, you got me," Ranma replied, knowing when she was beat. She took a few minutes to stare in the distance as she composed her thoughts. "When I first got this… condition I really, truly despised it. The dislike was based on my father's constant diatribes about the fairer sex and so I began to hate being female. In fact it reached to a point that I contemplated suicide."
There were gasps from the other girls, but Ranma continued, "It was when I was actually standing on a cliff, on the very edge, that I came to think that I wanted to live. I grasped on the hope that a cure might be found. It was a vain hope and it was quickly dashed at the Amazon village where I found that there were no cures to be found. But I was more open to learn that it was not so terrible to be female."
There was silence for a moment and then a thought seemed to occur to Ranma. "Say, won't Shampoo turn into a cat?" she asked, obviously disturbed at the thought of it. Shampoo broke into a grin and brought out a bar of soap, a familiar looking bar of soap that didn't have the brand maker on it. It was rectangular and had a strong smell that Ranma could smell from where she was standing.
Of course, it was waterproofed soap. With it Shampoo could prevent herself from changing into a cat… at least temporarily. "Great-grandmother let Shampoo borrow soap when told that Shampoo going to pool." Shampoo supplied, although it was unnecessary.
Ranma breathed a sigh of relief, glad she would not have to go into the Neko-ken. They soon came to the public pool, where they heard a lot of laughter and shrieks. Apparently they were not the only ones to think of this idea, however it was not so many people there as to be overly crowded. Nabiki paid at the front to let the group in, showing a generous side rarely ever seen. Or at least Ranma thought so until the person gave her a coupon for free ice cream.
She glared at Nabiki as if she were an evil toad. Nabiki only stuck her tongue out at Ranma who could not help but laugh. The girls all went into the changing rooms and came out shortly after putting on their bathing suits, though Shampoo had to take a little longer due to her having to apply some of the water proof soap on herself. Meanwhile Ukyo and Nabiki happily padded on over to the diving boards while Ranma helped Akane ino the shallow end, since her confidence of swimming was still not very great and so she tended to sink. At that moment Shampoo charged out of the changing room, wearing a purple two piece bathing suit. The purple haired leapt clear over the two swiming girls splashed down with a canonball. Ranma and Akane shrieked in laughter as the mini tidal wave washed over them.
Shampoo surfaced up but was immediately dunked by by Ukyo, who some how snuck up behind her. This quickly turned into a splashing contest between the girls, and they got into earnestly. Laughing, Ranma froze as chilled wind seem to creep up her spine. She whirled to face the deep end of the pool only to see a monsterous hole open above the waters. It was black to the point of absorbing all surrounding light and parts of the darkness was dripping out both up and down in a very disturbing way.
It was surprising at how many people just stared up at it, in Ranma's oppinion, though some sensibly began leaving the area. It was when youma begain pouring out of the hole that people began truly moving. Mostly the youma landed in the water and they were all humanoid creatures that appeared to have the body of a woman, the head of a predetory fish, the skin of a reptile and the tail of a serpent. Ranma cursed under her breath, wondering what they were doing at the pool of all places... and then she felt rather saw the glow behind her. She whirled about again and sure enough she could see a glowing card floating just beneath the surface. 'What the heck? It wasn't there before!' was her first thought, then she grasped at it but she was restrained along with the other girls by the youmas, which were a whole lot stronger than they looked. They did not seem to be after her specifically as they began snatching up people randomly from the pool. Looking out of the fence enclosing the pool Ranma could see people running from the scene unfolding at the pool and it was reminesent of a Godzilla film.
Then the woman descended from the hole as well, but she descended in a more controled manner than the youma did. One of the the youma came over to Tetis, presenting the Clow card to her. Taking it within herself the cruel human looking woman began laughing as the power activated. The laughter was devoid of warmth and full of harsness and it trailed off as she looked at her prey, which included Ranma as well. With the stare that Tetis leveled at her Ranma almost thought that she was recognized until the general began sharing the exact same stare with everyone else.
"You should all be glad that your deaths will be swift, had I the time I would draw out your deaths as vermin like you deserve!" Tetis exclaimed, causing some of the people in the captive crowd to weep in fear. But Ranma wasn't affraid, neither were her friends. Tetis stared down her nose at the girl as if seeing a lower lifeform, "I don't like that look, girl," she said, pointing at her. The card she had collected glowed in her body with a light Ranma was certain only she could see. The water became violent as a storm tossed sea and several long arms shot out, grabing Ranma and binding her. She was lifted off of her feet until she was brought face to face with the taller woman. "Lets see if I can beat some humility into you now."
With a motion of her hand Tetis sent the strugling Ranma high into the air and for one moment held her there. Ranma was slamed into ground, hard, and again and again. The fifth time the general paused to admire her work. Ranma was still mostly in one piece, but not unharmed; she was concsious, but unable to strugle she hurt so much. Tetis laughed again in that insane way of hers and prepared to smash the girl again when a whiring sound came from a distance. Instinctively, she ducked with just barely enough time to avoid getting beheaded by some flying yellow blur.
Whirling about she found herself facing a young man who came through a whole in the fence that he apparently made himself; he was wearing dusty clothes and an enormous backpack, over his brow he wore a yellow bandana. He was wielding an enormous umbrella in one hand and another bandana in the other, which he whirling in the same high speed he threw the other. It was Ryouga, and he stared unflinchingly at Tetis. Leveling his umbrella at her, he made his intentions clear. "Let her go now, winch!"
"Oh, you should really be more careful how you phrase your demands young man." Tetis replied, lifting up her arms high and throwing Ranma into the now deserted dressing rooms with enough force to tople the building over.
Ryouga lauchned himself at the deranged youma general, screeming as he did so...
Ranma was drifting inside a great emptiness towards an expanse of light that resonated, calling to her. Seeing it, she wanted to go to it to live in it. She ran, trying to get to it. But she was stoped in her tracks by a man who appeared before her. He was tall by any standard and had dark hair, with small glasses over his eyes. The man wore a splended cloak and mantle that obscured his body and wielded a staff that looked not unlike the staff that Ranma herself used as Sailor Earth.
This was, without a doubt, Clow Reed. "Go back young one, it is not yet your time and you are needed still."
"But I am hurt badly, I am dying. And I don't have the key on me."
Clow Reed beckoned her over, which she did. He then embraced the girl, letting her cry. "I know it is hard, I know you would like nothing more than to move forward so you can be at peace. But people you care about are in danger. They need you. The person who you are not aware that you love will die most painfully. She needs you. People who you not know, and will come to know in the fullnes of time will need you as well. Please turn back now and embrace your destiny."
"Of course. It was not the power of the Clow Cards that beckoned you, or chose you, or forced you to enter the contract. It was within you to be the sensei of Earth since the day of your birth. The hensien key is part of you now and you can never be seperated from it. All you must do know is feel for it and call it and it will come. Or did it not occur to you after you beat the kid?"
"You know about that?"
"I know far more than that. I know your past, how you came to be a girl and even what decision you will make now but I must still give you the choice. Go back or go forward. But know that no matter which decision you make it is yours alone and that it can't be undone." With that said, Clow Reed steped aside for Ranma. There, in front of her, was the light. It was brilliant, warm and inviting. And yet... and yet she knew what would happen if she decided to go down that path. To herself, to her friends. Turning back resolutely, she was not surprised to see herself, only she was buried alive and injured. She steped forward, into herself.
Clow Reed was now by himself. He smiled gentally as the image of his young charge faded. "Feel satisfied?" a voice beside him said. It came from a tall woman who appeared there suddenly. She wore a seifuku, and its primary color was black, like Ranma's. Her hair, however, was long and green. She too had a staff, though it looked decidedly different. "No, Setsuna. More like content."
Ranma came to, surrouded in darkness by building materials. She was hurt badly, she could feel it. If she didn't start healing soon she'd be in mortal danger, but she could not focus on that just yet. Though it was muted she could hear the sounds of fighting outside. 'Must be Ryouga.' she thought, ignoring her pain as she imagined her long time friend/rival fighting the general. He had no idea what sort of being he was facing; if the batle went badly for Tetis, Ranma had no doubt she would put her hostages at risk to stop Ryouga. So putting all her effort into it she felt for the key and called out to it, like Clow Reed told her to.
There was a weird tingling sensation as a ball of light appeared in her hand and formed her key. Wasting no time she activated the key and transformed. For the next couple of minutes she lay there, letting herself heal by the power of the transformation. She than gathered her strength to make her move...
To say that Tetis had underestimated her opponent would be a gross understatement. She had thought to destroy Ryouga in one blow, but he was fast on his feet; dodging her strong attacks and launching several bandanas at her rapidly. They were seemingly without end and fast, forcing her to devote all her energies into forming a water barrier and sending what youmas she could spare to attack. The wave of youma she sent would have been enough to cow any lesser being. Ryouga, however, simply plowed through them being no light weight himself. He charged at the youma general again, weilding his umbrella like a lance.
Reacting quickly, Tetis dispersed her barrier to form several arms and grabed some hostages at random from the crowd, one of which just happened to be Akane. Predictibly this forced Ryouga to stop dead in his tracks, he was not going to go through innocent people in order to get to Tetis. She sneared at him for a moment. "Such foolish creatures are you, your sentalmentality will get your race anihlated one day." And than she started to gather energy in her hand, and a moment stretched out into an eternity as she was about to sound his death toll when she suddenly screemed in pain. A rose had been thrown at her with such astonishing force and speed that it seemed grow out of her hand. Weather because she had spent too much energy or because she had lost her focus, the arms dissipated, letting the hostages free.
"Hold it right there!" commanded a feminine voice. It was Sailor Earth and she was standing on the fence, her miniskirt flaring in a sudden breeze. She leveled her bird headed staff at Tetis. She leaped off the fence and came up beside Ryouga, but anything she was about to say was cut off by Tetis. "I'm not about to stand here and trade blows with you today, so you can play with my pets instead. So long!" All her youma were spured into action and abandoned the hostages as they attacked Sailor Earth and Ryouga in one huge wave. But they were not alone; Ukyo, Shampoo and Akane stood beside them to fight as well while Nabiki helped keep the rest of the former hostages moving to safety.
With the combined might of the four fighters, the youma were dispatched in sort order... but it was to late. Tetis had escaped...
After the pool area was evacuated of everyone except for Sailor Earth and her unknowing friends. "Its to bad that Tetis got away, but at least no one is hurt." Earth said, staring off to the distance.
"What about you Ranma?"
"I'll be..." Earth started and than halted. It was not Nabiki who asked the question, it was Ryouga. "Err, is that the name of your freind? Cause I pulled her out from the ruble and..."
"Who do think you're fooling sugar?"
"Yeah Ranma, and how come you didn't tell us about this before?"
Earth was a bit taken aback by all this until she figured that maybe the jumped to a conclusion that they really shouldn't have. So she composed herself and tried to come up with something convincing but Nabiki stoped her short. "I think you should stop while you're ahead Saotome, I don't think they'll buy it."
"Especially with Airen fidgeting with beautifull hair like she would with her pigtail." Shampoo chiped in helpfully.
Earth eeked loudly as she jerked her hand away from her hair as if it was suddenly eltrocuted. And then sighed, hanging her head. "Great now I'm gonna have to explain it all, don't I?"
"Damn straight sugar."
-End Chapter Three-
Thank you one and all for reading the story all and hanging in there for me. I would also like to take a moment to thank my readers. Seriously, ya'll are lifesavers. Sorry for the really slow update, but in between deaths in the familly, moving and computer viruses its a wonder I've been able to write at all. Hope ya'll like the story, and be sure to review if you would please.