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In The Fullness Of Time

by Faoron Ronak Ranma ½ / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crossover Fanfiction

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Part One - Juuban

Chapter One - A Night of Introductions

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This takes place about five months after the end of Ranma ½ Manga 38, and about a month after the end of Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon.

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"What do we do with her?" Uranus asked Pluto as they sped along the rooftops of Juuban.

"We'll take her back to our house. She'll be a guest for a while," Pluto said with determination, cradling Ranma carefully in her arms.

"And run the risk of her learning our real identities!" shouted Mars.

"I wouldn't worry about that. If we explain it to her that our safety is directly tied to keeping our identities a secret, she'll likely swear right on the spot on her honour that she'll never tell anyone," Pluto responded.

Mars gave her an incredulous look, but before she could say anything, Mercury spoke up. "You seem to be suggesting that Ranma places a great deal of emphasis on her honour. Just how much?"

"She once promised someone on her honour that she'd never reveal this person's secret, and no; I won't tell you either, it's not important. The fact of the matter is that Ranma never told anyone, not even when this person abused the promise to sleep with Ranma's fiancée, learned that fiancée's every secret to use against Ranma time and again, and start trouble to blame on Ranma. Ranma realized the promise was being abused, but she refused to break the promise. She will never break a promise she makes. No matter if it's to save her own life or would otherwise benefit her." Pluto sighed. "It is one of her greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses." The other Senshi fell quiet after this explanation, somewhat satisfied. The rest of the journey to the Outers' home was made in silence.

When they got in, Pluto went straight for the guest room and laid Ranma out on the futon there. When she got back to the family room, she untransformed, as the other Senshi already had. Wounds leftover from the battle were patched up, and snacks were brought out. After a few minutes, the silence was broken by Ami. "What exactly was it that we fought tonight?" She pulled out her Mercury Computer and started going over the readings she got during the battle. "I can't make anything out of these scans. They make no sense!"

"I felt something... wrong... about it. Something... pure evil," Rei shivered and wrapped her arms about herself, as if warding off cold. "I've never felt anything so evil; none of the enemies we've ever faced have ever felt like this to me."

"That only confirms what I suspect, I'm afraid," Setsuna spoke up after a few moments. "It was something that Ranma said when she rescued me; something that I hadn't even thought of because it should have been impossible."

Haruka spoke up in agitation when Setsuna fell silent. "Well, what was it?"

"Yes, Setsuna, this is no time to keep the whole truth from us," Usagi said.

Setsuna sighed and nodded, then continued. "It was a demon from a dimension that was supposed to have been permanently sealed away from this one."

Rei shook her head. "No way it could have been a demon. My wards didn't have any effect on it."

Setsuna shook her head. "Demon with a capital 'D.' The type of demon we fought tonight is a kind that comes from a set of dimensions that have been sealed away from this one for a very long time. They haven't been on Earth in quite a long while. Since before the start of the Silver Millennium, in fact." Everyone's eyes widened at this, their jaws slack. "I only know about them because while I was bored waiting for the twenty thousand or so years that it took for you all to be reincarnated, I used the Gates of Time to look back at the history of Earth. At one time, the human race was at the brink of extinction because of these demons. They cannot be detected by the Gates of Time, and I've never been able to determine just how they were sealed away." She sighed and rubbed at her temples. "I looked into the Gates before the battle... Crystal Tokyo exists in only a few of the branches of the time stream. Since they're not a part of this universe, they're not a part of our time stream, and thus immune in every way to the power of the Gates."

"Why didn't our attacks do any damage to it?" Michiru asked, cradling an injured arm.

Setsuna shrugged helplessly. "I don't know. The Senshi have never even gone up against them before, so there's no precedent for this."

"How about this Ranma character," asked Makoto. "How was she able to kill it?"

Setsuna shook her head. "I don't know why her attacks worked and ours didn't.

"How'd she get so strong, anyway?" asked Rei. "That blast she used was chi. It's something that I use in my fire readings, but what she did was impossible. No one has that much chi." She shivered. "I felt sadness and despair coming from her in thick waves when she did that..."

Setsuna sighed sadly. "That is a long story... I'll give you the condensed version. If you want to know the full story, you'll have to ask her, because it's not my place to tell it all. It starts when she was a baby. Her... father..." she said this with venom, surprising everyone else with its intensity, "started training her in the martial arts before she could even walk. When she was only a few years old, he took her from her mother and home on a training journey, leaving only a seppuku contract behind which stated that they would commit seppuku if Ranma wasn't the kind of person her mother wanted her to be when they finished." Everyone's eyes widened. "And yes, her mother would have gone through with making them fulfill the pledge, even if the only apparent signature Ranma made was a hand print. Ranma thought it was a finger painting game with her father." She shrugged. "Her mother believed it to be a valid, honourable contract."

"How could a mother expect her own child to do that?" Usagi asked. "That's just... wrong!"

Setsuna nodded. "I agree. Anyway, Ranma went through terrible training. When she was six, her father trained her in a technique called the Neko-ken."

Luna jumped up in outrage from where she had been listening. "That monstrous technique was banned during the Silver Millennium! How did any copies survive!" she yelled.

Setsuna shook her head. "I don't know..."

Artemis sighed sadly. "Poor girl..."

Everyone else just looked at each other in confusion. Makoto asked the inevitable question. "What's so bad about this 'Neko-ken' technique?"

Setsuna shuddered. "The person 'learning' the Neko-ken has to be no older than ten years of age. What you do is dig a pit and fill it with cats, seal the pit, and starve the cats for several days. Then you wrap the trainee in fish products and throw them in." The others' faces showed horror. "This is repeated as many times as necessary for the child to either die, or enter a feral state where he or she has the mind of a cat. Only two or three people have ever been able to regain their sanity, but forever afterward they have an intense, pathological fear of cats. If they are exposed to cats after that, the fear builds until they re-enter the feral state."

Makoto looked sick. "I'm sorry I asked..."

Usagi spoke through her crying, which had started halfway through the explanation. "That's horrible! Both her parents are monsters just as bad as the Dark Kingdom! It's amazing she's such a nice person with those kind of role models!"

Minako spoke up from where she was sitting for the first time since they had arrived. "How do you know she's 'such a nice person,' Usagi?"

"How can you ask that? Did you see the way she saved Hotaru? What about when she had a sword sticking out of her chest and all she could think about was making sure that we were alright?" Usagi replied. "She's one of the nicest people I've ever met!" Suddenly she stopped crying, and a look came over her face, as if she'd stumbled upon the secrets of the universe. "She's gonna be a great friend." She smiled brightly. The rest of the Senshi just smiled, all thinking, 'that's our princess...' A few moments later, her face grew sad again, her lower lip trembling with suppressed sobs. "Has her whole life been like that?" she asked at a near whisper.

Setsuna nodded, her face solemn. "Yes, and sometimes worse."

"Worse!" was the common, heated reply.

She nodded again. "Yes, but if you want to know anything more about Ranma, you'll have to ask her... it's not my story to tell, and I don't know how much she'd want strangers to know. I don't know how she'd react now... four months ago she'd have never used the Shi Shi Houkoudan. She'd have used the Mouko Takabisha, the counter move she created when she found she couldn't use the Shi Shi Houkoudan very easily..."

"Why is that?" Michiru asked. "What exactly was that attack she used?"

"It was a chi blast. I'm no expert on chi, you'd have to ask either Ranma, or our own resident chi expert," she looked over at Rei, "for an exact definition, but it's basically the energy of one's life force. The Shi Shi Houkoudan is a chi blast which a person can produce by focusing their chi through sadness or depression; in other words, with a heavy heart."

"So that's what I felt when Ranma used that attack." She shivered. "I felt like there was no point to living anymore for a few moments... terrible, deep sadness is what I felt coming from Ranma at that moment."

Setsuna nodded. "Yes, and by nature, Ranma is not depressed at all. So she created another move, basing it off of confidence..." She smiled. "...something Ranma has in abundance..." Her face took on a slightly sorrowful look. "...but not now... I wonder what could have happened in the last three months..."

"Why don't you ask me?" came a quiet voice from behind her, startling her so much that she jumped several feet into the air from where she'd been sitting. When she and everyone looked to where the voice came from, a hand over her heart, she was treated to the sight of seemingly empty air.

"Are you using the Umisenken, Ranma?" Setsuna asked.

"Huh? Oh yeah..." A few moments later, all but Setsuna gasped when Ranma appeared in front of them, fading slowly into focus with a sheepish expression on her face. "Sorry about that... forgot I was using it."

Setsuna sat back down and smiled. "Don't worry about it, Ranma. Why don't you have a seat." Ranma looked uncertain. "Please." Ranma nodded after a moments later, looking around the room at the other people.

"Hmm... so you're the Sailor Senshi." Several eyes widened. "I always thought you were all older."

Minako laughed nervously. "What are you talking about? We're not the Sailor Senshi."

Ranma smiled gently. "Your magic disguises you physically, but it doesn't mask your aura. No two people have the same aura, so you must be Sailor Venus. You can learn a lot from a person's aura. Your's tells me you always look on the bright side of things, and that while you aren't as smart as you sometimes wish you were..." Minako scowled. "...you are one of those rare, special people that has a pure, kind heart." Minako blinked in surprise. "Your friends are lucky to have someone like you."

As Minako sat their in stunned silence, Usagi spoke up. "See, I told you that Ranma's a very nice person! That was a really nice thing to say to a perfect stranger!" She turned towards Ranma, and with speed that surprised Ranma and no one else, she crossed the room and took Ranma's hands in her own. "HiI'mUsagi!Doyouwanttobefriendswithme? I'dlovetobeyourfriend.Thisisjustgreat." Defying reality, her smile increased even more. "Ijustknowyou'llbeagreatfriend!Well?Whatdoyousay?"

It took several moments of Ranma blinking in confusion for her to fully understand what Usagi had just said. Then her eyes widened, and she started to tremble. Usagi started to worry that she might have done something to offend Ranma when she started to tear up. "I'msorry!DidIinsultyousomehow!TellmewhatIdidandIpromiseI'llmakeitbetter,justdon'tcry!I'mreallyreallyreallysorry,whatever---" She was cut off when Ranma grabbed her in a close hug and started crying gently into Usagi's chest.

"Yes," Ranma said, just barely heard over her crying, "I'd love to be friends with you." Usagi sat down by Ranma, patting her back as she held her. A few minutes later, Ranma stopped crying and sat up, wiping at her eyes.

"Sorry about that," she said.

Usagi smiled kindly at her. "Don't worry about it. Being a shoulder to cry on is one of the things that friends do, right?"

Ranma shrugged. "I guess... I wouldn't know... I've never really a friend before." She looked at the floor. "I'm a complete stranger to you... you only just met me and the first thing you do... My fiancée did the exact same thing. The same way you asked, the same smile..." She sighed sadly. "But she betrayed me in the end."

Usagi hugged Ranma again to try and comfort her. Then she blinked. "Wait a second, what do you mean 'she?' You're a girl! Girls can't get married!"

Ranma looked at Setsuna. "You seem to know so much about me, but you didn't tell them about the curse?"

Setsuna shook her head. "I felt that should be your decision. I just told them a small amount about you, not everything."

Ranma looked at her for several, long moments. "Thanks..." She shook her head. "No, I might as well tell them... After all, I know their secret identities; why shouldn't they know about my curse?"

"Alright. I'll go get you some water," Setsuna said as she left the room. A few moments later, she returned with two glasses of water and gave them to Ranma.

Ranma looked around at the others, who looked on curiously. "Anyone here ever hear of a place in China called 'Jusenkyou?'" she asked. They all shook their heads. "Well, it's also called 'The Pools of Sorrow.' It's a valley that's got over a hundred cursed springs. Whenever something falls into one of the springs, it takes the form of whatever drowned there last. After that, hot water..." she poured the hot water on her head, "...returns you to your uncursed state." Everyone gasped at his transformation. "Cold water returns you to your cursed state." She poured the cold water on her head, returning her to female form. "The change is complete... I'm a complete girl now... at least in body." She fell silent and looked at her feet, waiting for the inevitable exclamation of "Pervert!" and "Freak!"

"Sempai?" Makoto said. Several of the others groaned, thinking 'not again.'

Ranma blinked, then looked at Makoto more closely. "Mako-chan, is that you?"

Makoto's face lit up with joy. "It is you, Ranma-niichan!" she jumped up and hugged Ranma tightly. "When I heard your name, I thought maybe you were your sister or something like that, but it's you, Ranma-niichan!" She blinked a few times. "Or should that be Ranma-neechan right now?"

"Whatever's fine with you, Mako-chan!" Ranma smiled. "It's great to see you again. You know, just the other day I was thinking about you, wondering if you were okay." She sighed. "My little sister, a Sailor Senshi."

Makoto grinned. "My big brother, a girl." They just kept smiling and hugged again, while everyone else watched in confusion.

"What do you mean by 'big brother' and 'little sister.' You don't have any siblings, Mako-chan," Rei said.

Makoto sighed. "When my parents died, and I first moved into my apartment, I was really sad. I'd walk around the park watching other families, wishing I could still have that. That's where I met Ranma-niichan. He was doing the same thing..." She looked at Ranma sadly. "...only he was wishing for something he'd never had." She shrugged. "We became really good friends. He showed me his martial arts, and I showed him my cooking." She grinned. "That's why I like martial arts so much. I wanted to be just as strong as my oniichan someday." She sighed. "Well, I guess that'll never happen now. He's way better than me; I'll never catch up."

Ranma looked at her curiously. "I wouldn't say that, Mako-chan."

Makoto blinked. "What do you mean, Ranma-neechan?"

Remember I said that auras show a lot about a person?" She nodded. "Well, you all get your power by calling upon the power of your planets, thus your Senshi names, am I right?" The Senshi nodded. "The magical transformations you use only allow you to access the power you already have. With training, you can learn to use the power of your planets without having to use magic. The power of each of your planets is infused directly into your spirits, so when you're reincarnated it'll follow you. I figured out recently that the ki energy I use to do my higher martial arts isn't my life force, its the power that binds a soul to a body." She blinked. "Don't you all know how your own power works?" She asked, slightly confused.

Setsuna shook her head. None of us were informed as to how we were infused with our power. It was just done."

"Oh. Well, the way it seems to me is that whoever it is that gave you your power linked your souls to both your human bodies and the planets you're linked to. That would take a lot of energy, believe me." Her eyes widened. "The amount of power each of you possess because of that is... more than I've seen before... More than even Saffron..."

"Who's Saffron?" asked Haruka.

"Saffron was a god I fought in China about five months ago... I only narrowly defeated him..." Her face took a pained expression. "I had to get my fiancée to the Dragon Tap to cure her... but Saffron wouldn't let me... the only way to get her to the cure was to kill Saffron..." She looked at her hands. "Not a night goes by when I don't dream of that moment... when I watched him freeze solid after my revised Hiryu Shouten Ha and then collapse into thousands of pieces. It was the only sure way to know he was dead." Tears began to flow down her face, but she didn't seem to notice. "I've always been brought up to use the Art to protect those who can't protect themselves... and to never use it to kill. I didn't even really want to kill that demon earlier, no matter how evil it was! But..." She was crying by this point, and Makoto wrapped her in her arms. "...I had to do it..."

Silence reigned, until a voice of reason came from an unexpected source. "You feel like there may have been another choice, don't you, Ranma?" Usagi asked as she looked closely into Ranma's eyes, searching. "But answer me this, Ranma: how would you have felt if you didn't save your fiancée's life; how would you have felt if you didn't kill that demon before it did any real harm to someone. Was there any other way you could have handled either situation that you could have lived with? If you had allowed your fiancée to die or that demon to roam freely on this world, would you have been doing as you were taught by protecting those who can't protect themselves? If you have the power to stop an evil thing from happening, and don't, doesn't that leave you with some of the blame as well?"

Ranma had stopped crying while Usagi was talking to her, and smiled at Usagi. "I know that, up here," she tapped her temple, "but not as much here." She tapped her breast. "But it's nice to hear it from someone else. Thanks." Then her stomach made hungry noises, and she had a sheepish expression.

Makoto jumped up. "I know! I'll go make some food!" She turned to Haruka and Michiru. "That is, if you don't mind."

Michiru smiled. "We always appreciate your cooking." Haruka just grinned in anticipation.

Makoto turned to Ranma. "I hope my cooking's gotten as good as your martial arts!"

"If it's even half as good as what you used to be able to cook four years ago, I'll be eating like a king..." She looked at herself, then grinned ruefully. "...or queen." Makoto just beamed brightly at the praise and bounced off to the kitchen.

Michiru spoke up to alleviate the silence that had fallen. "I have a question for you if you don't mind, Ranma-san."

Ranma blinked. "No need for '-san's..." She blinked again. "None of us were actually introduced, so I don't know any of your names. Might as well start with myself." She stood up and bowed low to the collected Senshi. "Hi. I'm Saotome Ranma. Sorry about this." She sat back down.

"Sorry about what?" Ami asked.

Ranma blinked. "I always say that when I meet new people... I attract a lot of trouble." She shrugged. "Might as well apologize in advance."

After Ranma was introduced to the Senshi, she turned back to Michiru. "Now, what was your question, Michiru-san?"

Michiru smiled. "If I can't be formal, you can't be either." Ranma nodded. "My question was this: earlier, when we first met you, you were speaking rather poorly. Now you're speaking better. Why is that?"

"Oh, that. Well, the only person I really had to teach me proper Japanese was Oyaji, and so I didn't learn how the language actually worked the right way until I was in sixth or seventh grade." She shrugged. "After that, I tried learning the native language of whatever country we happened to be in at that time. I sometimes lapse back into the way Oyaji taught me how to talk." She snickered. "Plus, it can be annoying as hell to my enemies, sometimes."

"How many languages can you speak?" asked Ami.

"I dunno... let's see... Cantonese, English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Mongolian, Hindi... and a whole bunch of others that I can only speak a little," replied Ranma. "Oh, and I picked up Mandarin so I could talk to the Old Ghoul."

"Old Ghoul?" she replied.

Ranma laughed. "I only called her that. She's the three hundred year old matriarch of the Amazons of Joketsuzoku. She's only about a meter tall and hops around on the top of a gnarled old cane." She sighed. "She taught me a lot of my most powerful techniques. Mostly in the hope that it would lure me into marrying her great-granddaughter to learn even stronger techniques, but also because I could learn them. Not many people can."

"Why? Are they really hard to learn?" Ami asked, eager to find out how powerful Ranma really was.

Ranma looked thoughtful. "Well, first there's the Katchu Tenshin Amaguriken that I learned by grabbing chestnuts out of a roaring fire, like the technique says, so fast that I don't feel the heat from the flames. It allows me to punch about a hundred times per second. Let's see... then there's the Hiryu Shouten Ha. What you do is cool all of your emotions, called the Soul of Ice technique. Your opponent has to be emitting a strong, heated emotion; usually anger, sometimes lust. Next, you lead your opponent in an inward-leading spiral, and at the center, send all of the cold ki you've generated with an upward punch that doesn't even have to be on target. This creates a miniature tornado using the opponent's hot energy to power it." She shrugged. "Those were the only important moves she taught me; the rest was mostly minor revisions to what I already knew and... generally good advice."

Ami by now was completely fascinated and wanted to see the techniques demonstrated. 'More data to analyze.'

Setsuna spoke up then. "Is it such a good idea to tell us how your more powerful techniques work? You only just met us; how can you be sure you can trust us?"

Ranma smiled. "Like I've said, your auras tell me a lot about you. You all are good people." She shrugged. "Those are just the basic moves. I've made changes that make them more powerful and easier to use. I can pull off horizontal and downward Hiryu Shouten Ha's. I can go at Amaguriken speeds with my whole body now. Knowing how the basic techniques work won't do you any good." She sighed. "I've had a lot of time over the last three and a half months to develop more techniques, too. A lot of time," she murmured.

"Just why did you leave the Tendou Dojo, Ranma?" Setsuna inquired. "If you don't mind telling me, that is."

"No, I don't mind." She looked down at her hands, which were linked together in her hands. "Basically, almost four months ago, I heard strange noises coming from Akane's room. Thinking she might be hurt, I went in." Tears started to fall down her face. "She was in bed with Ryouga..."

Setsuna's eyes widened. "By Ryouga, you're not saying 'P-chan,' are you?"

Ranma closed her eyes, though the tears continued to leak out, and shook her head. "Nope. All I did was say, 'I see,' and walk back out. I went out and walked around Nerima until the next morning, thinking. When I got back, I went to talk to Akane. I asked her, 'Why?' She said she loved him, and that she was sorry. I told her I wasn't asking her, 'Why him?' but 'Why didn't you tell me?' I'd told her I loved her several times the previous month since Mount Phoenix and the failed wedding. I thought maybe that should have given her some responsibility to tell me... but I guess not." She wiped her eyes and looked at Setsuna. "About a week later, I left." She shrugged. "And I've been living on my own since then... Oyaji almost disowned me, but Mom stopped him at sword-point." She smiled. "Mom told me she hoped she'd see me soon and that she understood why I had to leave." She pulled out a katana from seemingly out of nowhere, to the amazement of the Senshi, minus Setsuna. "She gave me the Saotome family honour blade... She said that it was my responsibility from now on to carry on the Saotome family honour. She doesn't care if I come back as her son or her daughter... she's completely accepted what I am, now."

She smiled. "Nabiki helped me out when I left, too. She gave me a list of people to contact if I got in a fix, and about 100,000 yen. She said it was a down-payment on paying me back for 'everything she'd ever done to me.'" She shook her head. "What she 'did to me' wasn't bad at all... she was the one who kept her family out of debt and off the streets... I told her I didn't mind the pictures and schemes one bit. The Old Ghoul surprised me, too. She said that what I did at Mount Phoenix convinced the Joketsuzoku Council of Elders to declare me an honourary Amazon, and that I am immune to the Kisses of Death and Marriage." She sighed. "Xian Pu didn't take that very well..."

"She really cares about you, Ranma," Setsuna said.

Ranma nodded. "Yes, she does, but it would never work out between us. She's an Amazon who expects a completely obedient, docile husband. I'd never be able to live in Joketsuzoku... unless I declare myself female, and I'm not really inclined to do that." She smiled. "The Old Freak surprised me, too. He said that when he sees me again, he'll start to seriously train me. No more panty raids," she rolled her eyes, "no more groping... no more dangerous stunts. He has a lot of knowledge of martial arts... he did create Anything Goes. It'll definitely be worth it." She shrugged. "That's when I see him again, anyway... and I really don't want to go back to Nerima anytime soon." She sighed sadly. "Akane's there... and Ryouga; well, most of the time, at least. I don't think I'd be able to keep myself together around either one of them."

"Well," Setsuna said, "you're always welcome here. Aside from owing you a debt for saving all of our lives tonight, I want to get to know you personally. I've wanted to actually meet you for many years, but my duties as the Senshi of Pluto kept me otherwise busy."

"Thank you..." Ranma said, still surprised to be receiving such kindness from strangers.

"Why haven't you eaten or slept in so long, Ranma?" Setsuna asked. "You probably still have at least some of the money you were lent, don't you?"

"Well, I told you that I'd recently discovered the truth about what ki really is, right?" Setsuna nodded. "Well, since I left the Tendou Dojo, I've been doing nothing but training. I thought up a way to build my ki reserves by living off of nothing but my ki for as long as possible. It's amazing how ki can sustain the body so much, even without food. I had just made it to the point where I could go a week without actually feeling hungry, when I got this weird feeling. So I sat down and started meditating, trying to figure it out, when I was suddenly looking down at my body."

"An out of body experience?" Rei asked, interested.

Ranma thought for a moment. "I guess that would be a good way of describing it." She shrugged. "Well, after a bit I started experimenting, you know, trying to move around and stuff. I couldn't go very far, and after a while I was suddenly snapped back into my body again. I've come to believe that I'm actually putting my consciousness into my soul, like I normally am inside of my body. While only a soul, my aura sight is what I see by. When I look back at my own body, I see a rope or line keeping me anchored. I've come to realize that by using my ki to power my body, I'm binding my soul to it more and more closely. It's starting to give me accelerated healing, even more than I already had." She smirked. "Can't wait to show the Old Ghoul."

Ami was fascinated. 'I'm definitely going to have to study Ranma. I'm glad the Mercury computer has such fine sensors. I only hope Ranma will allow me to study this phenomenon... she'll be my guinea pig...'

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Somewhere near Okayama, in a secret laboratory, a certain flame-haired scientist sneezed.

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"Hey," Ranma said, looking around, "Where's that nice girl who healed me earlier?"

"She's in bed," Michiru said, "it is quite late."

Ranma looked at the clock and nodded.

Silence reigned for several minutes, as everyone was tired from both the earlier battle and the late hour, until Makoto came in and announced that the food was ready. Everyone went to the table and started eating, where everyone was introduced to the Saotome style of speed eating. Between bytes, Ranma complimented Makoto on her cooking. "Boy, Mako-chan," she said, shoveling more food into her mouth faster than the Senshi could see, "your cooking's even better than it used to be." She paused to take a long drink of her tea. "Boy, the first time to eat in three weeks and it's a feast fit for a king..." She looked down at herself. "Er... queen." She shrugged. "Or whatever." She looked over at Usagi, who was devouring food at her normal pace, and smirked. "Is that as fast as you can go, Usagi?"

Usagi blinked and looked up, swallowing the bite she had in her mouth. "Yeah. I mean it's not like I've had training or anything like you have."

"I bet if you applied what you're doing to eat like that to your battles, you'd be much faster."

Usagi looked sheepish. "I don't really know how I eat so fast; I just do it."

"I bet I can help you figure it out," Ranma smirked in a way that seemed somewhat malicious to all but the ever-oblivious Usagi. Setsuna's eyes widened.

Usagi looked hopeful. "You can! Really!"

Ranma nodded and looked around at the other Senshi and stated in an exaggerated voice, "Watch, now, and learn the Saotome School's first lesson in speed training." She smiled evilly at Usagi, who started to feel a little nervous. "Are you ready?" Usagi nodded hesitantly. "Then defend your food!" Usagi watched in morbid fascination as her plate started to empty, and with a mournful wail began to guard her food. At first, she wasn't very successful and lost a great portion of her plate, and she began to despair. Just as she was about to begin crying, she noticed that her plate was full once again and looked up at Ranma in surprise.

Ranma just shrugged. "I'm not gonna take all of your food. That's Oyaji's method of teaching."

The Senshi just looked at him in disbelief. "You mean your own father stole food from you!" Michiru asked, appalled.

Ranma simply nodded. "Why do you think I'm so short? I've suffered from malnutrition my entire life." She smiled wryly. "It's also why I have such bad table manners."

They ate in silence for a few minutes, until Usagi started giggling. The others all stopped eating and looked at her oddly. She only continued on until she finally broke down and started laughing madly.

"What's so funny, Usagi-chan," Rei asked.

In response, she pointed with one hand at Ranma, the other holding her gut because of her laughing. "She... and then, you..." she said, pointing now at Setsuna, "and she..." She stopped laughing for a moment, trying to regain her breath, until someone made a questioning sound, and she broke out laughing again. Everyone else waited for her to calm down, and so waited a few minutes. When she finally caught her breath, still giggling every now and then, she pointed at Ranma. "When she was invisible or whatever and startled Setsuna, and Setsuna jumped up and was all startled and all," she snickered, "FINALLY! Someone did it to her instead of her doing it to me!"

Setsuna only rolled her eyes, while everyone else had smiles on her faces. They began eating in comfortable silence again.

As Ami ate slowly, she continued going over the data she'd collected of the battle, which was still confusing her. "I don't understand this!" she said, frustrated, and ran a hand through her hair.

"Whatcha lookin' at?" Ranma asked.

Ami looked up. "The scans I made from the battle earlier. I still don't understand why our attacks had no effect at all but yours did."

"It's because you were using magic against things from a completely different dimension. What magic does is try to bend the rules of this universe to produce the desired effects. Since the demons aren't a part of this reality, magic doesn't have any effect. Even if you were to use your magic to, say, collapse a building onto one of them, it wouldn't be affected in the least because the collapse was caused by magic." She shrugged. "I use my chi, my ki filtered through emotion, on them. Since they don't have any ki, which is one of the most basic elements of this reality, both matter and energy, they don't have any resistance to my chi attacks. Against demons of that nature, your attacks become completely null and mine become omnipotent."

Ami's eyes widened in understanding. "That means that against this enemy, the Sailor Senshi are useless."

Ranma shook her head. "I wouldn't say that. If this is an invasion, and not just a random event, then the longer they stay here, the more the rules of this universe affect them. So eventually, you'll be much more effective than me. Plus, you can train to use the power you get from your planets without transforming." She smiled. "Your planets give you wells of ki that I will never be able to compare to." She blinked. "I can train you, if you want." Haruka and Makoto grinned in anticipation.

Ami raised an eyebrow. "I don't think I'm all that suited for martial arts, Ranma-san. But I am most interested in the theory behind this 'ki' you keep referring to."

Ranma shrugged. "I'm more than willing to help you out." She looked around.

"Ranma, you say you've been on the road your entire life, correct?" Michiru asked.

"Yeah, why?" Ranma responded.

"Well, it just seems to me like you have a good grasp of physics with all your talk about the rules of the universe. I was just curious as to how that is."

"Oh, well, when I left the Tendou Dojo, I started going to libraries and started readin' stuff that I'd missed. When I started using my ki all the time to sustain me, I started having a lot of time because I don't have to sleep for a while when I'm doing that. Plus, now I don't have to actually train for speed, strength, and endurance anymore because of my new training. All I have to do now is work on my pure skill, which is like nirvana for a true martial artist. Training the mind and body to be in sync without having to worry about being the best is... a wondrous thing for me. As far as knowing about how magic and the rules of reality work, in my quest for a cure to my curse, I've read a lot about how magic works."

As Michiru thought about the things Ranma said, Rei spoke up. "You don't seem to mind your curse all that much, Ranma. You've been a girl pretty much the entire time."

Ranma sighed. "While I don't mind my curse that much anymore, I do want to cure it. And as for staying this way, I'm trying to follow some advice that the Old Ghoul gave me. She said that I need to become comfortable with my female form to achieve some sort of stability in my life." She shrugged. "So that's what I'm doing, trying to get used to it." She looked around. "Say, where'd those cat look-a-likes run off to?"

"I asked them to leave the room for you, Ranma-kun," Setsuna explained.

"Nah, it's alright," Ranma shook her head. "Mao don't scare me; they're not really cats. Different aura." She chuckled a bit. "I've known a few Mao, but they aren't all that common, though."

Setsuna blinked. "I didn't think any other Mao were still alive."

"Yeah, well the ones I met said that they were survivors of some kingdom from the moon; the Silver Empire, or something like that." She looked around at all the shocked looks. "What?"

"We're from the Moon Kingdom!" Usagi exclaimed. "Could you help us get into contact with these survivors?"

Ranma blinked. "Sure, I'll help you, but what do you mean, you're 'from the Moon Kingdom'? Hephaestus said that it fell over twenty thousand years ago!"

"When the Dark Kingdom attacked the Moon Palace directly, at the end of the Silver Millennium," Setsuna explained, "Queen Serenity used her power to send the souls of the Senshi and Prince Endymion of Earth, and Prince Endymion of Earth to the future, to rebuild what had been lost, and sealed the Dark Kingdom away to the Negaverse. They all were sent forward, except for myself."

Ranma was curious. "What about you?"

She looked down. "I had already retreated to the Gates of Time before the war started. My duty transcends the fate of the Kingdom. I am a protector of humanity itself, and the guardian of an artifact that monitors and can control Time itself." She looked up. "I have been there for the last twenty thousand years, by myself, waiting for the other Senshi and the Princess to be reborn."

Ranma could hear the pain and loneliness in Setsuna's voice. It was similar to what she felt as a result of Akane's betrayal. She could tell that Setsuna covered it up quite well with her emotionless mask, much like Nabiki's, but Ranma could still detect it. She nodded somewhat sadly. "Yes, I think I understand what you're saying." She sighed softly. "It always come back to duty, doesn't it?"

There was silence for the next several minutes, as everyone finished eating. Ami stood up. "I should be getting home. It's getting quite late." She walked over to Ranma and embraced her. "It's been a pleasure meeting you Ranma-san." She smiled. "I look forward to any future discussions with you."

Ranma looked surprised for a moment before returning the hug with interest, a content smile on her face. "The pleasure's all mine, Ami-san." After that, everyone else gave their goodbyes as well.

Setsuna stopped Ranma as she headed to the door as well. "And where do you think you're going?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Err..." Ranma started, grabbing her pig-tail in nervousness, "to the park?"

"And what, pray tell, is in the park?"

"A bench to sleep on?" Ranma responded meekly.

"You're perfectly welcome to stay here, Ranma," Michiru said.

"Yeah! I can't wait to see some of your moves!" Haruka said as her eyes roamed over the Ranma's lithe form, and was rewarded with a sharp elbow from Michiru, who started to walk to her bedroom. "Aw, c'mon, Mi-chan, I was just joking!" she protested, following after her lover.

"I don't want to freeload or anything..." Ranma meekly responded.

Setsuna smiled and pulled Ranma unresisting upstairs and down the hall into a room empty of everything but a futon. "Where is your pack, Ranma? I didn't see it with you when you first saved me."

"Another part of my training. I'm using Mousse's Hidden Weapons technique to carry all my stuff." She looked down. "Thanks again for letting me stay here."

Setsuna smiled kindly and enveloped Ranma in a warm hug. "I've watched your life from the Gates of Time that I guard Ranma, and I've wanted to help you, but couldn't for various reasons. I know a lot of the things that have happened to you that you never tell anyone about." Setsuna pushed Ranma away slightly to look into her eyes. "Now I have the chance to do something to help you."

Ranma blinked back tears, smiling a grand smile. "You all have been so nice to me. Your friends didn't treat me like a freak when they found out about my curse. I'm going to do my best to return the favour." She hugged Setsuna, clinging as she shook slightly.

They stayed that way for a few moments, until Setsuna pulled away. "Well, time to get some sleep." She gave Ranma a serious gaze. "I don't care if you can go without sleep, you still need to after being injured the way you were earlier."

Ranma sighed. "Okay, I'll sleep." She smiled. "Good night."

Setsuna smiled her usual sardonic, all-knowing smile, her mask in place once again. "Sweet dreams, Ranma." With that, she left the room.

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Authour's notes: Well, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. And Ranma hasn't done a total one-eighty as far as his emotional/mental state is concerned, he's just buried it, which will come back to haunt him later on. If anyone would like to pre-read for me, it would be much appreciated. I've been writing this for quite some time, but bits and pieces have never seemed to me to be quite good enough to actually put out for others to read. Luckily, I recently got a bulldozer for my writer's block, and voila! I'm writing again. Thanks for all the reviews and comments for the prologue. Your input is appreciated! The next chapter might be a good deal coming because school's almost out and my family doesn't have an Internet connection.

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First draft started: Monday, 2004 May 24

First draft completed: Sunday, 2005 April 12

Last update: Sunday, 2005 April 07

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Ranma ½ and all of its belongs to Takahashi Rumiko-sama.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon and all of its characters belong to Takeuchi Naoko-sama.

I am not making any money off of this in any way. The only things in this story that I own are the plot and the demons. (In other words, I own nothing but the minions of Hell... hehe).