The Best of Times…
A Fukufics (dotcom) Production
Oh, she is SO going to get it, Ranma thought as another fiancée locked onto his arm. This fiancée had long brown hair, soft eyes and a combat spatula slung across her back. Somehow she managed to not only to favor the pigtailed martial artist with a smile, but shoot corrosive daggers at the woman on his other arm. The recipient, a purple haired Amazon sniffed with contempt, opting to apply yet more of her body to the relentless glomping of her prize. Ranma's brain stuttered momentarily as soft body parts were applied to his person in equal measure, but was quickly rebooted by roiling annoyance. Somehow he managed to filter the sensations that would turn an ordinary man into nothing more than a quivering hormone and concentrated instead on an entirely different concept…
He wasn't sure quite yet, but two fiancées had simply appeared out of the blue almost simultaneously and he had since become very wary of such happenstance. There was a reason for that. Now granted, it could be coincidence, Ranma thought if only to entertain himself and bask in the unreality of the idea. And if it was, Akane wouldn't be showing up to—
Sure enough, the girl with a cobalt crop of short, silky hair rounded the corner, her eyes locking on the entwined trio immediately. A bright blue battle aura snapped into existence. "What the HELL do you think you're doing?"
Ranma cringed slightly, but the tactical portion of his mind was already focusing on other matters… That woman was so, SO going to get it. Part of him was actually offended slightly. The least she could have done was something different this time around. If you're going to sabotage somebody's life, at least be creative about it; But instead it the same old catalyst: Fiancées, glomp, Akane, Ryoga—
"NOW WHERE AM I?"
The pig tailed boy nodded. Right on schedule. He would almost be bored with the situation if it weren't so damn annoying. Next would be Mousse, Ranma ticked down the mental checklist as Ryoga launched into his tirade. Mousse should be on scene within five minutes to follow up on Shampoo. Kuno would invariably follow, but not always, followed by the Big One. He paid little attention to Akane's rant now, noting only the pitch of her ever-increasing pyre of rage. Ranma was more concerned with the Big One, which normally consisted of one overly large and obscenely powerful adversary that would drop in during the entire mess to vent his/her/its frustrations out on the world's best martial artist. Sunlight flashed off a mirrored surface as Mousse touched down from the rooftop, blades gleaming wickedly. Ryoga had finished his outburst. Akane had deployed her mallet and now it was Mousse's turn. The fiancées at his arm abruptly disengaged and dropped into combat stances opposite one another.
Ranma sighed wearily. Payback was definitely in order. With liberal amounts of interest following shortly thereafter.
The long, green-haired woman smoothed out her white-black fuku and nodded with satisfaction, locking the Time Gates before her. Keeping the world's premier martial artist occupied was indeed a full time job, but it was an absolutely necessary one. Sailor Pluto let the key to eternity rest lightly on a shoulder and allowed a self-satisfied smile creep across her face. She thought the giant purple dinosaur showing up toward the end was a nice touch on her part. Granted, the Guardian of Time knew she should have been enjoying her job so much, but when faced with the crushing weight of eternity's passage, one couldn't help but to have some fun every now and then.
Besides, it was absolutely necessary.
Sailor Pluto had once considered letting Ranma Saotome to lead a normal life, but quickly found that allowing him any sort of free reign was like taking a sledge hammer to all of her carefully laid plans. Without some sort of diversion, the outcomes that led to Crystal Tokyo dissolved into a hectic mass of divergent probabilities, each as likely as the next while only six point five percent favored the future she was so desperate to achieve. Normally the Outer would have just removed him at birth, but the chaos that flowed around him and his family made it all but impossible to track that event and his subsequent childhood. She could almost feel the gates wince whenever she tried as they outright refused to lock onto the boy. It had taken Sailor Pluto sixteen years to devise a counter and once Ranma settled in Nerima, that was all she wrote. While she couldn't track him or his chaos-ridden family, she could track his friends and acquaintances, of which he seemed to have plenty.
The bad news was that once she had finally located him those sixteen years later, his power had grown exponentially. Outright removing him from the timeline had proven all but impossible. After all, you can only direct so many meglomanical kidnappers, Chinese gods and Phoenix people at somebody before giving up in absolute disgust as they failed time and again to bring the target down. But Sailor Pluto was the Guardian of the Time Gates for a reason and she had learned early in her career that which could not be destroyed could invariably be manipulated. In short, she kept one of the world's most powerful martial artists busy. Very busy. He had certainly given her enough material to play with and he was now very easy to track in that quagmire named Nerima. Pluto still couldn't focus on him specifically, but his friends, enemies and acquaintances generally knew enough for her to manipulate and conduct operations against the boy. As long as she could keep it up, Crystal Tokyo stood a ninety-six point three chance of existing.
Sailor Pluto nodded to herself once more. All in a day's work.
Most people would have killed for a wishing sword. All Ranma had to do was look cute as a girl. He remembered the day quite clearly as family, friends and enemies had taken a pointed interest in exactly what he would be wishing for.
"Ranma wish Shampoo and Airen marry, yes?"
"I say you wish for a few million in cash, Saotome."
"You are definitely going to wish for a cure, boy!"
"No way is that Amazon Hussy marrying my Ran-chan!"
"If you don't wish for cure for all of us, I'll kill you Ranma!"
"What do I care what that baka wishes for anyway?"
Even the memory was painful, Ranma winced as he blurred through another kata, creating a nearly imperceptible flaw in its flowing precision. The arguing over his wish continued for another ten minutes before his patience exhausted itself and he uttered those fateful words—
"Ahhrg! I wish I knew why I can't get a moment's peace!"
He hadn't meant to say that. In fact, he had meant for his actual wish to have more substance, but the frustration of the moment consumed him and the sword activated. That's when the focus of Ranma's entire life changed. The image of a green haired woman imprinted itself into his mind's eye. She was 5'6", had long green hair and unusual purple eyes. The vision wore a modest lavender business suit and was, by all rights, drop dead gorgeous. The visage faded and was replaced by one of the same woman wielding a heart tipped staff. Now she wore a very revealing black and white fuku, showing off generous portions of the woman's marvelous curves. All in all, Ranma would have been more than happy with the vision, if not for the knowledge that crashed into him like a sledgehammer seconds later. She was Setsuna Meiou otherwise known as Sailor Pluto, Guardian of Time. Even if the wish hadn't supplied him with the information, her title said it all and it became clear that she considered him a threat. This, of course was why his life was hell—She was directly manipulating the events around him to make it hell.
Ranma finished the last of his kata and began to slow through the cool-down phase. Why she was so intent on screwing up his life wasn't known, as the scope of his wish hadn't provided that particular morsel of information. What it had provided was awareness, and ever since that vision Ranma's awareness of the events around him had snapped from idle acceptance to piercing scrutiny. Soon, the pigtailed martial artist began to see the patterns of her meddling. They were normally quite easy to spot once he knew what to look for since they invariably had her trademark 'signature' to them. Five months down the road, Ranma Saotome was able to spot a "Pluto was here" event miles away, Even if he could do nothing to avoid it. Now they served only to reinforce those feelings of payback.
The pigtailed boy had now moved from the Dojo to his room, pulling out the aging copy of Pop Tokyo Now! from under his futon and flipped it open to the folded page. Ranma Saotome, heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts generally wasn't one to pick up the latest trendy teen girls magazines, but this one was special. What caught his eye was the group photo of the Sailor Scouts on the front and it had taken every ounce of his Soul of Ice technique to overcome the embarrassment of buying the frilly girls magazine. Ranma plopped down on his futon and now viewed the marked page containing the bios of each Sailor Scout. It was probably the hundredth time or he had done so, but he was now operating solidly under the premise of 'Know Thy Enemy'. The wish had given him fairly detailed information on Setsuna herself, but none on her partners in crime. Knowing that she was a Sailor Scout made it easy to pick up information on her friends, as every teen magazine seemed to have an over-abundance of them. Even without the knowledge of their real identities, there was more than enough information on them to discern their powers and likely tactics. Ranma pulled out another issue, this one title Teen-Teen Express! It was ironic that Ranma could now buy girly teen magazines in either form without so much as flinching now and days. Call it a perverse form of curse therapy. He thumbed through the new magazine now, not the least bit self-conscious of the fact that it was pink, cute and decidedly aimed toward the female population. This particular copy had in-depth personality information and the like, which he absorbed like a sponge. If Setsuna Meiou even had a clue as to what she had done to trigger this behavior, she might well be shaking in her high-heels.
Simply put, neither realized that what the Outer had done was a very bad thing for her long-term sanity. The fact that she was meddling in his affairs wasn't enough to cause the change, but his actual knowledge of her was. Ranma's psyche had been somewhat of a mixed bag since childhood. Had he been allowed to develop normally, the martial artist could have easily been a genius in anything and everything he applied himself to. Instead, he had been denied any semblance of a normal life, traumatized, beaten and forced to concentrate with unwavering focus on the martial arts. The result was a form of mental scarring that all but locked his fantastic mental process in a box, only to be released when faced with a fight. Normally this wouldn't be a problem for the Senshi of Time but for one minor detail… Now that Ranma knew an outside force was influencing his life, that tactical computer was finally freed from its bottle and it analyzed everything, actively searching out her influence in order to avoid or prevent it. It also began to affect his normal life, and very slowly that genius level intellect began to assert itself in every area of his life. It wasn't a perfect match as there was still a lot of scarring to overcome, but it was there. Free. And slowly winding up like a ravenous jet intake.
It was perhaps a redundant item of interest to point out that Nabiki Tendo had absolutely no concept of personal privacy. Or rather she did have such a concept, but simply chose to apply it only to herself. Everybody else however, was fair game. Like many other commodities in life, privacy could be bought and sold for the right price and Nabiki was an expert in the art of invading that particular aspect of people's lives. Certain people were of course exempt from this practice, Kasumi being tops on that list. The eldest sister was sweet, kind, caring… And held more leverage in the household than she could shake a broomstick at. Kasumi never got angry. She got even. In very subtle ways.
Ranma Saotome, resident freeloader and future brother in-law to be, however was at the very bottom of that list.
Tonight it was time to invade his privacy, collect some debts and extort some pictures from him. Or rather, her. It was a shakedown in every sense of the word and like every other night, she was certain it would go off it out a hitch. Of course, that supposition flew right out the window the moment she turned the door handle to his room and stepped in. All things considered, she had seen stranger things since the Saotomes took up residence in her home. Ass-ugly Phoenix Birds. Demonic possession. Any number of shape-gender-species shifting martial artists. Yes, while the sight in front of her was easily eclipsed by those events, it still ranked somewhere in the top twenty of Nerima's Weirdest. It was Ranma. Laying on his futon. Surrounded by teen girls magazines.
Needless to say, Nabiki Tendo took a moment to recover.
Ranma's head snapped up and the two considered one another for a small eternity. The Mercenary recovered first. "You know Ranma, if you're going all girl again, at least give me some warning first."
The words snapped Ranma back to the real world with a crimson blush and he flew off the futon, away from the offending "literature"; if one could use such a term and maintain a strait face. The martial artists flailed wildly in embarrassment. "It's not what it looks like!"
"It looks like you were reading a bunch of teen magazines."
'Uh… Right…" Ranma found a much neglected spot on the wooden floor at his feet, avoiding eye contact in its entirety. "It's… um, ah, Research."
Nabiki's eyebrow arched. This situation had money written all over it. "Research? I see. Researching the latest in beauty tips?"
"No!" His head snapped back up in protest, a pained look on Ranma's face.
"NO!" The protest came more loudly and Nabiki simply smirked. This was 'Money' with a capital 'M'.
"I see." Nabiki stated, smiling widely now. "One hundred and one ways to satisfy your man?"
"NONONONO!" The horrified look on Ranma's face was priceless. "Dammit, I'm researching the Senshi!"
"As in the Sailor Senshi?" Nabiki asked with a slight hint of incredulity. Ok, she decide, the situation just went from run-of-the-mill strange to downright weird. A girly Ranma she could accept. There was precedence to that. A male Ranma defending his manliness while surrounded by teen 'zines and researching the Sailor Senshi was just north of the Twilight Zone, however. Ranma opened his mouth and closed it just as fast, realizing his most grievous error. Not that there were too many ways for him to talk his way out of the situation Nabiki observed with predatory glee. The evidence just doesn't get more damning than this. She considered the situation thoughtfully. "Ok, Saotome. Before I extort a very large sum of money from you, would you care to explain why you have at least fifteen girl magazines and why you're reading up on the Senshi?"
Ranma looked indignant at first, then sighed. "Sure, why not. As if yer gonna believe me anyway." Nabiki simply waited in the doorway. "Remember that stupid wish I made?" Oh, Nabiki remembered it all right. A veritable fortune flushed away because of Ranma's bumbling. A minor scowl crossed her face at the thought and she tacked on a bit extra to Saotome's 'protection' bill.
"I got my wish after all."
Nabiki blinked, annoyance temporarily forgotten. She had thought- like everybody else –that the wish was so assinine that it wasn't even granted or that the sword just told him he was an idiot and disappeared. But the fact that it had granted the wish and Ranma about it was an entirely different matter. What was that wish again? Ah yes… "You wished you knew why you can't get a moment's peace?' What's that got to do with…?"
Ranma nodded. "Well, I found out why I can't... Get any peace, that is." Nabiki was actually interest now and watched as he picked up one of the many magazines. "This is why."
Nabiki focused in on who he pointed at in the glossy picture. "Sailor Pluto?" He watched the skeptisim form in her eyes. "You do realize…"
"How unbelievable that sounds?" Ranma finished and she nodded. "Yeah, but before the wish, I didn't even know what a Senshi was and her face and everything about her was crammed into my head."
"So all of this…?" Nabiki waved a hand towards the strewn magazines. She shivered at his next words and the ice that laced them.
"Know thy enemy."
Every doubt that Nabiki had as to wheter Ranma was pulling her leg or not evaporated in that instant and she knew that he was going after The Defenders of Love and Justice. Not that she cared as such. Love and Justice weren't exactly the harbingers of profit by themselves, but stir in one pigtailed martial artist…
"Alright Saotome… Let's talk business."
Finding the Sailor Senshi was a trivial task. Every piece of "literature" Ranma had pointed to the district of Juuban as their primary base of operations. The plan was easy enough; wander around town, find a Youma attack and wait for the Senshi to show up.
He watched the fight from atop a nearby house, cloaked using the sealed Umi-sen-ken technique. Despite his general knowledge of the magical girls, it was exactly that—"General". If this he was going to have any chance in hell of formulating an effective plan against Pluto's meddling in his life, he was going to need to get to know them a bit better. The fight progressed and Ranma began to mentally tag the three combatants present. His eyes first fell on the sailor with a short crop for cobalt blue hair. He had seen her in the magazines before, but that never stayed the feeling of intense deja'vu he felt whenever looking at Sailor Murcury's image. The girl could have easily passed as a younger Akane Tendo in some other life. She hung at the back of the battle and appeared to be consulting some sort of tiny calculator as the other two engaged their target, a sickly pink looking creature that vaguely resembled a woman. With claws. Really, really long claws.
Golden crescent arcs of light slammed into the monster, sending it skittering across the landscape courtesy of the blonde in the orange and white fuku. Some serious power, Ranma noted as Sailor Venus carried the assault forward. The battered "youma" as Ranma had come to know them righted itself just in time for the next attack to slam home courtesy of the green and white clad girl, otherwise known as Sailor Jupiter. The lighting bolt burned through the monster's torso, which was already weakened by Venus' last attack. The Youma sagged and stared at the smoldering hole in it's chest before collapsing completely, disintegrating into ash.
Good, Ranma nodded from the rooftop as the trio gathered around the remains. It would put a serious crimp in his plans if he had to help them at this point. The battle had been quite enlightening. The Sailors appeared to rely heavily on ranged attacks that definitely weren't ki-based. Magic based? Ranma rolled the idea around in his head. That would fit with the information he have so far. So far it wasn't anything his martial arts abilities couldn't emulate to one degree or another. Ah, there they go. It was almost laughable that they were actually fighting in those costumes, though it appeared they took surprisingly little damage in the tussle. Magical as well most likely, which meant they the girls were probably tougher than they looked.
Ranma roof hopped after the girls and it wasn't five minutes later that he found them outside an apartment. PLEASE tell me they aren't that obvious, he thought at the girls, who merely looked around to make sure nobody was watching and promptly de-transformed. The martial artist shook his head in disgust. How in the world have they survive this long! The Defenders of Love and Justice transforming to their daily selves right in front of their home base? On one hand he was happy they had such an exploitable weakness while on the other hand it was downright scary that they had such an exploitable weakness. He stared down from the rooftop as they filed in and felt something was off… Something vague. Like his brain didn't want to associate the Sailors with the girls he just saw de-transform.
Wonder if this is what Kuno feels like, Ranma thought with some amusement as he tried to analyze the sensation. It had a taste to it. More magic? It would certainly explain how they could get away with being so careless, he decided and began to case the apartment. Hmmm… If I were a sailor- Ranma cringed at the thought –I'd have all sorts of security on that place. Windows. Doors. Everything. But then, they haven't exactly shown much skill in the art of subterfuge either. He mentally noted the sun drifting lazily toward the horizon and decided he'd had enough fun for one day. Three Sailors and their civilian faces were commited to memory, a base of operations tagged with no sign of reprisal while Pluto's residence was already burned into his brain thanks to the wish. All in all it had been a pretty good day, which got Ranma to wondering… Just how much did The Meddler know about him and his activities? He'd have thought that if keeping him tied up was a priority, Sailor Pluto would have put an even higher priory on curbing today's reconnaissance, let alone positively ID'ing her teammates. Ranma chewed on the revelation as he roof-hopped home. Whatever she was, it was looking as if she didn't have a complete picture of his daily life… which in turn led to yet more questions, such as how she got her information and how much she could find out. Even so, his tactical mindset awakened with today's revelations that his opponent was far from all knowing and all seeing.
That fact alone gave him considerable leeway to formulate his payback.
Setsuna Meiou was concerned. Not panicky, just concerned. Apparently Ranma was taking a day off, because she could not find him for the life of her. Not that the Gates would have locked onto the boy anyway, but he apparently wasn't around any of his friends either. When combined with the chaos that surrounded him, he was effectively invisible unless she could pin down somebody who had seen him and THAT would take a lot of work if she had to expand outside friends and family.
Sailor Pluto shrugged. Aw, what the hell. Let him have his day off. She smiled. After all, tomorrow was pterodactyl day.
Ranma stared. It was an honest-to-God giant pterodactyl. He was almost flattered. Sailor Pluto, the Senshi of Time had sicced Rodan on him. The enormous winged reptile blew overhead once more in yet another attempt to impale him with its razor sharp talons. It had actually been Mousse who had unleashed the monster against him, but Ranma knew Setsuna's handiwork when he saw it and knew she had somehow arranged for Mousse to come into possession of the ancient summoning statue. Yes, she was the one responsible, even if by proxy. The pigtailed martial artist sent another Moko Takabishi into the over flying beast's belly and it seemed to staggered in midair before escaping to high altitude.
By now even Mousse realized his mistake and had joined in the defense of Nerima as the air came alive in a surreal display of martial arts anti-aircraft fire. Swords, maces, training potties, ki-blasts, spatula shiruken, ninja stars and other exotic ordinance tracked through the sky in an effort to bring down the wayward Jurassic reject who had steadily been ripping apart Nerima in its effort to evisorate Ranma. That was two hours ago, and what had Ranma Saotome to show for his troubles?
"WHATDDYA DO THAT FOR?" Ranma hollered as he peeled himself from the floor. He would almost swear that mallet was made of ki absorbant materials since he never could seem to detect its presence or its inevitable application to his person.
"That's for almost destroying the city!" Akane fumed indignantly.
"IT WASN'T MY FAULT!" He protested and watched as she gripped the stealthy mallet tighter.
"It's your fault for flirting with that hussy all the time!" Akane countered and Ranma missed a vital connection somewhere.
Akane's eyes narrowed sharply and the rest of the family watched the scene play out with morbid fascination. It really was better than a soap opera. "If you didn't flirt with the Chinese Slut so much, Mousse wouldn't be jealous. If Mousse wasn't jealous then he wouldn't have resorted to using a giant flying reptile against you!" Ranma twitched at the thoroughly twisted logic, and then she added out of spite, "Pervert!"
Ranma blinked as the family stared on in silence. Akane glowered at him. If there was ever a moment of absolute clarity in Ranma's life, it was right here and right now. Two thoughts burned in Ranma's mind. First, Akane was absolutely insane. He loved her. Even killed for her, but it was moments like these that made him doubt if the world was even round, let alone his relationship with her. The second thought?
Setsuna Meiou was SO going to pay.
Setsuna Meiou teleported into her room later that night. Ranma hadn't been the only one having a long, excruciating day. Sure, that exercise in insanity had brightened her spirits considerably, but then she found the probabilities on Crystal Tokyo drifting again and had to remove three minor villains and a teenage pop idol from the timeline. The villains were a gimmie as they would eventually grow in influence to challenge the Senshi. Not that they would ever beat her girls, but they would appear and join forces at a most inopportune moment, knocking Crystal Tokyo out of the probabilities by five point eight percent. The Pop Idol on the other hand was a different matter entirely. She was entirely too distracting for her own good and simply had to be eliminated.
Setsuna de-transformed into an elegant business two piece and flipped on the light. She immediately froze. There were hundreds of them. No, thousands of them. Everywhere. One crawled atop her high-heeled shoe. The woman formerly known as Sailor Pluto twitched.
Fifteen minutes later a concerned Usagi stared at the huddling ball quivering on the sofa, Michiru sitting next to her in a futile attempt to comfort the terrified woman. Nobody would have believed it if they hadn't seen it themselves since the oldest of the Senshi wasn't generally prone to abject, irrational terror. Or any other emotion, for that matter. But then, who wouldn't be after being subjected to an apartment room full of roaches, all of which had absolutely no concept of the words 'personal space'.
"I think that's all of them." Ami stated as she swept her clam shelled PDA around the premises once more. Ah yes, the Murcury Computer… being used to hunt roaches. The cobalt blue haired girl frowned at the thought.
"Any idea what caused this?" Michiru asked from the couch, stroking the stricken woman's green hair gently.
"No. The house is clean. No evidence of forced entry." Ami fingered a sheet of paper, handing it to Usagi first. "Except for this."
The blonde took the yellow sticky note and read it allowed, eliciting the first reaction from Setsuna Meiou since they found her screaming. Her head snapped up and eyes widened to the size of dinner plates.
"Ranma was here."
End Part 1
Author's notes: Fukufics asked if I could do a Ranma/SM fic for them and I said, "Sure, why not?" with little idea of what I was getting myself into. Needless to say, we're talking about a nearly saturated genre of fics. The biggest challenge was creating something original and after two aborted attempts, I think I have something here. things to look forward to: Sailor Nova Ranma (w/Fuku, Sunny ;). Sailor Tux Ranma. More Fiancees (for both Ranma and Pluto). The infiltration of the Senshi. The manipulation of said Senshi. A tub full of Cheeze Wiz. And of course, The Big Battle™.
Think of it as just one huge pissing contest.
And that's just the first date ;)
Akane; I'll head this one off before it gets started; Yes, I do portray her as a beotch. No, I did not fall into the lazy "Akane's a hose beast" trap. I purposely stepped into it, thank you very much If you ever see me with a pro-Akane fic, there's a snowball fight going on in hell.
Pluto's Eye Color; Damned if I could find one pic that have the same shade. They look something like a marron-mauve, so don't bust me too badly on this one.
Special thanks to Proof Readers Delta-Theta, Sunny, Yarrow, Ellf
Changes in v2 - Sailor Venus fuku orange, not red. Mousse lauches training potties as opposed to their larger cousins. Outers live in an house, not apartment. Grammar, spelling.