Chapter Three

Ranma's plan to do a quick runner and avoid the attention of those who would likely be rather quick to blame him for the Tower being ruined came to a crashing halt when he realised that the Tower was full of people who were probably going to need help to escape it. Even his pop at his worst wouldn't be able to turn his back on that; they were martial artists, sworn to protect the weak. He'd lived up to that by defeating the monster, now he had to live up to it by making sure they didn't have a few thousand tons of steel fall on their heads because of him.

It was a bit of a problem really. If he was still around when the police arrived, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would somehow become all his fault. It was just the way things worked. Something's wrong – Ranma's there – it's all his fault. It was an unbreakable chain. All it really needed was someone to start yelling about seeing hell and the picture was complete. But what could he do, really? Run away like a coward or help the weak. Not much of a choice. He needed a fix.

He ran through the martial arts techniques he knew or had just seen in his head. Splitting cat hairs was no good, body duplication was no good, those weird turn-into-giant-animals techniques used by Konatsu's sisters were no good, the sealed techniques either hid you completely or not at all, and so it went. He didn't know anything he could use for a quick disguise. He'd need to do something about that; maybe his pop would know something like that. But that didn't fix his problem. He needed something now not when he could get some training in. The police wouldn't give him a rematch.

He did have that strange power – magic, he supposed – that he'd felt inside him since that whole thing with the wedding-dress demon, but he didn't know how to do anything useful with it, so that was no good. What else did he have? He had that girly phone thing they'd given him and . . . oh. He had a transformation pen. The talking demon-monster-thing had forced that on him with the phone when they'd had their group meeting. If he remembered right, they'd said it had some sort of weird magic on it so when he turned into fuku-girl so he wouldn't be recognisable to normal people who didn't already know.

God, but the pen looked girly. He wasn't exactly new to wearing girly clothes or anything, but this was awful. Pink. No matter how well adjusted he got to having to deal with girl-stuff, pink would always make him shudder. Well, there was no point putting it off.

"Jupiter Power, Make Up," intoned Ranma with all the enthusiasm of a man who's about to be forcibly married to Kodachi Kuno.

Immediately, her curse was activated and she felt the distinctive tingling of her body switching to a female's. She barely even noticed that though. Her attention was focussed entirely on the lightning that was flashing around her body as her clothes dissolved into thin air. That was fairly disturbing on its own, but it wasn't a patch on the way she was yanked into the air and twisted into a series of absolutely ridiculous poses as pieces of clothing appeared out of the air and attached themselves to her body. If there was anything worse for a martial artist than completely losing control of their body, Ranma didn't want to see it.

Eventually, thank every spirit that was in the vicinity, the whole thing came to an end with a particularly bright flash of lightning and a twist into the most ridiculous pose of them all. Ranma immediately shifted into a normal position and cast an eye around the room she was in. God, she hoped there were no cameras in the vicinity. She would never, ever live that down, not in a million years. She'd be floating around in the afterlife and still getting taunted about that if Ryoga or her pop ever saw it. First thing she was going when she got the chance was figuring out a way to stop all the damn posing.

Okay, there was no time to waste getting pissy because of some stupid magic trick making her do stupid poses in the nude like some sort of stupid perverted model that someone like that stupid old letch would drool over in one of his stupid magazines that he bought from that stupid shop. Would have been nice if someone had, you know, warned her, though, especially about the nude part. She might not embarrass early, but her mom would go spare if she'd gone through that lot in public.

Ranma shook that off. Time to go. There wasn't anyone nearby who needed her help. Anyone who'd got caught between her and the monster wouldn't have made it anyway, and there hadn't been anyone left alive there. With that in mind, she sprinted to the stairs and headed down to the next floor. There'd probably be survivors starting there, she figured, and there'd be some needing help.

And she was right. Straight away she ran into a whole load milling around near the stairs looking both clueless and highly disturbed by what had just happened. They didn't notice her immediately, but once one of the men – and it just had to be a man, didn't it, of course – noticed her, word spread, and the group was quickly gawking at her.

"Umm, hey," said Ranma, scratching at the base of her pigtail nervously. "I'm Ra-Sailor Jupiter. Sorry 'bout this."

"You're real?" blurted out someone near the back of the group. Ranma couldn't see them to identify them.

"Nah, I'm just a figment of your imagination. Course I'm real! Shouldn't you people be, I dunno, evacuating or something?"

"Is it safe?" asked someone.

"Safer 'n being up here if the tower falls," said Ranma. "Come on, even bacon-bits could figure that out."

"No monsters?"

"Only monster was up there," said Ranma, jerking her head upwards. "I kicked its ass."

Well, they didn't need to hear anything else. They were off as soon as they heard that there was nothing waiting to eat them. Didn't even give her time to ask if anyone needed help. It went like that a lot as Ranma worked her way through the tower. Few hung around long enough for conversation once they knew it was safe to make a break for it, and it turned out that Ranma wasn't really needed anyway. A couple of people had fallen down stairs and broken legs or what have you when the monster put everyone to sleep, but there was stuff in place to deal with that. Emergency stretchers and stuff so people could get them out if something bad happened.

Ranma was soon clear to go, and she didn't hang around. She just knew that someone would start to think about it sooner or later and she didn't want to have to kick some policeman's ass to get away.


Tokyo was in chaos. The emergency services were completely, utterly, overwhelmed by what had happened. Ranma could hear the sound of sirens blaring coming from all directions and beyond that there was the scene she'd dropped into when she'd dropped down from a roof and started to walk home. A bus had been coming up to a turn in the road when the driver was caught by the spell and had slammed into straight and through into a brick wall before running into a lamp post and then somehow managing to tip into its side and skid along before friction brought it to a halt. At least that's what Ranma was able to tell from the aftermath.

It was an absolute mess. The area was crawling with police, firemen, and ambulance crews, but that was something Ranma barely even noticed. Her attention was entirely focussed on the people being brought out of the wreckage. They were all, down to the last man, badly injured. They hadn't been able to brace themselves or anything and they must have been tossed around the bus like a bunch of pinballs as it crashed. It was horrible and Ranma couldn't bring herself to look away. Those were people she might have been able to save if she'd been that little bit quicker or a little bit smarter.

"Miss, you should go," said a policeman, stepping in front of her. "This is no place for a teenage girl."

Ranma opened her mouth to snap off a habitual denial, but it died on her lips. It just wasn't the time or the place. Even she could tell that. At that point, she realised that she was crying. Not much, but the sting was there, and she feel the moisture on her face. Normally, she'd be ridiculously embarrassed, but she couldn't find it in herself right then. She simply wiped the tears off her face and walked away.

It was a fairly long walk from the Tower to the Saotome family home, and Ranma didn't have the spirit about her to go roof-hopping and make it quick. So she just trudged along, taking in the aftermath of the monster's spell. The bus was probably the worst of it, at least that she saw, but there was plenty more misery and suffering to go around that day. By the time she got home, she felt almost as badly as she had at Mount Phoenix when she'd thought Akane was dead.

The street was mercifully quiet as Ranma approached the family home. Even the local gossips seemed to be keeping to themselves. Somewhat eerie as it was, she was glad; she didn't think she'd have reacted very well to having one of the old crones start up that day. And, most mercifully, the street appeared to have been spared. There were no crashed vehicles, no signs of emergency services, nothing.

As soon as she opened the door and made her way in, her mom was there, circling her, eyeing her up as she looked for any injuries. Finally, she glomped onto Ranma. "You're not hurt!"

"Course I'm not," managed Ranma. "I'm the best."

It seemed hollow even as she said it. She had to keep it up though. Didn't want her mom to worry or anything. She was the martial artist, the one with the duty to protect the weak. Not that her mom was weak . . . just, well, her mom.

"This wasn't martial arts."

"No," said Ranma. "Somethin' much worse. Dead now."

"You killed it?"

"Yeah," said Ranma with a sigh. "Making bit of a habit of that."

"It's the right thing to do," said Nodoka. "It's a martial artist's duty."

"Yeah," said Ranma. "I know. It's just . . . "

"I know," said Nodoka. "It's okay, Ranma. You're young. This is hard for you."

Ranma just sighed and relaxed in her mother's grip. One good thing about this body, she was small enough that it was pretty comforting. "Where's pop?" she asked eventually.

That brought the hug to an end and her mom started to worry at the hem of her kimono. "I'm not sure," she said. "I sent him to the shops before it happened."

"He'll be okay," said Ranma. "Pop's tough. Take more 'n this to take him down. Bet he got worse when he was trainin' with the old letch. Know him, he'll come rollin' in drunk with some tall tale to tell."

Nodoka nodded slightly. "I know," she said. And then she changed track. "I find that cooking helps calm my emotions. Would you like to join me?"

Ranma was torn for a moment, but then she nodded. Pop didn't need her to go running after him. If he was in trouble, he could get himself out of it easily enough. Hell, if a car hit him, he'd probably just bounce off. No real danger. Worst came to worst, he had decades of tricks to pull out of the bag. Probably even had a few she hadn't seen before. She was the best, but he was no slouch. Probably only her, the old ghoul, and the old letch who could beat him more often than not in Nerima.

Strangely enough, it worked. By the time they were halfway through the third batch of cookies, Ranma was feeling quite calm. She'd never really though much of cooking before, but it was pretty easy to lose yourself in the routine of it if you let yourself. She'd always wondered why Kasumi seemed to enjoy it all and now she supposed she knew. Now she just had to figure out what Nabiki got out of all that stupid money-grubbing crap she did and she'd be set.

Eventually her pop came rolling in stinking of fire and brimstone with his gi smoke-stained beyond repair. Turned out that the old panda had pulled some kids out of a building that had caught fire on his way home. Like she'd told herself, he was quite capable of looking after himself.


Ranma had an uneasy night's sleep that night. His dreams were both disturbed and disturbing as he experienced a combination of nightmares related to that day's events and some very strange dreams that had to be related to the whole magical girl thing. He'd sure as hell never had dreams about flying through space before, that was for damned sure. As far as he knew, space travel was for Americans and Russians with those giant rockets they had, not for girls in stupid costumes who just kinda floated along. Still, there might be some use in it. If they could breath in space, then maybe he could learn how to use that if, say, someone started throttling him or something. He could think of a few times when that would have come in handy.

The morning spar with his pop followed its usual course. Lots of jumping around, taunts thrown every which way, and plenty of over-the-top violence. It really only lacked someone being kicked into a pond and it would have been a picture-perfect clone of their daily routine at the Tendo place. Maybe he could persuade his mom . . . nah, it was kinda nice not to wake up to getting chucked into a pond. Might have been good training, but it wasn't much fun.

It was at breakfast, after getting cleaned up and ready for school in female form, when Ranma decided to raise the subject of the local monsters with her pop.

"Hey, pop," she said, around a mouthful of rice. "You gonna go after those monsters?"

Pop blinked and then drew himself up to his full height, or as close to that as he could manage from a sitting position. "It is the duty of a martial artist to protect the weak," he proclaimed. "And I intend to discharge that duty by having my heir hunt and destroy these creatures using the knowledge I worked so hard to instil in his lazy self."

He would have probably went on in that vein for a while, but Ranma cut him off by chucking a rice ball down into his mouth and down his throat while he spoke. That quietened him.

"Stupid old panda," grumbled Ranma. "Shoulda known it. Always the same."

"Now, Ranma," said her mom. "It is your duty as a martial artist and you are much younger and, ah, energetic than your father."

The stupid old panda-man put on a wounded air, but he was too busy working the rice ball Ranma had lodged in his throat down to say anything.

"Suppose so," grumbled Ranma. "Stupid panda ain't as quick as he used to be."

Her mom opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by a loud gulp from Genma's direction. "Boy, I'll have you know-"

"Yeah, yeah," said Ranma. "Gonna do somethin' 'bout it?"

Pop started to get up but was stopped by Nodoka smacking him in the gob with the family sword, sheathed of course. Would have been messy if it wasn't. "Not now," she said. "Ranma has school."

"Hiding behind your mother," said pop, hand held against his brow in a most theatric manner. "The shame! The terrible shame!"

"Ah stuff it," said Ranma. "I'll have plenty of time to beat you up when I get home after school, old man."

"A true martial artist rises to a challenge when it comes, not when it's convenient!"

"Genma!"

And that was that. Pop knew better than to keep going when mom used that tone of voice. Kinda funny really.

"Hey, pop," said Ranma a few moments later. "I think we should unseal the umisenken and yamasenken."

"Son, that's . . . "

"Dangerous," said Ranma. "Yeah, I know. But if we run into those monsters we might need the extra punch. I ain't planning on using vacuum blades 'gainst Ryoga or anything, you know. I ain't that dumb."

"I don't like it," said pop. "Not one bit. You promised the Kumon boy."

"I promised that I'd teach him the umisenken if he beat me," said Ranma. "Never said anything about sealing it. That was my choice."

Genma actually looked proud of him. "Clever," he said. Then he assumed his wise martial arts master air. "I suppose that, if you use it only under extreme circumstances, it will be acceptable. Demons, monsters, murderers, that sort – only against those should you use the senkens.."

"Great," said Ranma before stuffing one last rice ball into her mouth and swallowing. "Time for me to go if I want to get there in time. See ya later."

As Ranma left she heard her mother say something about manliness. She sounded happy, though, so it didn't worry her too much.


That morning at school was no better than the day before. The other kids were still avoiding her like the plague and the lessons were still as boring as ever. She tried to pay attention, she really did, but it was hard. None of it was even close to interesting for her, not even vaguely close, but she wanted to make her mom proud, so she had to try and do as well as she could. Would be easier if the other kids weren't treating her like a damned leper, but it didn't look like that was gonna be changing any time soon. Stupid normal kids.

Eventually the bell rang for lunch and Ranma was out of there before anyone could say a word. Not the most polite course of action, perhaps, but the hell with it. They didn't want her there and she didn't want to be there, so why hang around? Usagi and the others might be younger than her and all that, but at least they would talk to her even if they were normal teenage girls. Even talking about boys would be a relief!

Ranma found the girls sat at one of the wooden picnic tables that were on the field between the high school and junior-high school. Usagi was busily working her way through her packed lunch and Ami was sat in front of some sort of computer tapping away at the keyboard. Weird thing, it was. Ranma'd never seen a portable computer before. They were always big things that took up loads of room and beeped a lot while not doing much of anything that was actually useful, but this one was rather compact looking. No doubt that it would have Nabiki drooling if she ever saw it.

"Hi, Ranma," said Usagi with a cheerful smile and wave.

"Hi, Usagi, Ami," said Ranma, sitting down at the table next to Usagi. "What's with the computer?"

"Luna gave me it," said Ami, not looking up from the screen. She looked quite engrossed.

Ranma blinked. The talking demon had given her a computer? "Uh, okay," said Ranma. Well, what can you say to something like that really? She opened her own lunchbox and began to work her way through the small mountain of food within. One good thing about cooking, plenty of food to eat afterwards.

A few minutes passed with the only sounds being those of Ranma and Usagi stuffing their faces and the clacking of Ami's keyboard. Then, "that's it, said Ami. "All the information I can get about Sailor V."

"Huh?" said Ranma, chopsticks pausing mid-flight.

"Data on Sailor V?" asked Usagi.

"You said you were interested so I did a little research," said Ami. Ranma looked mournfully at her chopsticks before lowering the morsel back to the box. She just knew that she was going to get pulled away from her food. She was proved correct when Usagi moved to where she could see the screen and waved for Ranma to follow. With a heartfelt sigh, Ranma did so.

There was a whole bunch of information listed on the computer screen, but it didn't really amount to much. They didn't know who she really was, who she was working for, who she was working with, her real age, or even the exact date of her becoming active. Pretty much useless, all told. The only things that were for certain were her being 'a self-proclaimed champion of justice' – which meant nothing, because so was Kuno – and her self-proclaimed name. There were a few pictures though. And, oh great, she had a c-c-c-demon as well by the looks of it.

"Hey, she looks kinda like Usagi," said Ranma finally after a few moments' thought. "Don't you think, Ami?"

"Maybe a little," said Ami. "I think it's the hair. You don't see many Japanese girls with long blonde hair like that."

"You think I look like Sailor V?" asked Usagi. "I don't see it. That moon-shaped mark on her head, though . . . could she be one of us? Luna said we were from the Moon Kingdom."

"Wouldn't Luna have said something if she was?" asked Ranma. "Doesn't seem like there'd be much point hiding it."

"I don't think she knows as much as she wants us to think she does," said Ami. "And maybe Usagi has the power to sense things. Luna said we're not fully awakened, but Usagi seems to be awakening faster than us."

"You think?" asked Ranma. Usagi was staring off into space, lost in her own thoughts.

"She healed everyone with that wand from Luna," said Ami. "And she's our leader, right? She must have some special powers that we don't."

"Maybe," said Ranma. "But you don't have to be all-powerful to be the leader, just smart, or, I dunno, more experienced. Stuff like that."

Even as she said it, it didn't feel right to Ranma. Usagi was a nice girl, but she didn't seem any more ready for this sort of thing than Ami. If any of them were 'experienced', it would be her. She'd been dealing with weird stuff for years now. Mostly nutters with weird martial arts and not monsters, but it was still more than Ami or Usagi had. Ami looked doubtful too.

And then they interrupted by some short blond-haired kid wearing really, really thick glasses. "Hey, whatcha all doing?" he asked. Then he looked at the computer screen. "Are you serious? You're playing the Sailor V game?"

Ranma blinked. You could get games for normal computers? She'd thought it was an arcade thing.

"Gurio," said Usagi.

"You've got Sailor V data," said the boy, Gurio. "Forget Sailor V. You should look up Sailor Moon, right, Usagi?"

Usagi flinched and Ranma saw her eyes dart to and fro to see if anyone else was listening to the boy.

"But I'll find her first," continued the boy. "I'll be the first one to meet Sailor Moon!"

And then he turned and left, leaving three flabbergasted Senshi in his wake. Usagi looked particularly unhappy, and Ranma could almost see the question running through her mind, "does he know?"

"Ooooh, Gurio makes me so mad," said Usagi eventually, fists clenched in front of her face. "He's so devious!"

"That guy's obnoxious," said a female voice from down on the ground. It took all Ranma's self-control not to flinch away when she looked down. Luna might not be a real c-c-c-demon, and she might not set the neko-ken off, but the instinctual 'argh' was still there if she wasn't careful.

"Luna, where have you been?" asked Usagi, picking Luna up.

"Down in the control room," said Luna. "You're not eating lunch with Naru?"

Ranma really wasn't sure that talking to Luna in broad daylight near two schools was a good idea, but it was a bit late to complain, she supposed.

"Naru," said Usagi. "I forgot about her! She's been acting kinda strange. Same with everyone in class."

And that set Ranma's danger sense off. It was just bound to be another monster causing trouble. There was no time to worry about it then, though. They had to go back to class and they had to keep their cover.


After school was finished, the whole group gathered at the arcade. Rei, Ami, Usagi, and Ranma were all there along with their, er, mascot-advisor-thing Luna who was abeing carried by Ami. Luna had apparently, ah, retrieved some video that she thought was suspicious. Considering that the title was 'Dark Video' Ranma was inclined to agree. It really wasn't the most subtle of plans.

"I still say we should have gone to the shop and broke some heads," grumbled Ranma as they approached the arcade.

The others frowned at her, except for Rei. "I did sense evil there," she said. "Something's very wrong about that place."

"We need to check the video first," said Luna. "It's best to know exactly what we're up against before we go charging in."

There was some sense in that even if she didn't like it much, so she kept quiet after that till they reached the arcade.

"Hi, girls," said Motoki when he saw them. "No-one's at the arcade today. Maybe they're watching videos. There's that new video shop . . . I never watch TV myself."

The group nodded and waved their greetings, but quickly moved past, except for Usagi, who stopped to talk to Motoki. "I've been too busy for videos too," she said. Ranma detected a distinct hint of teenage-crush about her behaviour. At least she wasn't as obnoxious about it as Ryoga was. Usagi probably would have stayed talking to the boy longer, but Ami hissing a demand – as Luna thrashed her legs in utter irritation – for her to hurry got her moving again sharpish.

The group stopped in front of the Sailor V game machine. "I set up the machine to play videos," said Luna.

"To play videos?" asked Ranma. "Wouldn't someone, I don't know, notice something like that being done to the machine?"

"This game is wired into the basement," said Luna. As if that was an explanation. So they had a control room in the arcade's basement. How could that not be noticed?

"WHAT?" shrieked Usagi, before promptly blushing and looking around to see if that had attracted Motoki's attention. Thankfully, it hadn't.

To cover her embarassment, Usagi quickly pushed the video into the slot for it on the front of the machine. A slot which hadn't been there the previous day. Motoki had to have noticed something was up. He'd have to be a gibbering idiot not to, and he didn't seem to be that. And the moment the video started playing, the machine's screen flashed a horribly bright white that had all the girls flinching away and covering their eyes before the tape was spat out of the slot it had just a moment before been pushed into.

Ranma blinked her eyes rapidly to try and clear her vision. "That can't be a good sign," she said.

"This isn't just a video," said Luna. "Did the enemy . . . "

"Forget about that, Luna," said Usagi, rushing up to the machine. "What about the game!?"

Ah, priorities. Ranma was still trying to clear her vision when she distinctly heard the game speak. ""What are you waiting for, Sailor Moon?" it said. "That's the enemy's brainwashing video! You have to save everyone!"

Ranma shook her head. This was just surreal. It really was. She heard Usagi wondering if the game had really spoken and then she heard Ami saying she was going downstairs. Didn't she hear it? Maybe not. Ranma's senses were a little sharper than a normal person's with all that martial arts training.

"I heard it too, Usagi," said Ranma. "The machine that is."

"You did?" asked Usagi.

"Yeah."

Usagi didn't seem to have expected that but she soon regrouped. "That's great," she said. "We know what to do now."

A few moments later, Ami and Rei reappeared. "It's the Dark Kingdom," said Ami. "At least that's what the video said. It's brainwashing people into searching for you, Usagi, ordering them to find you and take you to them."

"Time to kick some ass then," said Ranma. "Jupiter Power, Make Up!"

She regretted using the pen almost immediately as she went through the whole sequence of poses. It was just . . . instinct. A moment after she started, the others followed in her footsteps, and soon the Sailor Senshi were ready to go, stupid poses and all. She still really needed to fix that when she had the time.


It really wasn't difficult to locate the trouble spot. A huge horde of zombified people marching through Tokyo tearing things up looking for Sailor Moon would be very, very hard to miss, after all. And they were speaking.

"Find Sailor Moon."

"Search."

"Where is she?"

"I'm here," shouted Usagi, drawing the attention of the horde. Then she continued in a more normal tone of voice, "it's me . . . Champion of Love and Justice, Sailor Moon."

Bit over the top, Ranma thought, but it got the message across.

Usagi raised her thingymajigger over head and called out, "Moon Healing Escalation!", as she brought it down. One blinding flash of light later, they had a large mob of people standing around looking absolutely lost. They began to disperse pretty quickly though. Ranma could vouch for how disturbing it was to find yourself somewhere and not have the faintest idea how you got there, so it didn't surprise her that they'd got the hell out of there as quickly as they could manage.

"Well . . . that was anti-climatic," said Ranma.

"Welcome, Sailor Moon."

Apparently she'd spoke too soon. Ranma whirled around and saw a blond-haired man in a military-style uniform floating in mid-air, a man that looked rather familiar. It was the woman from the Tower! Except, not a woman. Another crazy cross-dresser. How many of those could there be in one city anyway?

"I won't let you use entertainment to brainwash people," said Usagi. "In the name of the Moon, I will punish you. Moon Twilight Flash!"

A wave of silver energy flooded out of Usagi – she had some serious power, that girl – and hurtled through the air in the direction of the floating man. Just before the energy made contact, he disappeared into thing air with a faint pop. Before anyone react, he reappeared behind Usagi and grabbed her around the throat.

"Where is the crystal?" he growled.

Ranma's reaction was immediate, as was Rei's.

"Akuryo Taisan!"

"Supreme Thunder!"

A magically powered ofuda and a massive bolt of lightning crackled through the air towards the back of the creature that had his arm around Usagi's neck, but instead of blowing him away as expecting they crashed into an invisible barrier around the man and back towards the Senshi. Rei was blasted off her feet, but Ranma was quick enough to leap into the air and avoid being fried by her own lightning.

Ranma couldn't leave it at that, no way. As she began her downwards arc, she moved her arms in a blur and called out another attack, " Kijin Raishu Dan!", and fired off a vacuum blade at the creature's back. That attack was deflected again, and this time Ranma couldn't dodge. It caught her in the mid-section and ripped a gash through her uniform as well as slicing open a superficial cut on her gut. She still managed to land on her feet though.

"Ranma! Rei!" she heard Ami call out, sounding quite upset.

The uniformed man laughed. "You can't stop me!"

Ranma tried to enter melee range to pound the bastard's head in, but she found herself stopped by another invisible barrier metres short of her target. She tried to punch through it, but there was no visible effect. She heard Usagi call out for Tuxedo Mask to help, but she could see the masked man on a roof-top and he didn't seem to be able to get any closer either.

The uniformed man seemed to lose patience at that point. A dagger appeared in one of his arms and he raised it high, poised to deliver a killing blow to Usagi's neck. "DIE!" he called out. Usagi screamed and Ranma felt a wave of black hopeless rise up in her as the hopelessness of it became apparent. She continued to attack the barrier between them but it was seemingly impenetrable.

And then the arm the man was using to keep his grip on Usagi's neck was abruptly cut in two by a flying crescent and Usagi stumbled forward as the grip disappeared.

"Sailor Moon!" called a female voice. "Get down!"

Usagi instinctively obeyed and fell to the ground on her knees, and then a swarm of the crescent-shaped items flew out of the shadows on the other side of the man from Ranma and cut the man to ribbons. It was a gruesome sight, but the body dissolved almost immediately leaving nothing more than a greasy spot on the floor to indicate where the bastard had stood. The Senshi immediately charged through to Usagi and helped her to her feet.

Out of the shadows, a fukued girl came, long blonde hair waving behind her as she walked out. She was accompanied by another one of those strange demon-looking creatures that didn't trigger the neko-ken.

"No way . . . " said Usagi.