Disclaimer: The primary colors in this story are from Takahashi, Viz (Ranma 1/2), Pioneer (Tenchi Muyo!), and Kitty Films, Naoko Takeuchi (Sailor Moon).
The young woman blinked, turning her attention to the child, and smiled at him encouragingly. A little boy crowded into a small huddle of his classmates in the tiny room. "Yes, Akira?" she asked.
"Why is today special?"
Her smile widened, becoming slightly wistful. "That's a very good question," she noted. "Okay, children, Akira asked what's special about today, so I want you to all sit down and pay attention."
After a few minutes of bumbling, the children managed just that, and the teacher spared a moment to glance outside, where numerous saplings grew on the landscape, all of the other buildings visible only through the opposite bank of windows. Once they had assembled, she addressed her students again, "Today is July twenty-seventh, by the old Terran calendar. Do any of you know what happened today, twelve years ago?"
"Exodus!" one of the children cried out suddenly, waving a hand in the air eagerly. "That's what my daddy said it was!"
"That's part of it," the woman encouraged, taking a seat at the chair before her desk. Her nameplate was there, 'Yamada Nonoko,' but she turned her attention back to the children, leaning over to retrieve a book, which she opened carefully. "Now, there's more to it than that, children, so let me tell you the story of what happened in the last days of old Terra."
"What's old Terra?"
"Another good question! Old Terra is the planet that your parents all come from, and the planet where I was born, but when we were there, we called it 'Earth'. At the time, there was a country on Earth called 'America'..."
Checking his watch quietly, a man in sharp, clean, military dress noted the time, looked up, and frowned. He was unused to waiting, and it showed in his demeanor.
However, he remained seated in his seat in the cramped waiting room, ignoring the several-year-old magazines on the table before him. A chime sounded from a ceiling-mounted speaker, a voice following it and announcing, "Sorry for the delay. You can enter now."
A large, seamless section of the wall abruptly broke away, sinking into a recess and sliding to one side. Grumbling, the man in military dress strode through. "This had better be worth my time," he notified the empty room, as he passed through the doorway.
Waiting for him, a man with a clipboard and dressed in the all-too-normal lab coat raised an eyebrow. "Sorry about the wait," he said with no real enthusiasm. "You're here to see them, are you?"
"Them?" the military man asked, intrigued. "I haven't been told much about this project."
"This way, and we'll give you a demonstration."
Allowing the man in the lab coat to lead the way, he followed, glancing around the cavernous halls carved beneath the mountain. A well-nigh impenetrable fortress, with natural ore deposits in the hundreds of feet of stone above them protecting and shielding them from the most powerful of satellites. "What can you tell me about them, first?" he pressed.
"Sleek, efficient, and not entirely of terrestrial origin."
He furrowed his brows at that. "I don't like the sound of that," he mumbled. "I heartily disagree, in fact. As you know, the highest levels of our government are in contact with certain ... outside influences. They would not approve of this in the slightest."
The man in the lab coat paused, looking over his shoulder with a smirk. "Are you sure? Where do you think we got them?"
"Owens?" he gasped, his eyes going wide.
Owens lay on the floor, gasping for breath; the massive creature that the scientists had labeled 'controlled' had been anything but. Owens had only enough time to try and turn before a clumsy swipe slammed him across the hall and into a stone wall hard enough to crack the smooth gray expanse.
He was not moving when he landed. Richter was not a religious man, but a thousand prayers flew to his lips as he abandoned Owens, dropping his M-16 and fleeing. The monster, whatever it was, stumbled after him a few steps, but stopped at Owens's body.
Screaming in rage, Richter skidded to a halt before a large glass panel labeled 'emergency', and slammed his boot into it. The breakaway front of the panel exploded inward, and he scrabbled through the broken glass for the Pancor Jackhammer that lay within.
Wheeling on the reaver that had already eaten almost the entirety of Owens, he screamed again, charging and emptying the weapon's ammunition into the beast.
In strangely surreal slow motion, he watched the shots slam into the hide, piercing it and rupturing the thick black carapace. Staggering backwards from the impact, the monster reared upward, like a massive tick with ridiculously long and wickedly sharp legs, yellow ooze seeping from its wounds.
"Yeah!" Richter shouted, ejecting the spent shells from his weapon and fumbling to reload it. "God-damn freak of nature!" They got Owens, and they would pay.
That was Richter's final thought, as another black claw slashed into him from behind, cleaving through his skull in a single swipe.
His head snapped to one side as his father's fist missed him by a fraction. Grinning, he slammed his knee upward, catching his father's thigh and turning the larger martial artist about with the force of the blow.
The two bounced apart, coming to rest on opposite sides of the koi pond. Ranma smirked, shaking his head. One way or another, he did not intend to fall into that pond, today. He'd recently spent far too much time without hot water being able to do a damn bit of good to allow that any time soon.
His father, seeming to understand, dropped his hands to his side, and grumbled, "That's good enough for now, I suppose." Shaking his head, the man trudged towards the house and its curiously somber residents.
"What's the big deal?" Ranma asked, toweling some of the sweat from his hair with one of the washcloths that Kasumi had left for him and his father.
Akane shot him a disapproving glance before turning her attention to the television screen and the newscaster's frantic reports. The washcloth dropped from his fingers as he continued to watch.
He sat in serene mediation, merely staring at the small shrine and lost in thought. His home, the thing that was most valuable to him.
He snapped his head away from the shrine, turning to stare at the young man in the entryway. "Yes, Tenchi?" he asked.
"Did you see the news?"
Katsuhito climbed to his feet, shaking his head. "No. What's going on?"
Tenchi hopped from one foot to the other nervously and babbled, "There are strange monsters attacking America! We need to do something!"
"Whoa, whoa there, Tenchi. What's this?" He hadn't sensed anything coming, nor had Funaho warned him. What could have happened?
"I don't know, but it's so bad that Washuu can't believe it!" Tenchi managed, obviously unhappy about not being able to do anything.
A chill ran up Yosho's spine and he frowned unhappily. "Okay, Tenchi, let's go talk to Washuu, and see what's going on here before you jump into something dangerous."
Eyes fluttering open slowly, she moaned, "I'm gonna be late for school!"
"No, you're not," she was answered in a resigned voice.
Usagi sat up quickly, dislodging the cat that had replied to her. "That's right," she mumbled. "There is no more school." She climbed out of her bed anyway, frowning thoughtfully. "What are we going to do today, Luna?"
"Wait," the cat advised. "Setsuna will return, and then she'll guide us through this."
"We can't do anything else but wait?"
"It wouldn't be wise, Usagi."
In a place that was no place, a realm without boundaries such as we could recognize, the eldest of three sisters strode across a long hall. "Soon," she breathed. "Soon now, you will return to us, and allow the cycle to be completed."
She shook her head, eyes tracking far distant and unknowable points. "Why did you abandon your duty, Washuu? I can no longer sit idly by ... you must return."
Author's Notes: And so it begins. Again. Ten years later...
Diverges from Ranma 1/2 after volume 24, continuation for OAV 2 in the Tenchi universe (well, one of them), and a very vague, completely unspecified point in the Sailor Moon continuity, as I only knew of SM through other fanfics when I first wrote this. This fic uses the bizarrely vague 'Pick One!' scenario. Enjoy!