DISCLAIMER: Relatively standard stuff

DISCLAIMER: Relatively standard stuff. Existing characters are properties of the people who made them up. Mitsuki, and several other characters are mine, and so's the story, hence ownership and copyright of them belongs to me. Contact me at domino@linksnet.nu if you want permission to use anything I've written for whatnot purposes.

TRUTH

by

Raymond Cooper

Prologue

** NEMESIS **

TEN YEARS AGO:

Ranma Saotome walked in front of his father, on a big adventure. They had only left home, oh, a year or two earlier? Ranma couldn't tell. He'd since had two birthdays, though, and was growing up fast.

For him, this was a big adventure. That was something... something cool, to little Ranma. Him and his father were *always* off somewhere exciting, and usually pretty damned quickly, too. In fact, Ranma and his father often held races with locals of places they'd stayed in. Genma had quickly impressed on his son just how important it was they won these races, and Ranma agreed. Losing wasn't good.

But he couldn't quite figure out why, often, the other competitors in these races had pitchforks and other similar implements above their heads, waving them around in such a strange manner.

That was all above Ranma's head, though, so he didn't worry. For now, this was exciting. Still in Japan, they had carried out training exercises in about ten towns and villages now. Ranma knew that, because he'd run out of fingers to count places on then, and he was still counting on that tenth finger.

Counting toes had never occurred to him.

The farmstead they were approaching now was typical of a small holding on the mainland. Small cottage, a barn out the back, wooden fences. Sheep and cattle roamed in several small paddocks that led to the edge of a low-lying mountain range.

"Ranma, my boy," Genma started, as he always did. "I trained at this place a long time ago. When I was a boy your age. And I learnt some very good moves from this man... who will be training you for a time."

Ranma nodded attentively as they walked up to the front door. Inside, there was silence.

Until a scream rent the air, and the side of the cottage blew out.

Genma gaped and blinked his eyes, not believing what he was seeing. And then a frightened man crawled out, hands over his head.

From inside the cottage, there was a yell. "I am *NOT* eating my beans!" came a little girl's voice. The man crawled up to Genma rapidly, and grabbed his gi.

"Help me!" the man begged. "I can't control her!"

Ranma wondered at this. There wasn't nothing his pop couldn't handle. He knew that. But it would be interesting to see how his father handled this one.

"Matsuda?" Genma asked, his voice catching. What could bring his friend so low?

"You've got to help me!" the man repeated. "She's been like this since her mother died!"

"Megumi is dead?" Genma boggled. If this was indeed his old friend, and his wife had indeed died... oh dear. That well-cooked meal he was looking forward to evaporated before his eyes. But... "Beans?" he asked hopefully.

"Stop my daughter! And you can have anything! Anything!"

That was a challenge that Genma would happily accept. He stepped into the cottage.

There was silence.

The man stood up, cautiously. "I think your father -"

There was a small puff from the roof, and several sections of the thatch fell to the ground while Genma rocketed away.

"- failed," the man, Matsuda, completed dismally.

Ranma wondered at this. What could cause so much damage? And he stepped into the cottage himself, nimbly avoiding the older man's clutching fingers. He heard Matsuda moan from outside, something about his friend killing him for sending his son in to die, but he wasn't sure.

It took a moment for Ranma's eyes to adjust to the light. Inside, the small house was a mess. There were no interior dividing walls; instead it was a more traditional paper-and-wood wall divider set that sectioned off small parts for sleeping areas and eating areas.

And in the eating area, standing before a small table with two plates on it, was a very angry-looking girl of a little older than Ranma's age. She was dressed similar to Ranma, in a white training gi, but cut in a more kimono-style manner. Obviously some concession made to appearing to be a normal female for someone, Ranma thought, but that was as far as she was willing to go - besides her lovely long purple hair, that is.

The colouring of it looked kind of nice.

At the sight of the small boy peering at her, she stopped, lowered her fists to her sides, and forced her hands to relax. "Who are you?"

"I'm Ranma Saotome," Ranma replied. "My pop and I are supposed to be staying here for training."

"Oh." The girl looked thoughtful. Then: "You didn't ask me my name."

"You'll tell me another time."

The cheerfulness in the voice and on the boy's face stopped the girl from questioning that. But still... how did he know? Did he fortell the future? Like that other girl had? She shook her head. "If you're here for training... you've come at a bad time. But... c'mon, let's go for a walk."

She led the boy out of the house, past the man who was obviously her father (and currently cowering behind a small wheelbarrow) and past Genma, who incredibly quickly took up method acting as pertains to being a tree. She led the way to a nearby stream in even nearer woods, where she sat on the bank, near a willow tree that had leaned over and into the water partly. She was silent for this time, and the boy sat down next to her.

"You're young, aren't you?" she asked.

"Yeah!"

"How old are you?"

"I'm seven! No, I'm eight!" And he quickly launched into a discussion of the rice cakes he'd had for his birthday before leaving on another race with his father and half the town behind them.

The girl smiled, despite herself. This boy strangely made her feel comfortable, something she hadn't felt in a good six months now. "I'm eleven," she confided quietly. "And..."

"And?"

How best to say this?

"Don't... rely on others, okay, Ranma? They only hurt you in the end. They use you. They leave you. They don't come back. And you pay for it." She sighs, looks towards the willow, gently bowing in the stream. She could feel her anger still, burning inside. But this boy... he was too young to really understand, and so she didn't take it out on him. Nor did she let him know of its existance. But she realised that, somehow, Ranma knew more about how she felt than he was letting on. Those big, bright, cheerfully happy eyes latched onto her face told her that. "Do you understand that?"

"Teach myself, you mean."

Nodding, she continued. "That way, you don't get hurt. Don't rely on your father. Don't rely on your... mother." Ranma noticed the quarter second hesitation, and the flicker in her eyes. "Don't rely on anyone, okay, Ranma?"

"I'll rely on myself."

She nodded again, and smiled. That was good. "That's exactly right." She stood up again, needing to be somewhere. The woman had told her she had a big part to play in the future, but... she needed something to do *now*. Something that would absorb her anger. Something needed punching, kicking, slapping, pinching.

But on impulse, she bent down and kissed a very surprised Ranma Saotome on the cheek before disappearing into the woods.

The boy continued to sit by the stream for some time. The afternoon passed quickly, and he found he had fallen into a meditative trance for some of that period. He realised this when he heard his father, calling for him in the distance. He stood up, brushed his gi off, and gave the direction the girl had disappeared off in a glance. No sign of her - but she was able to look after herself, Ranma was sure of that. So he headed back to the cottage.

Strangely enough, it had been repaired already, and it was dinner time. Genma looked at his son sternly - or as sternly as he could through two rice cakes and sushi rolls. "Boy! Where have you been?"

Ranma looked at his father, and saw, not quite the authority figure he'd seen earlier. No. Now he saw a man. His father. Who was quite possibly capable of making mistakes or failings, same as any other man. Was this what the girl had meant about relying on only himself? That relying on his father... could get him in trouble? Make him as violent as she seemed to be... as powerful?

He didn't know.

That night, sleeping outside in his sleeping bag, next to his father, he woke.

He didn't know what it was that woke him... the fire they were sleeping next to had lowered down to glowing embers and the occasional lick of flame towards the sky.

There was some kind of presence here, a third person. Not the girl from earlier, either.

He rolled over, slowly, so as not to scare whatever was there behind him. His eyes remained mostly shut, only slivers open, allowing him to see through his eyelashes, still snoring and pretending to be asleep.

Ranma saw a woman. His first thought was the green-haired one had to be cold - after all, that little sailor-girl school uniform outfit had a *really* short skirt, and her top wasn't bulky enough to offer much protection from the cold. There seemed to be a smile on her lips, though.

"Ranma Saotome," she whispered, to herself. "You do not know yet how important you are to the future."

She stood up straight, then, giving Ranma a generous view. Then disappeared from Ranma's sight at the same time a small strobe light seemed to go off somewhere near Ranma. He sat up, all pretence at sleep gone - and she was gone.

But he could still feel eyes. Eyes, watching.

******

From the treeline, eyes watched. The girl had seen her magical woman appear once more, to Ranma this time. Something about him...

But she didn't have the time now. She'd done something really bad, and she had to go.

Go now, far away, where she couldn't do any more bad things.

Right now.

She turned on her heels, and scampered back into the forest, a single tear rolling unbidden down her cheek. Upon feeling that, she raised a hand, and callously wiped it off. That would be her last tear, that she swore.

TO BE CONTINUED...

SAILOR MOON SAYS:

Okay. This wasn't the part I originally envisaged... but heck. I had to start somewhere, eh? I admit right now, my knowledge of Ranma is from the dub - hence most of my canonicity will be from what I remember of the first three seasons. My Sailor Moon knowledge is even more limited - but at least I know Love Hina fairly well, and have some good references from there ;)

However, Love Hina is the weakest link in this series. It's the basic setup from it... boy takes over an all-girls' dorm as manager, falls for one girl, gets harangued by all of them. Well, maybe falls for one. Yeah, this will be partly OOC for established characters (particularly those I haven't known too well) but I hope that, above all, this series is fun!

If not, what's the point in writing it?

Far as I'm aware, this is an original idea. Least, I haven't read it anywhere. I know a lot of people seem to introduce a new senshi, but I haven't read them, and hence don't know which way most fan fic authors tend to go in that respect... I hope my new senshi... well, meets the grade. As well, I'll prolly be dropping between senshi, sailor senshi and sailor scouts in descriptive terms... but trying to use the Japanese names over the DiC dub's.

Anyways, comments and criticisms? Anyone wanna review me? I like nice words and stuff... they make me write more :) (yeah, and so do bad words... least I know then someone's reading my things!)