Disclaimer: We, in no way shape or form, own Ranma ½ or Sailor Moon.
A Ranma ½ Fanfiction by
Materia-Blade and Ozzallos
- - - - - III - - - - -
AHHH! What is it!
It took a supreme amount of effort not to jerk his head up in shock that wasn't his own and scramble around like an idiot just to find out what 'it' was, and still more effort went into not letting the reaction blossom across his face for the entire world to see. The sad thing was that it wasn't even his reaction. Sure, the lady they had passed sweeping up the sidewalk was old, but she wasn't Cologne-old and certainly not worthy of the heart stopping panic that had flooded his psyche from a place that he apparently no longer had sole and complete ownership of.
Most people would call that crazy, Ranma grumbled, but tried to force feed the foreign presence residing in his mind calm while ensuring the part time fiancée walking next to him hadn't noticed anything unusual. Not that it'd be the first time, Ranma mentally shook his head. Over the past month, he'd grown used to experiencing bursts of emotion that weren't his own, and likewise grown quite good at schooling his features. He had also discovered ways to placate Raya within him; which was by no means easy. He was home. She was vastly out of place and afraid ...Of everything, Ranma sighed, feeling equal parts sympathy and irritation for the girl somehow locked up in his subconscious. The outbursts were really starting drive him insane, but it was hard to fault his passenger since the past month had been damn near the same for him, just the other way around. Instead of him being thrown into a super futuristic world, Raya was now living her equivalent of the Stone Age.
It's just some old granny, Ranma thought, less to himself and more at the nebulous presence of Raya floating somewhere in the back of his head. Not like they got nanites to keep us all young back here, y'know? Hell, just wait till ya see the Old Ghoul...
...Or worse, the old perv, He thought more to himself, and grimaced when he realized that there was little difference.
The nagging anxiety quieted somewhat with the reassurance, even though he suspected neither one of them actually heard words from the other. He certainly didn't. All he got was stabs of emotion that could be interpreted, almost as if they were his very own and now confusion was running rampant through him as she seemed to question reality as he knew it.
No Nanites? Really?Disbelief without words all but radiated from Raya on the subject, but it quickly trailed off. The girl was surprisingly quick to adapt, despite being constantly surprised at almost everything; be it terror or incredulity. It was a trait he would have approved of if it wasn't all happening in his own damn head.
Tomboy's gonna think I'm nuts, Ranma thought to himself, stealing a glance at Akane walking along next to him on the ground below as he took to the fence, somehow managing to avoid a certain old lady and her ladle in the process. Somehow he was certain Raya would just be thrilled with his female aspect and he reallywasn't looking forward to that particular revelation when it came to her attention. The martial artist snuck another quick look down to Akane, noting the stony look on her face.
She's pissed, he sighed. What she was pissed about was a complete mystery, however, and it had taken some serious contemplation to realize the crucial fact that for Akane, it had been a fairly recent occurrence... whatever 'it' was. And in that time, he had been blasted into the future to live in some girl's body. For a month! Ranma grumped. How the heck am I supposed to remember something like that?!
Even worse, he had gotten the impression that 'it' had been particularly rough on her. When he had first sighted her early that morning, her hair had been an utter mess and her eyes bloodshot with the lack of a bath and the impressions of a bad night's sleep; to the point where he didn't even want to hit the bath on the off chance that the activity would incite her further. He wanted to tell her... Dammit, I don't even know what to tell her, Ranma frowned to himself, snorting sarcastically. Hey 'Kane, was gone to the future in some chick's body. Sorry about whatever it was, really missed ya!
He continued to watch the girl warily until something distracted him; a familiar emotion creeping up his spine. At times that emotion was associated with any number of the fiancées in his life- tempered by the promise of imminent violence -but most recently that same emotion had been directed at one specific individual.
Oh hell no! He thought hatefully back into the corner of consciousness subletted by his passenger. Go lust over some other girl Raya! Besides, why would you like that violent tomboy!
Unfortunately, Ranma already knew the answer. Love and affection were emotions that he had unwittingly been subject to during his stay on Pluto and in the great keep known as Orcus University. They were encouraged, in fact; all but thrown around willy nilly to one another and subjecting the martial artist to any number of awkward situations in the process. Lusthowever...? That was a strange one, and Ranma tried to beat Raya's surprising response to his fiancée back with a mental stick while trying to understand why.
The name was like a sucking void in the girl's emotion and Ranma suddenly knew. As sappy as it sounded, Raya was recovering from a long time love. She was looking for a rebound, whether the girl was riding shotgun in her own body or not. This is not happening, Ranma grumbled, wondering just when the weirdness would end and unsure of which was more creepy: the girl enjoying looking at boys using his eyes or a girl scoping out another girl- Akaneof all people. Even worse, it was getting hard to really tell which of them it was coming from.
The thought caused a wave of laughter from Raya that sought to be indulged. As annoying as it was, that was just the way of it and the way it had been ever since he woke up yesterday. Every thought he made caused another emotion to breeze through him, a constant state of empathic conversation.
"What?" Ranma blinked with the unexpected question, suddenly focusing back out into the world beyond to find one supremely irritated Akane Tendo staring back at him with a perturbed expression. The youngest Tendo shook her head before Ranma's already divided thought process could formulate a response. "And stop staring at me, pervert."
"Why would I want to stare at you, kawaii-kune?" Ranma snorted, prompting the Tendo to loose a 'hmmf!' and turn back down her direction of travel while giving him the opportunity divert Raya from her newest fixation.
Love...? Do you...?
Ranma stumbled and fell off the fence as the emotion bubbled curiously, sending him face first into the sidewalk for once; not the canal to his right. Akane stopped short, staring at the martial artist that had suddenly been deposited at her feet before he picked himself back up, peeling away from the pavement and continuing his trek with her as if the fall had never happened. The fiancée couldn't help but to stare for the first few steps before simply shaking her head, following him with only one word on her mind. "Idiot."
Ranma missed the insult entirely, instead focusing on the mental conflict that continued to occupy his thought process. Pah. Love. Of course that's what you'd ask about isn't it? Ranma shot at the girl in his mind. It's all you ever think about in that crazy future world of yours, huh?
Indignation flowed like a river from Raya, then unapologetic confirmation. Ranma sighed, realizing a lost cause when he saw one, but allowed the girl a notch of respect nonetheless. She may have been a love and boy obsessed schoolgirl, but at least she wasn't making excuses for it. In the end, it wasn't really any different concerning him and the arts, so who was he to bust her chops on it? 'Cept for the fact that her obsession is in my body, He grumbled, but found it hard to hold on to even that in light of his own trespasses in Raya'sown body. He knew for damn sure she hadn't been happy about the fighting, and that fact alone all but surrendered any moral superiority he felt like holding on to.
Akane's wondering gaze had apparently moved on during the introspection; seemingly having dismissed the fall as a fluke and affording Ranma a slight loosening of the mental tension pervading his thought process. The uncomfortable silence, however, remained and both endured it for another five minutes before stepping through the gates of that last bastion of educational hope known as Furinkan High.
Feh, whatever, Ranma snorted, scanning the campus for the first time in a month. It was a school like any other, save the fact that his last month had been spent in the most hyper advanced educational facility known to man. Known to man, the martial artist scoffed at his own joke. Heck, the place hasn't even been built yet if Rena is right.The mental slip went completely unnoticed as Ranma continued to absorb the details, noting that like everything else, nothing had changed. Same clock. Same students. Same-
"Ah, fair Akane Tendo, you're arrival marks the dawn of a new day in my-!"
"Save it, Kuno," The aforementioned girl interrupted Ranma's own missive and the upperclassman's rhetoric with a glare shades hotter than the one she had focused on Ranma earlier. "I don't have time for boystoday."
Yep, definitely still pissed, Ranma sighed, thankfully he wasn't the target of that particular... His attention was unwittingly pulled from his fiancée to the kendoist as a syrupy wave flowed from Raya into his consciousness
Ranma stopped short as he processed the emotion with all the same reactions as a deer staring down an approaching car. Hell, a deer staring down a crashing plane. A plane would have left more of the deer intact after it was all said and done; it certainly would have kept more coherency than what Ranma was left with as Raya twittered happily within his conscious perception.
You did NOT just think that, Ranma balked at his mental shadow as his thought process finally rebooted, cheek twitching while Kuno continued to ply his charm to the grumpy Tendo. You can't be considering Kuno... But he's...! That's...!
"Doth protest, but I know the sweet bosom of my Fierce Tigress swells with affection for my magnificence..." His speech took a flowery turn and Raya gushed all but drowning Ranma romantic syrup.
"Gggugghh..." Came Ranma's witty retort as his hands clutched his throat and he began to gag on disgust alone.
Akane turned with the gagging sound, ignoring the upperclassman for a moment to favor her choking, nearly bug-eyed fiancé with a stare. Even Kuno arched a skeptical eyebrow for a moment until the youngest Tendo let an exasperated sigh, and took the few steps back to him to smack him on the back. The impact was far harder than necessary and Ranma, already rendered nearly non sensical by the tide of gushing emotion, pitched face first into the sidewalk for the second time in one day. Moron, Akane examined her handwork and strode past both boys with an exaggerated 'hmmph'. That would teach him not to keep making fun of last night's meal. And choking noises, no less!
Tatewake Kuno watched the exchange with thoughtful confusion before turning away to his would be consort to favor the stricken martial artist with a malevolent smile. "Indeed, why need I smite thee when the angel's hand does so in my stead?"
"Shuddup, Kuno," Ranma mumbled, peeling his face from the ground to glare at the back of the upperclassman as he gave chase to the Tendo sister.
Ryoga was pissed. Honestly that shouldn't have been so surprising, because he often felt very high levels of anger. On a daily basis, in fact. Still, it wassurprising, because of one tiny little fact. Ryoga was angry; Ranma was not there.
The two things had never really occurred one without the other before. When Ranma was there, Ryoga was angry. When Ryoga was angry, Ranma was there. It was simply a constant despite how much he'd had to get over that in the past month. Living with the girl- sleeping in the same room with her -had turned out to be every bit the punishment it had been intended by the woman simply known as 'momma,' as Ryoga had come so close to tearing his own hair out with frustration with the red-head's sleeping habits. Every damn morning the girl had woken up draped over her like a human blanket. It was infuriating! She had kissed the sheets of her own bed the night their mother had finallylet them sleep in separate rooms again.
And that was only a single example of the times 'Raya' had brought her to rage. Though, admittedly the night Raya had finally slept apart from her had been rather cold... and almost every night since, a traitorous part of his intellect inserted.
Still, the point stood! The torture that their two weeks spent living together truly was, served to point out that when Ranma wasn't around, Ryoga was generally a very easy going and happy person. Only Ranma caused him to rage. Only Ranma, idiot that he was, had the capacity to squash any measure of happiness Ryoga found.
Ever since returning to his original form, however, he'd discovered there was someone else with Ranma's own potential to evoke his utter fury. And she happened to be living right inside his head.
Rena was a nuisance that was proving impossible to handle. The girl was utterly and completely fascinated with everything! Every walnut crushed under his foot, every building passed, every sign. She had to know it all! What were they? What did they do? Why were there so many? How did they work?
Sure, Raya had been annoying whenever she had suddenly pounced Ryoga into a conversation about boys once or twice, clearly just trying to embarrass her. Or blaming her for that one time she'd broken her Viopane. Rena just had this itch to... to engineer, and the futuristic television embedded in the south wall of her room just happened to be the first victim after he gave into those urges, especially after she had gotten her hands on the Nutroglien and Amoxicillin. Ryoga paused with the recollection.
I still don't even know what Nutroglien and Amoxicillin are!
After that day, however, he sure as hell knew their effects regardless of their exact chemical makeup, and suffice to say, the Viopane had been a total loss.
Mama had been soo mad that day... Ryoga shook his head as he continued down his path of travel. Rena was insatiable! The girl was on autopilot, prompting him with her every emotion to inform her of the use of each and every thing he saw, thus leading to the sense of complete urgency permeating him.
Tell me this! Tell me! Now! As if the girl were actually screaming in his head, making him feel rushed in a way he'd never really felt before. And he did notlike it.
The sad part about the whole mess was that while Ryoga wanted to be angry with his mental roommate, he couldn't find it in his heart to really do so. Her fascination was almost unbearable, true, but fascination wasn't the only foreign emotion that Ryoga felt. He could tell with a goodly measure of pity- and worse, guilt -that the girl in his mind was terrified.
So she questioned as a defense mechanism, trying to hide the terror that Ryoga could readily feel every time something unusual crossed his path, and the hairs rose on the back of his neck. And, being the generally easy-going eternally lost boy that he was, Ryoga did his best to answer, hoping to assuage both the girl's fears and his own lingering guilt.
Luckily, that guilt led him to a perfect reason to be angry at Ranma. After all, if not for Ranma, Rena wouldn't be stuck in his head and terrified out of her wits...
Something in his gut was telling him that whatever had caused this melding of consciousness, crossing through time itself, probably wasn't Ranma's fault after all. Insane as thatthought was.
Turning his thoughts back to the problem at hand, Ryoga focused, once again, on getting Rena to calm down, while trying to still the irritation within him. At least communicating with the science nerd was getting easier. The girl's emotions were becoming strangely simpler to read. He couldn't hear anything, and he was almost certain Rena had never spoken beyond calling him an idiot when they had first arrived back in his time, but he could... sensewhat she wanted.
Yeah, Ryoga thought pointedly as he looked around. That question felt like a 'where.'
Or not, Ryoga groused as the girl raged in his mind. Sadly, he bottled his sympathy and gave it to her as he continued walking, hand on his umbrella on the off chance that water should rise up to strike him down. Calming himself, letting himself meld with his ki and tune out the sounds of the outside world, he found a center of peace that he hoped would give him a more clear understanding of the words Rena was silently screaming in his head.
Silence reigned and only the crisp sounds of his own footsteps reached his ears.
"When?" He asked aloud.
A well of satisfaction washed over him confirming his guess as the correct one.
"It's probably July or August... 1987." He answered immediately and received confusion for his efforts. A font of knowledge seemed to strike him. One of those historical instant learning switches that had been shoved into Rena's head, the memories filtering over into his own mind.
The Nineteen-hundreds were a time when Pluto had become a nexus for the galactic trade federation. Soico, an outerworld planet in that era, about two Solar Systems away from the Sun, had joined Crystal Tokyo during that time. Technology had been on the rise and nanites had become mainstream by then, instead of a tool reserved only for the wealthy...
...In short, the nineteen hundreds from Rena's history classes were... nothing like this. But Ryoga noticed the error. The 1980s "After Fall" was not the same as the 1980s "After Death." The emotion that created was still more confusion. As if to say, "What was After Death? After 'whose' death?"
I think our time was before the fall. Before Serenity was even queen, Ryoga returned, only guessing himself.
"What!" He burst, his own thought sparking the shocked reaction, temporarily snatching his voice from him. A shiver crawled through the hairs of his arms as he imagined the implications and excitement bubbled in his head. Before the queen! No one knew anythingabout before the Queen! Hell, information on the time before The Second Fall was considered priceless...! Well, in its historical value anyway. Not in usefulness.
That caused a strange feeling as he felt himself look up to the blue of the sky above, anxious for the night time to come. If he could see the stars he could figure out where they were! If he could see them, he could even triangulate... when. If... he really was in the past...
Suddenly he shook himself. Of course I'm in the past! This is home!I don't need to figure out what year it is!
Determination heckled him like dogs biting the heels of their owner. No question as to what that meant. Rena WOULD be looking at the stars and she wouldfind out where the hell she was. For herself.
Ryoga sighed, biting down a growl. Yes. It was time for a subject change. Unbidden, yet welcome thoughts came to his mind as soon as he turned away from the prickly barb that was Rena's current emotive mindset. "I... wonder if Akane has missed me this past month?"
The middle of lunch and Ranma was already having a bad day. Water had been seeking her almost nonstop, and the cursed liquid had not failed in finding her. Sighing, she huffed, blowing a strand or two of red hair out of her eyes, and turning up to face the teacher. Some faceless boring man who kept droning on about the years between the first and second world wars. It was incredibly dull.
Click... Click... Click...
Ranma's eyes trained intensely on the clock, now only minutes from granting her the freedom of lunch and the opportunity to return to her male form! Which... due to Raya inside her, she found herself irritatingly unenthusiastic about. A month spent as a girl in the future had done a bit more to her disposition than she had thought, it seemed. And once Raya discovered the curse, Ranma found that the girl within him was actively pushing him towards cold water...
...When he was in male form at least. An accidental extra step here. A tip of the buckets there. It was absolutely amazing how much influence her mental passenger had when she was so determined, and had Ranma not already known his body as only a martial artist could, might have mistaken it for a bout of stumbling. Ranma glared inwardly toward that clouded portion of her conscious. There was no way she was thatclumsy.
Whatever Akane had been angry about had been forgotten, at least. Even ten minutes after class had begun, Ranma could still hear the girl holding back laughter. Stupid tomboy probably thought Ranma had received just desserts or something equally stupid. Three times in one morning Ranma had changed back to male form, and three times he had been splashed with cold water hardly a moment later.
"Dammit Raya." Ranma murmured spitefully. Inwardly she felt the girl preen.
And Akane had the nerve to just sit there, laughingat her! Didn't she realize how god-awfully uncomfortable this was?
Well... Yes. She probably did. Uncute tomboy.
This is really dull. She thought as she shifted her eyes between the clock and the teacher, to avoid drawing his ire. Ranma tried to ignore the squishy feeling of her clothes, and the drips of water sliding down behind her ears from still wet hair.
Bored, bored, bored, BORED! The cursed girl thought ravenously, and found that her opinion was shared. Why was this stupid teacher spending so much time 'talking?' Where were the arm chairs and the instant learning? This... this just seemed... primitive. So very slow. People would have to spend their entire lives just to grasp the most basic concepts of math at this rate!
For once, Ranma and Raya were in complete agreement.
By the end of the month she had spent in the future, Ranma had progressed from trigonometry to calculus and beyond. She grasped it. She literally understood its concepts, and better yet, realized now how they could apply to her martial arts. Not that it would ever be useful mid fight, but it was interesting to mark trajectories. Realize that every flip, leg sweep, and punch had a mathematical compliment that could accurately describe it. Or with trigonometry, one could measure distance by guessing the angle of shadows and comparing. The slightest edge of a smile crept through the dull atmosphere. It was... enjoyable.
Math hadn't been all she'd learned either. Many other subjects that she'd never known or thought she would care to enjoy, she'd found that learning could be fun... as long as it was instantaneous. Learning like this seemed an utterwaste of time. So, bored out of her mind, yet unable to sleep as she normally might have, what with being still partially soaked, Ranma flipped over the paper in front of her and began to doodle.
Chickens scratches of people executing martial arts techniques that were flawed only by Ranma's awful penmanship were produced by her bored fingers. Horrid sketches, every one in her opinion. Sighing, she turned the page and her attention back to her teacher. Notes. Bah. What help was writing notes?But everyone else seemed to think it was a good idea.
She did not. And now that she'd seen how good school could actually be, she would not be forced to write down everything this old man told her. Outdated primitive little...
"Why doesn't someone answer this question? Any volunteers?" The teacher asked in his usual polite voice. Ranma glanced to the hard chalkboard, caked with years upon years of fingerprints and eraser swipes, and found a surprisingly simple problem of elementary Calculus. The derivative of a quadratic equation.
Without warning, Ranma was suppressing a knee-jerk reaction that was not her own, to raise her hand and answer the question. It took considerable willpower to get the girl within to calm down and put her mental hand down, but sooner or later she did, and someone Ranma didn't know was chosen to answer the question.
"Easy shit..." Ranma decided, with an almost depressed thought. Slowly, idly, she let her mind wander, alongside her hand as it found a new pad of paper to begin more sketches to disguise her lack of note-taking.
Class ended as it always did with the toll of a bell and Ranma practically jumped for glee. She packed up her books and the sketch papers she'd been pretending to take notes on and packed them into her bookbag, thankful for the escape from the day's monotony. As she bounded out of the classroom she failed to notice one of the papers she'd been drawing slip out of her hand and right onto the floor.
Akane did though.
She bent over to pick up the page.
Her eyes widened.
Princess Pluto, the Mistress of Time itself, stared intently at her opponent. Frustration tinged the edges of her physique. Sweat trailed down her brow, and her eyes were squinted in almost abject rage at the enemy before her.
"I will defeat you."
Her enemy smiled back; a wretched smile that only made her smoldering grow hotter still.
"I swear it by time itself. I shall defeat you." She growled, repeating her earlier words with even morefinality if that were possible. But her enemy remained unfazed. In fact, the smile on her opponent's face seemed to actively widen at her taunts! That wasn't how it was supposed to go. How was it that she, the Mistress of Time itself, couldn't strike fear into her singular adversary when the inners were able to strike those stupid poses and make armies of youma cower before them?
The Guardian of Pluto ground her jaw down silently at the indignity of it all and braced for her final attack.
"D7!" The wizened adult exclaimed heatedly, knowing that victory and an imminent explosion was assured.
"Miss! Na na naaaa! Setsuna-Mama, you suck at this." The black haired youngster replied with that same grin she'd been wearing for the past four games in a row.
The Setsuna-mama in question gaped. It simply made no sense. She had spaced out her attacks evenly. Played the odds, and spread out across the grid. No attack touched another so she could gain optimum statistical chances for success. Yet her blue grid was filled with the red pellets of both a sunken carrier andsubmarine, while the Senshi of Saturn held a board littered with white pegs signifying Setsuna's endless misses.
"B2" The girl called jovially, dropping a shot in directly beside two guesses she had already made. One of the least likely places on Setsuna's entire map, for her ship to be, from Hotaru's point of view at any rate. But sure enough, a ship was there. Surrounded by misses, and guesses that the other girl had made already, Setsuna grit her teeth at the other girl's utter lack of logic. And how god-damn well it was working against her.
"Hit." She hissed, her tongue laced with venom. "You're cheating. You must be cheating. That space was surrounded by misses! On three sides!"
The girl grinned once more. "I'm just lucky I guess."
"I'd sooner believe Chibi-usa told you the moves in advance," The green haired adult grumbled, fingering her side of the vertical board once more. "This time... this time you willfall."
The girl's incessant grinning continued, causing her left cheek to tick. about the only saving grace to this particular game was that there had thus far been no witnesses, which in turn meant plausible deniability if it were ever to be publicly revealed. Her red eyes flicked back up to her adversary. "So be it. H..."
Setsuna paused as an indefinable something rippled across her awareness, something that tugged at that which had sustained her for millennia... Time.Any pretense of concern for the game before her faded from her expression as she pulled her finger away from the move she had been about to make, analyzing the feeling that echoed softly through her being.
"I'm sorry Hotaru. This'll have to wait. The oxoscape is stirring, and I'm needed at the gat-!"
'That's not fair, Setsuna-mama! the only winning move for you is not to play!" Hotaru burst, interrupting her worried thought processes.
A few moments were needed before Setsuna regained her focus. Then indignation and anger flooded through her. "This isn't a joke, Hotaru! I swear I just felt someth-!" Again she was interrupted by the increasingly self confident Senshi of the sixth planet.
"Probably the wind. All the enemies are defeated; you said it yourself! You have noexcuse! Twenty thousand years and you just can't stand to lose, now sit down and let me destroy you!" The overzealous young girl stared her down with a scornful glare of petulance that irked Setsuna. Mostly because it was probably true; after so many years fighting though, it was difficult to stop jumping at every nuance, and Setsuna would be the first to admit that she was prone to a bit of paranoia...
"Hotaru, I haven't lived for so long by second guessing myself. You can come along if you like, to prove that I'm not just lying to get out of the game...?" Setsuna bated slyly.
Hotaru's eyes widened, her interest peaked. "You're willing to let me go to the gates of time...?"
"...for a board game?"
"Hell if I'd known it was that easy, I'd've challenged you to a game of scrabble two years ago!" The girl exclaimed giddily. She jumped up, her uniform rustling with the motion of her leap and her joyous preparation for an epic journey.
"It is not that easy!" Setsuna replied indignantly as she stood. "Pluto Planet Power Makeup!"
The words were unnecessary but the Princess of Time felt the need to showcase a bit of her power. The swirling lights of energy infused her as she flushed the synthesis with her planet, connecting herself to the true power of her own distant world. She felt the cosmos around her, and felt more strongly the influx in the timestream. Was something happening? She couldn't tell. It wouldneed her attention though.
"Come." She said simply, her mantle and her power sapping her voice of their congeniality. She offered her hand to the Senshi of Saturn, but pulled it back when the girl reached for her.
"Transform. The Gate of Time is not a place for mortals." She commanded with authority.
"Mortals, Shmortals!" Hotaru mimed, still quite irritated at Setsuna's timely evasion. Even so, she raised her transformation pen and stated the required words, and within moments, the mantle of Saturn rested on young Hotaru's shoulders. She held her glaive with grace, but the somber girl of olde, from when she'd had first become a Senshi, was gone. Even in her Senshi guise, Saturn had adopted the carefree and joyous attitude of the inners. Pluto herself had taken some of that unhealthy optimism, and as she watched the girl before her, she reflected on its infectiousness, letting a grin of her own grace her lips.
Oh Usagi. How you've changed me. She thought, transfixed on the moment. Happiness. So long had she protected the gates of time. So long had she abstained from the affairs of man that she'd forgotten what she had been truly fighting for all along. Forgotten during the dark years of her loneliness.
Forgotten... Until Usagi brought it all back.
The others had helped of course, but mostly it was Usagi. The innocent girl and her unwavering faith in the goodness of humanity. It was... inspiring. It made her want to be a better person. And most important of all, she was happy. For the first time in many a millennium she was happy.
She grabbed Hotaru's hand and turned to the girl beside her. The black haired Guardian of Saturn seemed to be holding her breath. Nervous. It was rather cute. The girl could destroy worlds. And she was nervous. Ah well. It was time Pluto started being more trustworthy. What better person to trust than her own surrogate daughter and fellow Senshi?
"Here we go. It's a bit bumpy." She murmured to the younger girl.
Saturn gulped. Cute indeed.
Pluto phased without a care, and suddenly she was at the Gates. No bumps. No rocketing transports through tunnels of light, as she could only imagine Hotaru had pictured this trip to consist of. The girl realized with a start that Setsuna-mama had lied to her and instantly regained her irritation.
"Jerk." The younger girl said with a huff.
Setsuna ignored the barb, striding through the misty enclosure towards the great fixture in the center. The twelve foot frame holding the two intricate doorways stood as majestic as it always had.
She opened the gates with learned ease and began sifting through the sutures and pinpoint calibrations that would show her the anomaly she'd felt in the streams. Hotaru looked bedazzled. The gates, mistily archaic and technologically advanced beyond anything this world had seen or would ever again see, they could inspire awe in a god.
"Well, what's the problem Setsuna-mama?" The young girl asked chagrined as she approached and began to hover over the green haired woman's shoulder.
Setsuna grit her teeth. Moments and minutes of tedious searching through her various trip wires and systems showed her a result that simply could not be. There was no anomaly. Nothing had gone forward or backwards in time that was visible to her. If something hadcome back in time than she would have certainly been warned. And none of her trip wires were signaling any alarm. No. The only concrete proof she had that something was meddling with time was her own gut instinct.
But she'd felt a disturbance. Could it have been her imagination?
God I hope not. The aged Senshi thought with horror. But... if it was an anomaly...
Setsuna could always make sure. The only problem was that it took hours and hours of endless study of the most minute blips and swerves in the patterns of time. She had to pinpoint a location in the galaxy. Then she had to pinpoint the exact moment that had been touched. Then she had to discover who. And once all of that was done she was forced to speculate on the why someone was meddling. Worst of all it could be just another accidental mixture of the chromos and phlexiar. Whenever the two elements mixed they always tended to make time spikes that sent her into a frenzy...
"So what's the problem mama?" Saturn asked with a painfully childish drawl.
"I'm sorry Hotaru. Something is wrong. A minute disturbance in the flow of time that might be a warning. I'm going to have to suspend our game for-!"
"As if!" The young woman exploded with a hiss, staring at Setsuna her posture the picture of an affronted schoolgirl. "I can't believe you would fake an emergency just to get out of a game!"
Setuna blinked. "Hotaru this might be a legitimate threat! That's just-!"
Hotaru ignored her. "I know you've lost to Usagi, Rei, Minako and Ami already, but seriously, Setsuna-mama!" The girl taunted with surprisingly effective arrows of accusation that punctured right through Setsuna's pride.
The green-haired woman grinned. The anomaly was minor. It was probably just some chance mixture of elements. Or maybe her future self playing around with the gates. She doubted it was anything important, and for once, she abandoned her duty. She didn't want to spend the next three days worrying about some miniscule blip. Plus, her pride was wounded. Time would have to flow without her for this once.
"Oh really now! Well then how about a new game?"
Hotaru sighed. "This is sad, Mama."
"I'll show you sad! Timegates! Load entertainment archives!"
A short chime of rising notes was played, followed by the automated voice of the time gates loading a segment of program that probably hadn't been used in centuries. "Let us play a game."
Setsuna flashed the Senshi of Silence a winning grin, her eyes blazing with the knowledge of a sure victory after wounded pride.
"Let's play Global Thermal Nuclear War."
Akane Tendo could not stop starring at the slip of paper in her hands. It was... it was sterling. It was a masterful drawing the likes of which she had never seen. None of the art club had ever drawn anything so remarkable. But here, slipped out of Ranma Saotome's very bag, was a drawing of her.
Nabiki had taken pictures that were work works of art...
Kasumi had cooked meals that were beyond compare...
...And apparently Ranma could draw with a skill to match.
That of course didn't make sense though. Ranma had the worst scrawl of any person she'd ever known. He'd drawn little stick figures and doodled in his notebooks since the first day she'd ever met him. And that was only if he wasn't sleeping straight through classes.
The idea that he could've created this...? Impossible.
The most disturbing part about the hand-drawn image was that it was of her. A sketch of her face staring off into the distance, a sunny smile greeting her disposition. It was... flattering really.
But if Ranma drew this, then why keep it a secret? It wasn't like the boisterous martial artist to hide a talent, considering until now she'd only known of one major one. It was definitely a mystery. One that she intended to get to the bottom of.
Ranma-chan walked an easy pace home. Her time spent in the other world might not have passed in realtime but Ranma's mind had felt it. Her body felt... well undeniably powerful next to the overwhelming weakness of Raya's but at the same time it was a body she had not worn for a month, in her mind. In the other world, she had not fought... at all really. Sparring with Ryoga happened whenever they could manage to do so in secret but both of them had promised not to fight.
Boy did she regret that.
Her reflexes were off, her timing screwy, and even her balance was having some problems. In male form, these things nearly doubled. So instead of running on the fence, she took the path home at an easy stroll to make certain she didn't fall into the canal.
It wasn't like the body felt foreign. Not that, but after so long without combat she was unused to the thought of being jumped and needing to react at a moment's notice. It waslike riding a bike. You never forgot how, but sometimes the chains and gears got rusty and needed a bit of oil.
What she needed, was a good old fashioned life or death battle! A good spar with a person who wanted her blood but wasn't quiteskilled enough to actually get it. Which was why the Anything Goes Martial Arts heir was slowly wandering her way towards home on a route that took her particularly close to the Nekohaunten.
"Face thy doom, Saotome!" Mousse's shout echoed across the street and before she could think, Ranma's feet reacted.
A quick leap sent her out of the devastating reach of a ball and chain, which crushed the fence into the metal equivalent of kindling behind her. A few swift flips in midair were enough to weave around the razor yoyos protruding from the white-clad martial artist's sleeves, and finally she ducked beneath one of the thrown swords, caught the other, and prepared to brandish it against her opponent with a grin.
"Howdy, Mousse! Long time no see!" She said turning around to face the hidden weapons master.
"I've got you now, Sao-urk!"
Ranma blinked as Mousse finally came into view.
That was unusual.
Looking towards the boy who'd been attacking her, Ranma spotted his prone body lying on the ground, clearly unconscious. A large comical welt only added to the humor as she realized that someone had stopped the battle before it even began.
She bristled. Well there went thattraining opportunity.
Her eyes spotted a black cane lying face down in the stone, and she recognized it as the object that must've incapacitated her would-be opponent. Following the line of trajectory from Mousse's swollen face, her eyes found a tall, dark-haired man who appeared to be in his early twenties.
Boring-ass black hair complimented an equally black college uniform that looked vaguely similar to her Chinese tangs, if much more formal. Black pants, and a white undershirt adorned the man and he carried a briefcase of all things.
"Sorry to interrupt." He said with a smile and a wave. "You probably didn't need the help but what kind of man would I be if I let a girl be attacked when I could do something about it?"
Again a well of bubbly, unbearably girly thoughts sprung to mind. White princes, and heroes in the night coming to rescue damsels in distress and all that other goey crap that Raya was so addicted to. This time though, Ranma was prepared. She quashed Raya's thoughts, vaguely catching words like sumptuous! and my hero!before she was able to completely eliminate them.
"Suppose I can't fault you for that." Ranma replied irritably, making absolutely certain that none of Raya's emotions crept onto her facial expression. "But I was looking for a sparring partner and Mousse there was just the ticket. Now you've gone and ruined it."
The man cocked an easy eyebrow and then shrugged. "He seemed a bit angry for a sparring partner."
Ranma gave him a confused look. "How are they supposed to be?"
The black haired college student gave Ranma a half lidded gaze. "Really? You're telling me you've never had a spar with someone who wasn't angry?"
Ranma thought about it for a moment. Well, yes she had fought a few people when they weren't angry. Some of the worst fights she'd ever participated in, though. The first time she'd met Akane came to mind. Herb she supposed but he got angry as time passed. And still wanted to kill her, so there was that.
That tea ceremony crap. Yeah. That was a barrel of fun.
Hmm. Kuno fought his girl side without caring to actually hurt her. And that was another one of the reasons she hated the dumbass.
No he's NOT cute Raya! Ranma halted the girl mid thought before she even had the time to finish it. He is an obsessive maniac and you will never, ever, EVER act on those... horrible... feelings you have for him!
She could feel Raya pouting. But as Ranma's eyes turned back to the black haired man the feelings of discontent subsided, only to be replaced with another gushy wave. Gawd-damn!
"Well yeah, I guess I've had a few fights like that. All of 'em sucked though." The redhead replied giving the man a sidelong look. "Don't suppose you'd be willing to try to make up for that? Anyone who can knock ole' Mousse out with a throwing weapon can't be too bad.
"If you wish. I-!"
The beep of a cell phone from the man's pocket blared in a rather girly tone, interrupting whatever he had been about to say. He pulled out an object that was not a cell phone at all. It turned out it was the frilliest looking watchthat Ranma had ever seen. Of course, Raya wanted one nearly instantly.
The man gave a sad shake of the head, staring at whatever the watch was telling him with a telling sense of loss. "Sorry. I will have to pass for now. But if you're up for it, meet me around eleven tomorrow, say the lot just south of the park, and I'll spar then?"
Ranma shrugged once more. "In the morning? Eh, okay. Guess it's a deal. Hope you're good."
"Till then, M'lady."
Ranma was about to growl, but to her great surprise, the student seemed to nearly vanish from her eyesight. Only her years of training allowed her to follow the boy's trajectory as he sped across the sidewalk.
"Hey!" She called after him. "What's your name!"
He slowed a bit, but only enough for him to turn and run backwards for a few steps. "Mamoru! Mamoru Chiba!"
The boy continued running. Curiously, he seemed completely uninterested in her name.
Hmm. Well that was interesting. The red-head thought.
"Prepare to die, Saotome!"
God that phrase never gets old. Thought the gender cursed individual as battle was finally initiated once again.
The punch blazed as a right hook that probably would have taken the Ranma's head off if she were a normal person... or Raya. As it was Ranma had finally gotten the fight she was looking for half an hour later when Ryoga stumbled through a wall, caught sight of her and charged in like a rabid bull.
The martial arts heir was down and under the fist with a smirk, slamming her own into his ribcage with a fully functional chestnut fist that caused the lost boy to grunt, but little else. Much as she wanted to linger, there was a hard kick about ready to make her personal acquaintance and she dodged out, leaving her opponent to reassemble his guard and glare at her.
"I've seen Pluto because of you, Ranma!"
That part made the redhead blink, since she had seen Pluto too, but didn't stop her from evading the heavy handed combination that ultimately ended up destroying the light fixture behind her. The metal pole crumpled and tumbled over like a felled log as Ranma considered a painful reprisal... A thought that made her feel surprisingly guilty courtesy of her subconscious passenger.
"Well it ain't my fault we were on Pluto!" Ranma retorted, spending the next five minutes pulling her punches in order to avoid the larger stabs of mental guilt Raya was radiating from the back of her mind. Still, the eddies of concern were distracting and the few punches Ryoga managed to land told her the same thing was probably happening to him as well.
"Dammit, yes it is Saotome!" The lost boy balked and punched a single finger into the pavement she had only recently back out of, showering the alleyway with fragmentation and dust. Ranma evaded the blacktop easily enough, but the debris allowed Ryoga to burst out of the cloud to re-engage her in hand to hand combat. It also gave her an excellent view of the fanged scowl on his face. "Everything's your fault!"
Ranma profiled right and Ryoga overreached. It was an opportunity that all but begged any martial artist worth their salt to exploit to its fullest and the redhead wanted to so badly. From that opening, she could neutralize the arm, joint lock it, cut inside, and basically dismantle the pig boy piece by piece. He probably wouldn't stay down, but her rival sure as hell wouldn't be so gung ho about chasing her up and down the street afterwards. He'd start to take things more cautiously and that would make for a better fight.
And then the moment passed. Ryoga's guard rose and he readied himself for another volley.
"Arrrgh!" Ranma fumed at the spotlight of guilt that had prevented her from fully taking advantage of the over extension and settled for driving her elbow into his face instead, causing Ryoga to reel with the impact. Even that produced its own echoes of displeasure from her mental passenger, but Ranma rationalized the blow as the only concession she was willing to make and snapped back at her opponent. "Look, I ain't gonna-"
"Ranma!" The redhead's eyes widened as her attention jerked over to Akane standing in the mouth of the alley with a rather perturbed expression on her face. The lapse in attention also provided an opening the size a semi-truck to drive through, but he capitalize on it no more effectively than Ranma had hers due to the incessant, non-stop nagging from within his own conscious; not to mention doubly paralyzed now that Akane was actually present.
"Why are you fighting with Ryoga again?"
"I'm not fighting!" Ranma bit back on reflex, pulling away from Ryoga. "Sisters don't fight!"
Akane's mouth opened to verbally fillet the pigtailed girl, only to have her voice fail as she processed the rebuke that made absolutely no sense. "Sisters don't what?"
Ranma began to blink rapidly as what she said actually registered. Even Ryoga was looking at her with a strange look and Ranma could do little more than stumble over her rapidly deteriorating train of thought over the mental lapse. "I... erm... eh..."
Both watched Ranma scuff her shoes against the dirt and stared at them with an unusual amount of humility for the ego they knew as belonging to Ranma Saotome, perplexing Akane even further. After a moment, she scrunched her eyes, not even wanting to know. "Whatever. Stop picking on poor Ryoga or I'll have to pound you."
Ranma rolled her eyes with a sigh and eyed the lost boy edgily, who in turn eyed her.
Akane walked away in a huff heading back towards her home ignoring the two boys and their weirdness. Idly, she fingered the piece of paper in her pocket depicting herself... and she wondered.
Once the girl was out of sight the two turned to each other. One held a defeated layer of shame draped around heavy shoulders like a cloak, while the other practically exuded superiority complex. Curiously, the roles were for once reversed.
"Wow, Saotome. I've seen you do some stupid shit... but that was by far the-!"
"Shut it, pig-breath.. Not like you were fighting at yer best either. I saw the punches you pulled. Rena batting away at your conscience, too?" Ranma replied with a glare trying to change the subject.
The fanged boy would have none of it. He fingered his bandana with a snicker. "Wasn't talking about the fight. Heh. Sisters huh?"
"Shaddup." Ranma toned again without much attention. She was too busy mentally flaying Raya Aukomino with a metaphorical flame thrower, about a thousand knives, and several hundred separate chestnut fists.
Idly the red-head turned and began to follow the footsteps Akane had taken out of sight. An aura of depression clouded over her and she let herself wallow in it for a while. Home, she realized, was turning out to be just as much of a letdown as the future had been. Once again, she'd been thwarted in her quest for a good fight. And once again, Raya was to blame.
Ryoga stepped in beside her and they fell into an easy pace. "Any ideas?" The lost boy asked his tone now bereft of any of the earlier rage. All of it had been quenched in light of Ranma's misery and Rena's own piteous emotions that seemed to be flooding out like the water of a collapsed dam.
"Rena's still going insane in my head. Probably why I can't stay mad at you right now... And obviously Raya's still around." He commented with a sort of offhanded ease.
"Yeah." Ranma replied, her voice grave.
"That bad, huh?" Ryoga asked, feeling Rena's pity swell even further inside him. He reluctantly gave in to it to appease the girl's conscience.
"She likes Kuno." The pigtailed martial artist stopped to meet Ryoga's eyes with a hard stare, just to convey the seriousness of how bad this awful situation was. Then she continued walking on.
Ryoga stopped in his tracks. Then broke down into helpless, unquenchable laughter.
Not for the first time, Ryoga thanked the White Queen for his good luck in getting such a sensible girl stuck in his head. Looking at Ranma, for once he figured his life could've been worse. He felt a flush of gratitude at the thought, and for once didn't feel embarrassed about complimenting a girl. It was true, wasn't it? Rena was sensible. Even better, she didn't seem to care in the least about boys, let alone be interested them.
At this thought there was a bit of indigence. Ryoga felt certain the phrase 'more important things' crossed the confines of his mind more than once. Either way he felt confident that the girl was starting to get along with him. At least a little.
Poor Ranma though.
Ryoga blinked. Where in god's name had that thought come from? For that matter, 'Thank the White Queen?'
"Come on Ryoga. I need a good fight so bad it hurts. I'm rusty, and I can't imagine you're doing very well, either." The heir to the anything goes school said without looking back.
Ryoga shrugged. "Doubt they're going to let us now... but we might as well try."
"Right." Ranma replied.
"So, what do we know?" Ranma asked. He sat Indian-style in the center of the dojo, and Ryoga mirrored him. "We know that we lived on Pluto and that the other planets were all habitable. Uhm... We were apparently the grand-children of one of the leaders." He answered his own question slowly.
Sparring had been a bust. Nearly every opening, every punch that wanted to be exploited failed. Raya wanted no part of fighting her sister and each pang of guilt made Ranma less and less interested in the prospect, to her own undying dismay. Ryoga, clearly, was feeling similar effects. The bond between these two sisters, no matter how they bickered when Ryoga and Ranma let them get away with it, was stronger than crystal.
So now both of them sat, idly picking at their unusual adventure and trying to comprehend what was happening to the both of them, and their unlikely passengers.
"Well, I'm pretty sure it was just the two of us. No one else we know seemed to come along with. Would've been nice to have Akane in the future with us..." Ryoga trailed off into a daydream prompting Ranma to rap him on the forehead with her knuckles.
"Ow!" The lost boy cried but was largely ignored.
"People seem to be pretty much immortal there. The oldest person I met was that lady who likes to throw water on the sidewalk. She said she was over seven thousand!" Ranma supplied in light of Ryoga's idiocy.
"I can't believe that damn tradition is still alive." Ryoga cursed slowly.
Back to seriousness, Ranma thought Ryoga did have a pretty good point, despite his stupid daydream. They hadn't met any other unlikely time travelers, either here or in the future. Ranma sighed. "Alright, so do we know how far in the future? I mean, we ain't got anything like those transport pads, let alone the instant learning."
"Or being able to micronize a small Naquida reactor. That sure would help..." Ryoga added absently, causing Ranma to stare again. When it was obvious the Lost Boy hadn't noticed, nor was going to quantify his own slip, Ranma simply shook his head.
"Yeah, that too." Ranma rolled his eyes. "So all of that's probably a way out there."
Ranma watched the boy nod silently for a moment, sporting an almost impossibly thoughtful look before replying to Ranma's theory. "I think it's all really far in the future."
After the out of place thoughtfulness on Ryoga's face, Ranma was a tad put out by the results. "Yeah, I got that already."
"No, you don't understand," Ryoga focused on him with more intensity. "I'm talking really super far. Rena doesn't even seem to recognize the date when I mention it and you know damn well she's smarter than all three of us and everybody at Nerima combined!"
'Really super far was' pretty vague in Ranma's opinion and she pressed him for the detail. "Any specifics on the 'really super far' part?"
"Dammit, I don't know!" Ryoga retorted as he began to simmer for being asked questions he had no rightful answer to. "The only thing I'm getting is something about before the Second Fall, whatever that means."
Ranma annoyance vanished as a sudden well spring of uncertainty bubbled forth from feelings most definitely not born from her own. She took a moment to analyze them before trying to put them into words. "If that's the case, it's pushin' all sorts of buttons with Raya. No idea how that's significant, but I sure as hell don't like the idea of a Second Fall all wrote up in capital letters like she's-"
Ranma's eyes suddenly lost focus as the knowledge inexplicably found itself visited itself upon her conscious mind.
The Second Fall: A time of strife. The Usurper took his mindless loyalists and began a campaign to end the rightful rule of the White Queen. Billions of deaths resulted across the entire galaxy. Those who followed the Betrayer of Light attacked an unsuspecting populous on every one of the inner planets...
The Anything Goes heir blinked, and he instantly noted Ryoga staring expectantly at him. Ranma took a breath to recenter himself against the sudden information dump. The memory came with a sudden and nearly unbearable influx of terror that suffused through Raya's conscience and filled him. He quashed it like he did many of Raya's emotions but this one left him feeling edgy. "Uh, yeah. Well that ain't good."
"What did you find out?" Ryoga asked, already knowing that unfocused gaze so well that he didn't even have to question.
"The Second Fall... Billions of Deaths... all at the hand of one man and his mad quest for the White Queen's throne." The pigtailed fighter said reverently, more to himself than to the other boy across from him.
"Damn. Figures though. Such a perfect society like that? I mean, you think that wasn't built on a few deaths?" Ryoga asked congenially.
"I suppose..." Ranma replied. "They call the guy the Betrayer of Light. Raya's practically terrified of him. Pretty bold statement, but it might be accurate. Think about it. In the entire time we were there did you ever here one singlebad thing said about the Empress? Maybe she's like some divinity that comes to rule? Amaterasu, that shit."
Ryoga thought about it for a moment. Then he shook his head. "You're right. I can't remember anyone thinking badly about her. That is pretty weird. Then again... the place is a paradise. Did you see a homeless? Did you see anyone with a life that has a tenth the troubles of mine? Hell most of 'em even had it better than you, Saotome. Maybe the betrayer was really just an ass. Like someone I know..."
The pigtailed boy wasn't alone in harboring a nugget of resentment towards his interior host. Ryoga, too, was aching for the battle that his eighteen years of life had raised him to consider not only enjoyable, but necessary for survival. But, since insulting or antagonizing his passenger provided no fruit for his rage to munch on, he targeted the usual recipient of his anger.
Ignoring the barb, it was Ranma's turn to think and he rubbed the back of his head straining for a reason. "I dunno. I guess he must've been close to the Queen, otherwise he wouldn't be called "Betrayer."
Ryoga shook his head in frustration. "This is pointless! How is this going to help us get Rena and Raya back home? I just want to be done with this crap!"
Ranma sighed. "You and me both. I'd about kill for a decent fight right now... and I don't think I could convince her to let me hit you again."
Ryoga grumbled. "Same..."
"Well, I guess we're still playing the waiting game. Someone's got to have done this. Maybe it did happen back here."
"Happosai?" Ryoga asked curiously, knowing of the old man's penchant for the wild and senseless. But Ranma refuted it quickly.
"I don't think so. This is way to elaborate for him, and whatever mischief he gets into is usually accidental. I think someone did this to us intentionally and now they're just sitting around watching us dance and laughing." Ranma replied seriously. "I'm don't like it."
His words were echoed by the sentiment given off by Raya in her mind.
Ryoga contemplated that, and sighed. "We know anything else? Maybe we're supposed to do something back here. Hell, if the White Queen is as old as they say, maybe she was alive even during this time."
Ranma blinked. "That's... possible. Thanks Rena." Ranma deliberately pronounced the girl's name with a smirk.
"Well all of the planets have a patron. We're the granddaughter of Pluto... weird that we never met 'er in the whole time we were there though. Meh. Suppose she's busy ruling the planet and all." He posed the thought quietly. "Is it possible they're all around now?"
The lost boy's eyes glassed over at the comment, and Ranma waited patiently.
"Rena has... met one of them." Ryoga replied, changing his tone in the middle for some reason Ranma noted but didn't understand. "Rena is awestruck by Mercury. There is a story that she destroyed an attacking outerworld battalion of over four hundred and fifty Quarion Powered Space Nautaleii, using her mind. That and she's the single greatest inventor and scientist in the entire galaxy. Rena met her in one of the family trips. They vacationed to a... heh heh... a hot-springs resort on Mercury, and the patron herself happened to be there. Rena has her autograph."
"REALLY?" Ranma exclaimed with enthusiasm that wasn't her own. "WHEN, WHY, Howdidyouge-!" Ranma stopped the torrent of girlish squeals by clapping his hands over his mouth. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment but a good portion of his physic wanted to continue yelling at the lost boy, Raya's emotion having stolen his tongue.
Ryoga grinned. "Yeah. Rena's pretty miffed that I told you. Figured you'd react like that. It was on a vacation Raya chose not to go on. I... I can't remember why."
Another mind dump filled Ranma in on the missing information as soon as the words left the fanged-fighter's mouth but this time something different happened. Three different memories had come to Ranma's mind already during this conversation alone. He remembered them as if he'd done them himself. He felt the rage of such a lost opportunity. He felt near overwhelming fan-worship for the patron of Venus, and an impressive bit of jealousy that Rena got to meet her hero. Then came hurt, at the fact that Rena had kept it secret.
And with that emotion, for a moment, he wasn't Ranma. Instead, he was someone else entirely. Someone far different from the Saotome whose skin he wore.
"A meta-artistics class. I missed out on meeting one of the galaxy's patrons for a stupid meta-art class! DammitRena why didn't you tell me!" Raya asked, a goodly portion of both feminine rage and hurt channeling through Ranma's masculine voice.
"H-hey! It's not my fault you didn't want to go. You said Mercury was too sciency! It'd be filled with nerds!" Ryoga responded.
"I can't believe you didn't tell me though! How could you... hang on a sec." Raya stopped mid rant and produced a bucket of water from nowhere, and dumped it upon himself without pause, her voice becoming feminine and . "Now, how could you! Why would you keep the fact that you met Mercury a secret!"
"I... she thought it would make you angry! She didn't want you to be mad at her... I mean, it's not like you get to meet one of the patrons every day." Ryoga commented. "Every millennia more like..."
Raya was pacified by this a bit, but her glares pervaded Ryoga's consoling measures. "Still, I can't believe you'd keep something like that a secret... at least it wasn't Venus. You... didn't meet Venus too...? Did you, Rena?"
"Well now I've seen everything." Came a foreign voice from the dojo's entrance. Ryoga and Raya's eyes snapped to the door and found the middle Tendo leaning casually against the side of the wall.
"I come to the dojo expecting to find you two fighting as usual, and instead you're talking teen girl's magazines." Nabiki Tendo scoffed with a grin as she smiled at the two.
They blanched. "Wh-what?"
The middle Tendo laughed, certain she'd caught the two in the middle of their most embarrassing fiasco yet. "Oh come on. You don't have to hide it. You're both fans of the Sailor Senshi!"
The boy and quasi-girl eyed each other for only a moment before coming to a nearly instant consensus.
"The Senshi?" They questioned simultaneously. "Who're they?"
And Nabiki Tendo suddenly found herself on the questioning side of two unusually curious boys. As always she smiled. "Four thousand yen."
The martial artists paid.
Ranma stood at the appointed spot, waiting for the random boy that Raya couldn't stop thinking of, still irritated about the events of the night before.
Can't believe we paid 4,000 yen for what we could've learned from ten minutes of watching TV. Thought the angry redhead as she tapped her foot.
They had paid the middle Tendo for information on the Sailor Senshi, scrounging up almost every yen between the two of them to afford her rates, and when they'd finally pooled all their coins into the middle Tendo's greedy hand's the girl had only given them one sentence.
"Channel thirty seven. Go watch." The girl laughed at them.
The Senshi, or Sailor Scouts as they were more commonly known, were a group of vigilantes whose names eerily mirrored the patrons of planets that would arise in the far far future.
Neither of the two had thought so.
The worst part about the whole experience was trying to explain to a more and more suspicious Akane, why they had sat down in the living room together to watch a teen girl's channel. Especially after Raya's slip earlier that day.
But the new morning had come. Ranma's father had awakened her by tossing her into the pond and their battle had been more one sided than ever. Genma had handed her ass to her without even trying and she was hard pressed to explain why.
Even so, the battle had been cathartic and now she was ready for another one. Raya hadn't had any compunctions about hitting the monstrous and supremely ugly form of Ranma's father, but the redhead could only hope the girl's reserve would hold true for Mamoru. And now she was tapping her foot in impatience all of her own making. Mamoru wasn't late. No for once she was early. She'd spent the walk here trying to convince Raya that the black-haired boy would enjoyfighting her and that she shouldn't care about hitting him.
"Hey! You did make it!"
The voice came from behind her and Ranma turned. The boy she'd seen yesterday now wore a short-sleeved plain white tee-shirt and a pair of shorts. He was well toned but not exceptionally so, and Ranma's eyes trailed off him nearly instantly to the far more interesting person he'd come with
Shouting into the black haired boy's ear beside him...
...was the splitting image of the white queen, twin blonde tails trailing down to her feet and swirling as if carried by an unnatural wind.
Through Raya's mind, the litany almost escaped Ranma's suddenly dry lips. "I live only to serve the Queen, blessed may she live forever."
Author's Notes: Well not quite as far as we were aiming for but this was decently long. 12k is enough to let you all know Anarchists is still alive.
Hah hah. Sorry about the cliffie! Again, not as far as we wanted to get but I think it's a pretty good lead in to where we're going with the fic. Don't worry. The future is gone, but not forgotten. We will be returning soon.
Feel free to drop a review.
MB & Ozz