Pick one!

Disclaimer: The paints belong to Takahashi, the easel is mine.

Notes: Don't understand? Read the author's notes!


"Choose one," he muttered to himself, his breath rasping with the pain he no longer acknowledged. "Yeah, right..."

Ranma slumped to his feet in the otherwise deserted corridor, its gleaming steel and cold empty stretches echoing. Either they would come and find him dead, or he would kill as many of them as he could before he died. It was that simple.

He smiled grimly at the deep, resonating roar that shook the complex, rattling his teeth and telling him that _that_ at least had gone as planned. "I win," he whispered, the pain slowly beginning to fade as his vision darkened. "I win..."


Ranma eyed the folded note distastefully. "So..." he said, the entire assembled Tendo and Saotome families, in addition to the normal tagalongs staring at him. "What's this all about?"

Nabiki shrugged uncomfortably, clearly looking unhappy about something or another. "Ranma," she began, pointing to the note. "They're not assigning any more spaces. Basically... you won."

He blinked, staring at the slip of paper on the table, suddenly frighteningly aware of the eyes on him. He had gotten a pass. Not Kuno, with his wealth, nor Nabiki with her grades, or anyone else... but him.

"Uh..." he started, suddenly nervous with the number of eyes locked on him. His parents, his fiancees, and his rivals. "What does this mean?"

Nabiki stood slowly, taking the paper and striding purposefully across the room towards Ranma. "It means," she stated, "that because of your... 'unique'... position, that you can take one person with you. Just one. But... _any_ one."

Ranma swallowed involuntarily, taking the note as Nabiki pressed it into his chest. "Pick one, and make it a good choice, Ranma."


He sat on the roof of the house, alone, and thinking. Who to take? Just one person? That wasn't fair. Not for him -- not for anyone, really.

Sensing another presence at the edge of the roof, he looked over, waiting patiently as she approached. "One at a time," he muttered to himself, wondering how they would take it. Maybe really only three choices, but that didn't make things easier.


Ukyou lounged at the counter, idly poking at a half-finished okonomiyaki, before sighing moodily, and pushing it away. She glanced over as another girl entered the shop, nodding before taking a seat near Ukyou. "Hello."

"Hello, Shampoo. What'cha doing here?"

The Amazon fidgeted for a moment before admitting, "Airen not going to choose Shampoo, Shampoo think."

Ukyou nodded. "He's probably going to choose Akane."

Shampoo nodded, pulling a note from a pocket. "He give this..." she trailed off, handing over the note.

"Three days?" Ukyou commented, reading the note. "So he's gonna tell us in... but that's..."

"Last day?"



Shampoo peered nervously into the dark alleyway. People were acting less... restrained... this close to the end, doing things that they never would, were it not for the impending disaster. She shivered, suddenly afraid, and spun, seeing a sudden shadowy figure before her.

There was only enough time for her to open her mouth in surprise, before she was silenced.


Akane followed the pigtailed boy doubtfully, intimidated by the expanses of bare corridor before her as Ranma marched forward knowingly. "Where are we going?" she asked.

He glanced over his shoulder and flashed her a smile. "Got some good news, and some bad news. After a bit of arguing, I got them to accept one boy, one girl, and one pet."

"You're kidding?" She adjusted the handle on her suitcase as her arm began to tire.


Had he chosen her? He still hadn't announced who he was going to pick, and time was running critically low. "One pet?"

"Don't worry about it."

She frowned, wondering why Ranma would have gone through the trouble... P-chan? But that would mean that Ranma had chosen her -- as far as she knew, none of the other girls had pets...

"Here." He announced, gesturing her forward.

She passed through a giant secured door with slight trepidation. "What's this, Ranma?"

He said nothing, merely gesturing her forward. She stepped forward slowly, entering a room with an equally confused and nervous Ukyou -- in her boy's school uniform. "Akane-chan?" she asked, disbelieving.

"Ukyou?" Akane turned to question Ranma, only to see the heavy door she had passed through slam shut, sealing the two together. "Oh no..." she whispered, piecing the clues together.

The okonomiyaki chef blinked, realizing what had happened. "But..." she started, looking towards the door.

Blinking suddenly, Akane stared at her suitcase, as a crackling voice over the intercom asked, "Saotome Ranma?"


Ukyou ran for all she was worth, Shampoo -- human again, and dressed in one of Akane's spare outfits -- towing Akane along behind her. "Airen brave," she panted, "but Shampoo not leave alone like this."

"He knows it, though," Akane grated out, pacing the other martial artists.

Ukyou nodded, darting a single glance back at the ship and its promise of safety. "We'll find him, then... then..." she trailed off, not having the slightest idea what she would do afterwards.



"NO!" Ranma roared, shoving her back through the final door, pressing her into the other two girls, and sealing them in as they struggled to regain their footing. "I owe..." He trailed off, leaning against the thick pane of glass in the center of the door. "I owe all of you... I ain't... I ain't gonna pick just one." He looked up suddenly, standing straight, and letting the trio actually see the reddening patch on his shirt, the wound he had taken earlier being more than he had hinted.

"You owe me," he announced. "I gave up what I got for you, and you... you owe me bein' safe. So... go." He coughed, turning to the panel on the side of the door, and smashing the protective glass covering a large red button. "Go..."



Ranma's eyes drifted closed, and he nodded to himself weakly, the feeling of cold settling into his bones. "I win..."


Author's Notes:

It's a one-shot! It's a prologue! It's a one-shot _AND_ a prologue!

And it's not very good, either.

Anyway. This is essentially a seed for a crossover. Might be too dark for some, and it is awfully vague. But that's for a reason.

What's it a crossover with, you ask? Why... whatever you want! I've been told it's a good seed for a crossover with several stories, from Irresponsible Captain Tylor, to Battle Angel (not sure how, myself,) to Sailor Moon and Tenchi.

So where are the girls going, and what's Ranma talking about? Could be anything. The girls could be boarding a spaceship to escape a horde of bloodthirsty alien monsters, or a bizarre virus, with Ranma staying behind to fight back the panicked zealots and rioters long enough for them to escape... or they could be using a dimensional rift that only can transport so much mass, fleeing some other dire threat -- the Senshi lost their battles and are in hiding, etc.

Why bother? Well, Ranma's wounded, but there are plenty of anime characters that can heal him. Maybe Nuku^2 finds him on her way to find 'Papa and Mama-san', or Hotaru sees him and tries to help him -- while Pluto sees a _very_ useful ally. Maybe he stumbles into a stasis cell, and he is found hundreds of years later, preserved and revived for a crossover with... well, almost anything. (Hey, Ranma's the new Fei Wong! (On second thought, nobody write that one. Please?)) Maybe Makoto and Ifurita see him lying wounded before they depart to El`Hazard forever.

The situation, one way or another removes the fiancees in such a manner that they won't be bashed, and they aren't killed (they'll probably return. Some day. It just might be a while.) They could be trapped in a pocket dimension along with the other survivors, or speeding towards Jurai at relativistic speeds (40+ year trip from the outside, but from their standpoint, only a month will have passed.)

The other members of the Nerima Wrecking Crew are fair game. Maybe they all survive, maybe they don't.

Could be that Kuno becomes a knight of whatever villain the Senshi lost to, or Kasumi runs into a suspiciously familiar woman and her boyfriend (Belldandy and K-1). It's open-ended, and you can fill in the blanks.

Good lord, I'm a pretentious sot. Oh well. Maybe someone will find it useful. Enjoy!