For once, the night skies around Nerima district were quiet.
That made this an occasion so rare that one could swear that the heavens burned and hell froze over time and time again. Which of course would annoy Hild to no end and have Kami-Sama scratching his head. Needless to say it just doesn't happen. Especially given the amount of chaos that manifests around this poor unfortunate place like a massive cloud that promised storms and swallowed everything it touches. Quite the contrary tonight. There couldn't have been a clearer sky and a calmer night where stars shown brightly and lovers swore their oath to hold, protect and love their loved ones.
Tonight Nerima was chaos barren and it was the strangest, most incredible thing in the world. So amazing that it had to be too good to be true. The author of this story smiled to himself for he had finally managed to find a way to get on with the plot! Exactly the reason the earlier paragraph was just so damn necessary.
Indeed the remnants of chaos as it were had finally deemed now was as good time as any to rest. Somewhere in the Australian outback, an eternally lost boy had shrugged off his backpack and bamboo umbrella to set up camp for the night. What dishonorable things was his rival doing to hurt Akane?
Said un-cute fiancée in question was currently sleeping. Though for safety reasons the term sleeping was used quite loosely. A blue light had subconsciously formed a ki mallet in her hands and she swung it at open air. Her covers kicked out from over her, Akane was just as violent in her sleep as she was in the waking world. A light mumbling could be heard from any intruder some ten feet from her person sounding suspiciously like "Ramna no Baka". Not that the lost boy would ever know that but imagination was a formidable instigator.
Ryoga wouldn't find the pigtailed martial artist today at least. Maybe he should ask that guy again from yesterday back at where was it? Spain? Or was that Quebec? Oh well… he'd find that bastard Ranma tomorrow and make him pay.
The perverted master of Anything Goes Martial Arts had gladly made a bed out of his silky darlings. Providing both comfort, and pleasure, the slightly or not so slightly used lingerie sent a tingling sensation down the old man's spine. It was his best haul yet, and he reveled in his accomplishment, even in his unconscious state of bliss. The disturbing sight of an old man chuckling in his sleep and snot bubbles coming out of his nose would thankfully never be seen or heard from again. At least, not in this story.
Matriarch and self volunteering house keeper Kasumi Tendo found herself pulling a bit of overtime in keeping up with the daily chores around the house. Soun Tendo and his long time friend, Genma Saotome had of course been their usual selves. Their breaths reeked of sake and the damning evidence was left all over the place much to the elder Tendo daughter's dismay. An entire bottle of the stuff had spilled off the table and soaked into the carpets. Kasumi shook her head. This would take a while.
Said heads of both Tendo and Saotome clans had effectively passed out. A natural defense versus anything involving responsibility. Better even since such techniques cost so few skill points, it was such a bargain. Too bad each time they used it, the skill permanently removed 2 points in their intelligence stat. Too bad. So sad.
Ucchan's had closed up early. No sense tiring your self out too much, especially when tomorrow was a off day. And boy did Ukyo have plans for her fiancé. She could just imagine her and Ranma having a day at the park together. She'd prepare a 'special' lunch and then slowly but surely wrap her arms around him. He'd just turn to face her and smile. One of those special smiles only for her. From there on, the limits were only her imagination. The okonomiyaki chef smiled dreamily. She would take her Ranma away from that annoying Tendo girl and that Chinese hussy. The future was theirs for the taking.
'Tomorrow' Ukyo reminded herself.
Back at the tendo dojo, Akane sneezed. Not that she would know. Being asleep and all.
At the Neko Hanten, a cat with white and violet fur sneezed too which sounded strange coming from a feline. On the kitchen counter, a single cat ear twitched while a tail moved about to an unseen rhythm. Finally it's eyes opened with a surprisingly human like appearance. That is if no one heard about a particular cursed spring with a very tragic story. The eyes closed just as quickly, not detecting any particular threat. Even too, too stupid Mousse didn't seem all that bothered, deeming sharpening his usually hidden weapons a much more worthy venture.
Ranma proved to be just as much a cash cow asleep as he was awake. At least Nabiki would have no choice but to admit as much. She was making quite a killing with all the photo's of the pigtailed martial artists girl half and making quite a bundle from perverts such as Tatewake Kuno. But now she had been introduced to the grand concept of Ebay. Oh yes. Nabiki Tendo would find herself quite busy in the future. Much to Ranma's chagrin.
How lucky of Kuno to stumble onto that fated website. The pigtailed goddess had been quite elusive as of late, no doubt thanks to that vile sorcerer Saotome. No matter, he would succeed in rescuing his pigtailed goddess soon enough. For now he would just purchase souvenirs off the internet in her memory. The prices were exuberant, but Kuno's coffers were endless. Anything for his pigtailed goddess. Anything.
Kodachi Kuno, had unfortunately (for her) been requested to attend a dinner party somewhere outside the Nerima district and would be gone for some time. As much as it hurt her to realize it. Ranma would have to wait. Which was bad. Worse still, she couldn't leave him to the other fiancées. Ranma was hers after all. Maybe she could find a way to duck out? Unlikely. That'd be foolish. But then again…. This is Kodachi…
Tomorrow, it would be the same old Nerima all over again. For tonight though, chaos was simply not existent. Such an astounding change that anyone who was anyone would have known…
That something was terribly wrong.
Cologne knew it from the very bottom of her heart as she stared at the ceiling from her bed unable to sleep. Unable to feel even the slightest comfort the much needed rest could give her. The serene night hid something dark and unwanted. A nagging sensation deep within the recesses of her mind. What was it? Who was it? Why here? Why now? Insomnia induced contemplation offered no solution nor did she expect it. Perhaps she was thinking too hard. It would come to her soon, and she would deal with it then. It probably wasn't the best approach to the matter, but like any other problem that has occurred within the last year, she could be damn sure it had something to do with son-in-law. It was always son-in-law.
She'd be right every time. Even now.
Today chaos may have been frighteningly absent, but in it's place had come an entity just as formidable.
Fate. And it had set all her efforts to correct a blinding oversight. Ranma Saotome.
Like most others, the pigtailed martial artist had found escape from most of life's worries in the form of a soft futon if only a little while. As luck would have it, sleep provided little semblance of peace. The boy tossed and turned in his sleep as if one were having a terrible nightmare. Perhaps he was. Fate had struck with her influence. Life was about to throw him yet another curve ball. One that would forever change his chaotic destiny.
And it all would begin in a dream.
Ranma Saotome, heir of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts opened his eyes tiredly to dark grey skies that all but promised bleak tidings. They held no sympathy for him, evidenced by a few sharp sensations of both cold and wet. Rain. A drizzle at best but it had the undesired effects. A few drips was all it took to trigger the curse changing a handsome dark haired youth to a buxom red-haired knock out.
Ranma was far from amused. Not that she could do anything about it. Much like all the other Jusenkyo cursed victims he, now a 'she' would just have to grit and bare it. Ranma-chan sat up reluctantly wondering what exactly she was doing outside. Was she on the roof of the Tendo's? It certainly didn't feel like tile she was laying on. She realized how right she was only a few moments later when awareness finally set in. Nothing but cold, hard dirt ground. Just wonderful, the pigtailed girl fumed. She stood, dusting off what she could from her red and black Chinese silks. No sense getting them ruined with no way to replace them. No matter, Ranma corrected. She wasn't Ryoga. She'd figure out where the heck she was soon enough.
That assurance didn't last very long. The place looked like some twisted version of the Grand Canyon Ranma thought with dismay. She only recalled the place vaguely some seven years into her training trip with pops. The area she stood upon was much like a desert wasteland without the sand. Littered all over the ground were huge spires that jutted out like thorns. The cliff sides were just as unwelcoming sporting their lions share of jagged rock and other sharp stones that looked more then happy to slice open an unwary hand or foot that dared attempt to scale it. Like something out of a child's nightmare, the place gave off an aura of unrestrained malice and dark intent.
Ranma shivered. She wouldn't be deterred by something like this. She was the best after all. Still, she probably would have preferred to be anywhere but here at the moment. With no destination clear and the desire to get the hell out of wherever here was, she picked the direction with the seemingly least amount of spires and began a light jog. The sooner she got out of here, the better.
The beginning throws of a nightmare had begun to settle on the pigtailed martial artist. Little did he know that a war of the supernatural would be host within his mind. His very soul. He didn't know it yet, but Ranma was going to war. It's very conclusion would change the world forever.
Unknown to any and all, from out of the wall in front of the sleeping martial artist appeared a small glowing flame. The dancing light floated lazily for a moment before it saw something that made it froze still. It headed it's way to the occupied futon and for once, fate and destiny had found a common ground. Violet embers composed the wispy luminescence as it danced around the inert martial artist. Studying him. Watching him. Judging him…
Hours later and Ranma still wasn't sure if she made any head way into finding out where the heck she was. How far had she traveled? Miles? Certainly. Yet the scenery hadn't changed at all still the bleak, gloomy wastelands as before.
"Now where the hell am I!?" Ranma cried out to the heavens even as the skies darkened further. This would have been an almost funny if ironic statement had someone not seemed to answer. Ranma blinked. That wasn't an answer…. But what was it?
The noise it's…. No… a voice? Ranma thought uncertain. What was it?
Like sorrowful bell chimes, they touched her gently. Implored her with a desperation she hadn't felt since the likes of Saffron. Ranma's expression turned grim and pressed on ahead in a full sprint
The main players were assembling. Some wouldn't enter the playing field for some time to come. Others were more then happy to reveal themselves. From out of the darkness, more tiny wisps of flame had enter the room. Where the first wisp was small and had violet flames, these new intruders blazed with the non-existent light of menacing dark shadows. The dark flames began to merge, forming into an even larger, more oppressive darkness. It swallowed all light within the room. All but the violet wisp that flickered once and shot for the chest of Ranma Saotome. It's sanctuary. The darkness would not be denied however and set to invade her chosen vessel.
Ranma was getting closer. She was sure of it. Her stomach was doing flip flops. Her body language tense, she was prepared to strike at a moments notice. She knew that sound. That beautiful haunting cry. She wished she never again would have to listen to such sorrow filled wails as long as she lived.
Somewhere in this horrible place, a child's sorrow assaulted every fiber of the martial artists being.
'Faster… FASTER! GODDAMMIT!' her mind screamed. Her body complied lacing each push off the ground with a thick layer of ki, effectively boosting her speeds to super human levels. Anything to end those heart wrenching sobs. Anything to ease this child's suffering. Why was this girl effecting her so much? How did she know it was a girl? Something deep down told her. Resonated within her. Sang to her.
She had to be going insane. There was absolutely no way any of this was real! Right?
Ranma blinked. Something was up ahead. Eventually she slowed her pace as the object had come into view. It turned out it wasn't an object at all but a person. A human girl with shoulder length violet hair sitting on the ground hugging her knees and her pretty if tearful face buried between them. Ranma had stopped running, coming to a complete stop some fifteen feet from the girl. Now that she had found her, how did she approach her? Should she approach her? Yes. She had gotten this far after all. But how? Slowly. Unthreatening. No reason to scare her right?
But even before Ranma opened her mouth, the violet haired girl began to speak.
"I'm sorry." She squeaked only to be drowned out in more sobs.
Ranma blinked again. Sorry? For what?
"Um…" Ranma scratch the back of her head slightly embarrassed. "Look uh… whatever ya did, it couldn't have been that bad right?" She shook her head taking a few steps forward. "And besides whatever ya did, I don't think you meant it so I ain't too worried. Ya got no reason to be sorry."
The little girl's head shot up and stared at the red head with teary blood shot eyes. Ranma's heart clenched. She hated seeing girls cry but this felt a hundred times worse. "You don't understand." She said glumly. Ranma had the urge to turn away. It hurt to look at those eyes. Never in her life had she seen so much despair.
Violet eyes stared pleadingly at the red haired girl. "I... I.."
Whatever she was going to say was lost to Ranma as her danger senses flared. Without thinking Ranma was already on the move, grabbing the violet haired girl and leaping away at impossible speeds. The area they were standing on exploded with the power and force of a Shi Shi Hokudan. Ranma twisted in midair and landed lightly on top of an expanded boulder, the violet haired girl still in her arms.
Smoke rose from the crater their mystery attacker made concealing everything in front of them. Ranma's senses were even more alert now tracking the slightest movement, the slightest twitch. The violet haired girled had gripped onto Ranma's shirt tightly, her body near trembling. Ranma would have tried to sooth the girls fears if she wasn't trying so hard to pinpoint her attacker's location.
Above you! Move!
Her eyes widened, Ranma wasted no time leaping away from the boulder they were standing on. Almost instantly the large rock disintegrated in a steady stream of black lightning. Ranma cursed as another bolt of power shot for the martial artist but she twisted away at the last second and landed swiftly on the ground. Ranma's gaze turned upward now that the element of surprise had been spent.
She was beautiful, she realized. With a waterfall of raven colored hair tinted violet that fell past her shoulders, down her thighs and would have almost touched the floor… had she been actually standing on the ground. Ranma twitched coming to the realization that the woman was actually floating in the air some one hundred feet away from her. Even as he estimated the distance for a proper counter attack, the pigtailed martial artist couldn't help but admire the woman's figure covered in a skintight sleeveless violet gown that hugged her curves in a very appreciative manner.
Stop it Ranma! Don't even get started! You've got enough of that kinda trouble back home.
And besides, she just tried to kill you…
If that wasn't a deal breaker right there… Ranma struggled to return to the task at hand. Such a beautiful woman, but those eyes, as violet as they were held so much malice in them Ranma knew she was bad news.
"Thank you for finding my Hotaru-chan." The woman smiled coldly. "She's been such a naughty girl. Running away from me for so long." If anything Ranma could swear the woman was using the soul of ice technique. The temperature must have dropped to just short of freezing.
Frosty silence met the fiery gaze of Ranma Saotome. "Who are you and what do ya want!?" she snapped. Why the hell did she have to deal with all the nut jobs?
"You may call me Mistress 9." She said. "As for what I want. I thought it was obvious enough."
Ranma's gaze narrowed sharply. This was gonna be bad.
"I only want my sweet little Hotaru-chan to return to me. It's been so long."
Ranma felt another tug on her shirt and looked down. The girl really was trembling now.
"I… I C-can't go back with her! Please don't let her get me! Please!"
Crap, crap, crap… Ranma thought grimly. Something was seriously wrong with this picture. There were way too many puzzle pieces missing. What the hell was she getting herself into?
"I'm sure this is a very touching scene and all." Ranma snorted. "But we really gotta get going. No offense."
"Perhaps you misunderstand me." Mistress 9 smiled coldly. "I'm not asking. You will return that child to me."
Ranma chuckled. Oh yeah. At this rate, she'd be a fiancée by lunch time.
Somehow, that thought was seriously disturbing.
She gave her the patented Saotome smirk. "And if I say no?"
Mistress 9 brought her hand up and snapped.
Two blackened thunderbolts shot down from the sky in front of Mistress 9. Side by side they struck causing another bout of small explosions and annoying dust clouds. When they cleared though the floating sorceress seemed to have summoned company.
But all that came out of the pigtailed martial artists mouth was "Ah."
She had literally sicked monsters on her, and they looked every bit the horror flick rejects they were. One of them was a seven foot living manifestation of a werewolf complete with massive furry arms with nasty looking claws. Same for the legs too. The head was grizzly and feral. Everything the Saotome had come to expect from something that had to come out of a Van Hellsing movie. It was staring at the pair suddenly feeling very hungry.
To complete the theme, a smaller beast was paired with the werewolf. This one humanoid and covered head to toe with bandages except for the face where a single crimson glowing eye gleamed menacingly and a mouth that smiled with gnarled crooked teeth. Sickly yellow drool pooled at the edges of that mouth and down onto the floor where it sizzled and burned as if touched by acid. Great, so she sent a goddamn mummy out for her too. Just wonderful.
Saotome foot-in-mouth gentleman. Pure classic.
"Destroy the red head, but leave the child alive. I need her." Mistress Nine commanded.
It probably wouldn't have been so bad if Ranma didn't have her hands occupied. There was no way she was gonna let that Nine woman get Hotaru. The first rule of martial arts was to protect the weak. And dammit! She was gonna do that! Unfortunately that made this fight a lot harder. Three to one odds and she was reduced to using fancy footwork. Not good. But what to do… what to do…
She couldn't put down Hotaru and kick monster ass… Yet. It'd put the kid at risk. And just when they first met too. Couldn't have that. And as good as she was, Mistress Nine just seemed to have way too much fire power for a direct assault. Alone she'd be no problem against the martial arts prodigy, but now that she had friends Ranma was going to have to plan. Not her strong suit.
Not that she couldn't do it though. It's just that she'd need time. Time she didn't have unless…
"I see how it is." Ranma spoke grimly. Then a blue battle aura exploded around her and Hotaru. Mistress 9 gasped and instinctively floated several yards back. The two monsters also backed away at the display of pure power. Ranma's glare turned murderous and her battle aura expanded a whole ten feet. Werewolf and mummy both suddenly felt the urge to pee themselves.
"HiYAAA!!!!!" Ranma screamed and moved to strike. The evil trio flinched bringing their arms up in front of their faces. Their eyes shut tight, waiting for the martial artists first contact, they waited. And waited. And waited. It took a whole minute to realize the expected attack just wasn't coming. Slowly they removed their arms from in front of them. Then they blinked. And blinked again. What the heck happened?
Then they simultaneously discovered that a certain red haired and violet haired girl were current nowhere to be seen. Mistress 9 growled her hands clenched into fists.
"Find them! Don't let them get away!"
The monsters blinked again then dashed away, making dust clouds in the distance.
"Damn them." Mistress 9 grumbled.
Ah the Saotome Final Technique. Also a classic.
After Ranma had made considerable distance from the trio, she had slipped into the Umi-sen-ken. Now virtually undetectable, she searched the barren landscape for any suitable location they could hide in or behind. Finally finding it some small distance away, Ranma dashed off again. The structure was little more then a giant rock some twenty times Ranma's current size but it'd be enough. The pigtailed martial artist searched all around the thing finding the sturdiest location all the way behind where it was supported by a much smaller rock.
Satisfied, she gently placed Hotaru down. To Ranma, the girl was still pretty shaken up but seemed to have calmed down a bit when Mistress 9 wasn't around. Just what the hell happened to her anyway?
"Uh.." Rama began intelligently. "A-are you alright?"
Hotaru took a deep breath, not quite registering what the girl said. Then she ran it through her mind again and blinked. "Y-y-yes, I… think so."
Hotaru stared at the red head for a moment almost awe inspired by the amount of concern she could see in those eyes. She nodded. Satisfied, Ranma smiled.
"Well that's good." The red haired girl said relieved. "That suck if yer weren't."
Hotaru blinked, not quite sure how to respond to that one.
Ranma's smile faded.
"Hey… listen." Ranma began. "Don't worry about those three chumps. I won't let'em touch ya. Ya got my word as a martial artist."
Hotaru's shocked expression turned into a pleading look. "No! Mistress 9 is dangerous! Very dangerous! She'll kill you without a second thought!"
Seeing Ranma's unconvinced look Hotaru sighed and took another approach.
"Look. It's all right. You've done more then enough. You have to get away from here before it's too late!"
"Uh-huh." Ranma deadpanned. How many times did she hear that one? "Look. Obviously you don't know me." The red head began walking away from the girl but then turned her head. "But Ranma Saotome doesn't lose."
Hotaru just sat there wide eyed and speechless.
Ranma smirked. "You can count on that."
Twenty minutes later and Mistress 9 was still no closer to finding the pair. She was furious. No surprise there. Screaming wouldn't change things though. Instead she gathered her energies in a much more productive matter and began ascending even higher into the sky closer to the clouds. But not too close. The drizzle that was pouring earlier had turned into a downpour. And though she had cast wards to prevent being struck by natural lightning, it was best not to risk it.
Her two pet daimon's were down there somewhere hunting the red haired trash and finally claiming her prize once again. Since when did the brat think that that body was her own? Mistress 9 OWNED her. In every conceivable way. That damnable red head was only delaying the inevitable.
Gathering more mana energies, she pressed forward. In all honesty these barren wastelands were an eyesore to her. Unlike what most would imagine, Mistress 9 had no desire to live in a lifeless world. No, she would shape the world to her own desires. The destruction of Pharaoh 90 had only taught her one thing and that was that she couldn't rely on others to help her ambition. At least not in the same manner as though one would treat an equal or better. No, she would have all the power. She would develop her armies and she would gain allies with the promise of that same power, and never truly bestowing it.
For now though, she needed power, and this pathetic construct she inhabited made poor consolation. She would have to get back her toy. Hotaru-chan needed to be reminded of her place. With that in mind she swore that it would happen well before the time of her next reincarnation. Her plans didn't extend that much further from this point, but it didn't matter yet. She had time. She simply needed to reclaim her prize.
Mistress 9's gaze narrowed sharply. There was something far off in the distance. Something decidedly red. The woman smiled viciously. This was going to be fun.
Ranma stared hard at the darkening skies. The rain had been picking up, pounding on her softer frame harshly. The red head hardly flinched though she did have to squint her eyes to protect them from the raging storm. Such lovely conditions for a battle field… Ranma thought wryly. Oh well. She faced worse odds than this before. In the end, it was all par for the course.
The rough crackling sound in the air quickly alerted the martial artist that thunder was in the broadcast. Fun, fun, fun. She wished that lady and her goon squad would hurry up and find her already.
"Be careful what I wish for." Ranma whispererd cryptically as she spotted some black dot in the distance moving in the sky towards her. "About time." Ranma smirked. She wanted to get this over with already. It was that woman Ranma noted. Mistress Nine in all her bitchy glory. Ranma's gaze was smug determination. Mistress Nine's was malicious and hungry.
Definitely a fiancée.
She didn't stop this time, unleashing several dark bolt shots in quick succession. Ranma was dodging in a complex weave already expected something coming just not what. It didn't deter her much as the lightning bolt's missed the pigtailed martial artist by a sizable foot or two. Mistress 9 hissed and shot a second volley only to be dodged just as easily.
"Slippery brat are you?" The violet haired woman growled and tossed another bolt at the annoying red head. Ranma ducked the shot with ease. Not that the shots were slow per se, but they were well within the martial artists ability to dodge. Not only that but Mistress 9 had a nasty little habit of telegraphing her moves too obviously. The end result was Ranma saw the moves a mile away. "Not slippery. Skilled. Got it? I'm the best."
Mistress 9 was no fool though. If one tactic didn't work, resort to another. Mistress 9's arms which Ranma finally noticed were surrounded and crackling with black lightning had suddenly ceased. She slowly floated to the ground where two dark violet stiletto heels made crunching noises on rubble, and dust and turf.
Whatever semblance of anger that had been on her face before had changed completely to calculated curiosity. She crossed her arms and closed her eyes seemingly oblivious to martial artist who was standing infront of her not thirty feet away.
"Tell me." Mistress 9 said calmly but Ranma had detected the spike in her power and was prepared for a hasty defense. Two more blackened thunderbolts had ripped across the sky to strike both sides to the enigmatic witch. It was remarkably similar to that summoning spell Mistress 9 had used before and Ranma thought that maybe she was bringing back horror rejects tweedle dum and tweedle dee back but that's not what happened.
Instead something else emerged from those dark energies. Ranma instantly knew something was DANGEROUS about them and instinctively fell into an Anything Goes defensive stance. The red head wasn't sure what set her off though. At first they seemed to be nothing but thick shadows free of any corporal form. That is, until they started to take form themselves. The shadows gathered on each side of Mistress 9 growing taller, and taller until they stopped at her height. They were taking a solid form, filling out and taking human like properties. Arms and legs spread apart and took an effeminate shape. In fact their whole bodies were turning suspiciously female. Arms and hands had elongated and become more distinct. Legs had formed, strong, feminine and voluptuous. Breasts had formed and curves became more defined. The shadow like visage had become almost an almost skin like substance that covered their entire bodies with the exceptions of their heads and neck which possessed red glowing marks that resembled tattoos. Ranma could've mistaken the glowing red mark on the neck as some sort of glow in the dark choker for all it was worth. Two burning arrow like marks appeared on both cheeks and clashed with a small glowing teal jewel engraved on both their foreheads. Twins in every sense of the word, Ranma had to stop herself from flinching when the pair opened their eyes. They were a burning red crimson that seared into her, burning their image into her minds eye. For a moment Ranma's legs went weak but she quickly steeled herself and slipped into the soul of ice. Between scalding red eyes a delicate nose formed. There was no mouth nor was it needed. And where hair should have been were instead thick tendrils that extended past the shoulders, to the small of her back. Swift, Beautiful and frightening. That's what these creatures were. And they put Ranma on edge.
"Why do you insist on dying so much? What is that girl to you?"
The question was enough to draw the martial artist away from her observations to look upon Mistress 9 once again. She smirked coldly, still heavily influenced by the effects of her soul of ice.
"Who said anything about dying? I'm gonna win this fight!"
Mistress 9 just continued to stare impassively.
"As for why I'm fighting for that kid?" Ranma shrugged. "Beats the hell outta me."
That same impassive stare turned wide eyed.
Ranma's smirk widened. "Just seemed like the right thing to do is all." She replied nonchalantly.
"Enough talk." She continued. "You gonna fight me already or what?"
And besides, I got a promise to keep.
Mistress 9 glared and then nodded. And then they were silent. The rain continued to pour. The winds howled. Lightning danced in the sky and thunder crackled mercilessly. The martial artist had a sharp intake of breath and then…
At some unheard signal, Ranma and the trio charged at each other at impossible speeds the fate of one child's soul hanging in the balance.
Hotaru was tired. Hotaru was immensely tired. In mind… in body… in spirit... It wasn't the first time she realized this but thinking about it was depressing. No rest. Always afraid. Always had to keep running. Always had to keep hiding. Always had to keep her guard up.
For Kami's sake.
For everyone's sake!
Never let her find you.
Because if she does…
If she does…
Hotaru didn't want to even think about the consequences if Mistress 9 had somehow managed to get a hold of her soul again. Worse, if she was ever able to tap into the powers of the Soldier of Silence…
Billions would suffer the likes she couldn't even begin to imagine. So terrible, death would be a mercy. Some twisted terrible dream granted to just the few lucky enough. Tired, traumatized, and nearly broken, in spite of everything Hotaru couldn't afford to let such an evil be let loose onto the world. She had suffered this long. For the lives of billions she could suffer longer.
But how much longer?
It was with this recent turn of events that had given Hotaru a very depressing answer.
Not nearly enough.
And now an innocent was going to pay dearly for her actions just because she was tired.
Desperate. That was the word she was searching for. Hotaru was desperate. And she wouldn't have even realized just how bad off she was had it not been for a mere ten minutes respite Ranma had afforded her. Someone who didn't deserve even a fraction of the problems the fallen senshi had. The red-head didn't know half of what she was getting into. It was going to be the end of her Hotaru thought despairingly and she didn't know what happened to those who died inside their soul plane.
What was she gonna do?
A few seconds of silence. Her heart tightened. Hotaru began to panic.
What could she do?
Hotaru could not call upon her powers without a physical body. Her own soul was strained and exhausted. It was a wonder how she was able to maintain any semblance of sanity. How she managed to last this long….
In reality, Hotaru wanted to cry. It wasn't fair that she had to live this miserable existence. If you could call it living. She had to keep running. She had to help Ranma. She couldn't do both. Hotaru shivered. The rain had finally gotten to her in spite of how numb she felt. At least, that's what she wanted to believe…
Hotaru blinked. She was soaked and she didn't realize it. She swallowed and stood up wiping away the tears mixed with rain. Since when did she become so helpless and weak? The answer was clear. Her mind steeled herself. Her eyes sharpened with determination. Her shivering ceased to be, replaced with long, calming deep breaths. Her heart was anxious with uncertainty but she would not falter. No one would ever suffer because of her again. Not now. Not ever.
Ranma was falling. No, she was flying? Wait a minute… That couldn't be right. Where was she landing? Why so… fast? What was…
Ranma found herself whip lashed so hard, so fast, her body vibrated, exploding with pain! She knew her body hit something hard, but any observations to discover what were cut short as the shadow twins came at her as unrelenting as ever. Wasting no time, Ranma flipped upright and out of harms way. Thick tendrils of shadow pulverized the landscape she stood on without mercy.
Damn it! The things just had to be good didn't they?
Good didn't explain it. These things were easily Ryoga's level. Powerful and swift. They weren't quite as fast as her, but that wasn't necessary. Simply because even though the twins kept the form of exotic shapely women, that didn't mean they needed to stay that way.
No, they had to be God Damned shape shifters.
Their arms and legs could become living weapons at a moments notice. Swords, claws, spears, axes, sickles, hammers, cudgels, some detestable combination of the above. They were all this and more. Ranma could find no pattern. Their movements were erratic defying the very laws of gravity. Ranma was no stranger to defying gravity. The very style of Anything Goes specialized in aerial combat after all. But this! Their bodies had become a living weapon. Something world class martial artists such as Ranma fought day in and day out striving to be.
And Mistress 9 just summoned these things on the slightest whim without a care in the world.
Why the hell did this crap always happen to her?
Ranma swore, and twisted in mid air. More tendrils passed by just barely missing her. The pigtailed martial artist didn't have time to dwell on it though as the second shadow twin was already leaping towards her. It's charge was doomed to failure though as Ranma seemed to flash out of existence. The shadow girl didn't even have time to realize what happened before an incredibly strong kick cracked the side of her head sending her flying. The thing screeched. The force of the kick alone caused it to sail through the air at speeds that made Ranma's own experience pale in comparison. The short painful trip ended as it collided with a rock spire knocking it down in a plume of dust.
Then Ranma felt air forcefully leave her lungs. Damn… that second one. It must have tagged her with one of the things hammer arms. Ranma's head twisted left as another powerful blow came in the form of a back hand. The girl was sent tumbling, face first into the packed dirt ground. Cursing again, Ranma quickly found her feat… and found herself dodging another set of flailing, shifting limbs of death. Burning crimson eyes danced along with Ranma's graceful patterns though hurried but precise. The dance continued until Ranma found an opening as the shadow girls arm over extended too far. Ranma would make it pay for making that mistake ten fold. The thing reeled with the sheer power of Ranma's blows starting with a crushing right fist to the ribcage. A left hook to the jaw. A round house to the other side followed by a complete rotation to strike it's shoulder with her heel. The shadow girl was knocked back hard causing a plume of dust, but Ranma frowned when she didn't hear the snapping of bones. Almost as if the thing didn't have any…
Another few seconds and the shadow forms had returned, unharmed and pressing Ranma at full strength. 'This isn't working' the martial artist thought leaping back and feeding ki into the palms of her hands.
The brilliant blue ball of ki ripped through the rain filled skies unimpeded striking perfectly with the first shadow. There was a deafening pain filled shriek followed by an explosion. The first shadow forms resistance was instantly torn away… along with it's life. Ranma smirked. One down.
The martial artist was instantly on the move again avoiding the sharpened tendrils of the second shadow at inhuman speeds. It didn't seem to like the fact that it's sister was destroyed. Ranma was closing in fast ready to end this quick… until she suddenly wasn't. Without warning black thunder bolts slammed hard into her side.
The red headed martial artist didn't even have time to scream. Ranma instantly knew she was really hurt this time. Everything hurt! Her ears were ringing and she vaguely recalled impacting onto the ground hard. Her ribs were cracked. Some shattered. What the hell happened?
Somewhere in that heated exchange she had lost track of the witch and she didn't even realize it. That mistake was going to cost her her life. Well that sucks…
Hotaru had never ran this long or this far in her entire life. She abandoned all reason. All conscious thought. She had to reach Ranma in time. She just had too! If she d-died… If she was t-t-to disappear just because of her…
Damn this frail body! Damn this weak spirit how was she going to make it on time?!
Something had resonated with her despair, filling her with power. Giving her the strength to continue on. She could make it! It wasn't hopeless! It wasn't impossible! She could do it! She could save her! She just had to.
She repeated the mantra constantly. She had to hope there was some chance of saving Ranma. That hope died when she finally found her. Kami-Sama…
Ranma was a mess. Beaten, broken, shattered… and still clinging to life. Barely. It was a wonder she was still alive.
"Ranma!" Hotaru cried out horrified rushing to the red haired teen's aid.
Ranma's head turned gingerly, facing the violet haired girl with a glazed look.
"I'm here…" The girl replied with something between a laughter and a sob.
"About time you appeared child." Mistress 9 stated blandly. Hotaru didn't even notice her or her shadow formed companion until the woman made her presence known. The former soldier of silence ignored her and bent down towards Ranma 'Just a little. Just a little. It's all I need.'.
"You shouldn't be here…" Ranma rasped.
Hotaru placed her hand gently against the remains of Ranma's ribcage. The redhead winced a little but then relaxed as a cooling sensation began to envelop her. Hotaru's mind calmed as she once again felt the essence of that hated, terrible, necessary power. Something was different. Hotaru knew something was aiding her. She didn't know what but for some strange reason, it felt a lot like Ranma. Hotaru traced the familiar threads and found the shattered bones. She let her power take over and the bones began to thread together. Then she removed the splintered bone from her lungs and repaired the damaged organ. A final burst of power and Hotaru threw the last of her reserves into restoring her protector.
Ranma was in awe. It would have taken days to heal the extensive injuries she took from this fight. She sat up with more effort then she was accustomed to. She wasn't fully healed. Not by a long shot. But at least she could probably stand now. Hotaru collapsed completely spent.
Ranma caught her. She was pissed that the kid had to be put through all this. Worried that Hotaru went overboard trying to heal her injuries. Relieved that she saw her breathing… and angry at herself for letting things get this far and almost breaking her promise.
"I'm… alright." Ranma blinked when she heard Hotaru's voice. Tired… and resigned.
"Just need to rest…" she continued. Ranma's mood turned even darker. She barely knew the girl, but whatever the hell she went through, it was bad. Really bad.
Mistress 9 however had had enough.
"It's time to go Hotaru-chan."
The shadow girl was approaching them. Ranma tensed, ready to mix it up all over again.
The martial artist froze.
The ex-senshi lowered her head. "I can't run anymore. I've tried. She'll get me. It's only a matter of time. At least maybe now I can save you too."
"Hotaru…" Ranma's tone turned pleading.
The girl shook her head. "Thank you Ranma-chan, but it's time for me to go." She smiled, stood away from Ranma and stepped forward. Mistress 9 snapped her fingers and two man sized black flames appeared beside her. When they cleared, Ranma instantly recognized the two daimons from earlier. The werewolf and mummy beasts stared at the martial artist with a 'Don't do anything stupid' look.
Ranma glared back.
Mistress 9 laughed.
"I'm so glad you finally see it my way Hotaru-chan. You couldn't win so why bother trying?" She then drew a symbol in thin air forming a black star. Hotaru's eyes widened and she then screamed. A thin black line emerged from Mistress 9's chest where it shot forward and latched onto Hotaru's.
"Hotaru!" Ranma cried out not knowing what the hell was going on but knew instinctively that it was a disaster in progress. The screaming stopped and Hotaru's eyes glazed over. She floated off the ground slowly making her way to the powerful witch.
"That's right Hotaru-chan. Don't fight it. You belong to me. You always have. Return to me. Become mine once more."
Mistress 9 was almost overjoyed. Her power would be hers once again. Just a little more…
Hotaru had already reached half the distance to Mistress 9, her body dangling helplessly. Mistress 9's eyes grew wild, with both excitement and greed. She was just about to absorb her when a red blur cut in delivering a blindingly fast kick to her jaw. There was no time for shock. Her face met dirt. Hard.
"NO MEANS NO ASSHOLE!"
Instantly the three remaining daimon were upon her promising pain, death, and worse. Ranma would have none of it though.
"Kijin Raishu Dan!"
Ranma retaliated with a barrage of vacuum blades almost instantly tearing the werewolf and mummy beasts to pieces. They were dead before they hit the ground. The shadow girl however took the blades full force seemingly unharmed. Ranma didn't stop though as she was instantly within the daimons defenses with a ki charged fist. The thing shrieked and separated moving away from Ranma only to converge nearby the spot Mistress 9 was finally picking herself up from.
The martial artist was instantly by Hotaru's side as the girl seemed to be shaking her head, trying to will away the haze.
"Hotaru are you alright?" Ranma asked clearly worried for the girl, but not willing to have both eyes off of her opponents.
"R…Ranma?" she replied, still out of it but quickly coming to her senses.
The martial artist glared at her self proclaimed charge. "If you EVER do something that stupid again I'll… well… well I don't know what I'd do but I'd think of somethin' dammit!"
Hotaru gasped as she stared at the martial artist wide eyed.
"I said she ain't touchin ya, so she ain't touchin ya! A martial artist always keeps his word."
Ranma stepped forward infront of Hotaru facing Mistress 9 and glared.
"Just leave this bitch to me." Ranma stated flatly.
She was insane. She just had to be! Ranma had no chance against Mistress 9. At least Hotaru couldn't see any. Why was she doing this? Why was she risking her life? Her soul! For her!
Mistress 9 had had it. Too many times had the red headed bitch interfered and stole away what was rightfully hers. It was time to remove her. Permanently. "You won't live to regret this Red." 9 stated coldly. She was done. She'd no longer tolerate her presence here, or anywhere. Alive or otherwise. She made it a point as she snapped her fingers yet again.
The remaining living shadow girl stiffened as blackened thunderbolts enveloped her. Then she seemed to divide. First into two. Then four. Then eight… then sixteen… then…
Hotaru's face grew pale. Ranma's remained stoic but blue flames were already beginning to surround her.
Sixty four… One hundred twenty eight…
There was no end to them! They just kept dividing and multiplying. Their ranks grew and Ranma's chances died with them. At the end of it all, there were countless shadows. They swallowed the ground, the hills, the mountains, the spires. They devoured all light. All hope. Only Ranma's battle aura shined brightly. The last sanctuary to a dying world.
"Destroy her." Mistress 9 ordered, her form swallowed in that same endless darkness.
"BRING IT ON!" Ranma bellowed as her battle aura instantly burst to five times as far.
The darkness rushed forward like an insurmountable tidal wave anxious to crush them all.
"Ranma!" Hotaru screamed as she ran towards the martial artist and embraced her. Fate and Destiny conspired. The hand was dealt. The world went white. And hell broke loose…
It twisted, writhed, swirled, crackled, soared and burst forth deep within the confines of their being. Like a sleeping dragon, a monstrous force had awakened. It noted two beings in particular within close proximity to each other. And darkness… unending darkness.
The power ignored the infinite black however. It had seen that before. Experienced it to it's very core. It was much more interested in the pair that had summoned it.
The first one it noticed was it's host. The one it was always supposed to serve until the end of time. It's lone companion. However the other one…
Infinite potential… cloaked in chaos… enticed by fate…
Serving as the avatars of both and yet neither…
He and she bowed to no master…
And yet had no true aim…
What was this being to her?
It sensed it's hosts wishes.
Her deepest desires.
One danced brightest on that flame.
Protect this being?
This was her wish?
The power didn't mind two masters.
It just wished to be used.
And that darkness was getting to be a damned nuisance.
Ranma felt like she was riding a storm. Power exploded from within and all around her. The floodgates had opened destroying the front lines and devasting the ranks. The grounds quaked with it's wrath and burned with the powers of life and death. Ranma floated within the spiral of power. Chinese silks washed away within the blaze. In it's place was a skin tight white leotard with feathery white shoulders and a violet top with red ribbons on her chest and backside. White skin tight gloves formed on her hands reaching up to her elbows. An equally violet short skirt flared as she twisted in the air while her Chinese slippers were replaced with knee length violet colored boots. Saturns symbol shone brightly on her forhead and golden tiara formed with an amethyst jewel in it's center. Ranma's hair grew out of it's pigtail and became a fiery mane that reached down to the small of her back. Two streaks of violet bangs danced wildly in front of her eyes which opened to became a hardened, burning violet gaze that promised death to her trespassers. No matter the numbers.
And then a spear formed in her right hand. A long black rod. Plain and unassuming until one spotted the two pronged blade in the shape of a metallic blaze. On it's end a sharpened bronze tip. Saturns weapon. The scythe that cut through all life and cast judgement. Bestowed justice. The Silence Glaive.
Hotaru had to keep her eyes shut the entire time. Just opening them now as the light faded, maybe she shouldn't have been so surprised had she known the chaotic nature of her friend. That didn't stop her jaw from dropping as she felt more then sensed the familiar flows of her power coursing through the red head. What on earth was going on?
Ranma should have pretty much been on the same boat, but she felt strangely calm. She didn't notice or care for her current attire. The weapon she wielded was inconsequential. Merely an extension of herself and a means to initiate the long awaited justice that had been denied her charge.
"Mistress 9." She stated coldly as she touched down onto the ground next to Hotaru. "You and your kind will trouble this child no longer."
Mistress 9 stared back angrily. How dare she take what was rightfully hers?!
"I don't know what you did… but it changes nothing. Hotaru-chan is mine and you will be destroyed. That's all."
As if that was the signal, the unending darkness recommenced their attack on the martial artist turned senshi. But the newly christened Sailor Saturn would not be denied. In an instant she was upon their ranks weaving around their attacks and unleashing devastation of her own as she scythed through the darkness with her Silence Glaive.
In threes and fours they fell, the Silence Glaive cutting through the shadows in wide, graceful arcs. Tendrils tried to lance her from every angle but Ranma never spent more then half a second in the same place and dodged the assault with ease. Another whirling dervish with the silence glaive and the tendrils were sliced off instantly. Only two minutes into the exchange and Ranma had killed at least fifty of the things with not even the least signs of stopping or tiring.
It was for the first time since this entire ordeal that Mistress 9 had reason to worry. One lone girl was tearing through her ranks as if they were made of tissue paper! One girl! A mortal! Never mind she was able to tap into a power she had no right possessing, but there was no way in hell it should have made her this strong!
What it should have been doing in front of her eyes though didn't matter. There was no mistaking the power Ranma was wielding now. The neo senshi was cutting through their lines like a farmer would wheat. To the left, they fell by the handfuls. To the right, they were decimated with high power Moko Takabisha's laced with Saturns power. With the exception of Hotaru, who was too paralyzed with shock to do anything anyway, anything that moved within her reach was instantly destroyed. Numbers meant nothing to Ranma now. The enemy body count was rising and they were finally making progress. The red and violet blur of death was turning the tides to their favor.
"Ranma!" Hotaru cried out.
In an instant, Sailor Saturn was there ending the life of yet another unlucky shadow. Ranma frowned. Since when had that thing gotten through? Her danger senses flared and Ranma twisted around again. Three more shadows went down with the reprisal.
Angered, Ranma sent another ball of ki where the enemy lines where thickest. Ten shadows went down with the blast as well as the battered legion finally beginning to scatter.
It was time.
She had toyed with these things enough and it was time to end this.
Ranma cleaved through two more shadows while a third tried to clip her legs. She danced around the shadow rotating once… twice. The shadow's head decapitated by the third rotation. A fourth and fifth followed as heat and cold energy began to build… along with something else.
'Hiryu Shoten Ha' REVISED!
For an instant, time stopped. Everything was silent.
Then heat and cold. Life and death.
Light and darkness clashed violently at the center while everything else was hopelessly pulled into the dreaded vortex. Not one shadow was spared. Screams of fear and pain were devoured by the shear ferocity of the unnatural hurricane that Ranma had unleashed.
Mistress 9 was no exception to that tally, the monstrous winds ripping through her wards and defenses. They tore through her perfect skin now marred with blood in her pitiful efforts to resist such force. No! She couldn't die here!
As more of her shadows were fed into the spiral, it's power grew in leaps and bounds, tearing through the ground and incinerating all. Hotaru was trapped at the center of this storm while chaos reined outside it's borders. She probably would have screamed had Ranma not rushed to her aid at the moment covering her with her form and protecting her from any stray razor sharp winds that would dare bring her harm.
The shadow legion faltered as their numbers fell to the storms wrath. Mistress 9 screamed. The winds pounded her mercilessly now. Finally, her resistance gave out and she too was drawn helplessly into the grand tempest.
There was nowhere to run. No escape. No place to hide.
Ranma looked upwards and saw a void far above them at the very center of the storm where the shadows were being drawn in. She smirked as she saw Mistress 9 flailing hopelessly to her final destination. This was it. The final stages of her technique.
Letting go of Hotaru, she stood up, seemingly unaffected by the Death Spiral. She raised her Silence Glaive and whispered "The End."
As Mistress 9 was being absorbed into the void, Sailor Saturn leapt towards the center.
And cut straight through the void.
Hotaru heard the sound of glass shattering followed by an explosion of the likes she had never lived to witness before.
Oh… not now…
Sleep was nice. The ground is a bit hard but not too bad. Funny… Why did it smell like flowers?
Hotaru frowned in her sleep. Just a few more minutes…
"You'll miss out on breakfast if you don't wake up soon."
That got her attention.
Hotaru's eyes opened slowly blinking once or twice. She felt sleepy, but in a much more content sort of matter. She didn't sense her anywhere. As far as the ex-senshi was concerned, that was a good thing. Hotaru yawned, stretching her arms until they felt warm from the exertion. Satisfied, she looked at her surroundings.
This wasn't anything like the wastelands she remembered!
Instead of the forsaken bare ruins were healthy grass fields with hills and flowers stretched as far as the eye could see. Some distance to the north, she spotted the rapids to a white waterfall. At it's very top, the sun painted the landscape in threads of it's light. The southern paths hid it's secrets within a lush, vibrant forest that sang with life and the morning song of birds.
"Just to let you know, I have no clue where the hell we are. Thought you'd like to know that."
Hotaru knew that voice. It belonged to an old friend she didn't even know for more then a day.
Ranma was there. No longer in her sailor fuku, she felt right at home in her red and black Chinese silks stirring a pot over a camp fire that was giving off a delicious aroma. That alone made Hotaru pause for a minute as her sense of smell fell into a state of ecstasy while drool pooled at the corners of her mouth. As if on queue, her stomach made it quite clear that she hadn't eaten in ages. Time to play catch up.
Ranma grinned already knowing that look.
"Food will be done soon. How ya feelin by the way?"
Hotaru blinked. "Alright I guess…"
Ranma nodded. "That's good."
She then looked towards the sky noting the scattering of rain clouds.
"Hmm… storms over I think."
Hotaru looked up too. Huh… so it was. Not finding anything else all that interesting up there, she looked back down trying to recall what happened that night. And when exactly did she pass out?
"Umm.." Hotaru tried to find the right words to what she was about to ask, but for the life of her she couldn't find them. Her mind was cloudy.
"Uh… Ranma, do you know what happened to Mistress 9?"
The red haired martial artist stared at the girl confused for a moment.
Hotaru blinked again. "That… that lady that was chasing me."
The blank, questioning stare didn't waver.
"Someone's chasing you?"
Hotaru's stare turned wide eyed. It was as if Ranma… as if she…
"Well your in luck! Turns out I happen to be a martial artist. A pretty damn good one too."
She smiled at the girl. "If anyone gives you problems, they're gonna have to deal with me."
Ranma noted the change in the girls expression. "Eh… something wrong?" Then her eyes turned thoughtful. "Hey! How did ya know my name anyway?"
Hotaru didn't know weather to laugh or cry. Ranma didn't remember any of it. Not the fight with Mistress 9 or her legions. Not how she fought so hard to save and protect her. Ranma didn't remember Hotaru at all. In some ways, that was worse than having to face Pharaoh 90 all over again.
Depression won over insanity. Hotaru began to cry.
Now it was Ranma's gaze that turned as wide as saucers. What the heck did she do this time?! It was definitely her fault somehow. It always was.
"Look! Uh… Don't cry kiddo please? I hate it when girls cry!" Ranma pleaded waving his hands around in comical fashion.
"Y-you don't even remember my name…" Hotaru sobbed. Why was she acting like this?
"W-well how about you tell me your name then." Ranma suggested clearly flustered by the girls behavior.
For a moment Hotaru said nothing as she sat on the green grass hugging her knees. Then she stared at the pigtailed martial artist as if trying to find some unseen answer to a question she never revealed. The look didn't last long and she nodded, a sad smile forming on her lips.
"That sounds great." She said before standing up and bowing towards Ranma. "I'm Hotaru Tomoe."
Ranma grinned. At least the girls mood had perked up a bit. "Ranma Saotome." She bowed. "Heir of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts."
Ranma offered to shake her hand, holding out her own. Hotaru stared at it for a moment before ignoring it completely and plowed into Ranma hugging her for dear life.
"Please don't leave me!" she cried. "I can't take it anymore! I don't want to be alone! Please don't leave me alone Ranma! Please!
Ranma Saotome, Heir of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts was stunned. Where the heck did this come from?! Why was a thirteen year old girl latching onto her as if she would die tomorrow? This wasn't an amazon glomp. It was a raw emotion being displayed to her and she couldn't put her finger on it. When she tried, it danced elusively away from her and laughed at her pitiful attempt. Something struck a chord in Ranma and before she knew it, her hands moved to embrace the child.
Maybe the kid was lost or something and just wasn't thinking straight? God knew she saw some pretty strange stuff back in the day. Even in the present. Especially in the present. Still, until her parents came, Hotaru was her responsibility. She wasn't going to back down now. Even so, Ranma didn't want to admit it, but she was touched that Hotaru seemed to care about her so much. Sure, the pigtailed martial artist could find far worse ways of passing the time, but since it would make little Hotaru happy…
"I won't leave you. I promise."
When Hotaru heard those words, again she didn't know weather to laugh or cry. She felt warm as a new emotion bubbled inside her. One she never ever felt before.
Her grip tightened on the pigtailed martial artist, her face buried in Ranma's shirt. "Thank you… Thank you… Thank you."
Hotaru wanted to thank whatever kami gave her the chance to encounter an individual as honest, caring, and strong as Ranma. This same individual that had a heart so pure, that she was willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of Hotaru's wellbeing and happiness.
Hotaru couldn't have found a better person. The choice was made.
"Thank you so much…. Mama."
A/N: I know this is still very rough. Well uh... I grew a bit impatient. I had planned for this chapter to be posted up almost a month ago. Obviously that didn't turn out so well. In any case, after reading such wonderful fics like Awkward Consequences and Sound Hearts, I thought I'd take a stab at something similar.
No this is not a Ranma/Hotaru matchup. The age differences between 18 and 13 is just too much. Sorry. Couldn't do it on this current plot premise. Think of this relationship as more on the lines of what you see in Sunshine Temple's 'Strained Harmony'
Also, I'm not going to pretend I have anywhere near the talent great authors such as Ozzallos and Trimatter possess. I'll try my best though and see if I can get another chapter out before too long.