Most people didn't understand the truth about Cologne. Which
suited her just fine.

For quite some time now, she had been well aware that the chances
that Ranma would actually submit to Amazon law and return to China
with Shampoo were less than good. One doesn't live to be more than a
hundred without being something of a judge of human nature and
hearts, and there was little doubt in her mind that the only thing
keeping Ranma and Akane from the altar was the fact that they were
being forced into it.

Besides, law or no law, she no longer really wanted Ranma in the
tribe. The boy was just too independent-- he'd make a proper amazon
husband the day that Mousse developed spontaneous 20-20 vision and
Shampoo took a vow of chastity. The lad also carried chaos around
him in ways that she still at times could not believe. A year in
Jokuzetsu would likely mean no more Jokuzetsu, since she had no
reason to believe that the unending string of challengers, strange
happenings, paranatural occurrences, and just plain weirdness would
stop at the Nerima limits. True, this area probably amplified it a
bit-- the ward was known for a history of odd happenings-- but the
boy attracted such things wherever he went.

She hadn't taken a really active hand in the matter since the boy
had used the Neko-ken to defeat her for the Phoenix Pill. It was
then she realized that he was truly opposed to the idea, which had
startled her. She had assumed-- as had most Amazons-- that a male
would fall for Shampoo's allure, sensuality, and culinary skills in a
heartbeat. She had assumed wrong.

Because Ranma wasn't like most males. He was practically
unseduceable. He reacted to physical advances not with
reciprocation, but with unease. He wanted-- if he wanted anything--
to be left alone, to find his own path. It was fairly clear that
that path didn't include making many little Amazon babies.

Of course, that combined with the fact that Shampoo's first idea
was to kill him and her second and following ones were to hang onto
him like a love starved chunk of moss on a reluctant oak tree didn't
do a lot to help either.

Sometimes Shampoo would come across some old or arcane piece of
lore or paranormal seasoning, and try it. It never worked, of
course-- love doesn't work that way, and fate derailed attempts to
make it do so-- but Shampoo, who couldn't see anything past the idea
that "Ranma = Airen" would try again. Cologne neither encouraged or
discouraged these attempts anymore. She just sat back, watched, and
enjoyed the chaos.

After all, Nerima was so much more FUN than the sleepy Amazon
village. What had started as a husband hunt had become what Cologne
considered a sort of temporary retirement with a never ending floor

From time to time she would teach Ranma something. Not because
she hoped to gain him for the tribe. Not because she had any real
plans for the boy. Rather, because he was such a joy to teach--
unlike the children of the Amazon tribes she knew who saw the Art as
just another way to fight, he understood the truth--

The Art was... The Art.

Shampoo knew how to fight-- very well indeed-- but she didn't
really understand the Art. Kuonji was skilled with her-- admittedly
peculiar-- weapon of choice, but she didn't really understand the
Art. Akane, the one she knew Ranma would eventually choose, Amazon
Law be damned, had potential that she was letting go to waste because
she had no real commitment to it-- she could have understood the Art,
but she didn't.

Hibiki, now... he understood. You don't learn the true Bakusai
Tenkatsu without understanding the Art. You don't master a move like
the Shi Shi Hokodan without understanding the Art.

And Ranma-- mastering the Burning Chestnut technique without
being able to touch fire-- and THEN refining it into a devastating
attack technique (which it had not been intended for).

Mastering the Hiryuu Shoten Ha without having been taught the
final move-- instead executing it on instinct... and later developing
methods which didn't require leading the opponent into a spiral, but
merely executing one himself. Much less once creating, on the spot,
a variation that worked while he was soaring in midair. (And oh, did
she have a quiet chuckle when Mousse had related THAT tale to her.
Poor Herb... heh.) She expected any day now for the boy to design a
variant that let him stand still.

Seeing the Shi Shi Hokodan and imitating it without the scroll--
and then after seeing the scroll refining it into a new and non-self
destructive technique-- Mokou Takabisha.

And his almost insane skill at adapting whatever was around him
into a new technique on the spot for that fight alone. (She still
boggled at times when she thought about the Pantyhose Meteor Kick.)

The boy didn't understand the Art. The boy WAS the Art.

Besides, law or no law, no WAY was she going to try to force the
lad who had killed Saffron- SAFFRON, dear Gods, SAFFRON- to go to
China. She liked her little restaurant in one piece.

Her little body, also.

And as for the lure of a cure for the curse-- apparently some
passing spirit had whimsically decided to remove it. Even if Cologne
found a cure, it was useless as bait now.

Well, it was really for the best. Ranma would NOT make a good

But Shampoo didn't understand that. And so, without mentioning
it to her, Shampoo had gone to prevent the wedding of Ranma and
Akane. And she had actually expected Ranma to be grateful.

(My great-grand-daughter's a love-struck idiot,) Cologne mused.
A miserable one now, since Ranma refused to talk to her, or even
acknowledge her presence of late. Ranma was not grateful for the
interrupted wedding. He was, in fact, unhappy about it.

Or he had been.

Something had happened along with the cure, Cologne decided.
Something important. Ranma would vanish for extended periods, and
no-one knew where. He wasn't talking about it. He wasn't, in fact,
acting much like Ranma. He was acting as though he was finally

Hmm... how much did a curse have to do with his long-held

The phone rang, interrupting Cologne's musing.

"Moshi Moshi."

"Oh, you. Haven't heard from you in a long time, Doctor--"

"You... you aren't serious? You ARE? Oh, GODDESS..."

"Well, of COURSE I'll come. I'm sworn to her service as much as
any of the rest of the Brotherhood. Especially since I'm the only
female IN the Brotherhood, and I'll have to make certain you don't
advise her poorly with your male outlook..."

"I don't see what's so funny. Hmmph. I'll meet you there

She hung up.

Thoughts about Ranma, about Shampoo, about the Art, about
everything were banished. There was something vastly more important
to consider.

The Dark had returned. It HAD to have returned--

Because the Paragon had.


Robert Haynie Presents

A Ranma 1/2 / Sailor Moon fanfiction


Episode Four : Fearsome Battle! Paragon VS Ferriko!


Naoko Takahashi sighed. No sign so far of any weaknesses in the
dimensional fabric so far-- at least none that the Compact could

Then she sighed again, because she had more reason than ever
before to BE Naoko. That reason was because she didn't share certain
problems in the life of her alter ego-- well, the one named Ranma
Saotome, to be specific-- and one of import was girls.

As in, for some reason she had never completely understood, he
tended to attract them in a manner similar to how a bucket of snails
attracted French gourmets.

It wasn't that every girl Ranma met would start chasing him.
Only a few-- those who were, in general, capable martial artists--
would actively chase him. In a weird way, that was a relief.
Because Ranma often feared that if those three or four or how many it
happened to be at the time were ordinary girls-- instead of the kind
that not only could but very likely would wreak a path of destruction
a half mile wide across Tokyo-- he'd be chased by hundreds.

(Incidentally, he was right. Where other girls would have fought
with spiteful words or hair-pulling, his not-so-wanted fiancees would
have fought with spatula, bonbori, ribbons, and the occasional
mallet, most girls who would have made a play for the young martial
artist tended to feel that they'd have to try for second best.

(Then they decided to set their sights lower, since second best
was usually considered that cute Hibiki boy, but no one could usually
find him, or even talk to him when they did. It was generally
considered that he didn't like girls, since he refused to talk to any
who even flirted with him slightly. Adorable Shyness wasn't a thing
that the average Neriman girl understood.)

But those were Ranma's problems. Naoko didn't have anything like
that to worry about.

Instead, Naoko had to worry about boys. Fortunately, the males
in Juuban were strangely less, well, frothing pits of boiling
hormonal lechery than the ones in Nerima. She had discovered that
the worst thing she had to look forwards to was an ill-phrased
attempt to make a date instead of the more familiar (and much less
liked) leer or glomp and thinly veiled (when veiled at all)
suggestion of immediate intimate physical activity. The boys of
Juuban were much less-- for lack of a better term-- perverted. Akane
would have been astonished.

The girls though-- well, it looked like every time Ranma hit
Juuban he'd attract at least a dozen admiring gazes. Hair would
surreptitiously be adjusted to best effect, compacts would come out
for a quick check, and preparations would be made for a clever and
apparently accidental meeting. (In Juuban, as in much of Tokyo,
accidentally-on-purpose meeting a boy was the preferred method. This
was quite different from Nerima, where it seemed that the favored
method was either challenging him to combat or making some flat out
insane entrance.)

Which never came off, since Ranma had pretty well decided that it
was safer to hide as Naoko whenever in Juuban. And Naoko was DAMN
well going to spend as little time in Nerima as she could,
considering the idiots there. Let Ranma handle that, since he was
expected to kick people into the near stratosphere, where if Naoko
did that, people would begin to... wonder. No, Naoko was playing it
at just barely above Akane's level. You know-- normal. (One can see
that Ranma/Naoko had an understandably skewed view of what was normal
for a martial artist.)

In other words, the Paragon was leading two entirely separate
lives-- BESIDES that of the Paragon-- as far as Japan was concerned,
with the exception of two residents. One a doctor, one a rabbit.

And Clark Kent thinks HE has problems with secret identities.


Usagi was feeling a wee bit down. None of her friends were able
to DO anything today. Ami had some grueling super-study session for
an unexpected juku exam, Rei had roughly a quarter tonne of shrine
duties, Mamo-chan was in class and would be spending most of the day
in the university lab, Chibi-Usa was at a sleepover with her friend
Momo-chan, Naru was at the park with Umino, and Minako and Makoto
were getting annoying with their recent obsession of the mystery boy
that they had discovered and that Usagi personally thought was a
figment of their imaginations. Heck-- she was even caught up on her
studies and didn't have any homework to do. (As though that was ever
a consideration?)

So it was with curiosity she saw her new friend Naoko peering
intently into her compact (although Usagi didn't know why--
Naoko-chan was so pretty!) and scowling. Maybe she had a blemish.

Approaching, Usagi curiously poked her face straight into Naoko's
to see what possible blemish the pretty redhead could have.

"AAAIIIIIGGHHHHHH!" greeted Naoko, who had found, instead of a
signal of the weakness in the dimensional fabric that would have
clued her in on the next Ur-demon incursion, a pair of curious wide
blue eyes attached to a pair of golden baseballs.

Understandably startled, Naoko backpedaled into a convenient
tree, knocking her head against it, and grunting out a feminine but
very well felt "Ouch!" to go with it.

"GomenNaokochanIdiditagaindidn'tI?" babbled Usagi, contrite.

"That's-- owww-- okay, Usagi-chan," Naoko replied. "I'm getting
used to it. But it's getting to be a bad habit."

"I'm REALLY sorry," the blonde said. "I don't MEAN to keep...

"Injuring me?" Naoko grinned.

"Hai... I mean, startling you, but you were looking at your
mirror, and I was wondering if you had a smudge, or something,
because you're always so perfect with your makeup, and..."

"Um... I was just checking, Usagi-chan." Actually, the
transformation into Naoko tended to make certain that she was not
only appropriately dressed, but invariably perfectly coifed and
decorated. Which, frankly, she was somewhat pleased with, since she
wasn't at all certain she could handle it for "real". She barely
understood lipstick, and that was only because of a few pre-cure
episodes that had required it.

Although it DID seem odd that every time she met up with Usagi
she'd somehow get an ouchie. Hmmph. For a moment she wondered why
her usual danger sense never warned her of these incidents, but
decided that it was because Usagi wasn't really a danger-- just
someone who was something of a klutz with some of the worst timing
she had ever met.

Actually, she kind of liked that about her.

"It's no biggie, Usagi-chan. I'm a martial artist, remember? I
know how to take a little knock."

"Well... if you're not mad at me about it..."

"Hey, you get much worse in sparring. So you have to be able to
take a knock. My idol says that the life of a martial artist is full
of peril. But he's an adventuring type, I hear... I guess I'm more a


"Um... well, you know, minor things like burglars and the like."
(And oni, and dragons, and Saff-- don't go there, Ranma.)

"Sugoi... Say... are you doing anything today?"

"Ah, no, not really." (Scanning's a wash, and if something
breaks out suddenly I should sense it-- Star says I should be able

"Cool! Want to go shopping?"

With a contrived look of anticipation, Naoko replied, brightly,

Later, she considered that a MAJOR mistake.


Three people.

Doctor Tofu Ono, physician and student of arcane lore and

Cologne, matriarch of a tribe of Chinese Amazons (for lack of a
better term) and expert on martial arts and dangerous magic.

Those the reader will recognize.

The third was a man in his late seventies, of Chinese descent.
He didn't look it, however. His hair grayed slightly at the temples,
and there were a few wrinkles, but in general he was well preserved.
Only close examination would have revealed that one of his hazel eyes
was in fact glass, a small souvenir of an unfortunate incident with a
demon he had encountered while aiding a noted archaeologist back in
the late forties. He was also one of the richest men in Hong Kong.

Many people knew David Wong, brilliant financier and master
businessman. Few knew he was a talented if unofficial archaeologist.
Nobody remembered the name he had been known by in his youth in
Shanghai .

"It's been a long time, Cologne," Wong said.

"Ah, my young friend. You're looking well. Whatever happened to
your handsome associate?"

"He died a few years ago. I'm not certain how."

Cologne chuckled. "Knowing him, likely a jealous husband. No,
that's not fair... he never played in other men's fields, did he?"

Wong shook his head. "He might have been a scoundrel, but never
that much of one..."

Tofu looked on, blankly. "Um... how long have you two known each

"Too long, it seems. I'm not getting any younger, and the Elder
here just seems to have stopped." Wong gave a mild chuckle himself.
"So, we do have a Paragon after all? I spent years of archeological
resources and research to find the Amulet, and one just pops out?"

"Well, it seems that the... girl was given the Amulet by a person
or persons unknown, although I'd be tempted to describe the giver as
a kami of sorts. I always said that that little search wasn't likely
to give us any results," Tofu clarified.

"You certainly got enough legends, scrolls, and obscure texts out
of it for us to advise her with, though. IF we can figure any of
them out," noted Cologne. "Any idea when the other two are likely to

Tofu shook his head. "Realistically, they can't come here on a
permanent basis, just as Wong-san will need to return fairly soon to
his businesses. However, should any of their special talents be
needed, they can be here within twenty-four hours. As far as
permanent staff is, it's me-- since even you, Cologne, may be needed
by the Jokuzetsu at any moment."

"We're lucky that she HAS a permanent contact as it is." Wong
shook his head. "If it IS luck."

"At any rate, Hesse is not going to be able to be here for a few
days for this meeting-- being the chief of Archaeology at the
University of Berlin is a hounding duty. But we can expect Jack Case
tomorrow... and he's already setting up the computer news searches
that we hope to use to predict paranormal event possibilities.

"Well, he IS the man who wrote the REAL protocols for the
American Military computers. I STILL get the giggles when I think of
all those hackers who THINK they have penetrated the Pentagon's
security," Wong chuckled.

"I know. I got on-line a few months ago myself. I've been, ah
'surfing', including Usenet. Have you ever seen those idiots that
occasionally post notices that say something to the effect of--"

Here Tofu took a deep breath, and somehow managed to actually

"HeY DooDz, I nOw OWN the InTERnet, aLL pAy HOMAGE to mY

The other two began to laugh hysterically.

"Oh, YES," Cologne guffawed. "Even on Chinese feeds, where few
can read them!"

"You have a net connection, Elder?" asked Wong, who had seen that
sort of troll more than once in the financial groups.

"It's a lot easier to run a restaurant with one, besides keeping
track of REAL Chinese politics that way."

Tofu smiled. "I'd love to see the face of one of those idiots if
they knew there was someone who DID own the Internet..."


(I should have claimed some other appointment,) Naoko mused as
the blonde girl zipped about the mall like a comet. Usagi had an
incredible talent for generating incredible amounts of enthusiasm and
energy as long as whatever she was doing was essentially trivial. At
least, trivial in Naoko's view.

It probably wouldn't have been so bad if Usagi hadn't insisted
that Naoko join in. Joining in meant trying this dress or that skirt
on, or this pair of shoes or that hat or... other female clothes.

It was bad enough that Naoko had to dress in a "fully female"
mode when transformed into Naoko, but now she was trying stuff on.
All under Usagi's critical eye. Said critical eye consisted of the
simple statement that thus and such an outfit looked really cute on
Naoko. Apparently, a gunny sack would look cute on Naoko.

Naoko held... different opinions.

"It's too frilly, Usagi-chan. I'm not a frilly person, you

Usagi just beamed. "Well, I think it's cute. You dress nice
enough, but always so plain. You should indulge yourself once in a

Naoko tugged at the ruffled skirt she was wearing and scowled.
"I don't care to indulge myself this far. Um, at least not except
for a special occasion. I need practical clothes because of the

"I don't get it."

"Well, you never know if there's going to be a fight. Suppose we
were walking and a mugger attacked us? I can fight pretty good, so I
could hold him off, but I'd, ah, hate to get a nice dress ruined in
the fight. So, I wear plain clothes usually, durable stuff. That
lets me kick. So I can fight if I'm attacked or a friend is."

"You're really into all this martial art philosophy, aren't you?"

"I sort of have to be, if I want to be as good as... Him." Naoko
allowed herself a starry look, again giving the impression that she
had something of a denied crush on her as yet unnamed idol.

"Well, I suppose so... OOOH! This would look SO good on you!"

Naoko sighed. She certainly wasn't going to buy anything, but it
certainly seemed that she was going to be wearing a lot of them...


"I KNOW I saw him."

"Mina-chan. You keep saying that. He shows up for a minute, and
then vanishes. I'm beginning to wonder about that boy."

Minako peered at the taller girl uncertainly. "You aren't
suggesting that he's an enemy, are you?"

"No... I don't get that kind of feeling about him. But maybe
he's gay?"

Minako blanched. "No! That's not possible! He's too CUTE!"

"Then why does he avoid us?" Makoto replied. "For that matter,
we've both seen some fairly cute girls start towards him, and he
always ducks into an alley or something and then goes poof. I think
he's scared of girls for some reason."

The blonde thought. "Maybe... he's had bad experiences with
girls before. Dumped, or something, and so he's shy about it. So
he's avoiding them because he's trying to deal with a tragic

Makoto sighed. That was JUST the kind of logic that Mina-chan
would pull out of her hat. On the other hand, it also made a sort of

"That could be it, I suppose..."

"And so, as the Goddess of Love that I am, I owe it to him to
show him that not all girls are fickle or cruel. The poor thing. He
deserves a proper girlfriend." It was obvious that Minako had
already convinced herself that her hypothesis was a proven theory.

"I still saw him first."

"Oh, stop SAYING that..."


Usagi looked at her friend with some mild concern. Naoko was a
nice girl, and a pretty sensible one-- unless you got her on the
subject of martial arts, and then she'd go downright ditzy. She'd
begin to prattle and rave and drop small comments about her idol--
who she had yet to actually name.

But it was something of a shame that such a pretty girl was also
such a tomboy. Oh, Naoko tried to hide it, and probably wore dresses
because her mother made her or something, but Usagi had a feeling
that Naoko would be happier in a t-shirt and jeans, rough and
tumbling it with other likeminded girls and boys. And her
fascination with the martial arts suggested to Usagi that the only
kind of boy she'd be interested in would be a martial artist.

The only male martial artist that she knew of-- besides
Mamo-chan, who had studied a little kendo once, which stood him in
good stead as Tuxedo Kamen-- was that weird boy who would show up at
Rei's place every once in a while, looking for either someplace
called the Tendo Dojo or a pig farm. Hmm... there was a thought. He
was pretty cute, and might be just the kind of guy that Naoko needed.

Although he did seem to have a problem with directions. At
least, she was fairly certain that he had headed towards Kyoto when
directed to Nerima.

So, if she tried to set Naoko up with a nice boy, it had better
be one that would get to the date on time.

AND who was a martial artist. Hmm... Mako-chan knew a lot about
martial arts, maybe she would know of someone.

Meanwhile, Naoko, unaware that her life was about to become
feminine social hell, was trying not to explode at the fifth silly
dress that Usagi had found in THIS shop.


Mamoru Chiba was somewhat annoyed at the universe, or at least
his particular corner of it. Of all the days for a lab fire to break
out, when he had at least three experiments he was supposed to do,

Intellectually, Mamoru was aware that what he'd probably wind up
doing with his life was sitting on a throne next to Usako-- who by
then wouldn't be Usako any more, technically-- and wearing a mask
most of the time. (Why King Endymion wore that thing habitually, he
didn't know, but his short trip to a distant future suggested that
that would be the case. Perhaps it wasn't a mask, but mask shaped
glasses? After a thousand years, he could go farsighted after

But despite that destiny, he STILL wanted to become an accredited
surgeon or genetic researcher first. Besides, he thought with a
smile, there wasn't any telling how much money the king business
paid, where medicine could probably pay for the whole Crystal Palace.

At the moment, however, he had nothing to do. Nothing at all.
He was bored-- a state he wasn't used to. He was damn tempted to
produce the Rose and start jogging on streetlights just to do

"No WAY, Usagi-chan! I'd look like some demented living
strawberry parfait wearing that! And I hate pink anyhow!"

"Aw, Naoko-chan, what's wrong with pink?"

Hmm. Maybe things were looking up a bit.

Mamoru gazed in quiet amusement as his girlfriend and future
queen tried to cajole an unfamiliar redhead into a rather ornate
party dress, that was more suitable to a idol singer than a ordinary
girl. Being the basically chivalrous type, he decided to rescue the
new person from the hell of Usagi's sometimes over the top fashion

"Hate to say it, Usako, but I have to agree with your friend
here. She looks to be more or less the practical type."

"MAMO-CHAN!" Mamoru braced himself for the almost bullet-like
impact of Usagi's hug. He wasn't disappointed.

"So, who's your new friend?"

"Oh, gomen, Mamo-chan, this is Naoko Takahashi, and she's a
martial artist, and aren't you supposed to be in lab today?"

"Lab got canceled. Pleased to meet you, Miss Naoko."

"Ah..." The redhead looked a bit flustered, and then replied,
"Likewise. You have to be Usagi-chan's boyfriend?" (DAMN, he's WAY
older than her. Then again, I see weirder relationships all the
time. Mostly mine.)

"Mamoru Chiba, at your service," Mamoru returned, adding a sort
of half-comic bow. To his mild surprise, where most girls would have
responded with a cute and embarrassed giggle, Naoko instead looked
oddly nonplussed.

"Oh, that's nice. I mean, you're very polite."

Naoko was somewhat uncertain how to react. True, she had no
attraction to the male gender, but she did know what real girls
found attractive-- and this youth was just that. Also, to her
discomfort, he was a charming type. She'd met more than one fellow
who thought they were charming-- bozos all, in her opinion-- but
genuine unfaked charm wasn't something she was familiar with.

Right now she was praying for some sort of distraction so she
could figure out how to pretend to react.

Prayers are answered sometimes.


Ferriko did not like Earth, did not like the East, did not like
Japan, did not like Tokyo, and especially did not like Azabu-Juuban.
She REALLY did not like Juuban.

The place was crawling with Senshi it seemed. Every time she
tried to send out an Ur-demon to find the StarGem, along bounced a
pack of Senshi, complete with inane speeches and invariably a Paragon
in tow. That is, unless Paragon showed up to be followed by said
pack of Senshi.

They HAD to be coordinating somehow. Perhaps Paragon was
actually a Senshi with an unusual fashion sense. Or something.
There was no doubt that they were working together, though.

Ferriko, one can see, was not a great believer in coincidence.

"Mistress?" The apparent girl next to the trenchcoat-clad
Ferriko looked at her controller with concern of a sorts. Ur-demons
did not actually have emotions of the tender sort, but they DID know
that a mistress should be kept happy if they wanted to stay intact.

"Chiculii, I'm thinking."

(Brooding, more like,) the Ur-demon mused. "Mistress, have we
found a target yet?"

"No. And right now I'm not looking for one. I'm trying to
figure out how to get my hands on Sailor Moon."

"Sailor Moon?"

"She and the Paragon are our main problems, but it's usually
Sailor Moon who actually finishes the fights. She doesn't seem to be
as capable a fighter as Paragon, at least not in an ordinary battle--
so she should be easier to capture. Paragon is going to take some

"Oh. So, we won't go after that fellow there after all?"


"That tall fellow with those two girls. I sense great focus in

Ferriko blinked. And looked in the direction Chiculii was
indicating. "Hmm... you're right. VERY focused soul, that one.
Well, it can't hurt to check if we can get him alone. Although
blondie there may be difficult to disentangle. She's got a grip on
him that a barnacle would be jealous of."

"Then we must be subtle, Mistress?"

"Yes. We must separate the blonde and her friend from the youth,
lure him to a concealed place, and then examine his soul."

"Ah. How do we be subtle, Mistress?"

Ferriko sighed. "With subtlety."

Blinking at the non-answer, Chiculii shrugged. She decided to
just follow her mistresses lead and hope for the best. After all,
Mistress Ferriko was far smarter than she was. She thought.

"Now... how do we distract the girls and lure the boy away?"
mused Ferriko. "Ah, it's really simple. And fortunately, you are
the perfect minion for the plan."

"I am?" Chiculii smiled wildly. It was GOOD to be called
perfect instead of a pathetic piece of wasted ectoplasm, as was
Ferriko's usual bent.

"Human girls love sweets. Human males are, at least after a
certain age, less fond of the same. And with your peculiar

"Oh, I see, Mistress. I think."

"Now, here's what I have in mind..."


Naoko was reminded of a barnacle the way Usagi clung to Mamoru.
No doubt in her mind that she was one hundred and sixty-two percent
in love with the guy. And she could see by his fond, affectionate,
and most of all indulgent glances that the sentiments were fully

More importantly, she was incredibly grateful that Mamoru's
timely arrival had saved her from wearing an outfit that Asuza
Shiratori wouldn't have worn on her worst day. She repressed a
shudder at the thing-- frills and petticoats and bows and lace and a
LOT of pink-- and was for once grateful that the transformation had
her dressed, if like a girl, like a SANE girl. Usually. Somehow she
suspected that Usagi herself would have never actually worn that
monstrosity, but had only wanted to see HER in it.

At any rate, she was DAMN glad to be back in the black turtleneck
and matching blue denim mini and jacket. Simple, effective, stylish,
and she could fight in it. If she HAD to be a girl to be the
Paragon, she'd rather have her own style. Preferably one without
pink and ruffles.


(Usagi just saw either something very cute or something to eat,)
mused both Naoko and Mamoru with weird synchronization.

"What KAWAII candies!"

"Good lord, she's managed to find both," muttered Mamoru under
his breath.

Naoko, who had excellent hearing, smirked.

The street, as many in Tokyo were, was dotted with small booths
and stalls that were more or less collapsible during the night, only
popping up at daytime. Like the ubiquitous yatai, they were
transient things, setting up here one day and there the next, always
trying to keep in business while avoiding unpleasant altercations
with the police, who tended to ignore them until they started to
cause a traffic hazard. This one was selling what could indeed only
be described as exceedingly kawaii candies. (The English word 'cute'
doesn't QUITE carry the impact needed.)

Brown chocolate teddy-bears with pink spun sugar bows. Cakes
shaped like Minky Momo and Wedding Peach transformation items. A
tray of apparent marzipan bunnies and duckies and kitties and puppies
and whatever else was cute beyond belief, all with JUST the right
amount of Super-deformity to triple the innate cuteness. Hello Kitty
candy bars that were uncannily truly Sanrio-esque were on display.
There was even what appeared to be a hard candy stick shaped just
like Sailor Moon's Spiral Heart Moon Rod-- which Usagi had her eyes
affixed to in sheer wonder.

Usagi was in heaven.

Naoko was... suspicious. Once again, at the back of her heart,
she felt the strange sensation she had learned to connect to
activities of the Darkness. She couldn't pinpoint it, but this
almost perfect Usagi-lure made her understandably suspicious.

Usagi had been attacked at least once by an Ur-demon, and had had
a close call with another. Naoko wasn't sure, but she was beginning
to think that Usagi might be part of the real reason the Darkness had
come... perhaps she DID have the Star-Gem that they sought.

Better to stay close to her, Naoko thought, putting on a false
look of enchantment and joining the blonde at the stall.

Mamoru watched them for a moment, smiling... and then paused as
he felt a tap at his shoulder. He turned to look at an attractive
woman, who looked disturbed.


"Sir, I'm sorry to bother you, but... this will sound so silly,
but I need your help to rescue my cat."

"I don't understand..."

"Well, she's crawled into a pipe, and won't come out. I need
someone to stand at the other end and scare her out. It won't take a

"Well, I don't know..."

"Oh, PLEASE?" The woman looked almost as desperate as Usagi
could when she wanted something.

"I... suppose I can help. Usako, can you wait here a minute?"

Usagi nodded absently, engrossed in the display of insanely cute
and darling and just plain adorable confections.

"Okay. I'll be back in a few."

Mamoru followed the woman to an alley, and blinked. "I don't see
a pipe. Or a cat."

"Oh, well, to be honest, I'm the cat."

"Excuse me?" (I have a BAD--)

"And you're the mouse. HAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!"

If someone had told Mamoru Chiba that there existed a woman with
a more annoying laugh than Emeralda's he would not have believed it--
until now. He'd never heard of Kodachi Kuno, but if he had, he'd
have placed this slightly behind in sheer wrongness.

Then again, the sudden grip on his throat from behind suggested
that something also was wrong. His arms were pinned by something
elastic and adhesive. And the woman dropped her trenchcoat to reveal
what appeared to be a chain-mail leotard and hip boots.

"Now... let's have a closer look at your soul, shall we?"


Two girls were suddenly distracted by similar sensations.

Usagi suddenly knew that Mamoru was in trouble. The linking of
her heart with his, the power of their love had led him to her aid
more than once-- and although she wasn't as sensitive to it as he
was, it did run both ways.

Naoko suddenly felt a vast increase in the unease that heralded a
attack by the Darkness. And she was now aware that it was NOT in the
immediate vicinity.

Both tried to think of an excuse to leave.

Usagi won the race. "Oooh, I have to have that one (pointing at
the candy Spiral Heart Moon Rod) but I haven't enough pocket money,
I'll go find Mamo-chan and borrow some."

"That sounds like a great idea, Usagi-chan. Maybe he'll buy me
that marzipan carrot?" (Star would CHOKE on that one.)

"Sure! Wait here!"

Naoko had no intention of waiting. As Usagi dashed off, she
opened the Compact. And this time it was actually giving an exact

(Only a few blocks from here. A snap to get to after I change.)

Naoko went to find a convenient place to do just that...


(Where is he? How do I FIND him? He always finds ME! Oh, I'm
not used to being on this end!)

Such were the thoughts of Sailor Moon as she started searching,
trying to follow her heart to his...


Paragon had what could be called an unfair advantage. It was a
map-- the Compact. As she sped across rooftops, she targeted the
darkness-- and stared.

There was Usagi's boyfriend, held by what looked like a girl made
up of candy, and being scrutinized by Ferriko. Or more likely, one
of her illusions.

Didn't matter. No-one messed with HER friend's boyfriends.

"Not here. And such focus too. Well, Chiculii, might as well
kill him now--"

"Now, that's just plain rude."

Ferriko snapped her eyes upwards and snarled. "Why can't you
stay out of my way just once?"

"It is wrong to grab an innocent man who only wanted a simple
date with his girlfriend for your evil plans. This is a crime that
cannot be forgiven! Judgment has been made, and you are found

"And you're the Paragon, I know. Well, you're also dead!
Chiculii, forget the boy for now-- KILL PARAGON!"

As Paragon leapt down from the roof, Chuculii started firing what
appeared to be wads of chewing gum. Paragon wasn't impressed-- until
they hit the walls around her and exploded.

"Plastic explosive?" Paragon gasped, startled.

"Spearmint flavored explosive chewing gum!" retorted Chiculii,
firing another barrage, and forcing Paragon into an intricate
avoidance dance.

"Why do I bother asking?" groaned the silver and black clad
magical girl, avoiding each shot. "Of COURSE it's something silly
like that. Well, at least you left those--"

Whurfle. Whurfle. Whurfle.

"Ur-golems at home. I shoulda KNOWN."

For a moment Paragon was almost swamped by the need to dodge both
lethal gumwads and Ur-golems. Then her years of martial arts
training and her talent for clever if unlikely plans came to the fore
once again. She started to lead Chiculii's fire in the direction SHE
wanted it to go.

"CHICULII! STOP FIRING!" screamed Ferriko in frustration.

"Why?" asked the now frustrated Ur-demon.


It was true. There was a lone Ur-golem standing amongst the dust
of the others, where Paragon had led Chiculii into hitting them all.
"Hey, you still got one. In fact-- you can have it!" With that,
Paragon grabbed the diminutive creature, hefted it with ease, threw
it at Ferriko-- and stared in amazement as instead of passing though,
it impacted her, knocking her down and causing her to emit a
heartfelt "YOUCH!"

"You're... here. You are ACTUALLY here. And I thought it was
going to be a boring day." Paragon cracked her knuckles and grinned.
"What a nice present. Which one of you two do I pulp first?"

Ferriko picked herself up from the fragments of the last
Ur-golem. Fuming, she snarled, "Chiculii, leave us. Find something
to amuse yourself with. I have had enough of this human's arrogance.
Paragon-- prepare to die!"

"Oh, MAN... you have no IDEA how much I wanted to hear you say
that, Chainmail-chan!"

Ferriko began to redden in fury. "DON'T CALL ME CHAINMAIL-CHAN!"

"I bet you don't have a sense of direction either," laughed

For some reason that comment began to enrage Ferriko. "Well,
forget what I said. I won't give you a chance to prepare to die!"

"Aw, you're unfair. HEH!"

And the two began to square off as a half-concious Mamoru stared,


Sailor Moon knew she was getting closer... she could feel it.
But during her search she passed the candy stall again-- and noticed
that it was disappearing.

(If that's not a trap, then I'm the meatball head Rei keeps
calling me. I should have KNOWN. That candy was TOO cute!)

That's when it happened.

It being an Ur-demon.

A DAMN SILLY looking Ur-demon.

A damn silly Ur-Demon harrassing innocents and laughing.

(And I thought the Daimon were wierd looking. I don't have time
for this! I have to save Mamo-chan!)

Her concern, her fear, and her need for haste combined to produce
a result that had never been seen before, and likely would never be
seen again...

No speech. No posing. Just the production of the Spiral Heart
Moon Rod, the command "Moon Spiral Heart Attack", and a dusted
Ur-demon. It never even got an attack off.

Running past, heedless of the amazed crowd, Sailor Moon dashed
off to rescue her prince.


Paragon narrowly dodged a suddden razor-edged chain that sprang
from Ferriko's hand. (Okay, so she's using some sort of Mousse trick
there- WHOA!)

The chain might have been similar at first sight to the tools of
the Chinese Master of Hidden weapons, but the way it suddenly changed
course in mid-flight wasn't. This was NOT good, the crimson haired
magical girl decided.

"Fool! I am not like those worthless Ur-Demons! I am Ferriko,
Mistress of Iron, and all iron obeys my will! You have no chance
against me!"

Paragon would have made a witty retort to that, but at the moment
she had to save all her breath to dodge not only the first chain but
the twenty or so others that had manifested, each moving as though it
were alive. (Damn, damn damn. How to I get her if I can't get TO
her? I just know a Para Volt wouldn't work even if I was getting a
chance to fire one!)

Then the street lamps began to move. Like huge snakes, they
stabbed towards the silver and black clad Magical Girl, each strike
missing by millimeters.

(This is no good at all! I can't keep dodging forever, I'm going
to get tired or make a mistake, Paragon or not-- there's got to be
some way to bring the fight to her!)

The problem was that there seemed to be no way TO bring the fight
to Ferriko. Every approach was guarded by a whirring wall of razor
chain, every line of attack by animated lamp posts, and there were
unpleasant sounds beginning elsewhere.

And then Paragon was blindsided by a flying manhole cover.

She snarled in pain at the impact at the back of her head, and
then upgraded snarls to screams of mixed agony and rage as a few of
the chains wrapped about her, squeezing her breath from her lungs and
cutting into her flesh. The magic seemed to make the pain worse,

(Damn. Can't end like this... have to break free... should be
able to break free...)

"Oh, are you trapped? How sad. But even with your admittedly
impressive strength, you can't break my chains, you know. My magic
sees to that. I'm afraid you really have no option but to die."
Ferriko was grinning now, secure in her victory--

When a lambent disc of shining light appeared from nowhere and
spoiled everything.

It slashed through the chains, first severing the link to
Ferriko, then changed course and cut the chains binding the Paragon.
Paragon fell to her knees, bleeding, half conscious. Before Ferriko
could react, the disc cut the other chains, and then swerved again,
changing at the last moment into a tiara and landing in the hand of
Sailor Moon.

"I won't forgive your hurting an innocent man who only wanted a
simple date with his girlfriend for your evil plans!" Sailor Moon
shouted, furious. (How DARE she attack Mamo-chan and Paragon?)

"What, do you people share speechwriters?" Ferriko said angrily.
"And how do you plan to stop me, whelp? As if you have a chance when
I bought the better of you to her knees."

"Sorry... standing up now..."

Ferriko and Sailor Moon stared at Paragon, who had managed to
regain her footing, wobbling unsteadily. "Ain't over yet. You are
going down."

"You can still stand? I AM impressed. Well, your pathetic
bravado notwith-- what?"

Paragon began to shine with a golden nimbus. Cuts and bruises
seemed to fade as though they had never existed. And her eyes...

Her eyes began to glow.

Magic and Chi are not complementary forces. They do not oppose
each other as such, but they also do not meld. Until now.

The Chi of a martial artist-- that control that allows them to
boost their physical abilities, their recuperative powers, their
special techniques... was for the first time melded and augmented by
the power of Magic. Until now, Paragon had been using one or the
other... as if a barrier in her mind had prevented her from blending
the two forces.

That barrier was now down.

Cuts healed in instants. Damaged costume somehow was repaired.
And the Paragon was shining.

Oh, how she was shining...

Ferriko stared in shock at a person who had been on the edge of
her endurance a moment before and was now apparently completely
healed. "What... what ARE you?"

"I am the light that escaped the Darkness."

"Whatever-- I took you before, I can take you again!" Ferriko
launched a chain-- and froze as this time Paragon batted it aside
without any apparent concern.

"I am the Champion forged from Chaos."

"Shut UP! You are supposed to DIE!" Ferriko launched all the
metal she had against Paragon... who now idly dodged it, the blue
eyes that had been behind the mask now blank ovals of radiance.

"I am the instrument of Judgment. I am the final court. I am
the Avatar of Justice."

Ferriko was beginning to freak. "SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!"

"I am..."

"Damn you, SHUT --"

And then Ferriko was slammed against the wall. Hard.

"The Paragon."

Ferriko was in pain. Intense pain. Paragon had hurt her... how
DARE she--

The thought was derailed by a kick to the gut. Followed by a
punch to the jaw and a cruel elbow bash. And all the time, the face
of the silver-clad magical girl was impassive, unfeeling... as though
she had a soul of ice.

"And you are nothing whatsoever next to me."

Sailor Moon stared as the Paragon seemed to undergo a total
personality transformation. Where once was a jesting, sarcastic
fighter there now was a person who radiated menace that the Wiseman
would have quailed at.

Then the glow surrounding Paragon began to brighten, as she
raised one gloved hand above her head, which began to gather sparks
of blended energy and chi... forming, of all things, what seemed to
be a katana.


The blade didn't connect.

It didn't need to.

An arcing bolt of light slashed forward, and for a moment, one
could almost see the ghostly image of a set of scales behind it's
target-- who screamed, and collapsed to her knees--

And then fell apart, into a pile of crumbled rust.

"Kami-sama," breathed Sailor Moon. "That was-- Paragon?"

And the Paragon collapsed, her energy spent, sliding into
grateful unconsciousness... and then her outline wavered, and she
changed... and became...

"I don't believe it... Naoko-chan?"


To Be Continued.