Disclaimer: I still don't own either Ranma or Sailor Moon, who are owned by their respective creators and/or companies. Their use in this fic is for nonprofit recreation. I will, however, lay claim to my original characters (such as An-ei, who will appear later on) who will appear a little later on.

"Warrior of Hope" by Asgeras

Prologue: Birth of an Old Warrior

'Well, this certainly sucks,' Ranma thought to himself as he plummeted towards the pool below, still trying to understand where the panda came from. For some reason, time seemed to slow down as he fell closer to the water. He heard about such occurrences happening when someone was having a near death experience, but it was just a little pool, for crying out loud.

After what seemed like an eternity, he hit the water, trying to cushion his fall as best as he could. That was when his survival instincts kicked in.

Something was wrong. Very, very wrong.

Ranma tried to swim to the surface, but the water seemed to encroach with an almost surreal malevolence, refusing to let him return to the surface. He tried desperately to swim upwards, but there was unable to make any kind of headway upwards.

As Ranma's vision started to blacken around the edges, his feet touched the bottom. With one final attempt, Ranma pushed off of the bottom with all strength he had left.

Ranma was left with a smirk on her face as she landed on solid ground and promptly passed out.

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"Whaaa...?!" Ranma leapt up into a fighting stance, as someone lightly slapped her face.

"Oh, is very good you alive sir. Definitely good. You first person to survive that spring, but am sorry to say that still give curse," a man rattled off at her.

That's when it hit her. Everything felt alien to her. Her body moved differently, especially how her hips moved. Even her perspective seemed to change, colors seeming to be slightly off from their normal spectrum.

That's when she noticed the discomfort at her chest. Where before she had rock hard pecs, now there was too much extra weight to ignore offhand. Not only was the extra weight uncomfortable to her, but she felt like she was suffocating as her gi continued to constrict her on a painful level.

The last thing she noticed before blessed numbness returned was a disturbing smoothness between her legs.

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When she woke up next, night seemed to have already set and she found herself in a small hut, with a fire providing warmth not far from her. Looking around, she noticed her pack and moved to pick it up, her mind numbly cataloging that her nightmare was as real as she remembered it to be.

She turned around when she heard a small cough coming from a door which led to another room. Standing at the door was the middle aged man who'd confronted her and pops when they first arrived to Jusenkyo. His eyes seemed to be filled with pity as he bowed to her. "I'm sorry for what happen to you Mr. Customer."

Ranma absently returned the bow then put her backpack back on as she made her way towards the exit, but stopped when she felt a hand placed on her shoulder. Turning back around, she found that the...guide was staring into her eyes.

"Do not leave yet, Mr. Customer. There is much to discuss, and you should at least eat something before leaving, yes?"

Ranma nodded again, moving to a chair after she absently dropped her pack down on the floor. The guide moved around the room as he made some type of vegetable stew for them both to eat, and as he did so, he absently gave her a narration that he seemed to pay little attention to.

"Many, many year ago fire come streaking from the sky. Nobody know exactly how long ago, but was very, very long ago. Anyhow, this fire streak across much of China until crashed here at Jusenkyo with big bang."

"Fire raged throughout the forest for many days, and when it went out, valley of Jusenkyo was more like what seen today than regular forest. Scattered throughout region were holes which slowly filled with water as years passed."

"At first, everyone who come to Jusenkyo get very sick and die after a while, but some 10,000 year ago, or so, valley stop killing. When this happen, other tragedy of Jusenkyo was revealed."

"Jusenkyo water seem almost alive. Pools throughout had various animals and humans die whenever they enter, the water draining strength from them. After pool have something die in it, pool loses will to kill. From that point on, whoever fall in spring takes on being of what died there."

"This true for all except one spring. That spring called Spring of Death and whatever fall into it ends up dying, whether it first time or 9,000 year after first drowning. Everyone and everything drown, except for you. You first person to survive Spring of Death, so you one very, very lucky person, Mr. Customer," he finished as he continued stirring their stew.

"Yeah, that's great. I may be alive, but look at me," she said in a monotone, dead sounding voice.

"Oh, is not so bad, Mr. Customer. After all." Whatever more he was going to say was cut off as he was held against the wall by his neck.

"Not so bad? Not so bad?!" Ranma snarled as she glared at him. "I've been training all my life to be a 'man amongst men' and YOU'RE telling me it's not so bad?"

She was slightly taken aback as she saw, not anger or pity but...compassion coming from the man she was choking to death. Dropping her handhold, she once again felt her emotions withdraw back into herself as she moved back to the opposite corner, all the while whispering "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" over and over again.

The guide's eyes sparkled with amusement as he waved a hand in front of Ranma's face. "Is okay, Mr. Customer. Is quite a shock for you, yes? Besides, is not so bad for you after all," he stated as he pulled up his sleeve, revealing multiple bit marks. "Is even worse for many customers."

Ranma found herself nodding, her eyes rather large at the implications. "Why do you stay here if you're treated like this?"

The guide shrugged his shoulders as he moved back to his pot of stew and took a small sip before adding more salt and continuing to stir the pot. "Is a job, Mr. Customer. China pay me to stay here to help new customers. Besides, someone has to do it. I still remember how confused I feel when first got own curse. Nobody here to help me out," he stated with a frown playing across his face. "Is very bad experience, let me tell you."

"Wait...you're saying that you have a curse?! So there's a cure?" Ranma shouted with glee, jumping up from her seat.

"Yes and no, Mr. Customer. Curse is no permanent, but has no permanent cure either. Can return to normal form with little hot water, but every time cold water applied, curse return," he stated as he applied some warm water from a pot near the stew which she assumed was for tea.

Her body tingled briefly as she seemed to slowly morph into her birth form. He took stock of his body and smiled as he jumped into a basic kata. He ended abruptly when he noticed that he could still feel her. A shiver ran down his spine as he felt her presence...somewhere. It was hard to describe, almost like his masculine form was some kind of clothing, hiding his real form.

He shoved those thoughts and feelings as far away as possible.

"So, despite returning back to normal, I'll still always feel the curse?" he asked.

The guide almost dropped the bowls of stew he was carrying to the table. "You. You feel curse still?"

Ranma mutely nodded.

The guide lit a pipe and started smoking, leaving the stew forgotten. "It not normal for customer to feel curse when not in curse, no. However, I think you not have completely normal curse." Ranma continued to stare at the guide, also taking little notice of the stew.

"As said before, you only person that ever survive spring of death. I thought not important, but might be important after all. There is other spring call Nyannichuan, or Spring of Drowned Girl. I thought odd that Spring of Death seem to have same type curse, since records show same type curse never happen. There only one Spring of Drowned Sloth, never two. Thus, there should only be one Spring of Drowned Girl."

Ranma nodded at him, trying to follow his logic while trying to understand his faulty Japanese at the same time. "So what's gong on with my curse?"

The guide just shook his head. "I know not, but know someone who might help. Tomorrow you go to Amazon Village. They have big knowledge in magics and might know what happen. For now, you stay night at house."

They both dug into their slightly chilled stew with an awkward level of silence reigning over the table.

After the meal was completed, Ranma dropped his bowl off at the scrub pot and got out his bedroll. As he did so, he was suddenly struck by loneliness. "Where's Pops?" he asked, turning back to the guide.

The guide frowned at him for several moments before pulling an envelope from his back pocket. He proffered the envelope to Ranma with a bow, followed shortly by grabbing his pipe and exiting the hut.

Ranma stared blankly at the envelope for several moments before he found the nerve to open it. He almost dropped the letter after reading the first couple of lines.

Ranma,

Well, I guess that's it. This time, it's been one disappointment too many. I debated leaving you behind many times before, but always thought I would be able to make you into a man amongst men, just like myself.

First it was failing to learn the neko-ken properly. Then you even tried to stay around other people like that okonomiyaki family, despite my repeated warnings that others were a distraction to the Art.

All in all, you're a failure. Now you have a body to fit your mind. I shouldn't have too much trouble finding someone else to take your place. With any luck, we'll never meet up with you again.

-Genma Saotome

The letter fell from his hands as he hugged his knees to his chest, rocking back and forth.

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Time blurred by and Ranma wasn't sure how much time passed before the guide informed him that he should head out to the village before the monsoon season hit. All he could remember of his time spent with the guide was occasional food, as well as the occasional comforting murmur or touch.

The abrupt change into his cursed form, brought about by the dense mist which enshrouded the valley seemed to shock her to action and she resolutely made her way towards the village, trying to think of a plan to make everything better. She knew her mother was somewhere in Juuban, despite her fath...Genma trying to hide her mother's presence from her. Deciding that she would try to track her mother down, she smiled for the first time in a very long time.

Author's Notes:

Well, as promised (for once ), here's the prologue I eeked out. I'm going to be rewriting the rest of my fic, since there are quite a few aspects which could have been done much, MUCH better. This was especially true with the prologue, which was completely unoriginal, lacked any kind of emotional depth, and had the grammar of a grade schooler. Hopefully, this should be a decent step up from that.

Yes, I'm working on Chapter 7, which will probably be released prior to rewriting/ touching up the rest of the chapters.

Also, my website is back up and running, thanks to anifics. If you would like to visit it, it's on my profile . It does contain the starts to a couple of other fics which have been liked by others. I'm not sure if I'll ever finish Magicla Girl Pretty Ranko?! or not. I definitely have plans for this fic and Magic Knight Chaos though.