"Heh, that was easy." Standing proudly over the prone form
of his opponent, Saotome Ranma let one of his trademark
smirks form on his face. Said opponent's dark shawl and
black cloak was slightly singed at the fringes, with tendrils of
smoke wafting out of sleeve ends. The battle had been
surprisingly short… actually, the guy just fell over half-way
during the fight and crumpled onto the ground without a word.
Now that Ranma thought about it, the strange guy didn't really
talk all that much anyway; all he said was that he was called
Shi, and the next second, he pulled out a wicked-looking
scythe and started swinging. Of course, a minute after that,
Shi was quite busy twitching and curling into a fetal position
by the walkway in the park, which to the pigtailed martial
artist counted as giving up the match. Needless to say, the fact
that this Shi person had brushed aside his ki-blast like a fly
and wove through the chestnut fist while bending over to
polish his shoes with a black cloth was momentarily forgotten
to Ranma as he continued to smirk.

Saotome, however, wasn't so completely engrossed in his self-
congratulation that his recent opponent's spasms and moans
didn't begin to bother him after a while. He crouched down
and tapped Shi on the shoulder. "Hey, you okay?"

The man called Shi replied with a series of wheezing coughs
and retching sounds, but managed to reach into the depth of
his seemingly fathomless cloak and pull out a golden, rod-
shaped object. Attached to one end was a post-it note, with
the name "Saotome Ranma" written on it in a scratchy hand.

"For me?" Ranma pointed to himself with a finger and
queried with a look of utter clueless-ness.

At this, the figure uttered a curse between clenched teeth, and
spoke sarcastically through the shawl. "No, you idiot, it's for
Tendo Akane!"

A minute later, Ranma walked away from the park, leaving
behind the now curiously silent figure and the large bump
sprouting on his forehead.

x x x

"Um, Akane, this is for you." Said Ranma back at the dojo
while scratching the back of his head. After a moment, he
added. "Some guy named Shi dropped it."

Flipping off the TV, which had just now been airing yet
another rerun episode of Sailor Moon, Akane yawned and
stretched and straightened up from the couch. "Oh." She oh-
ed after sparing an uninterested glance at the shiny, knobby
object in Ranma's hand. "That's nice... but why would
someone give me a stir-fry carrot? Oh well, I guess we can
have it for tonight."

Resisting the sudden shivers traveling down his spine, Ranma
pointed out helpfully. "Uh, Akane, that's a tree branch, not a
carrot."

Akane nodded absently, not having heard a word he said.
"Yeah, I guess this will have to do. I was cooking a snack for
you and left it on the dining table when Yuka called me on the
phone. But," she frowned before continuing, "the food was
gone when I came back downstairs. Kasumi said some guy in
black showed up looking for you while I was talking with
Yuka in my room, and she treated him to the snacks on the
table, thinking they were the chocolate munch-balls she
brought back from the candy store yesterday."

"Oh." This time, Ranma oh-ed. In the background, there
suddenly was a strange noise, not unlike the torturous creaks
of rusty gears that started to grind after years of neglect and
poor maintenance.

"Don't worry though," the shorthaired girl said happily.
"Now that I've got something to use, I can cook dinner."

"Er, wait. What were you making before anyway?" The
question was asked partly in hope that it would distract Akane
enough so she won't remember to make good on her word of
making dinner, and partly out of a morbid sense of curiosity.

"Chunky beef stew, why?"

"…" Ranma began to edge away, noting that it was a very
good time to make an exit and preferably leave the house
altogether for an extended training trip.

Narrowing her eyes, Akane reached the same conclusion.
"You're not thinking of running away again, are you?"

"No, why?" The rightfully accused grew a huge sweat-drop
on the back of his head as he stammered.

"Because I'm getting tired of having you slip out on my
cooking, Ranma." Akane sighed in exasperation, gently
pushing him into a chair. "So, I've decided that I'll tie you
into a chair and force-feed you from now on if I catch you
trying to run."

x x x

"Open wide, Ranma!" In her oil-stained and sooty apron,
Akane announced cheerfully as she wielded the sauteed tree-
branch like a naginata and waved it in front of Ranma's wide,
panicking eyes.

"But I haven't tried to run away yet, Aka-mmph!"
Unfortunately, his protest was muffled by the piece of wood
shoved into his mouth.

"Well," Akane explained a little too sweetly, "think of this as
a preventative measure. I'm so glad Nabiki-neesan suggested
it to me, don't you agree? Ranma?"

By now, of course, Ranma's face had turned a few shades
beyond purple. His vision dimmed, and through his ears he
heard the ebbing rush of the ocean that was his pulse. With
his remaining strength he managed to utter the first, and likely
last words that came to his mind.

"Uncute tomboy…"





Ukulele Studios
Proudly Presents

Side Project Omega:


D I V I N E
R A N M A D I E S

A Ranma ½ crossover fan-fiction.



"Mama, what's hell like?"

"Well," a gentle voice paused in reminiscence, then replied
honestly. "He's a hunk."

"He?"

"Yup. He's your father, actually."

"…Dad?"


PROLOGUE: Desperately Seeking Ranma.


-1-
The seed that blossomed into the fateful incident had been
planted one month ago, almost exactly to the day. In
retrospect, Mizuno Ami cursed herself for being stupid enough
to get dragged into the whole mess. But… Rei was a good
friend, so she guessed she had to help her out when the fire
priestess was in a jam. It's just – well, who would've thought
the girl was such a crazy fan for Ranma ½ manga?

About three weeks into the new semester, Rei's school
implemented a mandatory computer literacy course for all
students. Poor Rei, being traditional and a bit thick on the
fingers, couldn't type to save her life and was therefore
singled out as the most technologically challenged of the class.
In fact, the little incident where she took half an hour to find
the power button of her monitor on the first day of class
spread like wildfire around the campus, much to Rei's irk and
mortification. Of course, it wasn't her fault; who needed a
screen or a remote control when you can watch TV through
the sacred fire? Not that many of the senshi knew Rei spent
half her fire viewing sessions homing in on soap opera signals
after her grandfather discovered the religion channel and had
been hogging the only television set in the shrine twenty four-
seven.

So, to make a painfully long story short, the raven-haired
priestess came to Ami one afternoon soon after and asked for
an introduction into the world of computers. It was a slow and
often frustrating start, but sheer stubbornness alone willed Rei
to continue. And, within two weeks, the inevitable happened.

Rei discovered the internet. And, to Ami's horror, the chat
rooms as well…

x x x

MIZU has joined the channel.
RANMA88 wb, Mizu.
MIZU *sigh* it's not like I'm here by choice, you know?
RANMA88 ehehe, gomen.
MIZU so, did you get all the commands down?
MIZU for that matter, why do we have to meet in #Ranma?
RANMA88 yeah, I think everything's good now, thx.
RANMA88 I can probably get on without help from now on.
RANMA88 Btw, Mizu, you just missed out something good.
MIZU Oh? What is it?
RANMA88 It's a conspiracy theory that ppl's come up here.
MIZU Conspiracy?
RANMA88 Yeah, the ppl here have been quoting the series
like the Bible. They're saying Takahashi originally
wrote Ranma during a fit of divine inspiration… in
fact, they say that Takahashi coded the secrets to go
to another world inside her manga, most likely in the
names of the protagonists themselves.
MIZU Haa???
RANMA88 I know, freaky, don't you think?
!RANMA 88 *winks* at MIZU.
MIZU I think you need a break, that's what I think. You've
been reading Foucault's Pendulum again at three-
thirty in the morning, haven't you?
RANMA88 How did you guess?
MIZU Honestly! I lent the book to you because I thought
you'd be interested in learning about other religions,
not for this!
RANMA88 No, really, listen to this. There's really a
connection here. See, it's all about names. Ranma's
dual sex gender prompts us to interpret his name in
parts. "Ran", which means "chaos", and "ma",
which means "horse" in Chinese. But, it can also
mean "mother", or in a more general sense, "parent".
And of course, Genma is Ranma's father, and the
first character of his name means "mystery". So, it
does make sense, considering the old notion that
chaos rose from the unexplainable, the mystery.
MIZU …I'm speechless.
RANMA88 Wait, that's not all. It's been a consensus in the
manga readers that Happosai is actually Genma's
grandfather, and if we are to trace Ranma's lineage
by name association, clearly you would think that the
connection breaks there because his name didn't end
with a "-ma", right? Wrong! When he's first
introduced in volume 7, his forthcoming was foretold
by bad omens associated with the signs of demonic
presence. The fact that Happosai later proved that he
could summon demons makes him more of a yoma
than a human. So, we can conclude he was using a
false human name after all.
MIZU *sweatdrop* er, so… what was his real name, in your
opinion?
RANMA88 Why, the clues are all there! Since we see
Happosai as a yoma, we can safely assume that he
would yell out his own true name when he attacked
his victims, all of which turned out to be women's
underwear. And what did he say? "Hotcha"?
"Sweeto"?
MIZU If I remember correctly, I think he said "Akane" the
first time. You mean Happosai's real name is
actually Akane?
RANMA88 …er, no. What I was getting to was that those
translations could also be translated differently.
Instead of "hotcha" or "sweeto", his words could
have as well meant something like, "Yo, Mama!"
Which fits perfectly, don't you see? Since he's a
representation of demonic forces, his true name must
therefore be "Yomama"!
MIZU …I'm positive I'm not hearing this right.
RANMA88 The only thing now is to figure out the one
missing link – Genma's father, and Happosai's child.
It's possible that this whole riddle hinges on his
name, especially when he's not mentioned anywhere
in the manga! It's almost as if he's been hidden
deliberately, so that no one would figure out how to
gain access to Takahashi-san's world.
MIZU Um, Rei?
RANMA88 Yeah?
MIZU Quit IRC. Now.
RANMA88 Okay, okay!
RANMA88 has left the channel.
MIZU Seriously…
RANMA88 has joined the channel.
RANMA88 Oh yeah, I forgot.
MIZU What now??
RANMA88 Call me RANMA88 when I'm in here.
RANMA88 has left the channel.
MIZU …
!MIZU slaps RANMA88 around with a large trout.
RANMA88 is nowhere to be found.
MIZU AHHHHH!!!
MIZU has left the channel.


-2-
If one thing Ami could count on her fiery-tempered friend the
most, it's tenacity. Two days after the chat room session, Ami
received a call from Rei. "It's Taoma."

"Huh?"

"The missing link, Ami! Taoma is the name of Genma's
dad!" Rei exclaimed excitedly.

Ami cringed. "Oh, not that again!"

"You see," Rei went on despite the uncustomary loud protests
on the other side of the phone, "The Chinese mysteries
originated from Taoism, which means "the way." And, Tao
had its roots in the spiritual forces of nature, which in ancient
times were more often than not malevolent, which means they
were yoma – and there's the link to Happosai! See, it all
connects together!"

Realizing any further protest was useless, Ami switched to a
different tactic and decided to play along. "Okay, Rei. Let's
suppose you're right, and there's really something into this
whole other-world thing – which I still think is completely
nonsense – how does figuring out the associations of names of
Ranma's lineage help you?"

Rei paused for a moment. "That's what I'm still working on,"
she admitted after a while. "What I believe is that Tao, or "the
way", has been hidden by Takahashi symbolically. The only
connection I've got is that since all the major characters
inevitably show up in Nerima, Taoma must come to Nerima as
well. Actually, he might have been hiding somewhere inside
Nerima the whole time… wait! I've got it!"

"Don't tell me you think Nerima is actually a symbolic
representation of Taoma now, or I'm hanging up." Ami
deadpanned.

"No, no, I mean I think the mystery of Taoma may be literally
hiding inside Nerima, as in the word itself. Maybe as a part of
the letter combination."

"You're really stretching it, Rei."

Lost in her own thoughts, Rei asked suddenly. "Um, Ami,
can you get the Mercury computer up?"

"What for?"

"Can you do an acronym search for Nerima? Something
might come up."

"…no."

"Please?" Rei whined.

"Absolutely not. This is ridiculous. I'm going to bed, Rei."
And Ami hung up.

x x x

"All right," Ami called back a few days afterwards. "I've got
a name. Marie N., short for Marie Noman."

"I knew I could count on you, Ami." Rei smiled gratefully
over the phone as she chewed the information over silently for
a few minutes. "Noman… Noman… Wait a second, this is a
girl?"

Ami raised an eyebrow on the other end. "I don't know many
guys who'd call themselves "Marie", Rei."

"That's weird… how can he be a girl?"

"I dunno." Having become quite fed up over her friend's
strange obsessions over the last few weeks, Ami added with
more than a trace of sarcasm, "Blame her parents? Why don't
you just give up, Rei? There's no way this Marie person is
your Taoma."

The sarcasm was completely lost to Rei, who was deep in her
own thoughts. "No, there's gotta be something I'm
missing…" Suddenly, her tone grew excited. "Wait, I got it…
Why, that's perfect! You know what this means, right?"

"No," Ami intoned dreadfully.

"This means that the theory of the mirror world has been
confirmed! Remember how the Ranma gang used the Nanban
mirror to travel to different times and places? It follows that
Taoma, who must have somehow left the Ranma world and
traveled to ours, becomes a mirror copy of himself… and how
else to do that other than to be transformed into the opposite,
mirroring sex? And, what a more perfect name to give
himself than "Noman", after he found out the price of coming
here? Ami, you're a genius."

"God knows why I'm doing this for you," The blue-haired girl
exhaled deeply. "And, for your information, perhaps he just
had a sex operation after he came here, for whatever reasons.
Provided that indeed this Taoma person existed, and he indeed
came to our world through some unknown magical means and
lived under a pseudonym."

Rei was momentarily stunned. "Um," she drawled out, "I
guess… that's a possibility too." She managed in a distasteful
tone. "It's a good way to hide your identity, at least."

"So," Ami asked, "now that we got this name, are you
satisfied?"

"…Let's contact her."

"WHAT?"

"Does she have an email?"

Ami was close to seething now. This was getting way too
much. "Yes, but I won't do it!"

"Pretty please?" Rei whined again.

"Absolutely not!"


-3-
Five days, three hours and forty-seven minutes later, Rei
received another call from the resourceful senshi of Mercury.
This time, she noted, Ami actually sounded happy – a fact that
was quite strange to the fire priestess. In fact, she could tell
Ami was trying hard not to giggle out loud. "I got a email
response from Marie earlier today. But," she paused,
suppressing a laugh, "I'm not sure you want the message."

"Of course I want it! I'll be the first one to prove that
Ranma's world actually exists!" Rei exclaimed. Then,
calming herself down from her sudden euphoria, she asked.
"What did you write to her? And, more importantly, what did
she say?"

"Well," Clearing her throat, Ami replied, "I told her about this
nonsense conspiracy of yours, and that you believe she's the
one link that can provide you with clues to gain access into the
Ranma world, that you're desperately seeking an answer, or at
least some hint."

"And…?"

"She returned with five words of advice." With as much
solemnity as she could muster in such a short time, Ami
announced, "Marie said, and I quote, 'You must be officially
nuts.'" Then, unable to hold out any longer, Ami started
laughing.

"H-How dare…" Rei sputtered indignantly, but was quickly
cut off by Ami.

"Rei!" She continued to giggle as she went on, "It's your fault
anyway. I mean, if I didn't know better, I'd say as much
under the circumstances." Finally, after getting her breathing
back under control, Ami queried. "So you're finally giving up
on this ludicrous theory?"

"No," Rei replied immediately. "If this Marie won't
cooperate, I'll just find another way to crack this puzzle."

Ami was incredulous. "For god's sake, Rei! Can't you get it
through your head that there was no puzzle to begin with?
There's no mystical Ranma world hiding inside Takahashi
Rumiko's manga, and there's no such person as "Taoma" who
escaped from the alternate world to ours!" Without as much of
a pause, Ami added, "Listen to the girl! She called you
officially nuts – do you know what the official word for "nuts"
is, Rei? It's lunatic! You're going to go mad if this goes on
any longer."

The raven-haired senshi, who had endured the entirety of her
friend's tirade, finally asked in a quiet voice after a bit of
silence. "What did you say?"

"Um, that is, I mean…" Suddenly aware that her words might
have hurt Rei, Ami was at a loss of words. "I mean, I didn't
mean what I meant…"

"No, Ami, I'm serious." Rei interrupted. "What did you
say?"

In a meek voice, Ami drawled out. "Um… I called you a
lunatic." Then, she added, "I'm sorry, Rei."

"Hold on, lemme think." Rei cut her friend off once more.
"Lunatic… lunatic… luna… lu – that must be it! Ami, you
cracked the message! It's the moon!"

"I went a bit far, really, I didn't mean… huh?" The blue-
haired girl paused in her hasty apology in total confusion.

"It's the moon!" Rei repeated. "How clever… The original
way is hidden, but there's a different route! Marie gave us a
hint on how to look for the alternate way: Look for the moon!"

"Oh. My. God." Ami gritted her teeth in frustration. "I don't
believe this." Then, after a short pause, she sighed in a tired
voice. "Does this mean you want to go to the moon now?"

Rei didn't answer for a while. At last, with a strange glint in
her eyes, the priestess said, "No. Not to the moon. This
Marie, whoever she is, knows about us. She wants us to go to
Usagi."


-4-
"Wait, wait!" Ami called to the fire senshi as she was dragged
through the local neighborhoods in Juuban by the wrist later
that afternoon. "Hold on, Rei!"

Her plea was ignored. "C'mon, let's go! I've got a feeling
that we're on the right track."

Still being forced at a half-run pace, Ami countered, "But Rei,
think about it! You're over-interpreting the message again.
How in the world can she know that the senshi contacted her?
And what reason does she have to want us to go to Usagi for
clues?"

Much to her relief, Rei slowed down. "I don't know, Ami.
But, I'm going to find out. Things may have become more
serious than I thought, if our identities are compromised. That
just means there's even more reason to hurry!"

"…Wait!"

The two started running again.

x x x

Usagi turned out to be couching on the sofa in the living room,
apparently engrossed in some sort of magazine when they
found her. "Hey guys. What's up?" She said cheerfully
without raising her head.

"Usagi," Rei asked. "Has anything strange happened lately?
Like, has any stranger approached you?"

"Not really," Usagi, now totally baffled, did raise her head to
look at them this time. "And how come both of you looked so
flushed?"

Ami, still too out of breath to reply, just shot Rei a mildly
annoyed glance.

Rei managed to look apologetic. "Um, well," she started, but
seemed to fumble for words to continue. "We're just being
careful, that's all. I thought someone might have figured out
our senshi identities."

The moon princess was surprised for a moment, but quickly
recovered. "Naah," she said, her attention span in the
conversation lost once more, "you're probably just
overreacting."

From her side, Rei could feel Ami giving her an "I-told-you-
so" look. For once she kept her temper in check and did not
choose to take offense on the "overreacting" bit, Rei asked
again. "So you've never heard of someone called "Marie
Noman", Usagi?"

With her head buried in the magazine, Usagi mumbled
something in reply.

"Usagi…Usagi? Are you listening to me?" By now,
however, the raven-haired girl could feel her patience
beginning to wear thin. Noticing that her princess was still too
absorbed in the magazine to answer, Rei's curiosity got the
better of her. "Just what are you reading, anyway?" She
asked casually.

This got a reply. "Oh, it's an updated restaurant guide in
Tokyo that I found in the mailbox today. I don't know where
it came from though… whoever sent it to me forgot to put
down his address."

Go figure, Ami thought and smiled for the first time since she
arrived at the Tsukino residence. Always count on Usagi to
be… well, Usagi. The only book that could get her interested
is either comics or restaurant guides.

Expecting Rei to blow up any minute now over how, as usual,
their leader chose to pay more attention to food than to her
friends, she did not count on Rei saying something in an
excited tone. "Wait," the fire senshi said to Usagi. "Turn
back to the last page."

"Huh? Um, okay." Usagi did as she was asked. "Um," she
asked after a while, noticing how quiet her friend had
suddenly become, "Rei? Are you okay?"

Finding her interest piqued, Ami walked over to the duo and
leaned over the sofa to see what had gotten Rei so interested
all of a sudden. Perhaps, after all, Rei finally gave up on her
silly theories, Ami thought to herself.

What greeted her eyes instead was the photo of a newly
opened French restaurant taken at night. "La Voie Nouvelle"
– the new way, the advertisement printed. Not far off in the
background, Ami could see the silhouette figure of the Tokyo
Tower drawn out in little dots of light at evening, and to the
right shone a beautiful full moon, the radiance cascading down
the Tower in all her mysterious splendor.


-5-
"Remind me again why we're here up on top of the Tokyo
Tower at ten o'clock in the evening on a school night?" Sailor
Mercury asked Sailor Mars. "And why are we here in Sailor
forms?"

Mars replied. "Well, you did agree that this may be a possible
new threat worth investigating into, no matter how small a
chance it may be. And you saw the advertisement yourself.
It's as good as confirmed that our theory was correct so far. I
mean, remember that the Saotomes and the Tendos were
supposed to be joined in family, right? "Tendo" just happened
to mean the way of heaven, and what with Marie telling us to
look for the moon, what more logical conclusion can you draw
than the fact that we should go to the top of the Tokyo Tower,
a building that is symbolically as close to heaven – and
therefore the moon – as possible?"

"We could always climb Fuji-san, Mars."

"…" The senshi of fire said.

"For that matter, now that we're here, what do we do? If we
can really go to another world through the top of the Tokyo
Tower, don't you think there may be some special magical
incantation that we have to know?"

"Er, no." Mars admitted. "I thought it's going to be like that
news report a while back, where three girls on a school trip to
the top of the Tower just disappeared suddenly in broad
daylight."

The blue-haired put a hand to her forehead and groaned.
"You're talking about Magic Knight Rayearth, and that's a
manga series, not news!"

"Oh." Mars oh-ed lamely. "Maybe," she suggested in a
momentary spark of inspiration, "we can find the hint through
the word "Saotome"… after all, it's the only one base left we
haven't covered."

Mercury thought about that for all of three seconds. "Don't.
Even. Go. There." She said in a low, dangerous voice. "If
you're going to suggest something crazy, like how we should
go to the side of the Tower that's closest to the moon and bend
over the railing to emulate the gesture of girls plucking rice in
a field, which is what "Saotome" literally means, and which
you can probably find some hare-brained connection to how
this gesture ties to the moon because we're in effect going to
stick our butts out in the air and "moon" everyone else, I
swear I'm going to leave right this minute."

x x x

"I can't believe I got talked into doing this," Sailor Mercury
gritted her teeth and said to Sailor Mars, bending over the rails
on the eastern edge of the top of the Tokyo Tower in a gesture
not unlike a girl plucking rice in a field. "Do you have any
idea how embarrassing this is?"

Mars, in a similar position, shot back. "Well, you did suggest
it."

"I only meant it as a joke, not to actually do it!" The senshi of
water protested. "Seriously though," she continued after a
pause, momentarily giving in to her friend's adamant beliefs,
"have you given any consideration as to what would happen if
we really found ourselves in the Ranma world? I mean, how
are we going to get back home?"

"Um, I haven't thought about it."

"For that matter, with your theory of the mirroring effect on
the worlds, we could both end up as men over there, you
know." Mercury added as an afterthought.

"…" Realizing this herself for the first time, Mars turned to
stare at her companion with bulging eyes. "Um, now that I
really stop to think about this whole thing, maybe this isn't a
good idea after all."

"Should've thought of it sooner." Ami said. Or she thought
she did. She only realized that she didn't say it in fact right
about the same time Mars did, which was when someone took
the ridiculously inviting opportunity they presented and
booted the two over the edge of the railings.

x x x

As she remembered during the forced, if short, flight down the
Tokyo Tower, the seed that blossomed into the fateful incident
had been planted one month ago, almost exactly to the day.
Again, in retrospect, Mizuno Ami cursed herself for being
stupid enough to get dragged into the whole mess. Everything
did make sense now, she realized. There really was some
clever plan involved, it's just that she couldn't see it until now.
Some new enemy must have found out about their identities,
and tricked Rei into thinking that there was some cosmic plan
hidden and coded in her favorite manga. Rei, being her
stubborn self, was led around the nose her whole time. Right
about now, this unknown enemy would turn their targets to the
other senshi, and the two of them would never live to warn
their fellows about the danger.

Before darkness took over her, Ami's last thought was how
humiliating it had been, to literally have their butts kicked
over the edge of the Tokyo Tower by an enemy they didn't
even see and falling to their deaths.


[END PROLOGUE]