Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma Half or Tenchi Muyo. I write just for fun and for free.

Note: Time flies… Five months already gone after the last post. I had a little depression, blame the autumn and winter.

Writing this chapter was very difficult for me and I'm still not satisfied, (I don't know how to handle emotions or even to write about a daughter mother relationship) but I realize that it is just a hobby, not more. So, if you find plot holes or 'this person is OOC' and other things… just ignore it and enjoy just the story. This is fanfiction and not a work of science

I couldn't wait to post this chapter, so it isn't checked by a beta-reader. You can expect mistakes… (looks at Deathgeonous.)

Have fun.

Posted: 03/16/2010

Chapter 5 – The dream


Thursday morning, two o'clock

"What a haul, what a haul," Happosai crowed happily while hopping from roof to roof. On his back he had a large bag full of... panties, stolen panties.

"Oh, SHUT UP!" a too early awakened and half sleepy man screamed through an open window.

The grandmaster of the Musabetsu Kakuto Ryuu was just like Cologne, pretty old, and with his unusual gnome like appearance, he was like a cockroach, the scourge of the neighbourhood. Some even doubted that he was human... He was recognizable by his reddish purple dogi, his nearly bald head with some white hair around his head and he even had something that looked like a moustache. His big old eyes didn't make him looking any friendlier, worse, there really was nothing positive to tell about him than that he was an extraordinary martial artist that however only was overshadowed by his perverse interest in female beauty and their underwear.

This morning Happosai had returned to Nerima and as usual he made a 'great' entry, starting with a new collection of stolen woman underwear. The thought to iron his new little darlings soon, made him delighted. With a nod, he decided that he had enough and that it was time to return to the Tendo's.

However, he became suddenly distracted by a strange feeling and from the roof of a house he saw a strange phenomenon. He could have sensed it a lot earlier, if he wasn't so distracted with his 'hobby'. It was a little blue glowing ball, floating down the street. At first he thought that it was a lost firefly or maybe even a Will-o'-the-wisp, but the feeling was like a Ki signature of a human.

Curious as he was, he jumped down and ran to the strange glowing little thing.

"Oh... it's female Ki-energy!" He reached for it to absorb it for his own body, but strangely enough, nothing happened; it just escaped through his hand like a ghost.

"Hmm... that's strange," muttered Happosai. "I can't absorb it. But this feeling… I know this Ki like no other, but it's so old, that can't be possible!"

"Happosai! So, you have discovered it too…"

The little startled old perverted master looked up and saw Cologne on one of the roofs staring at him. The old woman sighed a little, shook her head and then jumped off the roof.

"So, obviously you want to meet Miss Hinako again. She was the only person that drove you away from this district," the old woman chuckled.

Happosai snorted and shrugged. "What can I say? I have a weakness for beautiful women. I can't hurt my lovely Hinako-chan... But she is indeed very annoying, feh, that's what I got for helping a sickly child years ago. She has totally forgotten her old 'grandfather' Happi."

Cologne could only shook her head and pointed to the strange phenomenon that wasn't waiting for them and had moved farther away. They began to follow it immediately.

"I thought that I felt something on Monday morning, but now that I felt it again, I decided to check it out and it seems that my feelings hasn't deceived me. Happi didn't you noticed something?"

The old man frowned. "That it is concentrated Ki-energy of a woman? It's old Ki, that's for sure."

Cologne nodded, while they were following the strange phenomenon.

"That's my conclusion too. Not many can feel it, but the ones like you and me can almost taste it from a mile away," Cologne confirmed. "Yes, it's really a strange phenomenon. It is possible that this is a Ki residue of someone who no longer exists. But normally the Ki energy would be absorbed into nature. So, why does it still exist? It should be impossible, it's not natural. The only theory I can think up, is because this Ki-energy is not in sync with the rest of nature, and maybe because it is so pure, it's not Ki that you use in a battle."

Happosai scratched behind his head, while still holding his big bag on his back.

"There's probably something that attracts this Ki," the old master noticed. "Let me guess, Ranma-chan is back in town," he grinned.

Cologne frowned only as she continued to hop on her old staff. It seemed that the speed slowly began to increase.

While they followed the phenomenon it soon became clear that it indeed flew in the direction of the Tendo's.

The old Amazon sighed. "Yes, you're right. It is as I feared. Ranma is literally and figuratively speaking a trouble magnet. We will see soon, if our suspicion is correct."

"Ah," Happosai muttered a little annoyed when it flew through the wall of the house.

"Quick, to Ranma's room," Cologne said a little hurried.

They were just in time in front of the window to be the eyewitnesses of an occurrence. The strange phenomenon flew with high speed in Ranma's body. Then her body began to glow blue for a moment and soon everything was normal again. The sleeping panda beside her, didn't noticed anything of what had happened. Genma-panda rolled over and began to chew on his pillow, he was probably dreaming about food. The two elders looked at each other for a brief moment and then shook their heads.

Cologne quickly hopped next to the sleeping redhead and started to check Ranma's Ki. They were very silent, for it was clear that the red-haired girl slept restlessly.

"Yosho, you idiot… you knocked me up… that's it, no more Shinji sake… stupid Oni princess with her gifts…" she muttered in her sleep.

The eyes of the Amazon elder grew when she heard Ranma's mumble and had to fight the urge to face fault. However Happosai didn't heard it because it seems that he was more interested in the bosom of the redheads body and missed even an new important detail of Ranma's face.

With a sigh, Cologne decided to keep this for herself and began to check Ranma's body further. Then, her eyes met with the now seriously looking Happosai which also seemed to draw the same conclusion. The image of the 'wise master', however, was marred by the big bag of ladies underwear that he still kept on his back.

Quickly they left the bedroom and then jumped on the roof of the Tendo's.

"It surprises me that she doesn't look like an old hag like you," was Happosai's response, a comment that earned him a hard hit on his head.

"Old Ki has nothing to do how the body looks like," the old Amazon hissed. "Besides, it has already been assimilated with the rest of her own Ki!"

"Hmpf." The old master crossed his arms and sat down with a thud, with the bag beside him. "I found it already strange that I felt Ranma's Ki when I touched it; couldn't even absorb it. I wonder where it came from and why it is so old."

"This is certainly bizarre. Everything indicates that Ranma's death is not in the future, but in the past," responded Cologne shocked. "But something is not right, because Ranma's Ki here has the same feeling; it's asynchronous! That's the reason why she could assimilate it. We have here a mystery that gives me a headache the size of Tokyo."

"Hmm..." Happosai frowned thoughtfully and stared to the horizon over the rooftops of the Nerima district. "This is fascinating. I suspect that the place where the residual energy came from must be in the neighbourhood. "If there is a grave, it must be somewhere at the old cemeteries... I will poke around and look for it," he said with a brief nod. "Normally I just want to be with my little darlings, but I must admit that even this makes me very curious."

The old Amazon sighed. "Ranma, what have you done? How did you end up in that mess? I need to find more information about that golden mark before I make a decision," was Cologne's anxious thought.

o000o

Ranma was still restless in her sleep, dreaming a strange dream.

Planet Chitan, somewhere in the galaxy, Earth year 1710

The brown and white planet Chitan was once a place that was rich with titanium and minerals, but the golden days were over now and the greed of many individuals had left behind a devastation that was really unprecedented. Within three hundred years the once fairly green planet was turned into a desert where water had become scarce. Only a few individuals still tried their luck in search of what little that was left of the metal richness that the planet once had.

However, what only a few people knew was that the planet also had some very ancient ruins. Who or what had lived on this planet was no longer present on Chitan and what had happened to them, or why they left the planet was still a mystery. But the ruins were the only proof that the planet was once inhabited by a flourishing civilization before.

In the present-days the planet still has a few dusty old mine-worker towns. Most of these had a mix of classic and modern architecture, but if you wanted to describe it, it looked mostly like an old Western town in the US.

It was not uncommon for Dog Town that it was visited by foreigners, but this time they got visitors that were not interested in mining. They were two people who were interested in something quite different.

The two people entered an old miner's saloon and looked around. They wore brown and dusty boots and were dressed in a dusty brown hooded cape with their faces half concealed by their hood. The cape was a bit cliché, but they had their reasons. The two arrived not too long ago on this planet, but their faces already showed traces of dust... Chitan wasn't really a great place for a resort.

The fifteen guests who were in the saloon, looked up to see who the two new strangers were but then their curiosity disappeared again and continued with their activity.

"Hello strangers, you want a drink?" asked the grey-haired somewhat fat bartender with pointy ears at the newcomers who took a seat at the bar.

The two people pulled their hood down and the faces of a girl and a young woman became visible. "Tea please," the redheaded girl with a braid asked. It wasn't visible, but her long braid reached under her cape to her hips. Her blue eyes glided to the larger young woman beside her.

A lot of the guests looked up again and surprised looks appeared on their faces.

"For me the same," responded the other woman with a quick nod. She had long black hair hidden behind her cape, long hair that went to her waist. She had warm red-brown eyes like her father which was stark in contrast with the blue eyes of the red-haired girl. But it was obvious that she was family, since her face looked a little like the red-haired girl. With her 1 meter 70, she was also a lot bigger than the person next to her. However, she seemed not to feel very easy in the saloon. Since she arrived on this planet, she had a rather uncomfortable feeling... like something was wrong.

The surprised bartender nodded and reached for a box under the bar. It was rare that tea was asked, and rarer to see two young women in this saloon. Fortunately he was prepared for these things, because you never knew...

"Mom, are you sure we're in the right place? I don't see our guide," the black-haired young woman asked after they took a sip of their tea. She frowned, the tea tasted old, it was clearly not too fresh anymore.

"Don't be impatient Minaho," replied the red-haired girl with the braid. Ranma Saotome Masaki was not scared, but she had to admit that this saloon was not really a pleasant place for a meeting. But the information was very important and the guide was the only person who knew the locations of the old ruins.

The life of an archaeologist was full of peril… if your name was Ranma.

After centuries, Ranma had found the trail of something of inestimable value; the Sceptre of Power. A possible cure… something that she never found on Earth! It was an artefact, which she had thought that it was no more than a myth, an artefact which was claimed that it was so powerful that it even could cure incurable diseases and even remove curses. Myth or not, she could not let that chance slip away. A few months ago she saw with her gift some glimpses of the future, and she knew that somehow the Sceptre of Power would play a part in her life and in the far future… But the only problem was that nothing was set in stone; nothing was for sure, things could still change in the time stream. Where was fate when you could really use it?

But that problem aside, what would she do if she actually found the artefact? What would she really do? Yosho knew of her past and strangely enough he accepted her. He obviously saw more in her than she saw in herself. The redhead sighed inwardly. Wouldn't it be very selfish of her if she would use it for herself now? In fact, it was actually several hundred years too late for her. That she once was a boy, was nothing more than an old memory that had almost lost its meaning. She had children and grandchildren; it would shock her family if she changed back to her former gender... Was it really worth all this?

It was indeed nothing more than a distant memory, and that was the crux of her problem. She had forgotten what it was to be a man. In the beginning she didn't accepted, that she was married with Yosho, until a certain grandmother with mint green hair showed up… A little talk, her curse examined… Time heals wounds, and with time many things will be forgotten. But some things shouldn't be forgotten.

No, Ranma knew deep in her heart that she didn't it for herself. There was one person in her life that she needed to help, and possible a few others…

The red-haired girl gazed wistfully in the mirror that was placed against the wall behind the bar. A few minutes later her attention was suddenly diverted by a white-haired old person in a grey old miner's uniform, who took a seat beside Minaho. It was a Wau, a race that looked like a mix of a dog, a lion (shiver) and a human. In this case, the Wau looked almost like a dog, like a Bearded Collie because the old man wasn't bald… on the contrary, he had a lot of hair…

"Hello… you're Ranma Saotome and the young lady next to you is your daughter, I presume?" the Wau asked Minaho with a hoarse voice.

The black-haired young woman got a twitch in her left eyebrow and shook her head. Then she pointed slowly to her younger looking and smaller red-haired mother beside her. This mistake was not the first time, and it would probably not be the last.

"Oh," the Wau reacted surprised. But his facial expression and his eyes were hard to see through the forest of white hair that covered half of his face.

"My apologies…"

"It's okay," Ranma said half laughing as she waved it away with her hand. "So, our guide has arrived. What is your name? We had only a photo of you, but no name..."

The Wau nodded. "My name is Rapunzel."

The redhead looked strangely at the white-haired Wau. In some way it sounded very familiar in Ranma's ears. In fact, since languages and the meanings behind them had no secrets for her…

"You have a girl's name?" the red-haired girl blurted out, proving that she still had some trouble with keeping her mouth shut, even after centuries.

Rapunzel reacted very shocked. "Of course it's a girl's name! I am a woman, can't you see that?" the Wau answered angrily.

"Eh heh... sorry," Ranma said totally surprised and she began to scratch behind her head while showing an innocent grin. Her daughter, Minaho however, became very red and quickly looked ahead. Rapunzul's sex was difficult to determine, not to mention the almost invisible bosom. It was even a mystery how that name ended in this corner of the galaxy… even hundred-and-two years before the brothers Grimm published the story of Rapunzel on Earth. It was probably just a coincidence…

After this unusual surprising revelation, the three settled at a table. Rapunzel had ordered a beer or at least, a drink that looked like beer and the other two ordered just plain water; the tea was terrible.

Ranma was very direct. "I understand that you're an expert regarding the many ruins of Chitan. I'm especially interested in this ancient temple; the temple of Mu."

She put a transparent electronic tablet on the table and shoved it to Rapunzel. The tablet showed an image of a partially eroded temple that was carved out in a granite cliff.

The old female Wau stared at it and then she pushed with her hand the bangs of her white hair aside to get a better look of the image. She had surprisingly bright green eyes that were full of life.

"I recognize it. It is a well-known and yet also a very infamous place. Many treasure hunters have lost their life there, it's an accursed place. I myself never dared to enter that temple… I'm not that brave. Are you sure that you want to go to this place?" Rapunzel replied worried.

The red-haired girl shrugged nonchalantly and looked at her daughter.

However Minaho sighed, and nodded slowly, not that she had much choice. It began to look more like a rule than an exception that they always ended up in a dangerous situation. Even the simplest expedition could turn in a disaster if Ranma was involved; she was a magnet for trouble. Some of her friends that thought that archaeology was boring have never met her mother; otherwise they would probably doubt her sanity. How long has she worked for her mother? Fifteen years? Twenty years? It was a relatively short time in her long live but despite the many successes that she and her mother had, she became tired of the dangers… Really, the offer of Seto Kamiki Jurai to work for her again began to look with each day more inviting. If she could choose between bad and worse, the choice was easily made. It was only because of the love for her mother that she was still going with her, and she needed somebody to keep her in check.

Rapunzel seemed to hesitate at the response of the two young women, but nodded. "I hope you know what you do; I will not guarantee your lives. In fact, I bring you to the place, but don't think that I go with you in that accursed place," she warned.

Ranma just chuckled. "Yeah… yeah, it's not the first time that we go on dangerous ground, it's no problem."

The daughter was however worried. It was true enough that they often got in dangerous situations, but why had she this feeling? She couldn't ignore it…

"Mom...?"

Minaho hesitated.

"What is it, Minaho?" The red-haired girl asked while she turned to her daughter.

The black-haired young woman frowned. "I have a serious bad feeling... Maybe we shouldn't go."

Ranma stared for a moment at her daughter, and then she turned her head back and frowned.

Her daughter, Minaho, was 415 years old now and Ranma understood years ago that her daughter was usually correct, an intuition that she unfortunately missed. But the Sceptre of Power was a very important artefact.

"Sorry daughter, but I am determined to go," she said resolutely after a silent moment. "Maybe it's even better that you return to your tree ship; you can easily oversee the situation from there."

The black-haired daughter doubted for a moment and then shook her head. "No Mom, its maybe better that I go with you. From out the ship I can't help you directly..."

With an earnest look in her eyes, Ranma stared at her daughter, but said nothing and gave only a brief nod. Her daughter was literally old enough to make her own choices.

"Okay, let's go..."

o000o

Ranma rented an 'old' rusty hover vehicle, with air conditioning. I was still very modern in Earth terms, and left the driving to her daughter while she studied the details of the old temple on her tablet. The guide had kindly offered to drive the car since she was more familiar with the terrain, but Ranma had some reservations about her driving... for some obvious reasons.

She played with the end of her braid while she studied the information of the temple. She wondered what to do in the next future. A single glance at her daughter was enough to realize that it was time for her daughter to look for another job. Well, it was a wonder that her daughter managed to work for her that long. It was only unfortunate that her daughter was still unmarried. She had secretly hoped that her daughter would meet a nice man during the expeditions. Ah, well, she was not the type to play matchmaker; worse, she hated such people, especially Seto Kamiki Jurai. She shuddered at the thought. Maybe it was even because that reason that Minaho was still single.

She knew that it wasn't good to be alone…

But what could she say about her own life?

She and Yosho, married. Could you believe it? An old part in her mind was still flabbergasted; a very old part couldn't even imagine it. This could only happen because she saw Yosho as a very, very good friend, and now he was even more than that. All this happened because she was stuck in a girl's body… the 'curse' had played her like a fiddle.

Her life took a different turn after she had her first child, Tenma, her son. If you would think logically about it, your brain would blow a fuse. Born as a boy and years later giving birth as a woman… it was beyond strange. But she had not the time to think about it. All her attention was focused on raising her son, and a few years later, her daughter, Minaho.

When she became pregnant with her first child she had to accept that it was definitely over. And the reason how this happened? Ironically enough, it was sake! Damn shinji sake again! And it was her fault too. It happened when she was drunk again after too much sake. She seduced Yosho (stupid hormones) and he didn't protest after waiting that looong, of course not. After that moment she had totally sworn off alcohol. Two of these blunders in her life were enough. Married in drunkenness and giving her virginity in drunkenness, it was enough, thanks, but no thanks... she was lucky that she still could remember little parts of it afterwards.

But you know, she thought that she was special… but watching Earth's nature could give you enough answers that she wasn't really that special. A nice example is The Slipper Limpet, a pest of oyster beds, an animal that can change slowly from male to female. Slugs and snails are hermaphrodites. The Red Banded Parrotfish can change its sex from female to male. The Seahorse takes the cake; it's the male that becomes pregnant. Ironically, many of these are sea creatures; it comes always to water, it seems. She had to thank Yosho for all that knowledge; it surprised her that he knew so much about Earths animal live, or had he secretly studied this subject behind her back to help her to ease her mind?

It is all fine and dandy and mind gobbling, but the path of life wasn't easy.

She had seen how Tenma grew up, her first son. He married a fine girl and they had a lot of children and grandchildren. But like Minaho he didn't inherited the Jurian genes of his father. Yes, he was a happy man and for an Earthling he lived a long life thanks to modern medical science. But it wasn't fair… She almost couldn't hold her tears when she remembered the life of her first child, the baby the she held in her arms, and the man that he became. He was dead now; he died when he was 221 years old. It was just not fair and almost unnatural to survive your own child. She sighed; she had shed enough tears for her son.

Now she knew how Cologne must have felt.

Minaho glanced at her mother. She was uneasily very quiet, but the look in her mothers' eyes was enough to tell her that she probably was thinking about her brother. Just like her mother, she missed her older brother. She saw her brother grew old, but when it came to growing old, her mother was still a great mystery; she still looked like a sixteen old girl and she often needed to use a disguise to hide her youthful appearance. However, she never accepted a medical upgrade for her body. It seems that she was afraid that it messed up her body and her gift, ironically.

She herself knew what Ki was. She used some Ki techniques with her sword style, but she wasn't a real fighter and didn't like martial arts. But her mother told her once that she was so old because she knew how to control her Ki and her youthful appearance was because of a locked curse. Minaho found it a very strange idea to call it a curse. Her mother told that she once knew at least two persons that where three hundred years old thanks to their mastery of their Ki. Minaho made a mental shrug; it wasn't really impressive anymore thanks to medical science… and a lot species had also a long live.

But her mother would always be a special person for her. She could still remember her youth and the warm feelings; the memories of looking up at the face of a beautiful smiling red-haired mother with blue eyes. She always wondered what the meaning was of the golden mark on her forehead, the symbol of her gift. Because of that, the people in the neighbourhood thought that she was a goddess… It was really funny, because her mother always went mad when she heard about it.

With the centuries everything changed, even her father grew a little older. Yes, everything, except her mother. It was as if time itself couldn't touch her.

Sometimes even she believed as child that her mother was not human. Her mother was unbelievable strong and fast. And thanks to her gift, there was no language that she not could read, write and speak. She could teleport to far places and she knew that she even could cross the distance between planets in an emergency; it seems that it took a lot of energy from her. Sometimes her mother got glimpses of the future and warned then her father or the neighbourhood. But once she was fourteen years old, she had heard her mother muttering that she was still stuck in time. When she asked what the problem was, she only shook her head, sighed and told her to forget it since it was no longer important.

She was a mysterious person, but a great mother. If only she wasn't such a trouble magnet!

o000o

It was a few hours later when the three arrived at the ancient temple that was carved out of the cliff. It was windy outside, but it was a welcome change with the hot desert miles away.

Ranma whistled out of admiration when she saw it.

It was always a special sight. When you would think about an ancient temple you would expect a typical Greek or Roman stone building with many columns. But this was nothing like it. It was a trapezoidal front with a very complex and strange pattern that was carved out in the blue-grey granite rock. The patterns looked just like a complex decoration, but Ranma knew better.

When the red-haired girl stood before the temple, she spoke aloud the inscription that was carved around the entrance.

"He who seeks the lost, he who searches for the unattainable, he who looks for power.

But, he who finds the truth in this temple has courage and is seeing and wise!"

With a nod Ranma turned around and looked at her daughter and their guide. "That's what is written around the entrance. It's the writing style of a lost or extinct species, 18,000 years ago; the Mu. This race had four eyes instead of two and no one with two eyes can decipher it without technical assistance."

Rapunzel was surprised. "I didn't even know that the strange pattern was a written message, unbelievable! But you said yourself that you need four eyes to read it, why can you do it?"

The redhead grinned and flipped her long braid off her shoulder. "What can I say… it's a rare gift..."

In the meantime Minaho took out behind her cape a small black tinted device with a little hologram screen. It was a scanner, a device created specifically for archaeologists. The scanner read the text and gave also the same result. She nodded in agreement with the correct translation of her mother. Not surprising, since it was her mother herself that updated the scanner regularly.

"It's time," Ranma said to her daughter. Then she looked at the guide. "Rapunzel... give us five hours, okay?"

The guide sighed and warned again. "Do you really want to enter this death-trap? Rethink it while you still can!"

But Ranma grinned, showing her teeth. "I never back away from a good challenge, and Ranma Saotome never loses!"

After having said these words she made a come gesture to her daughter and they both entered the temple. Ranma was fearless, but that wasn't the same for Minaho... Her bad gut feeling hasn't disappeared...

o000o

The light began to disappear when they went deeper in the hall. Ranma held her hand out with her palm up. A small orb of Ki-energy formed above her hand and it began to float around as if it had a life of itself. Minaho used a simple but powerful flashlight. When they looked farther in the hall they saw that it ended with a doorway to a long corridor.

Walking into the corridor, Ranma looked around and ran her hand along the wall. It was smooth as glass, which was a clear sign that advanced techniques were used. The floor however was build with an irregular stone pattern.

The scanner of Minaho made suddenly a bleep and showed something. The young woman stopped and looked down, frowning. She saw a somewhat inconspicuous square tile in the floor structure.

"Oh boy," said Ranma not too surprised when she looked to the same place that picked Minaho's attention. "A tile to activate a trap, it's rather cliché."

"Cliché or not, but that can't be said of those unfortunate people farther away," Minaho remarked dryly.

The red-haired girl raised an eyebrow. When they looked farther in the corridor they saw the bones of the victims. Silently they walked further and then Ranma crouched down beside a skull, or at least what was left of it.

"Crushed between two walls," Ranma noted, and looked at the lines in the wall. A long stretch of the corridor was a trap. A mechanism would have pressed the left and right walls together. If you could run very fast you could escape it… otherwise it would be a very painful death indeed...

"We're lucky that the scanner is advanced enough to pick up such things," muttered Minaho. "Wise and seeing huh? The warning 'enter at your own risk' would have been more appreciated."

When they walked deeper into the temple they discovered a lot more annoying cliché death-traps. In fact, there were so many death-traps that it would have even made the most hardened treasure hunter desperate. You could be impaled, crushed, suffocated or fall into the infinite depths. These unlucky treasure hunters couldn't tell the tale about it since mother and daughter found them mostly very dead.

"Man, I do not know what these guys were up to, but they apparently didn't like half work. In my whole life I have never seen so many traps in a single temple or ruin," Ranma said tiredly. With a deep sigh she began to lean with her back against a wall.

Minaho's face turned white when she heard a click.

"MOM!"

A solid block of granite above Ranma's head came loose and fell down. The breaking of stone was heard and a lot of dust and gravel was spread.

Ranma's left eyebrow twitched, her red hair and face was full of grey dust and her glowing right fist still up.

"Honestly… I think they had just a sadistic pleasure in building this… this death-trap..." Whatever this structure was, Ranma couldn't call it a temple anymore.

Eventually they entered a dome-like hall that had twelve entries in all directions that could lead to somewhere or nowhere. Ranma's Ki orb floated up to the middle and lit the whole hall in a blue glow. The dome-like ceiling was engraved with thousands of characters.

Ranma looked around en frowned. She wanted to make a comment but then she felt a presence. She motioned her daughter to stop and she quickly turned around and took a battle stance only to find… nobody. Surprised she looked around and she blinked her eyes.

"Well, that's strange... I could have sworn that someone stood behind us," the peeved redhead stated.

"We're already too long here… and all these traps are working on our nerves," Minaho guessed. "I hope that we quickly find the artefact, we lost a lot of time... and they really didn't make it too easy for us."

The two looked around and Ranma scratched behind her head. "We have almost reached our goal," she concluded. "This is probably the last obstacle we must overcome."

She walked slowly to the centre of the hall, while Minaho checked her scanner to locate their position so that she knew which corridor was the exit. Within this hall you could easily loose your orientation. Then she scanned everything around her and looked at the result.

The daughter frowned. "Elf corridors that are equally long and it looks like they all have a dead end; five of them contain biological traces, probably from the unfortunate treasure hunters. But that gives us no clue which way we should take."

So, there were ten corridors that were traps. Five of them were already found, but there were still five traps left; five dead ends, quite literally.

The red-haired mother looked up and stared at the thousands of characters that at first glance made no sense. But Ranma knew that it contained a hint, but what?

"Minaho, scan the dome and let it check on patterns or forms in that chaos up there," she asked with a thoughtful face.

Ranma's suspicion was correct, when the device after a few minutes let them knew with a bleep, that it found something. The outline of an arrow had become visible, a giant arrow with the point above the correct entry. The outline of the arrow was made up of seven characters. It was a very mean trick to hide a clue; without the scanner it would took a long time to see it.

"Very good, but not good enough," Ranma said with a grin.

They walked into the corridor that eventually ended, blocked with a stone wall. There was a hand sized square tile in the middle that Minaho pressed without hesitation. This time it did something good and the stone wall shove aside. A large illuminated white round area became visible. In the middle of the hall was an object that surprised Ranma.

It was a ruby on a silver pedestal, big as a grapefruit.

When they entered the hall their eyes fell on an old charred skeletal in a reach position, just a half meter from his goal. Apparently the ruby was protected by a deadly force field; you could hear the electric hum.

Minaho averted her gaze from the sad scene and began to read the information on her scanner. "He came so far, only to fall prey for the last trap," she said, shaking her head. "The ruby is not even real… it's a hologram."

The red-haired mother shook her head silently. The blue Ki orb floated back to her stretched out hand and was assimilated back into her body, no sense in wasting energy. Minaho turned off her flashlight as well and she began to look around.

Ranma scratched behind her head and frowned. "Where is the Sceptre of Power? It must be hidden somewhere."

The daughter scanned the area, in hope to discover something. The scanner picked up a lot of strange things, but not the sceptre. Then she walked along the circular wall and stopped at a certain place. Here was a square tile too, though harder to see.

"You found something, daughter?" Ranma asked hopefully, as she walked to her.

"Well, yes... it is something. I hope that it is not a trap," she answered and after a slight hesitation she pressed the tile. "Pray and hope…"

First nothing seemed to happen, but then not far from the tile that she had pressed, a white stone block shove slowly a meter out of the floor, and formed a little square hole in the centre of the top. Minaho looked at her mother. "It seems that we are missing a piece of a puzzle."

The mother began to smile. With a flick of her hand, a strange small transparent crystal cube appeared in Ranma's right hand. "Try this one. That's the thing that we found on the other planet."

Minaho's raised her eyebrows. "That one? It's that thing with the hidden message within thousand cooking receipts? Some of them are very good too…"

With a feeling of doubt, the daughter placed the crystal data cube into the hole and an electric spark went through the crystal. The light in the hall flickered.

The white hall turned dark and the electric hum stopped. After a brief pause, a hologram of a person appeared to them. The projection was still sharp and clear even after 18,000 years.

It seems that the little crystal cube was the key indeed.

"Greetings strangers, and my complements that you came this far. My name is Julius, the last ruler of Mu," sounded a strange low voice in the heads of the two women that they surprisingly could understand.

The person, who spoke to them mentally, was a light-brown man with short white hair, a broad nose and a square face that gave him a hard personality. He was dressed in a strange red grey spacesuit, with his helm in his left hand, as if he was about ready to leave. Of course, it were the four grey-blue eyes that stood out the most, two pairs of eyes, one above each other. He also had a remarkable higher forehead.

"This is our last message of a race that is no longer present in this galaxy. We all have moved to the neighbouring galaxy, driven out by our enemies and fleeing for our shame. But as ashamed as we are, we admit that we were fools, blinded by our own power. No longer are we the supreme rulers in this part of the galaxy. This is our home galaxy now..."

The person made a gesture to an image that suddenly appeared; it was the Andromeda galaxy. Ranma raised her eyebrows. They moved to the neighbouring galaxy? Were they really able to bridge that distance?

"The source of our supremacy was the Sceptre of Power. And undoubtedly this is the reason why you are here. Although, the sceptre is no longer in our possession," the man said, shaking his head. Disappointment was to see on the faces of the two women, but the hologram continued.

"At the peak of our power, we ruled almost one quadrant of the galaxy and our government was placed on our own created world, a ring world, a world that knew no night. It was also the place where we kept the Sceptre of Power."

A holographic image of a giant blue-white ring appeared. In the centre of the ring world was a yellow star. The ring had an earth like surface, with water and land. The red-haired girl had no idea where it was, but it was certainly an impressive sight.

Their attention however was drawn by the sudden appearance of a great female being that almost overshadowed the ring world.

"We were, however punished," the holographic man sighed. "When we thought we were all powerful, suddenly the Choushin Tokimi appeared; a hyper dimensional being."

Tokimi's hologram began to speak: "If you are as powerful as you say, then prove it. I will take your ring world and the Sceptre of Power. Give proof of your power, by taking your world and the sceptre back from me. How you will do it, is up to you. You have three days to move out… You can stay if you wish."

Ranma and Minaho blinked their eyes. Who was this Tokimi? Why had they never heard of her? And what was a Choushin?

"Three days later our world disappeared, together with the Scepter of Power. Then we got the coordinates where we could find Tokimi's domain. It wasn't a surprise that her domain wasn't in this dimension, but that wasn't an obstacle for us, since we are well versed with travelling to other dimensions. That's why we became so powerful, because we found wisdom and power in other places…."

Ranma got a thoughtful face. It wasn't easy to breach a dimension; you need a lot of power… That was something that she couldn't do without risking her life.

"When we managed to enter Tokimi's domain, we faced the guardians. Countless giant drones that almost looked like green shields that were practically immune to energy weapons. They attacked with simply mass based weapons, swords that penetrated easily through our shields and armour. We couldn't win, no matter how strong our ships were. Our armies were massacred and we hadn't even a chance to get close to our ring world. We were even surprised to see more then one ring world in that dimension…"

The hologram of the ring world disappeared and made place for a strange spectacle, which could only be described as nothing else than as a chaotic collection of worlds, structures and other things that were difficult to describe. A heavy battle was seen between the countless guards against a fleet of almost 100,000 battleships.

The voice of the holographic man sounded bitter and sighed.

"We finally gave up. We had lost our world and the Sceptre of Power, and our mighty fleet was almost completely destroyed. We had no longer any power, and we had to flee for the vengeful races that saw their chance to pay us back for what we did in the past. We decided to migrate and build this temple in remembrance of our race. Travelling to another dimension however, was no longer an option after loosing more of our important planets and their power sources."

After that, the hologram froze…

"That's all?" Ranma asked very disappointed. "All this trouble, only for an old message!?"

The holographic man came suddenly back to live and he showed in his hand a small crystal cube.

"Take this data crystal. This has the complete history of our people and the coordinates of our lost ring world and the Sceptre of Power. Use this knowledge wisely, and hopefully you three may learn a lesson from it."

The holographic man offered the data crystal to them, and Ranma walked to 'him' to receive it. The red-haired girl had no idea how it was done, but the thing that she got in her hand was real.

"May the three of you prosper well… farewell," were the last words before the message disappeared. The light returned after that. The pedestal with the ruby was gone, but the skeleton was still there.

Ranma blinked and then stared at the small crystal cube in her hand. Then she walked to other cube that was still plugged in and took it out. It had thousand interesting cooking receipts that she still could use…

"Mom... we are not alone here…" Minaho said while looking nervously around.

Ranma looked surprised at her daughter. "What do you mean?"

"Three people Mom, the hologram talked about three people!"

The red-haired girl took immediately a battle stance and closed her eyes while she focused her mind.

"Vague, I feel very vaguely the presence of somebody else in this hall; he's using a cloak," Ranma noticed irritated. Why didn't she notice it? Even the computer of the hologram noticed it… while she could not. She was slacking off… or became senile? The last thought gave her a shudder.

"Show yourself!"

An imposing sarcastic laugh echoed in the white hall and a green energy globe appeared that quickly dissolved. A broad and large man became visible, floating a little above the ground. The man had cyan hair with two small long bangs beside his face, yellow eyes with red pupils and had small dark glasses on his nose that gave him a study type face. He had a dark green mantle and the rest of his clothes were blue. Everything was designed to give him imposing look. Anyway, his whole appearance shouted villain, an arrogant man that you would love to hate.

He introduces himself with a mocking bow. "Greetings ladies, my name is... Kagato. Undoubtedly you have heard of me..."

"Kagato..." The red-haired girl began to frown.

"The infamous pirate and ruin buster," the shocked Minaho added and her face was ashen. Of all the people that they could meet it had to be Kagato. No wonder that she had a bad feeling the whole time.

"The mysterious and eternal young Mrs. Ranma Saotome and her daughter Minaho, nice to meet you," greeted Kagato with a tinge of arrogance. "Mrs. Saotome that can virtually speak each language and decipher any written text; your gift is as mysterious as your origin. Two centuries ago you just pop out of nowhere and became quickly famous because of the many successes. Now you're a famous archaeologist that knows how to unveil even the deepest hidden secrets and for the last twenty years you are working together with your daughter. It was amusing to see you both in action, but now you need..."

The redhead cut him short. "It's nice to know that we are so appreciated. But I can't say that about you. In some cases I had to do it with the remains of the destroyed ruins that you've left. It's ironic that a very important clue to this place was in one of the ruins on planet Gotamaze that you in your 'enthusiasm' so thoroughly had destroyed," she told him with a snort.

One of Kagato's eyebrows rose up. "Oh?"

Somewhere in the background you could almost hear a braying donkey…

"So, if you want this data crystal, you can forget it. You've had your chance..."

Minaho glanced nervously at her mother. It seemed not wise to challenge Kagato. She wasn't sure of they could handle this man of that calibre.

"Oh, then tell me little redhead," Kagato responded with a grim smile. "What do you hope to achieve with it? I doubt it is for the historical babble. It is the Sceptre of Power, isn't it? I too, was looking for the sceptre, and when I heard a rumour that you found it, I began to follow you."

Ranma was silent and frowned. She could only guess who leaked this important information. When she would find the traitor…

"But even then, do you have the means to go to that dimension, and to return alive with the sceptre, little redhead?" Kagato asked sarcastically. "And what if you have the Sceptre of Power, what will you do you with it? It's probably no more than a museum piece for you, something to boast. Nothing more than an artefact that belongs behind glass, so that millions can admire it from a distance. I have bigger plans with it, little redhead! I give you the choice; give me the data crystal data voluntarily, or die together with your daughter! Don't think too long about it... it would be a shame to waste your life for this..."

There was no doubt that the arrogant man meant it seriously.

Her daughter looked anxiously at her mother. "Mom ..."

Ranma really wished that she could have direct control over Time; she knew that it was possible. Slowing time in a battle could give her the upper hand against this guy. But her gift was practical handicapped now. Since the day that she pulled that stunt in her drunkenness, centuries ago, it was just impossible for her to travel through time. It happened on the day that she had married Yosho… ugh. Maybe it was an unwritten rule… Maybe it had something to do with paradoxes or to avoid fragmentation of time.

Ah, well, she did not lose completely her gift over time… but then she needed to go the second phase of her gift, something that she would try to avoid at all cost, if she had the choice.

But she had plans with this data crystal… big plans…

However, Ranma had also another big problem. The old Cologne rarely used Ki attacks and not without reason. The older you get, less Ki was generated and that was the case with Ranma. So, she might look young, but she was older than Cologne, by more than a century... and she could feel her age well. She could no longer go all out, shooting blasts left and right.

She never accepted a physical 'upgrade' because she was just afraid that her curse and the magical tattoo would go haywire. They tried for a bond with a Jurian Tree, but it seems that the trees didn't like her for some reason. Who knew what could happen if she had accepted the treatment, she knew that she wasn't that lucky.

Anyway, the red-haired girl had to make an important decision. She could give Kagato the data crystal but she knew that he wasn't able to get that artefact; Kagato overestimated himself. There was only one person who could retrieve the Sceptre of Power and unfortunately that was not herself, nor Kagato.

Her decision was made…

The red-haired mother looked at her daughter. "Minaho, didn't you wonder why I want so badly the Sceptre of Power?" she asked in a serious voice.

Minaho looked at her mother strangely but shook her head and glanced to Kagato that slowly became impatient. "I saw that you were very excited when you found out about the legend of the sceptre, but I didn't thought any special about it; for me it was no more than archaeological object."

"Hmm... Daughter, it might sound surprising, but for years I'm looking for an artefact that can break a persistent curse. It's for a very special person, who is probably still looking for a cure."

"For a person in the distant future indeed," she added in thought.

"What?" The daughter looked surprised at her mother. That was news for her... her mother was looking for a cure for somebody?

But Minaho couldn't get a chance to ask some questions, since her mother made a step forward and showed the crystal data cube to Kagato. With a flick of her hand the data crystal disappeared with a plop into her personal subspace.

"Sorry Kagato, but the data crystal isn't for you. You see, in fact I need it probably more then you. All you want is power; I however want to use it to help someone in need."

The villain frowned and seemed to think for a moment, but then he shrugged. "A surprising answer, but very foolish. I don't care about such emotional things; it has no meaning for me. With eternity, emotions are pointless and will be forgotten. So, to me you're just a fool... and like the fools before you, you will find only death."

A green energy sphere began to form before Kagato and fired it without warning at Ranma and Minaho. The two women reacted quickly and jumped aside, followed by an explosion that blew a crater in the floor.

"What a heartless freak!" the black-haired woman hissed.

Minaho grabbed her ray gun that she had hidden behind her cape and shot at Kagato. The blue beam however, bounced off by an unseen force field. Two more shots only confirmed it and she had to move away to avoid this time a green beam.

The red-haired mother made immediate use of this distraction and attacked him. But Kagato's shield wasn't only to deflect energy beams. Ranma had the unpleasant surprise to discover it and with a cry of pain she was mercilessly electrocuted by the invisible force field. The force field was relatively weak since Kagato wasn't in his battleship, but it was still strong enough to make it for Ranma pretty difficult.

With a cry of pain Ranma rolled over the ground, but quickly jumped up, her brown cape and her red hair still smoking. The red-haired girl pulled off her cape with a snarl and threw it on the floor as she looked at him angrily. Under her cape she was wearing a pair of black trousers and a purple-blue blouse with long sleeves.

"A nice attempt... little redhead. I know that you are a master in martial arts, but it is quite useless against me," Kagato said with an arrogant grin. But for he could attack her, an energy beam shot right past his ear and he had to turn his attention back to Ranma's daughter.

"Ah!" the daughter cried surprised. Minaho's weapon was pulled out of her hand by an invisible force. It seemed that Kagato also had telekinetic powers. With a well-aimed shot from his hand, Minaho's weapon was destroyed and he grinned.

But the grin turned into irritation when he avoided a new attack from Ranma. He pulled in a reflex his head aside, when a sword slashed him. It nicked one of his cheeks, something that would happen again in the far future... and he would remember it. The gash on his right cheek began to bleed.

Ranma grinned when she saw that Kagato wasn't completely invulnerable. It was very interesting that he had green blood…

Kagato looked with a snarl at the redhead that stood now in a defence sword stance with a long katana that was illuminating from pure white Ki energy. Ranma could pull off this trick because the Ki sword was still a part of her and energy loss was minimal. The villain recognised the strange energy that was used to form her sword and his snarl changed in a more thoughtful expression.

"Interesting; that sword is made of your own bio-energy? Not many can achieve this mastery of their life-force. But why could you penetrate my shield? Very interesting, the power and energy frequency of your Ki must be quite different."

Kagato's injury on his face disappeared quickly while he studied Ranma's sword stance.

"You know Jurai's sword style?" he asked while he formed a broad sword with his green energy, making it denser than he normally would do.

He resumed his attack, starting with shooting a number of green energy beams at Ranma.

The golden tattoo on Ranma's forehead glowed while she dodged the beams and teleported away before his eyes.

A little surprised Kagato parried the attack of Ranma that appeared suddenly at his side and they began to exchange a few fast attacks and then they stepped away from each other.

"Seriously, teleportation now? You're full of tricks, little redhead. You start to look like my former teacher and she too, just didn't want to grow up," he snapped and teleported himself to another place where he quickly shot again a few green beams at her that she simply avoided.

Minaho had her own blue laser sword ready and was watching the fight carefully while she waited for the right change. She saw that her mother kicked up her fight a notch and she began to smile a little. If it came to martial arts and swordsmanship, almost nobody could match her; even her father couldn't keep up with her when she was deadly serious.

After a few minutes the villain gritted his teeth when he was pressed in the defensive. Cuts were seen all over his garb, but inwardly he was impressed; he had even the feeling that she was holding back. It was troublesome, he couldn't handle the difficult attack pattern and again he had to teleport away to another place to take a breath. He had to admit that she was one of the better talented sword fighters that he had met in his long life. But there was something nagging him, something that surprised him even more.

"That's not the normal sword style of Jurai," hissed Kagato. "…Lady… this style, it's a mixed form… But in the many fighting forms I recognise one important part... it's the Royal sword style of Jurai! You can't be a Saotome! I know for a fact that they don't learn this style to any outsider!"

"I'm a Saotome! Well…okay… the jig is up. I'm family by marriage, if that is what you want to know," the irritated Ranma replied with a snort, wondering how she had to beat the incredible annoying person that more teleported and was shooting around than actually did fight.

The villain had started to guess which of the royal family had a golden triangle on her forehead. He also had noticed that it was more than a tattoo alone. Was there a reason why the Masaki family kept the existence of these persons a secret? It wasn't easy to find more information about it, since the Jurian family knew how to keep a secret… well… a secret. They even kept secrets between themselves. It could easily take a few centuries before you could find out the truth.

"Moko Takabisha!"

Kagato teleported away before he was hit; it was a reflex, honed by centuries of experience… But he wasn't surprised that the red-haired girl could even shoot a ball of bio-energy. He made a mental note to upgrade his shield against this new form of bio-energy for the next time.

"Blast, I missed," a very disappointed redhead hissed. She knew that she had him off-guard since he was in deep-thought for a second; he was like a cockroach. Her attack was a small one, but still a waste of valuable energy.

The fight however, took an ugly turn.

Minaho was surprised when Kagato was suddenly in front of her. However, she didn't hesitate and attacked him immediately with her laser sword. As the daughter of Ranma and Yosho Masaki, she had also no problem with handling the sword.

A brief skirmish followed with the daughter and slowly Kagato began to tire of this stalemate situation. This time his shield could deflect most of the attacks. The mother and daughter were both well skilled with the sword and he began to understand that he had to use a different tactic. Most people would flee when the even heard of his name… but these girls were really troublesome.

Minaho was not prepared when Kagato attacked her unexpectedly with a powerful wind-force. The wind was so strong that she flew back and smashed with her head first against the wall, loosing her weapon. She was just dazed, but that gave the man enough time to grab her by the neck and to lift her forcibly up with one hand.

"Minaho!" Ranma cried worried. This was bad, very bad!

The daughter, however, could do nothing against him and to her horror she felt that her body began to change into stone. She cried out in panic.

Shocked and helplessly watched Ranma how Kagoto dropped a statue. The sound of a heavy stone hitting the ground sounded like a long echo in the white hall. The shocked expression of Minaho was immortalized in stone.

"Well, the situation has clearly changed in my favour," Kagato reacted nonchalantly. "My demand has changed now; the data crystal in exchange for returning your daughter back to life."

"And who says that you keep your word?" Ranma hissed bitterly; she could hardly restrain her tears.

The villain laughed. "You have little choice, lady..."

She seemed to consider what to do, and her golden triangle glowed up briefly. Subsequently, the look in her eyes became hard.

"Why didn't I heed my daughter's warning?" Ranma muttered with a sigh. "So, this is the price that I have to pay..."

Kagato just started to laugh hard, never thinking about the deeper meaning of her words.

With a frustrated face, the red-haired girl pulled a small crystal cube from out her personal subspace. She got not even the chance to hand it over personally since Kagato took it from her with his telekinetic powers. It flew through the air and landed in his right hand.

"Okay, you have the data crystal... So, please, change my daughter back," Ranma asked frustrated. She could barely retain herself from begging, for that was something that she would never do.

It was to deaf ears, since Kagato had only his eyes for the crystal cube in his hand. "The Sceptre of Power, at last; could it contain the ultimate universal energy that I'm looking for?" he muttered. He was talking as if he had the sceptre already in his hands…

Suddenly the white hall began to shake violently and pieces of the ceiling began to fall down. The hall was at the point of collapsing and it wasn't surprising. The area was littered with impact craters; it was even a miracle that it hadn't started earlier.

"Hmmm, I see that my presence here is long overdue," Kagato reacted calmly while he looked up at the ceiling. Then he looked back at Ranma and grinned.

"If you want to see your daughter returned to her old state, please visit me on my battleship Sōja. Well then, goodbye lady, or is it maybe farewell?"

With a mocking laugh he teleported away from the collapsing area.

"Go figure, never trust a bad guy," Ranma sighed. She ran to her petrified daughter and picked her up. "Minaho, don't lose hope, I will turn you back, I promise."

Her golden mark glowed and she also teleported away with her daughter. It was just in time, because the ceiling collapsed a moment later.

o000o

Rapunzel stared uneasily at the digital clock in the cabin of the car. They were late, too late. They had promised that they would return within five hours, but now the Wau waited already one hour longer. Normally she would have left, but she felt that the two persons were capable enough to return alive. It would be a shame if they would die, she really liked them.

"I will wait ten minutes... ten minutes more," she said to herself with a sigh.

On hour ago she had said exactly the same.

She looked aside with dread when she suddenly heard a rumbling that came from out of the ruins. Dust and smoke blew out the entrance in the open air. What were the two girls doing? She began to fear for the worst...

Suddenly a blinding golden flash was seen through the windscreen of the car and the Wau blinked her eyes.

The door was pulled open and Rapunzel watched confused how Ranma threw a statue in the back seat of the car and jumped in the seat next beside the Wau.

"What's…?" Rapunzel question was cut short.

"Step on the gas, fast! The whole thing is collapsing!" Ranma yelled.

The Wau didn't ask twice and with a jerk they were pushed in their seats through the sudden acceleration of the car.

It was just in time. The whole area shook and rocks began to fall that created a chain reaction. A great part of the cliff collapsed and the entrance of the temple was completely buried under tons of rubble... the ancient temple was gone forever.

When they were far enough from the disaster area, they stopped and looked back. They could see the dust and smoke rising.

"Where is Minaho, your daughter?" Rapunzel asked, worried.

Ranma's face became grim. "My daughter is with us, but she can't answer at this moment. I guess it's now the time to help her..."

The Wau was surprised, looked in the back of the car and was startled with was she saw.

"What happened to her? She is completely petrified..."

Ranma didn't answer and just pulled her petrified daughter out of the car and put her on the ground. Then she sighed deeply and stared at the sky and closed her eyes. Somehow she felt tired and homesick. She wished that she was at home with Yosho back on Earth and not facing this terrible dilemma. It was ironic; even with her gift she still made mistakes. She was human… not a goddess, as many would think…

The Wau who watched her, shook her head. How could Ranma help the poor child? She shook her head but then she froze. The area around them began to crackle and a cold wind began to blow, which was very strange in the hot climate of Chitan. Surprised, Rapunzel watched how the body of the red-haired girl began to glow golden, the mark on her forehead visible glowing. The air became almost static when slowly a golden wheel began to form behind Ranma's back. It was a thin ring like wheel with a diameter of 1 meter and 20 centimetres wide. It was decorated with strange complex silver engravings, like an electric layout of a computer board. Rapunzel could even see sparks following the lines.

She had in her life never seen something so beautiful and strange, she was completely spellbound by the appearance.

The wheel began to spin slowly that quickly speeded up and generated a strange buzzing sound.

Ranma knew that she couldn't go to Kagato. She knew that they would end up as a hostage… and worse. There was no other option for her to turn her daughter normal, then to do it herself. It could only be done with her gift, her special gift that could break her away from reality, and gave her some degree of control over time and space.

But there was a price to pay for this power. The second phase was a stronger version of her gift, and it took so much of her mana energy, that the source of her curse wasn't enough; it would also take a very large part of her life energy!

The red-haired girl touched the face of Minaho with her hands. Then she grimaced when she began to feel the effect on her body while she began to manipulate the time and space. She fought back the terrible pain that surged through her whole body, but at last she saw a reaction. The petrified body glowed with a white aura, and suddenly Ranma's daughter returned back to life with a loud scream.

Minaho abruptly stopped screaming when she saw the open sky and the face of her mother and Rapunzel. She blinked her eyes when she thought that she saw a golden wheel behind Ranma's back. However, after her second blink, it was gone… She would ask her mother later about it.

"Mom...? What happened?" She slowly rose up.

Ranma's face was serious for a moment but then she began to hug her and smiled. "Kagato had turned your body into stone... but it's all right sweet daughter; your back now."

The black-haired young woman rose up and began to look around. "Where is that bastard!"

"Sorry girl, but he is gone. I was pushed into a bad position after he turned you into stone. I had to give him what he so badly wanted. After that we both had to flee because everything was collapsing," Ranma replied with a faint grin.

"Oh Mom... I... sorry..." Minaho stammered, realizing they had failed and all their effort had been for nothing.

Ranma began to sigh. "I don't blame you Minaho. It was my entire fault, I'm sorry. I didn't listen to your warning, but I never imagined that we would face Kagato. But believe me, you're my own treasure, dear daughter, and more worth than every treasure in the universe whatsoever. My heart almost died when I thought that I would lose you too!"

The red-haired girl stared at the sky and shook her head.

"But we can't linger on this planet any longer. Though, it will take some time before Kagato realizes that he has the wrong data crystal. I wonder how many days it will take before that idiot understands that it is the now useless data crystal that we found in the old destroyed temple on Gotamaze."

Minaho blinked. "You mean the data crystal with the hidden message within the thousand different cooking receipts?"

The mother chuckled. "That is, if he can read it. So far I know we're the only ones that can decipher the writing of Mu. It's a dead language and nobody took the trouble to keep it archived."

"Mom! I had big plans for that thing!"

Her mother smiled. "Don't worry. I copied everything, the receipts are safe…"

Mother, daughter and Rapunzel began to laugh and started to walk back to the car.

It looked almost like a good ending but…

Suddenly Ranma began to feel unwell and began to cough. She fell on her knees as she held her hand over her mouth. But when she looked at her hand, her face went deathly pale. She saw red blood on her hand. She was coughing up blood... and it wasn't because a broken rib. She had it foreseen but even then, it was far worse if you experienced it. This was her price to pay…

"Mom? Mom what is it?" Minaho asked worried, and when she saw the blood, she put her hand over her mouth. "Oh Mom!"

Minaho communicated directly with her tree spaceship to make a medical pod ready in the emergency room. It looked like that Ranma's adventurous days were over...

o000o

With open eyes Ranma stared to the white ceiling in the bedroom. She could hear the sound of twittering birds and the snoring of a panda on her left. The redhead turned her head to the window and the sunlight shined into her eyes. She blinked and turned her head to the snoring panda. Then she looked back to the ceiling.

This was the bedroom in the house of the Tendo's, right?

"This was the most bizarre dream, that I ever had," Ranma muttered. "I can't remember that I ate Akane's cooking yesterday…"

She slowly crawled out of her futon and stretched her body. She decided just to forget it… it was just too bizarre to be a memory of her past.

Yes, it was just a dream… she was sure of it.

To be continued…

o000o

Look, it's Indiana Jones! No, it's Lara Croft… Oh no, it's Ranma Saotome!