A RanMoon Project story
by Robert Haynie
Such were the thoughts of Ranma Saotome as an especially large example of the animal in question leapt out of the pool, to improbably leap to the top of one of the thin bamboo poles and balance on the tip of one paw. Beneath him the guide was yelling something about very tragic stories and a panda drowning in a pool two thousand years ago and--
(oh, SHIT.) "You never said anything about--"
But the panda, not at the moment really aware he WAS a panda,
leapt to attack.
And still flustered, Ranma dodged the first two attacks, but was cought by the third. And he fell. And as he fell, he was consumed with fear. Would he become a panda too? Or a rabbit, or maybe a pig, or a bird--
Or *shudder* something worse, like... like a girl?
And water enveloped him. And he felt a change take him. And it was none of the above. As his head broke the water, he shouted out,
"Dammit, Pops, what do you think you're doing! Wait. I can still talk?"
He pulled himself out of the pool and stared into the reflective surface. And blinked. Two things hit him immediately.
One. He was a cat. Snow white, with a peculiar mark on his forehead.
Two. By any logic, this should have freaked him out no end. But instead he was perfectly calm.
"This is bad," the new cat on the block said. "This is very bad."
"You see, hot water change you back, sirs." He'd just returned the panda to a not-panda state, and proceeded to do the same with Ranma. Except that Ranma was not returning to a not-cat state.
"I knew it, it's not good," Ranma said. Clearly, in plain Japanese.
Genma was staring in sheer horror at the transformed boy.
"He...he isn't changing back..."
"Is strange. Also is strange, he talk. Maonichuan no is spring of talking cat, just ordinary cat."
"But this is a disaster! My god, the plans for our houses--"
"Is obvious why no change back, of course."
"Oh, really." Ranma seemed less than convinced. "So why AM I stuck as a cat?"
"Mister Customer was cat already."
Ranma turned to glare at his father. "Damn you, this is all your fault. It was that damn Neko-ken training! It screwed me up totally!"
The guide shook his head. "No, I know Neko-ken story. No do it,
Mister Customer. This no your father's fault."
Genma looked a bit mollified, until the guide added, "He just big idiot. No, I mean you always WAS cat."
"I know about Neko-ken. If you not cat you be crazy forever, get sick, die. You cat already, inside. Is just you cat outside also."
"There's nothing that can be done?" Genma's expression was desparate... as the full impact of his past actions began to sneak up on him.
"We ask Amazons, maybe. Village not too far from here. Go tomorrow, sleep tonight."
Sometimes there's not a lot of difference.
The white cat lay dying, desparately stretching towards his counterpart-- the black-furred female named Luna. Even as he did that, he gazed at his queen, who was about to perform an act of supreme self sacrifice.
"We failed, Luna..."
"You did your best, Artemis. We both did." Luna coughed up a thin trickle of blood, as her eyes began to glaze over. Then Artemis felt the wave of power emitting from Serenity, smashing into his body, causing it to disintegrate and his spirit to fly, fly fast, fly fast forward, fast forward, forward into the future, the future where he would be reborn, but not as a--
The white cat jerked awake, and stared at the sleeping guide and his father. "Sorry, Pops. I just remembered something I have to do.
The guide was right, after all."
And Artemis left the shack.
"And that was four months ago, old friend," Genma Saotome said,
after his arrival at the Tendo residence. "Four months of searching,
but to no avail."
"That's a horrible, tragic story," Soun Tendo wailed, weeping.
His old friend sat before him, equally sad.
"I believe he's still alive-- he left a note saying he had to do something. What... I have no idea. But I hope to find him someday,
and find a cure. That's what the cask is for."
"What's in it?" asked Nabiki, who had been both horrified and facinated by the story.
"That accursed water. I plan to have it analysed by any scientists I can persuade to do so. If I find my son, and they can reverse the effects, then the joining of the houses can proceed."
"Joining?" Kasumi enquired, weeping gently herself at the tragedy that Genma Saotome had related after he had been turned back into a human-- he had arrived as a panda, after all.
"That's why I was so glad to see Genma again, girls. We'd made a pact that our families would be joined in matrimony to ensure the future of our art and our dojo. But now I'll never... never.
Akane just shook her head. And wondered about the poor boy that Ranma's father had described. At least he didn't sound like a pervert...
Minako Aino jerked awake as Artemis, her guardian cat, broke the thread of what had been a very nice romantic (and, to be honest,
slightly ecchi) dream. The snow-colored feline was a damn demanding taskmaster. Since he'd appeared from nowhere one day eight months ago, her life had turned upside down in ways she'd never consider.
She was Sailor V. Well, ACTUALLY, Sailor Venus... but Sailor V was a useful cover identity until the other Senshi could be found.
Which, she noted, seemed to have happened. The white cat was tapping a very interesting headline.
"Cool! I don't have to do this alone any more!"
"That's what I'm hoping. Now get dressed, just because we're heading back to Japan tomorrow is no reason to forget your morning workout!"
"Yes, _sensei_," Minako grumbled. Why a cat was an expert on martial arts was a mystery to her. But she certainly couldn't deny that it had been of help...
"Looking Good, kitty-cat."
Luna stared at a face she'd never dared hope to see again.
Artemis. Someone who in her past life she'd danced around the edge of a relationship with, someone who she wanted to say so many things to, someone...
"YOU Haven't changed."
Someone she was never able to admit those feelings to.
Artemis wilted at the rebuff... and Luna decided to make it up to him later. Right now, there was a battle going on.
"I AM glad you made it, Artemis. I was just distracted..."
"Heh." There were no humans in the alley, and thus they were spared the rather odd sight of a white cat rubbing the back of his head with one paw... and the black one shaking hers in mild exasperation. "Well, you know how it is. I mean, I was really glad to see you-- I didn't expect you to make it, but when I read the news story about "Rumored Magical Girls" I realised that you have to have made it too. 'Course, I doubt you had it anywhere near as wierd as I have."
"Oh? Trust me, I've been dealing with FOUR girls, and they are a handful. Especially Usagi--"
"Naw, that ain't what I meant. I mean that for some strange reason I got reborn as a HUMAN, for pete's sake. It wasn't until I hit this place in China that I got right and--"
"Yeah, and I-- Luna, what's wrong?"
"Was... was your name Ranma?"
"Yeah-- Hey, how did you know THAT?"
"I wasn't reborn as a cat either..."
Akane Tendo sighed. Life had just gotten entirely too strange lately. First that idiot Ryoga boy, who refused to believe Genma's tale about his son's tragic fate. Even when Genma turned into a panda in front of him. Damn perverted piglet.
Yes, piglet. The boy turned into a piglet. And Akane had almost adopted it as a pet when she was saved from that embarrassment by Uncle Genma, who exposed the boy. The fool had walked off of a cliff in China, where he'd followed Ranma to. HOW he'd followed Ranma, she couldn't say. Worst sense of direction she'd EVER seen.
It came out that the boy blamed Ranma for his curse, because Ranma hadn't been there for a duel. When Genma pointed out that he'd let his son wait three days for Ryoga to get to a lot behind his house, even Kasumi had been amazed.
Ryoga kept hanging around the Dojo, and kept getting lost in places that he really shouldn't. Including the furo when Akane was in there, or the locker room at school when Akane was changing, or her bedroom when she was undressing... And Akane had yet to need to knock him out as she was so very often tempted to, since he invariably passed out in a fountaining nosebleed.
Okay, he wasn't perverted. But his sense of direction sure as hell was.
Then that loony crossdresser Ukyo Kouonji had shown up, attacked Uncle Genma, and when informed of Ranma's plight had refused to believe every bit as much as Ryoga had. THEN she'd decided that since Genma was a guest of the Tendos, the Tendo family was guilty as well.
Akane smirked. That had been a major mistake on Ukyo's part.
Uncle had been training her, and although she suspected that she was no-where near Ranma's level (from the stories the broken-hearted man would tell) she'd improved a LOT in a few months. With Genma, she was beginning to understand the real meaning of Martial Arts.
All of that was going to fall apart in a moment.
"That cask is my last hope of regaining my son, Happosai. Give it back. NOW." Akane blinked as she entered the dojo at the unusual edge of steel in Genma's voice.
"I can't believe you're refusing to share this sake with your old master--"
"It's not sake, damn you. It's Maonichuan."
"And this lack of respect--"
Akane peered in, and stared at the ungliest old man she'd ever seen in her life, and Uncle glaring in sheer fury. Her father was in a corner, staring at Genma as though he'd grown a second head. Not knowing the past life of her parent and "uncle", she didn't understand the significance of Genma's actions... or that the often denied love for his child had been rekindled enough to reforge his spine.
"Give. Back. The. Cask."
"I think it's about time that I showed just WHY I'm your master,
whelp. And-- SWEET-OH!"
The next thing Akane knew was that the twisted gnome was hanging onto the front of her uniform, holding the small cask with one hand while with the oher grabbing her--
Yes, Uncle Genma's training had helped her to improve a LOT.
But even as the pervert went down, the cask went up. And then the world went into slow motion.
She could see it rise, then fall, as it's lid shifted, jarred by the shock.
She could see both her father and Uncle Genma make a dash towards her, intending to knock her out of the way, and knew that they were too far off to make it.
She could feel her muscles lock up in panic, unable to move on her own.
Then she could feel the water douse her, feel the shift in forms,
and then she stopped feeling anything... as she was knocked unconcious by the heavy cask.
And as the world went black, a discovery was made that a certain white cat would determine to be true on her relating the tale...
There's not that much difference between sleep and unconciousness. Because in either, under the right circumstances,
you can dream.
"I've been able to send messages to Daddy and the family from time to time, to let them know I'm okay. I certainly can't tell them where I AM, though... what the girls are doing is just too dangerous to involve my family in. I suppose you would want me to mention that you're alright in my next one?"
"Yeah, that'd be great. I miss him. Hmm... why was Pops at your place anyway?"
"Well, my human name was Akane Tendo. And, well, you were supposed to be engaged to one of us-- me any my sisters, I mean. It was-- oh, my."
"Well, if we're both cats... and the heirs of the Art in our human families... then that means we're sort of engaged anyway."
Luna scowled slightly at the sight of Artemis suddenly backpedaling, somehow managing to keep a biped stance while waving his forepaws in the air frantically. "Now, w-wait a minute! I mean,
we hardly KNOW each other this time 'round! A-and I don't think they let cats marry anyway! We'd have to do it in our human forms, and I ain't letting Minako find out about that-- she's boy-crazy to the gills!"
"Oh well, I kinda figured out how to use the magic that's Moon Magic and the crazy magic of Jyusenkyo to change back into a human whenever I want. I don't do it often, I kinda prefer being a cat,
but sometimes it comes in handy. Especially when I wanna eat something that ain't cat-food and ain't out of a dumpster."
"I don't remember your being quite that clever back in the Silver Millenium." Luna looked skeptical.
"Hey, I may not be the greatest student-- and I'm a lot smarter than I was before China-- but I'm about the best Martial Artist around, and I know my ki. I just shape the J-magic around my ki and tweak it. Look, it's easy, I'll show you."
Artemis seemed to shimmer for a moment, and then he shot up, to become a lean, muscled youth with piercing blue eyes and somewhat unruly white hair in a waist-long pigtail. The white Chinese shirt and loose black slacks didn't hide his form at all. Luna stared at what was, quite possibly, the cutest human boy she'd EVER seen. The boy who was, possibly, her fiancee.
"Well... you aren't too bad looking. Better than the photographs that Uncle had of you. But your hair was black in those, and a lot shorter."
Ranma grinned. "Yeah, I've had a few girls look at me and mutter "Bishonen". They don't know I can hear them, tho. And anyway, you start not really caring when you have to keep a teenager in line.
Ain't like I got time for dating no-one, anyhow."
Luna nodded. "So... can you teach me how to do that?"
"Sure. You see, what you gotta do is..."
Ranma's explanation was couched in martial arts terms almost exclusively. It would have made little sense to the old pre-Genma Akane, but as noted before, Luna had been trained to a much better understanding of the Art by a man trying to redeem what he saw as the ultimate failure. After a few false starts, she succeeded-- and then blinked as Ranma suddenly grew wide eyed and spun about, blushing furiously.
"What's wrong? Am I THAT homely?" the recreated Akane said,
beginning to tear up.
"Naw. Ya look fine. But I think the next thing I teach ya is the clothes compression trick I figured out."
It was then and only then that Akane realised that she was stark naked.
Minako stared as her guardian cat walked into the room,
unsteadily. Wobbling, he made for his pet-bed, and blinked.
showing, even beneath his fur, the definite signs of an incipent black eye.
"What happened to YOU?"
Artemis chuckled. "You know, Luna's got a pretty decent right cross."
Minako just blinked.
"Luna, what's with the yellow ribbon?"
"Clothing Compression technique, Usagi-chan." Luna looked slightly guilty, for some reason.
"Never mind. And why aren't you studying? You KNOW you have a test tomorrow..."
Kunzite had the two cats cornered. "Well. I certainly can't leave this loose end lying around, can I? I suppose I have no choice but to eliminate you both... which, actually, is what I would do if I had a choice." He smiled cruelly, raised his hand...
And stared as the two cats nodded at each other, wavered for a moment and became a young man in Chinese-styled garments and a young woman in a yellow dress. "What the--"
Artemis cracked his knuckles, grinning. "Don't get me wrong. I figure I can't take you down. But I can sure as hell slow you up a bit... give the girls time to do what they have to do. Yo, Luna,
what was that trick you do with that Compression Tenchnique I taught ya?"
The now human Luna smiled. "This!"
Then Kunzite staggered as a sudden impact slammed into his head,
forcing him to his knees for a moment, until he was able to draw upon his power. He realised that the two cats turned humans were going to be a real fight after all... and where did the girl get that mallet from, anyway?
Artemis-- or rather Ranma-- snickered. Akane had gotten the idea from some stupid anime Usagi watched, and combining it with the Clothing Compression Technique had a pretty useful weapon to back up her skills... although she was no-where as good as HE was, of course.
"Man, I missed having a good scrap. Yo, Luna, ain't it great having our chance to fight instead of the girls?"
"Artemis, I suppose I have to agree with you."
Artemis grinned. Again. "Now, let's show this bastard what the children of Mau can do."
"Such language, Artemis.... but indeed, let's show him."
And Kunzite found himself in a surprisingly difficult fight...
The two cats-- cats again, since they no longer had the energy to retain their human forms-- managed to escape the final General.
Sailor Moon never even noticed the black eye on the General as their final battle ocurred.
And they went to D-point.
And Time rewound.
And two cats made a hard decision...
"My... My son..."
"Hiya, Pops. You must be Tendo-san. Glad to meetcha. You might want to let Lu- ah, Akane go, she kinda needs to breathe, ne?"
Actually, it took both Ranma and Genma to pry the bawling Tendo partiarch off of his almost suffocated daughter. Then said Tendo partiarch did what could be expected...he went on as if nothing had happened and offered Ranma his choice of any of his daughters.
"That's easy. I choose Akane. No, we ain't getting married right away. Might be a long time before we do, and we won't be around here anyhow."
Akane nodded. "We're involved in something more important at the moment, Daddy."
"What? What could be more important than the joining of our houses? Now that you're cured, there is no impediment--"
Genma cut him off. "Boy, what exactly do you mean?"
Ranma stared at Genma, uncertainly. His father seemed.
different now. "Well, it's kinda about the fate of the world. As in, it's still uncertain, ya know?"
"Nonsense!" Soun retorted. "You will marry my daughter!
Nothing else matt-urgh..." He blinked at Genma, who had elbowed him with some severity.
"If my son says that the fate of the world requires the wedding be postponed, or even cancelled entirely, then it is so." He looked up, with a weary expression. "Boy... Ranma, my life changed at that damnable training ground almost as much as yours must have. My eyes were opened... to what a fool I have been. I want you to meet your mother... and then, go do what you must."
"I...I have a momma?"
"Yes. And you are, most surely, a man amongst men."
"It's hardly important... now."
"But why? Why must you leave again? I'm your mother, why can't you--"
"Like I said, Momma, I'm doing something important. I'll probably be doing it for the rest of my life, and so will Akane.
We'll visit when we can, but I can't promise anything. I... I'm sorry."
Nodoka sighed as her son left. Her husband patted her on the back, and said, "A man, I'm afraid, must make his own decisions.
Something that for a long time I had forgotten."
"He's my little boy. He'll ALWAYS be my little boy."
Genma Saotome, a man who had been much changed by Jyusenkyo, and the panda part had nothing to do with it, shook his head. "He's his own man now. And as odd as it would have been for me to say so a year ago... I couldn't be more proud."
And the Sailor Senshi never DID learn about the strange ability of their advisors to become human until years later, after Galaxia.
And Luna still stayed with Usagi, but Artemis moved into the Tsukino residence for reasons that only the Senshi understood... having been at the wedding of one Ranma and Akane Saotome a week before. Ranma,
to his mother's mild annoyance, had picked the church. "I always dreamed of being married in that church, Momma, just without any kangaroos."
And time passed. Artemis would from time to time wander off.
for a week or so. Luna didn't worry, she knew that it was Ranma learning the final and secret parts of his family Art. Not that she needed the secret parts... they both had the only true Neko-ken... an art that could only be understood by a cat.
And time passed.
A thousand years, in fact.
A kitten was born.
The kitten was eventually taught how to change as her parents did, for Jyusenkyo was a part of her as it was a part of them.
She went back in time, for a while, to help the Princess... the one that was daughter to another Princess, who had become a queen.
But one thing never changed... one absolute.
Even in Crystal Tokyo, there was some unrest...
"FIGHT ME!" The hulking brute screamed, as citizens of the near Utopia scattered. "COME OUT AND FIGHT ME, SENSHI!"
"They probably would, if it was worth their time. It ain't,
though. Yeesh, what is it with you wierd guys from Neo-China? Let me guess. You're some kinda martial artist, you got some stupid idea that the Senshi are martial artists, and you want to prove that you're the best. Heck, you probably think they're connected to the Amazon Confederation. Moron."
The brute looked around, trying to figure out where the voice was coming from. The only living thing visible was a white cat with a black and white scarf around his neck.
"Yeesh. Do ya HAVE to yell alla the time? And I ain't hiding,
bozo, I'm right here," the cat complained.
Mister Brute blinked. "You talked."
"Yup. DEFINITELY not a local. Excuse me..." THe cat tapped a small concealed communicator in his ear, and said, casually, "You were right, Ami. Another braindead martial artist wannabe. Not that strong, either. No need to call out the guard, I'll handle it. I'll probably be hungry, so have the palace cooks on standby."
(Why not Luna?) an almost inadible voice replied.., inaudible unless you were a cat.
"Not FUNNY, Ami. Not funny at all." Artemis turned to the latest in a string of idiots, and sighed. "Well, sorry about this,
but as little as we like violence in Crystal Tokyo, I'm just going to have to kick your ass and send you back to China."
"YOU? YOU, LITTLE KITTY CAT? YOU THINK YOU CAN DEFEAT THE GREAT FENG FOON FONG?"
"After hearing THAT name... I just GOTTA. And the name ain't kitty-cat. It's Artemis, Advisor to the Queen, Combat Strategist to the Sailor Team... and also..."
Feng Foon Fong blinked as the small white cat became a human adult in clothing much like that worn in his homeland a thousand years ago, before the great freeze.
"I'm Ranma Saotome, of the unified Saotome-Tendo Schools of Anything Goes Martial Arts... and I accept your challenge."
And joyfully, he leapt into battle.
And why not?