TAKAHASHI SUBNODE: 4875168940-5014900-7901597-00






Kalinin smiled as he walked down the hallway of the hospital. Miss Kaname was fine, Souske was reassigned to keep an eye on her and maybe, just maybe, the sergeant would learn some all important human interaction.

He was distracted from his musings on his subordinate as the large double doors at the end of the hallway swung open and paramedics pushed a gurney down the hall, followed by a doctor. Kalinin stepped to the side to allow them to pass but not before getting a good look at the patient on the wheeled bed. It was a girl of about fifteen or sixteen with bright red hair and wearing a red silk shirt with black drawstring pants, pants that had been cut away showing her crushed legs. Her arms looked little better, and Kalinin had seen enough combat injuries to know that the girl likely had broken ribs and internal bleeding. What shocked the old soldier however, was that the girl was not only conscious but had a calmness about her that he had only seen in longtime war vets or the couple master martial artists he had trained under years ago. Her one good eye locked on his briefly before she was rushed through the doors to surgery.

Curiosity getting the better of him, Kalinin followed the paramedics down the hallway until they entered a surgery bay. The paramedics appeared again a moment later and he stopped one of them.

"Excuse me, the young woman you brought in just now, what can you tell me about her?"

The paramedic, barely out of college from the look of him, seemed to appraise the uniformed man in front of him before deciding that he was some sort of authority for the government. "She was dropped off in front of the hospital just a few moments ago by a couple of guys who took off. Both her arms and legs are broken, probably crushed and she lost a lot of blood. They're operating on her now to stabilize her before they even think about working on her limbs. If you ask me, she'll be lucky if she survives the night, I've never seen someone messed up that bad and live," the younger man said.

Kalinin nodded, his initial impression was similar only he suspected there was more to this girl than first appearances suggested. "Did you get a name from the two who left her perhaps?"

The paramedic shook his head. "No, they ran as soon as the security officers started asking questions. She was able to tell us though. Saotome, Ran... Ran something or other."

Kalinin thanked the young medic who took off and pulled out his cell phone. Dialing a number, he waited for it to connect.

"Yes? Hello?" came a faint, almost timid, voice from the tiny speaker as someone answered.

"Captain, I'm just calling to let you know that everything went according to plan and sergeant Sagara is currently on mission as ordered."

"Good. Did he seem happy?" the girl's voice asked back.

The Commander chose his next words carefully, it wouldn't do to encourage the Captain's crush on the much lower ranking mercenary. "I couldn't say for sure one way or another ma'am." He couldn't see her but Kalinin was positive the Captain was pouting. "There was one other thing Captain. I believe I may have found a candidate for the DeMilo project."

There was a gasp on the other end of the phone. He continued on. "See what we can find out on a Saotome, first name begins with Ran. Name incomplete. Sex female. Age somewhere around 15 or 16. I'm going to stay here for a while and get what information I can from the doctors."

There was a brief silence and the Commander wondered if maybe he had lost the connection but his Captain finally spoke up. "I'll see what we can find. Do you really think we can help her?"

"Unknown at this time. One of the paramedics I questioned doesn't think she'll last the night. We'll wait and hope for the best."

"Understood. I'll call you later then."

Kalinin said his goodbyes and tucked the slim phone back into his pocket. He had inquiries of his own to make and the best place to start was the front desk.

Ranma woke up in a haze. She'd been exposed to enough drugs and toxins from Shampoo and Kodachi to know when she was doped up. Considering the amount of pain she was in even under the influence of whatever narcotic they had pumped into her she knew she was in for a long painful recovery.

She tried not to move as she mentally constructed a damage report. 'Let's see, light concussion, one eye bandaged, doesn't feel destroyed but may not be able to see out of it any time soon. At least a half dozen broken ribs, most on the left side. A cracked pelvis, at least my spine is intact, I can still feel my arms and legs. I was sure they were broken.' She tried to move a little bit to test the extent of the injuries. 'They must have me strapped down or in casts. I can't move anything.'

As her head cleared, she felt the presence of someone else in the room. Slowly opening her undamaged eye against the seemingly bright light of the room, she looked over to see a man slumped in a chair near the foot of her bed. He was dressed in some sort of stylized business uniform and had a neatly trimmed beard that was the same shade of grey as his hair. It was hard to judge his age but Ranma knew the look of a man who had seen years of battle. From the light snore Ranma could tell he was asleep.

Softly clearing her throat she realized she was extremely thirsty. Fortunately the man was instantly alert.

"Ah... hi t-t-there. Could I get some water please?" she rasped, "I can't move my arms for some reason."

The man visibly flinched at Ranma's request and Ranma knew it was probably worse than she had first thought. 'Man, my limbs must have been broken up pretty bad. I wonder if even I can heal shattered bone. I hope so, without the Art I have nothing. I wonder how long until the casts come off?'

The man stood up and poured some water from a nearby pitcher into a cup and put a straw into it. He held it out and allowed Ranma to take several deep sips before setting it aside.

Ranma smacked her chapped lips and took a few tentative breaths to see how deep she could breath and not strain her ribs before speaking again. "Thanks. You're not dressed like a doctor so are you a cop or a lawyer? Whatever my Pops did it's not my fault."

There was a half smirk on the mans lips as if he was afraid his face would break if he smiled. He reached into his inner jacket pocket to retrieve something and Ranma saw the flash of a should mounted gun as the man pulled out a police style identification wallet. He flipped it open to show Ranma. Inside was the man's ID card as well as a stylized shield badge embossed with a winged sword hovering over the earth. In bold letters across the badge was the word 'Mithril'.

"My name is Lieutenant Commander Andrei Sergeivich Kalinin. I represent a security agency named Mithril."

"Ah geeze, look it wasn't my fault that mountain blew up. If Herb had just let us use the unlocking kettle things wouldn't have turned out that way." Ranma said in a tired voice.

Andrei raised an eyebrow but didn't comment. "You are not in any trouble that I know of but I would like to ask you a few questions if you don't mind." He picked up a folder off the table and started leafing through it.

Ranma nodded through her morphine haze.

"You're name is Saotome Ranma correct?"

"Yeah, that's me, sorry about this."

"Excuse me?" Kalinin asked at the non-sequitur.

"Sorry force of habit."

Kalinin nodded. "According to our background checks the only Saotome Ranma we've found is listed as male gender."

Ranma shrugged, or tried to. Not being able to move her arms was starting to bother her. "It'sa curse. I'd show ya 'cept it's locked. Probably rip my stitches anyway."

Kalinin nodded again. "Good, that at least confirms we have the right Saotome. Even if a gender changing curse is hard to believe. We've found a lot of information about you. If I hadn't seen the video evidence I wouldn't have believed it. One Miss Tendo was very forthcoming once we dropped the racketeering charges against her for trying to charge us for the information."

Ranma snorted a very unladylike laugh. "Yeah, Nabiki'll sell her sister if she could get a profit out of it... come to think of it she has."

Kalinin snapped the folder shut. "Saotome-san, due to your martial arts background and the severity of you injuries you are qualified for a unique opportunity that I believe would benefit both you and our organization."

"How does having a bunch of broken limbs q-qwalify me to work with a sec-ccurity company?" Ranma slurred as the automated morphine drip sent another dose of the painkiller into a IV hooked to the injured girl.

Andrei sighed heavily and rubbed his eyes. He had requested to be the one to talk to Ranma about her condition and was beginning to regret it.

"Ranma, I'm afraid your injuries are worse than you know. Without our help you'll never be able to walk again let alone practice martial arts. You see, when you were brought in to the hospital you were so badly injured the actually didn't think you'd survive the night. After several surgeries they finally managed to save your life but I'm afraid both arms and both legs as well as your left eye were too badly damaged to save."

Ranma's eye grew wide and she struggled to look down on herself for the first time since she had awoken. There was a thin sheet covering her but it fell flat to the mattress far too short on her sides and length. In panic she built her ki and pushed it out to blow away the sheet much to Kalinin's surprise. Looking down she stared in horror at her tightly bandaged body. A torso, that's all she had left. No arms coming from her shoulders, no legs from her hips. Not even stumps like some amputees she had seen before. The shock became too much for her and everything went black.

Author's rants:

Well, I'll be damned (yeah most likely) Shhh!

It's too soon to say for sure but it seems that I've found that spark I thought I'd lost for writing. Now I just need to kindle that spark into a steady flame and keep the creativity going. I've got most of the next (first) chapter done. I'll try to keep it an episode per chapter as much as possible.

Don't feel to bad for Ranma... (i can't believe you'd cut off someone's limbs for a story you sick bastard!) Shut up Jalana! Ranma won't be down and out for long and hopefully there is a method to my madness.