Chapter 33 Balance
single quotes (' ') denote thoughts or telepathy
forward slashes (/ /) denote translated speech
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the series mentioned in this story. This story is created solely for entertainment and no intention of profit.
Kari smiles as she and Akiri walk through the sand garden, to where her personal workshop has taken the place of a shrine in her retreat, once she gets on the paved stones leading from the entrance she is halted by three girls calling her.
"Kari-san why were we the only ones left out of your demonstration at the restaurant?" Madoka asks while the other cheerleaders try to catch their breath.
"It was nothing against anyone personally." Kari replies calmly. "It was simply the case that of all the people there you girls were the only ones without magical abilities so the barrier kept you safely outside."
The slender cheerleader eyes Kari speculatively. "You made those tools that give the amazons their powers correct." Seeing Kari nod an affirmative she continues. "Could you make some for us?"
Kari looks at a grinning Akiri while she contemplates this, finally she looks at each of the girls. "Are you sure you know what your asking? The barrier would prevent you from being put in danger."
"We may not be much for fighting but we can help protect others." Madoka says firmly, while being seconded by shouts from the shorter cheerleaders.
Kari puts an arm around the girl's shoulders and leans in to whisper in her ear. "If your worried about falling behind Kaede for Ranko's affections, I think you have plenty of time to work up from being friends." Leaning back from the heavily blushing girl, she raises her voice so the others can hear. "Let me think about it for a while, and I can make something for you."
Kari waves to the girls as she and Akiri walk into the workshop. Akiri looks up at the taller girl. 'Kari-mama did you have to tease her like that?'
Kari holds the door open for Akiri to walk through. 'She will be alright Akiri-chan.' Kari winks at her companion. 'It's not like I would be one to judge her preferences.' Akiri giggles in response.
Kari looks over the work her ant drones are doing building energy crystal wings for her three angels and smiles at the slowly evolving exquisite detail. "Now if only all of my projects worked this easily." Kari turns to her desk where she has notes scattered about. Quickly shuffling through the few suggestions she had been given by Tomoyo and Sakura, Kari comes to her notes on her discussion with the only person to have successfully created guardian beasts. Kari's expression quickly turns from eager curiosity to confusion.
"Why can't Uncle Eriol explain things without going all mystic?" Kari puts down her notes and sighs. "I haven't the foggiest idea what the conjunction of Uranus in Neptune has to do with magical guardians." A loud burst of giggles causes Kari to turn to where Akiri is standing trying to look innocent. Kari shrugs and starts removing supplies from her pockets and setting them on the table.
The first things set out are the gold and silver spheres from her old workshop, along with twelve or so violet crystals like she used earlier. This is followed by the parts she had received from Winry earlier in the day, a collection of fourteen interlocking carbon fiber and ceramic pieces.
'I may not be able to understand how Eriol and Clow made their guardians, but the Wolkenritter are literally programs created by a magical artifact.' Studying the crystals, Kari grins. 'I promised Hayate-chan that I would find a way to stop their program's decay, but to do that I need to recreate the original base.' Looking at the blue gem on her bracelet Kari smiles. 'So Dire Wight shall we use some of that celestial and demonic energy you have absorbed to make a pseudo base?' The blue crystal flares to life and Kari finds, instead of chains, a boa sized single eyed serpent floating in the air around her.
All of the crystals float up to hover in the air before her, the smaller crystals divide themselves orbiting the two larger spheres. Kari concentrates and two more crystals appear floating between her hands. "For the shield 'Stellar Guard'," one crystal joins the orbit of the gold sphere. "For the sword 'Infinite Forms'." The other crystal joins the orbit of the silver sphere.
Kari concentrates again and two more crystals appear between her hands before multiplying into three groups of two. Two of the groups float off to join the others around the spheres bringing the total to eight orbiting each. The other group floats to the side. Kari gently rubs her fingers along the serpents jaw floating by her right shoulder. 'Now shall we see what we can do?" Dire wight opens its mouth and two smaller serpents fly out to ingest the two groups of floating crystals and curl into egg shapes. The scales rapidly darken to red and the egg shapes begin to grow.
Kari points at the two crystals floating by themselves, and Dire Wight sends out another serpent. This one instead of curling up, after ingesting the crystals, quickly divides into six smaller serpents, three silver and three gold. The serpents quickly pair off and wrap around each other making bracelets with the serpents heads creating a yin-yang symbol with the gold serpents white eye showing, and the silver one's black. Kari smiles and the new bracelets float to her hand. "Not a bad attempt a spirit bracelets, don't you think Akiri." Kari only shakes her head when the cabbit girl's rapt attention never wavered from the now dog sized scaled eggs.
Kari waits patiently as the two shapes take on the form of red wings, one with scales trimmed in gold, and the others red scales edged in silver. The dragon like wings open to reveal two figures.
One is a tall powerfully built man with golden hair and wolfs ears. He is dressed in a simple red gold chain mail tunic over black breaches and scarlet knee high boots. His arms are bare except for red gold metal gauntlets and greaves leading up to shoulder caps shaped like golden skulls. Kari smiles as his golden eyes show only loyalty and determination. "You will be called Kurator Sonne."
The other is a more slightly built woman, but still as tall as Kari herself, with long silver hair tied in a high ponytail. She wears an open red ankle length coat over a tabard of silver interlocking plates, meeting in the center forming V shapes, going down past her knee high silver boots to her ankles. Neither the coat nor the tabard do much to disguise the woman's impressive figure, or detract from the air of barely restrained violence in her stance and silver eyes.
"You will be known as Schutze Mond." Kari say to the woman who brusquely nods.
Both warriors kneel before her, and the woman asks. "What service would you have of us master?"
"That will not do," Kari sighs with a grin. "I have no need of servants. I require guardians and allies to serve as the sword and shield for a young woman who wishes to protect someone, but lacks the power to match them."
This causes the guardians to blink in surprise before Kari continues. "Will the two of you be willing to lend your power and experience to her?"
Kari waits for several moments before she receives a response, this time from the man. "Our purpose is to protect. If we may do so we will."
Kari nods and with a wave of her hand the parts she had received from Winry float through the air towards the two guardians. "Until she can master your powers, I must ask you to take a different form." The two guardians nod and blaze with gold and silver fire shrinking back to the form of the original spheres. The pieces of grey ceramic absorb the energy and begin to glow in similar colors. The mat black carbon fiber becomes more shadowed in this glow as two nine centimeter wide and thirty centimeter long katars complete with arm guards form. The notches between the sections turning them into both blade and sword breaker in one, two sections formed from mated pieces lead from a single pointed tip on one end to an a open V shaped guard around the blade on the other, over where the hand would be, with the gold and silver spheres positioned where the guard and blade meet.
The mated sections open up and the tip slides back carrying along the other sections until they all slide back onto the arm guard and the V closes hiding all the blades. Looking at the now somewhat innocent looking bracers Kari grins. "My own Swords of Night and Day, I wonder if Gemmel-sensei could have Hewla do better than that."
Kari takes the bracers and bracelets and sets them down on the table. Sighing she picks up a book with the title "White Wolf" and stares longingly at the cover. "Oh Skilgannon is so Manly!, how could that hussy princess want anything else." She squeals, before opening to her bookmarked page.
That evening in one of the darkened school buildings a tall, but shapely, dark skinned woman with blond hair walks quietly down a hallway. Shaking her head while looking at the display of what looks like a large clamshell phone, her eyes perk up when a notice comes up on the screen. 'Well at least I know I am on the right planet. The Mitotosa has been renamed the Valhalla pending final transfer of ownership.'
Sighing the woman continues down another hallway. 'Now where could that child have hidden out that I can't get a reading on the ship, and why are the readings of Jurian energy centered around this academy so diffuse?'
Shrugging the woman comes to a well lit intersection, and takes a moment to look at the floor. The woman's eyes start to sparkle as she easily closes the device and slips it into a pocket of her apron. "Oh my what beautiful wood floors." She squeals and heads unerringly to a nearby janitor's closet where she finds cleaning supplies.
Early the next morning, Ranma was surprised, but pleased, to have a few extra guests join their party. Negi and Asuna had asked to join them after Asuna insisted a few days away from Mahora would do Negi good. Ranma had tried asking why but just got an evasive response from Negi. Asuna later confided that Negi had come back from the headmaster's office, and started looking through books on countering spirit possession that could cause odd behavior. Honya and Yue had been last minute additions to Paru's group, when Ranma had asked them about their sudden change in plans Honya only blushed and Yue had only given him an unreadable look.
Once everyone was seated Ranma found himself situated, along with Kaede, next to his mother and a busty redheaded young woman who he had just been formally introduced to as his cousin Midori. 'Hard to see the family resemblance there.' Ranma thought with more than a little mirth. Across the Isle Ranma found Happosai and Shizuna-sensei with Takamichi and a young woman Ranma had discovered was the man's daughter Natsuki. The two young women were chatting, to Ranma it seemed they knew each other, but the sable haired Natsuki was often staring at Midori like she had never seen her before.
Ranma decided not to worry about this too much and went back to studying what he could of the scenery sliding rapidly past the window next to him. He did take a moment to notice the new bracers Kaede was wearing and complimented her on them. She only smiled, and replied that they were a gift she received. With a wink and flourish she made them disappear leaving her arms bare once again.
For all the meetings and reunions, the trip to Maibara went without to much trouble. When the group moved onto the lower speed train to complete the journey to Fukui, Ranma found himself flanked by his two cousins, Paru and Midori, and sitting across from Nodoka and Takamichi with Natsuki sitting between them in the facing seats. Kaede had smiled and said for him to get some time in with his family, while she went off with Nabiki and Kazumi to plan strategy, as they put it. For some reason Ranma found that idea unsettling.
"Well with your new look, I can definitely believe Nodoka is your aunt." Natsuki said politely to the girl she knew was older than her, but did not quite look it anymore. "So how did you end up in Mahora?"
"My sensei found me the job working as Tomoyo-san's assistant at the dorms after what happened to Fuka." Midori said lightly while rubbing the ring finger of her left hand idly.
Takamichi coughs to draw attention away from the lady. "I understand you were speaking with the headmaster about taking over teaching the history classes for Li-sensei when she finishes her doctorate."
"Yes, I am considering it." Midori smiles at Ranma. "My mother never wanted anything to do with her father's family when I was growing up. Since I now have a chance to get to know them it would be nice to stay in the area."
"That could be nice." Ranma admits, before turning his attention to Natsuki. "So I take it something large happened at this Fuka academy, that brought you to Mahora as well?"
Natsuki contemplates for a moment before replying. "We are not supposed to talk about the details too much as the incident is still being investigated by the government. The short version is that the academy is no longer operational and I went to live with my maternal grandparents. I went through some of my mothers things that were stored there and found her journal that talked about Oto-san." Natsuki grins up at the man as he fidgets a little, wondering again about what her mother had written. "I found out he taught at Mahora, and my grandparents were so pleased that I wanted to go to such a well ranked school they did not look into the staff, other than at St. Ursula's, too deeply." Leaning over, she rests her head on Takamichi's shoulder. "A quick genetic test later and Oto-san is now working to get custody of me from them."
Nodoka smiles and lays a hand on the girl's shoulder. Ranma and the girls beside him share a similar smile.
After they arrive at Fukui station, Ranma can't help but snicker when they get outside and are greeted by Noriko and Kenji waving to them in front of minibus. Stepping inside after handing off his bag a security man acting as porter, he is pleased to find the seating more comfortably appointed than the train.
After the relatively brief journey from the station to the shrine, Noriko addresses the group from the front of the minibus. "Because of the number of people, I have setup the rooms with bunk beds and we may have three to four people per room. Everyone should be able to be comfortable enough for a few days at least." Noriko finishes with a grin. "There is a large picnic lunch set out for everyone, and when you get your bags back there is also a box with a properly fitted yukata for each of you as a gift from me."
Happosai spares Ranma from asking a foolish question by quietly informing him that he had called ahead and that Shizuna had been polite enough to provide the necessary information on the extra guests. Ranma bows to the elder, with a grin.
Ranma can't find a reason to protest when Paru insists she and Kazumi share a room with Ranma and Kaede. "Think of it like a slumber party Ran-chan." She offers as explanation.
After several hours spent unwinding from the trip, getting dressed in the proper attire, and leisurely eating lunch while enjoying the calm, a group of four young women were making plans to liven things up.
"So how do we get things started?" Nabiki asks her smiling coconspirators.
"We do have several new people to get involved in the fun." Kazumi says with a grin.
"You realize that includes you, right." Paru observes, receiving only a shrug in response.
"Be that as it may, the more players the more fun we can have, and I have the perfect way to start things off." Kari says with an ever widening grin, as she holds up a child sized orange jacket. Raising her voice she sweetly calls out. "Oh Negi-sensei."
Mana found herself walking through the shopping district toward the Urahara shoten. She would pause to chuckle every so often still trying to recover from the look on Kotaro's face as the boy, thinking he had the day away from girls bothering him, was lead away from the dorms by three excited middle school children and a grade school girl.
Entering the store she was directed to a back room where a ladder lead down into a cavernous space that left Mana dumbfounded as to how it could have been there. That surprised her less then finding the owner speaking with Tomoyo. Kisuke noticed her arrival and waved her over. "Ohayo Mana-san." The man greeted her happily. "I understand you and Tomoyo-san have already met. I have referred several accomplished exorcists to her in the past for equipment and I would suggest the same for yourself."
Holding back her surprise Mana bowed to the older woman. "So would you know about making a handgun similar to what Kari uses Tomoyo-sensei?"
Tomoyo grins at the young woman, and says offhandedly. "She has proven to be quite a good student, learning what I have taught her so far."
"Would you be able to make me one of those handguns?" Mana does her best to get politely to the point.
"Kari does well with Laguna because she has other things to call on for support." Tomoyo says with even tone. "I think you would need to continue with what you are used to as well." Mana blinks as a closed rectangular case appears in the woman's hands. "This might be more to your liking I think."
Mana takes the case from the woman, and gently opens it. Upon looking inside she can only stare reverently.
"I heard that you made use of a P90 rifle in previous activities, so I modified this one to have a second barrel below the first." Doing her best impression of Q, Tomoyo explains on about just what Mana is looking at. "You can still load your spell breaker bullets or any other ammo of the right caliber into the bull pup clip on the top, but I have added a spirit cartridge magazine into the stock so that you can have extra firepower when needed."
Tomoyo pauses for a moment to let this register with the young woman, while Mana lifts the gun up and tests its balance. "The magazine holds six cartridges at a time and there are two more clips in the case. If you need more of them you will need to come see me, but since you are staying in the same suite that should not be a problem."
"So what do I owe you for this Tomoyo-sensei?" Mana asks cautiously.
"I have already received payment, so you need not worry." Tomoyo says without further elaboration.
Mana nods and puts the weapon back into the case and closes the lid. Turning to Kisuke she smiles. "Now about what I came for originally. How do I go about learning Shunpo?"
Mana jumps as a woman's voice comes from just behind her ear. "I will be the one to teach you that."
Turning to the sound while struggling to maintain her composure, she finds a woman wearing black tight fitting leggings, a dark close fitting grey vest over a tight black long sleeved shirt, and her face hidden by a white mask with blue paint giving the impression of a cat.
Before she or the woman could say anything more they are interrupted by Tomoyo erupting in laughter. She tries to compose herself only to mutter "ANBU" and start laughing again, this time joined by Kisuke.
Negi found himself at a loss for words. In the last few minutes of talking with Kari he had found himself dressed in an orange jacket and pants, with open toed sandal boots and a metal plate with a stylized leaf pattern attached to a blue cloth headband. He did not have a mirror to see the whisker marks now on his face or that his somewhat spiky hair was now blond.
"This can be fun though Negi...ah Naruto-kun." Honya stammers, standing next to him wearing an oversized light grey jacket and having a similar headband around her neck like a scarf. Negi thought she looked cute with the solid grey contacts she was wearing, and the girl blushed deeply when he said as much.
"I agree this could be quite entertaining, but it is odd." Negi says quietly.
"Quit whining dobe." Says a young black haired boy off to the side, dressed in a blue shirt and white shorts. Konatsu turns his head to look at the two younger people and ruins his imitation with a grin. "At least they did not ask you to play the worlds biggest emo jerk."
"Oh Sasuke-kun!" Konatsu is nearly knocked over by a now younger looking Ukyo wearing a red cheongsam style dress and short bubblegum pink hair. The boy recovers from the tackle glomp, and joins Ukyo in laughing.
Akatsu just smiles looking at the group wearing a violet mid-rift baring top and skirt. Her blond hair had been made longer and was gathered in a high ponytail. Modesty was preserved for her with bandages covering her middle and legs. The cabbit girl grinned as she tugged on the loose white wraps covering most of her arms. "Hey forehead girl, why are you so close to my Sasuke-kun."
"What do you mean by 'yours' Ino-pig." Ukyo responds playfully.
"Ma Ma this is all just in fun right kids." Takamichi says as he adjusts the headband over his left eye, and chuckles at the orange book in his hands.
"Are you finding any good suggestions in there?" Nodoka asks she leans over Takamichi's side, causing the trench coat she is wearing over a short leather skirt to open up a bit wider.
There is a clack of wood from the getta Happosai is wearing as he drops in from above and strikes a pose, causing his long white hair to swing around behind him. "If you truly want to learn the best techniques you must learn them directly from the master." He crows followed by a great belly laugh, which is cut short by the fist of a woman, with blond hair flowing in two tails over a green coat with the kanji for gamble on the back, smacking him on the head.
"Oy, Now don't go trying to teach the genin and jonin such perverted techniques." Shizuna grins wickedly as she presses his arm into her chest by wrapping both of her arms around his. "At least not until I have had a chance to test their effectiveness."
This gains a great deal of good natured laughter and a few blushes from the rest of the group. Nabiki and Kazumi rush around the group getting as many shots as they can.
Mizuno Ami tries to calm herself after erecting a barrier, and using the mercury computer to scan for the presence of any noncombatants. Giving the all clear to the others she watches as Haruka lets out a whoop and unleashes a the space sword blaster on several demons that really should have run when the barrier appeared, rather than wandering around in confusion. Hotaru copies her papa as a silence glaive surprise does the same for the rest of the demons as well as several buildings.
The other senshi look at the two in mild annoyance. Haruka smirks. "There will be more later. Hotaru and I don't get a chance to cut loose very often."
"Wai Wai, amazing." Mokona cheers from Hotaru's shoulder, earning a smile from the girl.
Ku Lon just shakes her head and grins at the "younger generations" antics. "Mizuno-chan can you confirm there is no damage to the area outside the barrier?"
Ami nods quickly after running another scan. "Yes elder we are all clear to lift the barrier. Having the barrier come up at the same time we transform should make things much simpler."
Ku Lon nods and instructs the children to power back down.
At the Hinode shrine two male and female pairs face off across the open space between the actual shrine and the house.
"All native alter users must come under the guidance of HOLY." Konatsu announces, while standing tall in his white close fitting uniform with black and purple sleeves. The breeze causes his short green tinged black hair to ripple dramatically.
Ranma sneers and holds his right arm out to the side away from his leather coat, his stance just short of a crouch ready to pounce on his prey. Shaking his head and sending a wave through his dark brown hair he snarls back, "As if some pretty boy and his toy could actually take me down."
"No Kazuma, don't fight." Kaede wails as she latches onto his waist, appearing like an eight year old girl with long light brown hair, wearing a matching colored baggy long sleeve blouse and skirt.
"Perhaps we should look for a different method to deal with native alter users Ryuhou-kun." Ukyo says quietly at Konatsu's side as she reaches out to gently touch his shoulder. She is dressed similarly to him, with her blue hair in a pageboy cut.
Konatsu scoffs while pushing her arm away. "These simpletons can not be dealt with any other way."
The boys break away from the girls and close the distance to each other with an over exaggerated run. As they close to each other they slow, stop, and fall to their knees as they are overcome with laughter.
Off to the side Midori quietly asks if she can get in on the fun as well.
Kari and Paru chuckle and show her the sketches for some of the next group of shots. "We have everyone ready for the next one but maybe in the one after." Kari says with a grin.
Sitting on the steps to the shrine Happosai turns to Noriko and asks quietly. "Aren't you going to play?"
Noriko shakes her head and grins at the youngsters quickly changing clothes. "No let the children have their fun."
The still laughing boys are quickly cleared out of the way so more people can play in the next shoot.
Kari glides out on a set of inline skates with only two large wheels positioned in the front and back. Her red hair is covered by a stocking cap and her pink shirt is hardly covered by the emblem coated jacket she wears loosely on top of it. Ranma coughs as she poses to display her tight faded blue jeans to the best effect.
Kazumi tries her best to stay steady on her own skates as Akiri pulls her along out to where Kari is standing. Akiri's hair is now dark blue and flows loosely to her ankles, similar to the sleeves on the oversized shirt she is wearing. Ranma has to wonder if the pink eyepatch she is wearing above her bangs actually helps keep her hair out of her face. The normally intrepid reporter is dressed like Kari except her jacket only covers a black bikini top and her short hair sticking out from her stocking cap is pink.
Paru tries her best to play the demure school girl as she adjusts her glasses. she comes out on a pair of red and white roller blades, which compliment her white long sleeved sweater nicely. The sweater is almost long enough to cover her blue skirt over black bike shorts and black knee high socks. Akiri hugs her as she roles up to the group, causing her red hair in twin ponytails to swing.
Ranma sits on the steps in a black boy's school uniform trying his best to look tough, and not get on his skates. Looking to his side he finds Tofu-sensei wearing a black leather coat and pants with his now black hair in an outlandish pompadour. "What you looking at there?"
Tofu opens his hands to show a metal badge and a sticker of similar design with the words "Rez-Boa Dogs". "I have no idea what I am supposed to do with these." He admits quietly.
A white and pink blur flashes by with a cheer. "If you don't want it, I'll take it." Tofu finds the badge now missing from his hands.
Kasumi stops a short distance away with her right knee bent and leaning forward slightly at the waist. She twists around to the left to give Tofu-sensei a saucy smirk under her drivers style cap. "Oh Inuyama-kun," She coos while reaching back with her left hand to flip up the back of her short skirt, revealing a very short pair of jean shorts. "If you want your badge back, you will have to use that sticker to mark your territory."
Ranma blinks as Kasumi skates off with a giggle. He falls back in surprise when Tofu-sensei, now wearing a helmet shaped like a doberman's head and neck shouts. "Rez-Boa Dogs Howl!" and skates off after the laughing migratory bird.
After a few moments Kaede and Paru come to check on him, as he still had not moved. "It seems everyone is enjoying themselves degozaru." Kaede observes with her ever present grin. "Don't you think so Ranma-dono?"
Given a reason to turn his mind away from the love birds Ranma just grins back. Ranma snaps his fingers. "Hey you know what, It is too bad Kotaro isn't along, I bet he would have a blast playing Agito."
Paru roles her eyes. "While I think he would enjoy playing the fang king, if he had the slightest idea of Akitio's character he would try his best to kill you for suggesting that Ikki-kun."
At the an arcade in Mahora city Kotaro sneezes, and tries his best to pay attention to the girls playing with their angels on the layer.
Never in a million years would he admit to being interested in watching their angels "dance" on the layer, but he had to admit that Misaki-g's new trick with her angel appearing and disappearing from the layer in an orb of blue light was rather impressive.
It had been surprisingly easy for Kazumi and Paru to talk their targets into playing their roles. Nabiki waved to the reporter girl as she and Paru took over camera duties for the next shot.
Kazumi happily bounced around in a sleeveless leather shirt and green hot pants. Her now blond hair held in its normal spiky bun and also restrained with a headband
Midori dressed like a shrine maiden, in a sleeveless white blouse over a long blue skirt, busily fused with her obi belt while trying to keep the trailing length of her arm coverings that started at her elbows off the ground.
Ranma dressed in a loose yellow shirt, that matched his now blond hair, and black off length pants, one leg went to the knee while the other to his shoes, was busy doing flips and kicks in the air trying to keep a soccer ball from hitting the ground, with the help of Happosai. The older man was dressed in what looked like a pair of coveralls that had puffy yellow legs restrained by lacings. His now brown hair, styled into a long tooth like shape, was held back from his face by blue cloth wrapped around his head.
Nodoka smiled at her son's antics and turned to her companion. "Do you like my dress Auron-san" Not receiving an immediate response, she switched the arm she was holding her moogle doll in and leaned forward, causing Takamichi to cough.
Trying to stay in character Takamichi used his hand not currently held inside his red kimono/jacket to adjust his sunglasses. "You look quite good Lulu-san." He said in a gravelly voice, causing Nodoka to smile.
Nodoka grinned as she watched Ranma and Kazumi go down in a tangle of limbs. Her eyebrows had only raised slightly by having noticed the apparently innocently placed, but very well timed, foot Kazumi used to cause the event.
Tomoyo found herself walking through the dormitory and was still trying to recover her composure. 'Well if I am going to be forced to become some sort of princess to avoid trouble with a galactic empire, it is better to get it out of my system now so I can do the job properly' She thought idly as she began opening opening the door to her suite. Unknown to her a purple haired queen in another part of the galaxy just started having a sneezing fit.
Stepping into the living room she was nearly bowled over by Konoka latching onto her waist tightly. Using one hand to brush the girls hair she used the other to close the door behind her. Turning the girl's chin up to look at her, she realized Konoka's eyes were filled with tears. "What is wrong child?" She ask worriedly.
"Mama shouldn't I have wings like you and Set-chan?" Konoka asked while using one hand to wipe her eyes, while the other held on to the woman tightly.
Tomoyo gently lifted the girl from her knees so they were both standing, now looking over Konoka's head she spotted Setsuna standing nearby. "I take it you two overheard me talking with your father." Seeing Setsuna nod and feeling Konoka doing the same she lead both girls over to sit with her on the couch.
The enchantress takes a moment to compose herself, and switches to having an arm around both girls. "You were born with wings Konoka, just like Setsuna was. Seeing that was what finally convinced your grandfather that I was not who they thought." Tomoyo sighs and pulls the girls a little more closely to her. "Or at least that is what Noriko told me, since I can not remember it. Noriko-san used a spell to make your wings disappear and you seem like a normal human girl."
"Even Noriko was not able to tell the difference at first when they returned, and she spent no little time trying to find me when she was told I had left." Tomoyo lets out her wings and uses them to pull the girls towards her so she can kiss their foreheads. "Eishun quickly noticed his 'wife's' behavior becoming erratic, and asked Noriko to come back. The headmaster at first insisted that it was only the pregnancy that caused it, and refused to let Noriko delve too deeply into my mind."
"When Konoka was born, I was in no fit state to look after her. The headmaster agreed to keep Konoka in his family, and make it seem as though his heir died in childbirth." Tomoyo takes comfort in the girls wrapping their arms around her as well. "It was almost a year later before I was somewhat functional again. Konoemon and Eishun agreed to let me see Konoka discreetly in Kyoto, but we all agreed that it would not be helpful for me to just drop into your life." Tomoyo sniffs and blinks away a few tears.
"Then Noriko discovered a little girl one of her offspring had abandoned." Tomoyo reaches up and strokes Setsuna's hair. "Eishun rushed off with the rest of Ala Ruba to rescue her, and knew on sight that she was his child as well. He brought you back to his home, and agreed with Noriko that I should not adopt you. I had to be restrained from trying to grab you, when I first laid eyes on you. It was like I was looking at yet another child I could not hold, and my baby was being taken away all over again."
Tomoyo starts sobbing quietly, and the girls find themselves to be the ones comforting her. "It was that event that convinced me that I was not nearly in control of myself enough to care for either of you." Tomoyo finishes after composing herself enough to continue. "I so wanted to be with the both of you it hurt, but I could not forgive myself if I could be a danger to you. So I went away."
"Several years later, I was better able to control myself and my powers. Noriko put Kari-chan into my care, and I..we were both happy until I could not protect her from her father." Tomoyo smiles sadly. "By the time Sakura and I found her she had become an enchantress as a way to escape her fathers plans, and her powers had almost destroyed her mind. Helping Sakura rebuild Kari's mind was nearly as beneficial for me. After that I started dating Eishun and discreetly looking in on you girls again."
"Now that I have both of my girls, and feel I can offer you the support you deserve, I can be satisfied." Tomoyo smiles down at the girls, and winks at Konoka. "If you want to stretch your wings then you will need a place to test them, and to adjust to having new limbs register in your mind. I know of a very good place for that, and where we can also have privacy."
Konoka smiles and lays her head on Tomoyo's chest. Idly she rubs her hand over her mother's flat tummy. "Did Oto-san succeed in fulfilling your request the other night."
Tomoyo looks down and smiles at both girls through half-lidded eyes. "Maybe" She says with a small giggle.
Konoka smiles sadly "It is too bad that grandfather isn't really my grandfather." Tomoyo cradles the girl's cheek in her hand and lifts her face to meet her eyes, "Whatever do you mean?"
Tomoyo grins down at her child. "Why wouldn't my father be your grandfather?"
Seeing both girl's incredulous stares she sighs and continues. "Father's wife died in child birth which made it believable that her daughter would as well. I wish I could say that my mother and father were lovers that could not marry because of the difference in their social class, but the truth is that my mother had little interest in men, and took advantage of a widower who could not do much to stop her from leaving when she had what she wanted. I also treated him little better when I turned eighteen and he pleaded with me to join his family knowing that my older sister was dying."
The young woman's eyes tear up at the memory. "My mother and our family's political power prevented him from acknowledging me or trying to adopt me into his family without causing a scandal that would ruin more then just his own reputation. The one thing he was able to get my mother to concede to doing was having me attend the university here at Mahora. It was then he at least privately revealed the truth to me. He asked me to learn magic and agree to marry Eishun should my older sister die so that the Konoe family would have an heir to carry on our duty of advising the imperial family in the affairs of magic."
"You agreed?" Setuna asked quietly.
"But not without my own requirements," Tomoyo finally states. "Instead of a heartsick father trying to hold his children close, I saw a honor bound and callous old man trying to take me away from the only thing I wanted. So like a spoiled child I demanded something I thought would be impossible. I insisted that I would accept no other teacher then the demoness Pandora, the mother of Clow Reed."
She pauses to let that sink in for a few moments, "Father used up several lifetimes worth of favors, but succeeded in convincing Noriko-san to teach me magic. I convinced her soon after to let me become an enchantress. I made the mistake later of assuming that my greater power would allow me to overcome my sister's greater experience when she asked me to take her memories and soul while lying on her death bed.
"So while I no longer have her memories both of my father's children live in me, and I know how much it hurts him to not be able to acknowledge me at risk of embarrassing the imperial family." Tomoyo finishes sadly.
"Now what to do about having someone keep an eye on the dorm while we are gone?" Tomoyo said quietly, her question was answered in the form of Shugotenshi bouncing across the room to sit on the floor in front of her.
Shugo brought a card out of somewhere long enough to say "Adeat", and Tomoyo was treated to the sight of a golden eyed twin of herself kneeling on the floor. "I believe I can look after things here for you Tomoyo-dono." She heard what sounded like her own voice say.
The enchantress could only smile.
Ranma was still trying to apologize to Kazumi as he worked to heal the sprained ankle the girl had received from their tumble.
"Ranma-kun, I am serious. What happened was entirely my fault, you have not done anything you need me to forgive you for." Kazumi stretched the leg Ranma was holding a bit, and let it settle back into to a position that would make it impossible for Ranma not to look at the hot pants she was still wearing if he wanted to examine her ankle. "If anything I should be thanking you for looking after me, and apologizing for getting ... ahem ... under foot."
Ranma nodded and did his best not to blush. "I think that should take care of it, except for being a bit sore for a while." He took her hand and helped her up from the step she had been reclining on.
Kazumi gingerly tested her weight on the ankle and smiled when she found she could stand on her own. She suddenly started to feel nervous as Kaede walked up to them.
"Ranma-dono, I believe they are ready to start the photo shoot you were waiting for, Degozaru." Kaede said with her ever present smile.
Ranma let out a whoop, Kazumi's eyes opened wide as the boy's clothes shifted to red hakuma pants and a long red robe left open to leave his chest bare. 'Thank the Kami that I am here and have my camera.' Was the only thing Kazumi could think for a moment, while Ranma went off to join the others getting ready for the shoot.
"Would you care to explain your intentions Kazumi-dono?" Kaede said quietly.
Looking at the slightly taller girl for a moment while chewing on her lower lip, Kazumi considered several possible stories, and discarded them just a quickly. "I like Ranma-kun." She quietly admitted. "I want to be near him."
Kaede gently leaned on the other girls shoulder, not supported by the injured ankle. "I trust there will be no more incidents of that sort." Kazumi nodded quickly and tried not to shiver at the silver sheen that came to kaede's eyes. "It would be terrible if someone I like, and would make a good partner for Ranma-dono, were to be unnecessarily injured, degozaru." Kazumi blinked at the truly warm smile she was receiving. As Kaede walked away, Kazumi shook herself before grabbing up her camera.
Ranma grinned as he walked up and went to one knee before Honya wearing a knee length, white dress with pouffy sleeves. "Lady Subaru how may this warrior be of service."
Honya was caught between a blush and a giggle and unconsciously wrapped her arms around Negi's. The boy, currently dressed on a grayish brown robe with a tan tabard stood stood frozen for a moment before Honya realized what she had done, and jumped back with a squeak. knocking the boy's simple brown cap off revealing his now gray colored hair.
Ranma helped straighten to two youngsters back up and grinned. "My lady, your actions show you have found someone better than my humble person, and I shall take me leave." Ranma walked off leaving them both blushing in his wake.
Ranma winked at Asuna as she came rushing up to check on Negi, now with short brown hair and wearing a metal bikini top. "Mimiru-chan you need not worry yourself, Tsukasa took no injury." Ranma did his best not to laugh at the blush that showed even through the girls now very tanned skin.
Kaede grinned as she joined him, now dressed in a flowing green and white robe, her long dark blond hair held held back by a golden headband. "So BT, what does my beautiful sorceress have planned?" Kaede just grinned and pointed at something that Ranma could not help but chuckle at.
Nodoka had snatched away Nabiki's camera and was busy taking pictures of Takamichi. The teacher was doing his best to act the part of the barbarian warrior wearing a leather kilt, knee high boots, a shoulder guard, and a good deal of blue paint.
"You know I would feel like getting out of sorts about 'Ka-san's behavior more if Tofu-sensei was not doing worse." Kaede turned to look where Ranma was pointing, only to find the doctor on the ground and staring up at Kasumi mesmerized.
The eldest tendo daughter was unsuccessfully trying to hold back a smirk that would do Nabiki proud. It did not detract from her appearance in a white dress with large shoulder pads and a missing front panel that exposed her belly from below her navel to just below her breasts. Ranma could not see her eyes because of the visor built into her tall white hat, but he felt certain they were full of mirth at the moment.
Ranma grinned and pulled an unsharpened naginata from somewhere. Kaede caught what he was looking at and waved him forward with a smile. Instead she chose to go look after Yue since she was unsure the shorter girl could see anything around the long white wig that she was wearing. 'I must get pictures of her in that cute white dress.'
Happosai easily blocked Ranma's swing, with the unsharpened katar's that slid out of his forearm guards. "Do not fear Crim, I have not forgotten the duel we have yet to settle." The master jumped back and took a crouching pose that caused his long dark green hair to cascade over his modified ninja costume. "If I best you, I am certain these pretty ladies would fall over themselves to offer me their member addresses." The two fighters clashed again, their playful grins not seeming the least bit out of place.
While the two boys had their fun, and she was without her camera, Nabiki decided to try being in front of the camera for a while. Nabiki's smirk seemed appropriate for her character. Nabiki was glad Kari's glamor did not carry the weight or heat of actual fur, otherwise being a character that seemed to be a humanoid cross between a rabbit and a cat would be less than fun.
Nabiki looked down at Negi-sensei, after Kari had done a color change on his clothes to shades of blue and grinned. "Well Elk, where do you think we could find aromatic grass around here?" This earned the laugh she was hoping for from the boy.
Ukyo had decided to do the same thing as Nodoka when Konatsu had come out dressed as a truly white knight, complete with a feathered cloak that opened in the breeze like wings. The elder woman considered complaining, until Atsuko giggled something about following an example, at which point Nodoka just smiled and shook her head.
Nabiki had more reason to laugh when she and Negi were converged on by Asuna, who now had pink hair, and Honya who was now wearing heavy robes and a hat with long floppy tails on both sides. "Black Rose? Mistral? shouldn't you two be looking after Kite?" The formerly mercenary Tendo asked Idly.
"We have not seen him yet." Asuna answered easily. "So we thought we would make sure you were staying out of trouble." Honya nodded her agreement.
Kaede brought Yue over to join their group as the mock battle was winding down. Happosai made once last jump back and announced they would finish this later before disappearing in a cloud of smoke. Kaede took the opportunity to pounce on the slightly distracted Ranma. One whirlwind change later and a now smaller Ranma was dressed in a red jumpsuit, and oversized cap, with yellow orange symbol designs, and being hugged by a wolf girl. The boy was really only playfully struggling to stay in character.
Yue looked up at Asuna. "Well Rena, I believe that is your que."
Asuna chuckled when even Negi waved her to action. "Hey Ouka, let go of my brother." The girl shouted as she charged over to try prying the wolf girl off.
Tomoyo floated on the gentle breeze within Valhalla, taking more delight in watching her two angels dancing on the winds then anything else. Well more specifically Konoka testing the limits of her new wings, while her older sister trailed after her like an overprotective hen.
Konoka's flight suddenly altered course as she was touched by a small beam of light from a platform near the top of the great tree. Setsuna followed worriedly, until another beam touched her from a slightly different position.
Tomoyo followed leisurely behind them to the platform that held her space tree. The tree had never been in the Jurian grove and when she mentally told it of her plans decided it wanted to be called Raiju, after the thunder beast of Japanese myth that could take the form of a cat. Nothing less would be appropriate for the cat that would pull Valfreya's chariot through the stars. Tomoyo still giggled at the thought.
Tomoyo was briefly greeted by Raiju, with several beams of light, as she landed, but her attention turned to the two girls kneeling in front of two space tress, that were barely more than seedlings, and carrying on a conversation with them where their words were answered by beams of light.
After a while, Setsuna looked up to see Tomoyo smiling at her. "Oka-san where did these trees come from?" The girl's eyes turn slightly unfocused as her hands are touched by several beams of light. "They called to us."
"They were given to me for the two of you, by a very beautiful, very caring woman that insisted I call her Aunty." Tomoyo replies with a soft sigh.
Ranma sits down next to Kaede as the sun begins to set, actually glad not to be part of the next shoot. "Well between Midori-chan and I, we convinced Natsuki to get in on the fun." Kaede only smiles in response. "This is great, I made through the entire shoot and did not have to be a girl once."
He was suddenly reminded why one should not tempt fate, as Kari settled in behind him hugging his shoulders, and held a very short red dress in front of him. "Oh Ranma-kun, Kaede had a special request for the last shot." Deciding not to fight the inevitable, Ranma sagged in defeat while both girls laughed.
Midori found herself happily trying to squeeze the life out of a slightly shorter and oddly dressed Konatsu. "Oh Mr. Alien promise you will only combine with me." The redhead happily squealed.
Konatsu rolled his eyes and hung his head, his striped headband doing a good job of holding his bangs down to cover his eyes. Ukyo, wearing a very form fitting white space suit, did not have to work hard to look appropriately frustrated with the older girl's behavior.
Natsuki was still trying to get over her hair having suddenly become shorter, and convincing herself that wearing a tight swimsuit with attached leggings and sleeves really was not that different. Kasumi companionably put her arm around the girls shoulders.
"Are you sure your alright Barnette-chan?" The now blond haired young woman asked quietly. Natsuki could only nod dumbly while trying not to think about how the older girl was able to keep her black dress from falling off with it basically being open to the waist.
"Well if you will be alright for a while I believe I will go give the good doctor an examination of my own." Kasumi said with a wink before walking over to where tofu was standing wearing tight black slacks and a white lab coat over a tanned bare chest. She winked at Paru as she ran her hand through her fiancé's now long shiny black hair.
Paru just grinned. Kasumi could not be certain if it carried to the girls eyes, as they were hidden behind thick glasses. Leaning on the doctor, Kasumi complimented the manga-ka on how adorable she looked in her orange jumpsuit and her hair in twin braids. The girl's return, of how delicious looking a couple they made, left both of the adults blushing as Paru wandered off laughing.
Over in the sand garden Kari was playing photographer for the last two models of the night.
Ranko found herself trying to keep from blushing as she looked down at Kaede's now light blue hair. It was not that the other girl was dressed in a legless and short sleeved blue body suit that warranted a blush, nor was it that Ranko was wearing a red dress that had a cut out in the front going well past her waist meeting another cutout at her belly button forming an inverted cross. She did not even mind the other girl standing in front of her to hug her waist too much, as that afforded her a little modesty.
What was bothering Ranko at the moment is Kaede's face was nearly in her cleavage and she had a very possessive smile. "So.. ah.. Lumiere. Why did you want a shot like this?"
Kaede looked up into Ranko's eyes and grinned in a very un-childlike manner. "I just love the taste of Strawberry Eclair."
In a damp underground chamber, the last remaining of what was once a vast underground complex, a white haired boy leans back against the wall. The apparent child stares listlessly into a glowing crystal with eyes that seem to carry the depth of ages. The light from the crystal does not waver, but deep shadows flow slowly around the walls of the cavern.
"Does the weight of time bare so heavily on you now that your distraction has been destroyed, Loki? or do you prefer Coyote still?" A deep voice booms as a large raven appears just outside the ring of brightest light.
"Ever the patient one, aren't you Samael." The boy returns snidely. "That is only appropriate for you though." Now with a distraction the boy's lips turn up in a smirk. "So very little in this world entertains me anymore, but I am not allowed to clear the way for something new."
The raven's beak almost seems to smile. "Agree to serve me and I will lift the geas preventing you from beginning Ragnorak."
The boy's grin turns snake like and the shadows of the cave gain glowing mouths and eyes to mirror it.
Skilgannon - Skillgannon the damed, is a character from the Rigante/Drenai fantasy novel series by british author David Gemmel, the main protagonist in the book White Wolf.
P90 - A military rifle developed by the belgian government. the barrel is slid far into the body of the gun and fed mechanically by a overhead or bull pup magazine. Making for a shorter more maneuverable weapon. Mana made use of this in her fight with Kaede during Mahorafest. It is the weapon Mana aimed at Kaede immediately after using a teleportation charm to dodge her shundo.
If you have read this far then I have a special challenge for you. If you can name all of the series that people were cosplaying in this chapter you get a free 3D image request. Leave your answer in a comment.