Mage of Pluto, Chapter One.
A fanfic by Burning Light

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Standard Disclaimer, in Haiku:

Someone else owns this
Blood-suckers should not sue me;
I am a poor student.

(Ah, it's beautiful, isn't it? Not only does it disclaim the story, it
also points out that I'm a bad student that can't learn anyth... wait a
minute! I didn't mean that! I meant I had no money! Oh, well... Freudian
slip, I guess. )

This is a multiple series crossover involving an alternate universe
version of Ranma's history. Nearly everything past his 8th year will be
changed; this means the arrival of Kuno, Akane, or the rest of the
Nerima crew is unlikely. There is a chance that Shampoo will appear, and
Ukyo, Ryoga, and Ranma's curse will definitely be figured in somehow.

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Dawn broke over Tokyo, Juuban Ward.

Dawn broke, birds cheerfully greeting the rising sun, lights coming on
in houses as people everywhere slowly woke up to begin preparations for
the following day. The preparations of a particular family are of more
importance than those of other people going through their morning
routines. For this family, morning would be anything but routine.

Dawn broke as Genma Saotome stealthily prepared to take his child on
what would be a most fateful training trip. Genma was convinced that his
wife's coddling of the child would result in nothing but weakness, and
since young Ranma was to be his heir someday, he took it upon himself to
see that the child be the best martial artist ever. If he had to leave
his wife to do it, then so be it. He would miss her, of course, and his
comfortable life of home cooked meals and a roof to sleep under, but the
boy was more important.

Dawn broke, and so did Nodoka Saotome's patience. She knew exactly what
her husband was planning; his behavior had been leading up to it the
past week, and it seemed as if nothing could stop him. She was willing
to allow her son to be taken on a short training trip with his father,
but what Genma had proposed the night before seemed to be something
quite a bit longer. Stepping out of the shadows towards her husband,
honor blade sheathed but ready, she let her disapproval be known. "Just
what do you think you are doing, Husband?"

Genma slowly turned from packing a large traveling pack, guiltily
attempting to hide the wicker traveling cradle and the sleeping child
within it. "No-nothing, Nodoka" he started, before noticing the family
honor blade his wife was carrying. "Just preparing to take the boy on a
training trip"

"And when would you be planning on coming back?" The steel in her voice
made Genma completely forget about whatever half-formed plans he had
made earlier, concerning seppuku promises and men-among-men.

"W-when the boy is fully trained in the art, dear." This vague
statement, meant as both appeasement and explanation, seemed to only
further enrage Nodoka. Looking at his wife's face, Genma lost almost all
hope of being able to train his child to be a true master of the art.

"That is not good enough. I will not allow you to take our child away
for god knows how long." Her hands twitched, moving slightly towards the
blade at her side, before she continued with a sigh. "I don't think I
can do anything to prevent you from taking him, as determined as you are
to go through with this."

A look of relief passed across Genma's face. "Then you will let me do
this?" Perhaps he had a chance of training the boy, after all.

"Yes, on one condition." Nodoka's tone offered no room for argument.
"You bring Ranma back home every other month. That should leave you with
six months a year for training journeys; the rest of the year you will
just have to train him at home." Upon seeing the downtrodden look on her
husband's face, Nodoka kindly added "You can take him on longer trips,
of course, but you will have to arrange it with me."

Genma frowned. This limited his options for training the boy, but it was
better than nothing, and there was always the possibility of longer
trips, with or without his wife's permission.

Almost reading as if she had read his thoughts, Nodoka added "Don't
think of leaving at all without my permission, Genma. I will hunt you to
the ends of the earth and personally make sure that such a dishonorable
act would not go unpunished."

Falling into submission at the threat, Genma's only reply was a simple
"Y-Yes, Dearest."

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Tokyo, Juuban Ward, four months and several years later.

"How are you going to explain this one, old man?" An angry and
thoroughly wet ten year old girl growled to an equally wet black and
white panda.

"Growf" the panda responded, before pulling out a wooden sign and
writing on it. "We're not going home just yet, boy!" Obviously the
thought of his wife's wrath was just a bit too much for this panda.

"Oh, sure pops, that will go over well." The ten year-old's face
darkened. "You remember when you tried to teach me the Neko-ken? I ran
all the way home from that pit, mind and clothing in shreds, and when
mom saw the way I was acting..."

The girl then lowered her voice, doing a rough but accurate imitation of
her father. "De-dearest, puh-please, put that ka-ka-katana away. It was
all in the boy's best interests."

Shifting her voice several octaves higher, she continued, knocking her
fists on the occasional object for effect. "Genma, Don't *whack* you
*bang* ever, *crunch* ever, *whack* do that *clang* again."

At this point she was unable to withhold the laughter she had been
struggling against. Turning back to see her blushing father, she calmed
herself enough to add "I didn't know panda's could turn that shade, old
man. What's the matter, embarrassed?"

The brief scuffle that followed was just one of a million previous,
hardly worth noting. At its conclusion Genma scribbled another sign.
"Perhaps we should see your mother after all. Wouldn't do to have here
worry about us, right boy?"

"Right..." the boy-turned-girl drawled sarcastically, before heading off
towards their family apartment.

Ranma and his father walked on in silence for some time, both with much
to think over.

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Nodoka sat in her living room, nervously fiddling with her sheathed
katana. She was pretty sure she had reason to worry. She just knew she
shouldn't have let her good for nothing husband take Ranma on an
extended training trip; the last three were evidence enough that Genma
did not act as a responsible adult when given too much leeway, each one
had left Ranma with serious problems.

She let Genma talk her into a longer training trip just months after she
first confronted the man over attempting to take her child away. The
result of that mistake had been readily apparent when Genma brought the
child home. Ranma had been cut, bruised, and driven into a cat-like
state that her husband claimed was caused when the boy accidentally fell
into a pit of starving cats, and would have died if not for his heroic
efforts. When it was later revealed that Genma had thrown Ranma into the
pit, not once but several times, Nodoka had laid into her husband with a
vengeance. She was now quite proud to say that her husband never lied to
her again. Ever.

A part of Nodoka relized that neither of the other two times Genma had
gone off for extended training had turned out quite as bad, but it was
close. Yes, she remembered how Genma had arrived at her door, battered
Ranma in hand, a second time...

The doorbell rang, startling Nodoka out of her reminisces. With a leap
that was half excitement and half worry, she had reached the entryway
and flung open the door in a flash. What she saw was an interesting
sight.

"Ranma, Where is your father? And why in the world did you dye your hair
red?" Nodoka looked at her soon questioningly.

Ranma glanced up at his mother sheepishly before answering. "It's not
dyed, mom... you remember how dad was planning to go to china?"

"Yes..." Nodoka trailed off, not entirely sure of where this was
leading, but convinced she wouldn't like it.

Ranma fidgeted a bit before finishing. "We got cursed."

"What else changed?" Nodoka took a closer look at her son when he
started blushing a furious red, and something out of the normal caught
her attention. "Are those... breasts?"

Ranma only nodded hesitantly.

Nodoka was obviously in shock, her eyes glazed over slightly; it was
obviously taking all her effort just to keep a semblance of calm. "Is
your father like this too?"

"No mom, he's-"

"Growf" Ranma was cut off by his father.

Nodoka stared up at the seven foot tall panda that had appeared in the
doorway. Nodding weakly, she let her eyes roll up into the back of her
head, vaguely hoping that someone would catch her before she hit the
floor.
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Ranma let out a soft sigh after catching her mother. "I told you to wait
until I finished explaining, pops. Now look at what you've done."

Genma frowned at his boy while scribbling a quick sign. "Just let me get
some hot water, boy, then we'll wake her up and explain."

"You better not be thinking of running off, old man. I don't think mom
would be too happy about that." Ranma said, not in the least enjoying
the look that her father had been wearing.

Pulling out another sign while scratching the back of his head, Genma's
only response was a simple "A-heh heh heh. You know I wasn't thinking
about that, boy." Genma quickly left for the kitchen before his son
could say anything more.

A few minutes later a now-human Genma arrived again, bringing back hot
water for Ranma. Ranma quietly accepted it, pouring it over his head,
before speaking to his father. "Quiet, dad. I think she's waking up."

No more than a second later Nodoka drowsily got up, looking to her son.
"I'm glad you're home, Ranma. I was so worried for you that I had the
strangest dream. Your father was a panda, and you..." The expression on
Ranma's face gave Nodoka reason to pause.

"Well, about that, mother... You see..." Ranma began worriedly.

"What the boy means to say, dear, is..." Genma interjected, trying to
think of a way to explain the problem without getting grievously
injured.

"It wasn't a dream" Ranma stated with some degree of finality.

"I see... excuse us for a while, Ranma. Your father and I have some
things to talk about, isn't that right, honey?" The tone Nodoka used
promised much pain if Genma so much as thought of disagreeing.

"Ah, yes boy, be sure to be back-" Genma began, hoping to shorten the
length of his punishment.

"Before dinner. Genma and I have much to discuss." Nodoka smiled
slightly at the look of discomfort on her husband's face.

Genma blanched. "B-but dearest, w-we just had breakfast. Dinner isn't
for another nine hours." His brain went into overdrive, trying to think
of something that would shorten his punishment. "What will Ranma eat for
lunch? He is a growing boy, you know."

Nodoka handed Ranma some money for lunch before turning to Genma once
more. "Yes, about that... thanks to you, our son is also a growing young
lady. What do you have to say for yourself, Genma?"

Ranma snuck out quietly, not wanting to hear anymore of this
conversation. He was glad his father would be getting what he deserved,
but that didn't mean he had to watch.

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"So you want me to what?" Sailor Pluto felt a headache coming on. This
could be attributed both to the woman standing in front of her, and the
ripples within time that that woman was causing. Of course, there had to
be a good reason for this visit, after all, the woman in front of her
was, for lack of a better phrase, her.

"I need you to visit this park in half an hour." Her future self pointed
to a scene, a knowing smirk hiding just behind the mask of indifference
she normally wore.

"And you're not going to tell me anything more? No 'this is the next
threat' or 'rescue so-and-so from certain death'-just 'go here'?" She
asked her self. The question was pointless, of course; even if more
information would not have caused several time paradoxes, she understood
that it was important to let people forge their own destinies... even if
that person was herself. Besides, she knew her older self got too much
of a kick from knowing something no-one else did.

"Of course not. Have fun at the park." With that said, Setsuna's future
self traveled back to her own time.

"That woman just frustrates me so much, sometimes" The fact that she was
talking about herself seemed to have slipped Setsuna's mind for the
moment.

"What IS so important about that park, anyways?" Setsuna asked herself
while stepping closer to the gates of time.

Reactivating the gates and focusing on the point displayed by her future
self, Setsuna saw nothing to distinguish this from any other day. That
did not necessarily mean nothing would happen. Contrary to popular
belief among the senshi, she could not see all of the future. The time
gate's ability to show events to come was rather limited; she received
glimpses of most things that would have a large affect on the time
stream, and was capable of predicting the actions of large masses of
people quite easily, but when it came to dealing with individuals,
things became much more difficult.

"Well, at least there doesn't seem to be any threat there..." Setsuna
mused to herself. "That means there isn't any real reason to alert the
other senshi. The park is relatively close to my apartment...." Changing
the time gates scene to show the inside of her apartment, Setsuna
brought herself home again.

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Setsuna was getting irritated. She had been waiting in this park for
over 20 minutes, and nothing much had happened. Sitting on a bench
waiting for something unusual to happen was right up there on her list
of least favorite things to do, closely followed by watching grass grow
or paint dry. She was almost tempted to transform into senshi form just
to end the waiting, hopefully flushing out any possible enemies.
'Almost' is the operative word in that sentence; she understood that no
matter how tired of waiting she might be, transforming into senshi form
would be inexcusable.

Still, that didn't mean she had to sit here and wait for whatever might
happen to happen.

She was tired of waiting, and therefore came up with a solution; if the
problem wouldn't come to her, she would go to the problem. Chatting with
the people here would be a good way to waste time, and she would be able
to sense if she were near any evil presence. That decided, she still had
to pick a target, someone who would be interesting to talk with who also
seemed suspicious. That last bit limited her choices greatly; the only
suspicious looking person in the entire park was an elderly transient
who seemed entirely harmless, even if his eyes did shift from place to
place as if he was wary of something.
Still, he was better than sitting here waiting.

Starting off towards the elderly man, Setsuna's gaze drifted briefly
onto a red-headed little girl. There was something about this girl that
seemed vaguely familiar, and something else about her that seemed out of
place; the out of place feeling was most likely nothing more than that
this girl had not been highly visible when Setsuna had viewed the park
through the time gates, but the sense of familiarity seemed somehow to
run deeper than what one would get from a mere acquaintance. The fact
that the red-head was dripping wet and grumbling under her breath only
gave Setsuna an excuse to talk to her.

Prior decisions forgotten, Setsuna walked towards the girl, preparing to
help her.

"Here, take this." Setsuna offered a handkerchief to the girl. "What
happened?"

"I fell in." she gestured towards the nearby lake. "It wouldn't have
happened if I was paying attention... stupid rock. Stupid panda." Ranma
grumbled under her breath.

"Want to talk about it?" Setsuna asked.

"Only if you tell me what was bugging you so much when you were over
there" Ranma pointed towards where Setsuna had been sitting earlier.

"Sounds fair to me. I had an appointment with someone, but it seems as
if they forgot. They were supposed to be here twenty minutes ago."

"A date?" Ranma asked, idly wondering why the idea filled her with such
jealousy.

"N-no, nothing like that." Setsuna responded, an unwanted blush
crossing her face. "Just a business meeting." A smile crossed her face.
"Now you have to tell me what had you so occupied that you fell into a
lake."

"Well..." Ranma stalled, trying to think of a way to explain things
without involving his curse.
"My father has been training me in martial arts on and off since I could
walk. Mom allows it, letting me take time off to go on training trips
whenever schools out, but she's never really liked letting Dad take me
on long trips alone; the last two times, I ended up pretty hurt." She
glanced at Setsuna's disaproving expression, adding "Oh, never too bad;
Pops is usually careful. This last time, however..."

"What happened?" Setsuna asked, once it became apparent that Ranma
wasn't going to answer.

"Pop did something really stupid... I'm not really comfortable talking
about it, but..." Ranma trailed off at this. Come to think of it, she
normally wasn't even comfortable saying this much about her family to a
stranger. There was something about this woman, though, that made her
feel at ease. "All I'm going to say is that involves ancient curses and
strange Chinese customs... Anyways, Mother's at home now beating the
stuffing out of Dad, and so I'm left alone until dinner."

"I just wish dad wasn't so stupid, sometimes. If it wasn't for him, I
wouldn't have learned the art, but he's caused a whole lot of trouble in
my life..." Ranma let out a sigh of frustration.

Setsuna blinked. Chinese curses? Did he mean that literally, or just
figuratively? "That bad?"
There wasn't much she could do to help, but she found herself liking
this young girl. "I'm sure things will turn out better, eventually."

"I guess so." Ranma quietly responded.

They sat together in companiable silence for awhile, watching the lunch
crowd leave. It was awhile before Setsuna realized that she would need
to be leaving if she hoped to make it back to her office on time.

"I have to be going now..." Setsuna smiled down at the girl, waiting for
her to speak her name.

"Ranma Saotome." Ranma grinned back. "It was nice meeting you, miss..."

"Setsuna Meioh; It was good to meet you too, Ranma." There really wasn't
much she could do to help, but something about the girl made her want to
try. "If you need help with something, or just someone to talk to, feel
free to ask. I've got a medical practice set up in downtown Juuban; you
can probably reach me there."

Ranma waved goodbye as Setsuna walked off, her spirits lifted by the
short conversation with the older girl.
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Having changed back to his male form on the way back, Ranma prepared to
enter the house. His short chat with Setsuna had not only lifted his
spirits, but also given him someone he could talk to.

"I'm home!" A smiling Ranma called towards his parents. It was just a
little before six, and from the smells drifting from the kitchen, Ranma
was fairly sure dinner would be ready soon.

"Ranma, could you help your father to a chair? Dinner will be done in a
minute." Nodoka's voice drifted out from the kitchen.

"Sure thing, mom" Ranma replied.

A smile lit his face as he turned to his father. "W-what happened to
you, pop?"

The bruised and beaten panda laboriously wrote a sign, wincing
occasionally. "Nodoka... wasn't happy."

Ranma's smile soon turned to all-out laughter as he read the sign. "I-I
can s-see that." He gasped between each laugh. "L-let me help y-you to
dinner, pop."

"I-I think I'll stay here and rest for awhile, boy" Genma weakly
scribbled.

"No, I insist." Ranma giggled cheerfully, stepping towards his father,
smirking the whole time.

Genma looked towards his son with a look of utter terror on his face. As
his son dragged him off towards the table, Genma busily voiced his
complaints on a wooden sign. "N-no boy, don't move *ouch* me. *argh* No,
boy, *oof* not the leg! Enough already! *ouch* What did I do *owie* to
deserve such a *argh* spiteful son?" Genma let out a groan as he was
sat before a mat in front of the table.

Nodoka walked into the room, setting the meal she had prepared down on
the table. "Your curse will take some... getting used to, but I am glad
that you are back, Ranma."

"I'm glad to be back too, mom. The food looks great."

A smile on her face, Nodoka took her place at the table. "Thank you,
Ranma." She turned to her husband with a wicked gleam in her eyes. "No
animals at the table, dear; I'm afraid you'll have to change."

Weakly pulling out another sign, Genma turned his pleading eyes to his
wife. "But Dearest, please..."

"Change now," Nodoka's tone of voice had turned as hard as cold steel.
"Or you will not be eating with us."

"Yes, Dearest." Genma groaned as he slowly used his claws to drag
himself towards the kitchen.

A pleased Nodoka turned to her son. "How was your day, Ranma?"

"It was pretty good. I made a friend at the park." Ranma smiled at the
memory of Setsuna.

"Oh really... Someone your age?" Ranma's mother questioned.

"Oh, no, she's a doctor. Said I could go talk to her anytime." Ranma
replied.

"A doctor... That's nice." Nodoka smiled at her son. He was friends with
an older woman? How manly.

"Yeah..." Ranma trailed off, thinking again of Setsuna. Ranma sighed,
before noticing the knowing look his mother was giving him. A slight
blush crept over his face. "It was pretty boring besides that, though."
He stated, determined to change the topic.

"You'll be starting junior high in a week, and we'll need to buy new
uniforms and supplies for you, so it won't be boring for much longer."
Nodoka gently accepted her son's change of topic.

"That's good. I haven't studied in awhile, and I need a break from all
that training Pops has been giving me." Ranma answered, still eating his
meal.

A bruised, battered, and currently human Genma slowly pulled himself
into the room, all the while thinking over the small bit of information
he had overheard. The boy had a lot to learn about the art, and could
have no distractions if he was ever going to be a true master. A friend,
or worse, a woman friend, would be nothing but trouble. This had to be
stopped.

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End Chapter 1, posted Sunday, May 12, 2002 @ 7:05 PST