This was spawned by a silly idea, so it's not particularly serious. I was a bit lax in characterization, details and such in general, so I expect to be called on it. Also, an idea for a sequel came to mind while writing this, and I'd be willing to write it if people think it'd be worth it.
Every galaxy in the universe has a type of senshi that are defined by a part of their uniform, and each senshi within a galaxy is unique in some way beyond the superficial. While most only differ in the theme and style of their abilities, some are more specialized in nature than others. It is these latter senshi, whose purposes are not so directly set in the task of defending celestial bodies, that tend to get the most attention — for better or worse.
In the Milky Way galaxy, where all senshi uniforms have sailor collars (thus the reason for why they're called sailor senshi), there was one senshi in particular who had become so infamous that the other senshi had to defeat them and seal their sailor crystal away. The senshi in question had an ability that was meant to be used against other senshi, and they had abused said ability instead of using it for the right reason.
Billions of years have passed since that time, and the sailor crystal and its history have long since been forgotten. The seal on it had only lasted a few million years, and it had been found after only a few million more. From there it had made its way from one part of the galaxy to another, often being mistaken for a precious gem, but for the most part it had spent its time drifting through space or lying in the ground of some celestial body.
It eventually landed on Earth, where it was found many years later, only a few years before the present time. Due to the senshi's presence and influence, the young man who had found it had given it to his girlfriend (who was a fan of the senshi) and told her that it was a senshi's transformation jewel, thinking that it was just a piece of merchandise that someone had lost. However, both had been surprised when the girl had become a real senshi upon saying — in a playful manner — the transformation phrase that had come to mind.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of that particular senshi's uniform, the girl had opted to give it to someone who might actually use it in spite of said uniform. And so the sailor crystal began to be passed on from one person to the next, with each thinking that one of their friends or family might be able to put it to use, but no modern girl or woman with any decency was of the mind to be seen in public while wearing the kind of uniform that came with being that particular senshi.
That is until it found its way to Japan. More specifically, Nerima, Tokyo...
When the final bell rang, Ranma excused himself from the classroom before anyone could say anything to him. Following the instruction of the note that he had received during lunch, he found a private place to become a girl before heading to the back of the gym. There she waited until the note's owner arrived.
When Yuka appeared around the corner, Ranma was a bit surprised that she would have done anything like this with her. Akane's friends tended to have nothing to do with her unless Akane was either present or involved. However, considering how nervous and uncertain Yuka appeared to be, she reasoned that the need to see her in private must be about something important.
An awkward silence descended upon them soon after Yuka stood before her friend's fiancé, as she preoccupied herself with a case of the fidgets. Not only was she afraid of being caught alone with the boy-turned-girl and having her peers get the wrong idea, but she was also worried that the redhead would get the right idea, about what it meant for her to be giving away what she had.
Ranma, who was drawing the wrong conclusion about Yuka's behavior, hesitantly asked, "So... you called me out here for a reason, right?"
Unable to stand it anymore, Yuka turned her head away and thrust her hands out impulsively, yelling, "here," as she opened up her hands to reveal a heart-shaped crystal.
Ranma took a step back in both surprise and concern. "I know I'm irresistible, but... I never would have suspected that you swung that way."
"What! ? No!" Yuka quickly and loudly retorted, her eyes wide in horror as she gesticulated wildly with her arms. "I mean: I don't! This isn't that sort of gift!"
Ranma sighed with evident relief. "Oh, good. I almost thought—"
"Nevermind that," Yuka interjected, as she calmed herself down and held out the heart-shaped crystal once again, not wanting to stick around long enough for another misunderstanding to crop up. "I just wanted to give this sailor crystal to you because I thought you'd be able to make more use out of it than I could."
After taking a moment to stare at the object that was in Yuka's hand, with a look that clearly expressed her lack of comprehension, Ranma looked up and — with a straight look on her face — asked, "Um... What's a sailor crystal?"
Yuka regarded Ranma with an incredulous expression. When the redhead's look of cluelessness persisted, she sighed, took one of her hands, slapped the sailor crystal into its palm, and then closed her fingers over it. Then she turned around and walked away, secretly glad that her friend's fiancé didn't know about the sailor crystals. If she had, she would have been present for something that she wanted to avoid.
Ranma stared after Yuka until she was gone, feeling confused. Then she opened up her hand, so she could look at the crystal again. She didn't know what it was, and thus why Yuka had felt it appropriate to give it to her, so nothing about what had happened made any sense. What in the world was she supposed to do with it, anyway?
Her first thought was to give it to Akane, but she quickly discarded that idea: she remembered how much trouble it had been to give her fiancée something before, her own reservations aside. Her second thought was to find out what it was, but she wondered if she should even care. However, considering how Yuka had approached her with it in secret, there was a possibility that there was more to it than just being a pretty jewel; and that's when her curiosity got the better of her.
"I just know I'm going to regret this," she thought to herself, as she pocketed the jewel and began to leave the school premises.
Ranma had concluded that Cologne would be a good source to start with, if the heart-shaped jewel turned out to be some kind of magical object (or something along those lines). He'd asked for privacy, so they were currently standing in the living room of the Joketsuzoku's living quarters, above the restaurant, while Shampoo and Mousse were kept busy with running said restaurant below.
"So," Cologne got right to the point, "what's this about?"
Ranma took out the heart-shaped crystal and showed it to her. "This thing."
Cologne blinked her eyes a few times in response to the unexpected sight that was being presented to her, before her eyes narrowed and focused on it more intently. After a few seconds of such scrutiny, she raised her eyes to the person holding the object of her prior attention and asked, "How did you come to be in possession of this, son-in-law?"
"Some girl at school gave it to me," Ranma answered carefully, having noticed the nature of the old woman's question. "Why? What is it?"
Cologne looked at him as if he were stupid. "You... don't know what a sailor crystal is?"
Ranma crossed his arms in indignation and began to voice his complaint. "Well, I'd know if someone would bother to tell me."
Having no reason to hold in her amusement, Cologne laughed in response.
"It isn't funny, damn it!" Ranma yelled angrily, feeling that he was being slighted for his ignorance. "Why should a guy like me, at my age, know anything about some kind of jewelry! ?"
Cologne ceased her laughter and hit Ranma over the head with her staff. "Age has nothing to do with it, son-in-law. Nor — for that matter — does gender factor that much into it, either."
"Then why don't I know what it is?" Ranma groused, as he rubbed at his abused cranium. "You make it sound like it's common knowledge, or something."
"That's because it is," Cologne replied with a half-lidded stare.
Ranma paused in his head-rubbing and blinked his eyes confusedly. "If it is, then why was I given this thing," he held up the sailor crystal, "in secret?"
"My guess is: because it's real," Cologne answered.
"Real?" Ranma questioned, feeling no less enlightened.
Cologne released a tired sigh. "Just a moment."
Ranma watched her hop out of the room on her staff, wondering if he could be missing something obvious, and whether he could live it down if knowledge got out about it. Then he looked down at the sailor crystal that he still held in his hand, wondering if it would be worth holding on to it even once he understood what it was.
When Cologne returned, it was with a newspaper in her possession. He accepted it from her when she held it out to him, and looked at the front page as directed. The headline was about the sailor senshi, and how they had stopped a gun-smuggling operation. Rather than read the article, his attention was drawn to the image of ten individuals posing on a rooftop, as well as the caption beneath it. The guy in the tuxedo didn't ring any bells, but the girls he was with were familiar in a way that bothered him, in that he could have sworn that he'd heard about them before but couldn't make the connection as to when he had.
Seeing his frown, Cologne asked, "I take it that it didn't help?"
Ranma closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose as he tried harder to remember where he'd heard of the sailor senshi before. It couldn't have been through the news, since he didn't read the newspaper and usually only bothered to watch it on the television whenever a story was in some way connected to him. Then, when a stray thought crossed his mind, about the sailor senshi's uniforms making him wonder if they were missing pompoms or ice skates, it suddenly struck him as to why they sounded familiar.
He recalled — a good while back — when Hiroshi and Daisuke had shown him erotic printouts of the sailor senshi during lunch at school. Unfortunately, Akane had caught his brief look at them. When she had seen what the content on the printouts were, she had taken his hasty look away as a sign of guilt instead of as a reaction to seeing something unexpected that he knew would get him into trouble. Ever since then he'd tried to put the sailor senshi out of his mind, knowing that showing the least bit of interest in them — in any way — would likely remind his uncute fiancée of that misunderstanding and assume that he was being perverted, which would likely include some form of physical trauma upon his person as a result.
Basically, the sailor senshi had become one of the many things that he had actively ignored, lest a certain someone got the wrong idea. And while the sailor senshi were certainly popular enough for him to hear about them in some way or another fairly often, it was also fairly easy for him to forget things he wasn't paying attention to, particularly if he never gave the limited amount of information that he did pick up any serious thought.
"Not really," he answered Cologne with a sigh, as he lowered his hand from his face and opened his eyes. "Can't you just tell me?"
Cologne obliged by going over to the low table and taking a seat. "Come, sit."
Once Ranma sat opposite of her, she said, "Sailor crystals are what sailor senshi draw their power from. They're a special type of star seed, which is something that everything in the galaxy has. But, like Sailor Moon's Ginzuishou, some sailor crystals aren't tied to a specific user, and can be adopted by anyone."
"And you think this thing is one of those?" Ranma guessed, sparing said thing a glance. After receiving a nod in response, he asked, "How can you tell?"
"It's easy enough once you've trained yourself to sense these kinds of things," Cologne explained offhandedly, which elicited a snort from Ranma. "It doesn't feel like an ordinary jewel, it gives off much more power than any other object I could name, and it looks like one of the kind I saw illustrated. So, I think it's reasonable to assume that it's a sailor crystal."
Ranma looked at her incredulously. "Wait, so you're not sure?"
"There's an easy way to find out," Cologne replied, masking her intention behind those casually-spoken words before splashing Ranma in the face with a cup of water. "After all, it's said that only females can be sailor senshi."
After wiping the water from her face with the sleeve of her shirt, Ranma glared at the person seated across from her and growled out, "Old ghoul..."
"Now, isn't that interesting," Cologne commented, ignoring the youth that she had offended as she peered closely at the heart-shaped crystal being held by said offended youth. "The energy now appears to be drawn toward your body. And if I'm not mistaken..." She paused as her scrutiny became more intense. "It appears to have a good rapport with your aura."
Ranma looked at her with an expression of incomprehension. "...Huh?"
Cologne regarded her great-granddaughter's future husband with a bland stare. "I'm saying that its nature seems fairly compatible with you as a person."
Ranma blinked her eyes a few times before shaking her head in disbelief, as she tried to hide her anxiety at the prospect that she may be compatible with something that only females could use. "Come on; as if I'm going to believe you just like that. How do you even know some of this stuff, anyway?"
After cackling with amusement (much to Ranma's displeasure), Cologne said, "So that's how it is, is it? Well, what I know is common knowledge. If you can't take my word for it, check with a friend or at your local library." She paused and grinned at the redhead across from her mischievously, knowing exactly what buttons to push. "If you're up to the challenge, that is. But I'd completely understand if you were too afraid to seek out the truth, even though I'm sure it has nothing to do with your masculinity feeling threatened."
Ranma glared at Cologne fiercely, her jaw clenched and lips drawn tight as she kept herself from rising to the bait. She wasn't about to fall for such an obvious trick, as if she had been born yesterday.
Cologne laughed at her reaction, even as she got up to leave.
While Ranma may not have been born yesterday, it turned out that he may have been born the day before yesterday: considering how it had taken two days for him to break down and make an effort to learn more about the sailor senshi despite his misgivings. He had reasoned with himself that he had just been interested in a "know thy enemy" sort of way, unwilling to admit that the few things that he knew about the sailor senshi had piqued his interest.
What he had learned was both public and common knowledge, just as Cologne had told him. When the government had reached the conclusion that the sailor senshi were real, instead of myths or vigilantes whose image had been exaggerated by wild claims, said government had made a statement — to the effect — that the sailor senshi would either fall under its direction or be considered "hostile" (by undermining its authority) aliens and treated as such.
The sailor senshi had responded by sending out letters containing basic information about themselves to various news organizations, though none had taken it seriously until someone had confirmed that there really was a palace on the moon, right where it had been indicated as proof that the letters weren't jokes. Between having the duty of protecting the planet and being Japanese citizens whose identities needed to remain a secret for the sake of their family and friends, the public outcry that had followed made the government back off.
While the sailor senshi had explained star seeds and sailor crystals in their letters, the information that had really caught his attention had been the kind regarding the sailor senshi's abilities. The power of flight alone might have been enough of a temptation for him to use the sailor crystal in his possession, but being able to teleport and travel through space had sealed the deal.
The only problem was that he wasn't a girl (or considered himself one despite the conditional physical evidence, at any rate), and had been worried that using the sailor crystal to become a sailor senshi might affect his curse — and by extension himself — in some unwanted way. However, within a week he was able to push his fears aside, due to the perks (the attention and treatment, mostly) of being recognized as a hero having enough time to stoke his ego into throwing its own weight into the matter.
That's how he eventually found herself sneaking out of the house late at night, to find a safer place to use the sailor crystal. For that reason, she chose the top of the tallest building in the area: not only because of the very limited way in which someone might be able to see her, but due to the fact that flying was on the top of her list of things to do. Well, her ultimate goal was to check out the palace on the moon, but flight would be the first thing that she would try.
"This is it," she thought to herself, as she stood on the ledge of the building and took in the sights before her. "It's now or never."
After taking a deep, calming breath, she stepped away from the ledge so she couldn't be seen by anyone below it. Then she took out the sailor crystal and looked it over, noting how harmless it appeared even as she feared the possibility that it might come with a hidden surprise in regard to her curse. However, it wasn't like she could just go up and ask a sailor senshi — who just happened to be a guy who was cursed to turn into a girl — if she had anything to worry about, so...
She held the sailor crystal aloft and said the activation phrase that came to mind. "Sailor Ecdysiast power, makeup!"
She blinked her eyes a few times, wondering if that was it. Aside from a brief flash of light, and feeling the sailor crystal settling around the star seed that she was now aware of, she hadn't noticed anything else happen. Feeling a bit disappointed by the lack of a flashy light show, she lowered the hand that had once held the sailor crystal and looked down at herself.
"...What the hell! ?" She yelped in surprise.
Instead of the uniform that she had been expecting, it was something completely different. In fact, save for the sailor collar, she wore nothing at all. The odd thing about it was that she didn't feel like she was naked: she could tell that it was still a bit windy at the top of the building, but it didn't chill her like she would have expected it to. It was little wonder as to why she had been under the impression that little had happened.
She picked at the sailor collar and muttered, "Did it malfunction, or something?"
Then it occurred to her why Yuka had been so intent on giving her the sailor crystal without wanting to stick around long enough to explain anything. She must have found herself in much the same situation as she did, and had felt too embarrassed to ever want to admit it. Even now her mind was drifting toward what Yuka would have looked like when she...
She shook her head to clear it of such thoughts, thinking that madness lie that way. That, or perhaps a sound thrashing with a blunt instrument, in the event that a certain someone ever found out what she'd just had on her mind.
Instead, she got her mind back on track and thought back to what Yuka had said when she had given her the sailor crystal. Yuka had said that she would be able to make more use out of it, which would likely be the case if she was too embarrassed to be seen naked despite the magic that hid one's identity. And since the person that she had given it to wasn't a girl (in mind, anyway), and thus didn't have much in the way of feminine modesty...
She couldn't help grinning. While she may not have had much (if anything) in the way of feminine modesty, she had plenty of feminine pride. The thought that she could show herself off without anyone knowing exactly who to be upset with, offended by or jealous of, almost inspired her to rub her hands together with glee. It had always bugged her how people expected her to conduct herself in certain ways when she was a girl, even when they knew she was a guy; and now she had a means to spite them without any consequences affecting her when she wasn't a sailor senshi.
"But that's for later," she thought to herself, as she gazed up at the moon intently. Then she looked down at herself and frowned. "As for right now..."
After she released her transformation and ceased being a sailor senshi, it was with no small amount of worry that she procured a kettle of hot water from her person and poured its contents over her head. He sighed with relief at the result, wasting little time in pouring a pail of cold water over himself and transforming back into Sailor Ecdysiast, her reservations gone and eagerness for what was to come given free reign.
Guided by the instincts that came with being a sailor senshi, she soon found herself levitating off of the building. Encouraged by how easy it was to control her ability to fly, she grinned and slammed a metaphorical foot onto the accelerator, and she spent a good while zooming around the sky above Tokyo, which included the performance of acrobatics.
Once she'd had her fill of that, she turned her eyes skyward and flew in that direction, feeling excited over the prospect of traveling through space. When she was far enough away from the Earth, she turned around to look at it, marveling at the sight. The fact that most of the planet was cast in shadow wasn't disappointing in the least.
Since space itself was vast, and many of the things worth investigating in the solar system were separated by significant distances, she wasn't about to just explore it at random. Aside from being limited by time, there wasn't exactly a lot to see or do between destinations within the vacuum of space. It was for those reasons that she'd chosen a destination ahead of time, and since the moon was the closest non-man-made object from the Earth...
Wanting to try out one of her other abilities as a sailor senshi, in addition to wanting to save some time, she teleported herself to the moon instead of flying there. It was easy to do, and she appeared a short distance away from the lunar surface, over the area where the palace was supposedly located.
The palace in question was easy enough to find, due in part to the fact that an atmosphere — by any definition of the word — was practically non-existent on the moon; that, and the palace was easy to spot against the blackness of space from the surface, though her proximity to it had been close enough to find it without having to resort to that method.
She didn't really know what to expect or what to do once she entered the palace and stood within the entrance hall, since she had no particular room of interest to explore or any intent to pilfer anything. That's not to say that she wasn't impressed by her current surroundings as she stood there, wondering what she hoped to accomplish beyond finding and seeing the very thing that had helped to legitimize the sailor senshi's message and claims. After all, it wasn't every day that one got to visit a residence on the moon, much less one that predated known history.
Before she could make up her mind on what to do, she was surprised by the sound of another's voice when she heard, "Now, this is quite unexpected."
She couldn't tell where the voice was coming from, but she whirled around to see what was behind her since she hadn't noticed anyone or anything in front of her. What she found was a woman wearing an elegant white gown, her silver hair worn in a double-odango style with a long pigtail hanging from the base of each one. But what really caught her attention was the fact that she was only tall enough to come up to her knees, and that she could actually see the floor through her.
Having experienced her fair share and variety of ghosts, she calmed down and regarded the tiny apparition with a questioning look. "A midget ghost?"
The so-called "midget ghost" smiled with amusement at her reaction. "What you see is a hologram. However, since all that remains of me is a memory in a computer, I suppose that — for all intents and purposes — the term 'ghost' applies to me."
"Okay..." Came Ranma's drawn out and somewhat uncertain reply, not knowing what to think about what had been said, or where exactly to take the conversation from there. "Um... Hi?"
She received a pleasant smile and a graceful curtsy in reply. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Saotome Ranma. I am Serenity."
Ranma's eyes blinked a few times in mild surprise. "You know me?"
"I do," Serenity answered, as several video screens appeared above her out of thin air, each showing Ranma from a different perspective. "It would have been difficult for my sensors to not notice the unnatural collapse of a mountain, much less the spontaneous creation of tornadoes outside of the usual circumstances. You piqued my interest, so I've been observing you ever since."
Something about that last part didn't sit right with Ranma. It was inspired by the video screen that showed a close-up look of her face, because she could neither see nor sense the whatever-it-was that was feeding her image to it. If Serenity could observe her without being noticed, then that could mean...
"Say," she began apprehensively, having a sneaking suspicion, "you're not watching me all of the time, are you?"
"Of course," Serenity replied, as if there wasn't anything wrong with it. Then she sighed wistfully, and her eyes acquired a far-off look to them even as they were cast elsewhere. "Oh, how I wish I were still alive..."
Ranma made a face, covering one side of it with one of her hands as the words inspired her mind to conjure up images of the older woman trying to seduce her, both as a girl and as a guy. "Oh, geez..."
When Serenity refocused her attention on the present, she raised a fist to her mouth and cleared her throat, the various video screens disappearing at the same time. "Anyway, I never would have expected us to meet, much less with you as a sailor senshi. So, what brings you here?"
Seeing the change of subject as the boon that it was, Ranma pushed her prior thoughts aside and shrugged her shoulders. "Curiosity, mostly. I wanted to try out what I can do as a sailor senshi, and since I was going to be out in space anyway..."
"I see," Serenity replied, nodding her head in understanding. "And what do you plan to do next? There are many things that you could do, and you've a whole galaxy to do them in. Though your... 'uniform,' such as it is, might present a few problems."
Ranma glanced down at herself and frowned. "Yeah, I know. While this doesn't really bother me, I'm probably gonna have to do the hero thing at night. I haven't really had much time to consider doing anything beyond that."
Serenity smiled approvingly. "Well, one must start somewhere, do they not? And I'm sure you'll do a fine job as a sailor senshi." In a more somber tone, she interrupted Ranma's mental preening by adding, "Just remember to be patient and understanding, because what you desire may not come easily."
Ranma paused at that, considering Serenity's words and their meaning, and realizing that she probably knew her well enough from her observations to know what she wanted to get out of being a sailor senshi. She'd take doing the job of a sailor senshi seriously, of course, but she wanted more than that. Aside from putting her martial arts training to good use, beyond becoming a mundane teacher, she wanted to be recognized, respected and admired. She rarely got that as Ranma, having made far too many mistakes under that identity. It was her hope that the name Sailor Ecdysiast, with its clean slate, could give her the opportunity that she needed to really feel good about herself.
"Since you're here," Serenity interrupted the redhead's thoughts, her smile returning, "how does a guided tour of the palace sound?"
Ranma considered the offer for a second before shrugging her shoulders, not knowing how else to spend the rest of her night (partly due to the fact that she wouldn't need any sleep so long as she was a sailor senshi). "Sure, why not?"
Ranma's time with Serenity had been an enjoyable affair, and he had learned a lot of interesting things about the past. He'd even taken her up on her invitation to visit her any time, even if it was just to chat. It bothered him a little that she showed interest in him in that way from time to time, but it wasn't like she could act upon said interest, and her intelligence, wisdom and wit far outweighed those instances in their conversations.
Serenity had advised him — at one point — to start small, by taking care of petty crimes and those that generally took place on the streets, but he honestly didn't know how to do anything more than that to begin with. Catching someone in various federal crimes, or investigating to collect evidence, were currently beyond his ability to conduct adequately. It didn't help that his resources were mainly restricted to himself, either.
That didn't discourage him, though; which was bolstered by the fact that Serenity would teach him what he would need to know in order to accomplish more, once he had enough experience with the simple and easy stuff. However, after two weeks of said "simple" and "easy" stuff, he came to realize that the most basic skill was also one of the most difficult: either deducing where a crime might happen, or using any number of ways to sense it and find it, so he'd actually have the opportunity to stop a crime. He'd also learned that planning out the areas that he should surveil, such as when, how long and why, was a lot better than looking around aimlessly.
He had handled a few muggings and a robbery, and a fight between two high school gangs, so he'd been paying more attention to the news as of late. Nothing too obvious, like watching the news on the television every night, since that would have been unlike himself. Mainly, he snuck glances at Soun's newspaper when it was normal to be sitting at the table with him at the time, or when he had an excuse to walk behind the man. But he also kept his ears peeled for another source of information...
"So," Sayuri said, as she and Yuka ate their lunches together with Akane, "did you hear about that crime-fighting girl calling herself Sailor Ecdysiast?"
Ranma paused in mid-bite, as his attention was riveted to the conversation happening only a single desk away. It seemed that he had finally drawn enough attention to show up in the news, though it sounded like he'd missed it. Still, he figured that gossip at school was a good enough means of finding out what his impact as Sailor Ecdysiast had been, so he listened in.
"The one doing it in the nude like some kind of pervert?" He heard Akane reply, with the lack of interest and disdain in her voice hitting him harder than being called a pervert (once again). "What about it?"
He looked askance, seeing Yuka and Sayuri sitting on either side of Akane's desk. Sayuri's back was to him while he could see Yuka's face over her shoulder, who glanced at him furtively before shifting her gaze elsewhere, looking nervous and uncomfortable. Akane was frowning, and seemed more intent on eating her lunch than holding a conversation.
"Well," Sayuri continued, whether her friends were interested or not, "it seems that she took care of two high school gangs last night."
Akane snorted contemptuously at that. "So? What do you think I used to do every morning? It's not like she's doing anything special."
"Maybe," Sayuri replied conciliatorily, "but what do you think about it? Do you think she's a real sailor senshi, or just someone of your skill level making fun of them?"
"Making fun of them?" Ranma wondered to himself, ignoring the bit about skill level, before his attention was pulled back to the conversation.
"I heard she wears a sailor collar," Yuka offered lamely.
"Which doesn't prove anything, one way or the other," Sayuri argued. "We know that all sailor senshi have sailor collars, but all prior examples have worn more than just that, and in the same style. Why would a sailor senshi be naked, anyway?"
"Who cares?" Akane grumbled, looking annoyed. "She's probably just a pervert who gets her jollies from showing herself off. And I wouldn't be surprised if she were mocking them, either. I mean, compared to what the real sailor senshi have done, what she's doing is pathetic."
Hearing the sharp sound of something snapping, all three girls looked over in his direction, but not before he'd been able to hide his broken chopsticks. He'd also turned turned his head away, so they couldn't see the cross look on his face. The tick that he'd developed on his brow was rather noticeable, too.
He wished he could have argued with them, but he knew what kind of trouble that would bring, whether he had been willing to share his secret or not. He knew that he would have to prove himself as Sailor Ecdysiast, to show everyone. However, that night, when she was looking for just such a way to prove herself, she'd been so riled up over the matter that she had forgotten that the kind of opportunity that she was looking for didn't happen at will. It didn't improve her mood at all when she remembered otherwise, so it went without saying that her temperament wasn't ideal for dealing with the other shoe when it dropped.
"Hold it right there!" Someone demanded, their voice rising above the mild din coming from the activity on the street below.
When she looked up to regard the source of the voice, she was a bit surprised by who she saw: for standing on the ledge of the building across the street from her, in a rather business-like fashion, were none other than the nine sailor senshi that had preceded her in her new profession (if it could be called that). The one called Sailor Moon — the leader of the group — was pointing at her rather rudely from the center of the group, and the looks on all of their faces didn't exactly inspire any optimistic thoughts on what to expect.
Deciding to play it cool, she stood up from behind the ledge of the building that she had been observing from. Normally she didn't expose herself so blatantly in front of others unless it was time for business, where she would show herself off properly (usually to good effect), but she could tell that the other sailor senshi hadn't intended their meeting to be private. And while she didn't like being put on the spot in front of a respectable crowd, she figured that it wouldn't do her any favors to avoid the confrontation and make it look like she had blown off the well-known (and apparently popular) sailor senshi to their audience.
"Yeah?" She asked.
Sailor Moon planted her fists upon her hips and spoke loud enough for those on the street to hear her, as her message was just as much for them as it was for the redheaded mockery before her. "I don't know why you're doing this, but we want it to stop immediately! What you're doing is wrong, and inappropriate, and we don't want anyone to associate us with you!"
Ranma blinked her eyes a few times, not particularly surprised by their perspective on the matter, and being understanding enough about it to start things off civilly. "Um, I know how this looks, but this is what I've got to work with."
Sailor Moon's brow furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean?"
Ranma swept a hand across her body. "This is my uniform."
"Ha!" Sailor Mars barked contemptuously. "As if we're going to believe that. A uniform? What uniform? Do you think we're stupid?"
"Yeah!" Sailor Venus pitched in. "I bet you're just trying to attract all of the hot guys out there so we can't hook up with any of them!" Upon seeing the mix of irritated, incredulous and deadpan expressions that earned her in the ensuing silence, she looked about herself and guilelessly asked, "What?"
With a sigh, Ranma said, "Look, I can't help it. Why do you think I avoid doing this during the day?"
"But that doesn't prove that you're a sailor senshi," Sailor Mercury reasoned. "You could be doing this at night for any number of reasons."
Ranma frowned. "Yeah, to expose myself as little as possible."
"You need only expose yourself enough to get the desired effect," Sailor Pluto countered. "Even a little bit is more than enough."
"That isn't why I'm doing this," Ranma said through grit teeth.
"Doesn't matter," Sailor Uranus spoke up, who was unable to keep a bit of an admiring eye out of the sternness of her stare. "While I can certainly appreciate what you have to offer," she paused momentarily upon receiving an elbow to the gut from Sailor Neptune, "the fact of the matter is that you shouldn't be displaying yourself like that, whether you're a sailor senshi or not."
That got her nods of agreement from all of her companions.
"So, that's how it is, huh?" Ranma asked, a smile planted on her face even as an eyebrow ticked. "And you think I'll listen just 'cause you said so?"
Sailor Jupiter grinned and began to crack her knuckles with anticipation. "We can always resolve this the fun way, if you want."
"No," Sailor Moon disagreed, as she held out a hand in front of Sailor Jupiter, "we shouldn't have to fight." With her attention still on Ranma, she added, "So, will you please stop doing this in the nude; especially if you're going to call yourself a sailor senshi?"
Ranma acted nonchalant as she shrugged her shoulders. "Sure, why not?"
While most of the sailor senshi became guarded in response, having seen through the act, those of them that remained reacted as if the answer had come unexpectedly; which included Sailor Moon, whose eyes blinked in bafflement. "What? Really?"
"Yeah," Ranma agreed, feigning affableness. "I mean, why would I want to be associated with discriminating jerks like you, anyway?"
"What! ?" Sailor Mars screeched, as their reason for confronting the supposed sailor senshi — as far as she saw it — was twisted unjustifiably into something fallacious before being turned against them. "Why, you...!"
While Sailor Moon was busy holding Sailor Mars back in addition to having to cool some of the others' heels verbally, Ranma was the picture of innocence as she regarded the scene that they were making. "Well, if this is going to be my last time as a sailor senshi, I suppose I should make the most of it." She proceeded to glare at the other sailor senshi, unaware of the tears gathering at the corners of her eyes. "If you don't like naked sailor senshi so much, then you're really not going to like this..."
Even as the sailor senshi before her prepared for an attack, she swept an outstretched hand in a horizontal arc and exclaimed, "Au Naturel Révélation!"
When nothing seemed to happen, the group of sailor senshi being led by Sailor Moon were momentarily confused. That ended quickly, however, as at least one of several things became apparent to them. One of those things was the sudden draft, which they would not have felt had they been wearing their uniforms. Another was an increase in the noise level and camera-flashing frequency coming from the street below, which had been suitably quiet since their arrival. Then there was the smug look on the redhead's face, as if what she had wanted to do had come to pass. Finally, said redhead teleported away, proving — without a doubt — that she hadn't been a normal girl.
Those things eventually led them to a shocking and mortifying discovery: they were all naked! While they hastily tried to cover themselves up or move away from the ledge of the building, or both, many of them — mostly out of fright and embarrassment — tried to transform back into sailor senshi as fast as they could. For those who did, and found out they could, their relief was sure but brief because it soon became apparent that the damage had already been done.
Not only had their nudity been caught on film, but so too had their civilian identities. What they thought had been a matter of a normal girl (who might — in actuality — be the sailor senshi that she had claimed to be) making fun of them and/or making them look bad, had become their worst-case scenario. Well, short of some enemy defeating them and accomplishing their nefarious goal(s), at any rate.
It went without saying that there was going to be a very long night ahead of them. That, and if some of them had anything to say about it, "Sailor Ecdysiast" wasn't going to live a very long life.
The following morning, as people began to read their newspapers and watch the morning news, the reaction to what had happened to the sailor senshi was both swift and substantial. By nightfall that same day (particularly after the update regarding the sailor senshi taking up residence in the palace on the moon), the sailor senshi began to receive a lot of public support, and a movement had already begun so they could live somewhat-normal lives on Earth without certain problems.
By the same token, "Sailor Ecdysiast" had become public enemy number one. That was a big part of the reason for why Ranma had gone to sulk in the bedroom that his family shared following dinner, after seeing the evening news on the television. On top of being riddled with guilt for what he had done, he was heavy-hearted regarding what he had hoped to accomplish as a sailor senshi.
"I should have known that things would turn out this way, though," he thought to himself, releasing a sigh. "I don't know why I bother anymore."
Coming to a decision, he climbed out of the bedroom window before jumping onto the roof. Then he summoned the sailor crystal into his hand and looked down at it, feeling sad yet determined: for it was time to put an official end to yet another chapter in his book of attempts to become a somebody, rather than stay a nobody. And while he could have continued to use the ability to become a sailor senshi in order to fly and travel through space, he wasn't exactly keen on encountering the other sailor senshi again, considering what had happened during their last encounter (which — he was sure — was still fresh on their minds).
Before he could think about it further and possibly change his mind, he threw the sailor crystal as far away as he could. He watched it until it twinkled for an instant alongside the stars in the night sky, at which point he turned around to return to the bedroom. However, as his yelp of surprise and pain attested, the sailor crystal had returned and struck him in the back of the head. Between the force of the blow and its unexpectedness, it was enough to send him into an ungraceful tumble from the roof, which resulted in him landing on the ground head-first.
He noticed the sailor crystal lying on the ground nearby while he was still balancing on his head, blinked his eyes a few times, then glared at it.
"You have got to be kidding me."