And so, After a Brief Time Lapse…
A young girl with pink hair was running. She refused to believe what had been placed before her. She must have simply come back too early, that had to be it.
A rather confused blonde woman had just been started on the path to madness. The pink-haired girl would continue to haunt her for some years before madness took her, but eventually it would.
The first apocalypse had been triggered.
It was late in the afternoon when the occupants of the Tendo home were finally awakened by a roar that was all too familiar to half of them, specifically the regulars. Pantyhose Taro had won the rat race to see who could escape the closet first, if only by nature of the fact that he was the first one knocked out, and therefore the first to wake up. He then proceeded to sneak out of the dojo-turned-dormitory and jump into the koi pond.
And so the usual Furinkan fare returned to the Tendos and Saotomes, along with the rest of the Nerima Wrecking Crew. Unfortunately their late-night visitors got caught up in the usual chaos as well.
Also unfortunately they were blissfully unaware of the proper protocol in this kind of situation, and so instead of letting the seasoned martial artists deal with the source of the noise that interrupted their sleep, they did what anyone would do.
They all rushed out to see what it was.
Now to be fair, this was a group of fairly experienced fighters, after all, they had effectively destroyed a massive wedding better even than the Crew did, not to mention putting down one world government-class insurrection and soundly defeating elite Seiren guards twice, once at the Space Time Administration Bureau, and again at the Home of Lord Kazuha. However, there is a very short list of things that can prepare you for something like Pantyhose Taro, and frankly the only thing that truly prepares you for him is past experience.
Which is something that the group from Seiren were sorely lacking.
Fortunately Akane had given the more experienced martial artists of Nerima Ward plenty of experience in getting civilians out of the way of the fight. Of course that was before the fiancée wars had upgraded with the wedding attempts, and she was now perfectly capable of at least holding her own against any Nerima Regular except for the obvious four.
The visiting team quite frankly froze at the sight of the yeti/ox/eel/crane/octopus in front of them, only being snapped out of their daze long enough to recognize their imminent demise as the beast attempted to pummel them into the ground. Then things got (sadly) normal again.
Smoke pellets from the two ninjas erupted around the group and Taro, followed almost immediately by chains that wrapped around them and dragged them to safety. Throwing spatulas and a chui diverted the falling arm, while sharp stone fragments covered the evacuation.
Mousse's chains somehow missed Yukinari however, and he was sent flying by the combined shockwaves of Cologne's Breaking Point and Taro's punch. As he was about to smash head first through a wall, he suddenly found his trajectory interrupted by a red blur. It took him a moment to realize that he was currently being held in the arms of a well-built red haired girl. It was at this point that he began to freak out.
"Aaagh! Putmedownputmedownputmedownputmedown! Put me down!"
The redhead currently bouncing around the Tednos' backyard looked down at the boy in her arms, cocked an eyebrow and smirked. "So then should I take that to mean you want ugly over there to put your head through a wall?"
"NO! You don't understand, Yukina's allergy to men, I'm the same way, only the other way around! I'm allergic to girls!"
Ranma's smirk went absolutely cocky at this. "Well then, I guess that it's a good thing that I'm not a girl then, isn't it? Say, I do believe that this is your stop." The martial artist handed her burden off to his friends. "Now all of you, stay here. Don't get involved in this fight or you could get hurt."
It then became apparent what Akane had been doing while the fight was going on. "Ranma! Hot water incoming!" The girl's hand snapped up to catch the kettle that her fiancée had thrown over the heads of their guests from the other end of the engawa.
"Thanks Akane! You're a life saver!"
Yukinari stopped him as he tried to return to the fray. "Wait, just what do you mean we'll get hurt, what about you? And what do you mean you're not a girl?"
If possible, Ranma's smirk grew even cockier. "I do this kind of thing on a daily basis. As for the 'not a girl' thing, well, just add hot water and – " She poured the contents of the kettle over her head, triggering the change " – I return to my birth form. Courtesy of Jusenkyo and a stupid panda."
An explosion rang out as the remaining food delivery for the wedding was used up on Taro, knocking him back and away from the house. Meanwhile the doors to the dojo burst open as the Neriman antihero speed recovery kicked in, and Kodachi and a mailbox came out, quickly followed by Principal Kuno and his son, who had finally woken up and escaped from the basement. Miss Midori quickly shut the door behind them, hoping that the children in her care could thus avoid the notice of the flying Minotaur. Maomolin was still hiding in the closet.
As the three Kunos and a mailbox joined the rest of the group, Ranma jumped up and rebounded horizontally off of the house to land next to Akane in the front of his on again off again group of friends, firing off a Moko Takabisha as he did so, sending Taro through the wall.
Ranma deemed this to be an appropriate time to begin his tirade. "Pantyhose, you went too far this time! I don't care what your grievances are, you do not attack noncombatants! More than that you made the mistake of going after noncombatants who were guests here, and are therefore under our protection. You've infringed upon everyone's honor by assaulting them. This time you don't get to just walk away."
Kirie rushed to the edge of the engawa, shouting, "No! You can't fight that thing! Run away! There's no point in getting yourself killed, let's just get out of here!"
"You obviously don't know who you're talking to." Nabiki drawled from behind them.
Kasumi nodded and called out, "Nabiki's right, you all haven't been formally introduced yet."
"Oh yeah, sorry about that." Ranma replied. "I'll skip the individual introductions for the sake of time, but Yukinari, Miharu, and everybody, there're some people I'd like for you to meet, allow me to introduce us."
Shampoo saluted with her chui, a tendril of purple hair blowing across her face, Cologne hopped up to stand on top of her staff to bring her to near-average height, Mousse snapped out the blades from his sleeves and let the sun glint off of them, Konatsu gave a small flirtatious wave with his left hand while his right fanned out a set of shuriken, Sasuke simply bowed while drawing a katana from the scabbard strapped to his back, Principal Kuno drew and spun his hair clippers around the forefingers of both hands American Gunslinger style, Kodachi gave a twirl and cast off her gown, leaving her in a leotard with two clubs in her left hand and her right twirling her ribbon around her, Tatewaki Kuno held his bokken high with his right hand and conjured lightning as he launched into a monologue that everybody tuned out, Ukyo drew a spread of throwing spatulas from her bandolier while swinging her Battle Spatula off of her back and bringing it into a low ready position, Soun Tendo was wearing his full armor and simply gave a nod to his guests as he planted the blunt end of his spear in the ground, Miss Hinako had shown up at some point during the fight and now stood next to Soun, her fishbowl in one hand while she was flipping a coin in the other, a hand waved at them from the mailbox that was Tsubasa, and Akane and Ranma were at the middle of this line of martial artists, somehow angled so that they were simultaneously side by side and back to back (a battle position they had perfected over several months of wedding attempts), her with a mallet on her right shoulder and him with the bo staff she had just handed him tucked under his left arm, an near identical cocky smirk on both of their faces.
Ranma continued, "We are the world's foremost group of martial artists. Everybody, meet the Nerima Wrecking Crew... well most of us anyway." The absence of the lost boy was notable.
And then a roar came from behind them and the group turned almost as one to face their opponent and proceeded to take Pantyhose Taro apart. He would be released from the hospital a week later.
Ryoga was actually beginning to wonder if even Ranma was capable of causing this kind of mess. On top of Naru and Tofu, he had managed to pick up a lady who wouldn't tell them anything about herself, a weird pale girl called Kanna who seriously creeped him out, and a guy with pointed ears who all but refused to acknowledge the others' presence. Ryoga wasn't entirely sure that that guy was human.
What was even stranger was that everybody seemed to be following him since he was the only one who seemed to be capable of going anywhere.
Setsuna Meiou found herself in the uniquely rare position of being worried. Or rather, she was terrified. Any time that he showed up it could only mean trouble. Add to that the fact that she couldn't seem to access the gate, and she would have been willing to bet that Crystal Tokyo had just become a pipe dream, if she were willing to admit to the possibility of that occurring.
As she walked into the office and turned the lights on, she noticed a note sitting on the corner of the desk.
I know that you're going to read this at some point, so I can only ask that you not try to find me. It would only serve to complicate things even more than they have already been. Wait here, I'll be coming back as soon as I finish a few errands. There's food in the mini-fridge.
She scowled, she always hated it when someone left her out of the loop, and nobody could do it quite so irritatingly well as him. She would have to trust him on this one though; he had really left her no other choice. She walked behind the desk and sat down to wait for the single most aggravating man in any universe to show up so she could throttle him.
In the meantime she amused herself by using a pad of paper from his desk drawer to chronicle the various ways she was going to seek retribution against him.
Usagi and her friends used the opening from the mysterious stranger's exit to break off their "peace talks" with their various families and initiate an emergency meeting behind closed doors. Needless to say, this left said families divided along a battle line of those who supported the girls and those who wanted them to stop. The one exception was Rei's father who had regained consciousness during the visit and made the mistake of trying to bully the stranger into telling them everything. He was still in shock over learning that when they had jumped realities he had somehow wound up with the same position and responsibilities, but with almost no political power to speak of.
Thus the eight girls and Mamoru found themselves in the Outers' kitchen, trying to decide on a course of action. Unsurprisingly the most ardent supporters for following the visitor's instructions were Usagi and Michiru, while Mamoru didn't trust the man in the least, Minako and Makoto were all for him (not caring in the slightest what his plan was), and Haruka, Rei, and Ami were at varying points on the line that runs from caution to trust.
This discussion had been going about as far as the farce with the parents when Hotaru finished her bowl of ice cream and looked around at her arguing teammates. Sighing, she stood up, picked up a small piece of paper from off of the counter, and walked over to the phone. None of the others noticed what she was doing until she had actually started dialing and Haruka asked her what she was doing.
Hotaru turned and looked at her friends, her conveying her rather frank appraisal of their current intelligence level. "I'm calling that number he gave us, Usagi and Mamoru need a place to sleep and that futon in the living room really won't work for long."
"But Hotaru, we don't know that we can trust th–"
"I do." Hotaru cut her surrogate 'father' off.
Everyone was slightly taken aback by her vehement approval of him, but it was Michiru who asked the question on everyone's mind. "What do you mean?"
The girl turned her gaze to her mother and something in her eyes said that for the moment she was as serious as she had been in the battle with Pharaoh 90, they all would have sworn that an image of an adult Hotaru, in full uniform and prepared to lower the Silence Glaive, had been overlayed in their mind's eye with the girl before them. "You didn't see it, did you? The pain? The regret? The failure? I know that look. I've seen it on that level exactly twice. He failed. He failed and it cost him, and if it didn't cost a lot more people besides, then it's about to. The only thing on his mind is fixing this, or at least minimizing damage. His only intention is to save as many people as he can. We can probably trust him as much as we can the princess."
Usagi nodded. "All right then, if you're so sure about this Hotaru, then go for it."
A rather persistent ringing cut through the silence of the nearly empty building, causing Setsuna to glare at the offending device, finally giving in and answering. It was then that she received her second small shock since arriving, specifically hearing the voice of her adoptive daughter on the line.
"Hotaru? How did you know where I am? No – forget that – I can guess. What do you need?"
"Setsuna-mama? Is that you? Hold on I'm going to put you on speaker phone." A button press later the voice of their absent ally was heard repeating her previous question, namely: "How can I help you all?"
Since she had been the one who called in the first place, Hotaru took it upon herself to explain.
"This guy showed up here, I think he mentioned knowing you actually, and gave us a long explanation about how we're in some sort of alternate reality right now. He also seemed to know that there's some hostility going on over here, and said that we should call this number if we needed a fix for a housing problem."
It was at this point that, on the other end of the line, Setsuna noticed that the computer for the workstation she was at was on, just asleep. She jiggled the mouse to wake it up.
A string of curses that would have made most galactic pirates quail erupted from the phone in a dozen languages from as many periods across time. "Setsuna-mama, what's wrong?"
"He tricked me! That jerk actually tricked me into playing secretary for him. There's even a checklist here with everything I've already done checked off! I don't believe him! He had my every action timed down to the last second! What kind of jerk does that to somebody!?"
She received a rather noticeable silence in response.
"Cute. I assume that you're calling about the apartments for Usagi and Mamoru, Shingo, and – that can't be right, did something else happen while I was gone? I have an apartment here booked for both of Ami's parents."
"No, I don't think Mom's come around, but maybe there's another situation that we don't know about, he does seem to be the one holding all the cards."
"Alright, he's done me the courtesy of already having this paperwork filled out, so I'm going to go ahead and file and submit it. I'm guessing that you want to try and get some distance between people to try and defuse this?"
Minako nodded, a pointless gesture given the present means of communication, but an instinct and habit nonetheless. "Yeah, after the way Usagi lit into her parents, she can't exactly crash with them like the original plan."
Hotaru gave a very feline grin that she had picked up from the lunar cats while she put her two bits' worth in. "Yup, besides, the sooner Usagi and Mamoru get some privacy, the sooner I get to see Chibiusa again."
Michiru facefaulted, Mamoru choked, and Haruka burst out laughing at the girl's rather brash comment. By far however, the most memorable reaction was Usagi's. She 'EEEP'ed, went several shades redder than the crimson top she was wearing, and managed to trip over her chair as she tried to stand up, ending up on the floor with a clatter, still waving her hands in front of her defensively and stuttering incomprehensible denials.
Hotaru smirked as she walked past the prone girl on her way out of the kitchen. "That's for stealing my ice cream this afternoon."
On the other end of the phone, Setsuna finished submitting the paperwork in silence, silently chuckling as she envisioned the scene at the Outers' home.
"Another Mew Mew?"
Ryou turned to look at Ichigo. "Yes and no. She is basically a Mew Mew in all but name, but apparently her project was the prototype for this one. When the Mew Mew Project was declared a success, she was reassigned here. She still operates somewhat independently, but she does come around from time to time."
Raimu was ecstatic, "A new Mew Mew! What's she like? What's her name?"
Keiichiro answered while still reading the screen. "Apparently she's very similar to Ichigo, her transformation is based on another type of cat. Her codename is Tokyo Black Cat Girl."
Yukinari and his friends were all on their way home in a mild daze, having gotten the full story of Nerima's recent history from the group at the dojo. They had respectfully taken their leave though, and were on the train home when something even stranger occurred.
Every last communications device that any of them owned went off simultaneously: pagers, cell phones, email, even a paper airplane that wound up hitting Yukinari between the eyes. The same message was on all of them.
Don't go home. Don't go to your school or jobs. Do not contact anyone you know. Go to the Fukuyama estate. Wait there. Do not leave. This is not the world you know. Everything you think you know has changed. I'll contact you when I can.
– A friend
Tofu finally managed to bring his newest patient back to consciousness, the young girl's eyes fluttering open to see the group that Ryoga had somehow managed to accumulate. She then stated the first thing on her mind in the most eloquent manner possible for her at the moment, "oooooooooooooooooowwwwww."
The good doctor smiled. "He's with us."
"What happened, who are you people?"
"It's alright, I'm a doctor. We aren't sure just what happened yet, the last thing any of us seem to remember is a flash of light and then we woke up here. We aren't even sure where 'here' is. Now I need to check if you're hurt. Sudden unconsciousness can sometimes result in a concussion; can you tell me your name?"
"Yuuki… Yuuki Tachibana."
Sakura laid the last card – ironically "The First" – on the table in front of her. She had just finished informing everybody of the secret battles that had been fought years ago, as well as her own magical abilities. She had even demonstrated a bit, several people were still in shock over the fact that she could fly. She almost laughed; her friends were finding it harder to believe that she was the most powerful mage in the world than they had that they were in an alternate dimension.
Of course, she couldn't have known that her brother had already known about it, and she was only filling in some of the details for her. He had gone catatonic after seeing the ring on her left hand.
The crew of the TDD-1 was rather worried at the moment, they had gotten to Tokyo Bay, but had to keep their ECS up, as per protocol in a situation where there was a potential war going on with unknown sides. This was compounded by the fact that they couldn't get anyone to answer on the secure frequencies. They were almost ready to just sail in and hope for the best, because Chidori and the Captain needed a real hospital now.
Then somebody finally picked up on the other end of their transmissions.
"Hello? If you can hear me stop transmitting… good, I managed to get through. Listen, I need to speak with Captain Testarossa."
"This is Commander Richard Mardukas. Captain Testarossa is currently unavailable."
"Commander, protocol is out the window at this point. If you must have confirmation of my clearance level, have your man check the frequency that we are currently speaking on."
Mardukas looked over at the communications officer, who was looking rather pale. "Well?"
"S-s-sir, we're receiving him on every frequency."
"So it's an open channel?"
"N-no sir, even an open communication has a frequency, he's transmitting a coded message on every frequency."
"What it means Commander is that I am using a communications unit that is an exact match for the one on the Tuatha de Danaan, and I'm sure you know exactly how many of those there are."
"I'm not sure I catch your meaning."
"Tell me, have you ever noticed that during the Captain's staff meetings there's that one chair that nobody ever occupies? Given the recent turn of events, I would have to assume that since Captain Testarossa is not in fact on the bridge, she is somehow incapacitated. The fact that Kalinin is not available either tells me that he is keeping an eye on her, which makes this a medical emergency. That established, I have a question I need to ask you, and you can either answer it or put somebody competent on the line, perhaps a member of the AS team."
"What is your question sir?"
"Is the captain's current condition connected in any way to her whispered status or Kaname Chidori?"
There was a brief stunned silence before Mardukas decided that he really had no choice but to trust the man.
For the first time since he had first seen Akane in a wedding dress, Ranma Saotome was stunned. He silently passed the letter he had just finished reading to said girl, her being the other addressee. Her eyes widened, open shock replacing confusion on her face. The letter dropped from her fingers as she finished it.
"What now Ranma?"
The boy sighed, "I don't know, I just don't know. There's always been some way to fight, but this… there's nothing we can do to change this."
"So what does that mean for us?"
"Nothing. This doesn't change things between us, it just means that we might have to fight a little harder to stay together, but I promise you this, we will be together. If that letter's right, and reality itself was rewritten, then that means it can be done. So if we have to go that far, I promise you Akane, this will work out."
"What about the others?"
"They'll have to figure out what they want to do on their own… this is a chance to start over, and I want to do it with you. So let's start here, because apparently in this version we've never met before." Ranma stood up and faced his fiancée. "I'm Ranma Saotome." He waved, gesturing towards the world in general, smirking as he did so. "Sorry about this…"
Akane smiled back at him, recognizing the words from the night they met and responding in kind, "That's alright, I'm Akane do you want to be friends?"
Ranma's smirk turned into an open grin. "Yeah, I think I'd like that…"
It had just started to rain at the home of the Outers when a knock came at the door. Haruka opened it to find the last person she had expected to see, especially considering that he had left not that long ago. "What are you doing back here!?"
The boy sighed, it had been the reaction he was expecting, he supposed he should count himself lucky that Setsuna hadn't lost patience with the runaround he had her on and come back yet. "Hello to you too. I need to borrow Dr. Mizuno and Saturn for a bit."
Haruka cocked an eyebrow. She would not come across as the overbearing parent and drive her daughter to this stranger in a fit of rebellion. "I don't suppose that you can tell us why you need them?"
"Not really. I can say that there are two lives at stake in the immediate sense and possibly all of reality in the long term."
Haruka's initial shout of surprise had attracted attention from various members of the household, including Michiru and Hotaru, who had been in the middle of a lecture from the latter to the former about what was and wasn't appropriate in teasing Usagi. The interrupting fits of giggling were severely detracting from the effect.
Upon hearing the visitor at the door, they listened in on the conversation he was having with Haruka. Their eavesdropping was soon interrupted by their own heated yet quiet conversation, which ended when Haruka stuck her head in and asked Michiru to get Dr. Mizuno. With her (relatively) delicate lover successfully out of the way, Haruka went into full parent mode and began interrogating her adoptive daughter. "Hotaru, how much do you trust this guy really?"
In a near repeat of the earlier scene in the kitchen, Hotaru's face grew serious, seeming to lose all traces of childhood and innocence, a truly terrifying effect on an apparently thirteen year old girl. "Haruka-papa… he ranks somewhere between you and Michiru-mama… and Usagi in full Princess Serenity mode…"
Haruka deflated slightly at this, then remembered why she had wanted Michiru out of the room and asked the question that had been on their mind since Hotaru had first stated that she trusted the stranger. "You said that you recognized something in his eyes; that you had seen a similar look before."
"Yes, he hides it well but it's there, behind what he shows, as long as you know what to look for…"
"And you know."
"I already told you, I've seen it before."
"Where though? You said you had seen it twice, but never told us who you saw it on."
In response Hotaru summoned the Silence Glaive, tears beginning to form in her eyes. "Here. Right here, as it passed by eye level on the way down."
Haruka found herself staring at her own reflection in the blade of her daughter's weapon.
Usagi in full princess mode again, the Outers, the Mizunos, and their visitor were seated around the table that had been recently used for the negotiations between the Sailors and their families. The argument was on its nineteenth cycle.
"If you want Hotaru and Dr. Mizuno to come with you, then you have to take us all along."
"I can't do that."
Ami interrupted before cycle twenty could begin, "Can you at least tell us why you can't take anyone else along?"
The visitor hesitated, and then nodded. "What we're dealing with is a medical emergency involving two key members of one of the other groups. If I bring in your entire team without being able to warn the group about what's going on, suddenly we become a potential threat… imagine if Usagi and Hotaru were comatose, that's essentially where they are."
Usagi nodded, "Alright, so you have to have as small a team as possible… how are you planning on getting Hotaru and Ami's mom to them? I assume teleporting is out?"
"I was going to take them out to the sub in a speedboat, unless you happen to have an alternate suggestion?"
"Well, we do happen to have an excellent helicopter pilot on hand…"
The boy smiled. "And nobody bothers to put a pilot in a head count. I see where you're going with this, and it could work… although I do have to point out that Haruka won't be able to use her own helicopter."
The girl in question shrugged. "That's fine, I can fly anything you throw at me."
Five minutes and one teleport later, standing on top of a parking garage in Downtown Tokyo, Haruka was picking her jaw up off the floor as an MH-67 Pave Mare had its ECS dropped remotely directly in front of her. The only male in the group of four smirked at her, "So, ready to land an invisible chopper on an invisible submarine?"
His only response was a wordless nod.
In another part of Tokyo, a man was sitting at the head of a table. This would not have been noteworthy if not for the fact that everyone else around the table had two things in common. One, they were holograms. Two, they were all on Interpol's most wanted list.
As his meeting came to a close, the holograms disappeared, and he stood up and began to walk out. Another man with some rather out of place tattoos peeking out from the sleeves of his lab coat met him in the hall and handed him a report.
Demonic energy had been detected, Designation: Youkai. It was weaker, so it was probably young. A very feral smile graced the first man's features. Demons would fetch a very nice price on the black market. They were classified as endangered and protected by various world governments. Specifically the ones that weren't currently trying to eradicate them.
A young demon would be a status symbol, sold to a private collector as a pet, possibly as a… companion, or even more commonly as a trophy, provided you could find a taxidermist who wouldn't charge you through the nose. Actually, he might even be able to sell it to the Americans, or even the Germans or Russians, as a test subject for their endless military-driven experiments. Maybe he should just skip all the price haggling and let them drive each other's offers up… first things first though.
"Tell our boys that the ones who bring it in get a share of the take; that should skip mistakes. Send out our gangs and bring me that demon."
The message was sent throughout the ranks of a young Yakuza that was no longer playing by the rules.
The second apocalypse had been triggered.
A/N: And I'm back again. Just in case anybody's wondering about the change in the summary, the original one was just something I'd slapped together for the sake of having one, and I'd been planning on (Read: putting off) replacing it for a while. I finally had it pointed out to me rather bluntly that the original summary wasn't descriptive at all and was probably at least partially behind the apparent lack of interest in this story (I don't think I ever cleared 50 visitors in one day), and even I have to admit that it was a whole lot of words saying a whole lot of nothing.
In reference to the actual story, I've finally got some of the balls rolling on the plot, three guesses as to how many apocalypses there are going to be... forewarning you, their numbering is based on the order they're triggered in (events and circumstances lock them into happening), not the order they happen in. Just in case I have some overlap.
Ryoga's mini-arc picking up strays is almost over, just one or two more chapters to go and then I'll let him out of the interdimensional void. After that I'm probably going to form them into a loose group, although I'm still on the fence about having them join in Ryoga's endless world tour... We'll just have to see where that goes.
Anybody who's wondering about Cologne's using the Breaking Point, she is quite obviously capable of using it, even if she doesn't usually. And everyone who read the first version of this (which I changed for obvious reasons) knows that I actually accidentally wrote Ryoga into that scene and I didn't want to completely rewrite it, so since Cologne wasn't doing anything at the time...
To anyone who's still reading at this point, thank you for sticking with this story so far. My muses use you as their weapon of choice when clocking me over the head and dragging me through this story.
Thanks for reading,