Author's Note: Well here we are. My first posted work in... years... The irony is, despite fundamentally altering my writing process in that time, this story was written and is being posted very much spur of the moment. The only reason I'm starting to put this up now is because it shouldn't be too long of a story, so I think I should be able to finish it soon enough. We'll see I guess. I'm expecting between four and six "parts". The first two are done, second part still needs to be edited, with some of the third part started, but it's rough at the moment. I don't really have an estimation for when it'll be completed, but I'm thinking next chapter will be posted sometime next week.
Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma 1/2 or Sailor Moon. I'm only going to say this once, so this one disclaimer should cover the entire story. A blanket disclaimer if you will. I also don't own anything else that may pop up, because I'm apparently incapable of writing a single two story crossover without crossing with damn near everything else.
Ranma Saotome opened her eyes to reveal what looked like a large, crystalline ballroom. It was an impressive structure, bigger than anything she could remember, filled with a warm, relaxing glow from the lights above, and she started to get lost in the sights. Then her eyes landed on a young woman about her own age, wearing a magnificent white gown. Her long, bright blonde hair was done up with two buns atop her head, with the rest of her hair flowing down in a pair of streamers that nearly touched the floor. It took her a moment to realize she was severely underdressed in what she'd gone to bed in, a black tanktop that strained against her breasts and a pair of shorts.
"Where am I?" the martial artist asked the girl, who may as well have been a princess, seemingly the only other person around in the overly large room.
"This is the main ballroom of the Moon Palace. But I think this is actually a dream," the girl admitted sheepishly before her smile disappeared for a much more pensive expression. "There's no way this could actually be happening..."
Ranma shrugged and scratched at her bright red hair. "Eh, I've seen weirder. So is this your dream or mine?"
"Dunno. I'm not very good at this whole metapsychological stuff." She paused, cocking her head to the side. "Yeah, I think that's the right word, maybe. I think I heard Ami use it once. Whatever. I'm not even sure why I'm in my Princess Serenity dress without actually taking on that form. If I had to guess, I'd say I'm supplying the location, but this is a shared dream. I don't think I've ever met you before, but the Silver Crystal is telling me that you're the best choice."
Ranma started to walk around the ballroom casually. "Well I'm Ranma Saotome. Sorry 'bout how I look. Pop musta left the window open."
The girl seemed confused by her statement for a moment, but she shrugged it off as inconsequential. "That's okay. I'm Usagi Tsukino, reincarnation of Princess Serenity and the pretty suited soldier Sailor Moon. I kinda need your help..." She was reluctant to admit it, but she pushed forward anyway.
Ranma froze up. "You're Sailor Moon?"
"You've heard of me?" Usagi seemed oddly ecstatic by this.
She turned away from the suddenly bubbly blonde slowly. "Er, kinda. Akane's a big fan a yers."
A bright smile blossomed on the reincarnated princess's face. Despite being in heels, she was quick to be by Ranma's side, grasping her hands gently. "That's great! Maybe after this is done, I can see about signing some things for her with the others. I'm sure your friend would love that!"
"Uhh... yeah, I guess. Not sure I wanna tell her I met you in my dream."
"Oh come on, as long as you don't mention my name, it should be fine."
Ranma stared at her blankly. "She's my fiancée and she tends ta get jealous."
"Ooh, how cute! I have a couple of friends in that sort of relationship."
"Our fathers set it up!" she shouted instinctively before settling down with a grumpy frown. It actually looked more like a pout with her feminine face. "They keep tryin' ta push us together no matter what we say or think."
Usagi stood motionless as she processed what the redhead had said. "But why would... arrange... two girls... You know what, it's not important right now. I really need your help. This afternoon, an enemy attacked. We thought it would be a cakewalk, but it was a trap. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I think I'm in a coma."
"I ain't gotta kiss ya, do I? Akane'd clobber me good, even if it's for a good cause."
"What, no!" Usagi shouted, her face bright red. "I need you to take my transformation brooch and take my place as Sailor Moon until I wake up! Please Ranma! I don't know why, but I think you're the only one who can help the others while I'm away!" She had a desperate, pleading look in her eyes.
Pained though she was from the look, Ranma's blank face returned. "But I'm a guy. Aren't magical girls supposed to be... girls?"
"Well you look like a girl to me."
"I toldja," an exasperated Ranma sighed, "Pop left the window open. It rained and my curse activated. Normally, I'm a guy."
Usagi moaned in confusion and shook her head, causing the streams of golden hair to bounce around chaotically. "But why would it choose a guy? And if you're a guy, why do you turn into a girl? Things used to be so simple!" she whined. Ranma had to wonder how being a costumed hero fighting with magic against whatever great evil was threatening the world was simple, but then she realized she had no right to judge.
"Yeah, still not the weirdest thing to happen to me," the redhead quipped, counting off on her fingers the times that were, in fact, weirder in her mind. Hell, she was already assuming this would involve her curse getting locked somehow. That would be par for the course as far as she was concerned.
With a whimper, Usagi finally just accepted the situation and held out a glittering heart shaped brooch. It was mostly pink, with bits of gold and various colored gemstones attached to it. "I'm not sure how long we have before you wake up. I don't have much of a sense of time in here. Just take my brooch. If you raise it to the sky and call out the transformation phrase, you should become Sailor Moon instead of me. I'm not sure if it'll really work, but something tells me it will."
Ranma reluctantly took the brooch from her and looked it over. "Man, does it have to be so girly? I get caught with somethin' like this and I'm never gonna live it down." She slipped it into her pocket with a sigh. "It's a martial artist's duty to help the weak, so I guess I'll take your place for a bit. What do I gotta say ta make this thing work?"
Usagi's face lit up with a bright smile. "I can tell you're a very pure, honest person. You won't regret this! Just call out 'Moon Cosmic Power, Make Up' and you should transform. I don't think you'll have access to my Super or Eternal forms, but we can discuss this later. As for attacks... Moon Tiara Action would work, I'm sure. It was the very first one I used when I first became Sailor Moon. Just grab your tiara and charge it with magic, then throw it."
"Moon Cosmic Power, Make Up. Moon Tiara Action. Got it."
"Thank you Ranma. I don't know if I'll ever be able to repay you for this, but I'll sure try. Starting with some ice cream."
An ice cold bucket of water to the face brought Ranma out of her sleep. As she spit the water out of her mouth and shook it out of her braid, she looked up to see Akane standing over her with an empty bucket. She hopped to her feet before Akane could toss a possible second volley of water. "What was that for?!"
"Kasumi wanted me to wake you up for breakfast. You were already a girl." The muscular blue haired Tendo school heir and Ranma's number one fiancée shrugged. "I figured it wouldn't matter. Besides, you shouldn't be sleeping in just because it's Golden Week." There was a look in her eyes that told her not to argue. It would only cause trouble.
Unfortunately, Ranma didn't heed the advice her brain was telling her. "Well ya coulda woken me up like a normal person instead of takin' lessons from Pop."
Her jaw rattled from the uppercut to the chin she frankly should have seen coming. Akane stormed off in a huff, her parting words simply being, "Fine! See if I help you out next time!"
Sitting on the ground, Ranma cradled her chin and rubbed it gently. Damn, she hits like a truck. Slowly, she picked herself up and started to stretch. It didn't take long before she felt a strange weight in her pocket. Worried that Happosai might have stuffed some weird, magical doodad on her again, she reached in to remove it, and promptly gasped when she realized what it was.
"No way," she whispered to herself as she stared at the brooch Usagi had given her in her dream. She should have expected the dream to be real. After all, it wasn't the weirdest thing she'd ever been through, but she couldn't comprehend the idea that Sailor Moon herself would tell her her secret identity and ask for her help. Not to mention she really didn't want to dress up in such an embarrassing costume to fight the forces of evil, but she'd given Usagi her word.
A quick trip to the furo and she was once again comfortably male. He was taller and more muscular in his male form, trading a bit of his speed for more strength. He'd come to see that each form had its particular uses, but his birth form was, and would always be his favored one.
After getting dressed, he slipped the brooch into his pocket and raced down the stairs. "Where are you going?!" Akane asked him in bewilderment as he headed for the door.
"Got someplace to be," he replied quickly, hoping to get out before Nabiki started to assemble a way to follow him, which she'd be working on almost immediately.
"But what about breakfast?"
"I'll pick somethin' up on the way. See ya!" He closed the door behind him and raced away along the rooftops. He was gone before anyone could say otherwise.
Rei Hino sighed long and hard as she hung up the phone. "Mamoru still isn't answering. I don't know what to do."
"We'll keep trying," Makoto assured her. "It would be so much easier if he had an answering machine. Or if he were still in the country for that matter. But I'm sure we'll get through to him eventually."
The four Guardian Senshi were sitting around a table at Rei's home at the Hikawa Shrine. Tensions were high as they tried to come to terms with the fact that Usagi had been hurt during the fight. It had been their duty to protect her, and they'd failed. It didn't help that she'd thrown herself in front of an attack meant for them. It was only thanks to the Outers that they'd escaped with their lives, and the life of their princess. Thanks to them, they took out not only the monsters, but the woman leading them, the same woman that had injured Usagi with her powerful magic attack. None of them bought for one second that their newest problem was taken care of with that.
Minako turned to the brainiac of the group, twirling her blonde hair around a finger absently. "Do you think she'll be okay Ami?"
"I don't know..." she answered. "We had to lie to my mom about what happened to her. All I know is that she's in a coma, and I don't know when, or even if she'll wake up. The Mercury Computer indicated that she seems to be using her magic to heal slowly, but... I don't know why."
"But if it says she's healing, she should be fine, right?"
"I don't know. Her magic is... out of sync or something. That attack really messed her up, and not just physically. I have no idea what's going on."
The girls furrowed their brows and sighed. Things were supposed to be simple, and yet, one battle had turned their lives on their heads. Somehow, they would have to face this newest enemy without their princess. They just weren't sure if they could.
Like a dog, Ranma shook the water from her hair. She should have known by now that the wet stuff came from anywhere and everywhere just to take aim at her. This time, she let any irritation that came with the inconvenience go and accepted that, for now, her girl form was probably more acceptable. According to what she'd picked up from that nerdy kid who doused her, this was the right place.
She opened the door to the lobby and shuffled in, doing her best to appear worried. She walked up to the hospital's front desk with her head hung low, a few tears in the corners of her eyes, and a sniffle of sadness that broke the hearts of the staff. "Um, I heard my friend was here, and I was wondering if I could visit her... Her name is Usagi Tsukino."
The nurse on staff did a quick search. "Yes, she's been admitted here. Visiting hours don't start for another half hour, but..." the nurse smiled warmly, "since you seem like you really want to see her, and it looks like you've been through a lot to visit, I can make an exception." She gave her the room number and explained the girl's condition as they knew it. Ranma thanked her and shuffled out of sight toward the room after signing in with a fake name.
Once she was out of sight, she dropped all pretenses and found the room as quickly as she could. Really, it was too easy for her to play people to her advantage in girl form. She found Usagi inside, hooked up to a multitude of machines she could only guess as to what they did. She was a mess, but even with her iconic hair let down, she was obviously the same girl she'd seen in her dream the night before. "Geez Usagi, ya look like crap."
Obviously, the blonde did not reply, though she could have sworn she heard a pouty retort somewhere in the back of her mind. That was okay though. She didn't need to hear her reply to fully confirm what had happened during her dream. She paced around the room for a moment. There was very little she could do to help Usagi recover quicker. Maybe if she had another dream, she'd see about sending Tofu to check things out. Kasumi had said he'd set up a clinic somewhere in Minato.
"I know I said this last night in the dream, but I'll do what I can ta help yer friends. It's the least I could do after ya came ta me for help." It was awkward, talking to someone who might not be able to hear her and unable to reply. "I still ain't too sure about this whole dress up thing, but if I gotta..."
She pulled the brooch out of her pocket and stared at it, deciding right then and there that even in her current condition, the transformation item fit Usagi much better than it did herself. Too bad it ain't like a dagger or somethin'. She slipped it back into her pocket and resumed her pacing. "Just one thing Usagi. I ain't too sure how I'm supposed ta know they need my help."
As if in response, a large cloud of smoke billowed up from a street nearby, announcing in concert with the dull throb in her head that something was going down. With a sigh, Ranma gripped the brooch. "Well that's one way..." She walked over to the window and slid it open. "We'll talk more tonight I guess, maybe."
With one last look at the bedridden blonde, Ranma leapt out the window and raised the brooch. "Moon Cosmic Power, Make Up!"
"The Outers are on their way!" Mercury called out to the others. "Mercury Aqua Rhapsody!" The blast of water generated by her harp slammed into her target, but the creature was tough, unlike anything they'd seen prior to the day before. The creatures were tall and bulky, but surprisingly quick. Their skin was mostly a sick orangey yellow, while their arms and legs were lean and powerful, tipped with wicked claws that were made to tear things apart. Their faces were almost animalistic, with a short snout and beady eyes that reflected their primal instincts. Despite that, they were frighteningly intelligent.
They took their attacks like minor annoyances and shrugged them off before responding in kind with attacks of their own. At best, their attacks stunned them. Putting down just one took a lot of work. They were currently outnumbered against five of these things, and that was after managing to take the one out already.
Mercury hit the deck as a wave of heat came her way, barely avoiding the attack. She scrambled to her feet to avoid giving the enemy a chance to capitalize on her downed state. The last thing she wanted was to join Moon in the hospital. She'd been paired up with Jupiter, hoping that her lightning would be a great pair with her own water and ice, but so far, the mystery creatures hadn't really given them a chance to let the combo loose. A quick glance at Mars and Venus told her that they weren't faring any better.
Another heat wave slammed into Jupiter, throwing her into the Senshi of Ice and knocking the breath from her lungs. Mercury gasped for air as Jupiter struggled to stand. The creature loomed over both of them with what looked like a sickening grin on its maw. It raised its sharp claws and prepared to strike.
A blur of blue and red streaked in through the air and landed on the creature's head. The mysterious figure found a grip on the thing and used its momentum to launch the creature into the sky. With the creature helplessly airborne, the figure took advantage. "Moko Takabisha Revision: Moonlight Fang!"
A bluish white orb flew from the figure's hands and slammed into the creature as it sailed through the air, detonating on impact in an explosion. The creature landed some ways away, dazed from the assault and struggling to stand. "You girls okay?" the figure, now identified as a redheaded girl with her hair in a braid asked them. Strangely, she was wearing a blue fuku with a pair of red bows and red boots. Affixed to the front bow was a familiar heart shaped brooch. She looked like a well done Sailor Moon cosplay, complete with gloves trimmed in red, a red choker with a crescent moon on it, and a golden tiara on her forehead.
"It's dangerous here," Jupiter said urgently as she climbed to her feet. "You need to get out of here."
The girl snorted in amusement. "It ain't me ya gotta worry about." And then she shot off like a bullet toward the nearest creature. She moved so fast, they were having trouble keeping track of the way she moved.
The creatures weren't prepared for a full on assault from this new girl. Systematically, she tore into them with expert precision. She danced between three of them, throwing punches and kicks at them while they wildly tried to claw her. One managed to tag her, but she ignored the wound and pressed on.
"Jupiter, whoever that girl is, help her out," Venus ordered. "Mercury, help me and Mars take on the remaining two while the others are distracted."
Mercury nodded and snapped off a quick Shine Aqua Illusion at one of them while Mars blasted the other with a Burning Mandala, using their quicker attacks to keep them on their toes.
"Moon Tiara Action!" Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter all froze at the call of the attack. The redhead grasped the tiara on her head and quickly threw the golden disc at one of the creatures. It ripped through the creature's midsection with little effort and returned to her in one smooth motion. It remained in her hand for barely a second before she launched the attack at another of the creatures. It too bit the dust. She was about to throw it at the third one when she was slammed hard by a heat wave.
The girl went tumbling ass over head away from the battle until she came to a stop upside down with her short skirt around her waist. "Stupid skirt and heels..." she grumbled under her breath before hopping back to her feet.
The sight of the mystery girl being hit by the attack was enough to snap Jupiter out of her daze. The wreath of oak leaves on her head gave off a green glow as she called upon its power. "Jupiter Oak Evolution!" Between the damage already inflicted by the Senshi and the redhead, the powerful blast of magic was enough to destroy the creature.
Not suffering from the same shock as the others, Venus was already on one of the remaining two creatures. She grabbed at the chain around her waist and flicked it out. "Venus Love and Beauty Shock!" The chain whipped out at lightning speeds, covered in electricity as she slammed it into the creature. With a quick flick of her wrist, she reversed course and scored another hit. "Don't just stand there guys! Help me out!"
"Shine Aqua Illusion!
"Kijin Raishuu Dan!"
The blasts of fire and water were enough to weaken it for the vacuum blades to rip the creature apart. The redhead Moon cosplayer dashed for the last one, the one she'd originally blasted with her revised Moko Takabisha, but her assault was cut off as a series of attacks slammed into final creature, destroying it with little effort. She skidded to a stop and turned her attention to the three newcomers, each wearing a personalized fuku befitting their position as defenders of Earth.
"Sorry we're late," the blonde said. Her eyes remained on the redhead, and she tightened her grip on her sword instinctively.
"Uranus, Neptune, Pluto! You made it!"
Neptune nodded. Like her partner, her gaze was fixed on the girl in the Sailor Moon garb. "No one seems seriously hurt. That's good. Who is this?"
All attention was turned to the redhead as she scratched at the base of her braid nervously. Mars seemed to take charge as she walked up to her, her fierce stare burning like the fires she commanded. "That's what I want to know. Who are you, why are you sticking your nose in our fights, and why are you dressed like Sailor Moon? How is it you were able to use her Moon Tiara Action?"
She laughed nervously. "Well, uh, ya see... I'm Moon's temp." She pointed to the brooch as if it were obvious. "Sorry 'bout this..."
The girls murmured between themselves. Obviously, they were having a hard time believing that she could be a Senshi at all, let alone Moon. "Explain yourself," Uranus demanded, her sword ready to strike at a moment's notice.
Mars, however, wasn't going to give her the chance. "You stole the brooch!" She reached for the transformation item as quickly as she could, however her hand only met air.
As if she'd teleported, the redhead was sitting on a branch in a nearby tree, nonchalantly kicking her leg back and forth. "Ya know, I'm kinda gettin' sick a people assumin' things without tryin' ta see things from my perspective. I didn't steal nothin'. She lent it to me ta help ya guys out until she wakes up. That's all."
With a primal growl, Mars threw herself toward the tree, raising her hands as she moved. "You're lying! Evil Spirits, Begone!"
Moon leapt off the tree branch and seemed to float in midair. A Space Sword Blaster came in from Uranus, but she seemed to twist around the attack with a grin on her face. "Ain't never sparred with a magical girl before." She hit the ground like a feather and blurred into motion, aiming for Mars.
Expecting an attack, Jupiter raised her arms to defend her friend. "Sparkling Wide Pressure!"
"Deep Submerge!" Neptune added to the attack, empowering the lightning that was racing toward the redhead with the power of the seas.
In a blink, she was out of sight, causing the attacks to sail across the street and into a wall. They didn't realize where she'd gone until they found her behind Venus, casually braiding her hair and affixing the orange wearing blonde's signature red bow to the end to lock it in place. "What the?! How did you do that so fast?!" she shrieked.
Moon danced away, laughing the whole time as she avoided the retaliating chain. "That's nothin'. Speed an' dexterity are the cornerstones of a good martial artist. Looks good on ya." In her antics, she was blindsided by the Mercury Aqua Rhapsody from the resident genius.
Everyone turned to the blue haired girl, surprised that she'd attack from behind like that. "What? I just finished collecting the data on her and I saw an opening. She might be the reason Moon's in the condition she is."
If the fake Moon seemed upset by it, she didn't show it. "Not bad," she called out, already on her feet, bouncing lightly from one to the other, "but I toldja, Usa... Sailor Moon asked me ta help out personally. Once she's back on her feet, she can fight alongside you guys again." She weaved around a searing blast of fire and grabbed one of the white, wing-like hairpins on her bangs. With a flick of her wrist, she threw it against the black haired Mars' forehead, snickering at the muted 'ow' of minor pain. "That the best you got? I couldn't cook rice on a fire that weak."
"Why you..." Her aura flared as she raised her hands and formed what looked like a bow from the flames. She drew the string back carefully, calling on the Mars Arrow as she did. "Mars... Flame... Sniper!"
Moon's eyes widened the moment she started to draw the bow. She started running immediately. "Oh crap. It was a joke! Ya don't have to bust out the big guns!" She cupped her hands and took aim at the attack. "Moko Takabisha!"
The reaction of the two attacks connecting was instantaneous and violent. The blue orb of ki slammed into the fiery arrow of magic and resulted in an enormous explosion that tore up the streets. The Senshi covered their eyes as fierce winds whipped from the epicenter.
When the dust settled, Moon was standing atop a nearby building. Her fuku was a little scuffled, and her skirt was lightly torn but she seemed otherwise unaffected.
"Are you done playing around yet?" Pluto asked with a tired sigh. "The collateral damage is going to get out of hand."
"Huh? Oh, yeah, I guess I got a decent workout in." Under her breath, but still loud enough for the others to hear, she added, "Gotta remember this ain't Nerima. They probably ain't used to the damage." Unaware of the confusion the Senshi were feeling, she just shrugged her shoulders. "I guess I should be getting back. Everyone's probably havin' a fit wonderin' where I am as it is. Nice finally meetin' you guys!" With a cheeky wave, she bound away over the rooftops.
Uranus was already in motion to chase after her, but Pluto was quick to stop her. "Let her go Uranus. We'll be seeing her again, I'm sure."
The blonde Senshi of the Sky was furious. She leveled a glare at her housemate and friend and crossed her arms over her chest, tapping her foot in frustration. "You're just going to let some imposter who may or may not have stolen our princess's brooch walk away?! We need to go after her and hit her with everything we've got!"
"Don't misunderstand. I'm not saying we should let her be," the Senshi of Time corrected. "That was actually Sailor Moon's power, wasn't it Mercury?"
The blue haired genius was startled at being pulled into the discussion, but she quickly pulled up the data on her visor and ran over it. "Yes. She was showing multiple underlying differences, but she has Moon's signatures all over her. Her use of Moon Tiara Action was a real indicator of that. But... Moon hasn't used that attack in a long time. How could she possibly know about it?"
Pluto smiled thinly. "I suggest we find out. Does the saying not go 'keep your friends close, and your enemies closer'?"
Jupiter found herself thinking about the events that had just occurred. "She mentioned Nerima. Think we should check it out?"
The other girls all exchanged glances and spoke at the same time. "Not it!"
"Just admit it, he was hanging all over you like a dog!"
"Shampoo wish, but Airan no show up. Is probably sick from too too terrible cooking you make."
"Now hold on a sec. Ranchan said he had some business to take care of, right? Maybe he's buying me a nice gift to show me he loves me."
"Shampoo no ask you! Airan buy Shampoo gift instead!"
"Oh here we go," Ranma grumbled under his breath as he closed the front door behind him. He took a moment to prepare himself and called out his return. His three main fiancées all descended on him at once.
"Where have you been?!" Akane growled. Her aura was starting to manifest as wisps of red coming off her body.
"Shampoo want take on date but you no here!" Shampoo demanded. Her posture indicated that she would hunt down anyone he'd been with and inquire as to what they'd been doing, the painful way.
"I was going to have you taste a new recipe!" Ukyo exclaimed. She had been slowly working her way toward a couple of spatulas on her bandolier. They were all unhappy with him. That was not good. Not good at all.
He quickly ran through his options. Running wouldn't work. That would just make the beating worse, and with his luck, he'd probably run into Kodachi or Tatewaki Kuno. Probably both. Telling the truth was even worse. There'd be a war in Minato by nightfall. Lying was problematic, but not entirely impossible. Evading or deflecting the issue was doomed to failure with how intently they were focusing on him. Lie it was.
"I was fishin' in Tokyo Bay! All by myself!"
"Is Tokyo Bay some new sex word Shampoo never hear of before?" the purple haired Chinese Amazon warrior asked in confusion. "If is, why no Tokyo Bay with Shampoo?"
"It better not be!"
There was a heavy, exaggerated sigh from nearby as the girls loomed over him. "Cut the lug some slack. He was at the bay," Nabiki piped up. "Alone. Some abstract special training, I would assume." The look in her eyes said it all. He owed her. Big time.
"Er, yeah, see. Toldja."
The fiancées grumbled under their breath but dropped the subject, dispersing to do other things that thankfully didn't involve making his life hell. He let out a sigh of relief at having dodged the bullet. "Alright Nabiki, whaddya want?"
The middle Tendo daughter smiled enigmatically at the question. "What's so special about a hospital in Juuban?" She started to laugh at the look of shock on his face. "Don't be so surprised. I had you followed within minutes of you leaving the house. You picked up a boxed lunch to eat on the train. Some short kid with glasses accidentally splashed you. You wandered around asking people about the hospital. I did not, however, find out why you were there or how you got out without being spotted."
Ranma pulled at his collar nervously. If Usagi's name ever got out, it would cause problems for more than just him. "Well, uh, ya see... I got this friend who got hurt... in one of them monster attacks that happen..." It wasn't a total lie.
She stared him down for a moment before she finally asked, "And his, or her, name?"
Nabiki sorted. She crossed her arms over her chest and rolled her eyes at the sheer audacity of it. "Try again Ranma. You just wanted to get a peek at the Senshi in combat, didn't you?" She snickered. "You do know that you can't learn to throw magic around like they do just by watching them, right?" Her eyes lit up suddenly. "Now that's a photo shoot. Kuno would pay a fortune for a set of Senshi cosplay pics!"
Ranma grew upset at being forced into a game of 20 questions. "Look," he growled, "I was just visitin' a friend. Just a friend. Not a fiancée, not a girlfriend, not a girl I like. A friend. That's all. No need for you ta stick yer nose in it, alright?"
If Nabiki was at all intimidated, she didn't show it. She just continued to smile coolly. "I know you're hiding an injury. I'll find out what you're up to eventually Ranma. And if it's good..." Her smile grew hungry. "Think it over Ranma. Don't say I'm not fair." She left with a wave that was decidedly more enthusiastic than he would have liked.
"Not it my ass..." Makoto Kino grumbled as she walked up to her destination. It wasn't that she didn't want to do it, she just didn't like that they'd all pushed the work on her. She hadn't even had a chance to pass the buck to someone else like they'd done to her, and since Hotaru wasn't present, she was exempt.
Not that she would push her duties onto a kid like her. Nerima would chew her up and spit her out. But at least Haruka could have tagged along. She was a martial artist just like Makoto. And she figured the blonde would make a great wing woman without attempting to snatch her target out from under her like Minako would.
Her gaze fell on the sign in front of the property. Tendo Dojo. When she set off for Nerima this morning, she never figured her minor investigation would lead to a dojo. Destiny worked in funny ways like that. She'd wanted to check one out and learn something new from a master, but that would have to wait until after she questioned him. If his skills were half as good as the boasting on his business card, she'd have a lot to learn.
She reached out and grasped the handle to the bell, ringing it loud enough to hopefully be heard inside. It looked like a very old fashion place. A two story house surrounded by a cement wall, a decent sized yard and a dojo. It seemed very respectable, the kind of place she could see herself being a student of. Maybe after we get the brooch back and Usagi wakes up, she thought wistfully.
She heard the sounds of someone opening up the front door. "Don't worry, I got it Kasumi!" The voice belonged to a female, a teen, if she had to guess. Probably one of the master's daughters.
The girl opened the gate leisurely. She was a brunette, about her age, maybe a little older, with her hair styled into a page boy cut. Dangling from her mouth was an orange popsicle that she pulled away as she sized Makoto up. "Challenge or fiancée?" Her voice sounded bored as she retrieved a pocket notebook and a pencil.
In Makoto's moment of confusion, the girl quickly finished her popsicle. When she was done, her posture shifted into a more composed business mode. "If you're here to challenge Ranma, read the sign." Under her breath, she added, "Nobody ever reads the sign," before addressing Makoto again. "If you're one of his fiancées..." she flipped through her notebook before coming to a particular page and scanning it over, "come back tomorrow."
Makoto had no idea what she was talking about, so instead of trying to decipher it, she chose to push on with why she was here. Bowing politely, she stood at attention and addressed the girl. "I'd like to speak with Ranma Saotome. I was told that the master of this dojo could help me with a problem I have."
Silence hung in the air for a moment after she'd spoken her reason for being there. In that moment, she wondered if she would be turned away by this girl. Instead, the girl started to laugh, very hard. "Ranma? The master? Until Daddy gets him to marry Akane, he'll never be master of the dojo. Come on in." She beckoned her to follow and started walking back toward the house.
She led Makoto to the living room and told her to sit down before walking out onto the porch. "Ranma!" she called out. "You have a visitor!" She walked back into the room and took a seat, seemingly losing interest in the ponytailed brunette.
A tall, fit black haired boy entered soon after. He seemed a tad uncomfortable when he spotted her, and she wasn't sure if it had anything to do with the way she was staring at him. She hadn't been expecting him to be her age. Sure, he was a hunk, but she was going to keep it strictly professional.
"What did he sell me for this time?" Ranma asked plainly.
"Fiancées usually ain't so calm first meetin' me. Pop must notta stole anythin' serious. Or ya ain't aware he stole it."
As she tried to process this, another woman walked up to the table and poured her a cup of tea before setting the tea set down. "She seems nice," the woman, probably an older sister, said kindly. "And she looks strong. That's good, she'll probably need it." She turned her attention to Makoto and smiled. "I'm sure you'll get along fine with the others, but don't hold it against them if they start fighting. They have issues with violence and possessiveness. I'm sure you'll be great friends though." This was said in the same kind, caring voice that seemed to treat what she'd said like a triviality not to be concerned with.
Makoto was confused again. They kept talking about her like she was some kind of fiancée like it was normal she'd just show up at the door and announce her intentions.
"And she used the door," she continued to herself as she returned to the kitchen for snacks. "I almost can't believe it."
"You're Ranma Saotome?" she asked carefully. At his nod, she frowned. "I thought you'd be... older. You have to train for years to be a master... My sensei in Juuban is in his 40s."
The mention of Azabu-Juuban piqued the interest of both Ranma and Nabiki, though both were subtle about it. While Nabiki continued to keep her attention on the television, Ranma chose to brag as a cover. Or maybe because he did take it the wrong way.
Like he'd been insulted, he started to glare. "I've been trainin' all my life. I can whoop Pop an' Mr. Tendo any day of the week. Just 'cause I ain't technically a master don't mean I ain't as good as one. Better even." She honestly hadn't expected him to react so negatively. As far as she knew, she was just stating the obvious.
"Well, the police did say you'd be able to help me..." she admitted.
If that was supposed to put him at ease, it failed. "The cops? What the hell did I do ta get the cops sendin' their work ta me? Damn it, is this because a that thing with the town hall? That was Ryoga's fault and they damn well know it!"
"I'm not really sure what's going on," Makoto admitted sheepishly. She pulled out the business card she'd been given and handed it over to him. It wasn't much, just his name, the address of the dojo, and a few boasts about how he was the best martial artist of his generation and how he could solve any problem that came his way. It was very well crafted though. The mark of a keen eye. "My name is Makoto Kino. They gave me your card and said you'd be able to help me."
He stared at it blankly for a moment before crushing it slowly in his hand. "Nabiki..." he hissed, causing the girl in question to stiffen and laugh nervously. "Is this how everyone's been findin' me lately?"
"It... might have something to do with it," she admitted carefully. "A girl's gotta spend a little money to make money, right?"
"So every two bit martial artist with a grudge, somethin' to prove, or a claim to my hand in marriage can zone right in on me?" he growled. "How many a these things didja have made up?"
Nabiki smiled, clearly playing it cool despite the situation she was in. "They gave me a great deal for buying in bulk, and I figured it would be better to have a lot, in case I needed them all."
He let out a heavy, disappointed sigh. "We'll talk about this later." He turned back to Makoto with a hint of irritation, but otherwise remained calm and collected, even a little curious. "So whaddya need help with? Need me to kick some ass?"
"Not really. I don't think so." She scrunched up her face as she thought of how she could bring up the brooch without leading things back to Sailor Moon and the Senshi. "I have reason to believe that someone from Nerima stole something of mine. A family heirloom. It's one of the only things I have left from my mother, who passed away several years ago now..." It tore her up to use that excuse, but it had to be done. "It's a particular brooch, shaped like a heart."
She noticed Ranma stiffen up, but she ignored it. Nabiki had taken in interest in the conversation, and that seemed to be more important at the moment. "So it's got obvious sentimental value," she assessed. "What about monetary value? If they stole it, they must think it's worth a lot."
She fought hard to come up with something convincing without breaking stride too much. If she screwed it up here, they'd know she was lying. Right now, getting the brooch back, no matter who she had to ask for help, was more important. "I'm... not really sure how much it's worth. I've never bothered to have it appraised. But it means the world to me." It wasn't entirely inaccurate. It just wasn't anywhere close to the truth. "I'm not sure she's looking to sell it yet though."
Nabiki clicked her tongue in thought. "So you know who took it?"
"Not really. I didn't get a very good look at her. Just that she's a redhead with a braid. If you showed me some pictures, I probably wouldn't even be able to pick her out. Sorry."
Nabiki started to smirk as she looked over to Ranma while the boy seemed to make himself shrink as much as possible. "That's okay, I think we'll figure this out. In fact, you've inspired me. Normally, I'd charge you a pretty hefty sum for putting my time into something like this, but I know what it's like to lose my mother, so I've decided we can take this on for free. Isn't that right Ranma?"
The pigtailed martial artist nodded rapidly. "That's right. It's a martial artist's duty to help those in trouble. Ya don't got nothin' ta worry about."
Makoto felt relief unlike anything she'd ever felt before. Even with the short amount she'd known them, they both seemed to be fairly reliable people. "Thank you both so much. I don't know how to repay you."
"I'm sure I'll think of something," Nabiki grinned.
While Makoto was busy with her trip to Nerima, the others were compiling information on what they knew of the situation. They'd gathered at Rei's home. "Let's start with our enemy," Minako Aino stated. As the leader of the Guardian Senshi, without Usagi around, it was her duty to take command of the situation. "Does anyone have any information about those things?"
"I did some research last night," Setsuna Meioh, also known as Sailor Pluto, stated. "I think we're dealing with ghouls."
The long haired blonde frowned as she played with the end of her braid. It was, at least for the moment, still how it had been left as a result of the fake Moon's playing. Admittedly, she didn't have much of a problem with it. She thought it was kinda cute actually. "That's like a zombie, right?"
"It's not exactly right, but close enough," Ami Mizuno quipped. "They're undead monsters that feast on human flesh and the like."
"So our enemy is a necromancer?"
"It's possible," Setsuna answered Minako seriously, "but not necessarily. They're demonic creatures, not the most controllable creatures either. More importantly, they're resistant to magic. Not immune, but resistant enough that they'll give us trouble. Moon's healing attacks would probably be our best shot against them, if she weren't in the hospital."
The sole other blonde in the room, Haruka Tenoh, pulled her arm from around her aqua haired lover and smacked her fist with a grin. "Then we take them down the old fashion way. I'd like to see them survive a Space Sword Blaster from inside."
"And get torn up by their claws..." Michiru chided her. "But even if that does work, that means only three, maybe four of us if Minako uses her old compact or her Chain Wink Sword, can actually deal some serious damage to them. Makoto wouldn't even have a weapon to help."
"Didn't stop the crazy redheaded thief," Rei pouted. "As much as I hate to admit it, she really softened them up."
Ami had been going over the information on her since the fight. It hadn't concluded much, but it had stated that she was definitely a Senshi. "Speaking of her, I'm curious. How is it she can transform? Is it really as simple as getting a hold of our transformation items?"
"I have no idea."
Everyone looked at Setsuna like she was nuts. "How can you not know?" Minako gasped. "You know everything!"
The Senshi of Time didn't seem at all bothered by the outburst. As the oldest of them, she was used to them looking up to her and coming to her for her wealth of knowledge and experience. But even she wasn't perfect. "It's never happened before. There are supposed to be measures in place to prevent such a thing, but no one ever expected anything like this to happen, so the limits were never truly tested. Never mind that there was never a Sailor Moon until Usagi. This could be a fluke, or it could be a sign of something huge. We don't truly know what side this girl is on."
He was in the crystal ballroom again. And once again, she was there, sitting on a chair at the edge of the room with a book of some sort in her hands. She was still in the elegant dress she'd worn the night before, flipping a page and seemingly unaware of his presence.
Startled by being called, she shot out of her seat with a cry of surprise. The book went tumbling away before disappearing into thin air. "Who the heck are you?!"
"It's Ranma... I thought I toldja, my girl form is a curse."
"Oh," she laughed sheepishly. "I kinda thought you weren't serious about that whole curse thing." She took a moment to size up his male form, comparing it to his female form from the night before. Aside from being taller and more muscular compared to the lithe female, there was a certain resemblance, like if they were brother and sister. "This is so weird."
"Yer tellin' me. All it took was gettin' knocked into a cursed spring in China."
"It explains why your father engaged you to a girl." She willed another chair into existence for him and took a seat in the chair she'd been sitting in. "Take a seat Ranma. We have a lot to go over."
With a nonchalant shrug, Ranma sat down in the empty chair. "Yeah, probably a good idea. I think someone's tryin' ta get yer brooch. Some chick showed up at the dojo lookin' for it."
Her eyes widened, but they settled into a hard gaze quickly enough. "You can't let anyone have it. Not only do you need it to transform, but you can't lose the Silver Crystal inside. That's far more important than the brooch. The brooch can be replaced. Believe me, it's happened before. But the power the Silver Crystal holds is immense, and if it fell into the wrong hands, it would be very bad."
"Geez," he grumbled, "yer hidin' somethin' that important in a piece of clothing jewelry? It's a good thing I picked up a little about Hidden Weapons style from Mousse. I've been keepin' it there since this mornin' after the fight. Those friends a yours ain't too friendly. Can't ya tell 'em what's going on?"
She withdrew into herself and stare at the floor sadly. "I don't know why, but I can only talk to you this way. I can hear what's being said in the hospital, but I can't say anything back. I can't even get in contact with Mamo-chan or my family... It sucks! I wish I could just tell everyone not to worry! That I'll be okay! I hate seeing them all so sad!"
Sitting there awkwardly, Ranma wasn't sure what to do. Dealing with the opposite sex was never his strong point. Hell, dealing with distraught people in general wasn't his strong point. This was a double whammy of useless for him. "Well, uh, I guess I could tell 'em somethin', I guess..." he suggested lamely.
Hearing his attempt to help, she took a deep breath and collected herself. "No... no, that's okay. The other Senshi might believe you, but my family definitely won't. I almost don't believe it. I mean, I'm talking to a complete stranger in my dream. My dreams are usually of my past life and stuff, or some foreboding new problem, not like this."
"Well ya ain't tryin' ta kill me, so ya got a step up on most strangers I meet."
She smiled awkwardly, unsure of how to take his compliment, but strangely flattered that it meant something to him. "Well you promised to help me and my friends. That makes you my friend too."
"Great," Ranma grinned. "We'll have to spar when ya wake up. The others barely fought back earlier, 'cept for Mars. Wasn't expectin' her to take it that far, but she's got the right idea."
"You're Sailor Moon. I gotta spar with you when you wake up! An' you can power up in steps ta make it more intense! Oh man, I'm actually lookin' forward to this more than the next time Ryoga stops by!"
Lost in his own world, he started to envision the fight, which he imagined to be a hard fought battle that, of course, ended with him victorious. From there, he started to consider how he could plan a training regimen for her, to make sure the hero of the world didn't end up in this situation again. Truly in his element, his lopsided grin showed his passion for the art.
Jolted from his daydream within a dream, he found Usagi pouting. Her cheeks were flushed, and she looked away demurely. "What's up?"
"I have a boyfriend Ranma! One that I'm going to marry in the future and have a daughter with! And you have a fiancée! I mean, I'm flattered, but you can't look at me like that!"
Ranma wasn't following. He wasn't quite sure what a sparring session and training her had to do with them having significant others, even if all of his saw him more as a trophy at this point than a husband. Well, no, Akane probably loved him in her own weird way, maybe. He just wasn't sure how romantic it was. And Ucchan still saw him as her old friend, he was sure. And Shampoo did admire his strength, he guessed. The less said about Kodachi, the better. Instead, he stared at her dumbly and asked, "So... you don't want to spar? Can I at least train ya? And that rose throwin', tuxedo wearin', Kuno-like speech shoutin' boyfriend a yers while I'm at it? Avoidin' a repeat a this would be good."
Usagi was silent. Something told her she had read the moment out of a completely different book from him. "You weren't leering at me?"
His eyes widened as a common thread was grasped. As terror swept over him, he jumped out of his chair, knocking it to the ground while he scanned the palace ballroom wildly for dangers impossible to reach him. "Oh crap! That's what you thought I was thinkin'?! Dream or not, I ain't safe! They're gonna come for me tomorrow! I need ta find someplace ta hide out... Like Juuban! Yeah, I'll lose Nabiki's flunkies with a disguise and hang out in your hospital room all day! They'll never think a findin' me there! Perfect!"
Shocked by the sudden change, Usagi stood up and quickly removed the distance that separated them, resting her hand on his shoulder to hopefully help settle him some. If anything, it just made him jumpier. "Who Ranma? Who's going to come for you?"
"My fiancées! All of 'em! And all of the guys that are hung up on them! It's gonna be a warzone! I gotta hide out! Ya gotta hide me Usagi!"
If she thought she might have had a grasp on his situation before, that had done nothing to improve it. He'd explained a little about his training journey the night before, after they'd worked out the details of him helping her. He'd even mentioned having a few rivals, but he had failed to mention fiancées. Plural. "I don't know how I can consciously help you!" she exclaimed. "I'm stuck in here rereading whatever manga I can remember and whatever I can somehow pluck from you! What is this about being engaged to more than one woman?!" Ranma's attitude was starting to get to her. She was starting to panic.
"During the training journey, Pop sold me off to a buncha people ta marry their daughters and took off with me an' the dowry," he hastily explained. "An' I gotta clean up the mess the stupid panda created."
"...Oh..." As much as she wanted to help her new friend, she couldn't really think of anything short of taking his mind off the situation. "You can worry about that later. For now, we need to go over the situation. What have you found out about the enemy?"
With a topic that allowed him to think strategically, rather than panic, he started to settle down into something he was more comfortable with. "Well they're tough. Even pushing magic into a revised Moko Takabisha, they still take some serious punishment. They're no Ryoga, but they're pretty fast, and with their numbers, I ain't too sure I could take 'em without the fuku powerin' me up. Bein' a girl and throwin' a speed boost on top of that, they have trouble touchin' me. But their numbers still work to their advantage. They swarm, and eventually, I got hit."
"Are you okay?!"
He shrugged off her concern and shot her a cocky grin. "Course I am. Just a scratch, that's all."
Usagi seemed unsure, and her worry was apparent. Rather than dwell on it though, she decided to not let it sidetrack her. "But you and the others can defeat them, right?"
"Pound on anything enough and it's gonna crumple. Simple as that. And I still got a few tricks up my sleeves. These things want to start a fight, I'm gonna bring it to 'em, and I ain't gonna let up 'til I win."
Contrary to his expectations, the morning did not start out with hellfire and brimstone. No, it was quiet. Too quiet, especially with how quiet Nabiki had been about the situation with Makoto yesterday. She knew he had the brooch, and she was under the impression he'd stolen it. While the tall wavy haired brunette martial artist seemed oblivious to this, he wasn't about to take any chances. Neither of them could get their hands on it, not on his watch.
He left the house with barely a word saying so, upsetting both his father and Soun for not eating with his fiancée, and Akane, who decided she'd need to follow him to find out what he was really up to. She lost track of him pretty quickly, but Nabiki had told her to check out Juuban. With no other choice, she decided she'd at least see if she could catch the Sailor Senshi in action.
It took significantly longer for him to lose track of Nabiki's scout. When he was sure he was alone, he splashed himself with water and swapped out his clothing for a disguise he'd stashed in his weapons space. While it wasn't nearly as large as Mousse's, it allowed him to keep a few things on hand that might prove useful. Luckily, it allowed her to make it to the hospital in time for a quick bite to eat and just in time for visitation hours to start.
Signing in with the same fake name as yesterday, she made her way to the fourth floor room and took a seat. "Hey Usagi. Toldja I'd stop by. Better get used to me."
The clock ticked on slowly. Too slowly for Ranma. She flipped through the channels, hoping to find something interesting to watch, but despite the numerous channels, there was very little to keep her occupied. She'd learned that just because it was Golden Week, crappy daytime television was still crappy daytime television. If she sensed one of the doctors or nurses coming to check on Usagi, she would use the Umisenken to fade her presence into the unnoticeable. She had been expecting an enemy to show up at some point, but it was quiet. She started to read a manga that someone had left, but after a while, she started to doze.
She'd been pulled from her slumber by the sound of the door opening. She scrambled to hastily explain herself to the doctor, only to find herself face to face with a giggling auburn haired girl about her age. A friend of Usagi's she guessed. She had a light colored ribbon in her hair and was dressed in what she could only guess was supposed to be a fashionable outfit. "Fell asleep?" the girl asked her with a worn smile. She spoke with a bit of a western accent, maybe Osakan, if she had to guess. Definitely Kansai though.
"Yeah," she replied with a stretch before placing the manga back on the table she'd picked it up from. "Figured I'd visit Usagi an' see how she's doin', but I guess I dozed off there."
The girl giggled again. It was a bit brash for how dainty she looked, further reinforcing the Osaka connection. "'Sokay. I'm Naru Osaka. You a friend of Usagi?"
"Mm, yeah, I guess so." She worked the kinks out of her neck and stood up. "Name's Ranko."
"Nice ta meetcha Ranko." Naru turned to the bedridden, comatose blonde with a tired look. "Hey Usagi. I got to meet your friend. Isn't that great? Maybe when you wake up, we can all hang out together and hit up the Crown or somethin'."
Realizing she'd been included in the girl's talk with her friend, she hastily moved from observing the girl for the potential to be one of the Senshi and started talking to Usagi. "Yeah, sure. I ain't sure what this Crown is, but it sounds like fun. Count me in."
"You don't know what the Crown is?" Naru giggled again. It definitely sounded forced, like she was being strong in the face of her friend in the condition she was. Still, she had guts, and it showed in the way she kept moving forward. "It's an arcade, and they have an attached ice cream parlor that has just the best ice cream. You'll love it."
Games and ice cream, especially if she could get a discount? She was game. "Great. Ya hear that Usa? Ya wouldn't wanna miss that, wouldja?"
"Your accent," Naru mused absently, "I can't place it. You from around here?"
"Grew up on the road. Ain't never stayed in one place for too long, 'til lately anyways. Been stayin' with some people in Nerima. You sound like yer from Osaka. I got a friend who grew up around there."
Naru nodded. "More or less. Moved out here to Tokyo when I was young, don't even think my sister remembers it, she was so young. Met Usagi not long after. She's been my best friend ever since." Her voice grew distant toward the end. Under her breath, she absently muttered, "I toldja ta be careful Usagi... Yer always rushin' at everything head first, it was only a matter of time before ya got hurt..."
Ranma was often called dense, but in this moment, she knew there was something she could do to help. Usagi could only talk with her, and here she was, talking with a friend of hers. She'd just have to find a way to convey Usagi's wishes. After all, she didn't lose.
"She'll be alright. I'm sure of it."
"I know," Naru admitted, watching Ranma from the corner of her eye. "She's just resting so she can be her energetic self again when she's fully healed. She may be a bit of a whiner at times," she laughed a little at that, "but Usagi is stronger than anyone I know."
Right then, Ranma was reminded of what this was for. She'd never had a friend that would watch her back unconditionally. Sure, Ryoga and Mousse were far more likely to help out in a pinch, but they were just as likely to stab her in the back that same battle if it looked like they could get away with it. She didn't really blame them, often. That's just how their friendship worked. But Usagi cared. She looked out for her friends, all of them, like Naru and the Senshi.
She may have hated the uniform. She may have been annoyed at having to run back and forth across Tokyo. She wasn't looking forward to Nabiki's schemes or the rivals and the fiancées catching wind of what she was doing, and they certainly would. She was doing something greater than herself. No possible cure, no monetary gain, no attempt to spread her name far and wide to bring it fame. This was purely an act of selflessness, like what the Senshi did every day.
And it felt good.