Ranma paced the floor silently, the sounds of his footsteps muffled by the carpet and his stealth training. He wasn’t doing it consciously, but moving silently and gracefully came as second nature now. He sent occasional glances at the door to the storage closet under the stairs where Kiyone and Washu had holed up for the last three days, trying to determine the whereabouts of the Jurian royalty. From time to time would turn his head towards the living area where everyone else was watching TV. He was standing guard here for two reasons. First of all, he wanted to be the first one to know where Akane was. Second, he had to stand guard to make sure that Mihoshi didn’t get in and screw up Kiyone and Washu’s work. That was a full time job to say the least. Ranma was amazed at how bubble-headed one woman could be. He would never ridicule Akane about her intelligence ever again.
The TV was playing an inane sitcom while everyone was trying to kill time. On one couch, Ryoko was trying desperately to get Tenchi’s attention while Ayeka sat on the other side of him and tried to dissuade him from associating with the space pirate ever again. On the other couch Pan and Katsuhito sat trying to actually watch the TV. Pan was trying to ignore the fact that she was sitting with the old man. She would have taken a seat somewhere else, but Shampoo wouldn’t let her sit anywhere but with him. Said Amazon was currently sitting on the floor Indian style going between watching the TV and watching Ranma. She was half-concerned about Ranma and his worry for Akane, the other half of her mind was trying to figure out how to win him for herself. Mihoshi sat in the floor only a few feet away from the TV screen laughing hysterically whenever something remotely funny (and sometimes not even remotely) was said.
Shampoo absently watched the television as a little ball of fur hopped into her lap. She absently petted the little brown half-cat, half-rabbit space ship. “What Shampoo do? Shampoo love airen, but airen no love Shampoo.” The animal gave a sympathetic mewl and nuzzled the lavender haired Amazon in an attempt at comforting. Ryo-Ohki hated to see anyone in pain. The girl gave the cabbit a smile and scratched her between the ears. “Thank you. You help much.”
So they passed the afternoon, patiently waiting for the detectives and genius to come out. Well, everyone except Ranma was patient. He was started to dig a hole in the floor. But nothing stays peaceful forever (otherwise this would be a pretty boring story). A sharp cry from outside caught everyone’s attention.
“WHERE ON EARTH AM I NOW?!?!?”
Pan sighed as she rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Ranma, we’ve got a directionally challenged martial artist on the front lawn.”
The pigtailed martial artist had already turned and was out the door before Pan’s statement had finished. He went out the front door and found his rival, sometime friend, standing on the front lawn, desperately trying to find the gate to the fence so that he could get back on his way.
Ranma stood on the porch and smirked. “Hey, pig-boy!”
Ryoga turned at the voice. “Ranma? What are you doing in Osaka?”
The heir to Anything Goes just looked down and shook his head. “You’re not in Osaka. You’re on the other side of Japan at the Masaki Shrine. What the hell are you doing here anyway? I thought you were living with Akari now.”
He nervously scratched the back of his head. “Well, I wanted to surprise her by making her dinner. I went out to go to the store…”
“Say no more.” Ranma groaned. “You got lost. Listen, why don’t you come inside, and I’ll call Akari to tell her where you are. I won’t take you back right now because I may need your help.”
The lost boy smirked at him. “What’s this? The almighty Ranma needs help, and he’s actually ASKING, and not TELLING?”
“I didn’t ask nothing P-Chan!” Ranma clenched his fists.
Ryoga growled and dropped into a stance. “I may not be after Akane anymore, but I still have a lot of vengeance to take out on you.”
“Don’t you mean ‘anger’?” Ranma smirked his cocky grin.
“It’s all justified! You’re going to feel my wrath!” He shot forward with his fist extended, but a single hand stopped him short. The lost boy turned to see to whom the hand belonged. He was met with the amused smirk of an old man.
“Well, it looks like you have some pretty spirited friends, Ranma.” Katsuhito smirked. “We could use his help to find Sasami and Akane.”
The lost boy looked up at the older man with an amazed look. “Who are you?”
The old priest smirked at him. “I’m Masaki Katsuhito, the caretaker of this shrine.”
“And Pan’s fiancé.” Ranma decided to add.
“HE’S NOT MY FIANCE!!!” Pan shouted from the living room.
Ryoga glowered at Ranma. “It’s not bad enough that you have all these fiancé problems, but you have to go and drag Pan into it as well.”
The pigtailed boy just smiled. “Hey, it’s not my fault this time. It’s his!” He pointed to the elder.
Ryoga gave him an incredulous stare. “Like I’d believe you’re innocent of anything.”
Ranma dropped into a stance. “You want to go right here? I’ll take you out faster than you can blink.”
The lost boy shrugged off his backpack. The pack hit the ground and created an intention in the ground about a foot deep. “I’ll show you this time Ranma. I’ve been training using Piccolo’s method ever since you left Nerima. I’m stronger and faster than I ever was.” He peeled off a few bandannas and threw them on top of his pack. They clanked as they hit one another. Ryoga smirked when Ranma raised an eyebrow. “I use spring steel now instead of just cloth. Thanks to the training, it doesn’t bother me a bit. You’ll pay for your wrongs now!” He started to laugh maniacally.
He stopped when he noticed Ranma yawning. “Tell me when you finish stripping. I’ll be ready to fight when you’re done. Or do you plan on talking about how much you’re still below me?”
“Grrrr.” Ryoga snarled. He quickly took off his weighted shirt and shoes. “Now!” He leapt forward and had closed the distance between him and Ranma in an instant. His eyes lit up in surprise as Ranma caught his fist.
“Surprised?” Ranma asked with a smirk. His aura was blazing maroon with the power of the Kaioken. He threw the lost boy away from the house. “I don’t want to make them rebuild more than they have to.” He shot forward and caught Ryoga in the chest with an elbow, sending him through the outer wall. “Oops.” He smirked.
“I’m not done yet.” Ryoga growled as he slowly came back into the yard.
The pigtailed martial artist smiled as he dropped back into a stance. “I guess I’m stronger, faster, and smarter. I learn the first time when I’m outclassed.” Katsuhito cleared his throat from the side. Ranma’s expression fell just a bit. “Most of the time.” The elder Masaki coughed. “Okay, some of the time.” Another cough and throat clearing. Ranma turned around to him. “I’ll beat you eventually old man!” He yelled.
“An opening!” Ryoga shouted as he attacked Ranma from behind.
Ranma shot straight up and Ryoga followed after him. When he reached the height of his jumped he put his hands out toward the oncoming lost boy and released a concentrated ki blast.
Ryoga threw up his arms and the blast exploded. He smiled as he looked up into the sky. “I told you I was stronger, Ranma! Ranma?” He looked around trying to figure out where the other boy went.
Ryoga’s eye’s lit up in surprise as Ranma grabbed him from behind and locked up his arms and wrapped a leg around him to immobilize him. After the lost boy was rendered helpless, Ranma’s aura leapt up again and he shot toward the ground. At the last instant, he stopped and let go of Ryoga. The lost boy hit the ground and buried himself about 100 feet below the surface.
Ranma smiled as he brushed his hands together. “Try not to get lost on your way out of the crater. I’ll be back later if I need you.”
He heard some clapping behind him and turned to see Pan applauding from the porch. “Good work, but aren’t you supposed to be guarding a door?”
The pigtailed martial artist’s eyes went wide. “Oh no! Mihoshi!” His aura blazed as he shot past Pan and Katsuhito.
The elder man looked at his Amazon wife. “Why didn’t you stop her yourself?”
“I tried.” The young Saiya-Jin shrugged. “I don’t know how, but she got past me.”
Katsuhito chuckled a bit. “As soon as you figure it out, please be kind enough to tell the rest of us. We’ve been trying to figure it out for months now.”
Inside, Ranma stopped in the living room for a quick head count. Yep, Mihoshi was missing. He turned and shot toward the stairs closet door. He threw it open and blazed past the dangerous traps set at the entrance (meant to at least slow Mihoshi down) and searched out for Washu’s ki signature.
He cut his aura when he saw he was already too late. Washu and Kiyone had tears rolling down their cheeks as they watched Mihoshi happily push random buttons on the computer.
He slowly walked up to Washu. “I’m sorry! I was distracted when an old friend showed up…”
The diminutive redhead waved him off. “Don’t worry about it. It would have happened sooner or later.” She breathed out a heavy sigh and pointed back toward the entrance where Ranma had left a trail of destruction. “It would have been better if you hadn’t wrecked my traps on your way in here. At least Mihoshi doesn’t leave a PATH of destruction. She usually just destroys whatever’s most important to me at the time.” She mumbled the last part.
Ranma turned red and scratched the back of his head. “Well, I was worried…”
“Look at the pretty planets and flashing lights!” Mihoshi cried out all of the sudden.
Kiyone and Washu both turned toward the screen where they had been working so feverously to even find a clue to what was going on with the Jurian royal family and Akane. Up on the monitor were four worlds. One was green and blue, much like the Earth, but had no ice caps. The second was yellowish-red with no water apparent. The third looked like a world covered in a technotropolis. They couldn’t see a patch of land through all the high tech cityscape that covered the planet. Finally, the last planet was Jurai.
Washu tentatively reached out and hit the receive button on the console. The results were as she feared. The scientist’s gaze dropped to the floor with a large sweat drop.
Kiyone slowly crept up and put a hand on her shoulder. “Is it that bad? Do we have to start all over again?”
“No.” Washu looked up with a rueful smile. “Even worse. In less than a minute she managed to reprogram sixteen different models of intergalactic probes to search for Juraian energy and put four each in geosynchronous orbit about four planets out of the entire universe with the energy signature emanating from them.”
“So she made it talk?” Ranma asked while scratching his head.
Washu ruefully shook her head. “No, she just solved in forty-five seconds what we’ve been working on for three days. She’s found all the royalty, and most likely your missing girlfriend. All by dumb F%$&(*@ luck.”
“Which one is Akane on?!” Ranma asked desperately.
“Mihoshi, if you would.” Washu saved the planets in her database and stepped aside.
The blonde gave the redhead a vacant stare. “If I would what?”
Washu grabbed her by the arms and set her in front of the computer. “Just start hitting buttons like you were before.”
Under pressure, Mihoshi was started to sweat nervously. “Like this?” She hesitantly hit a couple buttons. One the display screen the planet Jurai lit up.
Washu went forward and pushed Mihoshi out of the way. “Moon energy?”
Ranma’s face lit up in delight. “That’s Akane! It has to be!”
The redhead turned toward him. “Why is that?”
He started to sweat as he scratched the back off his head once more. “Uh, she’s really close to them and, uhm, trained with them, so maybe the energy rubbed off.”
Mihoshi tilted her head in confusion. “I thought she was one of them. Sailor Earth looks just like her.”
Ranma face faulted. Leave it to Mihoshi to be the only one that had the ability to see through the Senshi glamour spell.
A short time later, everyone was gathered in front of Washu’s computer, looking up at the four planets. Washu stood behind a podium to the side with her school professor’s outfit on while everyone else was sitting in school desks. Mihoshi was sitting in her desk with her head down, fast asleep, and Ryoga was right beside her. Ryoko was already making a pile of small wads of paper in preparation of Washu’s inattention to the class. She was going to pelt the princess mercilessly. Said Princess Ayeka was watching Washu intently, but couldn’t help but have an uneasy feeling that like she was about to be attacked. Katsuhito and Pan sat beside one another at the back. He sat with his back straight, ready to listen intently for the whereabouts of his mother. Meanwhile, Pan was kicked back in her seat. She had managed to rip the desktop off the chair and had her feet propped up on the back of Mihoshi’s chair. Kiyone, Shampoo and Ranma sat on the front row. Ranma looked like he needed to go to the restroom with the way he impatiently fidgeted in his seat. Kiyone and Shampoo were alternately watching Ranma and staring daggers at one another.
After a short time, Washu finally began the briefing. She cleared her throat and pulled out an extendable pointer. She pointed toward the screen. “These are the four planets that hold Juraian energy in the universe besides Earth. So, by deductive reasoning and blind luck, we have decided that these planets hold the three elder members of the Juraian royalty, Sasami, and Tendo Akane. Though why Kagato would kidnap her, I have no idea.”
“Tradition.” Ranma grumbled. Pan chuckled from the back.
Washu gave him a questioning look before shaking it off and continuing her lecture. She extended her pointer toward the barren and blue green planets in order. “These two planets, Stron B’Dia and Terminus respectively, have the strongest emanations Juraian energy. By deductive logic, these planets hold either the King Azusa or his first wife Misaki.” She pointed toward the technotropolis covered planet. “This one is Trantor. It’s a highly advanced society that mostly acts as the main governing center of the outlying systems that don’t fall within the Galaxy Police’s jurisdiction. This one has a slightly weaker signature, so this must be where the second queen Funaho is being held.” Finally she pointed toward Jurai. “Last, but not least, we come to the homeworld Jurai. This one has the weakest signal alongside a signal of Moon Kingdom energy. This leads us to the conclusion that an underdeveloped royalty and a sailor senshi are on that planet. Since Mihoshi was kind enough to point out that Akane was one of their number, we can conclude that Akane and Sasami are being held there.” She stepped out from behind her podium and addressed the gathered group. “So the question becomes ‘What do we do about it’?”
Her eyebrow twitched as she saw what everyone was doing. Pan and Ranma had joined Mihoshi in dreamland. Shampoo was sharpening a sword menacingly while glaring at Kiyone who was managing to look mean while cleaning her pistol. Ayeka and Ryoko were involved in a full-blown spitwad war with Ryo-Ohki dodging around Ryoko’s shoulders to avoid the projectiles. Katsuhito was the only one paying complete attention.
“I suppose we can attack each of the planets and take back the royals, leaving Jurai last so we can take it with the help of my parents.” He suggested sagely.
Washu nodded her head. “Good suggestion, Katsuhito, but I think that the rest of the class should rejoin the conversation.” She pressed a button on her pointer and the mallet head popped out of the tip. She swung it maliciously around the room, hitting everyone who wasn’t paying attention. The rod extended itself far enough to hit each individual in the room, without the small scientist having to move an inch. When everyone had finished complaining, she resumed the briefing. “Katsuhito has suggested that we attack each planet in turn and then assault Jurai. The problem with that is that Kagato will be expecting us on the other worlds or he could just kill the remaining prisoners to stop us.”
Ranma’s brow furrowed. “We can’t let him do that.”
“Of course we can’t.” Washu chided him in a matter-of-fact voice. “So I proposed we take this plan and modify it. We split up into three assault groups and attack each minor separately and make a combined assault on Jurai. Kagato won’t kill the last two if they are his only leverage left, and we can have the advantage of having the royals on our side for the assault. The problem with that is that we would need three major powers to take each one of the planets. We’d also need three separate space vessels.”
Pan shrugged. “No problem. We got two Galaxy Police Ships and Ryo-Ohki. The ship problem is taken care of. We also have Ranma, Tenchi, and I.” Katsuhito cleared his throat. She glared at him briefly. “And the old fart. That should be plenty.”
Washu shook her head. “Ryo-Ohki would have trouble making the trip that far, since she is still very young. She would have to rest very often, and that would slow down our plan of simultaneous assault. Plus, if Kagato is returned, he’s bound to be much stronger. Tenchi barely survived last time. We’ll have to pair up into teams that have major powers and have at least one space fairer with them. I propose that Kiyone pilots her ship with Ranma and Tenchi along. The second ship will be Mihoshi with Ryoko, Katsuhito, and Shampoo. The third ship, when we find it, will be Ayeka with Pan and Ryoga in tow. That should keep the strife to a minimum and we can cover all our bases.”
As it is with all wise and well thought out plans, her plan was met with much whining and complaining.
“I’m not going anywhere without Tenchi!” Ayeka and Ryoko sounded in chorus.
“Hey, girls, I can’t be separated from Tenchi, I have to train him!” Came Ranma’s rebuttal.
“I’m not traveling with that geographically confused idiot!” Pan put in her protest.
“I’m going with Ranma!” Shampoo shouted. “He no go with police girl without me along!”
A giant sweatdrop formed on Washu’s head as everyone squabbled. “Why can’t all of you just be logical?”
They all stopped and looked at her like she was an idiot.
She rolled her eyes. “That was a dumb question wasn’t it…” She muttered.
The arguing recommenced. After about an hour, the teams had been semi-determined. Kiyone would pilot the first ship, and her compliment would include Tenchi, Ranma, Ayeka, Ryoko, and Shampoo. The second ship only had Ryoga and Mihoshi, and the third unknown ship left Katsuhito with Pan.
“Why don’t I get what I want?!” Pan complained.
Washu still had a bundle of straws in her hand. “You drew the short one.”
“We can’t send Ryoga and Mihoshi by themselves,” Ranma put in. “They’d get slaughtered and probably not even make it to the planet!”
“We also need another ship.” Katsuhito added aside.
Pan groaned and shook her head. “Okay. I know where we can another ship. We can get Vegeta’s capsule ship from Bulma, which will happen to come with some useful training equipment and devices. I’ll handle that, all I need is Ranma to teleport me there.”
“What about the additional person?” Washu asked.
Pan hesitated for a moment. “I know someone that can help us. He has been in space before training with grandpa, and he’s just about as powerful, but he comes with some, uh, baggage.”
“You mean we’ll have to bring HER?” Ranma’s eyes went wide in shock.
“Actually, when they hear about Akane, we’ll have to bring THEM.” The young Saiya-Jin commented in a dry tone.
Katsuhito raised an eyebrow. “Of whom are you speaking?”
“Just the short-skirted blunders of girliness and prissiness.” Ranma commented with a wave of dismissal.
The elder Masaki was confused. “Who?”
Pan whapped Ranma on the head. “Since Akane’s not here, I can hit you for being stupid.” She turned back to the old man. “He means the sailor suited warriors of love and justice, the Sailor Senshi.”
Ryoga’s nose started bleeding at the thought of them joining his crew.
Ranma shook his head. “Ryoga, Mihoshi, and Usagi on the same spaceship.” He turned to Pan. “Are you NUTS?”
“Hey, I’ve heard of crazier things working.” Pan lamely tried to defend herself.
“Like what?” The pigtailed martial artist challenged her.
“Like dressing up as Senshi and playing decoys.” She gave him a condescending look.
“Hey! That wasn’t my idea!” He protested.
“But I still wound up in a skirt!”
“Enough!” Washu shouted as she rubbed her temples. “We’ll get this guy…what was his name?”
“Uub.” Pan prompted.
“Uub,” Washu continued, “the Sailor Senshi, Mihoshi, and Ryoga will assault Terminus. That should be the easiest since it’s a resort world. Ranma and Tenchi’s group will attack Stron B’Dia. The desert world will take a while to search, but since Ranma has met the royal family, he should be able to find any of their signatures on the planet easily with his teleportation technique. Having Ryoko and Ryo-Ohki along will also help if he can’t find them immediately. Two ships can search a planet faster than one.”
She turned to address Pan and Katsuhito. “You two will take on Trantor. You’re already familiar with the planet, right Yosho?” He nodded as her reference to his real name implied that she knew where he had been during his time as a royal prince. “I also imagine that you’ll want to be the one to save your mother.” He nodded again.
“Momma’s boy.” Pan muttered. “Even named your tree for her.”
“You have her hair, you know.” He smirked at her.
The Saiya-Jin growled at him.
Washu cleared her throat. “You two will search the city-planet. Now I’ll trust you two to act appropriately. No hanky-panky on mission.”
“I will try to control myself.” Katsuhito smirked as he teasingly put an arm around Pan’s shoulders.
She lifted her arm and smacked him with the back of her fist, sending him flying across the lab. “You’re not coming anywhere near me, you old pervert.”
“Which group are you traveling with, Washu?” Kiyone asked diplomatically.
Washu exhaled a heavy sigh as she held up a second short straw. “I’m going with Mihoshi’s group. Somebody with an ounce of intelligence needs to be on that ship.” Why me? She thought rhetorically.
So it was settled. The plans were made and all that was left was to acquire the last ship and gather their allies…