Disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi is the greatest, but then again so is (whoever did SM). All Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon characters… and the occasional Devil Hunter, as well as any other character that belongs to someone else belong to someone else, not me. I ain’t that good. Jiejie and Tian Huan are my own creations, as are Inago, Kaji, Sansai, and Fusei.

C&C: C&C is both welcome and desired greatly at dancingimp@yahoo.com. This is my first fanfiction work to make it past Chapter Half. Also, though I have certain things set in mind, I am willing to modify the story as it continues if it becomes necessary. If this story is located elsewhere, the original can be found at http://www.geocities.com/dancingimp. Thankies!

Big Thanks: To my prereaders/editors/mallet-wielders, James Thomas <who has written one of the best Dragonball Z/Ranma Half crossovers, http://www.provalue.net/users/heed452/fanfic>, and Greg Beauchamp. Thanks for the mallets to the head and red ink to the paper.

What Went Before: This was starting to get long, so I think I’ll just say ‘Read the previous chapters’ from this point on. Sorry. 8)

 

 

Chapter 11

“Power Plays”

 

 

 

Nerima district

 

            Ranma slowly woke up with the great-grandfather of all headaches. Opening his eyes painfully, he glanced around and saw that he was on a hillside somewhere outside of Nerima. “What the hell happened to me?” He grumbled.

 

            “You possessed by demon,” the short girl sitting on the hillside beside him responded in broken Japanese.

 

            “Yasha…” Ranma whispered softly. “She doesn’t like you, by the way.”

 

            “Feeling mutual.” Something occurred to Jiejie. “How you know?”

 

            “She said so while we were da- uhm… in my head together. She said you hurt her pretty bad with that attack back in the underwater city.”

 

            “Jiejie no do that. Was Akane.”

 

            “Akane? When did she learn magic?”

            “Jiejie teach Akane when we both no need body. Learn very fast in mind.”

 

            Ranma shook his head, the headache and Jiejie’s bad Japanese made it difficult for him to comprehend. “So, you two chat while you’re not using Akane’s body? How is she? Is she all right?” He reached up and noticed that his pigtail had become untied. He fixed it back into its old shape.

 

            Jiejie nod. “She mad. Akane no like Akane right now.”

 

            “Why not? What happened?”

 

            “She no listen when Jiejie tell her no let you fight demon as girl. It her fault you stuck this way.”

 

            “Aww, man. It ain’t her fault. Tell her that would you?”

 

            “No. It her fault. Jiejie agree. She no listen to Jiejie, she no stop you, now you touched by demon. If exorcism no work, Jiejie force to kill you.”

 

            “Well, it did work.”

 

            “What else she say?”

 

            “I think she’s in love with Kaji. I got her to tell me that Inago has the gem, and that Kaji and the others have a problem with people called ‘Jurains’. Apparently Tenchi or his relatives are aliens or something.” Jiejie filed that information away as Ranma got a bit of an angry look on his face. “It bugs me, though… Yasha got what she wanted.”

 

            Jiejie glared darkly at Ranma. “What you mean?”

 

            “She said that if you killed me to get to her, she’d be free to go back to Kaji. If you exorcised her, she’d go back to Kaji. She said that either way, she’d win. I guess she was right.” Jiejie nodded darkly.

 

 

 

            Yasha sneezed and sighed. “Ranma probably is talking about me… oh well.” The demoness smiled a little, remembering the wonderful dance she had with the martial artist. “It’s been a bit since I relaxed like that. It was nice. Oh well, time to get back to my beloved Kaji.” She stepped into a somewhat clean stream as she began the small ritual necessary to send her to Kaji’s realm in the Negaverse. She frowned as she realized that her magical reserves were too weak for the transition. “I’ll have to get a recharge… not to mention that a good fight might be fun.” A vicious smile crossed her face, revealing a row of shark-like teeth. “I think I’ll look up that one witch,” she said to herself, remembering one of the magical girls she had fought the day before. “She’ll do nicely.” Her body flowed like the water she stood in and suddenly she was no longer there.

 

 

 

Juuban district

 

            “We’ve got good news and bad news,” Mercury commented to the gathered Senshi and the two Moon cats. Pluto was not present, as usual, and neither was Tuxedo Kamen “I’ve been able to confirm, thanks to Mars, that Mamoru’s friend, Ranma, has indeed been possessed by a demon. The good news is that Mars was able to exorcise the demon. However, the demon-possessed girl that we’ve been running into lately apparently has him under her control.” She punched some keys on her computer and a hologram of Jiejie appeared above it. “I’m sure you all recognize her, but let’s go over what we know of her abilities. First, she’s incredibly fast. It’s almost impossible for any of us to even get a near-hit on her, and to date no one has managed to land a solid strike. Next is the ability to teleport. It apparently takes her no time and she can do it at will, though so far she has yet to use this ability in combat. This indicates that it may be a rather heavy drain on her power. While teleporting, she can carry at least one passenger. Third on the list of her abilities are her martial arts. Apparently she is skilled in several styles, having used moves from Kempo, Kendo, Kung Fu, and Ninjitsu, as well as several other styles I have yet to be able to identify. Next is the ability to create a magical seal that can block all magical and spiritual energy within its radius. The good news is we now have the answer on how to counter this, thanks to Mars. Each sphere of the seal represents an element. All that is needed to break the seal is to bring each sphere into contact with its opposing element. Metal overcomes wood, which overcomes earth, which overcomes water, which overcomes fire, which overcomes metal. She also seems to have some power over fire, judging from the flame shield she created at one point. The last thing we know is that she possibly resides or frequents a restaurant in the Nerima district, the Nekohanten. Any questions?”

 

            Moon raised her hand. “Any idea how to fight her?”

 

            “Yeah, give me another crack at the little bitch and I’ll tear her midget ass apart!” Uranus growled angrily.

 

            “Dear, please stop swearing,” Neptune asked, putting a calming hand on the fuming Senshi’s shoulder. “You don’t want Saturn picking up any bad habits, do you?” Uranus shook her head and patted Neptune’s hand.

 

            Luna shook her head. “I don’t think any of you stand a chance against her in hand-to-hand. I’d recommend staying at long range if at all possible. There is one thing I’d like to bring up. So far, there have been no reports of actual attacks by this girl. There is a chance that she might be harmless.”

 

            The look Uranus flashed the Moon cat let her know just how a bull’s-eye felt. “HARMLESS?” was the only comprehendible noise she uttered.

 

            “Injuries to the Senshi aside, we have seen no evidence of her attacks, no reports of her being at any monster attacks, nothing. The only thing we know is that she fought back after we attacked her once, and she seems to have strong spiritual powers, judging from that seal.”

 

            “She’s a demon! I know it!” Mars argued vehemently. “I sensed it when I was with her!”

 

            “And you also thought Usagi was a youma the first time you saw her, remember?” Mars’ mouth snapped shut at that reminder.

 

            Mercury spoke up. “I have to agree with Mars, Luna. The energy readings I have gotten from her indicate a definite demonic presence, though it seems strangely different from the patterns the Negaverse usually uses. It could be that she is a terrestrial demon.” At some of the Senshi’s blank looks, she explained. “She might be a creature from Earth instead of from the Negaverse. Earth does have it’s own share of monsters, you know.”

 

            Luna shrugged. “All I’m trying to say is that I think you should try observing her a bit before attacking her next time. Unless you see her doing something obviously demonic.”

 

            Mercury nodded. “And I still have no more information on the wizard/demon called Kaji. All I have been able to figure out so far is that the gem he used at one point was a very powerful magic amplifier. It also seemed to possess the ability to call spirits from anywhere nearby.”

 

            “What are we going to do?” Moon asked on the verge of crying. The Senshi’s defeat at the hands of Kaji and that other demon had made her extremely worried, and the way Kaji had killed all those people was just too much for her.

 

            “We’ll fight them and we’ll stop them. Plain and simple,” Jupiter’s voice was determined. The rest of the Senshi nodded.

 

 

 

            The sign caught her eye as she walked down the streets of Juuban. Yasha had disguised her appearance so that she now looked much like she had when she was possessing Ranma. She had also clothed herself in a form fitting body suit. As it was, she still got a lot of stares from passersby. She smiled as she let the name on the sign roll over her tongue. “The Argonautica.” She slipped her way into the dance club and her smile broadened. “Now these are my kind of people.” Everywhere she looked people were dancing. Some were alone, many were in pairs, and there were a few group dances going on. She strolled over to the dance floor and started off solo, but it was only for a few moments before several guys had made their moves. She didn’t play favorites, giving each of them a turn before moving on to the next. She quickly became one of the most popular ladies present, at least with the guys.

 

             “Mind if I have this dance?” A voice asked from behind her. Turning around, she saw a rather handsome man wearing a Mardi Gras-style mask over his eyes and a tuxedo.

 

            “It’d be my pleasure,” Yasha responded with a smile. There was something different about this one, something that intrigued her with its hint of subtle danger. As they danced to the techno music that was playing, Yasha looked him over carefully… there was something very familiar about the man, but it was something old. It reminded her of the time of the Moon Kingdom. Her mind drifted back a bit as she danced. The name of the club, this familiar old feeling, the lively dancing, it all reminded her of her old stomping grounds in Atlantis. A frown came to her face as she remembered the devastation that came to the city and who was responsible for it. She also remembered how the Moon Kingdom had blamed her for it, and the Prince of Earth had even tried to… Right in the middle of a step, she froze. “Oh blazes… Endymion?” When the man paused, Yasha gritted her teeth. “Oh Inferno… See ya!” She spun on her heel and bolted for the exit, tossing club goers out of the way.

 

            She broke to a halt as a blonde girl with strange pigtails suddenly blocked the exit. Yasha nearly plowed into her before she could stop. Instead, she fell back on her rear end as panic began to set in amongst the club goers. “Clubs are for dancing, not for terrorizing! I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier, Sailor Moon! In the name of the moon, I will punish you!.”

 

            ‘THE SENSHI?’ Yasha screamed to herself as she finally recognized the uniforms, ‘Dammit, Kaji! Give me some warning next time!’ Outwardly, she smiled nervously. “Uhm, the monster went that way,” she pointed behind her, “I was just dancing.”

 

            Moon got an incredulous look on her face and as far as Yasha could tell, she almost fell for it. Unfortunately, Tuxedo Kamen chose that moment to reach them. Yasha hung her head for a moment, and then calmly picked herself up, adjusting her clothes. “Look, a fight is pretty unavoidable at this point, especially with Rocks-for-brains back there,” she pointed at Tuxedo Kamen, “But I’d rather not do it here. So, lead the way.” She motioned towards the door and noticed that more of the Senshi had arrived. She gritted her teeth and prayed for rain or something so she could make a quick exit. The bright, cloudless sky as she stepped out of the club ruined that hope. She turned to the Senshi and held her hands up in an ‘I’m harmless’ gesture. She noticed two strange cats a short distance away and recognized the moon symbols on their foreheads. “Look, Atlantis was a LONG time ago, okay? And I keep tellin’ ya, I DIDN’T DO IT! Endymion, ya gotta believe me! By the way, I thought Beryl took you guys out…”

 

            Moon and the other Senshi looked confusedly at one another, and then at Tuxedo Kamen, who shrugged. “Uh, we got better…” Moon mumbled. “And we have no idea what you’re talking about. We’re here to defeat you and anyone else who would threaten the peace of this world!”

 

            “Who was I threatening? I was just dancing! Ask him! He was there with me!” She pointed at Tuxedo Kamen.

 

            Moon looked at her boyfriend in surprise and Tuxedo Kamen suddenly felt nervous. “I was just trying to keep her from hurting anyone until you showed up!” As everyone’s attention shifted to the two lovers, Yasha slowly began to ease away. She had almost managed to get a good distance away when Neptune finally spotted her. Instinctively, she sent a Deep Submerge straight for the demoness. Yasha sighed in relief.

 

            She absorbed the energy of the water spell and felt it infuse her body. At least, that’s what was supposed to happen. Instead, the energy spiraled around her and then dissipated. No rush, no feeling of empowerment, nothing. Yasha blinked in surprise and was promptly blasted into a wall as a World Shaking slammed into her chest. Pain like nothing she had experienced in thousands of years roared through her body. She tried to instantly heal herself, but her power was severely disrupted. She managed to stagger out of the way as Mars sent a Flame Sniper blazing towards her. Unable to move much further, she collapsed to the ground. The fall barely saved her from being struck by another World Shaking, which tore a hole in the sidewalk. Yasha’s eyes fluttered between open and closed as she heard a wonderful sound. Barely able to see through the pain, she saw a broken pipe spewing water into the air. Exerting her diminishing influence, she pulled the water towards her. A blissful smile crossed her face as she felt the liquid’s healing influence wash through her and her body flowed into the water. Mercury stared in confusion at the readings she had gotten on her computer.

 

 

 

Kuno Estate, Nerima district

 

            Kodachi stared at the black rose sitting on her table. She had been staring at that rose for quite some time. She had made it for Ranma, just before she found out that he had disappeared for parts unknown. The rose was a special one. She had genetically bred it so that its petals were hued with all of the possible shades of black. She had also coated it with a special chemical that would keep it looking flawless forever. After Ranma left and her searches had come up empty, she had tried to find other men to fill her life, but none could even remotely compare with the pig-tailed martial artist. Suddenly a familiar voice echoes through her room, setting her teeth on edge.

 

            “Greetings, sister. How fare you this evening?”

 

            Kodachi raked her fingernails over the table’s surface, gouging it badly. “What do you want, brother dear.” The sarcastic emphasis she put on dear showed her displeasure rather well. She slowly rotated on her chair and looked up at Tatewaki. Her eyes narrowed as she detected something different about him. He stood with an easy confidence that was far different from his normal arrogant stance. He was also staring at her rather intently and in a way that made her uneasy.

 

            “What would you be willing to do for your beloved Ranma?” Tatewaki asked in an arrogantly amused tone.

 

            “Humph, what I would be willing to do for Ranma is between me and him, brother.” Kodachi glared at him.

 

            “Tsk tsk, my dear sister. What if I were to say that I know a way for you to find your dear Ranma?”

 

            Kodachi’s eyes lit up as a smile crossed her face, but it was quickly followed by a frown. “Such games do not become you, brother. Leave me.” She started to turn away from him, but she froze as he suddenly began to glow with a powerful red aura.

 

            “I speak not of games, sister. I speak of power and of knowledge. I have made new friends who can grant to us incredible strength with which to take what we want, and they also know ways of finding what they seek. They have asked me to extend an invitation to you, for they have heard of your interests in the alchemical arts. One of them is quite the alchemist himself, and he is rather interested in meeting you personally. It is he who can reveal the location of your beloved Ranma.”

 

            Kodachi stood with an elegant grace. “Well then, brother dear, by all means take me to them.”

 

            “I was hoping you would say that.” Tatewaki placed his hand on her shoulder and in a brilliant flash of flame they disappeared.

 

 

 

            Yasha was whimpering in pain as she sat on the edge of a reservoir. She was extremely confused over a lot of things. Endymion and the Senshi were here, even though it had been a long time since the Moon Kingdom fell, and she was sure she had heard that Beryl had killed Queen Serenity and the Senshi. There was no doubt in her mind that she had just been on the receiving end of the Silver Millennium’s wrath. It also confused and worried her that she wasn’t healing like she should be. She had been unable to absorb the Deep Submerge’s energy like she did before and it was taking far more of her dwindling power to heal herself than it should. Something was seriously wrong with her. She barely had the strength for another teleport or two and she doubted she could put up more than token resistance to any kind of a fight. She stared intently at the water, trying to figure it all out.

 

 

 

            Ranma rubbed his forehead, trying to stave off a sudden headache. He looked over at Shampoo, who was watching him with a concerned expression, and Cologne. “Okay, so the bad guys have one gem, and so do we. And P-chan is lost again. Now what?”

 

            “We wait,” Jiejie commented coldly.

 

            Ranma glared at the short girl. “I don’t wanna wait to get Akane back. Besides, I thought you were in some kind of hurry.”

 

            Jiejie glared back at Ranma. “Jiejie want return to Tian Huan, but no so stupid as get self killed before can.”

 

            Ranma’s headache doubled in strength. “Look, yer teachin’ Akane to do magic, right? Why don’cha have Akane teach you how to speak right?” Ranma stood up before Jiejie could respond and stomped out of the Nekohanten, grumbling, “I’m goin’ for a walk.” Shampoo and Cologne both watched him go with grave concern.

 

            He didn’t make it a block before a bucket of water fell from an open window to land on his head. Growling in anger, Ranma kicked the bucket hard and sent it flying towards a wall. She watched it bounce a few times before coming to a battered rest. She only made it a little further before a water hose suddenly sprayed her. Apparently the hose had been in the sun all day because the water came out rather warm. Ranma’s teeth grated against each other as he took a few more steps and ended up getting splashed by a passing car. Finally giving up, she turned around and walked back into the Nekohanten.

 

            As Ranma stormed back into the restaurant, Jiejie finally realized something. Whatever Yasha had done to Ranma when she possessed him had disrupted the spell Gui Ho had placed on the ancient warrior. Now she only had a vague feeling of dread when she looked at the cursed form of the pig-tailed martial artist. Relieved by the reprieve, she watched Ranma storm into the kitchen and dump a kettle of almost boiling water over her head. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he stomped back into the dining room area where the others waited.

 

            Cologne cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention. “I believe it would be a good idea to return to the Masaki shrine tomorrow. We will have to locate the third gem without delay.” Everyone nodded in agreement.

 

            Jiejie leaned back against a wall and closed her eyes. ‘Ranma has a good point, besides the one on his head. Akane, I will teach you the learning spell.’ Akane responded cheerfully.

 

 

 

Juuban district

 

            “Mercury, do you have any idea what that demon was talking about earlier or how she recognized me?” Tuxedo Kamen was sitting beside a rather possessive Moon. She was still a bit upset about the fact that HER Tuxedo Kamen had been dancing with someone else.

 

            “I ran it through the Mercury computer. The records are spotty, but apparently Atlantis sank shortly before the fall of the Moon Kingdom, and the evidence suggested that a demon with power over water had been the cause. The records also indicate that you, Endymion, personally tried to hunt her down, since her offense was against the kingdom of Earth.” She checked a few more readouts on her computer. “One thing that I find interesting, though, is this.” A hologram of the fight appeared above the computer. It shows Neptune’s Deep Submerge just before it hit the demoness. “In the first fight, though I wasn’t conscious at the time, my computer recorded that the demon absorbed Neptune’s attack and boosted her power levels. But here, she didn’t.” The hologram showed the Deep Submerge swirl around the demoness and dissipate. “From the surprised look on her face, I would guess that she did try to do the same thing, but that it failed.”

 

            “So what does it mean?” Saturn asked.

 

            “I have no idea. I just thought it was interesting.” The Senshi face faulted.

 

 

 

Masaki Shrine

 

            The next day, Katsuhito saw Ranma, Cologne, Shampoo, and Jiejie approaching. Jiejie wore a neutral expression while Cologne and Shampoo appeared to be trying to hide their amusement. A very wet female Ranma glowered at the steps leading up to the shrine. The priest smiled in greeting. “Welcome back.” The smile faded after a moment. “Tenchi told me that you ran into a problem with the second gem.” Ranma gave him a fast rundown on what had happened and Katsuhito frowned deeply.

 

            “What’s a ‘Juraian’?” Ranma asked curiously.

 

            “The warrior who came from the heavens to defeat Ryoko seven hundred years ago was from an empire called Jurai, as are Ayeka and Sasami.”

 

            “Any idea why Kaji and Inago have such a hate-on for those guys?”

 

            Katsuhito fell silent. “I must think on this. Please, join Tenchi in the house. I will meet with you all later.” The priest turned on his heels, walked quietly into his office, and closed the door. Cologne looked ready to follow him for a moment, but then she turned around and led the others to the house. Cologne knocked on the door with her staff.

 

            The four B’s could describe the tall blonde woman that opened the door: Beautiful, Built, Blonde, and Bubbleheaded. “Hello!” She said with a bright and somewhat vacuous smile on her face. “Can I help you?”

 

            “Is Tenchi home?” Cologne asked. ‘And I thought Ranma’s collection of women was interesting.’

 

            “Sure, come on in. I’m Mihoshi!” Mihoshi stepped aside and managed to trip, falling flat on her rear end. When Ranma tried to help her up, she managed to trip again and pull Ranma down on top of her. Ranma ended up with her face sandwiched between Mihoshi’s rather large breasts. She tried to pick herself up, but she ended up accidentally fondling the woman’s chest instead. Before Ranma could do or say anything else, she found herself sailing across the room and slamming into a wall, putting a nice dent in it and breaking the wooden planks. Jiejie slowly lowered her foot back to the ground.

 

            ‘I see what you have to put up with. What do you see in him?’ She asked the other occupant of her mind.

 

            *Hey, that wasn’t his fault! It was that bubbleheaded blonde’s.* Akane found it odd that she was defending Ranma. Normally she would be the first one to accuse him. Maybe the fact that she was only an observer was helping her see Ranma a little more leniently.

 

            Jiejie huffed in her mind and strode past a confused and worried looking Mihoshi. The tall woman cheered up when Shampoo helped her to her feet and flashed a bright smile. Sasami came out to see what the commotion was and saw Ranma picking herself out of the dent in the wall. She helped the redhead to her feet and heard her mumble something about violent midget psychopaths. Sasami turned towards Jiejie and leveled her best reproachful glare, which somehow still managed to look cute on the young girl. “That wasn’t very nice.”

 

            Jiejie walked up to the dent in the wall and closed her eyes. The gem in her palm glowed for a moment and the damaged wood suddenly reformed, much to Sasami’s surprise. “Happy now?” Jiejie asked as she turned towards Tenchi, who had just walked in through the back door carrying a large basket of carrots.

 

            “Oh, hello!” He said as he noticed the new arrivals. He looked with some concern at Ranma. “How are you feeling?”

 

            “Fine, fine, I’ve taken a lot worse than that,” Ranma responded. Tenchi looked relieved, which both bothered Ranma and made her feel better at the same time. “Hey, who’s your newest fan?” She thumbed towards Mihoshi.

 

            “Oh, that’s Mihoshi. She kind of… dropped in yesterday. She’s stuck here for now, so…” Tenchi put his hand behind his head and chuckled nervously.

 

            Mihoshi smiled brightly and waved at everyone. “I’m going to go join Ayeka and Ryoko in the bath. Would anyone care to join me?” Shampoo and the others shook their heads and Mihoshi shrugged before heading off. Jiejie’s eyes followed her for a moment until she noticed that snow was falling. There was something not quite natural about the precipitation.

 

 

 

            An hour later, Jiejie got a very bad feeling and dismissed herself from the others. Stepping outside, she looked up and felt a chill run through her that had nothing to do with the temperature. A large, unfriendly looking object hung in the sky. A sudden scream from the bathhouse that floated magically over the lake brought everyone running.

 

            Jiejie and the others reached the domed structure just as the top of it shattered and a strange, green orb came flying out. Ranma’s blood ran cold as she hissed, “Inago!” Looking inside, Ranma and Tenchi took in the damaged bathhouse for a moment until the mostly naked forms of Ayeka and Mihoshi caused Tenchi to develop a nosebleed. “What happened?” Jiejie demanded.

 

            Mihoshi looked at the strangely beeping watch she wore. “This one’s a real one. The infamous brutal criminal… Kagato! He just kidnapped Ryoko!”

 

            Jiejie smiled viciously. “Good.” She turned to leave but was stopped by Ranma.

 

            “Come on, she tried to help us out, we need to help her!”

 

            “I don’t care!” The words felt oddly hollow to her.

 

            Something occurred to Ranma. “Hey, your Japanese got better.”

 

            “So glad you approve, stupid.”

 

            “Don’t call me stupid, you violent, midget psychopath!”

 

            “Don’t call me that, you stupid gender freak!”

 

            No one noticed the water begin to swirl and shift in a corner of the bath. Slowly Yasha pulled herself out of the water and hid behind a rock, watching Jiejie carefully. She let out a small sigh of relief when Jiejie and Ranma continued bickering. She suppressed her power, what tiny amounts of it she had left. She no longer had the strength to possess anyone except for Ranma, so he was her last hope. If she could just hide out in him for a little bit, disguising the fact that she was there, she might be able to figure out what was going on. She found it rather amusing, despite her current predicament, that Ranma seemed to gather trouble like some people did seashells.

 

            Mihoshi and Ayeka had changed into their normal clothes while Ranma and Jiejie argued. A beeping sound from the watch-like object on Mihoshi’s wrist got their attention. “Follow me!” She yelled as she followed the holographic compass that had appeared over the dial. Everyone piled after her, not noticing a silently moving shadow tailing them, as she led them quickly to the Holy Tree of the Masaki shrine. “Eternally most-wanted criminal Kagato! Come out, now! I know you’re here! I said come out!”

 

            Ranma leaned over to Tenchi. “What’s with her?”

 

            Tenchi whispered back. “She’s a Galaxy Police officer.”

 

            Ranma stared back, stunned. “That ditz is a space cop?”

 

            Tenchi nodded slowly. Both their eyes suddenly snapped to a spot in the air in front of the tree. A green ball was forming. Slowly the figure of a tall, strangely robed man emerged. Ranma could tell instantly that it was not Inago. “Please excuse my behavior earlier. I deeply appreciate you coming out to welcome me.”

 

            Ryoko suddenly appeared in the air next to the elegant looking man. She hung there for a second before collapsing to the ground. “Ryoko!” Tenchi cried out.

 

            “However, this one belongs to me.” Kagato smirked. “She is… how do I say it delicately… incapable. Still she is agile. I bet she’s given you some trouble. Princess Sasami, Princess Ayeka, don’t you think it’s best we talk someplace private, where there’s no one to bother us?”

 

            Mihoshi moved in front of the two princesses. “Kagato, you’re under arrest! This is a specially protected area. Any kind of combative action is forbidden. If you involve any civilian, I’ll blast you to bits!”

 

            “Oh my, oh my. You really frighten me.” The sarcasm was almost tangible. “I’ve heard much of your heroic episodes in the past. Now I hear you’re overworked and your performance stinks.” Mihoshi emptied her blaster at him, but the beams all bent around the laughing pirate.

 

            Kagato was about to say something, but he suddenly rocked back in midair as Ranma sent a flying kick into his chest. Landing in a loose combat stance, she growled. “No one hurts my friends while I’m around. I’m Ranma Saotome of the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts.”

 

            Kagato frowned and bared his teeth, revealing moderate sized fangs. “Foolish woman, do you wish to waste your life for nothing? So be it.” Kagato held out his palm and blast of torrential snow and ice pelted towards the martial artist. To everyone’s amazement, instead of striking Ranma and pushing her back, the frozen water swirled around her and then entered her body.

 

            Ranma felt an enormous surge of power, and her eyes actually began to glow for a moment as a vicious smile crossed her lips. Her confidence soared to incredible heights as she cupped both of her hands together. “Wrong move, loser. MOKO TAKABISHA!” Kagato’s eyes widened for a moment as the enormous ki-blast burned straight for him. He hovered to the side as the energy blew past. The space pirate held out his hand and a large green energy sword appeared. Ranma was about to dodge a half-hearted swipe when a blue sword intercepted it. Looking to the side, she frowned as she saw Tenchi parrying the attack. “What do you think you’re doing?”

 

            Tenchi looked surprised. “Uhm, helping you?” Kagato recovered from the parry and took another swing at Ranma.

 

            “Do I need your help? I don’t think so.” Ranma effortlessly dodged the next few swipes that came for her as she continued to glare at Tenchi. She only barely managed to react in time when Kagato fired a lightning fast energy ball at her. When it struck the ground, the blast knocked her down and Tenchi stepped in decisively.

 

            Yasha’s eyes narrowed murderously as she came to a realization. ‘Ranma… you stole a part of me when I left you. You’re the reason I can’t recharge.’ She shifted her view to the astral plane and could see a part of herself latched onto his soul. The fragment was reaching out, trying to pull compatible energy to it. As Yasha watched, some of the supernatural snow that was falling actually deviated its course, pulled by the fragment, and fell directly on Ranma. As everyone concentrated on Tenchi and Kagato, Yasha slipped out of the shadows and flowed towards Ranma. Just as the redhead was about to get back up, Yasha touched her. The demoness managed to suppress the flash this time as Ranma collapsed to the ground again. Yasha worked quickly in the girl’s mind to hide her presence from Ranma.

 

            “Oh, I see you have the sword.” Kagato said to Tenchi as he dispelled his own sword. “But that’s the King’s property, boy. Wave it around like that and your going to hurt yourself.”

 

            “What do you mean? What King?”

 

            Kagato frowned. “You would fight me without full knowledge of the sword? All right then.” Kagato held up his hand and repeated the snow attack he had used on Ranma. Tenchi struggled against the wind, but things didn’t look good for him. Suddenly Ryoko tackled him out of the path of the blast.

 

            “Fascinating. And what about him interests you so much, Ryoko?” Kagato smirked as he summoned his sword once again. Ryoko cried out in pain. Suddenly, she turned and glared at Tenchi, her eyes glowing the same green as Kagato’s sword. She suddenly dove for Tenchi, wrapping him into a headlock. Shampoo growled, drawing a bonbori as she dove for Ryoko. The pirate lost her grip on Tenchi as the spherical mace slammed into her head. Shampoo threw a powerful side kick that sent Ryoko flying. The purple-haired Amazon chased after her falling form.

 

            Kagato’s eyes shifted to this fight, interested by the young girl’s actions. He didn’t notice as Tenchi ran towards him, his sword swinging in a downward arc. At the last moment, Kagato floated back out of range, but he was not fast enough as Tenchi’s sword cut his cheek. Kagato’s frown turned to a nasty scowl as the cut healed almost instantly. Kagato floated down towards Tenchi, swinging the sword effortlessly as he forced Tecnhi backwards into a small stream that flowed around the Holy Tree. A particularly savage blow slammed Tenchi against a tree root, knocking him momentarily senseless. His sword blinked out of existence, leaving only the strangely shaped hilt dangling from his hand.

 

            “Do you enjoy making me waste my time?” Kagato asked arrogantly. The hilt floated out of Tenchi’s hand and slowly floated towards Kagato’s. Just before he could grip it, the sword flew away from him. Everyone not otherwise unconscious or fighting watched the sword land easily in Katsuhito’s outstretched hand.

 

            “Are you playing with something that doesn’t belong to you?” The priest asked calmly.

 

            Kagato smirked. “There you are, the first crown prince of Jurai’s royal family.” Ayeka gasped as she heard this. “I wonder, will you show me the secret of the universe? Will you share that treasure?”

 

            “Pleasure?” Katsuhito repeated, a goofy expression on his face. “Well, I do know a comfortable hot spring nearby.”

 

            Kagato’s smirk turned into a small frown. “Well, aren’t we cocky?” Energy flowed to a point in front of him and suddenly fired a beam at Katsuhito’s head. The priest merely moved his head a little to the side as the beam burned past him. Katsuhito smirked at the floating criminal as Kagato continued speaking. “I have journeyed through sea after sea of stars in order to find the secret. What will it take to get that power? Your blood? Jurai Royal family’s blood?” Kagato swung his sword again, but a shield of energy that appeared in front of Katsuhito suddenly intercepted it. An incredible fight broke out between the two men, with glowing swords, strange energy shields, and the occasional green blast from Kagato.

 

            Cologne waited patiently next to the two princesses and the police officer. If either fight went badly she wanted to make sure that the three defenseless, in her opinion, ladies would be protected.

 

            Jiejie had not interfered yet, having noticed that neither Kagato nor Katsuhito was really pushing himself. Jiejie was waiting. If she felt she could get in a killing blow, she would strike. If not, she would wait. Her eyes drifted over to Shampoo and Ryoko’s fight. The space pirate was not doing well against the Amazon. She had brute strength and endurance on her side, but Shampoo had the advantage of much greater skill. Ryoko kept trying to get past the purple-haired warrior, probably to help Kagato, but Shampoo refused to let her disengage.

 

            “Don’t kill her, Shampoo! Help her! It’s the gem on her wrist!” Tenchi cried out. At the mention of the gem, Jiejie’s eyes narrowed dangerously and she looked closely at the pirate’s arms. A gem identical to the one in her own palm was embedded in Ryoko’s wrist.

 

            ‘That… conniving… cunning… BITCH!’

 

            *Worry about that later! How are we going to get the gem away from her?*

 

            ‘Like this.’ Jiejie ran to join the fight against Ryoko.

 

            “<When I say now, strike her so she raises her arm and back off!>” Jiejie whispered harshly to Shampoo. The Amazon nodded. Jiejie moved away from the fight a bit and Ryoko ignored her. “<NOW!>” Shampoo swept one of her bonbori in an upward arc, smashing it into Ryoko’s elbow. Ryoko’s arm went above her head as she tried to counterattack with her energy sword. Jiejie snapped her wrist out, sending a ki-charged wind blade flying. The blade sliced Ryoko’s arm off just below the gem.

 

            Akane couldn’t believe what Jiejie had done, and from the look on her face, Shampoo hadn’t suspected it either. The severed limb fell to the ground, as did the gem. Ryoko’s eyes lost their green tint as she collapsed to the ground. Seeing this occur, Katsuhito suddenly threw his sword at Kagato, who easily dodged. The sword impacted and buried itself in the Holy Tree. Kagato looked between the sword and the priest with some confusion before hovering over to the hilt. He tried to take it, but a powerful charge raced through him as he gripped the hilt. Holding his hand in pain, he glared at Katsuhito.

 

            “It’s not yours, eh?” Katsuhito chuckled, a rather arrogant look on his face.

 

            Kagato glared at him. “I see. Then this boy is your successor.” Ryoko started to pick herself up, but a sparkle of energy surrounded her, rendering her unconscious again. Her body floated into the air. “I will take your precious Ryoko with me. Improve your skills then come to me. I’ll be waiting for you.”

 

            Ranma picked herself up, noting that her headache was finally gone as she saw Kagato and Ryoko vanish into a glowing green sphere. She looked around the battlefield in confusion, wondering what had knocked her out for so long. Her confusion magnified when Ayeka suddenly dove for Katsuhito, crying out that he was her brother Yosho. Ranma walked over to ask Jiejie what was going on, but the little lady had a rather violent look on her face as she gripped something in her hand and stalked past him, heading straight for the priest and princess. Ranma moved closer to Shampoo. “What’s going on?” Shampoo filled him in on what had happened. Ranma cursed the fact that she had missed most of the fight.

 

            Jiejie waited for a few moments while Ayeka interrogated Katsuhito, who had finally been revealed as Yosho, the warrior from seven hundred years ago who had originally defeated Ryoko. Finally, her patience ended. Reaching past Ayeka, Jiejie grabbed Katsuhito and hauled him up, surprising most of the gathered people with her strength. When her aura blazed into view, everyone took a step back, even those who had seen it before. The blue that formerly made up half of her aura now looked more like an afterthought. The red of anger was definitely dominant.

 

            “Why. Did. You. Not. Tell. Me. About. This. Gem.” Every word was sharp as she hissed angrily through clenched teeth.

 

            Katsuhito gazed down at the small woman, a calm expression on his face. “Because, though your cause was just, you had done nothing to deserve it. Why should I have trusted such a dangerous item to you, a violent woman who I only recently met?”

 

            “You gave it to that space pirate,” Jiejie hissed, ignoring Akane’s pleas to calm down.

 

            “I did not. That was Tenchi’s choice. Besides, the real gems belong to Ryoko.” Jiejie’s eyebrow twitched as she caught the inflection on the word ‘real’.. “You see, that gem you possess and the one you lost are not the real ones. They are copies that Ryoko made over the past seven hundred years since I sealed away the three real gems in Tenchi-ken, the sword. And before you ask, the third copy was destroyed shortly after Ryoko awoke.”

 

            Jiejie let her grip slacken and Katsuhito calmly backed away from her. “Then I will keep this one until I can get the others.” Jiejie focused on the gem in her hand, willing it to become a part of her. To her surprise, nothing happened. She tried to focus her energies into it, like she did the others, but again, nothing happened. She looked in surprise at Katsuhito.

 

            “Having a problem?” He asked with that arrogant smirk on his face again. “I told you, those are Ryoko’s gems. Only the copies can be used by just anybody.”

 

            Jiejie let the idea of shattering the jewel enter her mind for a moment, but then she relaxed. As everyone watched, her aura returned to its original shades. She turned to Tenchi and walked up to him. The young man took a step back in surprise, but she held her hand out to him. He put out his own hand and she dropped the gem into it. Turning back to Katsuhito, she bowed to him, her eyes lowered in remorse. “Do you wish me to destroy the copy?” She asked with an oddly calm voice. She would do anything for Tian Huan. But she had finally realized that she had begun to act in a way that he would despise her for, and that was something she could not survive. Tian valued honor and trust very highly, and she had shown that she was not trustworthy or honorable. Tears began to well up in her eyes.

 

            Katsuhito raised an eyebrow. “At last you live up to your name, Restrained Fury. No. You may keep it, since you have finally shown you can be trusted with its power.” Jiejie fought the tears back, but she refused to let her relief show to the others as she bowed again.

 

            Tenchi, seeing that Jiejie was finished, stepped up. “Grandpa, I have to save Ryoko, but… “

 

            “But she’s the cause of all our troubles,” Ayeka interrupted. “You certainly don’t have to save her.”

 

            “But can I defeat him? I don’t know, Grandpa. I have a hard enough time handling that sword.”

 

            “With that kind of attitude,” Cologne suddenly seemed to appear next to the young man, startling him, “how do you expect to protect these women?”

 

            Katsuhito nodded. “You have a power that hasn’t been awakened yet. Trust yourself.”

 

            Katsuhito placed a hand on his grandson’s shoulder. “Tenchi, I will give you that sword. Kagato is very dangerous. You must go and defeat him. In order to get a hold of the secret treasure, Kagato would think nothing of destroying this planet.”

 

            Tenchi nodded as he smiled at the two elders. “Thank you, I understand.” He turned towards the Holy Tree and began running. A hand suddenly grabbed his, halting him. Tenchi looked behind him and saw the hand was Jiejie’s.

 

            “Will you permit an honorless, untrustworthy person like me to help you?”

 

            Tenchi saw a silent pleading as he looked into her strange eyes. “I don’t think you’re honorless or untrustworthy, and I’d be glad to have you help me rescue Ryoko.” He handed her the gem, which she took with some confusion. “When we get her back, would you give this to her?” Jiejie nodded in surprise and the young man smiled at her.

 

            Ranma stepped up as well. “Hey, I wanna show that creep that he can’t push us around. I’m going too.” Tenchi gulped and didn’t even think of turning the redhead down.

 

            “Shampoo go to,” the purple-haired Amazon announced.

 

            Mihoshi stepped up. “As a member of the Galaxy Police, it is my duty to go and arrest the criminal, Kagato.”

 

            “I will remain behind with Katsuhito and Sasami.” Cologne’s tone of voice left no room for negotiations. ‘He and I have some more talking to do,’ she thought to herself.

 

            “Lord Tenchi, please don’t go,” Ayeka pleaded.

 

            “Ayeka,” Katsuhito said softly. “There is a time in every man’s life when he must fight.” Ayeka bowed her head and fell silent.

 

            Tenchi ran to the Holy Tree and reached for the sword hilt. An incredible flood of light poured out of the weapon and Tenchi felt a powerful force pushing against his hand. The light and the force vanished when his hand closed over the hilt and he drew the sword from the tree.

 

            “The sword has acknowledged Tenchi as its true owner,” Katsuhito informed the others. The glowing blade suddenly vanished and Tenchi shook the handle around, trying to get it to come back. “Are you going, Tenchi, with the sword you can’t quite handle yet? Even so, are you still going?”

 

            Tenchi nodded. “Ryoko, I must save her.”

 

            Ayeka stood still as everyone began to move towards Ryo-Ohki, who was hopping towards the lake and meowing to get everyone’s attention. When Sasami called her name, Ayeka finally looked up and ran to join the others. Everyone wondered what Ryo-Ohki was doing as she stopped at the edge of the lake. As she growled in low tones, a large object floated out of the lake, surprising everyone. Ryo-Ohki leapt into the air and transformed into a ship, absorbing the large, oval object into the lower section of her body.

 

            “All aboard, I guess,” Tenchi said softly.

 

 

 

            As Ryo-Ohki flew towards the only other spacecraft in the solar system, Ranma and the others slowly got the idea of just how large it was. “That thing’s almost as big as the moon!”

 

            As they closed, the lower section of Kagato’s ship, which Mihoshi identified as the Soja, opened up and began firing energy blasts. As Ryo-Ohki rocked from the hits and near misses, the occupants were thrown about inside. “We’ll never reach him at this rate!” Jiejie whispered.

 

            Ayeka tried ordering Ryo-Ohki to attack, but she couldn’t figure out how to control the vessel. Everyone split up to try and figure out how to work the ship, but no one had any idea what they were doing. Suddenly, the crew was thrown around as the ship began to veer wildly. “Was the stabilizer hit?” Ayeka asked. At a giggling noise, everyone looked over at Mihoshi, who was pouring some sake into a glass that was held by one of the crystals, which kept changing back and forth between crystal and cabbit forms. Both Mihoshi and the cabbit looked quite drunk. Ranma groaned and slapped his forehead.

 

            “We’ve got to do something other than this, if we’re going to get there. Ayeka, can we attack from your ship?” Tenchi asked.

 

            “It is possible, but quite dangerous. I’ll go.”

 

            “No, I’ll go. It’s my responsibility. When I get there, you’ll have to tell me what to do.”

 

            Ryo-Ohki managed to sober up quickly and teleport Tenchi into the new portion of the ship, which had previously been a part of Ayeka’s own spacecraft. Once inside, Tenchi followed Ayeka’s instruction on raising the ships shields, which created three coffin-shaped barriers that she called ‘Light Hawk Wings’. She also told him how to focus the power of the shields into an attack, but warned him that it would leave the ship defenseless. Just as Tenchi finished following her instructions, the Soja ceased firing the smaller beams and prepared to launch a single enormous blast. The two energy waves met halfway between the ships and erupted in an enormous flash that blinded the people aboard Ryo-Ohki. When the flash ended, the Soja’s attack finished punching through Tenchi’s and, though it was greatly reduced in strength, it still managed to blow the lower section of Ryo-Ohki clean apart.

 

            Ayeka screamed out Tenchi’s name as everyone stared in shock. Dozens of view screens appeared in midair as Ryo-Ohki scanned for any trace of Tenchi. Nothing could be found. Suddenly Ryoko appeared in the middle of the ship. Ayeka screamed and ranted at her, but Ryoko silenced her by throwing a bloody rag at her. Ayeka looked at the rag and recognized it as the one Tenchi had been wearing.

 

            “I’m going to kill Kagato,” the space pirate said slowly. “At any cost.” She glared hostilely at Jiejie as the short woman walked slowly up to her.

 

            “Tenchi asked me to give this to you,” she whispered.

 

            Ryoko looked down in shock at the gem. A smile crossed her face as she took it and joined it with herself again. “Thanks, shrimp. Let’s go kick his ass.” Jiejie nodded. Ryoko turned to the view screen as Ryoko charged towards the Soja. An energy barrier formed between the two ships, but Ryoko joined her energy with Ryo-Ohki’s and the smaller ship punched through, plowing into the larger vessel and penetrating its armor. Ryo-Ohki beamed her occupants onto the ship and waited.

 

            Once inside, Ayeka used a ring to summon an armored outfit that replaced her clothing. Mihoshi had also donned a battle outfit and a large, bazooka like object that she pulled out of a strange, pink cube. The group looked around, noticing several passages. “Which way do we go?” Ranma asked.

 

            “All passages will lead to Kagato,” Ryoko responded.

 

            “Right. Let’s do some property damage,” Ranma growled. Ranma and Shampoo took off down one passage while Ayeka and Ryoko took off down separate tunnels. Jiejie took a fourth passage.

 

            “Wait for me!” Mihoshi called out, but no one listened. She began running down the same tunnel as Jiejie.

 

            Each group ran into a set of mechanical floating heads that attacked with a barrage of energy blasts. Ryoko took hers out easily with a large energy blast while Ayeka erected a force field and rammed her way through the machines that attacked her. Ranma felled one with a Moko Takabisha and Shampoo used brute force to smash one against the wall, breaking it into pieces. Jiejie didn’t bother wasting any energy to fight hers and just dodged around them, not realizing that Mihoshi was trying to follow her. The blonde Galaxy Police officer used her cannon to destroy the heads, all the while begging them to stay away from her. As Ryoko predicted, all of the passages joined into a single hallway that ended in a glowing, grayish portal. Ryoko stepped through first, followed by Ayeka, Ranma, and Shampoo. A large, brick-like wall blocked any further movement. Slowly, the wall separated, revealing a path.

 

            “Well now, looks like an invitation,” Ayeka commented.

 

            “Sure does. Let’s not be rude,” Ryoko responded. The quartet advanced. A few moments later, Jiejie stepped through, followed by a bumbling Mihoshi.

 

            “Wait for me! Please!” The blonde begged as Jiejie took off after the others. The short woman rolled her eyes and turned back to her, not wanting to leave the idiot too far behind in such a dangerous place. Mihoshi tripped and the pink cube attached to her hip fell to the ground. Jiejie’s head whirled as she felt a sudden perspective shift. She looked around, but noticed no difference, but something was subtly bothering her. Grabbing Mihoshi, who had picked up her cube, she pulled her along as they chased after the others.

 

            The quartet stepped into a large, cathedral like room. Kagato finished playing a haunting melody on a giant organ as they entered. He stood and turned to them with a bow. “Welcome to my Great Cathedral, ladies.”

 

            Ryoko growled, “How dare you?!” Ayeka lost control and flew at Kagato with a force field powered punch. She was stopped cold by the force field Kagato erected.

 

            “You are quite powerful, princess, but the cathedral’s force field counteracts all energy directed against me. Now, allow me to teach you some manners.” Ayeka was thrown back violently by a wave of force and she collapsed on the floor of the cathedral.

 

            Ranma noticed something quite wrong about the pirate. She realized what was going on and began powering up a Moko Takabisha. Suddenly she froze, the built up ki dissipating as she grabbed her head and fell to her knees. Shampoo looked at her in concern, but her attention was drawn back to Kagato as an energy beam from Ryoko slammed into his head. He took a step back, only to suddenly find her sword punching through his neck from behind. His body vanished as Ryoko cursed. “A shadow!” was all she managed to get out as Kagato’s hand grabbed her throat.

 

            “Seven hundred years appears to have been too long for you. If you can’t even tell reality from illusion, you still have some way to go.”

 

            Ryoko stared in horror as first her hand, and then the rest of her body began to turn to stone. In seconds she was a lifeless statue. Kagato didn’t have much time to celebrate as an angry Amazon came at him in a whirlwind of steel. He dodged back effortlessly at first, but when Shampoo used the Amaguriken technique, he found himself unable to dodge all of her attacks. Grunting from the hits, he held out his hand and sent an incredible wave of force straight into the purple-haired woman, slamming her into one of the columns in the cathedral. Shampoo collapsed to the ground. Kagato looked over at Ranma, but dismissed the young girl who seemed to be having problems as she writhed on the ground.

 

            Inside Ranma’s head, Yasha was fighting violently for control. She could tell that Ranma had almost no chance of beating Kagato, and there was no way in hell she was going to let the martial artist die until she had figured out how to get her essence back. By rendering Ranma helpless, she hoped correctly that Kagato would ignore her, at least for now.

 

 

 

            Meanwhile, in what should have been the same place, Mihoshi and Jiejie were entering a room with only one noticeable feature, a strange device with a large crystal at its center. There seemed to be something inside the crystal. As the two women crossed the threshold, strange markings glowed on the floor. Mihoshi didn’t notice them, but Jiejie did. She tried to leave the room immediately, but a force field blocked her. She cursed as Mihoshi continued towards the device. Neither one noticed the two giant statues of snakes begin to move.

 

            Jiejie was trying to force her way past the barrier when a startled cry from Mihoshi got her attention. She looked up just in time to see the blonde perform a graceful backflip away from one of the statues as it dove at her, dropping her bazooka in the process. Jiejie’s mind blocked out everything except the presence of the serpentine statue. She was paralyzed with fear as she stared at it, not noticing the second one coming up behind her. It wrapped itself around her at lightning speeds as she let out a silent scream.

 

            Mihoshi continued dodging the one statue as the other looped more coils around the small woman. It’s eyes filled her world as she felt its body constrict around her. Horrible memories flooded through her mind. Akane fought to block them out, but the sheer power and terror of them punched through her weak defenses and soon she was reliving the horrible Daija Ken training with Jiejie. Then all went dark.

 

            Mihoshi held up a gauntleted hand and a barrage of pellets flew from it to impact on one of the statues. The thing became encased in ice and she let out a relieved sigh as she read the thing its rights. It was only a strange hissing noise that brought the second statue’s existence to her attention. She started to fire at it until she realized that Jiejie was in its grasp. “What will I do?” She asked worriedly.

 

            Suddenly the snake was hurled back and slammed against the barrier. Standing where it had been was a glowing Jiejie. Her body was rigid and her eyes wide open, staring unblinkingly at nothing. Her aura had sprung into life again, but it was forming into a giant serpent similar to the two robotic snakes. Before her stunned eyes, Mihoshi saw the thing extend from Jiejie’s form to wrap around the fallen snake and squeeze. The robotic serpent writhed in its grasp, trying to break free, but slowly cracks developed in its body. In a short time, it shattered into small pieces. The ki-serpent then dove for the other statue, shattering the ice prison as its ki-fangs sank deep into the throat of the robot. Its mouth extended as the ki-snake swallowed first the head and then the body of the robotic serpent. Mihoshi stared in stunned horror as the mechanical creature disintegrated inside its ethereal counterpart.

 

            Mihoshi started to let out a relieved sigh, but her eyes went wide as the ki-snake came after her next. Mihoshi looked around for the bazooka, but she saw that the first robot had crushed it during its attack. She grabbed her cube as she began running and dodging with uncanny grace as the monster attacked her over and over again, never quite managing to get her. “Bigger gun, I need a bigger gun! Oh, where did I put it?!” She cried as she twisted the box like a Rubic’s Cube over and over again. Unnoticed by anyone, the crystal at the center of the room cracked. The crack grew with each twist of the cube. Just as Mihoshi was beginning to wonder if she would ever get out of there alive, the crystal shattered, getting the ki-snake’s attention.

 

            A small woman with a rather extreme hairstyle stepped out of the rubble and smiled. The serpent somehow sensed that this woman was far more dangerous than the bubble-headed blonde and reared back to strike. Before it could follow through on its attack, the woman tapped her chin once and pointed at Jiejie. The snake vanished as the short haired girl collapsed to the ground unconscious.

 

            “Well now, that was an interesting rescue,” the woman commented to no one in particular. She raised an eyebrow when the girl suddenly stood back up and let out a quiet scream.

 

            “Where are the snakes? Hatesnakeshatesnakeshatesnakes,” she repeated her mantra over and over again.

 

            “It’s all right, now. They’re dead. How are you still standing? You should still be unconscious.”

 

            “Huh? Oh. I think Jiejie is still out. I can’t get her to respond to me. Who are you?”

 

            The short lady, who was actually a little bit taller than the possessed girl, hmmmed as she walked around her, eyeing her up and down. “I see… interesting. Very inter-“ She noticed the gem embedded in the girl’s hand. “Very interesting indeed. I am Washu, the greatest scientific genius in the universe!” Washu laughed in a somewhat disconcerting way, though it was far easier to listen to than Kodachi’s in Akane’s opinion.

 

            “That’s nice,” Akane responded. “I’m Akane Tendo. And that’s Mihoshi.” She pointed to the blonde, who waved back.

 

            Washu held her hand out over the ground and before the other two women’s startled eyes Ryoko’s stone form emerged from the ground. “Now this girl is totally out of control, don’t you agree, ladies?”

 

            Akane and Mihoshi just stared in shock as Washu snapped her fingers and Ryoko’s body became flesh again. Ryoko held her face in her hands and groaned as she tried to clear her mind. Washu was pacing around her and looking very closely at the pirate’s body. “Well, I see your muscle mass is down and your body is sagging. You know that will affect your Visual Psychological Warfare abilities, don’t you?”

 

            Ryoko grabbed the short woman and hauled her off her feet. “I’ll have you know my dress size hasn’t changed in the past seven hundred years.” A confused look came over her face. “What are Visual Psychological Warfare abilities, anyway?”

 

            “Why, your sex appeal, of course!” Akane blushed at Washu’s statement. Ryoko got mad. She summoned her sword and held it under Washu’s chin.

 

            “Just who do you think you are?”

 

            “Now, is that any way to talk to your mother, Ryoko?”

 

            Ryoko’s hands went numb and Washu landed lightly on her feet. “My mother?” Ryoko mumbled.

 

            Washu nodded. “I created you using my own ovum, so technically that makes you my daughter. I created you, Ryo-Ohki, the Soja, and so many other things, but you were always my favorite.”

 

            Ryoko shook her head angrily. “I don’t care who you are, I’ve got to go kill Kagato.”

 

            Washu looked ready to say something, but she stopped. “I’m not stopping you. But I will ask you to do one thing.”

 

            Ryoko put her hand on her hip and glared. “What?”

 

            “Would you please call me momma?”

 

            Ryoko growled and vanished. Washu sighed and turned to the others.

 

            “Shouldn’t we go after her?” Mihoshi asked.

 

            “We can’t. We’re trapped here until Kagato is destroyed.”

 

            Mihoshi looked confused. “But Ryoko…”

 

            “Please try to understand, that was only her astral body that I brought here.” Akane and Mihoshi got dumbfounded expressions on their faces. Washu settled in for a long lecture on why they couldn’t escape. Akane tuned out partway through when Washu started going into subspace theories. She focused on her mind, trying to locate Jiejie. She could still feel the girl’s presence, but she couldn’t get a response from her. She finally gave up when Washu wrapped up her presentation.

 

            “Now do you understand why we can’t leave?” Washu asked. Mihoshi shook her head, as did Akane. Washu sighed and shook her head, wondering about the current state of education. She waved her hand and a monitor appeared in the air. On its screen the three women could see Ryoko and Ayeka battling against Kagato. The two ladies were not doing very well at all. They watched as Ayeka used her power to hold Kagato in place while Ryoko dropped an enormous column on him. The pirate thought she had finished him off but suddenly his hand emerged from the stone and grabbed her ankle. Before she could react, Kagato lifted her up and slammed her back into the fallen pillar. The fight continued with Ryoko and Ayeka tag-teaming the man, but the smirk never left Kagato’s face.

 

            “Why is she holding back? She’ll never win at this rate,” Washu commented. Akane and Mihoshi looked at the redheaded scientist in surprise.

 

            “What do you mean?” Akane asked.

 

            Before Washu could answer, Kagato shattered one of the columns, raining debris down on Ayeka and the still struggling Ranma. Ryoko barely managed to save the two women from being crushed by the falling stones. Suddenly a bonbori slammed into the back of Kagato’s head, knocking him off balance but otherwise leaving him unharmed. The angry looking mad scientist turned around, scowling at the purple haired Amazon. “Now I understand… if she goes all out, those girls will be fried by the energy backlash.”

 

            “Is there anything we can do? Something seems to be wrong with Ranma!” Akane was becoming desperate. ‘Why am I always helpless?’ she asked herself.

 

            Washu waved her hand and suddenly Ayeka, Shampoo, and Ranma sank into the ground. They emerged from the floor right next to Washu. Shampoo looked about in confusion as Mihoshi kept Ayeka from collapsing. Akane knelt down worriedly next to Ranma, shaking her while calling out her name. It was then that she finally noticed the purple tint in Ranma’s hair.

 

 

            In their head, Ranma was fighting hard against Yasha. They were once again standing in a void.

 

            “Get out of me!” he yelled at her, his hands clenching in fury.

 

            “No way, grace. I need you alive, and if you go after that guy, you’re just going to get killed. If you die, I am royally screwed.” Yasha stood firm.

 

            “What are you, a coward? And why do you need me?”

 

            Yasha bristled at the insult. “Why I need you is a secret. And you have NO right to call me a coward. I’ve taken a peek at your life while I’ve been hiding out. If one of us is a coward, I think it’s safe to say that it’s you.”

 

            “Whadda ya mean by that? I ain’t no coward!” Ranma was quickly losing his temper.

 

            Yasha pointed at a segment of the void and a trio of watery mirrors appeared. Each one showed a different person: Shampoo, Ukyo, and Akane. “You’re doing fine in the guts category, but when it comes to these women, you’re nothing but a spineless jellyfish. Actually, no… jellyfish have more spine than you. You’ve done nothing but lead these girls on because you’re afraid of making a decision. The only time you’ve ever confessed your feelings to Akane was when you thought she was dead, and even then, when she woke up, you denied it. I think that’s the mark of a true coward. Just because I don’t want to die in a pointless fight against Kagato doesn’t make me one. The fact that you are hurting these girls by stringing them along does make you coward. A real man would either tell all three girls he wants a harem, or would choose one and stick with her. This waffling is nothing but you trying to wimp out and doing a damn good job of it.”

 

            Ranma started to argue, but found no real way to refute the demon. He clenched his hands, ready to attack her, but he realized that he was resorting to Ryoga’s tactics. “I am not a coward,” was all he said as he crossed his arms and stared at Yasha.

 

            “Ooooo, you’re probably the captain of the debate team, aren’t you?” She snorted. “Please, at least I have an excuse for being misleading, devious, and an all around not-nice being. I’m a demon! It’s my job. But you humans never cease to amaze me with your hypocritical attitudes. And you know, I started to like you. But I think I’m going to have to change my mind. I was just going to hang out for a bit again, but now I think I’m just going to rip your soul out. It’d probably get me some bonus points back home. Maybe even get my limited license upgraded. If not, well I’m sure Kaji would appreciate your removal.”

 

            That last comment confused Ranma. “Limited license? Huh?”

 

            Yasha shook her head. “Never mind. Anyways, to quote a rather amusing flick, ‘I’ll swallow your soul!’” Yasha’s mouth suddenly grew to physics-defying proportions as she dove for the martial artist. Ranma dodged to the side and slammed a hard kick into Yasha’s stomach.

 

            “Come get some.”

 

 

 

            Akane continued to shake Ranma, who was shivering badly as she gripped her head, her eyes screwed tightly shut. She ignored Washu and the others as they talked with the image of Kagato that appeared before them. ‘Ranma, you have to fight it! Come back to me, Ranma! Please!’

 

 

 

            Ranma felt his confidence building as he fought the demoness. He found himself moving faster and faster, easily dodging and counterattacking against Yasha. He began to wonder where this newfound speed was coming from. When the truth hit him, he laughed out loud. “Wait a minute. This is my mind. I can move as fast as I think, hit as hard as I believe… and that means I can beat you easily.”

 

            Yasha frowned and let her mouth return to normal. “I hate it when you people figure things out like that… it makes it a lot harder to take over. Of course, I can still win. There’s always a way. For example…” Yasha’s face cracked in a hideous smile as a loud mewing noise echoed from all around Ranma.

 

 

 

            Akane fell backwards as Ranma gave a violent shake and pushed off, hurling herself across the room. Akane watched as Ranma collapsed again and she ran over to her. The Washu and the others ignored them as they watched the Soja fire an enormous beam cannon at the Earth. The ball sped towards its target as Ayeka cried out in agony. The energy stopped as it impacted against ten wing-like shields that appeared out of nowhere.

 

 

 

            Yasha approached Ranma’s huddling form. “You see… never count a demon out until you’ve looked it in the eyes while it dies. Otherwise, we just might surprise ya.” As she knelt over the cowering boy, she felt a tug on her emotions. Frowning, she shook him. “Oh stand up. I just wanted to make a point. Besides, if I took your soul, I’d have to stay in your body for at least three days. Right now, that’s just a bit too risky, especially with that midget marauder running around. I’ll make a deal with you, I won’t pretend to be a cat, and you don’t try and fight me, got it?”

 

            Ranma stood up slowly, glaring at her harshly. He had no intention of letting this demon hijack his body, but at the same time he had no defense against her when she used cats against him. “How about this: I’ll let you ride along for now and you don’t fight me for control of the body.”

 

            Yasha smiled mischievously. “Sounds good to me. I’ll let you have your body back for now.”

 

 

            Akane let out a relieved sigh as Ranma slowly calmed down and opened her eyes. She glanced up at Akane and noticed her expression. It was only there for a moment before Akane’s defense went back up, but Ranma saw the concern and caring in her eyes. ‘I guess she does actually like me…’ Ranma struggled to a sitting position, then reached out and pulled Akane into a hug. Akane was startled at first and instinctively hugged Ranma back, but then she remembered that Ranma was currently a girl and the old angry expression returned to her face. “Ranma, you pervert!” The mallet appeared out of nowhere and slammed into the redhead.

 

            *Wow. Love does hurt, don’t it?* Yasha commented snidely.

 

            “Shut up,” Ranma grumbled, realizing too late that she had spoken out loud. ‘Aw, hell…’

 

            “Shut up?” Akane seesawed back and forth between anger and hurt.

 

            “Not you!!! I meant Yasha! She’s back in my head again!”

 

            “Oh no! Are you all right?”

 

            “Well, besides having a demon in my head, I’m okay… I guess I know how you feel right about now.” Ranma and Akane’s attentions were suddenly drawn to the monitor that hovered in the air, as a maniacal laughed erupted from it. On the screen they could see Kagato holding out his arms towards a strange, wooden looking ship that was in space near the Soja.

 

            “COME TO ME, TSUNAMI!” The evil man cried out in triumph. Over his shoulder, the horrified watchers could see Ryoko and Tenchi on the ground.

 

            “TENCHI!!!” Ranma and Akane called out in surprise.

 

            Suddenly, Tenchi stood up and threw away his sword. “I’ve relied on it for far too long,” he muttered. The women all watched in horror as Kagato fired a powerful green beam at the boy, the dust from the explosion masking Tenchi’s passing. Kagato began to laugh in triumph, but the sound died in his throat when he noticed three glowing shields, identical to the light-hawk wings, began to shine through the cloud. As the dust settled, it revealed Tenchi standing there unharmed.

 

            Tenchi held up his hands to the shields and they passed over him, transforming his Jurain battle armor into something equally strange looking, but more elegant appearing. Ranma noticed a strange set of marks on Tenchi’s forehead. Kagato summoned a group of crystals out of the ground, ordering them to attack the boy. Tenchi formed a boomerang out of one of the shields and hurled it, shattering all of the crystals.

 

            “Matter conversion! Incredible…” Washu whispered softly.

 

            Through the debris Kagato came, expecting to surprise Tenchi. Tenchi formed a strange looking sword out of one of the other shields and in a master stroke cut Kagato cleanly in half. As his body began to disintegrate, the pirate smiled at Tenchi. “Well done, boy. You’ve won.” The last bit of Kagato vanished from sight.

 

            “A boy who can generate the wings of the light-hawk… I want to make him mine!” Washu declared loudly. Ranma and Akane sweated, but they were both grateful that at least this time it wasn’t directed towards the pigtailed martial artist. Ranma felt a twinge of sympathy for Tenchi.

 

            Suddenly, the barrier that held everyone in the pocket dimension was broken and the women found themselves in the same room as Tenchi. Ranma watched as the girls fought for the chance to be the first one to hug Tenchi, with Ryoko fighting the hardest. In the end, it was Ryo-Ohki and Washu who won. The celebration was cut short as suddenly the Soja began to split into two parts.

 

            “It looks like the ship was cut in half with Kagato,” Washu commented idly. Everyone made a mad dash for Ryo-Ohki, who quickly assumed her spaceship form as the Soja detonated all around them.

 

 

 

            Back at the Masaki shrine, a relieved looking Sasami, Cologne, and Katsuhito greeted the arriving heroes. Washu was introduced to everyone as the greatest scientific genius in the universe! But, they could just call her Little Washu.

 

            “Hey, Jiejie. Thanks for your help,” Tenchi told the short woman.

 

            “Uhm, I’m Akane. Something happened to Jiejie back on the ship and she won’t respond to me right now.”

 

            Washu walked over to join them. “I have to ask you a question.” Washu smiled at Akane, somewhat amused by the fact that they were nearly the same height. “Why are you still standing?” Akane blinked in confusion and Washu continued. “When I saw you attacking in what seemed like a rather berserk manner, I put your consciousness to sleep. So how is it that you’re still standing?”

 

            Akane smiled back. “Oh, well that explains it. You put Jiejie to sleep. I’m kinda possessed by a girl who’s sorta a demon but not exactly.”

 

            Washu nodded and smiled, and suddenly Akane began to feel like the frog she had been forced to dissect for her Biology class. “Wanna be my guinea pig?” Akane stepped back from the obviously deranged woman.

 

            “R-r-ranma!”

 

            Ranma stepped somewhat in the way. “Uhm, I don’t think she’d like that, Little Washu.”

 

            Washu waved a hand dismissingly. “Don’t worry about it. Actually, I’m just curious about the gem in her hand.” Ranma and Akane gave a short briefing on their situation to Washu. When they finish, Washu just nodded once.

 

            “Why don’t we all go inside and sit down, we have much to discuss.” Katsuhito motioned towards the Masaki home and everyone filed into the house. It was going to be a very, very long night.

 

 

 

Chapter Notes:

Okay, not the best way to end a chapter, I know, but I was starting to blank out rather badly. Not to mention the fact that it was getting just a bit long.

The next Chapter will focus entirely on the Juuban Wrecking Crew and their opponents. Ranma and Company will return in the chapter after that.