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)

 

Big Ol’ Apology: Two things I’m sorry for: The amount of time it took to get this chapter out and the fact that I lied in the last chapter. The Wrecking Crew and other Juuban people are actually catching a break from the fighting for a while and using it to get some well deserved rest, including my dearest Ukyo (Yeah, I’m a fan of hers. Sue me.) And no, Pluto still hasn’t shown up.

 

 

Chapter 12

“Loss”

 

 

            Washu had wasted no in getting settled in. After disappearing into a small closet for several hours, during which Yosho was informed of the entire adventure, she came out again. During the discussion, Yasha had occasionally piped in with a sarcastic comment, but there wasn’t much anyone present could do about her right now. Washu spoke up as she entered the living room. “Ranma, Akane, could I have a word with you in my office?”

 

            Ranma, still in her female form, and Akane glanced at each other nervously while Ryoko gave an odd smirk. Shampoo glowered for a moment at the ‘Violent Mallet Girl’ getting to spend more time alone with HER Airen. She also didn’t quite trust that gleam in Washu’s eyes whenever she looked at Ranma. Tenchi, however, managed to distract her as they began talking about the sword techniques that his grandfather had taught him. Ranma and Akane slowly got up and followed Washu into the closet.

 

            “I would have expected a much smaller closet,” Ranma commented numbly as Akane just stared around her. The room they were standing in was easily the size of an auditorium. It was filled with gadgets, gizmos, and other such contraptions that Ranma couldn’t even guess what they were for.

 

            “Hop on up here,” the diminutive scientist patted an examination table while smiling at Akane. She gulped nervously and sat down on the table. “Lay down, Akane. Don’t worry, I’m the most brilliant scientist in the whole universe! Hahahahahaaa!”

 

            Akane looked less than relieved at this exclamation, but she lay down anyways. The table began to glow as readouts started to appear in the air. Washu hmmed and nodded occasionally while Ranma and Akane waited nervously. After a few minutes, Washu had Akane sit up. She placed a strange, ball-like machine with two eyes and tiny feet on top of Akane’s head. “Now, hold still for a moment.” Washu began to punch some keys and then had Akane go through a series of facial exercises, which the strange machine duplicated. Washu put on a serious face. “I’ve got some bad news for you. You’re going to have to get your friend out of your body very soon. I’d say within the next three days. The stress from her life force and a third energy source I haven’t identified yet is too much for your body to handle. You’re beginning to break down at the cellular level and there are also signs of abnormal mental stress. In about three days, the damage will become permanent. Two days after that, it will become terminal.”

 

            Akane began crying softly as Ranma stood there dumbfounded. He couldn’t believe that Akane was dying and there was nothing she could do about it. Ranma started to move to comfort her, but then stopped, not sure what to do exactly.

 

            *Yo, jock-boy.*

 

            ‘What is it, Yasha?’

 

            *Hug her, you idiot!*

 

            ‘But she’ll think-‘

 

            *She’ll think what? That you like her? You like her, you idiot, so tell her!*

 

            ‘And why should I listen to a demon? And why are you supposedly trying to help me?’

 

            *Because I have a lot more experience with people than you do and I like people. They’re fun to play with. Now hug her before I kick your ass.*

 

            ‘Like you could,’ Ranma grumbled, but she moved to put an arm around Akane anyway. She was half expecting her to mallet her for ‘being perverted’, but instead she buried her face in his shoulder and began to cry louder.

 

            “Sorry to break the news like that, but I felt you needed to know now so you could plan accordingly. I’d recommend getting rid of that gem, though. It’s inferior to the original ones I gave to Ryoko and it’s accelerating the process.” Akane didn’t answer at first, so Ranma consented. Washu tapped a few keys on one of her trans-dimensional keyboards and the orb glowed, then left Akane’s hand without a mark and vanished.

 

            “Now, what do you know about this strange third energy reading my machines have sensed?”

 

            Akane slowly stopped crying and sat up. “It’s a long story, but Jiejie, the other girl, stole a demon’s power and then accidentally possessed me.”

 

            Washu hmmmed thoughtfully. “Can you demonstrate this power for me?”

 

            Akane nodded and looked around. “Do you have any fire in here? I’m best with that.”

 

            Washu gave a wicked grin and punched some keys on her keyboard. A circular void formed just over her and a small flamethrower dropped into her hands. Akane and Ranma scooted away from her as she triggered the weapon into the air, sending out a rainbow-colored stream.

 

            “How the heck did you make it so colorful?” Ranma blurted in surprise.

 

            “Easy, for a genius such as myself. Hahahaahahaa!”

 

            Akane shook her head a bit. “Got anything a little less over-the-top?”

 

            Washu shrugged and threw the flamethrower over her shoulder, where it disappeared into another portal. Reaching into a pocket, she pulled out a lighter and turned it on. “Is this better?”

 

            Akane nodded and cupped her hands around the flame. When she pulled her hands away, the flame came with them. She kept her eyes closed as she caused the fire to grow in size and dance around a little. After a few moments of this, though, she lost her concentration and the flame puffed out.

 

            “Interesting,” Washu commented as she looked over a few readouts. “But that’s not what I asked for.”

 

            Akane stared blankly at Washu. The scientist continued. “According to the computer, that was tapping into a combination of your own life energy, a little bit from the other girl’s, and the energy within the fire itself. The ‘demonic’ energy was never touched.”

 

            Akane shook her head. “I thought that was one of Jiejie’s demonic powers. You mean that isn’t evil?”

 

            Washu laughed lightly. “No, little lady, it isn’t ‘evil’. That was elemental manipulation, an ability some races across the universe have access to. It’s just rarer in humans.”

 

            Akane nodded, feeling a bit relieved. She liked the feeling of using magic, especially since Ranma couldn’t, but she hated the thought that she might have been corrupting her soul with it. “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to tap into the demonic energy. Jiejie’s the only one I know who can do that… well, except for the Phoenix Rising spell, but it would kill me right now to use it.”

 

            Washu nodded understandingly. She looked over a few readouts and had a few ideas for some things. She typed furiously at her computer, her hands moving in such a blur of speed that Ranma thought it rivaled the Amaguri Ken. Washu finally stopped after a few minutes and took the strange, ball-like machine off of Akane’s head. “Do me a favor. Follow the instructions on that screen while I give Ranma an exam.”

 

            Akane nodded, not really having anything better to do.

 

            At another table some distance away, Washu repeated the same scans for Ranma. After she was done, she nodded several times. “Interesting. You only have two energy patterns, but one of them almost seems to be two. Your life energy is giving off some very strange readings. The ‘demonic’ energy is similar to Akane’s, but different enough to be noticeable. The good news is, your body appears to be able to handle it.” She noticed one of the readouts was reporting a minor energy drain. “Are you doing that on purpose?”

 

            “Doin’ what?” Ranma replied. He leaned over and looked at the readout before realizing that he had no clue how to read it.

 

            Washu pointed at a chart. “This energy drain. Hmmm.” She punched a few keys and Ranma felt a small tingle along his spine. “Interesting. Let’s see what the limit is.” Washu poured more power into the drain, watching with interest as Ranma’s hair shifted slowly from just having blue highlights to a deep blue color.

 

            Light burst forth from Ranma’s eyes and mouth as a cheerful cry of “YES!” tore through the air. A duplicate of Ranma’s girl side suddenly stood next to Washu and slapped her on the back. “Thanks, babe. I needed that recharge. Well, I’m outty! See ya!” She yelled as she dove for the exit. Washu just stared blankly for a moment before smirking. “Not so fast.” She pressed a button and the doors slammed shut.

 

            “Oh, like that’s gonna stop me,” Yasha smirked as she phased through the door. She wasn’t ready for the sudden energy discharge that charred her and knocked her off her feet. “Ow.”

 

            Washu started to speak when suddenly the door opened and a blonde head stuck itself in. “Miss Washu? Sasami asked me to find out what you wanted for din-oof!” Mihoshi was shoved aside as Yasha bolted through the door and vanished. “That was rude!” Mihoshi cried out. Suddenly a hand reached down and helped her to her feet as a young man stepped through the door. He wore battered clothes and a yellow and black bandanna on his head.

 

            “Let me help you up, miss.” After Mihoshi was back on her feet, the man blushed as he tried to avoid staring at her ample cleavage. “Uhm, hi. I’m Ryoga. Do you know where I am?”

 

            Mihoshi gave him a dazzling smile and nodded. “You’re in Washu’s lab in the Masaki home. I’m Mihoshi!”

 

            Ryoga stared for a few moments into Mihoshi’s blue eyes. Washu tried coughing to get their attention. When that didn’t work she called out to them. When that didn’t work, she threw a rubber ball at Ryoga’s head. It wasn’t until Ranma saw him and welcomed ‘P-Chan’, that he finally responded. “Ranma! Because of you, I’ve seen Heaven!” He cried out as he drew his umbrella. Something didn’t quite sound right with his battle cry and he paused a moment to try to figure it out. He looked over at Mihoshi and got sidetracked again. Mihoshi continued to beam a radiant smile at him and his brain returned to mush-mode. Mihoshi started up a conversation to which Ryoga, executing all of his Don Juan skills, merely nodded a lot.

 

            Washu tried to get both of their attentions again but Ranma stopped her. “Don’t bother. When Ryoga gets that look on his face, he’s dead to the world.”

 

            “Ryoga’s here?” Akane’s voice perked up. A bolt of electricity suddenly shot across the room and scorched Ryoga. The lost boy completely failed to notice, save for the charred clothing and the spiky hair that resulted. “Oops, sorry Ryoga!”

 

            “No problem,” Ryoga replied with a strange look on his face, not really noticing who had spoken. He continued nodding at whatever Mihoshi was babbling about.

 

            Ranma groaned. “Hey, Washu. Could ya get me a glass of hot water?”

 

            Washu stared at Mihoshi, who, along with Ryoga, had managed to pierce the defenses of her hyper-dimensional lab without setting off the alarms. Ryoga had also just absorbed a lightning bolt without any apparent damage. Ideas began forming in her head. She handed Ranma a glass of hot water that appeared from nowhere, barely paying any attention to him as she examined the readings she had received. Her attention snapped back to Ranma when he dumped the water over his head and became male again. A rather impressive male too, she noted.

 

            “So that’s the source of those strange readings I was getting. I see. So, are you a male by default, or a female? Or is it natural for you to be able to shift like that?”

 

            “I’m a GUY, dammit!” Ranma cursed.

 

            Washu smirked a little. “I’ll say.” Ranma blushed. At her questioning, he went into a brief explanation of Jusenkyo. Washu perked up in a disturbing way. “I must get samples of this water! Think of the all of the possibilities! Hahahahaahaaaa!”

 

            Ranma developed a nervous twitch. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to be able to separate Akane and Gigi, would ya?”

 

            Washu checked her scans and thought for a moment. “Not easily. According to my readings, there is only extra energy, not extra mass. And the energy present is not enough or of the right type to compensate for another body. I would say that most likely your friend has another body sitting around somewhere.” Something seemed to occur to her and she started chuckling. “Igor! Fetch me a body!”

 

            Ranma’s twitch got worse and he began to edge over towards Akane, preparing to grab her and make a dash for the exit. Washu noticed this and gave him a disarming smile. “You two can go now. Would you send Tenchi down? I need to… perform an examination.” Ranma had grabbed Akane, slipped past Ryoga and Mihoshi, and bolted out the exit before Washu could start laughing again.

 

            Once upstairs, Akane suddenly stiffened in Ranma’s arms. The pigtailed martial artists took this as a cue to put her down. One look in her eyes told him that Jiejie was back. She brushed past Ranma and began to head out of the house. “Hey! Where are ya goin’?” Ranma yelled.

 

            Jiejie paused for a moment. “Out. I need to consider things.” She continued walking towards the tree line.

 

            Ranma stood grumbling in the doorway. “Women. Who can ever figure them out?” Suddenly he was overcome by what he could only describe as ‘a warm fuzzy feeling’. Looking around, he couldn’t see anyone standing nearby and could find no source for the feeling. A few moments later, he felt it again. It was stronger the second time. Ranma sat down in a lotus position and closed his eyes, trying to sense where the weird sensation was coming from. He slowly came to realize that he was sensing Yasha’s feelings. He could just pick up the faintest whispers of her strongest thoughts. He listened carefully to those whispers, focusing his entire attention on the effort as a smile slowly crossed his face. “Gotcha.”

 

 

            An hour later, Jiejie walked into the dining room of the Masaki home. Everyone was gathered around the dinner table as Sasami served a wonderful meal. Tenchi was nervously eyeing Washu as Ryoko kept trying to feed him. Ayeka was attempting to stop the former pirate while Katsuhito just smirked. Shampoo sat next to Cologne, complimenting Sasami on her cooking skills. To everyone’s relief, Ryoga was keeping Mihoshi busy by chatting to each other about all the different places they had traveled to. Ranma had an ‘I-know-something-you-don’t-know’ smirk on his face as he watched Jiejie sit down and begin eating. After the meal was finished, Jiejie stood up and got everyone’s attention. “I have been informed that I have a very short time before I must separate from Akane. The only way I can conceive of doing this is to ask my master, Tian Huan, to help.” She closed her eyes for a moment as she forced herself to continue. “To this end, I am forced to ask both Ryoko and Washu to assist me in getting past the wards that surround Tian Huan. Will you help me?”

 

            Ryoko smirked, loving the fact that she had a certain amount of power over the little pain-in-her-ass. “So, where’s he at, short-stuff?”

 

            Jiejie glared at Ryoko. “He’s in the Nekonlong region of China.”

 

            Washu perked up. “China? Isn’t that where you said this Jusenkyo place is? Sure, I’ll help!”

 

            Ryoko rolled her eyes and grinned. “I’ll go, but only if Tenchi comes along too.” She draped an arm across Tenchi’s shoulders as she leaned her head against him. “I’ll need someone to keep me warm on those cold Chinese nights.” This caused the expected reaction in Ayeka, who promptly got into a short shouting match with Ryoko. In the end, Tenchi and the two ladies agreed to help. Ryoga renewed his intent to help Akane in any way possible and Mihoshi also piped in that she would help for the honor of the Galaxy Police.

 

            Ranma chose that moment to let the proverbial c-c-c-cat out of the bag. “Hey, I’ve got some information about the bad guys’ next target. I was able to sneak it out of Yasha. The third member of their group is in a mountain called ‘The Tomb of Now and Forever’ in-“ Ranma was cut off as Jiejie screamed a strange, quiet scream.

 

            Jiejie picked up Ranma and threw him into the nearby wall, pressing her arm against his throat. A maniacal glint was in her eyes as she screamed at him, “THAT IS WHERE TIAN IS! WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY THIS SOONER?!”

 

            Ranma fought off his surprise and glared at Jiejie. “How the hell was I supposed to know that? Come on, if he’s in danger, we need to go. Hey, Ryoko! Can your rat change into a ship again for us?”

 

            Ryoko was entertained by the little display of force and at the description of Ryo-Ohki. The cabbit took the opportunity to bite Ranma’s ankle. “Sure thing. Anyone need to go to the bathroom first?”

 

 

            Ryo-Ohki tore through the atmosphere at supersonic speeds. During the flight, Ranma dragged Ryoga away from Mihoshi and brought up something that was making him curious. “Yo, P-Chan, what’s up with you and the ditz?”

 

            Ryoga growled at him. “Don’t call me P-Chan and DON’T call Mihoshi a ditz. She’s not interested in you and she’s a goddess!” Ryoga got a dreamy look on his face.

 

            “Uh-huh.” ‘Goddess of Ditzy Blondes,’ he thought. “And what about Akari? I thought you two were hot and heavy.”

 

            Ryoga sighed sadly. “After we left that weird underwater city, I wandered back to Akari’s farm. She didn’t realize I was there and she was talking with Katsunishiki. She was talking on and on about this guy she had met, who had beat Katsunishiki. She went on about how she loved him the moment she saw him and how she loved him even more after he beat that stupid pig. And he seems to have a Jusenkyo curse too! She’d forgotten all about me, Ranma…” Ryoga drooped and Ranma put a hand on his shoulder.

 

            “Hey, man. I’m sorry. If it makes you feel any better, that Mihoshi seems to like you.”

 

            “Do you think so?” Ryoga asked hopefully.

 

            “Well, duh. I’ve only been around her a little bit, but she seems to pretty much pay attention only to you.”

 

            Ryoga slipped into a dream world and Ranma let him be. Looking up at the view screen, he saw mountains approaching quickly. “Must be our stop.”

 

 

            Jiejie’s panic skyrocketed when, after Ryo-Ohki had transported everyone to the ground, she was able to enter without resistance the cave that lead to Tian. She didn’t wait for anyone else as she bolted through the tunnel.

 

            Ranma and the others were trying to keep up with she was too fast. Suddenly an anguished, heart-breaking scream echoed down the tunnel. Cologne had heard that scream only a few times before. It was a cry of ultimate suffering, the cry of a soul that had lost its one reason for existing. Everyone’s fears were confirmed when they finally entered a large cavern with strangely sculpted fixtures and found Jiejie draped over a badly mauled body. The formerly fine robes that covered the shredded torso were torn to ribbons. His face was still mostly intact, unlike the rest of him. A broken staff lay a few feet from the body. In the center of the cavern was a large stone monolith that seemed to have pushed up through the ground.

 

            Ranma carefully knelt next to Jiejie and put a hand on her shoulder. She turned to look at him and Ranma realized that it was Akane again. She buried her face in his chest and hugged him fiercely to her as he tried to comfort the girl. “I don’t want to die, Ranma,” she whimpered. “It’s horrible of me to say that, I know. Atsui just lost Tian, he’s dead, and all I can think of is that I don’t want to die. Am I a horrible person, Ranma?”

 

            Ranma shook his head and held her close. “No, you’re not horrible. We can’t do anything for Tian now, so it’s okay to think about your own problems.” He stroked his hand through her hair as the others entered the room.

 

            Laughter began to echo through the cavern as a bright flare of light revealed glowing symbols all over the walls and floor. A seam appeared in the monolith and it slowly slid open. Yasha, looking like a shark-woman again, stepped out, flanked by three watery figures that roughly resembled women. “Sorry about that, kiddo. But they needed a strong soul, and that kid was right here for them. He put up a pretty good fight, but hey, he just couldn’t handle the three brothers.”

 

            “We beat you before,” Ranma commented as he dropped into a defensive stance.

 

            “Yeah, yeah. Cheap shot. But this time, I’ve got friends and I’m at full power. Get ‘em!” She snapped her fingers and the three elementals flowed towards the party.

 

            Mihoshi opened fire with her energy pistol, but the beams bounced off of Yasha’s skin and impacted harmlessly on the walls. Akane felt rage boiling through her, an indescribable hatred beyond anything she had experienced before. Her familiar red aura sprang into existence, but this time it was brighter than any Ranma had ever seen before. With a cry of rage, she launched herself at Yasha and began pummeling the shark-woman.

 

            Akane slammed her right fist into Yasha’s gut, following through with a left cross to her face. She finished up with a roundhouse kick to her head. Yasha’s head snapped around and she gave a wicked grin. “Nice punch, girl. Now try this on for size.” A column of water slammed into Akane’s chest and pinned her against a wall. The column solidified into ice and trapped her there. “And now for my primary target. Yo, sword boy. Let’s dance.”

 

            Cologne and Shampoo had been keeping one of the elementals distracted while Ryoga and Mihoshi dealt with another. Ryoko, Ayeka, and Tenchi were trying to put down the third, but so far no one was having any real success. Ranma had run to Akane to try and break her free. At Yasha’s taunt, Tenchi turned around, holding up the Tenchi-ken defensively. The move saved his life as the blue energy blade cut an ice spear in half.

 

            Washu was staying near the exit. She had her sensors running on overdrive and was compiling the data quickly. The glyphs were not only preventing any attempt to leave the cave, but they were also amplifying the water-based powers of the four entities. She smirked as she finished analyzing the water spirits. “Ryoko, dear, would you mind sending that little monster this way?”

 

            Ryoko smirked. “Gladly, mom,” she growled sarcastically. She dodged an attack by the spirit and then used an energy blast to send it flying at Washu. Washu held up her hand and the sprite impacted on an energy field that dispersed it completely. Washu frowned as she checked some readings. The dissolution of the spirit had amplified the harmonic resonance of the glyphs and she was beginning to see a hidden purpose in their placement.

 

            Ranma closed with the spirit that was attacking Cologne and Shampoo as Akane went to assist Ryoga and Mihoshi. Ayeka and Ryoko quickly became involved in helping Tenchi with Yasha. Like before, the two ladies were proving only minimally effective against the demon. Ranma smirked as he ducked under a swing from the spirit. “Hey, old ghoul! Watch this!” Ranma focused his attention on the spirit as he continued to dodge its attacks.

 

            Cologne felt the temperature dropping quickly and smiled with pride. ‘Son-in-law is perfecting the Soul of Ice.’ She watched as Ranma suddenly grabbed the spirit by the arm and the limb solidified into ice. The spirit tried to pull away, but its body was quickly hardening and beginning to crack. With a final battle cry, Ranma shattered the creature into a thousand shards.

 

            “Ha! Saotome Ranma never loses!” Ranma took the time to pat himself on the back as Shampoo bounced up and down happily. Cologne just shook her head.

 

            Washu frowned even more at the disruption of the second spirit. The resonance from the glyphs was threatening to reach a cascade level. Her predictions indicated that the entire cavern would be destroyed at that point.

 

            Ryoga was finding that the water spirit he was fighting was mostly immune to his physical attacks and he was having a difficult time avoiding being turned into a pig in front of Akane and Mihoshi. As he watched Ranma destroy one of the creatures, he began to become depressed. ‘Oh sure, the Great Ranma can beat one. Ranma can beat anything. Ranma is the greatest. Ranma is perfect. Ranma is never wrong. Ranma, Ranma, RANMA!’ Ryoga fired off a Shishi Hoku Dan that caught the water spirit unawares. Its torso was badly disrupted for a moment, but it managed to reform itself. ‘Oh, of course. Naturally. I can’t beat it. Ranma could, but I can’t. And now Mihoshi, the one girl who actually seems interested in me, will probably be killed because I couldn’t beat it. Either that or she’ll be rescued by Ranma and will fawn all over him.’ The sickly green/black aura around Ryoga grew stronger and stronger with each thought. His eyes locked on the spirit. ‘This is all your fault,’ he thought at it. ‘All your fault, all your fault, ALL YOUR FAULT!’ “KUROANA!”

 

            The ball of black energy slammed into the spirit. Its body was quickly sucked into the void as it gave out a death-shriek and wind began to whip through the area as the void pulled at its surroundings. Mihoshi was pulled from her feet as Ryoga drove his umbrella into the cavern floor to anchor him. He managed to grab Mihoshi’s hand as she was pulled past him and she clung tightly to it. A few moments later, the void blinked out of existence and the wind died down. The others had been far enough away to avoid most of the effects.

 

            Washu’s eyes had brightened at the power coming off of the lost boy during his attack and a wicked grin crossed her face until she remembered the impending threat of the glyphs. She sighed in relief as the readings indicated a small drop in the resonance level. ‘Apparently, that attack drained the creature’s energy instead of dispersing it. That should buy us some time.’

 

            Yasha was beginning to panic. The three spirits were gone, her power levels were dropping, and despite the boost from Sansai’s glyphs, she wasn’t making any headway against her enemies. ‘Time to run… again…” she cursed to herself as she started to teleport away. The glyphs flared before her and, to her stunned amazement, she couldn’t leave.

 

            Washu realized that a booby-trap had just been sprung. Analyzing the readings, she quickly realized that there was no way to prevent the detonation. She began to type furiously while she yelled, “TRUCE!”

 

            Everyone stopped in surprise, including the demon. “Truce?”

 

            Washu kept typing. “We’ve got a bigger problem. The young lady over there,” she indicated Yasha, “just triggered a doomsday setting in those glyphs. They’re building up to a cascade detonation that will blow this whole mountain apart, as well as a nice chunk of the mountain range.”

 

            “You’re lying! I did no such thing!”

 

            Washu called up a monitor and rotated it to where everyone could see it. A bar, indicating the cascade, was rising swiftly. “But… why?”

 

            “From my calculations, you and your friends were the fuse and those glyphs are the bomb. Nice trick, too. It would be set off either by the death of the four of you, or by the attempted teleportation of one of you. It was set specifically for water-based signatures. Sorry, young lady, but you were set up.”

 

            Yasha stood gawking at Washu for a few moments before collapsing to her knees. “Sansai said he had attuned them to me, but that they would only amplify my powers. Why?”

 

            “Can’t answer that, deary, but we’ve got another problem. I don’t have the time to get us out of here nor do I have the time to prevent the detonation. The only hope is if you can give me some specifics on whoever set this up.”

 

            Yasha nodded numbly and began entering into a highly technical discussion with Washu that left everyone else way behind. Ranma leaned over to Akane and asked, “Where does a demon learn super science like that?” Akane just shrugged as they watched the timer on the display count down. When it hit zero, Ranma and Akane held each other close and whispered in unison, “I love you.” The glyphs flared blindingly.

 

 

            It was rather anticlimactic for everyone when nothing else happened. Washu smiled knowingly at them all. “Don’t worry, we’re safe.”

 

            “I thought you said you couldn’t stop the bomb!” Ranma yelled.

 

            “I couldn’t.”

 

            “Then why are we still here?”

            “Simple. I reprogrammed it.”

 

            “Huh?”

 

            “With Yasha’s help in identifying how the glyphs were placed, I was able to redirect the center of their explosion.”

 

            “So, the bomb went off, just not here?” Tenchi chimed in.

 

            Washu nodded and held up a finger. “Bingo!”

 

            “Where?” Ranma asked.

 

            “Let’s just say there’s a new crater on the moon and leave it at that.”

 

            “How?”

 

            “It was easy for the most-“

 

            Everyone chimed in, “The most brilliant scientist in the entire universe!”

 

            Washu beamed happily.

 

            Akane took a moment to look around. “Jiejie’s body should be here somewhere.”

 

            Everyone spread out to look for it, but no one could find anything. When they finished, Mihoshi made an observation. “Where’s the other body?”

 

            To their surprise, everyone realized that Tian’s body had disappeared. His clothes were still present, as was the staff, but the body was gone. Washu checked her sensor readouts and found that it had vanished after the glyphs detonated. Several theories came to light, but none of them sounded very likely. Their discussion drifted back to Jiejie and Akane.

 

            “Maybe it’s like Jusenkyo curses. There’s two bodies inside of your one,” Ranma commented to Akane.

 

            Washu shook her head. “No. As I said before, the scans indicated that there was only extra energy, not extra mass. And the energy present is not enough or of the right type to compensate for another body. I guess they destroyed it.”

 

            “No.”

 

            Everyone stopped to look at Yasha. After the bomb threat, they had pretty much forgotten about her. “Whoever that guy was, when he saw the seal breaking over Sansai’s prison, he cast some sort of cloaking spell over short-stuff’s body. It’s a pretty good one too. If I hadn’t been watching, I wouldn’t have known. I don’t think the brothers noticed.”

 

            “Why didn’t you tell them?” Ranma asked.

 

            Yasha shrugged. “Dunno. Just didn’t seem important. We were here for Sansai. Besides, I sorta owed the lady one.”

 

            “Huh?”

            “Just leave me alone.” Yasha slowly left the cave.

 

 

            Washu used her sensors and Akane’s magic to track down and disrupt the stealth spell on Jiejie’s body. Ranma and the others were surprised that it was not an identical match to Akane’s current form. It was six inches shorter than her and the appendages were thinner and had more wiry muscles. Her hair was shorter in front and longer in the back. It was done up in a ponytail as well. The scars over her neck and exposed arms were also more noticeable. Her skin was also more wrinkled and she looked much older. “I guess this body is some sort of mix of the two,” Akane noted.

 

            Ryoga ended up having to carry Jiejie’s body since Ranma couldn’t lift her. Opening the front of the robe she was wearing, Cologne noted that the girl was carrying a good four hundred pounds of weapons.

 

            “Let me guess. Hidden Weapons Martial Arts, huh?” Ranma grumbled.

 

            “She was an Amazon, Son-in-law.”

 

            The walk back to Ryo-Ohki was slow as everyone tried to absorb what had just happened. Akane was shaking badly in Ranma’s arms. Unlike at Jusendo, the two had not bothered to deny what they had said to each other just before they thought they were going to die. ‘Jusendo…’ Akane suddenly remembered something. “I just remembered something. Jiejie told me about how she originally got her powers. She used a magic sword on a demon. If we can get that sword, we might be able to use it to get her back into her own body.”

 

            Ranma hugged Akane happily. “That’s great! Where is the sword?”

 

            Akane blushed at Ranma’s open affection while Shampoo and Cologne scowled. “Uhm, it’s in Jusenkyo.”

 

            Ranma froze. “Oh, man… not that place.”

 

            “Jusenkyo? I want to get some samples! Where is it?” Washu chimed in. Ranma gave them directions while they all boarded Ryo-Ohki. At the last minute, Yasha approached them.

 

            “What you want, demon?” Shampoo asked.

 

            “Let me come with you and I might tell you something about the Priests’ next target.”

 

            “Shampoo no trust demon girl.”

 

            “Good.”

 

            Ranma put a hand on Shampoo’s shoulder. “I do.”

 

            Yasha looked at Ranma and frowned. “Who are you? And why do you look so familiar?”

 

            “Uh, I’m Ranma.”

 

            “Oh, you’re related to that redhead, huh?”

 

            “Uh, no. I am the redhead.”

 

            Yasha paused for a moment and then began cursing up a storm. She let her tirade ease off as she glared at Ranma. “So that’s why. I knew it.”

 

            “Knew what?” Ranma asked.

 

            “Never mind. So, can I come or not?”

 

            Ranma nodded, much to everyone else’s displeasure. Once they began flying at a more subdued pace than before, Yasha pulled Ranma to the side. “Why do you trust me?”

 

            “’Cuz I can tell you weren’t lyin’ that time.”

 

            “How?”

 

            Ranma closed his eyes and concentrated. Nothing happened at first until Ranma put his hand on Yasha’s shoulder. Suddenly she heard his voice in her mind. *’Cuz we seemed to be linked now. I was able to listen to your thoughts a little when you left last time, and I could tell you were pretty shaken up by Kaji screwin’ ya over.*

 

            ‘Damn you.’ Yasha pushed away from him and stalked to an occupied part of the ship.

 

 

 

 

Ending Notes:

Author’s Note: To those who think Mihoshi is getting too friendly with Ryoga, I have this to say: She was ready to jump in the sack with Tenchi just because people told her he had saved her. She thought it was destiny. Next, she hasn’t been flirting with Ryoga, just talking to him. This is because, unlike any of the Tenchi crew, Ryoga actually pays attention to her for prolonged periods. Most of the Tenchi cast can tolerate about four minutes of Mihoshi before they try to get rid of her. Ryoga doesn’t. That’s why she’s hanging around him all the time. Ryoga, for his part, is amazed at having found a cute lady who wants to talk to him and isn’t after Ranma. And finally, I think they’d make a cute couple. So there. 8P