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 14

“Game”

 

Kiematsu Rei, Negaverse

 

            Three beings stood around the broken remains of a horrific statue. Kaji, wearing the body of Kuno Tatewaki, was pounding away with a hammer of pure energy, trying to reform the shattered pieces. Inago, who had finally taken possession of Kuno Kodachi’s body after properly enhancing it with his alchemy, was busy mixing up alloys for Kaji to use in his forging. However, the third being, Sansai, crippled their efforts. Still in the body he had worn for countless millennia, his power was too weak to properly unite the efforts of his siblings.

 

            Inago stopped mixing and turned towards the eldest brother. “I had hoped that the gem we found would permit us to proceed with the resurrection. You are just too weak in that decrepit form. We will have to take the time to track down a new body for you.”

 

            Sansai scowled. “Just make sure the body is male. I do not have your… acquired tastes, brother. Or should I call you sister now?”

 

            Inago smirked as she looked down at herself. “I like it. Crude chemicals already enhanced her body and mind nicely. I only had to refine the processes to make it acceptable.” She slid a hand over her breasts and down her stomach. “Besides, I prefer the sensitivity of a woman’s body, I must say. And this one is so graceful.”

 

            Sansai waved a hand dismissively. “I care not, so long as you have your full powers available. Now, you said you had two candidates for me?”

 

            Kaji nodded. “The first one was the darkest human walking the land they call Japan.” Kaji motioned with his hand and a small figure floated into the room, bound by red bands of energy. “He is stronger than any human I have found so far, save possibly for our old enemies. I believe he is called Happosai.”

 

            Sansai slowly walked over to the hovering form. “Why is he unconscious? It makes it more difficult to read their potential when they can not react.”

 

            “He is dangerous when awake. He nearly escaped from us twice before we put him in this state.”

 

            Sansai nodded and placed a claw-like hand over the withered old man’s face. Closing his eyes, he let his energy begin to flow slowly into small gnome. Suddenly, he felt the energy being pulled at as Happosai tried to drain him! Sansai pulled his hand back with a hiss and backhanded Happosai across the room. The energy bands held as the old pervert slammed into a wall and bounced off of it.

 

            “He is unacceptable. He is an energy vampire and his body would drain more power than I would get from it. Destro-“ Sansai stopped and an evil smile crossed his cracked features. “No. His soul is perfect. We will use him as the catalyst for the resurrection of our God Fusei.” Sansai turned towards Kaji. “I hope your second choice is a better one.”

 

            Kaji nodded and waved towards an alcove, which promptly lit up. Inside was a middle-aged man wearing a loud shirt, khaki shorts, sunglasses, and a palm tree on his head. “He may look ridiculous, but he is the father of the two bodies we wear. As such, he may prove compatible with you.”

 

            Sansai nodded and reached for Principal Kuno’s face. This time, he felt the energy flow properly. A slow smile spread across his face. “Yes, he will do well. A pity it will take a few days to properly acclimate his body for me. I detest postponing the resurrection.”

 

 

Masaki Shrine, Japan

 

            Katsuhito stood waiting outside the shrine as he saw Ryo-Ohki descending. He raised an eyebrow as he saw two new girls come out and noted the absence of another. “Were you successful?”

 

            Akane nodded as she bowed to him. “It’s nice to meet you again. I’m Tendo Akane. Thank you for the help you gave us.”

 

            “My pleasure.” Katsuhito let his gaze travel over Kyuusei, formerly known as Jiejie Fenfen, but he said nothing. He looked to Cologne and saw a concerned expression her face. He noted that Tenchi and Shampoo were talking rather animatedly and Ayeka was occasionally piping in. Ryoko did not look very happy at all, which was the complete opposite of Ryoga and Mihoshi. The pair was having an odd conversation about some trip through a forest. Ranma, he noted, had a face that was pensive and brooding. Katsuhito decided to talk to Cologne first.

 

            He nodded to the elder once and then waited outside while everyone else went in. The Amazon matriarch sat down on a chair next to the door as she closed her eyes and considered what had happened.

 

            “I take it her hidden power showed up, Elder?” Katsuhito commented as he gazed at the forest.

 

            “You knew?” Cologne did not sound too surprised.

 

            “I suspected. Tenchi’s mother once demonstrated a great power. Unfortunately her lack of training caused that power to weaken her body and she died while still very young. Others of my children have shown little or no sign of the power of Jurai.”

 

            “This power might kill Xian Pu.” It was both a statement and a question.

 

            Katsuhito nodded. “Only if she is untrained and there comes a great need to use it. Tenchi’s mother would have been safe had her life and the lives of those she cared about not been threatened.”

 

            “Will you train her?”

 

            Katsuhito smiled. “It would be an honor and a joy to do so. Tenchi could use the training partner, and I would dearly love to spend time with my granddaughter.”

 

            “She can not know that. She would resent you for leaving the village and her mother.”

 

            Katsuhito shook his head. “I will not tell her, but neither will I deny it if she comes to suspect, as I think she might. She strikes me as a very intelligent girl. I think she will be able to put the facts together and find the answer herself.”

 

            The two stayed on the porch, staring at the forest for a long time without a word passing between them. Finally, Cologne broke the silence. “Am I going to lose her?”

 

            Katsuhito’s face remained neutral. “I don’t know. I see a different destiny opening up for her and I doubt severely that she will be marrying Ranma.”

 

            Cologne snapped her gaze around to Katsuhito, who merely smirked knowingly. “It wasn’t hard to figure out why you two were with him, Mother-In-Law. And I think it is obvious whom the boy really cares for. Besides, if what I think will happen does, Xian Pu’s honor will be easily restored and magnified. But we shall see.”

 

            Cologne did not look happy with the conversation as she hopped off the chair and walked into the house. Katsuhito waited a moment before moving to the doorway. “Ranma!” He called out and the pigtailed martial artist looked at him quizzically. “Join me for a moment. Alone.” The last was added when Akane made motions to follow him.

 

            Ranma stepped outside and stood beside the priest. “Yeah?”

 

            Katsuhito mentally sighed at the lack of respect the boy often displayed. “Something seems wrong with Jiejie. Were you not successful in separating her from Akane?”

 

            Ranma’s face fell. “Sorta. They got separated all right, but the price sure seems heavy.”

 

            “What price?”

 

            “Well, one of the whole reasons we were tryin’ ta get Gigi out was so she could go back to her master, Tian. Well, he…” Ranma paused. “We… we ended up needing his help to split them, but… he got killed. Gigi ain’t handlin’ it real well. I think she’s gone nuts. I also think she’s got one of those death-wish things goin’ now.”

 

            Katsuhito felt saddened. “It is a terrible thing when we lose something we care about. But something tells me there’s more to it.”

 

            Ranma was silent for a while. “I think it might have been my fault he died… or at least, I… well if we’d gotten there quicker, we might have… I dunno.”

 

            “You think that because you didn’t mention where the Priests were going sooner, that it’s your fault he died?”

 

            Ranma nodded glumly.

 

            “It could be.”

 

            Ranma had not really wanted to hear that, but he couldn’t find it in his heart to defend himself.

 

            “However, it might have made no difference. We cannot live in what-ifs, Ranma. All we can do is learn from what happens and not repeat those mistakes.”

 

            Ranma nodded slowly. Katsuhito raised an eyebrow as he watched the young man. “Is there more?”

 

            “I think Yasha’s dead.”

 

            Katshuito spoke softly. “I thought you would be happy.”

 

            “You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But ya see… I think… well, ya see we were linked. In the head. Or maybe the soul, I dunno… but the point is… well, she was starting to change. She actually saved my life and was starting to act like she might be a reformed demon or somethin’… but she got hurt pretty bad in a fight. As a matter of fact, she got hurt ‘cuz of me. Twice even. Once when I tried to force her to fight a fire demon and again when she saved me from a fireball. If she hadn’t done that, she’d be fine right now. And then she left when I yelled at her for killin’ the demon.”

 

            “Perhaps she just went off to heal herself.”

 

            Ranma shook his head. “She can’t. It was something that was screwed up when she first possessed me. She can’t recharge unless she’s inside of me, and she was hurt real bad. And she didn’t come to me. I can’t feel her any more.”

 

            Katsuhito finally understood what Ranma was going through. “You feel like you killed her too.” Ranma’s silence was answer enough for the priest. “Ranma, people make their own decisions in life. Demons do as well. She chose to take that fireball for you. She chose not to enter you again. You did not kill her. Besides, demons are notoriously difficult to kill. Perhaps she merely went back to hell and will return when she has gathered her strength again.”

 

            Ranma shook his head again. “She got kicked outta hell. They wouldn’t want her back and would probably kill her for good if she tried. But she’d also die for good if she ran out of power… and there was this monster storm that kicked up shortly after she disappeared. I think it was… her passing away.”

 

            Katsuhito put a hand on Ranma’s shoulder. “Let me ask you a question. Would it be my fault if we were to be attacked by one of my enemies and you chose to throw yourself in the path of that attack?”

            “’Course not. It would have been my choice.”

 

            “So why do you blame yourself for Yasha doing that very thing?”

 

            Ranma stayed silent as he mulled that thought over. “Let’s go in and join the others. I have an announcement to make.”

 

            Katsuhito coughed to get everyone’s attention. “I have been in contact with my father. The Empire of Jurai has decided to send a destroyer to Earth in order to assist us and, if the captain deems it necessary, to call for reinforcements. The destroyer Soyokaze will be arriving soon.”

 

            Ayeka and Mihoshi both got happy looks on their faces. “The Soyokaze? That’s the destroyer that defeated a pirate cruiser and four support ships by itself!” The princess exclaimed.

 

            “It’s led by Captain Tylor, who single handedly wiped out a pirate battleship, even after all of his weapons had been destroyed!” The galaxy police officer nearly swooned.

 

            “I hear he’s just a really lucky moron and that the Soyokaze is a junk heap crewed by rejects,” Ryoko growled. That portion of the room descended into a shouting match. Ryoga, despite having no clue who Tylor was, supported Mihoshi.

 

            Ignoring the commotion, Kyuusei nodded to Katsuhito. “Good. With the advantage of an orbital platform and the assistance of Saffron and his guard, the ambush should prove successful.”

 

            Katsuhito raised an eyebrow. “Ambush?”

 

            Kyuusei nodded. “I have acquired the assistance of Saffron and the Royal Guard of Phoenix Mountain in setting up an ambush using an artifact that the Priests need. The ambush is planned for three days from now in Juuban. We will also attempt to gain the assistance of the Sailor Senshi. We could also use the aid of anyone else who wishes to join us.”

 

            Katsuhito frowned some. “Are you sure that this is for the best?”

 

            Kyuusei leveled a flat gaze at him. “In three days, the Priests die.”

 

            Katsuhito fell silent for a while. “I will join you.” ‘But I join only to make sure that no one else gets killed for your revenge.’

 

            By the time dinner was done, everyone had agreed to help with the ambush and they settled in for a long night of planning. Early afternoon of the next day saw Ranma, Akane, Kyuusei and Ryoga leaving for Juuban by bus while Tenchi and the others prepared.

 

 

Juuban district, Japan

 

            Ukyo leaned against her combat spatula as she gulped in huge breaths of air. “So much for the break, eh Sugar?” She commented to the tuxedo-clad man standing next to her.

 

            Tuxedo Kamen nodded tiredly. “It looks like whatever had them busy for a while is over with now.” Around them were the melting bodies of several crab-like creatures. Konatsu approached tiredly, the kunoichi’s clothing was badly torn but still able to protect modesty.

 

 

            Unseen in the shadows above them, Inago scratched some notes on a piece of parchment. “Well, those were a failure. Their speed was far less than anticipated and the armor was just not adequate.”

 

            Beside her stood Sansai, his gaunt form hidden inside a long, flowing robe. “Perhaps, brother. But they did provide an adequate enough distraction for my own tests. The Senshi,” Sansai spit on the rooftop next to him, “are scattered. Do what you can to keep these three here while I evaluate our enemies.” When Inago nodded, Sansai turned around and leveled a gaze at the seven creatures behind him. A simple gesture and he vanished along with the creatures.

 

            “How to keep them busy…” Inago tapped her chin with a gymnastics ribbon. Though she had never used them before, after possessing Kodachi’s body she found that they fit her fighting style rather well. “I really don’t have any more creations to test out right now… so…” Inago closed her eyes and reached into a bag that rested beside her. Pulling out a vial, she tossed it into the air in a random direction. Opening one eye, she watched the vial fall into a rose bush. She snickered for a moment before launching into the laugh that Kodachi was so well known for as she contemplated the irony of that.

 

 

            The three defenders cringed at the sound of the laugh. Konatsu wheeled around at a sudden cracking noise nearby. The three tired fighters watched in horror as the rose bush moved on its own and began attacking any living creature nearby. Ukyo dropped into a ready stance as Tuxedo Kamen sighed. “This is going to be a long night…”

 

 

            Some distance away, Mars was just putting the finishing touches on one of the crab creatures that had scurried away during the fight. She turned around just as a creature made entirely of fire appeared before her. Her eyes widening in shock, she dove back away from the gout of flame that reached for her head. She fired off a Flame Sniper at the creature, noting with some relief that the attack seemed to injure it, if only slightly. She settled in for a hard fight.

 

            Elsewhere, Mercury was trying to analyze the icy creature that charged her from the shadows.

 

            Jupiter dodged underneath a lightning bolt and launched a counterattack.

 

            Venus had to shield her eyes from the creature that seemed to be made of pure light.

 

            Uranus cursed as the rock creature hurled a car at her.

 

            A Deep Submerge barely managed to force the water creature back enough to give Neptune some breathing room.

 

            Moon tripped as she frantically tried to dodge the blue flames that reached out to engulf her. She looked up at her attacker, a strange man wearing a long robe that was covered in runes. “Who are you?”

 

            “I am Sansai Mahoutsukai, Loremaster of the T’kara Ri and Priest of the Coldfire. You, I take it, are the leader of our enemies.” His voice was hollow and creepy, like the sound of two gravestones rubbing together.

 

            “I am Sailor Moon, defender of Love and Justice! In the name of the Moon, I will punish you!”

 

            “Please, feel free to try.” He spread his arms wide, inviting an attack. Sailor Moon took him up on the offer, launching a Moon Gorgeous Meditation at him. The energy from the attack suddenly dispersed in a rainbow of colors as it struck a barrier of blue flame around Sansai. “Nice. I see you are a threat after all. That will be duly noted.” Sansai suddenly scowled and hissed. “HOW DARE SHE?” He screamed before disappearing in a flash of blue fire. Moon stared in shock at where he had been.

 

            Saturn jumped back as a blade made out of air cut through the lamppost next to where she had been standing. She had been trying to get the wind creature into the park where she would finally be able to use the glaive. “Silence Glaive Surprise!” Not a sound could be heard as immense power leapt from the glaive to totally annihilate the creature, as well as a small portion of the park. Saturn breathed a sigh of relief and grinned in satisfaction at having beaten the monster by herself.

 

            Saturn’s blood suddenly ran cold as a horrible voice cried out, “Give that to me, you foolish whelp!” Saturn turned around to see a robed man scowling at her from a short distance away. His body was wreathed in blue flames and he seemed to be very angry with her.

 

            A pillar of flame rose up a short distance away and Sansai felt the loss of another of his elementals, followed quickly by two others. He leveled a glare at Saturn that promised untold pain before he teleported away. Soon there would have been too many to fight in his condition. Saturn collapsed to her knees, shaking badly. After a few minutes, the other Senshi, led by Sailor Moon, arrived to help her.

 

            “What was that all about?” Mars wondered aloud.

 

            “I don’t know. That scary man said something about seeing if we were a threat,” Sailor Moon replied.

 

            “Scary man? The thing I was fighting was a fire creature.”

 

            “Mine was made out of lightning.” Jupiter added.

 

            “I fought a water elemental myself.” Neptune informed them.

 

            Mercury nodded. “I think they were using those creatures as a sort of wind tunnel. They wanted to see how strong we are so they had us each fight our own element. I guess the leader went after our leader. What about you, Saturn?”

 

            Saturn was still shaking from the encounter. “I was fighting an air creature at first. After I destroyed it, this scary man in robes showed up and told me to give it to him.”

 

            “Are you all right?! What did he want?” Uranus held the small Senshi closely.

 

            “I don’t know for sure. He just said ‘Give that to me!’”

 

            Tuxedo Kamen, Ukyo, and Konatsu finally arrived. “That was a righteous pain in the ass,” the okonomiyaki chef grumbled.

 

            “But at least we’re all alive,” Sailor Moon noted in a slightly more cheerful fashion.

 

            ‘Damn it, Pluto. Where are you?’ Uranus thought to herself.

 

 

            It was mid-afternoon of the next day when Ranma arrived by bus in Juuban. With him were Akane, Ryoga, Shampoo, Cologne, and Kyuusei. “Well, now that we’re short a demon or two, how the heck do we find these Sailor Senshi? And more importantly, how do we keep them from killing us on sight?” Ranma asked.

 

            “A good question, Son-In-Law. When do they normally show up?”

 

            “Oh, whenever some monster is trashing the town, typically. But it had been quiet for a while before this all started.”

 

            “We could-“

 

            “NO! We are NOT going to start randomly attacking people! Uh-uh. Not to mention the fact that it would guarantee an attack from the Senshi. We’re trying to get their help, remember?”

 

            Cologne waved her hand calmingly. “Of course, Son-In-Law. But do you have any other ideas?”

 

            Akane suddenly piped up. “What about Ukyo? She’s been here this whole time. Maybe she knows where they are usually spotted.”

 

            Ranma blinked, a bit surprised that it was Akane who had recommended Ukyo. “Ar-are you sure about that, Akane?”

 

            Akane looked at him oddly. “What are you talking about, Ranma?”

 

            “Uh, I figured you’d be like jealous or something.”

 

            Akane sighed and hugged Ranma’s arm. “Ranma, I learned a lot lately. I… I trust you, all right? I know you wouldn’t go and do anything with Ukyo without telling me, would you?”

 

            Ranma smiled a little at her, a warm feeling running through him. ‘She actually trusts me for once. I’m going to die soon,’ he thought jokingly. ‘That’s the only reason she would trust me. Oh well, it was worth it.’ “Thanks, Akane. Let’s go to Ucchhan’s.”

 

            Ukyo was asleep at the register as the group walked in. It wasn’t until Ranma tapped her on the shoulder that she woke up, a bleary look on her face. Ukyo blinked a number of times before she could clearly make out who was in front of her. “RANCHAN!” Ranma was floored, literally, as Ukyo pounce-hugged him. “You’re alive!!!”

 

            Ranma struggled to get up as Akane actually took a moment to giggle. The giggle caught Ukyo’s attention and she looked up. ‘Oh hell, it looks like Ranma’s going to be taking a trip on Mallet-Airlines soon.’ “Uh, hi Akane. Where have you two been?”

 

            “Oh, getting possessed by demons. The usual sort of thing,” Akane responded glibly. She still found herself getting jealous over the attention Ukyo was giving Ranma, but she fought it down. She told Ranma she trusted him, and by kami she would show him she meant it.

 

            Ukyo blinked as she finally got off of Ranma and helped him to his feet. “Either you’re sense of humor has gotten a lot worse, Akane, or you two have some explaining to do.”

 

            “We got some explainin’ ta do,” Ranma answered. “Can ya close up for a bit? This’ll take a while.”

 

            Ukyo nodded and called out to Konatsu. The kunoichi looked exhausted as she closed the door and took in the restaurant’s sign. “Man, what’s up with you two? You look like hell.”

 

            Ukyo smirked. “But Ranma, I thought that I was the cute fiancé.”

 

            Ranma smiled. “Well, yeah, but still… you two look like you’ve been up all night. Don’t tell me you two have…”

 

            Ukyo’s eyes went wide and she waved her hands wildly in front of her. “Nononono! Nothing like that! We’ve just been helping the Senshi at night is all.” Only Ranma noticed the slight drooping in Konatsu’s shoulders at the vehement denial.

 

            “That’s great!” Akane smiled. “We need to talk to the Senshi. We’ve got a problem that we need their help with.”

 

            “Sure. But first, you’ve got to tell me what’s been going on with you two.” They gave her a quick, heavily edited rundown on what they had been through. “So that’s what happened, huh? Weird. Ranma, life with you is never dull.”

 

            “Yeah, yeah. ‘May you live in interesting times.’”

 

            “Oh, I’ve got to warn you. If you see either of the Kunos, run. Run fast and hard. They’ve been possessed by demons, and unlike you guys, these ain’t friendly. Kuno went on a killing spree in a shopping mall, and Kodachi’s been running around poisoning just about everyone she can get her potions on.”

 

            Ranma cursed at this news. He didn’t like either of the Kunos, but killing sprees were another story. “So, how did you meet the Senshi?”

 

            “A monster attack right outside the restaurant. I helped the Senshi take it down. That’s when I found out from Mamoru about your fight with them and decided to go looking for you. Since then, Konatsu and I have been helping the Senshi whenever a monster attack happens. It’s kinda fun, helping people like that.”

 

            “It’s a martial artist’s duty, after all.”

 

            “So how do you contact them?”

 

            “We meet at five o’clock near this one arcade.”

 

            “Well, I guess we can wait there then. Thanks, Ucchan. You really are a great friend, you know that?”

 

            Ucchan smiled a bit sadly. ‘Is that all I’ll ever be to you, Ranma?’ “You too, Ranchan. But let me come with you. It’ll help smooth things over.”

 

 

            Five o’clock found Ranma and Ryoga waiting outside the arcade. Shampoo and Cologne were at the Nekohanten, checking up on Mousse and gathering supplies. Ukyo and Akane were showing Kyuusei some of the arcade games inside. Ranma’s danger sense was beginning to click as the two girls headed for the exit. It went into full overdrive the moment Kyuusei stepped through the door.

 

            “Moon Princess Halation!”

 

            The energy slammed into Kyuusei. Ranma and Akane cried out in shock as the energy washed over her. When it was over, however, nothing had changed. Kyuusei looked up at the source and glared. Eight Senshi and one Tuxedo Kamen landed in a semi-circle around the group. “Ukyo! Get away from them, quick!”

 

            Ukyo tried to calm down the Senshi. “No, wait! It’s okay! The demon’s gone!”

 

            “Bullshit!” Uranus cried and dove straight for Kyuusei, sword first. There was a blur of motion and Uranus suddenly found herself planted facedown on the ground with her arms locked tightly behind her back. Her sword lay on the ground next to her.

 

            The Senshi gasped in horror and Ranma slapped his forehead. “Yo, shortstop. Cut that crap out. Let her go.”

 

            Kyuusei looked impassively at Ranma and then at the Senshi. “Do not try that again.” She kicked the sword across the street. In one fluid motion, she lifted Uranus up and threw her across the street as well.

 

            Mercury spoke up. “Sailor Moon, wait. It’s true. I’m not picking up any dark energy from her at all.” Her scanner blipped once. “However, there is some coming from those two, but it’s very weak.” She pointed at Ranma and Ryoga.

 

            Uranus had picked herself up by this time, with the aid of Neptune. She leveled a hateful glare at the short warrior, only to be completely ignored by her.

 

            Sailor Moon hoped that they would be able to avoid a fight. “Okay, what do you want?”

 

            “You are fighting three very powerful wizards who call themselves Priests. We have something they want. We are going to set up an ambush for them using this. We want your help in the ambush,” Kyuusei responded flatly.

 

            “You mean you aren’t working for them?”

 

            “Nope,” Ranma commented. “As a matter of fact, they’ve been trying to kill us for over a week. Inago, Kaji, and Sansai.”

 

            Sailor Moon let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank goodness. I hate fighting. Sure, we’ll help!”

 

            The other Senshi stared in shock at their leader. Mars walked up to her and slapped the back of her head lightly. “What on Earth do you think you’re doing? This is probably a trap!”

 

            Sailor Moon looked at Mars with tears in her eyes. “But Ukyo’s with them so they have to be good.”

 

            Luna and Artemis chose that moment to put in an appearance. “I think she’s right/wrong” They piped up in unison. The two moon cats glared at each other. Suddenly, everyone was treated to a startled cry of “CATS!” and a Ranma-shaped blur running down the street.

 

            The Senshi stared in shocked amazement while the Nerima residents just shook their head. “Okay, rule one. No talking cats around Ranma,” Akane commented. She stopped after a moment. “Talking cats? Huh. I wonder if they know Shampoo.”

 

            Ukyo groaned as she slapped her forehead. “Konatsu, sugar. Will you go retrieve Ranma-Honey?” The kunoichi bowed and vanished. “Okay, the quick run down on this is that they were under demonic possession but they’re not any more. They need your help to fight the very guys we’ve been going up against all this time and they have a pretty good plan on how to do it. So, will ya help us?”

 

            Tuxedo Kamen moved to talk to Sailor Moon. “I trust her, Sailor Moon. And I trust Ranma and Akane.”

 

            “That’s good enough for me. We’ll do it.” She walked over and shook hands with the Nerima residents, noting with amusement as Ryoga got an enormous blush. By this time, Ranma was being brought back by the kunoichi. Ranma did his best not to look anywhere near the two moon cats.

 

            Uranus approached Kyuusei. “I don’t like you. You hurt Saturn.”

 

            Kyuusei stared back balefully. “I don’t care.”

 

            Uranus swore under breath. Sailor Moon agreed to meet with the rest of the ambush party at Ucchan’s the next day.

 

 

            That night, Haruka was pacing back and forth in the living room of the home she shared with Michiru, Hotaru, and Setsuna. “Dear, you’ll wear a hole in the floor,” Michiru commented, trying to calm her lover. Hotaru sat on the couch next to her.

 

            “I don’t like this one bit. That ditz Usagi went and agreed to join forces with the very people who kept attacking us and hurt Hotaru. And to make matters worse, no one has seen Setsuna in over a week!”

 

            “That’s because I’ve been busy.”

 

            The three ladies turned towards the voice and cried out with relief. “Setsuna!”

 

            The green-haired woman that came walking down the stairs smiled tiredly at them. “Hello.”

 

            “Where have you been?” Haruka demanded after she got over the initial shock.

 

            “Fighting a losing battle. Michiru, would you be so kind as to get me a cup of tea?”

 

            Michiru dashed into the kitchen as Setsuna sat down exhaustedly in a chair. The look she was getting from Haruka made her chuckle a little. She gratefully accepted the tea that Michiru handed her a few minutes later. “Thank you.” She took a long sip. “I’ve been fighting a particularly nasty ability that our enemies have, and I just lost.”

 

            The other three women blinked in shock. “You… lost?”

 

            Setsuna nodded. “I knew I was going to. I just had to hold out as long as I could.”

 

            “What ability are you talking about?”

            “Our enemies have the ability to pull things through time. They cannot see through it, nor can they themselves travel through time. They also can’t send others through. They can only pull something out of one point of time to the point that they occupy. It was this ability that I’ve been fighting.”

 

            “How did you know you were going to fail?”

 

            “Simple. In your first encounter with this new enemy, you saw their bodies dissolve. Correct? That was actually the creature being called through time by its master.”

 

            “But they were dead! We killed some of them ourselves.”

 

            “As long as the body is mostly intact, the Priests can revive their fallen minions. Since they cannot pull a minion from their future, that meant that they were calling them from their past. Which meant that sooner or later I would fail in my efforts. Now that the third Priest has regained his power, I can’t fight their abilities any more. I fear we are about to be attacked by a veritable horde of monsters very soon.”

 

            “Why didn’t you see this coming!?”

 

            Setsuna sipped her tea again. “Because I am not all knowing, Haruka. I just have more experience and a cheat sheet that I can use occasionally. Their ability to circumvent time is not easy to detect.”

 

            “Great. Setsuna’s powerless, we’re joining forces with a psychotic little midget, and we’re fighting an enemy that technically can’t be killed.”

 

            “Joining forces with a psychotic little midget?” ‘Please do not be Happosai! I don’t think I could deal with him right now.’

 

            “Yeah, some little lady with some ass-kicker moves that showed up recently.”

 

            Setsuna’s eyebrow twitch went unnoticed by the others. “Interesting. Please, tell me what has happened in the past week.”

 

 

            The next day saw a rather strange assortment of people at Ucchan’s. Shampoo, Mousse and Cologne were off to one side discussing tactics with the winged Kiima and a few other members of the Royal Guard of Phoenix Mountain. Akane, Ranma, and Ukyo were chatting together about what had been going on. Konatsu was running around serving everyone drinks and snacks. The Inner Senshi were gathered as well and were eyeing the winged people with a mixture of suspicion and amazement. They also cast occasional glances at a cyan-haired woman who was occasionally seen floating around the room. Ryoga and Mihoshi were having yet another conversation about nothing as Tenchi moved to talk to Shampoo and the others about the plan. The Outer Senshi finally showed up, except for Pluto. Uranus scanned the group suspiciously, but relaxed a little when she couldn’t see Kyuusei. The winged people who were standing around instantly enraptured Saturn. Everyone stopped talking when the door to the back door opened up and Saffron entered.

 

            The Senshi were amazed by the power they could feel pouring off of the young man. Ranma and Akane tilted an eyebrow at the much-older-than-expected Saffron. The Royal Guard knelt in respect to their Lord. The Amazons bowed. Ukyo felt a wave of fear run through her as she realized that this was the same Saffron Ranma had killed months ago. The power and nobility that Saffron radiated also amazed Tenchi and his companions. Another thing that caught their attention was the strange glass orb in his hands. Inside was a crystal that looked like frozen fire. The dark power radiating from it was easily noticed by most of the people in the room.

 

            Behind Saffron came Kyuusei. The expressionless mask she had worn for three days remained in place as she moved to a corner. Slowly, conversation picked up again.

 

            “Who is that guy?” Mars leaned over and asked Venus.

 

            “I don’t know, but man he’s a hunk!”

 

            “Dibs!” Jupiter spoke up.

 

            “I saw him first!”

 

            “Did not!”

 

            The maturity of the argument dropped drastically from there and Uranus shook her head in exasperation. She instead chose to stare at Kyuusei. Kyuusei noticed and stared right back for a while before finally pushing away from the corner and approaching the tall Senshi. “I didn’t kill her. Be grateful.”

 

            “You couldn’t have killed her if you wanted to,” a new voice spoke up. Uranus turned around to see Pluto standing there. Pluto waved to Saffron, who smiled and nodded in greeting as she walked over to Kyuusei. “I wish to speak to you. Alone.”

 

            Kyuusei was about to tell her no, but something in the woman’s voice commanded her attention. She headed for the back door again, followed by Pluto. Uranus started to follow as well, but Pluto waved her off.

 

            Outside was a vacant lot with high walls. “What do you want?” Kyuusei was in no mood for games.

 

            “Simple. Defend yourself.” Pluto suddenly swept the time staff in an upward arc, aiming for Kyuusei’s head. The shorter girl ducked it easily and turned the dodge into a diving thrust, both palms prepped for a dual strike at Pluto’s chest. Pluto, however, was suddenly not where she had been a moment ago. Kyuusei turned the thrust into a forward handspring and landed in a ready stance. Pluto was standing a short distance away, a strange smirk on her face.

 

            Kyuusei slowly started to advance before suddenly breaking into a sprint. Her hand moved at almost invisible speeds as she drew a scimitar and sliced at the Senshi of Time. The loud clang from the sword striking the time staff and then breaking brought everyone in Ucchan’s to the lot to watch what was going on. Kyuusei threw the hilt away as she drew a naginata. A quick thrust with the tip was deflected upwards by the staff in Pluto’s hands. The naginata suddenly rotated around and the butt of the weapon attempted to slam into Pluto’s chest. Pluto, however, merely deflected the strike and followed through with a sweeping attack that caught the naginata’s pole and broke it in half.

 

            Kyuusei cursed the enchanted staff as she hopped back and faded into the shadows. Pluto looked momentarily confused as her opponent disappeared. She dove to the side as a whistling noise warned her of the dagger that nearly caught her in the back. Pluto recovered and held the staff in front of her, the tip pointing at Kyuusei’s revealed position. The short assassin pulled back both of her hands and began to channel her ki. “Hanjo.”

 

            Pluto began to channel her power. “Dead.” “Daija.”

 

            Together they finished their attacks. “Scream.” “Batsu.”

 

            A ball of vibrating purple energy leapt from the tip of Pluto’s staff as Kyuusei threw her hands forward and a ball of red and blue life force burst forth. The two energy forms slammed into each other in a spectacular display. After a few seconds the light faded. Kyuusei blinked in surprise as she found Pluto’s foot only a centimeter from a lethal strike to her head.

 

            Everyone held his or her breath, waiting for the next move. To their amazement, Pluto retracted her kick and smiled down at the little lady. To anyone who knew her, a smiling Pluto was as rare as a wise Sailor Moon. In other words, it was bloody rare. Her next words caused the Senshi and the Nerima residents to facefault painfully.

 

            “You still rely too much on that as a finishing move, Mejiro.” Suddenly Pluto’s appearance changed as she knelt down. Her hair went gray and she wore an outfit similar to Shampoo’s.

 

            Kyuusei was paralyzed. After a few moments of everyone watching in amazement, Kyuusei slowly raised a trembling hand to touch Pluto’s face. “X-Xi N-Na?” Her voice was barely audible and shook with pent up emotion.

 

            Pluto nodded softly and smiled again. Kyuusei stood there a few moments more, visibly fighting back tears before suddenly throwing her arms around Pluto’s neck and breaking out in a loud wail. Pluto was taken back a bit, but recovered quickly and slipped her arms around the little girl. As Kyuusei continued to cry, Pluto stroked her back and whispered soothing words. She stood slowly, picking up Kyuusei with her.

 

            Uranus was the first one to recover her powers of speech and voice everyone’s question. “What the hell?”

 

            Pluto, now back to her Senshi appearance, sat in a chair at Ucchan’s, holding and stroking Kyuusei much as one would a child. “Some of you already know this, but for the benefit of the others I will repeat myself. Unlike the rest of the Senshi, who were recently reincarnated, I have been alive since the fall of the Moon Kingdom many thousands of years ago. It is my duty to guard the Gates of Time. Occasionally, in order to maintain my own sanity, I would come to Earth and live for a while. One of these visits was fifteen hundred years ago, when I spent many years in an Amazon village in China. My name then was Xi Na and it was there that I ran into a traveling mystic and his bodyguard. I spent the rest of my ‘life’ with them, until it was time to return to the Gates of Time.”

 

            “Are you the one that sent Jiejie Fenfen to rescue us?” Saffron spoke up.

 

            “What, you don’t think it was coincidence?” Pluto smiled at the demi-god.

 

            Saffron laughed. “I find that when you are involved, coincidence is a convenient cover for subtle planning.”

 

            Pluto laughed as well. “Yes.”

 

            Ranma rubbed the back of his head. “Yes, you planned it or yes, it was a coincidence?” Pluto just smiled back at him infuriatingly. Sailor Mercury put a hand on Ranma’s shoulder. “She’s usually like that.”

 

            Kyuusei’s crying was slowing down, but she refused to let go of her death-grip on Pluto’s neck. “So, what did you mean she couldn’t have killed Saturn? I was there! She nearly took Saturn’s head off,” Uranus growled.

 

            “But she didn’t. Jiejie here would never hurt me. She can also sense subconsciously that I was linked to all of you. You were never in danger from her.” Pluto smiled down at the girl in her arms.

 

            Kyuusei finally managed to speak again, though very quietly. “Jiejie is dead, Elder.”

 

            Pluto got a confused look on her face. “What do you mean, Itoshigo?”

 

            Ucchan’s shook as eight Senshi jaws hit the floor simultaneously. “I-itoshigo!”

 

            Shampoo looked confused and leaned over to Cologne. “<What does> Itoshigo <mean, Great-Grandmother?>”

 

            “<It means ‘beloved child’, Xian Pu.>”

 

            “<Oh. Is she really Xi Na, Great Grandmother.>”

 

            Cologne thought for a moment. “<I will merely state that it wouldn’t surprise me if she is.>”

 

            Kyuusei seemed unable to speak so Akane answered for her. “Uhm, Tian is… he… she lost… Tian Huan died three days ago.,” she finally managed to say.

            A look of shock and sadness passed over her features as she gazed back down at Kyuusei and finally understood her tears. “Oh, Mejiro. I am sorry. Was it the Priests?” Kyuusei nodded softly. A look of fierce determination settled over Pluto’s face. “Then we will make sure they pay, little one.”

 

            Sailor Moon looked over at Akane. “Who is Tian Huan?”

 

            “He was her companion for a very long time. He died protecting her.”

 

            Sailor Moon began to cry. “That’s so sad!” She turned to Tuxedo Kamen and buried her face in his chest. “Don’t you dare die on me!” Tuxedo Kamen gently stroked her hair and spoke soothingly.

 

            Venus and several other Senshi all stared at Pluto. ”Don’t tell me she’s your daughter!”

 

            Pluto laughed. “I’d be honored if she were, but no. She just became very dear to me during those years we spent together. I couldn’t help but feel like she was my own.”

 

            Once everyone recovered, the planning session finally went into full swing. It was decided that the Coldfire would be placed inside of an abandoned building that was in a forest near Juuban. That way they could have plenty of places to hide as well as not having to worry about any innocent bystanders. Saffron and the Senshi would maintain a vigil around the artifact while the Royal Guard and the Nerima residents hid in the forest. Ryoko, Tenchi and the rest would wait in orbit with Ryo-Ohki and the Soyokaze to provide any needed support. The plan settled on, everyone headed off to make last minute preparations. Ranma whispered something to Akane. After she nodded, he moved to talk to Ukyo alone.

 

            “What is it Ranchan?”

 

            “Ucchan, a lot of us may not live through tomorrow.” Ranma saw hope light up in Ukyo’s eyes and it hurt him terribly to crush it. “Some things need to get out in the open before then.” From the silly smile starting to grow on her face, Ranma figured he was doing a poor job of breaking it to her. He decided to try a different approach. “Ukyo, why do you love me?”

 

            Ukyo blinked. “Because we’re engaged!”

 

            Ranma sighed. “Ukyo, you’re my friend, okay? Why are you trying to make it something different than that? We’ve been friends since I was six, but unlike Ryoga you aren’t trying to kill me or ruin my life on a regular basis. Why do you love me?”

            Ukyo blushed. “Well, you’re great to be around, fun, cute, interesting, we’re engaged already, your handsome, trustworthy, a bit naïve…” Her face fell a little bit. “And you also don’t mind that I tend to cross-dress and act like a guy sometimes.”

 

            “Ukyo, I’ve seen a lot recently and there’s someone who needs my help pretty badly, but he’d never ask.”

 

            “He? Who? Ryoga?”

 

            Ranma shook his head. “You said I was fun, cute, trustworthy, and all that stuff, right? I have to ask, do you realize that there’s someone who fits that exact description and is unquestionably in love with you? He’s so madly in love with you, and yet he hasn’t tried pounding it into you like Kuno, or chasing after you constantly like Mousse. He has simply stayed by your side no matter what. He let you know once what his feelings are, and has since never pestered you again. And he doesn’t mind the fact that you cross dress.”

 

            Ukyo at first thought Ranma was simply talking about himself in third person. Slowly, she realized that he wasn’t. “If you’re talking about that creep Tsubasa…”

 

            Ranma slapped his forehead and wondered if he had ever been this dense. “No, Ucchan. I’m not talking about Tsubasa. He DOES constantly chase after you. Think for one minute, wouldja?”

 

            Ukyo was getting frustrated. “Who are you talking about?”

 

            Ranma sighed. “Last hint. Even though it hurts him badly every time, he’s tried to help you get me a couple of times.”

 

            Ukyo considered for a bit longer. It wasn’t until she saw Konatsu climbing the stairs to his room that she finally clued in. “Konatsu?” She asked in shock.

 

            Ranma nodded. “Ucchan, this past week I was traveling around with a lady who was absolutely devoted to her Lord, much like Konatsu is to you. She had even gone so far as to kill a demon just so she could protect him forever. Konatsu defied his family for you and I have no doubt he’d kill a demon to protect you forever too. Tian died a couple of days ago without Gigi ever being able to tell him that she loved him, and without him ever telling her whether he loved her or not. There’s a chance that either you or Konatsu will die tomorrow, though I will do everything in my power to prevent it. Don’t let one of you die without letting the other know how you feel, one way or another. Gigi’s gone nuts since Tian died, and I don’t want to see that happen to you or Konatsu. He’s a really great guy, you know. And he loves you in ways I just can’t, Ucchan.” Ranma waited a moment before leaving a stunned Ukyo behind.

 

            A short distance away, Tuxedo Mask watched the exchange with mild surprise. He moved to stand next to Akane. “Is it just me, Akane, or is Ranma acting… odd? More mature somehow.”

 

            Akane nodded. “It’s really weird. I’ve never heard Ranma talk like that before.” Akane suddenly blinked and turned to Tuxedo Kamen. “Excuse me, but how do you know Ranma?”

 

            Tuxedo Kamen got a quizzical expression on his face. “What do you mean, Akane?” Suddenly he remembered that he was still transformed. He covered his face with his hands and groaned.

 

            “How do you know my name? Do I know you?”

 

            Tuxedo Kamen sighed softly. “Not really, no. I have to go.”

 

            Akane was distracted from following him by Ranma coming over to her and asking if they could leave. Akane nodded distractedly and walked out the door with Ranma.

 

 

Ending Notes:

Mejiro – Silver-eyed – A reference to someone who is blind. However, in this case it is a reference to Jiejie’s unique eye color.

Itoshigo – Beloved Child