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 15

“Set”

 

A forest near Juuban district, Japan

 

            As she stood in the doorway of the abandoned building, Ukyo mulled over what had happened last night. She thought back to the words that Ranma had said and to her own feelings. ‘You really are a great friend, you know that?’ ‘He loves you in ways I just can’t.’ ‘He’s so madly in love with you.’ She had spent several hours crying over his obvious rejection of her love for him. Then she had cried over what her feelings were for Konatsu. At first, she couldn’t figure out why she never really considered Konatsu as being a suitor, but then she realized a number of things. Ranma was right. He never hounded her, like Mousse and Kuno always hounded Shampoo and Akane. Or like Tsubasa always bothered her. He always seemed so happy with doing whatever menial task she assigned, so she always thought he was content as it was. She also realized that it was Konatsu’s tendencies to act just like a girl that threw her off the most. Ukyo hadn’t been able to think of her as anything other than ‘one of the girls’. As a matter of fact, Konatsu was so convincing at it that very few of their friends even had a clue that the kunoichi was a guy.

 

            Now that her eyes had been forcibly opened, she had to consider what to do. She didn’t really know if she wanted to date Konatsu. She wasn’t even sure if he actually was in love with her or not. After all, she only had Ranma’s word and he was an idiot when it came to relationships. She had lain awake half the night thinking things over. Ranma’s pleading to take some kind of a stance before tomorrow got the best of her and, after getting up, she crept to Konatsu’s room. She decided not to knock for fear of waking the kunoichi. If that happened, she didn’t know if she could handle it. Slipping into the room she was shocked at the changes she saw.

 

            The last time she was in here, the walls and ceiling were covered in photos and posters of herself. She had been rather disturbed by that fact. Now there was only a single poster of her on the wall. It was of Ukyo in her chef’s outfit smiling cutely at the camera. Ukyo wondered for a moment where of the pictures were, and then she realized what had happened. Konatsu had seen how embarrassed she was by the collection and had removed it. He had done it for her. She gazed down at Konatsu’s sleeping form and felt a tear coming to her eye as she realized just how much she took him for granted. She returned quietly to her room and wrote a note and a letter. She stuck the letter inside of her shirt. Sneaking back into Konatsu’s room, she slipped the note onto the sleeping mat next to him and then quietly left the restaurant. She never realized that Konatsu had been awake from the moment she stood outside his door.

 

            She had spent the night at the ambush sight, sleeping in the abandoned building. She hoped that Konatsu would do as she asked in the letter and not see her before the battle. She knew it would hurt the kunoichi to do it, but Ukyo’s heart was in a maelstrom of feelings and she wanted time to think things out before deciding anything. She woke up as dawn approached, her body aching a little from the uncomfortable position she had been in on the floor.

 

            A little after dawn, Saffron’s Royal Guard showed up. Following Kiima’s orders, they dispersed into the trees and faded from sight. Next to arrive was the Nerima Wrecking Crew, composed of Ryoga, Shampoo, Mousse, Cologne, Akane, and Ranma. The Amazons hid in the trees near the building while Ryoga actually went inside of the structure. Akane and Ranma walked over to Ukyo.

 

            Ranma smiled at her as he approached. Ukyo tried to smile back, but it came out weak. “Hi, Ranchan.”

 

            “Hey, Ucchan. Where’s Konatsu?”

 

            Ukyo trembled a little. “I asked him to make sure I didn’t see him this morning.”

 

            Akane blinked in surprise. “Ukyo?”

 

            Ukyo pulled the letter she had written from her chef’s outfit and handed it to Ranma. “If… if I don’t make it, would you give this to Konatsu? Please?”

 

            “Ucchan…”

 

            Ukyo turned and ran into the forest before Ranma could finish. Ranma sighed and placed the letter inside his shirt, right next to the one that Konatsu had handed him.

 

            Akane and Ranma hugged each other gently one last time before Akane moved into the building to hide with Ryoga. Ranma slipped into the shadows and vanished.

 

            The final group to arrive was made up of Saffron, all nine of the Sailor Senshi, Tuxedo Kamen, and Kyuusei. With a respectful bow to Pluto, Kyuusei faded into the shadows as well. Saffron, Tuxedo Kamen, and the Senshi stepped inside the building and waited.

 

 

            The first sign of trouble came in the form of a shimmer in the air. Suddenly four figures appeared out of thin air next to the building. Two of them were bladewalkers, but the other two had strange, hammer-like appendages instead. The four creatures seemed to scan the area for a little bit and then the air shimmered again. A grotesque monstrosity slipped out of the distortion with a disgusting noise. The creature resembled nothing natural on Earth. A large, single eye was in the center of its torso. A gaping maw was where its head should have been. It’s oversized arms each ended in three tentacles. At the base of its torso was a set of short, fat tentacles that worked like feet. Its skin was a nauseous gray-green color and was covered in a thick, oily substance.

 

            Kyuusei watched silently as the abomination approached the door and was suddenly blasted by an intense wave of fire. The creature reared back in pain as a second wave slammed into it, followed by a third. In a few seconds, the charred mass of the creature was smoking on the ground. Saffron stepped into the doorway, revealing his presence.

 

            The four remaining creatures started to move towards the demi-god, but in an array of elemental spells, the Senshi made their entrance. The four disfigured beings were blasted back by the combined attacks, but to the dismay of the defenders they stood up relatively unharmed. Mercury performed a quick scan and informed the others that these creatures were apparently ancient ones pulled through time. Their armor completely covered the vulnerable parts of the growth on their backs.

 

            The Senshi moved to engage when the air shimmered again. Seven elementals appeared. This time, Sansai had summoned in a different combination of elements. The electrical creature went after Mercury while the earth elemental attacked Neptune. The wind elemental engaged Uranus while an ice monster creature attacked Venus. Sailor Moon, Pluto and Saturn were not attacked at first, but suddenly one of the bladewalkers charged the small Senshi of Silence. Tuxedo Kamen and Moon went to her aid. Because of that, they failed to notice the other bladewalker singling out Pluto.

 

            Sansai, now wearing Principal Kuno’s body, suddenly burst into view in a blaze of blue fire. Beside him stood Inago and Kaji. Around them were arranged a dozen of Inago’s bug-like creations, similar to the first ones that Ranma had fought so many days ago. As one, the creatures moved to attack Saffron. It was at that point that the Royal Guard made their appearance. Kiima and one of her lieutenants tackled the two hammerwalkers while the rest of the Guard tore into the bugs. Inago frowned at first, but then a smirk came to his face as he found that his improved creations were actually holding their own against the winged warriors.

 

            Sansai frowned, though. There was something odd about the Senshi. Suddenly, his suspicions were confirmed as the one he had identified as Neptune suddenly sent a World Shaking slamming into the rock elemental and the ice creature was roasted by a flame blast from the supposed Venus.

 

            “It worked!” Sailor Moon cheered as the disguised Senshi ripped into the elementals. She tripped underneath a spin-kick from the bladewalker she was fighting.

 

            Pluto was having a difficult time fighting the bladewalker that was attacking her. It was moving too fast and too skillfully for her to get off a Dead Scream, and its blocks were too solid to penetrate with her time staff. She began to worry if she had possibly bitten off more than she could chew.

 

            Kyuusei saw Pluto’s predicament, but her attention quickly refocused on the three Priests. She was slowly getting into the perfect position to launch a killing strike at them.

 

            Suddenly four more bladewalkers appeared next to Kaji. Two dove for Saffron while the other two moved to engage the Senshi. Ryoga’s descending strike slammed into one of the bladewalkers attacking the Senshi and drove it partway into the ground. Akane then appeared on the roof of the building and, much to Ranma’s surprise, sent a ball of red ki tinged with blue into it. The bladewalker staggered back as far as its pinned legs would allow before slamming nastily onto its back.

 

            The electrical elemental tried to send one last lightning bolt at the Senshi, but to its dying amazement the energy arched up and into Akane’s hands. She pointed her palms at the downed bladewalker and the electricity blasted into it’s cracking armor. The creature began to flail with its arms as spasms raced through its body. Ryoga’s umbrella slammed into its head and the creature stopped moving.

 

            Ukyo dropped from a tree branch and caught one of the bugs that were engaging the Royal Guard on the back of its skull. The creature’s head went down a little, giving the guard the opening he needed to finish it off. Ukyo turned around to find a bug that had managed to subdue one of the guards with a poisoned dart was coming straight for her. She held up her battle spatula defensively, but the sheer brute strength of the thing knocked her off of her feet. Before it could land a killing blow, a shuriken flew out of the shadows and pierced its eye, causing the monster to screech in pain. The guardsman she had just saved stepped in and finished the creature off with a spear thrust through its mouth. Ukyo looked over to catch a glimpse of Konatsu’s figure as he disappeared into the shadows again.

 

            Kyuusei was close, so close to being able to fulfill her oath. There was enough power flying around that the Priests would probably not notice her preparing the Phoenix spell.

 

            “Flame beyond crimson, heat beyond the sun that shines,” she whispered as power began racing to her. So far, her targets failed to notice. “Hidden in all that exists, Destroyer of Life, Creator of Life,” she continued as the trees around her began to whither from the intense heat forming around her. She knew the spell would kill her, but she was also sure it would kill her enemies. That was all that mattered. Nothing else did.

 

            Suddenly, the bladewalker that was attacking Pluto manage to slip a foot past her guard and put a nasty gash along the Senshi’s arm. Pluto hissed in pain and fought to hold on to the time staff, but the skill of the monster attacking her was too much and it disarmed her. Kyuusei focused on the spell, “By your eternal power, let all whom dare-“ She stuttered as she saw the bladewalker move in for a killing strike. Suddenly nothing else mattered to her. Abandoning the spell, she dove at speeds that few alive could follow. Fire burst around her body as the spell backlashed in a partially. Her flame-shrouded form slammed bodily into the bladewalker and sent it blasting through a few trees before it landed in an unmoving, smoking heap. The flames vanished from around her as she felt her body go weak. She dropped to her knees in front of Pluto and whispered softly, “I’m sorry.”

 

            Sansai looked at his siblings. “This is not going well. I think it is time to show them that they never stood a chance.” Inago and Kaji agreed as they focused their power into a single point in front of Sansai. The Loremaster concentrated on the point and then directed their combined energies into a single attack that blasted towards Saffron and the building.

 

            Ranma had been creeping along the shadows, looking for the best place to help. He was the only one that saw the attack coming since Saffron was finishing off the bladewalkers that had attacked him. Ignoring the searing pain he was sure to feel from the impact, Ranma threw himself at Saffron’s burning form. The demi-god shouted in surprise as he was thrown out of the path of the attack. The energy washed over and through the building before detonating. The entire structure vanished in a powerful explosion that knocked almost everyone down and killed several of the bugs.

 

            Ranma stared in surprise from his prone position. “They destroyed their own relic?” He hissed through the pain of his burned body.

 

            Sansai’s mocking laugh caught everyone’s attention. “Not destroyed, fool. Released.” Sansai held up his hands and the flame-like crystal rose out of the debris and floated to him, the ball that had contained it was destroyed. “The time of resurrection has come!” Sansai cried out as the flame touched his hands and the three priests vanished with the remains of their minions.

 

 

            Conversation was muted as the defenders collected themselves. Miraculously, no one had been killed, but a majority of the Royal Guard was injured, as were Pluto, Tuxedo Kamen, Ranma, and Kyuusei. Mercury, Cologne, and Washu moved through the injured, providing aid as best they could.

 

            “Well, that was a bust,” Ranma grumbled. “Now what do we do?”

 

            “Since it was my plan that failed, I will track them down and cast the spell to kill them.”

 

            Akane felt a chill run down her spine. “What spell?” Kyuusei glanced at her and then looked away. It was all the answer that Akane needed.

 

            “Why didn’t you cast it this time, shortstuff?” Ryoko commented. She was mildly miffed at having missed out on the fun.

 

            Kyuusei didn’t answer for a bit. “No opportunity.”

 

            The look in Pluto’s eyes told Kyuusei that at least one person knew she was lying. “One life for billions is an acceptable exchange.”

 

            Kyuusei nodded. “That is why I will cast the Phoenix Ascension.” Without another word, she rose up on a column of air and flew off into the distance.

 

            “Didn’t know she could do that,” Ranma commented.

.

            Akane shook her head. “She can’t. At least, not with being in any condition to fight when she lands. It’s too draining.”

 

            “What in the hell is the Phoenix Ascension?” Ryoko asked rudely.

 

            Saffron spoke quietly. “A spell taught by the Eternal Phoenix. On the first casting, it is called the Phoenix Rising. It superheats the target area like a nuclear explosion. If it is cast a second time within a year, it becomes the Phoenix Ascension. It sacrifices the caster’s immortal soul in order to summon the Eternal Phoenix to destroy whatever the caster wants.” The Royal Guards’ mutterings fell quiet as they took in that fact and they looked at where Kyuusei had disappeared with a new level of respect.

 

            “Whoa,” Ryoko whistled softly.

 

            “So now what do we do?” Ukyo questioned.

 

            “We wait for them to attack again, this time with their god by their side. And we fight them to the death. Most likely ours,” Pluto answered. She began to regret giving in to her own desires and revealing her identity to her old friend.

 

            “Uhm, actually, we can attack them now.” Everyone turned to look at Mercury. “I managed to lock onto their dimensional coordinates this time.”

 

            Pluto stared in shock at the young woman before finally letting a smile creep back to her face. “Then there is still hope. A slim one, I admit, but hope never the less. I believe we will have the element of surprise if we move quickly.” Everyone’s hopes picked up.

 

            Ranma and Akane returned just in time to hear the news. “All right!” Ranma cheered. “Let’s go kick their ass this time!” He looked around at the injured warriors and frowned. “We got enough people for this?”

 

            Pluto shook her head. “The Senshi can only teleport themselves across dimensions, Ranma. We will have to go alone.”

 

            A funny look came over Ranma’s face. “No ya won’t.” He turned towards Neptune. “Yo, water girl. Could you and the ice chick zap me? I need the juice.” The Senshi blinked at him. “Just zap me, okay?”

 

            “We don’t have time for this,” Uranus growled.

 

            “Then quit wastin’ it and have those two chicks zap me, wouldja?”

 

            Neptune and Mercury finally gave up and did as he asked, sending their two spells pounding towards Ranma. Just before they reached him, the energy in the spells diffused and began to swirl around him for a moment before cascading in. Before the shocked eyes of the Senshi, Ranma’s form changed into a girl’s and her eyes began to glow a blueish-white. “Okay, lead the way.” She grinned cockily.

 

            “Ranma, what are you doing?” Akane asked.

 

            “I think I know how to do Yasha’s teleport. I just need them to lead the way.”

 

            Tuxedo Kamen stared in amazed shock at his transformed friend, as did the Senshi except for Pluto. “Is he… is she… is that one of-“

 

            “We don’t have time for this.” Pluto interrupted. “We have to go NOW.” The Senshi disappeared in a flash, followed shortly by Tuxedo Kamen and Ranma.

 

            Those left behind stared at where they had been and sent silent prayers after them.

 

 

Kiematsu Rei, Negaverse

 

            There was a brilliant flash as nine Senshi teleported in from Earth. A few moments later, Tuxedo Kamen appeared as well. He looked around worriedly for a moment until Ranma suddenly landed on her butt in front of him. “Ow. Gotta work on the vertical I guess.” All around them was barren ground and the sky was a sickly purple-black color. The signs of an ancient war marred the landscape as far as the eyes could see. Mercury began scanning with her computer, but there were absolutely no traces of the Priests anywhere in range. Her computer did pick up a single structure nearby, though. She was picking up signs of life from the building.

 

            Inside they found evidence that the Priests had been there, but nothing was there now. Strange alchemical devices littered many of the rooms in the structure, as did an odd assortment of weapons and a few of the bulbous growths that were found on the backs of bladewalkers. The Senshi quickly destroyed the growths. Hundreds of minions were discovered in cages in other chambers. The Outer Senshi destroyed them despite Sailor Moon’s reservations on killing helpless creatures. To everyone’s dismay, the Priests could not be found.

 

            Mercury was finally able to detect traces that they had once again teleported to Earth, but she could not figure out where. Everyone’s hopes crashed as they realized that they were too late.

 

            A scrap of purple cloth caught Ranma’s eye. On a table covered in blood and tissue, she found the torn remnants of a gi that could belong to only one person. She shuddered in horror and quickly moved away, grateful that she had not been able to bring Akane with her.

 

            A beeping noise from the Senshi’s communicators made everyone jump. Looking sheepish for a moment, Sailor Moon flipped the communicator open. “The Priests are gone.”

 

            Luna’s voice came over the speaker. “Get back here immediately. Something’s come up.”

 

            “We’re on our way. Ranma, are you ready?”

 

            “Another shot from water girl and I should be.”

 

            Uranus growled. “Her NAME is Neptune, not water girl!”

 

            “Oh for cryin’ out loud, how am I supposed to know? It’s not like I read stories on every girl who runs around dressed up like an old man’s fantasy.”

 

            “You probably don’t even know how to read, you-“

 

            “ENOUGH!” Pluto was getting real sick of feeling like a babysitter. “Let’s go.” After Ranma absorbed another of Neptune’s Deep Submerges they all teleported back.

 

 

            Meanwhile, in orbit around the Earth was the (in)famous Juraian destroyer ‘Soyokaze’. On the bridge, a flashing light got the crew’s attention. Lieutenant Commander Yuriko Star checked her readouts. “Captain, we’re picking up an energy spike on the planet.”

 

            Captain Tylor was a rather laid-back young man who wore casual clothes and a white trench coat with a smiley face button instead of a uniform. He glanced up from the manga he was reading and looked at her. “Is that good or bad?”

 

            After a year of dealing with the Captain’s idiosyncrasies, Yuriko had learned to just go along with the flow. “Unknown, sir.”

 

            “Hmm. Where is it coming from?”

 

            “The polar region of the planet, sir. Would you like me to bring it up on visual?”

 

            Tylor nodded and the continent of Antarctica filled the screen. He stared for a moment at the display, but he couldn’t see anything. He looked at a control pad on his command panel. “Which of these is zoom?” He pressed a button and crosshairs appeared on the screen. “That’s not it. Maybe this one?” The crew tried to shout at him to stop, but Tylor had already stabbed the red button marked ‘Fire’. Several large beams of concentrated energy lanced out from the ship and slammed into Antarctica. Ice and snow vaporized and huge sections of the landscape were pulverized as several salvos impacted before Tylor took his finger off of the button.

 

            Yuriko stared in amazement as her sensors now had a clear reading on the target area. “Sir, there’s a small base of some kind under the impact zone! You found the enemy!”

 

            “Really? Great! Hey Kim, call… uhm, what was his name again? Tenchi! Right. Call Tenchi for me, would you?”

 

            Lieutenant Kyung Wa Kim, the communications officer, nodded as she complied with his sort-of order.

 

 

            It was difficult to say who of those left behind was more anxious, but when Tenchi’s communicator beeped, everyone jumped.

 

            A rather laid-back sounding voice came over the speaker. “Hi. This is Tylor. I think you might want to go to the North Pole. We sorta fired the main guns there and, well, what do you know, we found this weird looking facility. I thought you might want to check it out or something. The scanners indicate it just recently went active. Thought you should know. Tylor out.”

 

            Everyone stared incredulously at the communicator and then at Tenchi. Luna got on her own communicator and called the Senshi. A few moments later, the Senshi, Tuxedo Kamen and Ranma appeared again.

 

            “Man, that is such a rush!” Ranma cheered. ‘Who woulda thought magic could be almost as cool as martial arts?’

 

            Akane tackled her in a hug before beating her fists on the redhead’s chest. “Don’t you EVER leave me behind again, you jerk!”

 

            Ranma started to mouth off, but she stopped and hugged her instead. “I’ll try not to, okay?” She smiled at her fiancé.

 

            “We need to hurry.” Pluto attracted everyone’s attention. “Ryoko, how many people can Ryo-Ohki hold?”

 

            “If they don’t mind getting too friendly, a couple dozen.”

 

            “Tenchi, how many people can fit on the Soyokaze?”

 

            Tenchi shrugged and looked at Ayeka. The princess answered. “I believe we can fit at least that many on board.”

 

            “Then have the Soyokaze land. Ryoko, take Saffron and his Royal Guard and head for Antarctica. Cologne, if you will come with me on the Soyokaze, we will head for the Joketsuzoku village and gather as many warriors as we can to aid us.” Without any time to really argue, everyone did as instructed. Saffron, Kiima, and the other winged warriors all piled into Ryo-Ohki with Ryoko. Tenchi and the rest waited for the Soyokoze to land and then boarded her.

 

            The flight to the village took only a short while, but it would turn out to be a bad mistake. As soon as Cologne, Shampoo, and Mousse were off the ship, Amazon warriors who looked far less than happy surrounded them.

 

            “<What is the meaning of this?>” Cologne demanded.

 

            “<You have been gone too long, Elder Ko Lon.>” A shriveled woman carrying a spear stepped out from behind some of the Amazons. “<You know that the time limit for a husband quest is one year, and yet you and Xian Pu have been gone far longer than that without success. Your failure to return here on time has led to some questions being raised by the Council. And with Mu Tzu’s unauthorized absence from the village, it was decided that action would have to be taken. You have been removed from your place as Grand Matriarch of our village. The council has decided that you will stay an Elder so long as you never leave the village again. It is apparent to us that you have been corrupted by your experiences in the outside world.>”

 

            Cologne kept her feelings from her face, but inside she knew that all of her plans had fallen apart. Her one hope to avoid this had been to successfully convince Ranma to return with them, and then claim that they had been together for quite some time while he was wrapping up family business in Japan. It was now obvious that the council had been spying on her. She struggled with what she was going to say, but the Elder in front of her continued speaking.

 

            “<Xian Pu, you have been stripped of your title as Champion. You will be tried and punished by the council. Only then will it be decided if you will be able to retain your warrior status. Mu Tzu, for your efforts to return Shampoo to us, you will be granted full warrior status in the village.>”

 

            Shampoo wanted to cry. Everything she had worked for in her entire life was gone. All the pain, all the ridicule she had suffered had been for nothing. But she would not cry. “<We need to gather warriors to fight a great evil that is gathering forces to the north. We must move quickly.>”

 

            The Elder frowned. “<You have no right to speak, woman. Evil forces are no care of ours. It matters not who rules the region; they will ignore us as we have been ignored in the past. This is the way it has always been and the way it will always be. The affairs of outsiders is of no consequence to us.>” She snapped her fingers and some of the Amazons moved to surround Shampoo.

 

            Cologne’s heart broke as she turned to Shampoo. ‘Forgive me, great-granddaughter, but Takokujin is right. Your destiny has changed.’ “<Xian Pu, for speaking out of turn to an Elder and daring to dictate actions to one as well, you are banished from the village. You will not be permitted to return.>”

 

            The Elder scowled at Cologne. “<What do you think you are doing?>”

 

            Cologne wheeled around and let her anger show through her mask. “<It is within my power to banish any Amazon that does not have warrior status. I am executing that right.>”

 

            “<But she must stand trial!>”

            “<She will not be allowed back into the village, and anyone who brings her in is violating our laws.>”

 

            “<Very well. You will return with us, Ko Lon. Come Mu Tzu.>”

 

            “<No.>” The Elder stopped in absolute shock as Mousse spoke.

 

            “<I will not accept the warrior title. Elder Ko Lon, you WILL banish me as well.>”

 

            Cologne let just the faintest trace of a smile come to her face. ‘If you can only learn to respect Shampoo’s privacy, you really will make her a wonderful husband some day, Mousse.’ “<Very well. For the same crimes as Xian Pu, you are banished from the village as well. Neither of you will be spoken of within its walls from this moment forward.>” Cologne stalked past the gathered Amazons. After waiting a few more moments, the other Elder followed. Soon only Mousse and Shampoo were standing at the base of the ramp to the ship.

 

            When no other Amazons were near, Shampoo turned to Mousse. “<Why did you do that? You know I don’t love you.>”

 

            Mousse nodded. “<I know that. But I cannot stand to return to the village knowing that I would never be able to see you or speak to you, or even be hit by you ever again. I may mean nothing to you, but you mean everything to me. What good would my being a warrior be, if I could not fight for what I truly care about?>” Mousse walked up the ramp and disappeared into the ship.

 

            “Mousse…” Shampoo followed slowly.

 

 

            “Dammit, that was a real waste of time, ya know? And now we lost Cologne!” Ranma growled.

 

            Akane slapped the back of the redhead’s skull. “Have a heart, Ranma! Shampoo and Mousse just got kicked out of their village!”

 

            Ranma blinked at her. “Really? Why’d they do that? Hey! That means she don’t gotta marry me any more! All right!”

 

            Akane stared angrily at Ranma. ‘So much for him maturing.’ “How can you be so insensitive?!” She pulled out her mallet and slammed the pigtailed martial artist into the floor of the Soyokaze.

 

            The marines who were watching all snickered. “Man, now THERE’S a woman!” Quipped Lieutenant Andresen, commander of the Soyokaze’s marine complement.

 

            Ukyo smiled half-heartedly. “At least that’s back to normal,” she commented to no one in particular.

 

            The Senshi all stared in shock.

 

            “He is right, though. We have lost support and time,” Pluto commented worriedly.

 

            “Wait!” Akane suddenly remembered something, “Prince Toma! He’ll help us! He already said he would. Do you remember, Tenchi?”

 

            Tenchi nodded. “That’s right. We can stop by Togenkyo and pick up some warriors from him.”

 

            Ranma had recovered by then. “What about the Musk? Maybe we could talk Herb into coming along. He’d provide some nice firepower.”

 

            “No time, Ranma. We’d have to take too long talking him into it and we might have to fight him. Toma is our only real option.”

 

 

            The Soyokaze easily tracked down the floating island and dropped off Akane. Toma welcomed her warmly and agreed to come along with his best warriors. The Soyokaze was a bit crowded now as several dozen warriors piled onboard. The destroyer then raced to catch up with Ryo-Ohki over Antarctica.

 

 

Ending Notes:

One more chapter, and then the epilogue. We’re in the home stretch, folks! Thanks so much for coming along for the ride!