By Jeffrey Vasquez
Based on the series Sailor Moon. All characters copyrighted by Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha.
The characters of Ranma ½ are the express property of the
benevolent queen of comedy, her Highness, the revered Rumiko Takahashi
and Shogokukan. I am in no way claiming, or even pretending to own these
Although, I can wish can't I?
The rest belong to me.
Nerima, like all of the districts of Tokyo, was like a small city
itself. Self-sufficient and self sustaining, each district held its own
personality that reflected the residents that lived there.
Tokyo itself could be considered a pseudo-nation in its own
supporting and housing millions of people within its borders. The tall
towers of steel and glass inspired awe, while the technological advances
made drove the rest of the known world. Truly, it had become the
Emerald city of Oz.
But, for all its splendor, the city around him wasn't what
Ranma's attention at the moment. That honor was reserved, currently, by
the small letter in his hands.
It had come by way of tossed spatula earlier that morning,
Ranma from a deep slumber. A small spatula embedded an inch from your
head tended to do that. It had taken him a bit of time to shake the
grogginess from his tired body, and by that time the messenger had
He had thought to chase her down, and talk to her. Maybe
apologize, but he knew that it would do no good. She deserved better
than what he could offer, and he at least hoped that she could find it.
He returned his attention to the letter. Ukyou's script
beautiful. **No, not beautiful. Elegant.** He corrected himself sadly.
The stationary that she had written on was girlish, sporting
characters all across the top and bottom of the pages. It was as if a war
raged inside of his dear friend's soul.
On one side you have the mature business woman, fighting to live
in a harsh world and survive. While on the opposing field, a little girl
played. Trying to recapture what she had lost so long ago when a fat man
and his son betrayed her. And somewhere in the middle rested his old
It's funny, how losing someone close to you can open your eyes to
so many things; things that you couldn't or wouldn't see before. Like a
desperate, lonely, young woman that was in love with a dumb, blind, jock.
A love that he couldn't return in the manner that she had desired.
He shook his head as he stared at the building where
restaurant had been only yesterday. She hadn't taken his let down very
well, and he still sported the bruises to prove it. She had begged for a
chance to build something with him, and he reluctantly refused. She beat
him silly with her spatula, and he, refusing to lift a hand in his own
defense, let her vent.
Ukyou cried in his arms for the better part of two hours,
and cursing him. But in the end she said that she understood. The lie was
probably the bravest thing that he had ever witnessed, but it was a lie
none-the-less. He had offered to make up for everything somehow: the
Yattai, the engagement, everything. But she just called him a jackass and
threw him out. As he returned to the dojo, he felt another part of himself
wither and die.
She was right, he was a jackass.
Ranma wondered silently how much more he could handle before
he finally lost it. Her goodbye letter had been a blow, saying that she was
returning to her family. She wished him well in his life, and asked that he
not look for her again.
Akane's loss was devastating, but coupled with everything
Ranma felt like Hiroshima after the A-bomb. First Akane, then Shampoo,
and now Uc-chan. Everyone was abandoning him.
No. That wasn't true. Nabiki hadn't abandoned him, although
almost wished she had. He shuddered involuntarily at the memory;
whether from delight or something else, he couldn't say. Women sure
knew how to scramble a guy's brain.
"I wonder if they teach `em this stuff in those Home Ec. classes?"
mused. A sudden curiosity welled within him.
**Maybe. . .if I got wet and went to class as a girl one day. . . .**
shook his head violently to toss the thought from his brain. **That's the
last thing that I need right now.** he thought angrily. His head still
shaking he turned and began walking away from the restaurant, and
consequently the rest of Nerima. It was time to leave.
**Bury the memories and move on.** He just hoped that his
place was quiet. The last thing he wanted was to be locked in the craziness
The walk to the train station was uneventful. The buildings slid
unnoticed, the people blurred passed in their rush to get nowhere, and
traffic moved methodically to wherever. In spite of all this movement, it
was strangely silent.
The streets had silenced themselves at his passing.
An era had ended, and an epoch had died. If a place could
Ranma felt that this would be how it shared its grief with the rest of the
world. Silent and heavy.
The stillness followed him into the station, wrapped around him
a cloak. It infused the area as he bought his ticket, and left in his wake.
Life slowly, and quietly returned to Nerima. But it was never the same.
Ami Mizuno read as she waited patiently for her mother to
disembark from the train. She hadn't realized how captivating Descartes
would be. His thoughts and base were intriguing, but there was something
essential that she felt that he lacked. She couldn't quite see the fault in his
philosophy, but then again, half the fun was trying to find the answer to
Small, warm, breezes rustled her school dress and lightly tossed
hair around in her face. She absently pulled the offending lock back over
She was so caught up in her reverie, that she didn't see the red
until it was too late. There was a sudden jostling, a brief struggle, and
then the imminent sensation of weightlessness. Instinct over took her, and
she reached out and grabbed a hold of the first thing that she found.
It felt smooth, like silk, but underneath it was rock hard. As
turned her head to see what she had caught, she noticed that her body was
laid out horizontally, but she wasn't on the ground. Her mind quickly
calculated the distance between terra firma and her suspended body, and
came back with approximately three and some half feet.
That's when she realized that there was an arm supporting her
back, with a hand firmly clutching her left shoulder. Her legs were draped
over another arm.
She turned her head upward and her eyes were swallowed by the
most beautiful, haunting, eyes that she had ever seen. They reminded her
of storm clouds just before the rains began to fall.
Ranma left the train, and tried to gather his bearings. He
hated train stations. Too many people for his liking, all pushing and
shoving to get somewhere. He spun around to verify that he had the right
station, when he collided with a soft body.
His body reacted on instinct; Rotating around faster that the
could follow. His hand shot out and caught up whomever he had
disturbed. He noticed how light they were first. Then his brain registered
the feminine curves. He felt her hand grab his shoulder to steady herself.
He closed his eyes and sighed. Somewhere in the back of his mind he was
thankful that he wasn't holding a man. Not a man . . . .
When he opened his eyes, all the color drained from his face.
Ami watched her rescuer's face drain of color. She could feel
depth of his pain as it registered in those striking eyes of his. Beneath the
pain was an intense love that consumed her. She couldn't escape the
ardent passion, and something inside her said that she didn't really want
She had read about the "Eternal Moment", but had never
understood the concept. Until now. Time had stopped, and the world fell
away. No sound entered her ears except for his breathing and her own
heart beat. She couldn't register any smells, save for the bittersweet smell
of his sweat mixed with a fabric softener. All that she could feel was the
effortless strength with which he held her, and the gentle hands that
protected her from the harsh bite of the pavement.
Her hands played with the delicate silk of his shirt, and she felt
corded muscles shift slightly. A lump formed in her throat, impeding any
rational requests to be set down. Not that she was currently coherent
enough to make such a entreaty.
A smile brightened his face, like the dawn after a long and
nightmare. Relief flooded his eyes, and his perfect lips opened to speak.
It took him two or three attempts before an intelligible sound could be
"A. . .Aka. . .Akane?" Hope beyond hope filled his voice. Ami blushed
the whispered words touched her, and lowered her head to her lap. She
shook her head slightly, and answered breathlessly the best she could.
"A. . .A. . .Ami." The logic centers of her brain began pummeling
libido in the hopes of rescuing the situation. She was losing control, and
at that moment she could have cared less.
Unfortunately, her answer shattered the moment. The young man's
hope shattered and his beautiful smile vanished, slowly wiped away as if it
had never been. His beautiful eyes clouded over, taking on an emptiness
that shattered Ami's heart. There was a palpable sense of loss as the
world came to life around them. Much to Ami's regret, the young man set
her gently down again.
He knelt before her and began picking up her scattered belongings.
"Sorry about bumping into you like that." His cold, distant, voice
through her daze, and she bent down to help him.
"No harm done." She said quietly with a smile. Out of the corner of
eye she noticed his smile come back for an instant, only to be beaten down
again by an overwhelming sadness.
She winced internally and collected her book on Descartes.
stood in perfect unison, and stared at each other for a moment longer
before the boy handed her things over. She collected them and bowed to
him shyly. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He bowed politely, which Ami returned. A
cheerfulness entered his eyes and voice, all for her sake she knew. "Uh.
Um. Look you ain't hurt or nothin' are you?" His rough speech was
endearing, and the way his hand scratched the back of his head made him
look even cuter.
"No. I'm fine. Thank you." She bowed again to Ranma. He smiled
"That's good ta know." He began scanning the crowd, until his eyes lit
with recognition. "Excuse me. But I see my mom over there, waitin' for
me." Ami followed his gaze and saw her own mother speaking with a
striking woman dressed in a navy blue kimono. He started to leave when a
new crowd began boarding the next train.
Ranma attempted to push his way through the congestion, but
found himself rudely cut off time and again by the throng. Trapped and
feeling mildly claustrophobic he cursed under his breath, as the people
poured around them. He heard Ami say something and point. The crowd
was really starting to annoy him. He leaned in closer to hear what she said
as she repeated herself, but a passing train robbed stole the sounds away.
Ranma growled in frustration and popped his head above the
once again. His eyes cast about once more, until he finally found what he
sought. He leaned over and scooped Ami up into his arms. She stared up
at him shocked, and he smiled confidently.
"Just hang on." He mouthed, causing her to hesitantly wrap her
around his neck. Seeing that she was settled, he bunched his legs and
Ami couldn't believe it when the boy's arms scooped her up.
casual strength that he demonstrated was nice, but a little too forward for
her. He looked at her disarmingly, like a rouge from one of Minako's
pirate movies, and mouthed for her to hold on to him. She complied, a
little too eagerly for her logic centers, causing another internal battle to
begin. Her libido began to debate furiously with the stuffy, sticks in the
mud, saying that it was okay because he asked her to. The Logic centers
countered with accusations of perversion, saying that the whole situation
was highly improper. The Libido made to offer a rebuttle.
That's when the world fell out beneath both of them.
Dr. Yuriko Mizuno descended from the train and began looking for
her daughter. The medical conference in Kobe had been long and drawn
out, and she was exhausted. All that she wanted was to go home, slip into
a hot bath, and sleep until tomorrow. In order to make good on that goal,
she'd first have to find Ami.
She felt a light touch on her shoulder and turned expecting to
her daughter, but to her surprise found someone totally unexpected.
"No-chan?" Nodoka Kawabata, or rather, Nodoka Saotome stood
"Yuri-chan!" The other squealed in a very girlish way. "I knew it had
be you!" The two gathered each other in a warm hug. They separated
and began inspecting each other critically.
"I haven't seen you in ages No-chan. You're looking wonderful."
"Thank you Yuri-chan. You are looking wonderful too." A moment
happy silence lingered between the two old friends. Nodoka noticed the
lite suitcase, draped over her friend's arm. "Are you coming or going?"
A tired sigh escaped Yuri's lips, eliciting a small chuckle from
"Coming thankfully. Ami-chan was supposed to meet me, but I
seen her yet." Yuri looked out into the thick crowd of people, trying to
catch a glimpse of her daughter.
"Oh my! I haven't seen Ami-chan for years! How is she doing?"
"Growing up to be a beautiful woman, just like her Mommy."
women laughed lightly.
"I see that your ego remains intact, Yuri-chan."
"Ego?" Yuri's face assumes a look of mock pain. "No-chan, you
me." A mischievous wink summoned another round of chuckling. "How
about you? What brings you here today?" Nodoka's eyes lit up.
"Ranma-kun is coming home." A look of surprised wonder passed
Yuri's face, only to be replaced by an intense joy.
"No-chan that's wonderful!" Yuri wrapped her in another warm hug,
then held her at arm's length. "Have you seen him yet? Is he everything
you were promised he would be?" Yuri could see the fierce pride swell in
her friend, and had her answer even before Nodoka spoke.
"Everything and more." The look of pride slowly exchanged itself for
of intense worry. The emotion was not lost to Yuri.
"But. . . ." Yuri encouraged her friend. Nodoka hesitated, but
"Ranma's fiancee was involved in a fatal accident last month. He's
taking it very hard."
"Oh, Nodoka. I'm so sorry. Did you know her very well?"
nodded sadly. Yuri's arm wrapped around her friend's shoulder.
"It was an arranged marriage, but she was a good girl. And though
never admitted it, I know that she loved Ranma very much." A tear snaked
its way down Nodoka's cheek, before she could stop it. "My poor Ranma
held her in his arms as she died. It's all but destroyed him." She sighed
"Death is a traumatic experience in any event." Dr. Mizuno was
stranger to death. Life in the Emergency Room had taught her to respect
the great equalizer. Yuri shook her head sadly. "The poor boy." A cloud
of melancholia descended over the two friends. After a few awkward
moments, Nodoka wiped her cheek and sniffled. A brave smile drove the
"Ranma's a strong man. He'll work through it." Her confidence in her
was supreme. After the hell that her husband subjected their son to,
Ranma could do anything that he put his mind to. Yuri felt the
conversation switch, and happily followed her friend's example.
"So tell me about him. What's he like?" Eagerness painted her
Nodoka smiled and started to answer, but her response was cut off by a red
blur shooting out of the crowd followed closely by a feminine scream. Her
smile brightened as she tracked her son's jump. He was going to land near
them. She pointed up to the red speck that was rapidly descending.
"See for yourself." Yuri's jaw hung open in amazement.
Ranma felt the rush of the ascension, and then Ami's grip
as she hugged him close. It reminded him of how Akane used to feel in his
arms. The memory didn't last very long as Ranma's brain pummeled it
into a dark corner of his subconscious. Ami screamed in surprise causing
Ranma to jerk and look around for danger. He berated himself for being
**Idiot. You just jumped fifty feet in the air with a girl who probably
heights. Stupid.** His mental tongue lashing continued for the entire
descent. He never saw the look of wild pleasure that was on Ami's face as
she watched the ground come up to meet them.
Yuri watched the boy touch down ten feet away, with Ami
protectively in his arms. He was powerfully built and stunningly
handsome. She watched as he gently placed Ami on her feet, and when she
wobbled he reached out to steady her.
**A perfect gentleman.** An impish gleam filled her eye, as plans began
The two walked over. Well, Ami walked. Yuri wasn't sure how
catagorize the way Ranma moved. He glided, or rather, stalked over. He
reminded her of a tiger she had once seen in the wilds of India; he was
poised for action.
The planning began anew, but at a much more rapid pace. Ami
would thank her for it in the end. She was too shy to take the initiative, so
it would be only natural for Mommy to "help" her out. She missed
Nodoka's shocked gasp entirely.
Nodoka watched with pride as the people around her stared at
manly son. He was the vision of masculinity. Tall, powerfully built and
graceful. Why he even had a young woman in his arms, and she looked
very content, nestled there. There was something vaguely familiar about
the girl too.
Nodoka gasped, paralyzed at who Ranma was gently setting on
ground. Her purse dropped from her nerveless fingers, spilling its contents
at her feet.
Ami saw her mother's look and immediately wanted to run for
cover. But the gasp from the other woman drew her attention. She
watched, as for the second time that day, the color bleed from someone's
face at her appearance. The woman dropped her purse, spilling its
contents at her feet unnoticed.
A questioning glance was thrown to her mother, that was
subsequently ignored. Another was directed to Ranma whose face was a
mask of worry, hiding an inevitable sense of pain. Suddenly, Ami felt
herself caught up in a back breaking embrace. The woman before her was
weeping and mumbling incoherently. She could feel the air being driven
from her lungs and tried to wiggle free.
She couldn't find sufficient leverage to break the
unnaturally strong hold on her and started to panic. She heard Ranma say
something, apologizing for his mother. And then she could breath again.
The emotional woman looked from Ami to Ranma and back again.
"Akane-chan?" She asked desperately. Before Ami could correct
Ranma stepped in on her behalf.
"No Mom." Ranma's mother wilted noticeably, before Ranma
The reaction that crossed Nodoka's face would have been comical, if it
hadn't been so embarrassing.
Shame and horror radiated from the poor woman. Ami bowed to
Ranma's mother hoping to smooth over the situation. Nodoka returned
the gesture numbly, and then smiled warmly at the girl as recognition
dawned on her face. Ami watched Ranma bend down and begin to collect
his mother's forgotten belongings.
"It is good to see you again Ami-chan." Ami was drawn from
admiration of Ranma by Nodoka's familiar address.
"I'm sorry? Have we met before?" Nodoka smiled and nodded faintly.
"You used to come over to my house in the afternoons to eat my
while your mother was at school." Recognition dawned on Ami's face,
and she cried out happily drowning the woman in a warm embrace.
"Auntie Nodoka!" Ranma winced visibly as he stood up again.
As he righted himself, he came eye to eye with a very
woman. Her smile made Ranma want to run and hide for some reason.
She sketched a slight bow that took Ranma off guard.
"I want to thank you for your gallantry young man." Ranma looked at
"Huh?" He said intelligently.
"You saved my daughter from the crowd. I'm in your debt. Why
you come over for dinner? Say. . . ." Ami's squawk caused her mother to
stop short and raise an eye brow.
"Mother!" She hissed. There is a look that all mothers love to
from their daughters. It is the look of extreme discomfort and
embarrassment. Dr. Mizuno was well practiced in achieving this and Ami
Mizuno hated it. "Leave him alone!" Nodoka chuckled at Yuri's mock
display of astonishment.
"‘Daughter?'" Ranma looked at Ami with dread. **On, no.**
**She's defending him. This is a good sign.** Yuri nodded her head
silent appreciation. Ami cringed. There was no stopping her mother once
she was on a roll. "I'm impressed young man. Usually Ami's a stuttering
wreck at the mere sight of a good-looking man such as yourself."
Ami ground her teeth in frustration, beneath the heat of
mortification. Ranma's hand reached up to scratch the back of his head in
a gesture that all three women found utterly adorable. Ami made it a point
not to let this fact be known. Nodoka laughed at her son's discomfort and
looped her arm in his. The women formally introduced their children,
much to Ranma and Ami's discomfort.
Yuri insisted that Ranma escort Ami home, at which Nodoka
heartily agreed. Small talk was exchanged and more acts of
embarrassment were attempted. Upon reaching the Mizuno home, the
mothers left Ranma and Ami alone in the kitchen, to "get to know each
"I'm sorry Saotome-san." Ami said in an exasperated voice.
"Don't be. I'm used to it. Your mom's tame when it comes to my
Ranma chuckled. Ami clearly didn't believe him. "By the way, just call
me ‘Ranma'." Ami's smile wounded him.
"Alright Ranma-san." She nodded and opened the refrigerator.
"Just ‘Ranma', please." She smiled again and opened the wound
She turned her back to him and reached in to retrieve a pitcher. She
moved gracefully to get a pair of glasses from the cupboard. The
movements made Ranma's heart ache even more. She was nothing like
Akane when she moved, but it reminded him of how he wished she had
"Okay Ranma. Can I get you some water —" Ranma's eyes bulged. "—
or some juice perhaps?"
"Uh . . . , juice is fine. Thanks." Ami brought down two glasses in
hand, and a pitcher in the other. She didn't notice Ranma's pack under
foot, until after she had tripped over it. Ami toppled badly, shattering a
glass in her hand.
Ranma caught the other glass as he shot out to help Ami,
unknowingly placing himself in the line of fire. The pitcher arced slowly,
and unerringly dumped itself over Ranma's head.
Ami's eyes widened as the change took place. Ranma cursed under
"I tell you No-chan it's perfect!"
"I don't know Yuri-chan. This sounds an awful lot like something
would do." Nodoka looked at her friend with skepticism, and more than a
"Oh, please! Don't compare me to him!" Yuri looked slightly
"I'm not trying to marry them for goodness sakes! Ranma needs someone
to help him work through his pain, and Ami needs to socialize more." Ami's mother fell into a chair across from her friend "Marriage would only
be an added bonus." She added quietly to herself.
"But, Ami-chan could have been Akane's twin Yuri. . . ." Yuri cut off
further protests with the wave of a hand.
"All the better for Ranma in the long run. He'll be forced to face his
rather than burying it."
"But," Yuri's hand waved her down again.
"Trust me, No-chan." Nodoka nodded.
A crash came from the kitchen a moment later, followed closely
the sounds of liquid hitting the floor. Nodoka winced as Yuri got up to
investigate. As she passed Nodoka reached out and grabbed her arm.
Yuri looked down at her quizzically.
"Yuri-chan, can you keep a secret?"
Banyankala Mountain Range, China.
Salt watched as a man descended from the Ho Min pass and into
the valley of the Musk amidst the unnatural storm. The omen itself was
lost on the towering giant, but he could see that any man that braved a
tempest of such magnitude, and do so without any clothes on, had to be
dangerous. He looked down at his smaller companion, Cayenne, the
anxiety plain on his face.
Salt came from a distinguished line that had the mark of the
in their lineage, and his black and white hair made him a handsome figure.
Unfortunately he had very little in the way of common sense. Cayenne on
the other hand was Salt's opposite. No one would ever mistake him for
being attractive, but his intellect made him more than a match for any man.
His reddish hair and dark eyes easily marked him as descended from a wily
Cayenne and Salt had honed their skills to near perfection as
fighting team. Alone they could be bested within minutes, but together
they had given even the almighty Herb a run for his money.
Cayenne relayed a complex battle strategy to his large
with a few deft hand signals, and then returned his attention to the naked
man advancing on their position. The way his gut knotted painfully told
him that this would be his last battle. He simply prayed that he could sell
his life dearly.
The innumerable shadowy figures that rose up behind the man
dashed that pretense against the sharp rocks of reality. They couldn't
outrun the oncoming horde, they couldn't warn their master in time to be
of any help, and there was no way that they could make a dent in the army
that was backing this lone figure. There were no options.
Well, there was one option. But he would die before he took
coward's way out. Treason was for fools and Amazons. He looked up at
Salt's white face, and tapped his broad thigh to get his attention. The fear
in the man's eyes twisted the knot in his own stomach more. He shook his
head to clear his thoughts. With one distinct slash of his hand, he changed
their plans. It was a risky play, but if they could pull it off, hopefully Lord
Herb would have some warning and even some time to prepare.
Salt nodded and lifted his partner onto his shoulders, and together they began to absorb the essence of the earth beneath their feet. Their flesh took on the hardness of stone, and their blood ran molten, like the molten core of the Earth itself. This was a suicide maneuver, developed against the chance that they would one day face a foe that they could not defeat by any other means.
The naked man stopped his advance, and watched in admiration as the fighting pair gathered their energies. He smiled knowingly and then raised his hands. The shadowy army melted away as if it had never existed, leaving the man alone and surrounded by a blood red aura.
Cayenne's eyes flashed bronze in the night, and then the ground erupted beneath their feet. Lava exploded around them burning away their bodies even before they had completed their arc. In the team's place a miniature volcano blasted the blood of the Earth high into the sky, igniting the surrounding forest and making the pass secure. At least for a time.
Many leagues away, in the mighty palace of the Musk Dynasty,
Herb listened to one of his lieutenant's report on the death of Salt and
Cayenne. He had already dispatched the call to arms upon hearing of their
demise, but somehow he knew that it was too late. He began to make
plans to call upon the people of Mount Phoenix for aid, but a second
lieutenant reporting the demise of another pair of sentries made it evident
that any aid would come too late. When the third aide reported the fall of
the third post, a few minutes later, Herb was already calling for a strategic
End Chapter 2