By Jeffrey Vasquez
Based on the series Sailor Moon. All characters copyrighted by
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
The rest belong to me.
Somewhere in the Banyankala Mountain Range.
"Mint. Lime. Take point. Caraway, take Basil and Paprika with
you and bring up the rear." Herb's clear voice called out through the
misting rain to his subjects, inspiring them into action. Mint and Lime,
Herb's most trusted companions immediately began a silent dash into the
trees that surrounded their make shift staging area. The monarch in exile
gathered the magical treasures of his people and followed them. Behind
him straggled the two thousand-some-odd refugees of the fallen Musk
Warriors, men that had been boys the day before, made up
majority of the force; well over four fifths to be exact. The rest constituted
a melting pot of goods makers and farmers, along with a few old veterans
and their women. His small empire had consisted of, well over, nine
All dead, save for this sorry force.
It sickened Herb how easily they had been overrun, and how
quickly. He felt the great loss of his people, and the tragedy of the
dishonor weighed heavily on the boy-king's shoulders. It was with a sober
heart that he pushed through the wet under growth. In his self pity, he felt
the rain thoroughly appropriate weather for the occasion.
A young boy fell, exhausted, to the muddy path behind him,
Herb to turn with his burden and investigate. Little Pepper had fallen
asleep as he had walked, and now lay, insensate on the muddy trail. Herb
didn't hesitate, he simply knelt and lifted the boy into his arms.
Pepper had turned eight, the day before yesterday, and had
presented before his king for admittance into the warrior's school. Herb
had looked fondly at the fiery determination in the boy's eyes and had
given his royal blessing.
When the evacuation began Pepper had attached himself to his
liege's side and would not budge. Lime had tried to return him to the other
children, but got stuck with the boy's little knife for his troubles. Herb had
asked him what he was doing, and received a proud, "Protecting my King!"
as the boy's response. Herb had smiled grimly and acquiesced to Pepper's
Now that he held the boy, he silently wondered what madness
overcome him. Why bring a child to the very heart of danger? Herb's
father had taught him that any battle can be won by crushing the
opposition's leadership. "A snake without its head," he had said, "will flail
about mindlessly. It is dead, but refuses to act like it." His father's palace
was among the first to fall.
The displaced monarch shook his wet head. By bringing Pepper to
the forefront, he had given himself a reminder. A reminder that he wasn't
dead; a living reminder of what he was fighting for. Yes the boy would be
in danger of attack, but Herb would make sure that he, and all those that
dared threaten the boy, would die before Pepper came to harm.
The resolve in his face matched the burning fire in his heart.
would overcome this enemy like he did those that had reared up before him
in the past. Swiftly, efficiently, and without mercy.
The dark mists closed around Herb and swallowed him and his
people, in a chilling sense of foreboding. It was as if history was trying to
claim an empire that was dead, but refused to act like it.
The Joketsuzoku village
It was a rare day indeed that Cologne was anxious. Three hundred
years of experience had taught her the secrets of patience. But the sight
before her unnerved her to the core. The mighty Herb, prince of the Musk
Dynasty, stood before her with the remnants of his nation surrounding him.
Her runners had come early that morning, bearing the news that the Musk
had come to war against the Amazons.
Cologne thought this highly unlikely, and said as much openly.
When an emissary from the Musk approached under a white flag, alarms
went off in the old woman's mind. There was enough bad blood remaining
between her people and the Musk that the offer was met with open
She had dealt with Herb before and knew him to be a strong
Cologne could not deny a truce between the two nations lightly. And so it
was with a great deal of trepidation, that the two groups agreed to meet.
The small field was large enough to discourage archers, but small enough
to contain no more than a thousand warriors. Considering what her scouts
had reported, that was about all that was left of the Musk.
The young man before her was bedraggled. His robes were
eternally stained with the mud of travel. She thought the humble look
distinguished him, and made him look quite handsome. The sleeping child
in his arms made the boy-king look more human. Herb stood before her
humbled, yet retaining his dignity. It was a good thing. She would want
no less for such a powerful warrior.
"I bring you greetings, noble Matriarch of Joketsuzoku." Herb
called out across the field.
"May the Goddess smile upon you this day, . . . Prince Herb."
Herb shook his head and handed the boy off to the giant in
skins, before continuing. "King Herb, Matriarch. I bring the Amazons a
"Oh?" Cologne asked in polite surprise despite the growling
murmur that rippled through the Amazons behind her. "What could be so
dire that it would bring the new King of the Musk and a host of his finest
warriors, to the Amazon nation?"
Herb crooked his finger to one of his subordinates, a man in
leather and silk shirt that was decorated with eagle feathers. His noble face
was stoic, showing as little emotion as he dragged the large bundle
wrapped in tent canvas before her. He sketched a bow and returned to his
post behind his lord.
Herb motioned disgustedly at the bundle.
"That, venerable Matriarch." He spat the words in his anger
frustration. The stench coming from the canvas was over powering. It
smelled like week old carrion that had fermented in a hot, summer sun.
"That is what brings me to your doorstep, a vagabond, bereft of my king
and father. My nation is lost to me due in totality to . . . That!"
With great care, Cologne flipped her staff forward to unravel
bundle. Her escort watched warily for any treachery. The canvas
unraveled, rapidly depositing its putrid cargo between the Amazons and the
Musk. The Matriarch had thought herself above a great many things,
shock and a weak stomach were among the long list. Unfortunately for
her, the sight at her feet defeated that notion; forcing her breakfast to expel
itself violently. She wasn't alone.
The body before her would never be mistaken for human.
oozing, flesh covered the tiger's head in a grotesque, mottled patchwork.
It wasn't the sight of the thing that upset her so, but rather the stench of
evil that hung about its putrid form.
The long deadly claws extended from the tips of massive human-
like paws. And there was a cold sanity in the lifeless eyes that bore a
cunning intelligence. But, that was where the resemblance to any living
creature ended. The rest was too horrifying to comprehend, and her mind
did its best to shut the sight out.
**Its smell alone could probably kill.** Cologne
distastefully as she wiped the spittle from the corners of her mouth.
Herb didn't react to the beast at all. His calm, clear gaze
on Cologne, boring into her. She returned it intently. When Herb spoke,
Cologne could hear the emotion that threatened to surface.
"It killed over one hundred and fifty of my men and women last
night as we marched. Twenty-five children met their doom in the jaws of
this . . . Thing." He shook with barely restrained anger, and all gathered
watched as his battle aura flared brilliantly. "It took fifty of the finest
warriors of the Musk to bring the thing down!" Herb released the energy
that he had built, into the corpse setting it aflame, but not destroying it
This caused a wave of commotion to surge through the Amazons
that were behind her, many of which included women from the Elder's
council who knew better. The Musk, already spooked and tired began
drawing their weapons too.
She tapped her staff once on the ground, creating a
reverberating sound to echo across the field. The action, got the desired
results, silencing the gathered throng so that Cologne could speak.
"I am Khu Lon, Matriarch of the Elder's Council. I speak on
of my nation. I set aside the old haunts, in light of the new. We offer you
the hospitality of our homes King Herb, and would share our salt with you
and yours. Be welcome as friends." Cologne's authority washed over all
present, and she hoped that what she did next would minimize the amount
of blood shed that was inevitable.
"It is my decree that there shall be no battle fought during the
our guests reside in our nation. Any challenges issued, save they be formal
challenges of marriage, may not be answered until the Musk leave our
borders." She paused dramatically and turned to her escort. "Any
disobedience to this edict will be severely punished. No excuses will be
heard or tolerated."
Herb nodded and repeated her edict for the benefit of his people.
peace had been hammered out here, and he would be damned if he let
heated tempers jeopardize it.
Runners from both nations sped off to spread the word to those
that could not attend the summit. Herb smiled at Cologne faintly. It
wasn't much, but in light of what they were facing, it was a definite
Ranma-chan looked up at the window washer hotly and grumbled
under her breath. The Ranma's tongue in check. But then again, maybe it
was just Ami. She was rather special, even if he had only known her for a
day. For one, she really listened. Ranma couldn't remember the last time
someone had just listened to him.
Regardless of the reason Ranma was able to hold her tongue and
move on. But one thing was for sure, this wasn't turning out to be a good
Ami chose that moment to giggle.
Ranma-chan swivelled her head ever-so-slightly, to take in the
bright, breath taking beauty. Her smile did something to Ranma's heart
that hadn't happened since before Akane's death. She gave it a reason to
beat a little longer, if only to see her smile again.
The smile was infectious, grabbing the dour frown that had been
Ranma's face and wrestling it into a smirk. "What?" Her curiosity was
Ami began laughing outright at her companion, making Ranma
more eager to find out what the dark-haired girl found so entertaining.
"What's so funny?"
It took Ami almost an entire block to bring herself under
"I'm . . .I'm beginning to think that your mother had the right idea." The
sour look that found its way onto Ranma's face caused Ami to laugh anew.
"Not you too!" Ranma motioned down at the baggy, boy's,
uniform that she wore. "This is bad enough as it is!" Ami only laughed
The whole issue of the dress had been a fluke. Nodoka's way
getting an early jump on Ranma's re-education and reaffirmation on what it
meant to be a Mother. He shook his head at how skillfully she had
maneuvered him into wearing a proper uniform to school. It was
embarrassing. Apparently Nabiki had rubbed off on his mom, while she
had stayed at the Tendos.
It left absolutely no doubt in his mind what-so-ever as to who
truly the head of the house hold in his mother's home.
At least Ranma had been able to tailor the outfit to suit his
that was a plus. He had finally been able to use the "Anything Goes Speed
Sewing Style" that his father had forced him to learn when he was
It wasn't his normal style of dress, but the uniform pants and
white shirt were baggy enough to move in, and were gathered at the ankles
to prevent entanglements.
What really gave him trouble was the jacket, which he
immediately peeled off and thrown into his book bag. The thing was like a
straight jacket! Ranma-chan sighed stoically and began looking for a
chance to change back. She was suddenly glad that her mother had the
foresight to pack the four thermoses.
Ami regained control as Ranma inspected an empty alley.
Butsukaru, Itamu, and Kinyobi were known as the "Same no
Juuban" - the Sharks of Juuban. It was a name that they had earned at a
very young age, and for very good reason.
Butsukaru had put his fourth grade teacher in the hospital
tripping her "accidentally" while she descended a flight of stairs. Multiple
fractures and a serious concision had resulted in the fall, all because she
wouldn't let him play with a certain toy.
Itamu had a fetish for sharp pointy objects, and would be
sharpening his pencils. It was an obsession, and every ten minutes without
fail he would stand before the pencil sharpener, grinding away wood and
graphite until the point could draw blood with a just a prick.
An impatient young girl named Mae had cut in front of him one
day. She had paid for her intrusion by pinning her hand to the wall with her
own sharpened pencil.
And then there was Kinyobi. A simpleton, with the sadistic love
beating the crap out of people. For no other reason, than he enjoyed the
sound that bones made when they broke, and the color of blood on skin.
When he was seven he beat his older brother into the ICU. There had been
no warning, no rhyme or reason; and when confronted about the incident,
the simply shrugged his shoulders said that he didn't know why he did it.
Many of the other parents wondered why the violent
weren't expelled outright. The answer was simple: Money, could buy
anything, and anyone.
The motley band lounged on the steps of the local library, on
main thoroughfare that students used to get to and from school. They
were like all predators, hungry and dangerous, combinations that made
most intelligent students take a longer way to school.
"I'm bored Butsu!" Kinyobi whined. Itamu snickered stupidly at
largish young man seated on the steps beneath him.
"Anything that doesn't involve bloodying someone bores you
Butsu replied caustically as he looked up from his book. The Nanso
Satomi Hakkenden wasn't exactly Butsu's normal fare, but it had some
interesting parts. None of them particularly heroic either.
Butsu was rooting for the villians.
"C'mon Butsu!" Kinyobi's voice squeaked shrilly, causing Itamu to
over in hysterics. Puberty had come late to the burly thug, cursing him
with a man's body, and all but a woman's voice. He hated it; how could
anyone inspire terror with a girly voice like his?
Butsu growled in disgust. Slamming the book closed he rounded
on Kinyobi angrily. "What do you want me to do ‘Kin-chan'?" He said
cruelly twisting the feminine honorific in his mouth. Kinyobi growled
fiercely, but made no move against the smaller boy. The oddity of this
twisted David and Goliath scenario made Itamu laugh all the harder.
Kinyobi wanted nothing more than to grind Butsu into so much
paste. Unfortunately, the dim-witted giant knew that he would have to kill
his opponent. If Butsu lived, Kinyobi would spend the rest of his life
looking over his shoulder. The smaller boy may have been a weakling in
body, but he more than made up for it in intelligence and a viciousness that
scared the Hell out of Kinyobi.
Butsu stiffened noticeably for a moment and then smiled in a
manner that would give the Devil himself pause. Kinyobi followed his
gaze, watching as a cute red-head entered an alley not a block away. A
sudden smile graced his big face. He "nudged" Itamu roughly, the blow
would leave a wonderfully purple bruise.
A blade was instantly in Itamu's hand, prepared to deal a blow
retribution. Butsu held up his hand and pointed, forcing the knife wielding
boy to follow the gesture. Another girl stopped before the alley way, one
that Itamu worshiped above all others. Ami-chan.
He looked at Butsu hopefully. Kinyobi and Butsu could share
red-head, but Ami was special. No one would touch her but him.
Butsu studied the feverish look in Itamu's eyes and was forced
nod his assent. He looked longingly at Mizuno-san. It was too bad, she
was pretty and would have been fun to break. The red-head would have to
do. Such was the hazard when working with sociopaths; a man had to give
into their passions lest he be consumed by the fire that drove them.
Ah well, such was the gamble of fools and mad men.
With a sudden hunger, the three boys began to stalk their prey.
ground was eaten up by their rapid pace. Ami didn't see them coming until
they were right on top of her.
Ami watched the change wash over her new friend, with
concealed interest. The feminine body shifted and grew, widening and
shrinking in the appropriate places. Her mind wandered, wondering idly
what it would feel like. A scuff at her back alerted her to the presence of
She turned to see who it was, and found a hand placed roughly
her mouth and another clutching her throat. Panic flooded her heart as she
saw who held her.
**Itamu!** There was a mad lust in his eyes, that hungered to be sated.
Ami was having a hard time breathing, and her surprise robbed her
of her strength. She thrashed as best she could, trying to make as much
noise as possible. She could feel her lungs starting to burn with the need for
air, when a powerful hand shot out and closed around Itamu's throat.
It was the other boy's turn to look surprised.
Ami looked up into Ranma's cold, hard face and blushed. Mother
was going to have a field day with this one if she ever found out. Ami just
Butsukaru, Kinyobi stalked their prey like a pack of hungry
The Mizuno girl was pretty, shy, and weak; just the right combination for a
little fun. Itamu had started the game early, and together they had herded
her into the alley.
Her worried look was blood in the water for these urban sharks,
and heedless of all but their quarry, they followed after. Itamu wouldn't
share Ami, but that left more than enough for Butsu and Kinyobi in the
form of the red-haired girl.
They watched in anticipation as Itamu bore down on Ami.
Ravenously moving forward in unison looking for the other girl, only to
brought up short by a young man in a tailored Juuban uniform. He had
Itamu's throat in a hold that could easily kill a man with a simple twist of
Flames burned hotly behind Butsu's eyes, the little punk had
the drop on them, but it was time to end this. The gang leader snapped his
fingers loudly, and all at once things spiraled out of Ranma's control.
Itamu let go of Ami, allowing her to drop to the ground like a
rag doll, and produced a large, heavy bladed knife from beneath his jacket
with an evil grin that made Ranma wince and roll his eyes inwardly. **For
cryin' out loud! Do they always have to look so goofy when they're trying
to be tough?** Ranma pushed the boy back with enough force to bounce
him gently off the wall.
Itamu let out a sharp, high-pitched, and very annoying laugh
set the martial artist's teeth on edge.
**GROAN!** Ranma tried really hard to look intimidated, but knew
failed when Itamu reached out and grabbed Ami's wrist. The knife moved
in slow motion to Ranma as it approached Ami's throat.
To Ami's credit, she didn't flinch or scream. All that she wanted
do was freeze a vital part of this goon's anatomy, so that it would fall off.
In response to her desire the air temperature seemed to drop a few degrees.
She fixed Ranma with a worried look, waiting for him to do something.
The deadly look that entered Ranma's eyes was the last thing
anyone was expecting. Fear, anger, and worry were all very acceptable
reactions to the situation, but the murderous look that Itamu was receiving
was very out of the ordinary.
Itamu gulped loudly and began trembling as Ranma's body began
glow a sickly blue.
Butsu and Kinyobi knew that they were being stalked the moment
Ranma began to move. They had done it enough to know the signs, but
the unfamiliar sensation of fear that settled in their stomachs like a large
stone was completely new to them. The uncomfortable experience didn't
sit well at all.
A dangerous smirk lit up Ranma's face causing Itamu, who was
Ranma's chosen target at the moment to whimper. Ranma blurred,
changing targets half way to Itamu. Neither Butsu nor Kinyobi saw the
blows that knocked their heads into the brick wall, and before Itamu could
blink Ranma was standing before him, holding the hand that held the knife.
With a gentleness that never entered his eyes, Ranma removed
blade from the quaking boy's fingers. Itamu grinned weakly as Ranma
forced him to release Ami.
The martial artist drew the bully down with him, to squat in
alley way. The cold gleam never left his eyes as he motioned Ami away
from them. The smile that crawled across his face was meant for Itamu
alone, and it was enough to make the boy want to soil himself. They stared
at each other for long minutes, hunter to hunted, before Ranma turned to
look at the knife in his hand.
Ami stared at Ranma's back in shock. Never had she seen anyone
move so fast in her life without the aid of magic. A loud snap, followed by
a pitiful whimper drew her attention to Ranma's hands and Itamu's white
face. The knife rested in two pieces in Ranma's hands, blade in one palm
and the hilt in the other. He looked up at Ami and grinned sheepishly.
"Oops." He shrugged. With a casual grace he tossed the blade at an
space between Itamu's legs, burying it into the concrete about a quarter of
an inch from Itamu's groin. The boy's eyes rolled up into his head and he
passed out with a loud "Thunk!" as his head met the concrete behind him.
Ranma stood and smiled weakly at Ami, before he worriedly started to
examine her throat for injuries.
His touch was delicate, yet commanding. Fingers that had
nonchalantly rent a steel blade, now skittered across her throat like a
whispering wind. Her skin began to heat and prickle beneath his touch. It
made her thankful for the shadowy alley. She knew she must be as red as a
tomato. As it was, she felt like she was glowing. She swallowed nervously
and looked up at her hero's handsome face.
"You okay?" He asked.
Ami only nodded once before swallowing again. His lips looked
soft, and the way his eyes seemed to envelop her made her knees weak.
She tottered unsteadily for a moment, falling forward into his arms. Her
logic centers exploded, crying out in alarm at the loss of control. The
libido again became a mad cheering section. She numbly felt his strong
arms wrap around her protectively, and her head rested squarely over his
heart. The strong, quick, beat resounded in her ears enchanting her. Time
again fell away, and a warm, comfortable, rightness descended on her.
Somewhere in the distance a bell chimed causing Ranma to jerk.
was enough to snap her out of her trance.
"Crap!" The urgency in Ranma's voice and the sounds of the bell
in the distance brought her hormones crashing down in disappointed
flames. The logic centers smugly resumed supremacy and began working
over time to restore the order that this boy had so callously ravaged. Ami
looked at her watch in mild aggravation and saw the time. She groaned
and shook her head. There went her perfect record.
One thought, spoken in his mother's quiet, authoritative,
repeated itself in Ranma's mind. **"Real men are punctual. I do not wish
to hear that you were truant. Ever."** He gulped remembering his
morning sparring session with his mother. With real fear in his eyes,
Ranma scooped Ami into his arms, ignoring her cry of surprise.
"Which way to school?" Ami pointed wide eyed in the
direction of the school. "How much time do we have?" She gestured
again, spreading out five fingers on her hand. Ranma cursed. "Hold on
Ami did as she was told without reluctance, blushing at how good
felt to be in his arms again. The Libido raspberried the Logic Centers and
again seized control. She felt the ground fall away from her and a sudden
rush of wind as she and Ranma rocketed to the roof top three stories above
There was a moment of weightlessness, much like the day before,
and then gravity reasserted itself, bringing Ranma and his passenger down
gracefully to the shingled roof. The feeling of near-flight was nothing
compared to the interesting new sensations that now coursed through her
The instant he touched down Ranma was running. The end of the
roof came and he felt Ami tense in anticipation of the jump. He
remembered the times when he had carried Akane like this. The sweet
smell of her perfume lingered on the wind in his mind, and the supple feel
of her toned body raced through the memory of his arms.
Ami wasn't as strong as Akane had been, but she felt
similar. Her perfume was different, but it smelled just as sweet.
Remembering was painful. But, somehow Ami dulled the sting even as she
acted as a constant reminder of what he had lost.
Ranma didn't like where that line of thought was heading, so
violently pushed it down and locked it away. No sense in opening another
can of worms. He turned his mind to the task at hand and concentrated on
making it to school on time. He could see the school's clock, a block away.
Plenty of time.
Usagi Tsukino was not your average teenaged girl. Not many girls
her age could claim to be a princess and actually have it turn out to be the
truth. The number that could claim the mantle of super hero were even
fewer and farther between. Aside from that distinction though, Usagi tried
her best to live a normal life. For her, that meant: boys, manga, ice cream
and more boys.
While there was really only one boy in her life that really
anything, she felt that she could occasionally admire choice specimens. It
was like going to an art museum. That's how she could justify her careful
examination of Eijiro Honami; she was admiring him as an art form. The
warm, oak brown color that made up his eyes complimented his dashing
smile. And the dreamy way he walked . . . definitely an art form to be
Mio Kogara, Usagi's home room teacher, watched the girl in
amusement as she unpacked her satchel. **Oh, to be that young again.**
It pleased her that the Tsukino girl was at least making an effort to be on
time this week. It didn't really matter to her that Usagi spent most of the
time daydreaming. Like most teachers, she would take what she could get
and then try to build from it. And she would need something good to
offset the transfer student that she was getting today. The report that she
had received from Furinkan, told her that she had her work cut out for her.
Ranma landed just before the gate to the school, startling a
of girls as they walked over the threshold. He gently settled Ami down and
scrambled to get his paper work out of his jacket pocket. The clustered
girls, allowed their eyes to roam over the sight of the school's newest
hunk. Looks of envy had already begun to creep in at the sight of Ami and
her proximity to the new boy.
Ami wanted to find the nearest available rock and climb beneath it.
"Hey Ami-chan, who's Kogara-sensei?" Ami stopped righting her
skirt and looked up at Ranma in surprise.
"You have Kogara-sensei for home room?" Ranma nodded, still
studying the sheet of paper in his hands. "That's wonderful, I have her
too." Her smile brightened considerably, causing the group of girls behind
her to groan in frustration. "Come on or we're going to be late."
Ranma nodded again, and then looked up at the clock. Time
ticking away. He needed to be on time. Men were punctual, and he was a
man. There was no time to climb the stairs, so he started looking for
alternative routes. Inspiration struck again, and he turned to Ami silently
hoping that this idea turned out better than the first.
"Where is our classroom?"
Ami looked at him quizzically. "I'm sorry?"
Ranma looked at her in frustration. "Which window leads to
classroom?" **Please! Just let it be on this side of the building!** He
"Third one from the left on the fourth floor." Ami pointed out
appropriate window. "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiii!" She screeched loudly as
Ranma gathered her in his arms again and tore off running for the building.
He could tell the window was open. That was good, he wanted to
make a good impression and property damage didn't seem to be the way to
do it. Ami clutched at him, drawing his attention down to her smiling face.
Her eyes were shut tight, but she had a silly grin on her face. He silently
wondered if she was in shock from the fight. He'd have to watch her
carefully today to make sure that she was okay.
The building loomed in front of him, and with practiced ease,
timed the jump perfectly. He approached the window with ease and settled
on the window sill lightly. He looked at a clock on the far wall and noticed
that he still had a minute or so before the tardy bell rang. **Whew! I made
Kogara-sensei looked at her watch casually. Ami Mizuno's desk
still stood empty, which caused her to wonder if the girl was ill. It just
wasn't like her to be so late. She would have to organize some make up
work for her during her break. There was no sign of Mr. Saotome either,
which was both a relief and a disappointment to her. He sounded like a
challenge worthy of her, and she had hoped that he would at least be on
time for his first day of school.
Sighing inwardly, she walked over and closed the classroom door.
She heard students begin to take their seats behind her preparing for
another day of learning to begin. As she turned back to her desk to call out
roll, her mind froze. A young man carrying Ami Mizuno in his arms
alighted on her window sill. The rest of the class followed her gaze, and
Usagi Tsukino was one of many students that fell from their desks in
The boy in question stepped down from the window, and gently set
the Mizuno girl on her feet. Her eyes were closed and she had a goofy grin
on her face. The boy walked over to Kogara-sensei and bowed politely,
handing the woman a few slips of paper. Mio accepted them numbly,
looking from the window, to the young man, and finally at the class
schedule in her hands. She looked back up at the boy, Ranma, and
motioned him to stand over by her desk. The window was beckoning to her
curiosity. She slowly walked to the window and leaned out to look
**Four floors up . . . . He wouldn't be able to climb with Ami in his
He couldn't have repelled from the roof . . . there's no rope.** She
brought her head back in and looked back at Ranma, who was looking
back at her with a quirky grin. He shrugged and began to scratch the back
of his head.
Thankfully the tardy bell rang, signaling an end to the mystery
now. Ami's eyes flew open, and immediately took in her surroundings.
She blushed in discomfort before she realized that everyone in the class was
staring at a very anxious Ranma.
The young martial artist began patting himself down
When he found nothing amiss, he simply looked up at his new class mates
"What?" The sound of many bodies falling to the floor was
throughout the classroom.
Musk Palace, China
Ahbrim Ur walked through the halls of the intact Musk
clothed only in a pair of black silk pants and a set of black cloth slippers
that made no sound as he moved. Intricate tatoos decorated his body,
moving subtly with the motion of his strong muscles.
He inspected his newly acquired castle critically. The
was sound, and the location was naturally defensible. All in all, he was
very impressed with the former Musk stronghold. The Rhakshasa had been
set the task of securing the place for inhabitation; searching out stragglers
and suicide squads, and sealing up the lower levels of the palace.
It was a good beginning. Only a few casualties had been suffered
the assault, and for the most part, they had driven former the inhabitants
into exile. They wouldn't get far, and the few warnings that they spread
would do the inhabitants of Terra no good. He was awake now, and this
world was his by birthright.
He could feel the power of the Ginzoushui to the south west,
knew that there was only one person that could use it: Serenity. It was
time for him to find out about the changes that this world had endured.
Knowledge was power, and he needed all the power that he could get to
destroy his jailor. With a snap of his fingers, eight shapes materialized
from the shadows.
"Reconnaissance and stealth are your goals. I want information
the status of the world at large and anything that you can find on the Senshi
of this time." He waited for a moment before motioning a dismissal with
his hand. The figures bowed in unison and then silently disappeared into
"Soon, Serenity, you will be mine again. And nothing will stand
my way of conquering the Moon kingdom once and for all." He did not
laugh, nor did he boast. He simply continued to walk, laying plans and
weighing his resources.
Juuban High School
Ami was literally swamped by her friends. It had been that way
day, from the moment class had started that morning until now. If it hadn't
been the whispered question when the teacher's back was turned, it had
been the mountain of notes that began accumulating on her desk. She
browsed through a few, but quickly set them aside for later lest she begin
laughing in the middle of class.
Speculation and other more . . . forward. . . .insinuations
verification made up the bulk of the notes, making it hard for her to
concentrate on the lessons. After the third period, she had stopped taking
them all together.
But she didn't have the luxury to ignore the situation
Questions were being launched at her on all sides and had been since she
had sat down for lunch. She had wanted to eat with Ranma in order to
avoid what she was now facing. But the Vice Principal had come and
requested that Ranma eat with some of the faculty as a sort of orientation
and official welcome to the school. So Ranma went his way and she went
hers, both dreading their respective fates.
"Oh, Aaaammmiiiii!" Usagi's voice took on, what she considered, a
romantic tone. To Ami's ears, it was more like the knell of doom. "So tell
"Tell you what, Usagi?" Ami asked with trepidation. She knew she
have gone to the library for lunch.
"How does he kiss?" Makoto asked brazenly.
Ami cringed, and then gathering her courage proceeded nobly into
the heart of doom. "I wouldn't know Makoto-chan, Ranma-kun . . . ahem!
Saotome-san and I just met yesterday."
"Ranma-kun!" Usagi squealed in delight. "I knew it! Love at first sight!"
Ami's mouth opened and shut, but no words came out. Both
Makoto and Usagi began laughing in triumph as their friend's face
darkened at their teasing and she turned away from them. Ami's cold
shoulder calmed the other two girls quickly.
"You mean that it was love at first sight?" Makoto
Ami rounded on her friends angrily. "It's not like that! Aram—"
She cut herself off quickly and placed a hand over her mouth in shock. She
couldn't believe that she had slipped so badly in front of her friends. "Our
mothers are old friends and Ranma needed someone to help him get to
know the area." A moment of indecision gripped her. Should she tell them
about her memories of Aramas or not? An insatiable curiosity, coupled
with a sudden need for validation helped make her decision for her.
Makoto picked up on Ami's unspoken question. "What is it Ami-
chan?" Usagi tore her attention away from her bento long enough to see
the momentary struggle. Pieces of wayward rice clung to the corners of
her mouth stubbornly. Neither Ami nor Makoto chose to notice.
"Do either of you remember Aramas?" When neither of her friends
at the mention of the name, she qualified the question. "From before?"
The emphasis on "before" wasn't missed and both girls closed their eyes
for a moment of intense concentration. Makoto looked serene in her effort
to access her former life's memories, while Usagi's distinctly reminded Ami
of a prune; scrunched and purple from the effort.
The moment drug out into two, and both young women opened
their eyes in resignation. It wasn't surprising really, Aramas had been an
integral part of her life, where as they had probably had very little contact
"Sorry Ami-chan, the name doesn't ring any bells." Makoto said.
nodded and looked up at Usagi.
Usagi's face took on an uncharacteristic, serious cast. Her
brows knit together slightly. Ami was suddenly hopeful. "Usagi-chan?"
Usagi looked up and the Moon Princess looked frustrated.
"There's something there Ami, but it doesn't want to surface. But —" she
stopped and looked chagrined.
"But?" Makoto asked helpfully.
"Well, when I heard the name —" She shook her head.
Ami was about to come out of her skin. "Yes?"
"I wanted to hit something." Ami and Makoto took their time
picking themselves up off the ground.
Ami sighed in defeat. Usagi smiled at her friend and patted
hand. "Don't worry about it Ami-chan, we can ask Luna about it after
school." Ami agreed with a slight bob of her head.
"So you think Ranma's a throw back from the Moon Kingdom
huh?" Ami squirmed a little, but bobbed her head again. Makoto smirked.
"I've gotta meet this guy."
Ranma's eyes opened to the sight of a black void. His last
was of Kiritsu-san droning on about the importance of being able to
calculate velocities and time.
He hated math.
No, that wasn't the right word; it was too mild. Ranma loathed
math. The only good thing about this class was that it put him to sleep
faster than his history class. The fact that he had just finished lunch seemed
to help quite a bit toward sending him into a deep slumber.
Slumber. Sleep. Dream.
**I'm dreaming.** He wasn't surprised. Sluggishly his eyes
searched the darkness and tried to take stock of his situation. His body lay
on a bed, lined with soft, silk sheets.
A small amount of light leaked into his vision, allowing him to see
gossamer canopy that veiled the bed from the rest of the room. To his
right a window lay opened to the night, causing a cool breeze to wash
comfortingly through the room. It was peaceful.
Someone's head lay nestled intimately on his chest. Thin,
powerful arms clutched his sides possessively. He smiled at the warmth
that the sensation held. It was so foreign, yet so vaguely familiar.
A sudden curiosity drifted across his mind, causing him to
who clung to him. He turned his head slightly, and took in a shock of short
bluish black hair. The smell of jasmine hung about her lithe form and
tingled something long buried in his mind. A name hovered on the tip of
his tongue, but wouldn't be coaxed forth. The mystery nagged at him. He
shifted his body slightly to get a better look at who held him.
Even as he did so the scene changed, and the breeze that
caressed his skin suddenly became a violent wind - set to flay the skin from
his bones. The smell of smoke assaulted his nose, searing his lungs.
He felt someone guarding his back as wave after wave of dark
shadows assaulted him from the front. Each assailant fell by the wayside,
generating a mountain of bodies to either side of him. He had been fighting
for hours. They both had. Progressing unerringly in, toward the Palace
from the now blasted outer townships.
Fatigue weighed heavily on them both, and he knew that they
couldn't keep the battle going indefinitely. She was already beginning to
slow in her attacks; he could hear her grunt every time one of her
opponents landed a glancing blow.
Their enemies seemed endless. He had lost count after his
thousandth opponent fell. His beloved had killed as many, if not more, and
yet they still came. He stopped thinking as a hideous tentacled monster
bombarded his defenses. Two thrusts with his blade dispatched the
monster, and he quickly looked for the next opponent. The enemy simply
stood its ground, encircling the pair of defenders.
Blast! When had they cut them off from the rest of the
forces? This was bad. They would have to cut a path through to the
Palace if they wanted to get out of this alive. He turned to his partner, to
appraise her of their plight. But the sight that greeted him would haunt him
to his grave.
Akane stood with her back to him, four black arrows protruding
from her legs and upper arms. Blood flowed freely from the wounds, and
her head carried a nasty black bruise above the right temple. He had never
heard her cry out once.
He blinked once and Ami stood where Akane had been. The
wounds were the same, and he wanted to cry out as she broke the shaft of
each arrow off. The look in her eyes made his heart swell with pride. She
would sell her life dearly for her lover. The man that she had desperately
wanted to be her husband.
**I should have married her.** The thought floated across
consciousness like a ghost.
He blinked again, and a more mature version of Ami endured
before him. He knew that she wasn't Ami. This woman before him was
someone that he had loved a long time ago. He had loved her more
passionately and more than he had ever loved anyone.
She spared him a smile. It was to be her last gift to him.
The enemy took the opening, firing a volley of arrows at them.
Ranma screamed his warning and flung himself toward his love, but it was
too late. Five arrows pierced her chest simultaneously, knocking her to the
ground with a grunt. She was still alive, but refused to cry out despite the
pain that twisted her features into a horrible mask.
**Good girl! Don't give them the satisfaction!** Tears welled in
his eyes at the sight of her pain. He could feel his heart break at her
He gathered her into his arms one last time holding her close.
kissed her one last time, savoring the sweetness of her lips. And then she
was gone. Grief welled up within him, scouring his soul. And then all
went white as he screamed her name.
Half of Kiritsu-san's Algebra class jumped in their seats as
cried out in bereavement. The desk that he had been sitting in, splintered
as he stood suddenly, pelting those closest to him with small splinters and
screws. Usagi, who had been seated two rows over, screamed and fell out
of her desk.
Ranma was still rooted in the dream, and much to the shock of
rest of the class, he glowed with a sickly green light. Kiritsu-san, as well as
the rest of the class, seemed very reluctant to say anything that might
disturb the glowing boy. An uncomfortable silence blanketed the class as
the aura glowed brighter.
Usagi watched from her vantage point on the floor as Ranma
clenched his fist in what could only be agony. A single tear fell from his
left eye and tracked its way down his face. Usagi's gaze followed it as it
cascaded from his jaw, down onto his shaking fist. That's when she noted
the blood welling out from his tightly clenched grasp.
Her heart went out to him. The pain that contorted his face was
emotion that she was all too familiar with. She had seen it on her own face
enough times during Beryl's corruption of Mamo-chan. She stood quietly,
and carefully made her way over to the glowing boy.
She approached him cautiously, watching his mouth whisper a
phrase over and over again. She focused on the words hoping to
understand the reason for his outburst.
"Too late." She hadn't realized that she had spoken out loud,
the way his eyes flew open in shock caused her to squeak and flinch
unconsciously. She stumbled backward until her exodus was blocked by
another desk. Ranma's eyes still looked a bit glazed, but when they focused
on Usagi they lit up briefly.
". . . princess serenity . . . ?" He whispered in shock,
promptly burying his face in his hand groggily. Usagi blinked twice, too
stunned to make a reply. Kiritsu-san chose that moment to make himself
"Ahem. Miss Tsukino." Usagi's brain refused to respond to
outside stimuli. Kiritsu-san attempted to get her attention again, a little
more loudly this time. "Miss Tsukino!" Still no response. He sighed
heavily; he wasn't getting paid enough to deal with this kind of stress. The
class seeing that their teacher was having no effect on their fellow student,
decided to help him out.
"USAGI!" Ranma and Usagi cried out and jumped at the
Kiritsu-san winced visibly, but was grateful for not having to
himself. It wasn't proper for an educator to raise his voice in the
classroom. He tried his best to settle his nerves and deal with the task at
"Ahem." Let's try this again. "Miss Tsukino?" Usagi turned to
her instructor distractedly. Well that was definitely better than he usually
got out of her. Perhaps there was hope for the girl yet.
"Y . . . Yes Sensei?" Her voice trembled slightly as she
looking back at a very confused Ranma. He didn't blame the girl in the
slightest, the boy had unnerved him too. Still she was the only one that had
moved to approach the boy, and he knew that none of the other students
seemed inclined to help Ranma.
"Will you please escort Mr. Saotome to the nurse's station?"
looked at her teacher like he had grown another head. But another look at
Ranma's confused face softened her heart.
He had confirmed Ami's suspicions about being a part of the
Millennium. Which made him her responsibility; plus it would give her a
good chance to pump him for information on his relationship with Ami.
She turned her attention back to Kiritsu-san, and smiled. The teacher
seemed to groan with relief.
"Sure thing Sensei!" And with that, she grabbed Ranma by the
hand, not noticing or caring that it was the one that he had injured.
Ranma winced comically, as pain shot through his palm and into
arm. Usagi enthusiastically dragged her patient down the halls of Juuban
High, trying to remember where the Nurses station was.
Usagi eventually found the nurse's office, but not before she
thoroughly grilled Ranma on every juicy detail of his relationship with Ami.
The details were few and far between, much to the future queen's
disappointment. Half way to the infirmary, Ranma had exploded at her,
calling her ". . . a ditzy meatball headed wacko . . . ." Mainly because she
refused to let go of his injured hand. Usagi wound up bashing him in the
head and crying. Looking back on the day's events, she wondered why she
had been so uncharacteristically violent.
When Usagi began to cry, Ranma crumpled in defeat. He quickly
began trying to comfort her, throwing out indiscriminate compliments
incoherently. Usagi brightened quickly, and wrapped her arm in his. The
barrage of embarrassing questions resumed and continued all the way to
the nurse's station.
The torture soon ended as Usagi was sent back to class and the
nurse was able to dress the wound. His history and science classes flew by
rapidly, with only a few stares and whispers following him. He had Ami in
his literature class, and he sat through the whole uncomfortable course with
her staring at him worriedly.
He did his best to ignore the look, but his mind kept drifting back
the puzzling dream that he had experienced. The emotions and the pain
had felt so real that every time he looked at Ami, he wanted to catch her up
in a powerful embrace.
He fought the urges successfully, and made it through the
of the class with few distractions; bringing him to the end of his day and his
favorite class: physical education.
The class was tumbling today, due to repairs that were being made
to the game fields and the track. It suited Ranma fine, he needed to let
loose a little. Tobu-sensei asked Ranma to demonstrate a simple exercise,
to gage his skill level. Ranma smirked and decided to embellish on the
routine a little, just to get rid of some nervous energy.
The entire class watched him in stunned silence as he soared
tumbled through the modified routine. When he finished the gathered
students were either applauding or scowling at him. Tobu-sensei was
thoroughly impressed and quickly began to pressure him to join the
Ranma mumbled something about considering it.
Class continued with a few of the girls asking Ranma to "spot"
them as they were tumbling, but the hungry look in their eyes was enough
incentive for Ranma to decline. He confined himself to working out on the
rings for the rest of the period. Class was almost over when a girl that
reminded him of Ukyou came over to visit.
"Hi." She said cheerfully. Ranma looked down at her from
She craned her neck to consider his face. She searched it for
moment, looking for something. "Is somethin' wrong?" Ranma asked
"No. I thought that I had seen you somewhere before. I was
trying to remember where." She shrugged and smiled.
Ranma swung himself down in a slow, but dazzling display
strength. When he was parallel to the floor he stopped and held the
position. His arms didn't tremble, nor did his body move. His balance was
uncanny. "You're really good." She said after a moment.
Ranma grunted. "Thanks." He swung his body over backwards
quickly and launched himself into a spinning dismount. The class stopped
again, and Tobu-sensei vowed to get this boy on his gymnastics team; and
the basket ball team, and the diving team, and the track team.
The list continued for a long time, well after the students had
for the day. The man found himself creating a few new clubs for Ranma to
join in the process. Visions of medals and trophies danced in his head,
along side some rather unrealistic fantasies as well.
Ranma was oblivious of the attention that he was receiving
reached for a towel to wipe the chalk from his hands. Makoto watched
him move and was very impressed with what she saw. Time to find out if
he was taken. "So you're Ami's new friend."
He groaned inwardly as he looked over his shoulder at Makoto
nodded slightly. "Yeah. Our moms go way back."
There was nothing special in his voice, no attachments, no
or stuttering. Makoto smiled brightly. Fair game then. She held out her
hand in a western greeting. "I'm Makoto Kino. Welcome to Juuban."
Ranma smiled enthusiastically and accepted her hand in a firm,
warm, greeting. "Nice to meet'cha Makoto. I'm Ranma. Ranma
Makoto's eyes glazed a bit.
Ranma noticed the class disbanding and slung the towel over
shoulder. "It was nice meeting you." He had better hurry and change.
Ami promised to wait for him, and he didn't want to be late.
were prompt. "I'll see you around."
". . .sure thing." she whispered distractedly. She watched him
with little hearts in her eyes.
Shampoo stood with her back to her great-grandmother, her
bonbori held in a guard position. The door that stood before her was
blasted and singed horribly, but the building itself was one of the few that
had remained intact during the surprise assault.
Herb and Pepper flanked Shampoo, guarding the right and
quarters. Several other Amazons bordered their family's elder as well,
guarding their leaders as they gathered and distributed the various magical
artifacts and treasures amongst each other. They worked quickly and
silently out of necessity. Old feuds were buried, and a true sisterhood had
been attained in their hour of need.
The young, purple haired Amazon watched the doorway that led
out into the chaos that was the night warily, waiting for the monsters to
attack. The fires that consumed her village, were mirrored in her angry
eyes. Tears, made silent tracks down her beautiful soot stained face. Herb
of the Musk was touched at the emotion that he had been unable to show
when his kingdom fell.
One day, spent mostly in an unending debate, and disaster
struck. Cologne wanted to spit. She knew these enemies, or at least was
more familiar with them than any one else, and understood enough about
their power to retreat and fight another day.
When the scout parties ran across an advanced patrol of
Rhakshasa, they did the most intelligent thing that they could think of.
They ran. Their warning had bought the village an hour to prepare, before
the first wave fell upon them.
Wave. Cologne snorted in derision. It had been an advanced
party of three of the creatures! By the Goddess! The power that these
beings held was beyond imagination. She and Herb had dealt with one
each, but the third had killed twenty warriors and wounded four other
elders. Cologne's opponent had pushed the Matriarch to her limits, and
beyond, and she still barely overcame it. Her right arm was broken in three
places, and she had sprained an ankle. The indignity of having to be carried
by Shampoo's father was almost too much to bear.
Herb for his part, looked fresh, but Cologne could tell he
depleted. The last two days had left their mark on the boy, and it had
shown in the battle. He had lost control of himself early on and gone
berserk . The collateral damage that his power had caused equaled that of
the Rhakshasa. She shook her head. So much rage, and so little control.
If they got out of this alive, she would have to see if she could remedy that.
So many "ifs." Cologne shook her head and resumed her gathering.
Khu Lor and Lo Xion had finished their packing and prepared themselves
"We will travel to Phoenix Mountain, Matriarch." Lo Xion said
"We will do our best to negotiate a truce and secure a place for our people
"Do not bother." Every head with the exception of Shampoo, turned
their Matriarch in shock.
"I pray to the Goddess that you are joking Khu Lon." Lo Xion eyed
leader and rival with open disbelief.
"I wish that I were Lo Xion. I wish that I were." Cologne placed the
treasure in a satchel before handing it off to Shampoo. "Saffron is an
infant, and while the people of Phoenix Mountain are great warriors; it is
inevitable that their mighty realm will fall to the Rhakshasa."
"How can you be so sure?" Khu Lor asked skeptically.
"Because, you a foolish, old crone!" Cologne snapped. "In less than
days time, two of the most formidable kingdoms that this world has ever
known fell before the might of the beasts! What makes you think that one
mountain will ward them away!" Khu Lor held in her rage. Khu Lon was
right of course, but she didn't have to like it.
"The Rhakshasa will eat Phoenix Mountain alive, and then turn
voracious appetite to the rest of the world. We were the first line of
defense against them, and they brushed us aside like paper dolls." She
looked at each person huddled in the room directly in the eye, weighing
and measuring them each in turn. When she was satisfied, she handed the
two elders a set of scrolls.
"We have no time for bickering." She pointed to Ban Dait, the leader
the scouting parties. "You will send ten of our nation's fastest runners to
Mount Phoenix, along different routes. They are to contact Kiima,
Saffron's seneschal and report of the events that have transpired. They will
then rendevous with one of our groups as soon as they are able."
"Groups?" Khu Lor queried.
"Yes. We will scatter our forces and gather them anew as quickly
possible. It will make it harder for the Rhakshasa to hunt us, and we will
have the opportunity to gather the necessary resources to reclaim our home
land." Both elders nodded at the strategy. "The scrolls contain our
destination. Memorize them and destroy them before you leave."
The wizened women nodded and glanced over the maps that they
were given. When their perusal was complete, and the information
committed to memory, each ignited their map with their Ki. Cologne was
not quick enough to stop them, and turned her worried gaze to the
"Fools! You have killed us!" She hissed.
Shampoo smiled grimly as a single shape detached itself from
shadows of a building and loped toward them. She loosened her sword in
its scabbard, and set herself to break the thing's charge. The time had
come for a little payback, an action that Shampoo was all too eager to
Cologne's throat clenched as she glimpsed the beast for the
time. It was clearly twice as big as the scouts that they had dispatched
earlier, and the power that she felt rolling off it easily tripled what they had
For the first time in over a century, Khu Lon, Matriarch of
Amazons, felt terror grip her. A sharp pain crashed into her from behind,
followed by an inhuman scream. The last thing that she saw before the
blackness of unconsciousness took her was the sight of her beloved
granddaughter shoving her sword to its hilt through the beast's throat.
End Part Four