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A Ranma ½ / Slayers crossover story
By Aaron Bergman

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and all characters therein belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Slayers and all characters belong to Hajime Kanzaka, Rui Araizumi, Kadokawa Shoten, TV Tokyo, Softx, and Marubeni.


A SD of the author walks out onto an empty stage and bows to the unseen audience in an odd manner. He's wearing a gaudily pink shirt with "I'm a Dan Fan!" emblazoned across it, and Bermuda shorts. He smiles and speaks. "Ah, Honorable Customer, you have returned for another installment of my Slayers/Ranma crossover." He wipes a tear away from his eye. "That makes me so happy!"

Then, he gets a stern light in his eyes. "However, it's time to review what's happened up to this point. Actually, this isn't really written for you, Honorable Customer, it's written for me." He puts one hand behind his head in the traditional gesture of embarrassment. "I kinda lost track of what was going on myself…

"Anyway, it all started with two gods having a bit of rent trouble, and like friends innumerable across the ages, They decided moving in together would be a great idea! After packing up all His stuff, one god (whom I will henceforth refer to as Jusenkyou, for His most famous creation) went to His friend's dimension and put His stuff down. Being somewhat responsible gods, Jusenkyou and His friend (who is titled the Sea of Chaos) decided not just to toss Jusenkyou's creations willy-nilly into this new world, but instead tried to explain it away to them. Mostly, They just confused the heck out of Ranma and Co., but that was okay by Them.

"There was one small catch… Well, you know how, no matter how hard you prepare whenever moving, you always lose something along the way? In this case, Jusenkyou lost something very important… His Keys. Which are magical. Which could turn any mortal into a demigod in their own right.

"Needless to say, the Sea of Chaos was not pleased with Her new roommate for allowing such an unbalancing artifact to slip onto Her world. However, a search proved fruitless, so now they wait for the Keys to reveal themselves.

"Oddly enough, a princess named Amelia Wil Tesla de Saillune found a set of keys lying in the road, picked them up, and promptly forgot about them. What a strange world this is, filled with coincidences…"

The author pauses for a moment, scratching his chin. "And that was the end of the first chapter. The second opened with Zelgadis, quite depressed because he'd received a purple complexion from another failed cure. A mysterious young boy gave him a cure that actually did work, but Zelgadis, sadly, splashed hot water on himself, wasting the opportunity. However, it did give him a new quest: To find the Japanese Spring of Drowned Man.

"He tried to get drunk to relieve his problems, but as many discover, drinking doesn't help. While drunk, he said something to Amelia (who showed up, to be honest, out of nowhere) that he still doesn't remember. Apparently, she didn't like it, because she dumped him. He'd never been aware that they were dating…

"That's when Ryouga, as was his wont, wandered by. Discovering that he was from Japan, Zelgadis eagerly pressed him for directions, which put the Lost Boy in a bit of a spot, as you can imagine.

"Naga and Kodachi now share even more personality traits. You see, Naga is now wondering where her darling Ranma is, and Kodachi is practicing her spellcraft in preparation for the day she will finally meet her dearest rival, Lina Inverse…. I'd try to explain it, but it'd take too long, and honestly, it frightens me.

"A lot.

"Luna Inverse applied for a part-time job at the Cat Cafe. 'Nuff said. As to her reasons… well, that is a secret," the author grins. "Admit it, you were just waiting for me to say that.

"Lina Inverse, looking for a ship's captain to take her to the mysterious island of Japan, was directed to a nice ice cream shop by the name of the Mermaid's Tonsils. By some mysterious agency, Ryouga, Zelgadis, and Amelia were transported to the docks where Lina and Gourry were carrying on their search. They did indeed find a ship's captain, by the name of Jacob Bangle. He was working the counter, for some reason…

"Well, that brings us to the end of the second chapter, and the beginning of my little trip through boot camp. The third chapter saw Gosunkugi become a full-fledged sorcerer in his own right, and like a lot of people who get power suddenly, he decided to misuse it. He kidnapped Akane to his newly purchased mountaintop getaway and cast a little spell on her titled 'Charm.' Yes, Ranma is indeed out to rescue her, with the help of some friends, including a certain self-described trickster priest…

"Lina met with the crew of Captain Bangle's ship, and indeed they are a strange bunch. One's a bulimic Mazoku, another's a golem created by an alchemist named Cyrus Sybernetics, and the third has a habit of spouting apocryphal phrases whenever he opens his mouth. And so the ship set sail!

"Jusenkyou visited my own household in person and cursed my Evil Twin, but you don't hear me crying about it. BWA HA HA HA HA HA!

"Dynast (the Mazoku Lord) got punked in his own lair by two Amazons, and being rather unhappy about it, has declared war on the Amazon village. They've sent a messenger to get them some heroes, but will she arrive in time?

"It seems that Cologne and Happosai may be having a reconciliation nearly ninety years overdue. They've left on a trip together… how romantic… but before leaving, Happosai bestowed the mastership of the Art on Genma (Soun was very unhappy) and Cologne gave the Cat Cafe into the care of Shampoo.

"Lina roasted some pirates, considering them just another breed of bandits, but feeling a little kind-hearted, she decided to take them to the nearest port rather than dumping them to the sharks. The nearest port being called Prayer Gate Rock…

"Ranma's little party of friends has traveled far, and now they are about to enter the Inconveniencing…"

The SD-author bows again. "Enjoy the story! Some parts of this are a little serious, but then, even I have a serious mood sometimes, so suck it up. By the way, while you're here read some of the other people hosted on the web site." The SD-author wipes a tear away from his face. "I wish I had the time to read them… I wish I had the time to read anything! Waahh!" He calms down. "Narrator, exit stage left."


Part the Fifth:
Mirror, Mirror


Lina Inverse stepped off the gangplank and looked around dubiously. Of all the things she'd expected from a city carved out of a stone pillar nearly half a mile wide, utter silence and total emptiness were not it.

Zelgadis stepped around the confused sorceress. "What happened here?"

"That's what I would like to know!"

Gourry popped up between the two, nodding and rubbing his chin. "Wow, Lina, this may be the first time a town has run from you before you even get there!" He added belatedly, "Sorry. That was kinda rude."

Lina stopped her fist about seven picometers from the back of Gourry's head. "Uh, don't worry about it."

"Good, I wouldn't wanna tick off a crazy redhead like *gumph*!"

Lina removed her fist from Gourry's face and turned to the two captains who were trailing down the plank, casting angry glances at each other. "So, what do you think happened here?"

The pirate captain spread his hands. "Arr, ye got me."

Captain Bangle nodded in agreement. "The last I remember, this was a bustling port. In fact, this is where Cyrus Sybernetics has his lab…"

"Danger, Joel Robinson! Danger! Danger!"

Captain Bangle sighed and turned to the golem that was rushing down the gangplank, arms waving and lights blinking. "My name's not Joel Robinson and I don't want to watch any bad movies. How many times do I have to say that? And what's wrong?"

Rowby ceased his arm waving, but his lights continued to blink, conveying a sense of breathlessness. "I can sense others of my kind here. They are angered at the fleshies! They have taken the city for themselves! Beware, for the path you take will lead to certain destruction!" Then, the golem lowered what passed for its head and intoned solemnly, "It is already too late." It rushed down the dock into the city.

Gourry scratched his head. "Could someone explain what just happened here, 'cause I'm kinda totally lost."

Lina just stood there, mouth gaping, finally getting a glimpse of how Gourry must feel all the time.

The first shot took out the gangplank, sending shards of board all over the dock. As the boom echoed out over the water, everyone threw themselves to the meager protection of the dock.

The next shot put a hole in one of the ship's patterned sails and both captains gave an identical scowl, then scowled at each other.

The third shot, however, rebounded off a shield of incandescent darkness. Both captains cheered and slapped each other on the back.

"Arr, but it seems yer demonic shipmate has saved the ship."

"Yes, but how long can he keep it up?" Zelgadis watched the shield ripple for a moment before continuing, "And how are we supposed to get back onboard?"


Ryouga was depressed. This was nothing new. What was new was the fact that he had to hold on tight to his depression. It was in danger of slipping away in face of the fact that he was helping to keep the ship intact.

It had started when Loxim had shifted to his slightly less-than-human form and darkness had started oozing from his body. It had formed a shield against whatever it was that had attacked them, but he'd looked… well… "sick" would have been the best way to describe it. He'd seen Ryouga standing nearby, looking helpless, and groaned out, "Feel… depressed… angry… please…"

Ryouga had been confused. "What?"

"Helps me… powers… magic. Argh!" And Loxim had doubled over in pain.

Ryouga did what came naturally. Of course there's nothing I can do to help him. I can't even rescue Akane from whatever happens to her…

Loxim had suddenly straightened, and the shield had gotten a lot darker.

That was the current state of affairs, but Ryouga strengthened his depression by saying aloud, "How long can this last?" Cannonballs continued to rebound from the shield, punctuating his question with explosive force.


Ranma and his companions had battled through the dungeon Xelloss had led them to, disposing of the sadly generic dungeon-dressing with ease. After all, it was just orcs. Hit them once and they fall over, right?

Ranma kept looking behind them, though, certain he heard a soft padding following them. Occasionally, he caught a glimpse of lamplike eyes in the darkness…

Xelloss drew everyone's attention with a clearing of the throat. "We are here. At the Inconveniencing."

It was a gold-framed mirror nearly seven feet tall that hung suspended about six inches from the ground, with a surface that rippled slowly, in patterns that suggested a great depth. Looking into it, Ranma was certain he saw his female side in there, winking.

Ranma huffed, trying to keep an air of studied indifference. "This is it?"

"Beware what awaits you in there. They show you what you must accept about yourself, but you will not always want to believe it. And if you don't believe it…"

"Superdeformity?" At Xelloss's solemn nod, Ukyou continued. "How long does it last?"

Xelloss shrugged. "How am I supposed to know? What do you think I am, a demon that's lived for a thousand years and seen more magic in his lifetime than seven hundred magicians together could ever dream to?"

They all shared an uneasy laugh at that, which was more than the joke deserved. Ranma stepped up to the mirror and felt the surface. It gave way before his hand, smoothing in the area he'd touched. Ranma grinned. "I'll go first." Before anyone else could do anything, Ranma jumped in headfirst.


Ranma looked at the low walls surrounding the house of his father's friend, impressed despite himself. "You're friends with a guy that owns a place like this, Pops?" He resolutely ignored the rain that fell steadily on both himself and his father.

This isn't right.

The thought out of nowhere surprised Ranma, but before he could think about it further, Genma spoke. "We've been friends for longer than you would believe. Sometimes, friendship supersedes class or wealth. Sometimes." He looked sad for a moment, then continued. "Well, let's get inside before we catch cold."

"You still haven't told me why we're visiting this Tendo guy now, Pops. If I remember right, we passed through Tokyo what, four years ago? Why didn't we stop here then?"

His father didn't answer. Instead, he strode through the gate, opened the door, and asked, "Anyone home?"

Ranma's sharp ears caught the exclamation "Oh, that must be them!" He wasn't prepared for the rush of people that greeted them. Three unmarried daughters and a widowed father… an old legend about this kind of thing pushed at the back of his mind, but he ignored it in favor of the moment as he was practically carried into the living room of the Tendos.

The oldest daughter served him tea, the middle daughter looked him over like a side of beef, but the youngest daughter… was angry. And had the look of a martial artist. Cool, was Ranma's thought. Fully aware that each of the daughters thought he was cute, he stood up and walked over to where she sat, steaming. "You any good?"

She looked up at him. "I'll show you how good I am."

Five minutes later, they were in the dojo. And Ranma was humiliating the girl, Akane. Not that he meant to, but he'd dodge, Akane'd get angrier, which would make it even easier to dodge her next blow. Finally, Akane looked up at him, near-hate in her eyes. "How do you do it?"

Ranma shrugged. "Hey, can't help how good I am."

*Shutterclick*.

Life at the Tendos sucked, but Ranma's lazy, greedy father refused to move away, and that only made how each of the sisters treated him worse. Kasumi was good at being politely insulting, Nabiki was good at being plainly insulting, and both of them considered their little sister's near-constant rage his fault.

It's not like he could stop all the girls in school from wanting him or all the guys from wanting to be like him. In fact, he kinda liked it. And the way Akane'd tried to convince everyone that Ranma was just a big fat jerk had lost her some of her popularity, although one nutcase kept on pursuing her constantly. And trying to kill Ranma, simply because he was so envious it was pathetic.

*Shutterclick*.

Dating two girls at once was hard, juggling three even harder, but Ranma just considered it a new style of martial arts. He walked into Ucchan's. "How ya doin, Ucchan?"

She gave him a slow smile. "Just fine." Brushing something onto the surface of a customer's meal, she laughed a little bit.

Ranma frowned. "What's so funny?"

Ukyou waved one hand. "Nothing important. Just thinking that six months ago I wanted your blood up to my elbows, and now I can't imagine life without you."

Ranma puffed out his chest and declared, "Yeah, I can't imagine life without me either."

{what have you learned}

Ranma looked around as the Ucchan's melted around him. He floated in a void with not a single reference point. "What the hell is going on!?"

{we showed you what you would be like without your curse}

"Huh?"

{the curse gave you perspective mellowed your natural arrogance which only stemmed from your natural abilities and allowed you to get a glimpse of how others might feel}

"So, basically, without my curse I'd be even more of an arrogant bastard?" Ranma scratched his head. "I think I could figure that out on my own."

{uhhhh}

Ranma had the distinct impression that the voice's owner, if it did have an owner, was scratching his head in total confusion. Then,

{also}

"Also?"

{remind yourself that you are only human do not allow yourself to grow too arrogant pride goeth before a fall} *punt.*

And Ranma landed on the other side.


"Eeek!"

"It's a panty thief!"

The women in the small town just outside Tokyo were, in fact, quite used to having their panties stolen. What they weren't used to was the fact that this particular panty thief was nearly six feet tall, had long, black hair, and…

Soun thought to himself, Master, I will prove to you that I am evil enough to be the master of the Anything-Goes School…


Shampoo loved the smell of battle. It was the fierce mingling of sweat, blood, steel, and leather that always reminded her that she was always on the edge of death, and therefore alive.

However, her husband Ranma was always just a little bit faster than her, just a little bit stronger, just a little bit better. It was enough to make her grind her teeth. Didn't he know that the husband's place was in the home?

Ever since he'd discovered that turning into a woman and proving himself as one made his female side an entirely different person, at least according to Amazon law, he spent a great deal of his time as a woman. It had gotten to the point where several of Shampoo's own fellow warriors had asked her if she preferred her lovers that way.

And their children..!

Undeniably, they had more potential than almost any in the entire long history of the Amazon tribe. Undeniably, they'd already mastered techniques that still eluded those twice or three times their age.

Undeniably, all four of their children were male.

Ranma had failed to give Shampoo a single daughter. And that was grounds for divorce. The only problem with divorce is that it required the woman to kill her former husband, and Shampoo knew she would not be able to do that. Not because of sentiment, that had no bearing, but because Ranma was so much better that nothing she could do would ever really hurt him.

Nothing.

It was enough to drive her mad.

{what have you learned}

"What's going on?" Shampoo asked in her own language, forgetting her own personal rule not to use it until she'd mastered Japanese. "Is this the future?"

The voice hesitated.

{not a very likely one but if you were to end up with ranma then all we have shown you would come to pass}

"So…" Shampoo swallowed back a lump. Warriors do not cry unless it grants them an advantage! "So, if I were with Ranma, it would not bring me the glory I'd dreamed? No daughters to carry my weapons?"

{none}

"And I would try to kill him?"

{he would kill you in his grief forcing himself to live as a female to atone for such an action}

Shampoo laughed bitterly. "And what would you say I should do? Live with Mousse? Live without a husband?"

{we cannot tell you anything more except that for some people there are no happy endings just heroic ones}

And Shampoo felt her feet land against the hard stone floor. Ranma looked at her with concern in his eyes. "Are you all right?"

She couldn't bring herself to answer honestly.


Bit by bit, the docks were blown apart, driving Lina and her companions closer to the town, until finally they were surrounded by huge warehouses once used to store goods from across the world.

Amelia looked around. "This is probably a dumb thing to say, but I feel kinda suspicious about this situation…"

An explosion sounded from behind them. Hot fragments peppering their skin, they ran blindly for the nearest cover: a dark hole in the side of a nearby warehouse. Zelgadis looked over at Lina and said sourly, "This is another fine mess you've gotten us into!"

She responded with a plaintive, "It's not my fault…"

They reached the open door and ran inside. Lina shouted, "Lighting!"

The ball of light floated up to the ceiling, revealing the six golems of nearly the same make as Rowby waiting for them. They charged, and Lina stomped her foot. "Jeez! All I wanted to do was go to Japan! Someone would think tourism's a bad thing!"


Xelloss was aware, right from the beginning, exactly the situation he was getting into. Curious as to what the mirror would feel necessary to show him, though, he'd promised himself that he'd wait at least two minutes before breaking the spell that would be wrapped around him.

Xelloss ran his hand along Filia's jaw line, cupping her chin between two fingers and tipping it up gently. He was only a little taller than her, and it didn't take much to look her in the eyes. "You realize that this sort of thing is wrong, bad, and will get us into a great deal of trouble."

Filia smiled wryly as she said, "That's my line, demon-boy. I'm the one consorting with the forces of evil. Being a dragon generally makes that sort of thing a no-no."

Xelloss backed away slightly, spreading his hands. "Well, do you think Zelas-Metallium would go any easier on me just because you're the one who seduced me? But also, do you think I care?"

Filia actually chuckled as she said, "Oh, Xelloss, you are so easy to tease sometimes."

Xelloss shrugged. "If you say so." He moved closer, encircling her with his arms. They kissed, and…

"That's quite enough."

Xelloss broke the illusion, leaving himself alone. "Why have you shown this to me!" he demanded, actually angry for the first time in as long as he could remember. He'd been irked, irritated, ticked, but not in three hundred years had he actually been enraged.

{because the author wishes to create some justification at least in his own mind for a really ecchi piece of fanart he drew in class while bored}

This, Xelloss had not been expecting. It left him feeling as though someone had shot his legs out from under him, then let a herd of wild elephants trample over him. That is, if that sort of thing would have actually hurt him.

He had the distinct impression that something just out of sight was being malleted thoroughly.

{you really are an idiot you know}

{sorry}

Xelloss, feeling a little left out, shouted, "Hey! What the hell is going on!"

{are you the same person that you were a century ago}

Disoriented by this change in direction, Xelloss answered, "Yes, what does that have to do with anything?"

{no you are not}

"Yes I am!"

{are not}

"This is getting us nowhere," Xelloss said, exasperated. "What are you actually trying to tell me?"

{you are drifting further from your kind}

He sneered. "Bullpocky."

{a century ago would you have saved lina inverse even after her usefulness to you was ended}

"If it pleased me to do so, yes."

{it would not have pleased you to do so you know now and would have known then that lina inverse is the greatest danger to the mazoku and you would have destroyed her without delay}

"I use her as a weapon, directing her first at the renegade Gaav, then at Hellmaster Phibrizo, then at Valgaav, whom I could've destroyed myself but it was more interesting and safer to me personally to help her and her friends. My skin is my first priority."

{next she will be drawn towards dynast do you think that fate which has led her to defeat shaburanigdo twice and destroy two mazoku lords will allow her to stop there}

{you may have to face her and kill her do you think you could}

Xelloss asked himself that question. He didn't like the answer. "Of course I could."

{you could}

{will you}

"I… Of course I will if I have to!"

{then you are lying to yourself}

Xelloss felt invisible hands twitch at the very fabric of his being, twisting, bending… deforming. "No!"

{yes you have rejected wisdom now you will suffer for your folly}

As he felt himself being ejected forcibly from the mirror, he gasped out, "At least tell me what your purpose is!"

{that is a secret}

Jeez. I should get that phrase copyrighted, was Xelloss's cynical thought as his feet landed on the ground. His perspective was warped, to say the least, being from waist-height. Fortunately, his form was malleable, and he quickly changed back to what he considered his normal self.

"Golly gee, that was a pain in the kiester."

What did I just say? Xelloss tried to look at his mouth, which had betrayed him, but for once his big mouth stayed shut.


Filia sneezed. "I hope I'm not catching a cold…"


Gods don't care very much about little things such as punctuality, schedules, or nine-to-five for a very good reason: to a being with (literally) all the time in the world, one minute was as good as another, with weeks being little different, so why not do it next century?

Another very important reason that explains why gods rarely rush is that after the first few millennia, even the slowest omnipotent beings notice that a lot of problems go away on their own. Be it ice ages, evolution, or humans with nuclear weapons and itchy button fingers, situations resolve themselves, and gods usually like making worlds more than having worlds anyway.

Only a few things can make a god on time, or even early, for anything. A fellow god punking carefully laid plans for vengeance ranks very high.

Which brings us to They. To any paranoid person (or to anyone that knows the real truth!) "They" is not just another pronoun. They are a conspiracy. They are an institution. They are out to get him.

This particular They were out to get a god who labeled Himself with the title of the Sea of Chaos. The Sea of Chaos had managed to piss off each individual member of They simply by being Himself. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

On of the gods gathered around the theoretical conference table in the improbable meeting room lost His befuddled look and glared at something the other gods couldn't see. "Here, now," He said sternly. "Haven't you been referring to the Sea of Chaos with feminine pronouns up to this point? Are you certain you wish to break your own canon and confuse your readers further?"

The author apologized and humbly abased himself before Editor, All That is Nitpicky Incarnate. Editor nodded in satisfaction. "That's better," He murmured.

Order cleared His throat noisily. "If You're quite done?" He asked pointedly. Editor nodded again, and Order placed both hands on the theoretical conference table. "I call this meeting to order," He proclaimed.

"Oh, that was such an adorable pun!" Jenni, Lover of Cuteness, clapped Her hands together in glee. Order sweatdropped.

"Um, I wasn't making a pun…"

"Oh." Jenni tried to look like She was thoughtful for a moment, then lost interest and conjured a dozen Nermals to play with.

Order clutched his forehead. I hate working with other gods…

It's a commonly known fact that pantheons almost never work out. Pantheons are a great thought, kind of like "Hey, if one roommate cuts down on how much rent I have to pay, six or seven would mean even less money from any of us!" Logical? Yes. Correct? Not really. You see, three really is a crowd and four is a riot waiting to happen, except in a few rare cases where one person is in clear control of everything that happens. It's a lot worse with gods, because each god assumes, quite rightly, that He or She can do whatever they want. And just like that roommate who leaves dirty socks in the living room, gods don't like other god's projects interfering with Their own.

It's not an exact analogy by any means. But did I ever promise you one?

Fortunately, a fourth god at the table interjected. "I think that We should get on with the business at hand."

Order nodded. "Quite right, Writer. Quite right. We must find a way to ruin the Sea of Chaos's dimension permanently."

Jenni raised Her hand. "I know! We could just send so many cute things into it that the Sea of Chaos would never be able to get anyone to adventure in Her realm again!"

Editor rubbed His chin. "You know, that's a very silly idea."

"Thanks!"

"Not to mention that it would make for a very bad story."

Order glared at Writer. "And who ever heard of a Writer working with an Editor? It goes against the natural Order of things!"

Jenni giggled. She mumbled, "Funny puns…"

"And You, with Your pun fixation! You're setting Us up for some real punishment, You know!"

That only made Jenni laugh harder. Order threw up His hands.

Writer asked innocently, "As long as We're speaking about oddities, I still want to hear why You went out with the Sea of Chaos. That would go against the natural Order of things for sure…"

Order blushed. "I, uh, um… I have an idea as to how We can ruin Her world. And it would use the very foundation it rests upon to wreck it."

He spoke, and the gods listened. And smiled.


"Ucchan!"

Ukyou turned the moment she heard her husband -her husband, it was still a little strange even to her- call her name. "Yeah, Ranchan?"

"Are you sure you wanna move? I mean, your shop's here and everything. It's not like wanderin' around's any big deal to me, but…"

Ukyou laughed at Ranma's diffidence. He wasn't back to normal, even after all this time. What had happened to Akane had also deeply affected him.

What had happened to Akane?

She wasn't sure, but it had been bad. Real bad.

"Would you prefer to stay here?" Ukyou asked, as much to distract herself from that upsetting gap as to please her husband.

Ranma smiled. "I'd kinda like to do that for a while. Then we can leave. But right now, we're both about to finish school, even if they don't like us much there anymore."

What had happened to Akane?

"Shut up," she mumbled to herself. Ranma looked hurt, and Ukyou hastened to say, "That wasn't to you, Ranchan. I was talking to myself."

*Shutterclick*.

Ukyou found Ranma on the roof of their home, clutching some hair bound in a faded yellow ribbon, sobbing bitterly. She suppressed the urge to shout at him, She's dead! How do I compete with someone who's dead! because she knew it would do no good.

Instead, she simply gathered him into her arms, knowing that she could not make him happy.

{what have you learned}

Ukyou watched as Ranma faded to dust in her arms, still weeping. She stared for a moment as her real memory returned, then whispered, "I hate you."

{what you feel towards us is immaterial we are only a tool what have you learned}

"That you torture. That you hurt." She abandoned a whisper for a scream. "Why did you do this to me!"

{to show you the price of having what you want to give you the knowledge that winning is sometimes losing}

"I won't believe it. I will not."

{then you are a fool and will suffer for it}

And Ukyou felt the hard cavern floor beneath her hands. Her hands seemed… different… somehow. She looked up… and up… and up… and realized that she was only half her normal height.

And everything was… distorted.


"OHO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO!"

The Captain who'd been foolish enough to accept Naga's fare stuffed a bit more cotton into his ears before they started bleeding again. In a haze, he wondered why she was laughing now.

Then, the laughter stopped.

Risking his life, he pulled the cotton out of one ear.

Not even a faint chuckle.

Then, there was a knock on the door of his cabin. He rose up and opened the door, to reveal his passenger. Although he groaned inwardly, the Captain kept his face straight. After the second mutiny, she'd taken to 'keeping the men in line' as she liked to call it, and showing signs of low morale was a sure route to dancing on a Burst Rondo.

"Yes, can I help you?"

Naga bowed low. "I thank you for the transport, but I shall take my leave of your ship. The land I have been seeking is within flying distance." With that, she leapt into the air on a Raywing spell, and the Captain breathed a sigh of relief.

Until she started laughing.

The Captain scrambled for his cotton as the "OHO HO HO HO HO…" grew fainter and fainter…


Kuno, contrary to popular belief, occasionally had inklings of self-preservation that managed to filter through his damaged cortex. Right now, looking at the mirror that was hanging on nothing, one of those threads was tickling his mind right now. He tried to bury it under reams of samurai poetry, but somehow… he knew that if he went through that mirror, something very bad would happen to him.

And it didn't help that Sasuke had leapt in with nary a backwards glance.

Taking a deep breath, readying his bokken, he stepped into the mirror as only a samurai would.

Tripping over the bottom of the mirror's frame.


Mousse considered himself very intelligent, within limits. He knew that when it came to Shampoo, for example, he might as well have left his brain in a box under the bed. He didn't admit to needing glasses all the time, though he knew that he'd never be able to do anything without them.

But, despite being blind, he knew an illusion when he saw one. This illusion was so seductive, though, that he didn't much care that it was one.

He was home.

No, strike that. The Amazon village had been little more than a place he'd met Shampoo and received whatever training the Elders were willing to begrudge a mere man. This place was what he'd always imagined home should be like.

"Tell us another story, Mousse. We like your stories."

Mousse looked at the child sitting across from him, waiting expectantly. Without looking, he knew that there would be others, waiting to hear something from one of the few male heroes of the Amazons.

To his surprise, he chuckled. "I could tell you how I brought equality to everyone, woman and man."

The child leaned forward. "Does it have a lot of fighting?"

"Not a lot. No more than any story involving Ranma Saotome." Mousse shook his head. "That man attracted more fighting than any ten wars, but he always came out on top."

They all quieted at the mention of Ranma. He was one of the male heroes too, and even more prestige was heaped on him for being able to turn into a woman. Mousse thought sadly, That's the way it would be. Even though equality on paper is achieved, it never matches equality in reality.

"I wanna hear about Akane and how she beat Shampoo."

Mousse waggled a finger. "That's where you're wrong. She never really beat Shampoo, just fought her to a stalemate where Ranma was concerned. Shampoo always respected her for her bravery, but despised her for never living up to her potential until later on in her life."

{what have you learned}

Mousse looked at his finger, still frozen in the position of correcting someone's mistake. "That my happiness may be dependent on more than just marrying the one I love. That I have choices."

The voice warmed.

{very good we think you have done the best so far}

And Mousse stepped smoothly out of the mirror.


Amelia started laughing.

"What's so funny? we may die at any time!" Lina was, at this point, far more than merely annoyed. Now she knew she was being driven, like a cow, to… somewhere. She hated not being in control. And I can't even use a Dragonslave for fear of bringing down the whole place on top of us!

Amelia waved her hand as though brushing off a fly. "Lately I've been getting these odd thoughts, and one just occurred to me. I wonder where Xelloss is? Usually when we get in up to our necks, he's there to taunt us about it."

Lina considered that for a moment. "To be honest, I'm almost sad not to see him here. I'm pretty sure he'd be helping us if he could."

Zelgadis grunted. "I'm sure that whatever he's doing means more trouble for us. Maybe, though, he finally got what he deserves." Then he laughed himself. "Yeah, right. What are the odds of that happening?"


"Gosh, guys, it should be just around the corner."

Ranma moved a bit further away from Xelloss. "Are ya sure that you have no control over saying stuff like that?"

"Like what?"

Ranma opened his mouth, then closed it again. "Nothing."

"Ranchan, help me!"

Ranma groaned inwardly. Not again… He turned around and helped Ukyou to her feet again. Just like a little kid. She beamed at him. "Thanks, Ranchan!"

"A-anytime, Ucchan." He drifted over to Xelloss again. "Are you sure that there's no way to tell how long the superdeformity will last? Ukyou's starting to scare me."

"Golly, Ranma, I've already told you a thousand times that I don't know. By gum, I wish I did know, because then I'd be able to cure whatever's wrong with me."

Then, they rounded the corner, and stopped short.

A vending machine sat there, ancient and rusting. It appeared to contain bottles, and judging by the rust marks, hadn't been used in a while.

Ranma stared. "This is it?"

"Gee, Ranma, what were you expecting, a treasure chest?" Xelloss stepped up to the vending machine and put in his twenty-five cents. Down came a bottle, and Xelloss tossed it to Ranma. "That's what we need to cure that girlfriend of yours, Ranma."

"She's not his girlfriend! I'm his girlfriend!" This petulant shout was a bit incongruous, seeing as how it was a three-foot-tall little girl speaking.

Shampoo remained quiet.


Kuno reached to the pigtailed girl, only to have her pull slightly away from his grasp. "Kuno-sama, there's something I need to show you before we do anything."

"Yes! Anything for you!"

The pigtailed girl produced a kettle of hot water from nowhere and poured it on herself, turning into…. The vile Saotome!

Kuno drew his bokken. "What have you done with her!"

{don't you get it}

Kuno looked around the formlessness that surrounded him. "Get what?"

{ranma saotome is the pigtailed girl}

"No! Never! Not possible!"

{but}

Kuno had the feeling that someone was examining him closely. Then, the voice sounded again with a tone of disgust.

{never mind he's just too dumb to ever figure it out or have it explained to him just deform him and get it over with}

{wait a second his mind is already too warped if we deform him the consequences could be great}

{but we canít just let him go}

{we could curse him with intelligence}

{then he would destroy himself}

{we could give him a quest to match his abilities}

Kuno, who'd been feeling a little left out, immediately shouted, "Yes! A quest! I'm good at quests!"

{very well then find the Keys}

"What keys?"

{the Keys a princess named amelia wil tesla de saillune has them bring the Keys to us and we shall allow you to go your own way}

And Kuno spiraled away…


Amelia sneezed.

"What was that all about?" Lina looked over at her with concern.

Amelia rubbed her nose cutely. "I guess I'm just allergic to dead golems."

"Death to the fleshies!"

Zelgadis groaned as he readied his sword. "Not more of them…"

Captain Bangle shouted, "I know where we are!"

Lina readied a fireball as she said disinterestedly, "Oh really?"

"Yes! We're at Cyrus Sybernetics' lab!"

Zelgadis stopped slashing, parrying, and thrusting long enough to gasp, "So explain to us why we should care!"

Captain Bangle rolled his eyes even as he swung his cutlass at a golem. "Because all these golems were created by Cyrus in the first place. Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, he might have something to do with it?"

"Fireball!" The blast took out a nearby wall, and Lina grinned at her companions through the cloud of dust. "Let's find out, shall we?"


Genma sat on the roof of the Tendo Dojo, appreciating for once why his son always came up here. It seemed so… peaceful, so… distant from everything that was happening elsewhere in the world. It was a place that a person could think an idea through, worry it away until all the extraneous elements had been worn away, leaving only a shining gem.

Being a Master apparently makes you a bad poet, Genma thought wryly.

And that cut right to what he was trying to figure out. Why had the old man finally given up his Mastership? Why had he given it to Genma?

Was he really that bad?


There are certain standards to be held if one is to be a Mad Doktor, whether you piece together stolen bodies to make golems or manipulate DNA to create monstrous chimeras.

A white coat is essential. Not too white, mind you; a few stains are essential, but not so many that the original color could be mistaken for dingy brown.

On the subject of hair, a white fringe around a balding spot is considered the norm. Facial hair is varied, but having too long of a beard is an electrical risk. Some Mad Doktors, however, consider the occasional dose of voltage necessary for original thought…

Fingers are stained and scarred from forgetting to wear proper safety equipment.

What comes beneath the coat is subject to variation, but protective garments current to the time period, or perhaps a little ahead of their time (remember, Mad Doktors are creative) are handy if something might endanger the life of said Mad Doktor.

Which was why Cyrus Sybernetics was wearing enchanted plate mail under his coat. Ordinarily, he despised magic, but technology had failed him… nay, had failed the world!

For he was under siege by the very beings he'd created.

And now his outer security parameter had been pierced.

"Was it really so bad," he asked himself sadly, "To want to create a race of loyal slaves and conquer the world through economic necessity?"

He knew exactly what the beings surrounding his house felt on that subject.

Cyrus snatched up his Projectile-Ejecting Personnel Hand Weapon from a nearby table and readied himself to meet whatever had broke into his house. No one was going to take his home or his lab away from him without taking his life first.

No one.


To be honest, Gosunkugi's tower was very impressive. Perched on the edge of a cliff, it leaned over the edge without giving the impression that it could fall, that it was ever going to fall. Though it rose only thirty feet in height, it exuded a quiet menace. No surprise that there wasn't a single animal within a thousand feet.

Xelloss gestured towards the tower. "Golly guys, what are we waiting for? Let's get a move on!" He turned around and started walking for the entrance. It was decorated tastefully in a skulls-and-beings-writhing-in-torment motif.

Ranma and the rest looked at each other dubiously before following, Ukyou scuttling cutely along before Konatsu picked her up and swung her onto his shoulders. She giggled. "Thanks!"

Konatsu shrugged uncomfortably. "No problem."

They all reached the door just as Xelloss knocked politely. Mousse shouted, "What do you think you're doing!?"

Xelloss turned an innocent expression on the rest of his group. "Gee, do you really think he doesn't know we're coming?"

The door swung open silently, and gaping blackness showed beyond. That is, until Gosunkugi came staggering out, clutching his stomach. "Thank Discordia you're here, Xelloss. She's right behind…" He collapsed to the ground before he even finished speaking.

"Gosunkugi-sama! Dinner's ready!"

Ranma hesitated just as he was about to leap on the frail sorcerer. Maybe he'd already suffered enough…

Then, a familiar figure filled the doorway, carrying a heaping tray of… something. Or other. Ranma didn't try to figure it out; the fact that it was trying to escape the tray was enough for him.

"Ranma?" Akane dropped the tray. "What are you doing here?"

Ranma unstopped the bottle and looked over expectantly at Xelloss. "How do I use this stuff?"

Xelloss shrugged. "Just splash her with it."

Ranma suited words to action, and Akane wiped water off her face with one hand. "What am I doing here, Ranma?"

Ranma looked down at the still form of Gosunkugi, groaning softly in agony even while unconscious, then sighed. "Nothin', Akane. Just saved you again. Jeez, will you ever stop being totally help-"

Flying through the air was something Ranma hadn't missed, as he quickly discovered.


Lina stopped walking through the twisting corridors of the house when a man wearing a stained white coat over platemail and clutching a long cylinder appeared in the doorway in front of her. "You'll never take me alive!"

Lina shrugged. "Your wish. My spell. Fireball!"

The spell rebounded from the platemail, and the man inside grinned. "Not bad, not bad. Now, face this!" He pointed the long cylinder at Lina, and she started to get a bad feeling, but just as the odd gun went off…

A silver shape interposed itself between the party and the Mad Doktor. Rowby rolled his head towards Captain Bangle and gasped, "Viva… la… revolution…"

Captain Bangle stared in shock. "You killed Rowby…"

"Well… I'm… not… quite… dead… sir…"

Captain Bangle stared in shock. "You fatally wounded Rowby…"

"Feeling… quite… better…"

The Mad Doktor leveled his long cylinder at the group again. "So not only do you invade my home, you spoof Monty Python? I will destroy you!" He pulled the trigger, and…

*click*.

The Mad Doktor shook his gun. "Funny, I don't remember building a 'click' into this thing…"

Then, the robots invaded, and all hell broke loose.

 

To be continued…


Author's notes: This is just getting more and more fun to write. Now though, with the prologue over, we can finally get down to business.

Yes, everything up to this point was just the beginning. Makes you wonder what's coming next, don't it?

About the only thing I feel needs explaining is my treatment of the subject of men in the Amazon tribe. Yeah, I'm going for the 'fanfic convention' on the subject, if there is such a thing. My personal feeling on the subject is somewhat different, but I'm not here to renovate the Amazon tribe… yet.

MUA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Too bad nothing happened with Kodachi in this chapter, but she'll more than make up for it in the next one.

I didn't manage to break the 50k mark with this chapter. Darn. Maybe next time…

Aaron Bergman
iamfanboy@hotmail.com

"The ability to quote is a suitable substitute for wit."
-W. Somerset Maugham

Part 6
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