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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.

Although it may seem like a pretty carefree existence having immense cosmic power, relative omniscience, and nifty temples with gilt that shines like fire in the newly risen sun (if you're into that sort of thing), everybody's got problems, and gods are no exception. Their main difficulty comes, of course, from their limited perspective.

Unlike humans, who can change their perspective - expanding it gradually to include new ideas, 'modern' ways of doing things, and the possibility of buying a Chia pet - gods find it near-impossible to do so, and not just because they can't decide what shape of Chia to buy. Their very existence is bound up in a single idea, a perspective that shapes everything they do and limits everything they're capable of doing. Stretching beyond this is worse than anything any god could imagine.

Order, being what He was, preferred dances that had a bit of elegance and form to them. Waltzes, tangos, even the lambada had rules and (no pun intended) order to them, a thing which He could agree with and endorse wholeheartedly.

That (and the longwinded philosophical droning above) is the reason Jenni, Lover of Cuteness, started scanning the horizon for the horde of cute pink puppies that She had long ago chosen as a certain sign the Universe was going to end, for She had stumbled upon the God of Order doing a ninety-yard- run- dodged- three- linemen- kicked- the- other- team's- quarterback- in- the- groin- on- the- way- and- scored- a- touchdown victory dance with all the free-form and spiking a ball (albeit an invisible one) that such an act requires.

Not seeing so much as a single floppy ear, Jenni decided to take a direct path in finding out just what was going on. "What's going on, Order?" She inquired brightly.

Order didn't stop dancing. In fact, He went into the giving- homage- to- the- bouncy- cheerleaders portion of the dance. "I did it, I did it! UWAHAHAHAHA!!!"

Jenni tilted Her head. "Did what?"

"I crashed Her world!" Order stopped dancing and raised one fist in victory. "Or at least I will in six weeks, for nothing -- nothing! -- She or any of the beings inhabiting Her forsaken plane can do to stop My Agent from using the power She let slip onto Her world! Mweh. Heh. Heh." He was having so much fun chuckling evilly, He didn't notice the adorable frown that furrowed Jenni's brow.

"But… that would mean that the Sea of Chaos wouldn't have a world any more… right?"

"Of course, of course!" Order mimed picking up a phone, dialing it, and said into the invisible headset, "Uhh… is dis de Microsoff Help Line? Me not know what it do when Me type ‘deltree’, and Me world is no work no more. Maybe Me should have gone wiff a UNIXverse…"

Jenni's face became even more troubled. She turned around and ran away, but Order didn't notice. She thought as She ran, tears trembling cutely in Her eyes, But that isn't what I wanted!

Part the Seventh:
Breakfast At Maison Tendo…

Jacob Bangle, undisputed captain of the most modern ship yet to set sail, was trying to hold a coherent conversation to aid him in some deep soul-searching. This was made quite difficult by the person he had chosen to speak with.

"Well, I guess it was fun having Lina Inverse along for a while. Her reputation for destroying everything is a… well… somewhat exaggerated, at least."

"There is no teriyaki, only Zuul."

Babblin' Joe was in his finest form tonight, totally incomprehensible in any conceivable way. Bangle would've given up and tried another member of his crew, but he couldn't find his Mazoku first mate, Loxim; Rowby was still seriously injured, awaiting an alchemist from somewhere in the port city to stop by and repair him, and what few of the new crew that were on the ship instead of getting blasted in town were on watch or in their racks.

Besides, sometimes Babblin' Joe said something that was useful; or at least entertaining.

Babblin' Joe tilted his head and asked, "Curse those evil octopi?"

Bangle shrugged. "I guess that I just don't know what to do now that I have enough people to make this ship a success. Not to mention the offers from local merchants wanting to trade with the mainland. And the…"

"Scotty, gimme that power…"

"Yeah, you're right. What am I so afraid of?"

"Oh my God, they killed Kenny!" Babblin' Joe added quizzically, "Those bastards?"

"That's one thing for sure. Life just won't be as interesting without Lina around…" Captain Bangle started laughing uncontrollably, almost falling off his chair as he pounded the table with his hand. After a few minutes, he wiped the tears away. "Yeah, right! I'll take boring if it means surviving…"

The door slammed open suddenly, and an eight-foot red-skinned octopus-faced monstrosity with suckered tentacles sprouting from its back stepped through the door. "Boss, I need to take some leave."

Captain Bangle stared for a moment. In the six-odd years that he'd been sailing with Loxim, the Mazoku had never left the ship willingly. Or unwillingly. Or even that time the ship had been on fire…

Babblin' Joe nudged Captain Bangle, saying, "Lovely Angels, not Dirty Pair?"

"Oh!" Bangle nodded slowly. "Uhh… sure, but…"

The Mazoku trampled over his words roughshod. "I've got a very bad feeling about Lina Inverse and the people that came with her. One of those feelings that says I have to do something."

Captain Bangle shrugged and said, "I suppose you have a few days of leave on the books. Go ahead and take it. Just make sure that you come back, okay? Don't go and get yourself killed."

Loxim turned around and left. Jacob Bangle found the Mazoku's silence to be more telling than any longwinded speech.

"That man is either very brave or very stupid," Babblin' Joe observed sadly as he watched the door swing shut. Captain Bangle stared at Babblin' Joe.

"What did you just say?"

Babblin' Joe looked at his captain. "Oh, freddled gruntbuggly? WTF? All your base are bel… whoops, ixnay onay amelay ineslay."

"…Never mind."

Ranma Saotome was a morning person. Maybe it had been the long years on the road, maybe his father insisting on training before dawn had had a hand, perhaps it was simply genetics; whatever the cause, for some reason he always woke up just before sunrise, no matter what had happened the night before.

He'd drifted off to the sound of Xelloss and Luna reminiscing, and wasn't at all surprised to wake up to the same low tones. What was surprising was that they had visitors. And even more surprising…

"Konatsu! And… Uh… hi, Ucchan."

The chibified okonomiyaki chef beamed at him in the tooth-decaying way that only true super-deformity bestows. "Hi, Ranchan! Good morning!"

Ranma took a moment to collect his thoughts; the sudden jolt his senses had received (equivalent to 8 1/3 cups espresso) from Ukyou had hit him very unexpectedly. "What are you two doing here?"

Konatsu shrugged, threatening his kimono's arrangement. "Well, actually, that's his job to explain." He pointed, and Ranma followed his finger.

To a blank section of wall. The male kunoichi frowned. "Your ninja tricks don't fool me," and tossed a star at the wall.

"Well, that's too bad." The star disappeared in midair, then reappeared in the fingers of a ninja garbed in deep russet, a ninja whose bare face reminded Ranma of someone…

"Who the heck are you?"

The ninja scratched the back of his head. "Erm, you might know me better as the Kuno family ninja, Sasuke Sarukagure…"

Ranma interrupted with a decisive, "No." He held up one hand, wincing slightly as his ribs twinged a warning. "Sasuke is about this tall, round, and goofy-lookin'. You look like you just stepped out of a ninjitsu manga where the hero crushes skulls in his bare hands an' saves Japan every other week." The martial artist shook his head slowly. "Sell it someplace else."

The ninja said angrily, "What, you think I was an four-foot idiotic monkey klutz all my life? How the heck would I have lived through ninja training?! No, the real story is far worse. You see, what this little girl--" he motioned at Ukyou, who beamed at the attention "--is going through right now, I also suffered."

Ukyou gasped cutely. "You mean…"

Sasuke nodded solemnly. "Yes, I was… deformed."

Ranma burst out laughing. "Yeah, right! Even I know that bein' deformed means bein' cute an' stuff. Sasuke was the ugliest little guy that I've ever seen, not countin' Happosai…" He frowned in thought, and the ninja nodded.

"Yes, being deformed is not all about being cute. Why, super-deformation has led to some of the greatest terrors in the history of mankind. The Teletubbies, for example."

"But… Never mind." Ranma shook his head. "Okay, let's just say that you've convinced me, and now it's time for the flashback explainin' your very tragic story."

A man with a crossbow holstered at his waist and a shiny star on his chest sauntered into the room, slamming the door behind him. "I done warned yew 'bout breakin' the Fourth Wall, son. Yew gonna make me run yew in?"

The ninja who claimed to be Sasuke shook his head and said coolly, "No, because if you did I'd be forced to break him out. You wouldn't want any angry ninja loose in your jail, would you?"

The sheriff nodded slowly. "Yer darn right 'bout that, son. Shucks, guessin' I'll have ta leave yew alone fer now." With that, the sheriff tipped his hat to Konatsu, Ukyou, and Luna, who were watching all this with a bemused expression, and left peaceably.

Xelloss said brightly, "Gosh, that guy sure was a freak!" Then, he added, "What are you all looking at?"

Sasuke stared for a moment. "…Whatever." Then, he visibly gathered his thoughts, sat on one of the empty beds, and began.

To be honest, I wasn't always a ninja. In fact, all I wanted to be was… a lumberjack! Best girl by my side, leaping from tree to tree and singing…

Ahem. Thank you for the smack upside my head, Konatsu. While my family did indeed live to serve the Kuno name as their eyes from the shadows, their… ninja, I disdained such a life. In fact, I saw such a life as trite, boring, and a dead end. My father was lenient with this, as I was his third child, and I left their ninja traditions to serve Kuno-sama as an accountant, balancing his books as my siblings… balanced his books in other ways.

It wasn't until my twentieth year of life that this changed. Disaster struck, and both my brothers and my sister were killed, which meant that the family tradition was mine to uphold. So I gave up the pleasant life of numbers and set out to find the greatest master of ninja techniques in Japan.

I was one of the finest disciples to ever graduate from the Learn-Ninjitsu-In-Thirty-Days-Or-Your-Money-Back workshop taught by the famed Okane-ji of Mount Fuji. Indeed he was most pleased with my rapid progress through his workshop and offered me a position as his assistant. Fearing to spend any more time away from my ancestral watch, however, I declined.

Indeed I was right to fear such an absence. While I'd been away, the Kuno patriarch had gone insane, his wife had disappeared, and both the children had been… 'shook up', to put it politely. In truth, I didn't want to admit they were as crazed as their father was… now.

Oh! For the days when the Kuno name struck fear into the hearts of their enemies! When their equal prowess on the battlefield and in the intrigues of the Imperial courts won them their reputation! Perhaps… perhaps it was those accomplishments that led to their enemies dragging them down like a pack of scavengers.

Saotome, you look at me as if I were as insane as my masters. Yes, once the Kuno family was great. Now, all that is left of them is money and lunacy.

Although, the tradition of Strapping the Living Rabbit Upon the Kabuto was a good sign that not all was well…

Enough of such reminiscence. I shall move on with my tale.

Kuno-sama left two months later, which meant that I had to raise the children by myself. I was an indulgent 'father', teaching them whatever they were interested in -- honor and history to Tatewaki-sama, poisons and (some) ninja tricks to Kodachi-sama -- but they soon saw that I was a lower rank then they, and they found much pleasure in ordering me to get them priceless objects or allow them to do things that I knew were harmful. It was an intolerable situation for a 'parent' to be in.

I sought a method of gaining control over them, and found only one: to become a lord such as they were. But… but… I was a ninja! Such people could not gain rank!

Then I heard rumors that the ninja clans all across the land were gathering, looking to elect the next "Ninja Lord". It was a mock title, of course, used only as a cheap fill-in joke; but it was a title nonetheless, and I was desperate after the… incident with the Tabasco sauce, the hedgehog, and the visiting magistrate.

So I took leave, traveled to the Shinobi Moot, and presented myself as the Sarukagure candidate. I took the test, making it through all the trials with ease… until I came to the Inconveniencing. Then, I failed, and my failure was expressed for all to see: as super-deformation.

So I traveled back to my home in shame, and was helpless to do anything but watch as the Kuno family spiraled down further and further…

Ranma stared at Sasuke as he wrapped up his tale. "Riiight…"

Xelloss said angrily, "Golly gee, all that's fine and dandy, but how in John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmitt’s name are we supposed to reverse this silly little curse? You did it."

Sasuke started laughing madly. "Ah… hee… if only I'd… realized…" After a few moments, he recovered his composure, but there was still a mad gleam in his eyes. "It's really very simple. All you have to do is accept what the Keepers showed you could be true."

"NO WAY!" Xelloss and Ukyou shouted in unison. Ukyou followed this up by scuttling over to Ranma and hugging his arm.

"Ranchan's my Ranchan!"

"Oh, is he?"

All the people in the room turned to look at the doorway, where a young woman was wearing a slight frown. Kasumi held up a basket, and the frown turned… upside down. "I brought some nice breakfast for you all!"

Much chomping and scarfing followed her simple pronouncement. It was interrupted only when Konatsu finished a bite and asked, "What about the others back at your house?"

Kasumi smiled. "Oh, that's no problem. Akane's cooking them breakfast!"

Ranma felt something lodge in his windpipe, but somehow, he was far more afraid for the others at the dojo than for himself. At least here he could motion frantically and hope someone helped him.

At the dojo, there would be no one to hear their screams…

As we have mentioned before, everything that is written anywhere dealing with any god is just metaphor, a filter for our puny senses so we don't hurt ourselves. A god is, by definition, simply too far above our level to understand.

So if I say that the Sea of Chaos answered Her phone, first making sure it was not the one marked "Help Line," we shouldn't read too much into it, should we? Of course, a realistic perspective is the last thing you should have when thinking about the gods…

"Yes, Who is it?"

A familiar voice asked tentatively, "Could I come over?"

The Sea of Chaos shrugged. It wasn't as if any other gods could cause trouble in Her world unless She let them. That made Her furious with the current situation all over again. Jusenkyo, You're such an idiot! If You weren't on what's likely to be Your deathbed… "Sure, come on over." Then, She frowned. I wonder who that was? She sounded familiar…

The knock came seconds later, and the Sea of Chaos swung the door open. "Um…"

A whirlwind slammed into Her and locked Its arms around Her waist. "Oh-I'm-so-glad-to-see-that-You're-all-right!"

The Sea of Chaos was almost knocked off Her feet, and Her ears rang with the speed at which the apparition babbled. Then, Her eyes refocused, and she said, "Jenni?"

Jenni, Adorable Incarnate, nodded, and Her expression brightened. "Oh, I'm so happy that You remember Me!" Then, it darkened again, and She sobbed out, "Oh, I'm sooo sorry!"

The Sea of Chaos had never been too comfortable dealing with Her Sister-Mother; after all, They hadn't seen each other in… oh… a very long time…

Relationships. Anyone who knows at least a little about gods know that their family trees fork somewhat less than a thirteenth-generation redneck's, and are tangled in ways that makes Internet law seem easy to understand by comparison. So let's just try to accept Their relationship and… erm, not think about it too hard, lest we have to go lie down for a little while.

Gently extricating Herself from Jenni's grasp, The Sea of Chaos said pleadingly, "Siis/Mooom!! Do You always have to… to… hug Me like that? It's embarrassing!"

Jenni shrugged. "I just get carried away by how incredibly CUTE I am!" She giggled, then frowned in thought. "What did I come here to do?"

The Sea of Chaos rolled Her eyes. "You said something about 'Being-so-glad-to-see-that-I'm-all-right!', or something similar."

"Oh, yeah!" Tears started gushing down Jenni's face. "Oh, I… I-didn't-mean-to-destroy-Your-world-and-I'm-so-sorry!"

It took The Sea of Chaos a moment to decrypt this latest burst of information, but the moment She did, a frown split Her face. "What do you mean, 'destroy-My-world'?"

Jenni stopped crying and tilted Her head to one side. "Well, I didn't really understand all the parts with big words, but Order said that He's going to crash Your world with some sort of power that You let slip onto Your world." She waggled Her finger at Her Sister-Daughter. "Didn't You learn anything from what happened to the nice fellow down the street and that awful One Ring?"

The Sea of Chaos raised a finger of Her own. "So why are You telling Me this? I thought You…"

Jenni sniffled again. "Because… because… all I wanted to do was make Your world cute! And if He plans to blow it up… it-won't-be-cute-at-all-although-it'll-make-a-BANG!-And-sparklies-will-fly-everywhere-and-it'll-be-sooooooooo-pretty-but-the-sparklies-won't-last-for-long-and-then You'll… You'll cry. And… I never could stand to see You cry." Speech done, She looked down.

The Sea of Chaos, taken more than a little aback, said uncertainly, "Jenni… I…"

Then, Jenni looked up and Her face crinkled in an adorable frown of disgust. "You're just sooo ugly when you cry! Watching You cry, I can't believe I'm related to You at all."

The Sea of Chaos felt Her hands twist into hamhooks. "SIS/MOM… WHY CAN'T YOU BE SERIOUS FOR MORE THAN TWO SECONDS!!!"


The kitchen is a battlefield.

Thus Akane Tendo believed, and it was with this always foremost in her mind did she cook; with valor, strength, speed, and discipline.

The fact that this approach didn't work didn't matter much to her; it just meant that she wasn't using enough valor, strength, speed, or discipline yet.

So thus it was that the whirlwind did descend upon the Tendo kitchen.

Lina nudged the panda next to her. "So, does it usually take this long to get food?"

It held up a sign. The service is usually much more prompt.

Nabiki looked at him angrily. "Uncle Saotome, I'll thank you to be a bit more circumspect in referring to my sister as a servant."

The panda managed to look very contrite as it motioned with another sign. I'm sorry.

Ryouga looked around. "Where's Akane?"

Nabiki shrugged. "I haven't seen her all day. Maybe she's sleeping in?"

Zelgadis stumbled into the room, scratching at his wiry hair. "Good morning, everyone." He yawned elaborately, covering his mouth with a hand that was… blue.

Lina pointed at him. "Hey, you're back to normal."

The chimera looked down at his arm. "You're right!" He danced an impromptu jig of joy, for once not caring who saw him break character.


When Doom's chime sounds, one doesn't expect it to sound like a cute teen holding a steamer full of rice in one hand.

Nabiki stood up and chuckled falsely. "Ahaha, er, I've, erm, got a tennis match I forgot about, gotta go!"

Akane, eyes narrowed, seized her sister's shoulder firmly. "Oh, no, dear sister. I spent all morning cooking this and you're going to at least try it." Nabiki sighed and sat back down, accepting her defeat gracelessly. She mentally composed a mantra, hoping it would focus her efforts to survive the coming meal. There is nothing to fear that Pepto-Bismol won't clear…

Akane sat down herself and placed the steamer of rice beside her. Opening it up, she got out a wooden spoon and said brightly, "Who wants some?"

"Oh! Oh! Me! Me!" As if that weren't hint enough, Lina held her bowl underneath Akane's nose. Akane blinked. Then smiled.

"How nice!"

The panda held up a sign. NO! Don't throw your life away!

Akane grabbed the sign and hit the panda as hard as she could, snapping the sign neatly. "Do you mind?!"

Ryouga rubbed the back of his head. "Um, Akane, he does -- kinda -- have a point…"

"Whaff gould fe wrong wiff diff?" Lina swallowed, then held out her bowl to Akane again. "It's delicious!" Then, Lina's face contorted in discomfort, her hand went to her stomach, and…

She belched. "Um, excuse me. Just ate a little too fast…"

The panda hastily scribbled on a sign, then held it up. NO WAY!!!!

Nabiki stared in a mix of horror and amazement. How did she just eat one of Akane's meals and grin? Her stomach must be as strong as cast iron! No… stronger! Didn't one of Akane's meals eat a hole in Kasumi's favorite pot? Or else, it's one of her… delayed effect concoctions…

Akane grinned pointedly at the panda and her sister. "Why, thank you so much!"

Lina looked up from her second bowl long enough to say, "Wait a sec. Where's Gourry? It isn't like him to miss a meal…"

The object of her curiosity wandered into the dining room, wearing a "Piyo-Piyo" apron and juggling dishes in both hands. "I've got the rest of it!"

Zelgadis, who'd been watching the drama unfolding with a detached expression, folded his arms across his chest and asked, "Since when have you been able to cook?"

Gourry said cheerfully, "Not a clue. What, did you actually expect me to remember?" Then, he nudged Akane and said, "But I saw that she needed some help, and I decided to jump right in! All for one, one for… someone or other!"

"Thank you very much, Gourry-sensei!" Akane beamed up at him as he set the dishes on the table and sat down beside her.

Lina absently noted a snapping sound from the vicinity of her fist. Looking at it, she saw that she'd snapped her chopsticks in two. Or, to be more accurate, she saw that she'd ground them into fine powder. What's with that… little girl… kissing up to Gourry? she thought, conveniently ignoring the fact that they were both probably the same age.

Genma spotted the opening and made for it as if it were a mile wide. First, the pickles. Next, the seaweed and the fish, scooped up in a single quick motion. Then, the rice, taken from the bowl still held loosely in one hand. And then…

The scream. "WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FOOD?!?!"

Genma grinned and let out an amused ‘gahorf’. This… Lina… had reacted almost as interestingly as his son.

"Who… the panda…" she whispered in shock. "How dare… DILL BRAND!!"

The panda never saw it coming.

The arc was perfect, and if Genma had been human, he would have been deprived of his humanity as he catapulted out of the open garden door and into the pond. As he wasn't, all it did was make him wet and smelly. And angry.

Genma jumped out of the pond and assumed a ready stance. Lina rolled up one sleeve and grinned. "Just what I needed this morning. If you want some… RAYWING!… I'll give you some!"

Jusendo. The center of power. The tap into the energy of Change.

The young woman that had been Amelia, that might yet again be Amelia if all went well, bathed in Jusendo and the power that flowed from it.

The objects that had once been the Keys, that would never again be the Keys if they had their way, bathed in Jusendo as well, reveling in rejoining the powers of Change that they had been birthed from.

And they planned…

"How will he attack?" Amelia wondered aloud. "When will he come?" She clutched the Keys closer. "He wants these, but can he use them? Has Order's power changed him that much? Can Order tap into my energies at all?"

Amelia didn't know. Neither did the Keys. That didn't mean either was willing to take any chances.

Maybe what they'd done to Jusenkyou had been a bit extreme. But…

"Order is far stronger than Change right now. The Wheel has turned, and I'm on the downside. When did this happen? Is He augmented with Someone else's power? Cooperation is Order's strong point…"

Once again, they didn't know, and all the speculation was certainly useless; but they would defend their world together, as a Hero would.

"FLARE ARROW! Grrr… Missed again! BURST RONDO! Dammit! How does he dodge like that? FIREB… no, no, willpower, Lina, don't destroy the house… GUNS'N'RO… Wait, wrong series… ARRRGH! Forget it! CHARGE!"

Lina had discovered something about pandas that can bounce around like jumping beans on amphetamines: they were very hard to hit with precision spells. And as she'd already precluded the use of area-effect magicks (an unusual restraint on her part) because she wasn't sure how the Tendos would react to having their home leveled to the ground and she, for once, didn't want to be an inconsiderate guest.

Little did she know that they were quite used to that sort of thing, but that's neither here nor there. So, having no other recourse, she moved in, leading with her right.

Lina's skills in hand-to-hand were of the rough, practical sort, having been taught to her from the none-to-gentle hands of her sister and her mother, and refined in the occasional brawl with bandits when nothing but the feeling of someone's face under your fist would do.

Genma's skills in hand-to-hand were of the perfected, masterful sort that can only come from decades of practicing the Art and a natural ability and grace that can't be taken away, even by a pronounced stoutness about the tummy. Add to these the strength of a panda bear…

It was dead even well into the third quarter, with the distinct possibility for overtime.

Nabiki, Akane, Ryouga, and Soun Tendo all watched the ensuing carnage with the mix of fascination and boredom that can only come from watching the endless parade of martial artists invade, fight, and get beaten every time by Ranma.

Zelgadis and Gourry both watched the ensuing carnage with the mix of fascination and boredom that can only come from watching Lina Inverse do this sort of thing at least once a week.

It was this scene that Ranma Saotome, having leapt his way across the roofs of Nerima at some risk to his still-healing ribs, stumbled upon. He stopped on the roof of the Tendo's gate, something about the whole thing nagging him…

Zelgadis said cynically, "The panda's good, but the smart money's on Lina."

Soun turned. "I'll take that bet!"

Nabiki turned and said, "Daaa-ddy!" Soun hung his head down, until Nabiki added, "Twelve-to-one odds on Uncle Saotome, Father. Don't be a fool."

"But why? He's a major character, he's bound to win!"

Gourry raised one finger. "HA! So is Lina!"

Zelgadis rubbed his chin. "That means that, basically, the odds are…"

"Fifty-fifty." Akane shrugged.

Ryouga shook his head. "No, no, no! You're all forgetting something."

"What's that?"

"Mr. Saotome is always the comic relief! He never wins a fight!"

Soun gasped. "You're right!" He turned to the chimera. "Umm… do-over on that bet?"

Zelgadis shook his head. "No do-overs."

Nabiki raised a finger of her own. "Ah, but you all forget something else entirely. Ever since his promotion to the Mastership of the Anything-Goes school, the amount of angst and internal questioning he's been having qualify him for a role above mere comic relief."

Zelgadis gasped himself as this subject hit close to home. "A-angst? Internal questioning? He's been wondering what his purpose is in life, and if there's anything beyond this?" At Nabiki's silent nod, he turned to Soun and asked, "Do-over on that bet?"

Soun shook his head. "No do-overs."

At that moment, Ranma leapt between the panda and the sorceress, pushing them apart with perhaps a bit more force than necessary. "Pops, why ya always gotta…"


Without taking his hands away, Ranma looked over his shoulder at Akane, who'd just yelled at him for no apparent reason. "What? What? WHAT?! Why the heck are you yellin' at me NOW?!"


Ranma looked over at the hand he'd placed firmly against his father's chest to restrain him just in case the old man tried something. Though there was something about the way his father was grinning that unnerved him…

Wait a sec. Hand… against… chest? Already knowing what he'd see, fearing to even move, lest it set in motion the machine of feminine wrath he knew awaited him, Ranma looked down at his left hand.

Which he'd placed firmly against Lina's chest to restrain her in case she tried something.

Ranma snatched his hand from Genma's chest to point at Lina. "This ain't, er, what it seems…"

Lina's fist impacted Ranma's face. "If you're almost finished, I think that girl with the short hair wants to tell you something with the hammer she's holding."

Ranma was stricken with a sudden sense of deja vu, just before he was stricken with something much heavier that hurt quite a bit more.

Gosunkugi sat in his dark, terrifying lab, pondering the darkest, the strangest, the least understandable mysteries the universe had ever revealed to the minds of men.

He threw aside his copy of the Pnakotic Manuscript that he'd only been studying half-heartedly anyway and shouted out, "WHY!? Tell me why! I've got incredible cosmic power, I'm attractive in a Goth, consumptive way, and I wear black all the time, so tell me why I can't get a girlfriend!"

His eyes narrowed as a thought struck him suddenly. "I know what to do… I'll just make my own!" He pulled out a pad of paper and began scribbling arcane sigils and abstracted runes. "Let's see… as a base template… I like the way Akane Tendo looks, so let's use that. Can't make her exactly the same though… might give rise to identity crises within the copy… I'll give her red hair! Wow! I bet Akane would look even better with red hair! And as for a name…" He held up the pad, by now covered, and said softly, "Akemi. Perfect."

Gosunkugi looked at the pad for a moment, then ripped the sheet of paper off the pad, balled it up, and tossed it into the corner wastebasket, which had one of those little basketball hoops over it. "Naah. I mean, create my own girlfriend? How pathetic would that be?" He chuckled. "Man, I'd have to sink pretty low… now, maybe an charm to make me six feet tall and as buff as Ranma, on the other hand…"

The patrons of the Bilge-Water Inn (named, some said, for the alcohol it served, but the bartender argued against that supposition quite eloquently with the club he kept under the counter) were used to the lowest of the low. The absolute scummiest of the scum that ringed a bathtub which was never, could never, be cleansed.

So when two hot leather-clad chicks sauntered into the bar late Friday night, the sheer enigma of it kept the twenty-seven males in the bar from reacting for nearly forty-three seconds.

It didn't last forever. Three-Fingered-Discount Rimoki (named not only for his hobby but for what it'd cost him) stood up as they passed his chair on their way to the bar. "Hey ba-"

The casual backhand that probably broke his jaw was an effective "No."

The bartender, whom for reasons best not explained was known as the Flaming Forfeit, wiped his hands with the little towel he'd been given upon graduating from bartender's school. "What k'n I getcha, ladies?"

The shorter one motioned to the taller one. "Something with as much alcohol in it as you've got for her, but I lost the bet so I'll just have flavored sugar water, preferably carbonated." She added as an afterthought, "We'll require one of your rooms as well."

The Flaming Forfeit blinked, then said, "Sure t'ing, sugar." After some pouring and stirring, he worked up enough courage to ask, "Why ain't yer… uh, friend, said anythin'?"

The shorter woman blinked, then chuckled. "My dear man, we decided that only one of us would be able to speak today."


"Because two goddesses speaking at once would be too much for your poor minds to take!" The shorter woman raised one hand to her mouth, took a deep breath, and… "OHO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO!"

And her taller companion laughed at the same time as she, as though they were linked…

The Flaming Forfeit, thinking it was safe to take his fingers from his ears after their mouths stopped moving, did so and asked, "Erm… yeah, sure. So… why d'ya want a room, anyway?"

As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew that it had been a foolish thing to ask. But the shorter woman just brushed an invisible speck off her black corset and said, "Because we've got to plan out how we're going to approach the man we love."

"You two aren't, er, uh…" The Flaming Forfeit floundered about for a politically correct metaphor, because he was watching Three-Fingered Discount Rimoki finger his jaw and whimper over the shorter one's shoulders and he had no urge to suffer the same fate. The taller one grinned and nudged the shorter's shoulders, and the shorter one grinned as well.

"Oh, I assure you that we aren't. We're just hetero lifemates looking for our love, Ranma! OHO HO HO HO HO HO HO!!"

His fingers flew to his ears, but he was too slow, and a slight trickle of blood seeped out of his ear canals. The only thing he could do was send up a prayer for this poor Ranma's soul. Wherever he was, it had to be better than here.

Ling-Ling, staggering slightly despite the staff she was using to prop herself up, bumped into something that knocked her from her feet. Looking up, it took her a moment to focus her eyes on the object she'd bumped into. Once she did, she jumped to her feet and screamed "YES!!"

Her sister, who'd came to a shambling halt a few steps past, asked irritably, "Why are you making all that noise? My head hurts."

"Because we're HERE!"

"Well, of course we're here. Where else would we be?"

Ling-Ling grabbed Lung-Lung's shoulders and pointed her at the sign. "Read!"

"You know my Japanese isn't very good…" Then, she got a good look at the sign, and let out her own shout of victory. "We're here!"

"Finally! We've reached…"

Lung-Lung searched her pocket for a moment, then pulled out a letter that had obviously seen better days. She stared at the address and breathed, "Nerima…"

The Jusenkyou guide was a bit worried; for it seemed that he'd been put out of business.

As he prodded the bottom of one of the empty pools with a bamboo pole, he could only say two words:

"Oh boy…"


To be continued.

Author’s Notes: Well, that was fun! Now all four of the people who read me will finally get off my back for a while.

Aww, just kidding… I know there's only three of you.

First order of business: Babblin' Joe's line explanation. Just the really obscure ones…

1) "There is no Teriyaki, only Zuul."

From the Varaiyah Cycle, by Mike Loader. Still one of the funniest fanfics I've ever read.

2) "Oh freddled gruntbuggly?"

Vogon poetry. The less said (or read) the better.

2) "All your base are belong…"

This line has a distinct history with me. Despite the fact that I've been told the name of the game SIX times, and had the line explained to me as many, I still can't remember the name of the game, and the explanation didn't stick until the last time…

3) "ixnay onay amelay ineslay."

It's Pig Latin. I don't like using 'common' jokes without making fun of them somehow.

What's up with Amelia and the Keys? Well, I need some kind of buildup to the final confrontation. It's called foreshadowing, and I like that sort of thing a lot.

The Gosunkugi scene? Erm… if you don't know, look for Putting Your Heart in the Right Place, by John Walter Biles. Jeez, looking at this, one would think all my ideas come from other fanfic authors… And I talk about other people being lame.

But that's just maudlin thinking again. No negative thinking! Onward to the future! Etcetera, etcetera…

Naga and Kodachi, hetero lifemates? What's up with that? Could it be a ref to the Ambiguously Gay Duo? Or maybe, Jay and Silent Bob? To the disappointment of perverts (including myself) everywhere, I'll have to say Jay and Silent Bob.

I'm sorry about not using your title, Xelloss. But I've already used my Wizard of Oz title, and I'm trying to get new ideas into the mix.

Part 8
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