A Ranma ½ / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon crossover story
by Benjamin A. Oliver
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.
[Begin Part Seven.]
Furinkan High's bell rang and, like a deranged Pavlovian experiment, the students shuffled out of their classrooms. Some had the zombie-like expressions of those that had just heard the loud swishing noise of their future being heartlessly flushed down the toilet after the last test results were made public.
Not Ranma, though, who was still in shock from the discovery of what some of his teachers were like. In the short time that he had attended Furinkan, the school leadership had gone through teachers faster than a shoujo anime villain goes through his lackeys. Rei insisted that the few more or less normal ones that had been in before were merely substitutes who usually worked at Juuban Junior High or over at the White Dove Academy. The young man hadn't thought to ask why elementary and Junior High teachers had been assigned to work at a High School. Actually, he'd also decided not to ask about a lot of what was going on.
Questions that Ranma had decided not to ask included things like, "Hey, why is that vice-principal covered in black armor and an all-concealing breathing mask?" and "What does that tentacled thing teach?" not to mention "Why do I have to memorize the steps for creating a monster from scratch in a lab environment?"
If put on the spot and asked how he would feel about attending a school with all of these odd random factors, his response would have been something along the lines of a long and loud chuckle.
Of course, that would have been long before the oddity of the Jusenkyo curse came into play. Actually, he remembered that someone had asked him that very question a long time ago — some fanged guy that was always whining about bread or tortillas or something stupid like that. Hey, that was Ryouga, Ranma realized. He wondered what had happened to his old friend and rival after Hotaru-sensei blew him away.
Ranma walked toward the lunch room alongside Rei, idly noting to himself among his other mental processes that eating outdoors wouldn't be a good idea right now since another one of those freak rain storms had started. Lightning occasionally flashed through the windows and a low rumbling could be felt and heard now and again.
Rei turned to him and said, "Oh, on your way out this morning, did you remember to pick up the lunch Setsuna said she made for you?"
Ranma looked at her quizzically and asked, "She made me a lunch?"
"Oh." Displeased comprehension quickly filled the girl's face. After a moment, though, she shrugged and laughed softly. "Well, then I hope you brought money today."
The boy held up his hands in a wide gesture that meant he was completely unconcerned. "Yeah, I'll just buy it, like last time." Suddenly, he noticed that he was very alone in the hallway. "Huh?"
He heard a gasp beside him and Rei withdrew. Then, for no readily apparent reason, a large bucket of water was flung out of an indoor classroom window, directly into Ranma's face, soaking her elegant white dress through and through. The pigtailed blonde groaned for a second with her eyes closed, then ran a hand through her bangs. "What the… WHY?!" she shouted out in a loud, high-pitched voice, angrily squeezing some of the moisture out of the clinging top part of her dress.
Against the opposite wall, Rei covered her mouth, giggling to herself when all the flash bulbs from the cameras went off.
"Hey, what—!?" Ranma cried out, then turned and glared at her, allowing all the representatives from the school newspaper, the Furinkan Grand Inquisitor, to run off. "Rei! Why are you laughing and pointing at me?!"
"Because you look so funny!" the dark-haired girl replied honestly, desperately trying, but failing, to disarm her explosive smirk.
A teacher in the classroom where the water came from pushed the door open, holding a student by his ear, shouting, "No, no, NO! Not into the HALLWAY! When I asked you to throw the water out of the window, I meant an window leading OUTSIDE!" He shoved the clumsy boy's face in front of Ranma and whispered to the boy, "Gosunkugi-san, apologize to this lovely young lady, right now!"
"Ermh, I, I, I," the zombie-like individual stuttered, then flung himself down on his knees and pleaded with his hands held up in fear, "please don't hate me, Miss…" He paused, his gaze going from the girl's white slippers, then going past her long white skirt and slowly zeroing in on her face. He pounded on his forehead, trying to think of the name. "Pretty princess-like-lady in the white dress…" He trailed off again.
Ranma bristled a bit more at the adjectives and nouns being applied to her at the moment. They were, of course, quite accurate, but that was no reason to rub her nose in it. She unconsciously adopted a wide, furious, ultra-feminine stance with her hands on her hips as she glared down at the young man. "Grr…" Lightning from the storm outside flashed behind her.
Gosunkugi gasped and scooted back a little. "Y-y-you're that famous shapeshifting girl everyone's been writing about!" He quickly produced a pen and a writing tablet. "Can I have your autograph? I'm an editor for the school newspaper. Is it really true that you sometimes disguise yourself as this weird guy 'cause you're looking for your prince or…?" He stopped when the girl's expression and mood failed to improve. "What?"
"I'm a GUY, got it?!" Ranma replied, visibly irked.
The boy looked up at her with sleepless eyes that would have made a kicked puppy give up and start selling insurance. "What? Oh!" He bowed down several times in prostrated obeisance. "Right, I forgot that it was supposed to be a secret identity, Miss… I mean, Mister Saotome!"
Somewhat confused, the Moon Princess rubbed the yellow crescent mark on her forehead and stared down at Gosunkugi.
"Can I please have your autograph???" the zombie-boy pleaded.
Ranma would have needed a few minutes to be sure of what she should have done. She would have been able to piece together the evidence and been able to tell that Gosunkugi's actions didn't merit a beating, nor would she have thought it necessary to hand over her signature to a complete stranger. However, not really knowing what else to do, she signed her name in Kanji, handed back the tablet, then drew back her small fist, preparing to pummel the boy.
Rei put a hand on the shoulder of the princess's frilled dress, stopping the unnecessary carnage before it began. "He's harmless," she noted. "Usually. Look, just let it go, okay?"
Ranma threw up her arms, giving up. "Oh, all right!" In a very lady-like manner, she twirled around, her ankle-length skirt swishing as she resumed her walk with Rei toward the lunchroom. "Hey, stop laughing already! I'll bet nobody else gets soaked like this on a regular school day…"
Usagi ran with her bookbag over her head in a failed effort to keep herself from getting drenched in the rain. Luna followed close behind.
*Boom* Crash!* Lightning flashed and thunder roared in the background.
The blonde jumped in fright. "I HATE LIGHTNING!!!" she whined loudly, her cries nearly drowned out by the torrents of water splashing around her. "Luuunaaaa, I'm getting wet and I'm getting tired and — I wanna go hoooooooooomeeeeeeeeee!!!"
"I'm not enjoying this any more than you are!" Luna replied. "But this is important! We have to get to the Moon Princess! Who knows how long before she gets attacked again?!"
Usagi pouted, looking and feeling cold and miserable as she continued to run.
"We're almost there!" Luna peered up at the teenager. "Well, if you can't stand being all wet, then you can go ahead and transform! Your powers can protect you from the weather."
The cat's statement instantly caused Usagi to come to a screeching halt, which was an odd way of doing so, because that very adjective could easily be applied to the tone of voice the girl used as she glared at her kitty-advisor and politely asked — at a volume jackhammers would envy — "IT CAN!? WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY THAT EARLIER?!"
"Er…" Luna visibly cringed and began eyeing the terrain for likely escape routes…
As luck would have it, there was no hot water easily available in Furinkan High that day. Rei and Ranma checked the bathrooms, but apparently the boilers had gone out and several of the water lines had been damaged from an incident earlier that morning.
"We're working as fast as we can," irritably explained a maintenance worker from atop a tall ladder. He peered down at the blonde, who seemed a little too anxious to get her precious hot water. "So what? You'll have to take a cold shower for P.E." He shook his head while banging on a pipe with a wrench. "Grow up, girl!"
Ranma clenched a fist, then her shoulders slumped. She let out a heavy sigh and turned away.
"And buy a uniform!" the surly faculty member called down. "This ain't ballroom dancing, you know!"
During the short walk, the blonde's dress somehow managed to completely dry itself off. In fact, her appearance had cleared up so much that she may as well have been wearing makeup and just come from a professional hair stylist. Nothing seemed out of place to anyone that saw her pass by. Ranma caught a glimpse of her reflection in a window with the right lighting. "Stupid magic," she muttered to herself, shifting uncomfortably in her gown.
Ranma met up with Rei at the doors to the lunchroom. "Any luck finding hot water???"
Rei nodded brightly. "Oh, sure, plenty of luck." Her expression fell. "All of it bad." She pointed at the doors. "Maybe we could ask someone to heat a little bit up for you. Or you could wait."
Ranma thought about it, then hung her head. "Oh, forget about it! I can wait, I can wait."
"Are you sure?"
"Sure, why not?"
Rei folded her arms. "Can you stand spending the entire lunch hour as a princess?"
Ranma didn't reply this time. She simply opened the doors and strode in, grumbling loudly to herself.
"Well," Rei considered, "since they sort of know already, I guess it won't be such a problem…"
*Crash!* Rumble-rumble* Outside, a bolt struck the school's lightning rod. Everyone winced at the sharp noise, and the lights flickered, but the effect was only momentary. When they caught sight of the lovely damsel who had just entered, a hush went over the students.
Like a gigantic national press conference, the entire room lit up with camera flashes. Young men and women with tape recorders dashed toward their quarry, simultaneously balancing pencils and notebooks under their arms while sipping the last bits of their juice and milk.
"Princess-lady, princess-lady!" one reporter cried, shoving a microphone into Ranma's face. "Is it true that you're looking for your prince?"
"Or is it another princess you're after?" another asked.
"Stand right there for just a second!" A young man in a suit, a candidate for Freshman Class President, put his arm around the girl's shoulder and had one of his associates take a picture of him shaking hands with her. "Thanks!"
"Hey!" Totally bedazzled by the flashes, Ranma covered her eyes and tried to regain her bearings.
"We're still burning to know this one important question: What are the princess's measurements? If you'll excuse me, I'll take them right now. Hmmm, nice…"
*WHAM!* "GET OFFA ME ALREADY, WILL YA?!!" Ranma yelled as she smacked the reporters away and off her. She stood for a moment in the circle she had cleared, hyperventilating in rage.
One of the reporters had crashed up against the opposite wall. He slid down and landed his head on the floor before falling with a dull thud. "Ungh!" Grimacing, but with a hint of a smile, he triumphantly held up a measuring tape. "All right, it's confirmed, people! Ninety-three centimeters on the bustline! Repeat: ninety-three centimeters on the bustline!"
"Ooooh," many in the large room awed, scribbling it down on their notepads. "I'm jealous," one noted.
Rei winced, thanking her great, sainted morning bowl of lucky charms that she wasn't quite that popular at school yet. "Ouch… This didn't happen last time. But then again, he was a boy then."
The reporters regrouped like a swarm of northern Canadian mosquitoes, going in to suck the last bits of life from their helpless victim.
*WHOOSH!* WHACK-WHACK-WHACK!* A rush of air whipped past the approaching news anchors, driving them away from the Moon Princess. Several tried to resist, but they were finally each driven down by the sharp smack of a bokken to the base of the neck.
When the dust cleared, Kuno Tatewaki stood in front of Ranma, his wooden sword raised, ready to strike. "Whosoever," he began in an antique accent, "chooses to molest the sweet princess, whom I have vowed to serve, whose name was revealed to me as Serenity, whose beauty is like the petal of a white rose…"
Ranma's jaw dropped slightly and her left eye started to twitch while Kuno applied a few more adjectives like "exquisite" and "lovely" and used a few more similes such as "whose sweet breath is like unto the pollen of the honeysuckle."
"…shall suffer the wrath of the Great Blue Thunder and Rolling Stone of Furinkan High!" Kuno shifted his grip, brandishing his weapon. "Who dares to accept the challenge?"
A couple of boys raised their hands. Their girlfriends quickly smacked them down.
"None?" asked the Blue Thunder. "Then my work here is done." He turned around and knelt down before Ranma, in a definite gesture of absolute servitude. "And now, my Osage no Hime, what shall I do to better serve thee? Shall I continue my training efforts such that I may thwart those that would seek to blemish thy flawless complexion?"
Ranma scratched her head for a second, her eyesight slowly returning. "Uh, yeah, you go do that."
Kuno stood and clenched his fist to his heart. "'Twould be an honor!" He began to leave. He passed by Rei. "Ah, has the wicked, but beauteous, sorceress yet repented and decided to date with me?" The girl just stared at him. "Alas, no. Fear not, I shall return with the proper skills to banish the evil from thy soul! Farewell, my charges!" With that, he exited the room and departed for places unknown.
Rei approached Ranma from behind. Ranma turned toward her and saw that she wore a neutral expression. "What? Didn't you just see that?!"
The part-time Shinto priestess nodded slowly, then when her resolve failed, she burst out laughing. "Oh, I saw it all right, 'your exquisiteness!'" She started to double over, completely unable to catch her breath. "Oh my goodness…"
Ranma pouted. "All right, all right, you can stop that now! Let's just have lunch, okay?!"
"Right," Rei said, starting to recover, leaning on the shorter girl for support. "We wouldn't want malnutrition to blemish your flawless complexion, now, would we, honeysuckle breath?" she added with an impish grin.
"Rei…" Ranma muttered, glaring at her. She desperately searched his mind for a decent comeback. "Yeah, well, 'wicked but beauteous sorceress,' why don't you use your magic to…" She paused. "Umm, to, like, something or other."
Rei shook her head, smiling at the blonde. "Sure, whatever." She dug through her bookbag and fished out a brown paper bag. "Well, I have my lunch. Time for you to buy yours."
"Yeah, I know, I know."
When Rei selected a table, Ranma walked toward the lunch line. She hunted around her dress in search for her wallet. A funny thing about the curse was that there was often no telling what would happen to any particular item about her person once she got splashed. Once, she had left a pen in her pocket. When the curse got activated, it turned into a long, white quill and a vial of ink, which wasted no time in spilling out and getting all over everything.
Surprisingly enough, she had never actually tried taking out her wallet while transformed. Therefore, one might imagine that she was quite shocked and alarmed when she pulled out a small, white, brass-inlaid silk purse. However, she was more surprised upon the discovery at what the bills had become.
"Er, this isn't legal tender," the school shop clerk said, waving around the printed parchment script. "It might be wherever you come from, but, I'm sorry…"
Ranma refused the offers of nearby nerdy fanboys to buy her lunch. She didn't like their goofy grins, nor the cameras and the measuring tape that they were trying to hide behind their backs. So, she walked back to the circular table where Rei was and sat down, staring at the transformed yen, which absolutely refused to change back.
"Oooh, tough break, Ranma," Rei noted sympathetically, looking over at the scrap on the table. She had already eaten most of her food. "I've got some crackers left, if you want them…"
Ranma nodded, and reached for them.
"Odango!" a deep female voice from behind Ranma greeted cheerfully. "My, you're certainly dressed up this afternude — I mean, afternoon. For me, I imagine?"
"Hmm?" Ranma looked up. "Oh, hi, Haruka."
The tall, masculinely-dressed blonde peered down at her. "Why so glum? Not feeling very well?"
"Ranma didn't pick up the lunch Setsuna made for him," Rei explained to her sister. "That's why he's looking so down. And all I had left over were some crackers."
Tendo Haruka smiled gallantly. "Well, Odango," she said, sliding a seat closer to the princess and deftly slipping an arm about her upper-back. "Don't worry about lunch," she whispered seductively, "You can have some of mine."
As if with a wave of her arm, Haruka unfurled a large, western-style meal, complete with a knife and fork, a steamy steak, mashed potatoes, and a pair of large, soft, buttery dinner rolls.
"Uh," Ranma began uncertainly, somehow managing to completely ignore the gravity of the situation. In the back of her head, a small neuron suggested that having lunch with Haruka might not be such a good idea. When accosted and asked to produce a reason, the nerve connection explained the entire situation in full, along with a few predicted scenarios of the outcome. The rest of the martial artist's mind, however, was filled with the images of the rather delectable eatables before her. "Sure!" she finally finished with a shrug, her eyes not departing from the meal.
Rei stood up, covering her mouth, her cheeks indicating that she was about to lose control and chuckle wildly again. "Well, excuse me. I need to go catch up on my, um, studies. Yeah, that's it." She walked off to another table and sat down, right by Gosunkugi. He inched away in half-fear, half-rapture. "So, Gos, how's it going with the newspaper?"
As lunchtime went on, it turned out that Ranma agreed with one of Haruka's suggestions to not share the fork. She tried to eat what she could with the spoon, but for the larger and more solid bits, the tall woman elegantly cut them up and lifted them to the magically-created princess's mouth.
"Um, are you sure it's no problem?" Ranma asked while munching on the last morsel while Haruka withdrew the fork.
"For you," Haruka whispered, "it's no trouble at all."
"Why aren't you using chopsticks?"
"Well, the steak may be tender, but to do it properly, one must use a little more… force."
Haruka gave her another bite, since she was still the only one of the two with access to a fork.
"Mmm, thanks a lot, Haruka. I mean, I'd hate to go without lunch." Ranma paused. "Uh, you don't have to be feeding me like that."
Haruka stayed close — perhaps a little too close — to the smaller girl. "Why, Odango, you're quite welcome. And don't worry about it."
"Why are you acting so nice all of the sudden, and why is Rei slumped over, pounding on that table?" The ponytailed princess blinked hard. "Wow, she's still laughing. What happened earlier wasn't that funny, was it? And why is everyone staring at us?"
"They just can't get enough of your good looks," Haruka noted. Softer, she added, "Nor can I…"
"What was that?" Ranma asked, turning toward her, suddenly discovering that her face was only a few centimeters away from Haruka's. "Uh, you don't have to get so close…" She tried to back away.
"Ah, but you must be cold from being so wet and walking around for so long. Let me help you warm up a little more."
"Er, I'm fine, really! You really don't have to…"
Into the room walked a woman with shoulder-length blue-green hair. When she saw who Haruka was sitting with, she gasped and dropped her books. Then, she marched with a very determined expression toward the table at which they were sitting. "Well, it would seem you two have become, shall we say, a little bit closer, haven't we?"
"Michiru!" Haruka breathed, releasing Ranma and putting a hand on her own hip. "I didn't think you were going to be able to make it today."
"I managed," Kuno Michiru replied in a calm, refined voice. "Now, will you please explain yourselves?"
"What?" Ranma asked. "Oh, this? She was sharing her lunch—"
"Why?" Haruka interrupted, not losing her grin. "You aren't jealous, are you?"
Michiru tensed for a moment, then relaxed and tossed her head. "Well, perhaps a little." Slowly, cautiously, and with seemingly with a minimum of effort, she slid Ranma's chair away from Haruka, around to the other side of the table. Nodding with faint satisfaction, she took another chair and sat down beside them.
Ranma watched her curiously.
Michiru shot Haruka a stiff gaze. In reply, Haruka chuckled softly and held up her hands as if to say, "Hey, I didn't mean anything by it."
After a short, unspoken conversation, Michiru turned toward the ponytailed girl and put her fingers to her chin, forming a small triangle. "We did not have much of a chance to speak last time we met." It was a simple statement, without much inflection.
"No, we didn't, did we?" Ranma replied, trying to remember when he had last saw the new girl's face. "Oh! Right, you're that kendoist's brother, aren't you?"
Michiru nodded. "He has taken quite a shine to you. Take care that you do not disappoint him." It would have taken a recording studio and trained staff a week to detect the warning in her voice.
"Do you go to school here?" Ranma asked. "I don't see you around."
"Oh, so you're visiting?"
"Saint Hebereke. That is all you need to know."
"That's a secret."
Ranma frowned and rubbed the back of her neck. "Okay…"
"You are supposedly a competent martial artist?" Michiru fired off a question.
"Yeah, I'm a GREAT martial artist!" Ranma asserted, her tone suddenly quite defensive. "I'm the BEST!"
"Ah, I see. The best. Then how is it," Michiru continued, "that you were unable to defend yourself from that one man that attacked you and Tachi a few days ago?"
Ranma's face went blank for a second. "Tachi?" The section of her brain responsible for analyzing the uses and functions of nicknames received a nudge and switched itself on. "Oh! Kuno."
"Yes, with him. How was it that this 'Jadeite' beat you if you are as strong as you say?"
"Er…" Ranma turned red. "He surprised me? I was a girl at the time? I hadn't warmed up? All the stars were aligning themselves against me?"
The refined young lady nodded. "Ah, I understand. You will be prepared on the next occasion when such a thing happens?"
The petite princess nodded emphatically. "Hoo-yeah, I'll be ready! Just watch me take that guy down!"
"Hmm. Then you do not wish to have our help with improving your skills?"
Ranma stopped. "Umm! Well, maybe just a little. You could show me how you did those ki-blasts. You know, just once or twice."
Michiru smiled. "With great pleasure." She lifted a hand, which started to glow with her faint blue ki. "Kaikou," she whispered, moving her hand toward the pigtailed girl's face, "Kan—"
Haruka quickly pulled down Michiru's glowing hand. "Heh, not like that." She looked into Ranma's eyes. "So, you do want to learn it."
"Yeah," Ranma replied instantly. She made a mental exercise out of mimicking Michiru's expression. Outwardly, she was as calm and collected as the other girl. Inwardly, though, she was screaming, "YES!!! YES, HOO-YEAH, DO I EVER WANNA LEARN THAT SWEET KI-BLASTIN', BABY!!! WOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
"It's just that I've never really seen it done, close up, so I haven't been able to learn it," Ranma explained in monotone.
"That's all right," Michiru said. "We will train you. But first, I'd like to see some of your credentials. To master what we've achieved is very strenuous training. You need a certain level of natural talent to begin with. How do we know that you will not simply keel over one minute after we start?"
"Well," Ranma added, "I've been training for almost my entire life so I can be the greatest martial artist in the world."
"And who has been training you? Masters of various styles?"
"No, just my pop."
Haruka slapped her forehead, the noise of which echoed throughout the entire room. "Just HIM?!" With a very pained expression, she looked down, buried her face in her hands, and groaned. "Ugh. Odango, and here I thought you had so much potential."
Ranma ignored Haruka's outburst, her attention focused entirely on combating Michiru's difficult-to-look-at gaze.
Michiru's eyes seemed to sparkle. "I see. He is this 'Genma' character I've heard so much about?"
"Yeah, that's him."
"You're not ready," Michiru stated flatly.
"What she means to say," Haruka cut in, taking several breaths to recover her composure, "is that you'll need a bit more preparation than just training under him for a few years."
"Hey, Pop's a good martial artist! And I'm even better than he is." Ranma stood up and waved for Gosunkugi to come forward. "Watch."
"Have you forgiven me yet?" the zombie-eyed-boy asked.
The girl in the sparkling white gown shook her head. "Nope! Can I beat you up?"
Gosunkugi nodded. "Yes, I deserve it!" He closed his eyes.
*BAM-POW-THWACKK!* In a fluid motion, Ranma smacked him to the floor, booted him into the air, then leapt up and punched him into the opposite wall. He fell out of the indentation he made in the previously flat surface and some other students rushed toward him to check on the damage.
"Wow, he's still alive!" one noted in genuine surprise.
"Thank you, princess-lady!" Gosunkugi groaned. "May I have another?"
"How's that?" Ranma asked, her arms folded across her chest.
"That student has no skill to speak of," Michiru said. "This proves nothing."
"Well, maybe I can ask that kendoist, whats-his-name, to fight me for a bit?"
"Don't even think about hurting my brother."
"She's a little protective of him," Haruka explained.
"HOW can I prove myself, then?" Ranma asked impatiently. "Do I have to, like, beat you in an unarmed, no holds barred duel to the death in a big steel cage?!"
Michiru considered this. "That can be arranged, yes. Though I doubt you'll last very long."
Ranma pointed a finger across the table at her. "Yeah? You just wait. I'll take ya down in no time flat!"
With one arm held sheepishly behind her neck, Haruka waved at them. "Girls, girls. There's no need to fight just yet."
Michiru glanced at her. "Yes, there is."
Ranma nodded in agreement. "Yeah!"
Haruka chuckled, half at herself and half at the others. "How about, instead of killing each other to prove who's more woman," she paused and grinned at Ranma's glare, "or man, we could go easy on you while doing the training in exchange for some kind of fee."
Michiru sat down and folded her arms, attempting not to look like she felt emotionally threatened by the blonde's presence. "Yes, that would be appropriate."
Ranma backed down and thought for a second. "Okay, how much?"
"It's not that easy," Michiru said. "You see, we have plenty of money."
The pigtailed princess bit her lip, not quite sure where the conversation was going. "So…?"
"We'll gladly train you," Haruka added, "if you can bring us a—"
"A big diamond? A birth certificate? A pot of gold? A firstborn child? A shrubbery?"
Michiru shook her head. "No, more like something magical."
"Magical? Like 'hocus-pocus' magical or poof, 'Aaah! I'm a girl' magical?"
"A magic sword, for example."
"We are, shall we say, collectors of talismans."
Ranma blinked. "Oh. Well…" The ponytailed girl hunted around in her clothes. "Let's see…" She pulled out a pink and red scepter and placed it on the table. "I got this cute rod — the guide said it was from this magical kingdom a thousand years ago. And, lessee…"
She produced a large, multifaceted silver-colored gem. "Don't tell anyone, but I was crying this morning after a cat got after me and this thing just appeared in front of me."
Next, she placed on the table a golden chalice with several layers of decorations and wing-things. "And I don't know WHERE I got this thing from."
Michiru watched silently while Haruka boggled at the multitude of objects being stacked before them.
Ranma withdrew a few stylized pens with planetary symbols on them and put them in the growing pile. "I think someone called these hentai sticks or henshin sticks or something — no, don't ask me where I got all this girly stuff. Oh! Here's something." She took out a golden ring with glowing red writing on it. "One Ring to Rule Them All, One Ring to Bind Them…" She stared at the others with her now-hardened expression, her eyes speaking volumes of warning and danger. "I never used this, but the guy said it makes people invisible, invincible, and holds within it the power of Sauron, the—"
Michiru coughed in surprise. "Ah, umm, er…" She gathered her resolve and cleared her throat. "Ranma, for someone who needs to travel light, you're certainly a pack rat."
"So are these any good for ya?" Ranma asked with a grin.
Michiru visibly deflated, running her fingers through her shoulder-length hair while her face went through a series of mixed emotions. She slowly shook her head as she closely examined the items in question. She picked up the rod, then set it back down, and tapped a couple of the other objects. Finally, she looked straight into the Moon Princess's eyes and said, "I'm sorry, Ranma. It's all a bunch of worthless junk." She sighed and, in a fluid one-armed motion, shoved the pile off the table, directly into a large garbage can.
Ranma blinked, a bit disappointed. "Oh…"
"It will be best if these are put in a more appropriate place, like the dump," Michiru said with a hint of disdain.
A student on cleaning duty came by and started to drag off the can. Ranma's hand went out and caught the handle. "Hey!" she said. "I need to pawn these!" She pulled out the Holy Grail and looked at it. "Been drinking my tea outta this thing…"
The student nodded several times, threw his arm around the princess, had one of his friends take a snapshot, then dashed away, hooting and hollering triumphantly. "Woooooooooo!"
"Hey!" Ranma yelled after him. She started to stand, but Haruka pulled her back down.
The deep-voiced woman attempted an encouraging smile. "I guess you'll just have to accept the fact that you're not cut out for the level of martial arts that we train at."
"Yes, I am!" Ranma insisted.
"We are rather busy," Michiru added. "We can't be babying someone like you when we have serious preparations to do."
"Why don't you ask Rei?" Haruka suggested. "She's about your skill level."
It took a while, but Ranma eventually agreed.
By the time Ranma walked over to ask about it, Rei already had a few of her books out and had started on some of her homework.
"Say," Ranma asked, "do you remember that fire-attack you used on me the day we met?"
The dark-haired sixteen-year-old looked up at her. "Yes, why?"
"Can you teach it to me?"
Rei thought about it for a moment. "Alright, I'll show you the basics. We can start after we get home and I finish my homework, okay?"
"Can't we do it now???"
"Not right now."
"This is due in ten minutes!"
"I can learn it in ten minutes!"
Rei looked up at the dainty female, then glared back at the paper on the table, seemingly angry that the insufferable material hadn't finished itself yet. "NOW, huh?" She put down her pencil and placed her hands together, index fingers extended. A small flame appeared at her fingertips. She pointed it at Ranma. "You REALLY want to learn it NOW?"
Ranma looked at the ki-flame. Somewhere at the back of her brain, she remembered something she had read about ki-attacks, a long time ago: they hurt VERY badly when they hit. "Or later!" she added, backing down. "Later's fine! Really!"
To be continued.
Author's notes: Ideas are one thing, true, but finding how to write them out is the real trick.
I guess this might be one of those things I have to sort out on my own. Just have to sit on a rock for a while, resting my chin on my fist until I figure it out. Whelp, gotta go on a metaphysical exploratory tour. Be back in a bit!
Benjamin A. Oliver
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