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Epilogue

A Ranma ½ / Tenchi Muyo! crossover story
by Brian Randall

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and Viz Communications.  Tenchi Muyo! belongs to Hitoshi Okuda and Pioneer LDC.

Additional credits: Takada Yuuzou and Kodansha (3x3 Eyes), Takada Yuuzou and A.D. Vision (Bannou Bunka Nekomusume Nuku-Nuku), and Tatsuya Egawa (Golden Boy).

Notes: Diverges from Ranma after volume 24, continuation for OAV 2 in the Tenchi universe (well, one of them). Nuku Nuku is from the OAVs, not TV. Sailor Moon occurs, well, at some point in the series, but it's something of an alt anyway. 3x3 Eyes diverges just before OAV2. This fic uses the bizarrely vague 'Pick One!' scenario. Enjoy.


'Explorer', they called him. 'Pioneer', sometimes. At the very least, 'wanderer'.

He sighed, crouching before his portable stove, and prodding the slowly heating pot of soup. The skies overhead were clouded, though to the south he could see the massive greenish sphere of Cyaga over the horizon. The northern skies offered little more than clouds, but directly overhead, the stars glittered without worry.

"No worries for rain," he mused quietly.

No one else spoke to him in the solitude, and the wind whispered softly through the area that his camp sat in, rustling the tall, leafy grasses. It was a forest, he knew. Or at least, it would be someday. For the moment, the tallest plants were the grasses, genetically engineered oxygen generators. Their entire breeding cycle would end in a few short decades, and they would become extinct, providing nutrients to the short saplings that were scattered about.

They were also edible, if not very tasty. Shrugging, he plucked one, and nibbled on it slowly, leaning back against his pack, and staring up at the stars. "I could look for Akane," he mumbled quietly to himself. "They say that they found her."

He pondered that for a moment before shaking his head dismissively. That wasn't something that appealed to him as much as it once had. He had thought, those months ago, that it was what he desired more than anything else. After what had happened on Earth… he had realized that he needed more time to think about things. He was not truly ready to grasp the things he had reached for.

"Guess this is all about growing up," he said quietly. Raising a hand, he tapped his headset. "Arms one and two, wrap up your cartography for the day and report back to base camp. It's too dark to be wandering around."

A number of voices responded over the communications line, and in short order the rest of the crew wandered into the camp, submitting their findings to a satellite uplink. "Anything interesting out there?" he asked, rising, and peering at the bubbling soup pot.

"Maybe a promising iron deposit a few kilometers north, and possibly a deposit of gold somewhere west of here, sir. There's a pretty deep aquifer underneath this whole area, though," one of the men answered, flicking his headset into a pocket. "Jeddah thinks the area is too rocky for farming, and Kenshiro says the land's not useful for much else, unless the ore deposits are good."

"We've got time to worry about that later," Ryouga chuckled. "This place is still going to be a forest some day, isn't it?"

"You know, sir, it takes a long time for a sapling to become a tree," one of the women complained, setting a small stack of bowls next to the bubbling soup pot.

"Yeah, it does," Ryouga agreed, smiling softly.


Shifting restlessly from form to form atop the peaked roof of the house that was — ostensibly — 'his', the martial artist danced about, trying to lose himself in the flow of motion. The light of the setting sun was his only companion for the moment, though the lights of the city and the starport in the distance were reminder enough that he wasn't ever truly alone.

And something about that… suited him. He stopped his motions, sinking to sit on the roof of his two-bedroom house, and rested his hands on his knees. His shirt sat on the tiles a step and a half away, in easy reach, but the pleasant evening cool wasn't extreme enough to make him reach for it yet.

"Is this contentment?" he asked himself quietly.

"Dear?" someone asked from below. "Are you on the roof again?"

He snorted, shaking his head. "Yeah, I'm up here," he called out. "Didn't think that you were going to be dropping by."

A heartbeat later, a blonde girl leapt up to the roof beside him, clasping her hands behind her back, and leaning forward to smile at him. "Thought you would be here!" she exclaimed.

He shook his head. "You found me," he said, adjusting his glasses slightly, and returning her smile.

"You know, with the money you make, you could afford to get your eyes fixed," she said. "Then you wouldn't have to wear your glasses anymore."

"Maybe," he said dubiously. A lifetime of poor sight had lent him better knowledge of spatial relations, and his job of assisting landings in the starport was one that required a keenly analytical mind. "I don't need them to see, but I like them anyway."

"Why is that?"

"They remind me of a time when I couldn't see, even when I had them on," he replied, grabbing his shirt, and rising to his feet as the girl straightened up. She looked at him curiously, one finger pressed to her lower lip as she considered what he had said. "It's not important," he said, pulling his shirt on. "Why don't we go inside? I bet you didn't eat yet, so I'll make you something before you go home. Sound fun?"

"Okay," she said, her voice subdued. "You know what?"

"What's that?" he asked, turning to look at her from the edge of the roof.

"I think you look really good with the glasses on after all," she said, blushing faintly.

Mousse could only grin at Minako after hearing that.


"What do we do now?"

A winged woman heard the words, and cocked her head to one side, listening for a long moment to the whisper of wind over stone before she spoke. "We have to wait, I think. This is not our ancestral home, but our numbers are weak, as is our strength. Until we can return… we will do what we must."

"And… How do we deal with the outsiders? Saffron…."

"Saffron can't guide us anymore. Not for some time. And in this world, we are all outsiders. It would be in our better interests to work with the others. Until then, we are recognized for our dwindling numbers, and have been offered assistance to bolster those. I think Saffron would be best pleased by a return of his people to the strength they once were, wouldn't you?"

"What about our privacy?"

"Some allowances must be made… but some privacy must be maintained. I will therefore go… and speak with the outsiders."

"And of Saffron?"

"Our lord's business is his own, not theirs," Kiima counseled. "But we would be fools to throw away the opportunities we are given today."


"And therefore, in summation, provided that the majority of your constituency agree to the terms on this charter, you are eligible for GP aid whenever it's required," the woman said, stifling a slight yawn. "Sorry about that. Anyway, I was told that you had already formed your global council, as per Jurai's orders? That could simplify things."

"That's right," another woman said from behind her desk. "We've gathered representatives from every culture we could find, and drawn up a set of laws that fit within Jurai's dictates, and so on and so forth. Would you like to see the data packet, Detective Makibi?"

"Please," the Galaxy Police officer said, stepping forward and taking the packet off of the desk. "And you can just call me Kiyone, if you'd like, Counselor."

"Thank you, Kiyone. You may call me Cologne, if you wish." She smiled sadly. "I expect there's rather a lot of work to be done, isn't there?"

"Yes," Kiyone agreed, scanning through the chart, and glancing around at the other assembled counselors. "Best get to work, then."


Brooding silently near a stand of very young trees, he wondered — not for the first time — about his betrayal.

"I can tell what you're thinking," a feminine voice chastised him.

"Perhaps," he said quietly, evasively. "What do you think I think on?"

"You're… still angry about what happened on Earth, aren't you?"

"I am," he admitted after a moment. "It is a blow to my pride, among other things. That he trusted others more than me… it makes me think that perhaps after all that we fought at one another's side, that he never cared about me."

"You're angry because he doesn't care about you?" the girl asked, surprised. "My, I didn't know that your… allergy… affected you that much!"

"It's not that!" he protested. "And you know it, too!"

"Yes," she admitted, giggling. "But I think you're thinking about it to hard, my prince. If he didn't care about you, he wouldn't have sent you away to be safe."

Mollified, he looked away, nervous. "That may be true," he said quietly. "I suppose… I suppose it is more that I regret having as little power as I truly did, in the end. Forgive me my temper, my princess."

She giggled at him again, shaking her head. "This time," she said. "But diplomatic relations have been strained."

"Damnation," he growled softly, a smile playing across his face as his anger faded. "I propose a new treaty. The Musk nation is willing to offer an ice cream sundae to renegotiate the terms of our alliance."

"Is that so?" she asked, arching one eyebrow and grinning impishly.

"Purely for political purposes, I assure you, my princess," Herb said, chuckling quietly.

"Of course," Rei said, giggling along with Herb's laughter.


Hefting a heavy knapsack over his shoulder, and staring up at the large building before him, a man paused for a moment, frowning. "Might as well," he grumbled, shaking his head, and marching up the steps.

His knocks at the door were rewarded, a much younger man answering the door and greeting him, "Hello! Welcome. Are you the new tenant who wrote in?"

"Yeah… I'm… I'm looking for a place to rest for a while," the older man said apologetically, setting his bag on the ground at his feet.

"Well, come in!" the younger man insisted, grabbing the bag before he could be stopped. "Are you going to be a teacher? We've started to establish this area as a potential district for building a good school, and Seta-san's already been put in charge of that project. I can get him for you, if you'd like."

"Ah, I can teach military strategy, but I suspect that's not as useful as it once was, and the Juraians have a low opinion of nuclear energy, so that's out, too," the man said, sighing. "I'm… I'm probably going to try and sign up with the Galaxy Police eventually."

"Oh?" Keitaro asked, cocking his head to one side curiously. "What will you be doing until then? I read that you were… ah… there for the final conflict."

"I was," Norris said frankly. "And I think I've got a lot of writing to do before I'm ready to rejoin a service — any service."


The main plaza before the starport was crowded, people milling about and looking about during the grand opening. A young man sighed, lacing his fingers together over his head, and pushing them upwards until his knuckles popped. "So, what's up for today," he asked conversationally, not looking at the person he addressed.

She snorted, answering swiftly, "Well, we've got a lot of people that still haven't manage to find their families, and the GP keep bringing in people who left Earth before Ginraii showed up. So before they settled down and look on their own, we try and manage a database of who's where, and what they're doing."

"Volunteer work is boring," he griped, dropping his hands to his sides, and peering through the crowds. "Hey, wasn't that lady there the last couple of times we came through here?"

The girl looked up from her electronic clipboard, and glanced where he indicated. "I think so," she said slowly. "Why don't we go ask her who she's looking for?"

"Feh. Fine, fine. But the odds of this lady looking for someone either of us knows are pretty damn unlikely, I think," he grumbled, striding through the crowd. For the crowd's part, people parted before him without seeming to be aware that they did so, until he was standing before her, the girl directly behind him when he halted. "Yo!" he said, raising his hand. "We're helping people look for lost relatives and friends. You here looking for someone in particular?"

The woman blinked, eyes widening as they fixed on him. Something… something in those eyes was not quite right, though, and it unnerved him very faintly. "I'm… looking for my son," she said quietly. "He… he left on a ship from Earth. I… I lost the papers that said which one, but it was before the Juraian people came to Tokyo," she answered slowly.

"Yeah, okay, I can understand that," he said, nodding. "What's his name? And your name, for that matter?"

"I… I'm Saotome Nodoka," she said, bowing politely.

Ignoring the sudden chill running down his spine, he returned the bow.

"Okay, and, uh, who was your son?" the girl behind him asked nervously.

"His name was Ranma. I… a monster… or maybe some space creature tried to convince me that he was my son once," the woman sobbed. "But I know he left! He left with Akane! Tendo Akane, he'd be with her — he's not some monster!"

"Oh, well, we'll keep that in mind," the girl said uneasily. "I, uh, don't know—"

"The only Ranma I know is way too good to be your son," he overrode her suddenly. "So, sorry about that." Not waiting to allow her to reply, he spun, grabbed the girl that had been behind him, and leapt upward, landing atop a nearby light post and staring down at the crowd.

The girl cradled in his arms sighed, shaking her head. "Ryu-chan, I don't think that was the best way to handle that," she chastised. "Even… even if…." She trailed off, sighing, and clutching her clipboard to her chest.

"Well, whatever," he grumbled. "I like to think I know Ranma pretty good. I trained with him on the fleet to Shanghai — Ranma's a hero, and a hero deserves better than some woman who's going to call him a monster for a mother."

"Maybe you're right," Makoto said weakly. "I don't know if she could handle the truth anyway. Still, Ryu-chan, you could have been polite about it."

"I'll be polite next time," he said, shaking his head, and leaping down, towards the gates of the starport, sill within the cloak of the Umisenken. "Until then, there are other people to help."


"Hello, I was wondering if you've seen a girl I'm looking for. I'm—" He broke off, sighing, as the man he was trying to ask wandered off. He had been searching since the moment he landed, only pausing to contact… his friends. Yes, that's what they were. People who had no issue with his strange immortality, and people who remembered the long fight on Earth before everyone left.

"Hell," he grumbled, as everyone wandered off. "I don't even have a photograph anymore. Stupid reavers."

He considered something for a moment, then pulled a map from his pocket, sparing a glance towards the bright sky before scanning the folded and much abused paper in his hands. "The old man lives around here somewhere. I'll drop in and say hello before I start looking again."

Course decided, the map was folded up and tucked away, and he began marching down the street. The town was small, having no starport of its own. It sat near the southeastern edge of the ungainly splotch of habitation that had formed from the initial landing site on Terra Two. A slight breeze picked up a faint layer of dust, and he couldn't help but grin at the ambiance.

It wasn't Earth, and it never would be… but it was home anyway. A blessed home, away from the memories of constant violence that occupied his mind when he thought of the old Earth. Maybe being put to sleep for a thousand years would serve it better, in the end.

He scratched his head, walking up a set of stairs in the side of a hill. "Old man must not like guests much," he grumbled, staring upwards. They stretched out of sight, occasional torii crossing overhead. Shrugging, he set about climbing the stairs, welcoming the faint burn of exertion over time. It was so nice to feel those subtle pains of everyday life, not the overbearing pain of constant strife.

Musing over that, he topped the final step, and peered about. The hilltop was covered with a shrine, obviously newly built — like everything else — though the trees on either side of the path seemed far older than they should have been. "Huh," he said, turning to regard one closely. "This looks like it should be about twenty years old… old man."

A chuckle sounded behind him, as he turned back to face the courtyard before the shrine. "You heard me coming?" the man standing there asked, adjusting his spectacles slightly.

"Nah, just guessed. If you weren't there, I'd still look pretty slick," Yakumo said, grinning. "What have you been up to, Yosho? I would have thought that you'd do something else with your time than run a shrine."

The old man winced slightly, and shook his head. "Call me Katsuhito," he insisted. "I… I trust my grandson to manage his empire well enough. This is not the Earth I intended to live out my days on, but I imagine I'll be here for a long time… and being a shrine priest is something I enjoy doing more than other things I can do."

"You still haven't told me why these trees are so much older than the other ones," Yakumo accused, grinning. "Dodging the question, eh?"

"I would never dodge an important question like that!" Katsuhito said indignantly. "But I took in a wandering girl a while back as a shrine maiden — you should meet her."

Yakumo opened his mouth to protest the lack of answer, but his jaw merely hung open, as his eyes fixed on the girl over Yosho's shoulder, dressed in Shinto shrine maiden attire, and blushing at him shyly. "You win this round," he said, finally finding his voice. "Pai!"

"Yakumo? It is you! Yakumo!"


Padding across the cleanly polished floor of the great mausoleum, terminal in hand, a young woman brushed a stray strand of blue hair from her eyes. Her computer chirped softly, and a voice called to her on a headset, warning, "There's some instability in the new memory block you assigned to temporary archival, Mizuno-san."

"It's a hardware fault, probably," she returned, snapping her laptop shut. "They said it might not survive transit…. How much backup do we have available?"

"Ah… three petabytes to spare."

"Okay, put everything on temporary backup, and eliminate the bad sectors from the new core. Then copy everything from backup onto it, and compare it to the backup once it's transferred. If there's a one hundred percent correlation, then the damaged sectors won't spread."

"Understood. If they do spread?"

"Then it's a big paperweight."

A chuckle came across the connection, and there was a moment of silence. "Beginning transfer now, Mizuno-san. This is likely going to take several hours. Do you have any other instructions?"

"Let me think," she said, pausing her walk and pursing her lips. "Steal some storage space and processor time from the orbital mapping system."

"Mizuno-san! We can't do that, we need that survey data—"

"Have a little more faith in the people who are mapping on foot. And I didn't say all, just their own functions. We want to keep adding the incoming packets to the database, after all, but they can fill in for some of the missing persons identification database functions, until the new core is verified."

"Understood," the reply came, much subdued. "What do we do if the core is not salvageable?"

"I have a friend with connections, if it gets to that," she said quietly. "But we'll try not to bother him at the moment. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to monitor Selene's functions before we move on to the new core."

"Okay, Mizuno-san. Stealing processor cycles from the satellite network now."

She shook her head, removing the headset, and tucking it into a pocket. Striding across a few more steps of the black marble beneath her feet, she approached a large crystalline sarcophagus. Her laptop slid into a small pocket on one side of the structure, as lights began to blink on, brightening the interior of the large room.

"Good morning, Selene," she whispered as her laptop opened connections to a very important computer, the one that maintained the environmental functions of the crystalline formation before her. She took a few steps to one side, leaning across the flat top, and brushing aside a layer of ice crystals, peering within. "And hello to you, too."

She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest. "I suppose Mamoru got lucky, just going into hibernation," Ami reasoned. "Higurashi got worse, after all…. I hope I live long enough to see you wake up, Usagi. And… When the Earth thaws enough for him to wake up, you will, too."


"Will you be going outside today?"

That, of course, was the question, and one she wasn't certain she was up to answering.

Outside was so bright and cheerful….

"No," she whispered. "I… I think I'll stay inside today."

"You… you can't stay inside forever, you know. I…. I don't know what I would have done if Haruka had… had…. I have sympathy for you, but you can't stay inside forever. Do you really think it would make him happy to see you so sad?"

"No," she whispered again, eyes brimming with tears. "I know he wouldn't be happy. He would want me to be happy. To go outside and enjoy what he won for all of us… and whenever I go outside I'm reminded of him again, and it hurts."

There was a moment of silence then, her hands carefully clutching a carefully preserved silk handkerchief and dabbing at her tears. "Maybe… maybe tomorrow I can go outside, but not today. Please, Michiru, not today."

"Okay, Hotaru. I…. We'll go for a walk tomorrow. Maybe we'll look at some of the new parks they're building."

"That… that would be nice," Hotaru said quietly. "I…. I will try."

Michiru smiled softly. "I know you can do it."


Sitting beneath a short sapling, a woman allowed herself a moment of reflection. "So much lost, and at the same, so much gained," she mused, one hand resting atop a book in her lap. "You'd think I would be more resentful, but for some reason, I'm not."

"Resentful?" a small black cat asked slyly. "I never took you for the type!"

"Oh, hush," she chastised the cat. "I was saying that even though the future has been changed beyond anything I ever knew, I can't help but think that maybe it's better for it. That's all that I meant."

"Of course," a small white cat said, yawning widely as he did so. "Which is why you're on your political fact-finding mission…."

"… by reading books of poetry," the black cat concluded.

Narrowing her eyes slightly, the woman grumbled, "I don't need to listen to you two."

"You know, I think I know where that man — Yosho, was his name? I think I know where he lives," Artemis commented.

"Do you? How interesting," Luna responded. "But I don't suppose anyone here would be overly concerned with that information, do you?"

Unable to resist smiling, Setsuna shook her head. "I never spent any time with him like that," she asserted. "But… maybe now would be a good time to start…."

 

 


Author's notes: And thusly is concluded book one of Process of Elimination.

Brian Randall

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