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Chapter 10

A Ranma ½ - Sailor Moon crossover story
by Dark Phoenix

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.

I knew the Senshi and I kept ending up in forests every time we jumped dimensions because I had searched for Earth, and those planes most similar to it had most of the same features. That knowledge didn't stop me from hoping that this world would have something besides forest for a thousand miles in all directions. I mean a city could be built in this dimension and not in the others.

No such luck. If anything, the sparse forest seemed larger than the others. Without magic for flight, we were in for a long, long journey. The pokémon didn't mind giving us rides, and the kami know that Usagi had enough pokémon to carry a mountain with us, but even with that advantage, it was slow going. If only the flying pokémon were larger, they would have been suitable transportation. Without a designated place to land, though, a flying pokémon couldn't use its extraordinary ability to travel at supersonic speeds, and would tire quickly when carrying a load. Demon could have flown us all if his wing structure had allowed for places for the gear and us.

Gyarados, dragon snake thing that it was, didn't ever actually touch the ground, sorta hovering a few inches in the air. I, at least, was riding in style. Poor Rei couldn't ride her rat, despite its huge size. She'd had to borrow one of Usagi's, a Rhydon.

"I should be able to do this," Rei said, irritated that she couldn't master the breathing techniques I had been teaching. "All those years as a temple maiden, learning to manipulate the sacred flame, and I can't so much as get a spark." She adjusted her seat on the Rhydon. The poorly woven mass of straw didn't do a good job of protecting Rei's soft skin from the Rhydon's rock-hard hide. Her stubborn pride wouldn't allow her to accept a different pokémon as conveyance.

I sighed and tried to explain. "I told you it could take years to learn." Ha, I learned in three weeks! What can I say? I'm gifted. "And stop trying to manifest the chi. All I want you to do is learn to evenly space and control the depth of each breath you take." Harder to accomplish than one might think.

Later that day, the forest ended entirely, opening into a plain covered in waist-high grass for as far as the eye could see. This was getting ridiculous. Even on Ranma World, a planet abandoned for untold centuries, there had been a dirt road. That still bothers me occasionally. A plain dirt road would have been overgrown within months of disuse. Ranma World was strange. I'll just have to accept that.

"It'd be stupid to go back and waste a week's worth of time," I said, as leader (how that happened is as big a mystery as the dirt road). Part of it involved being more experienced and knowledgeable— only a part, though.

"I agree," agreed Ami. "At the very least, we should journey far enough onto the plain to determine whether or not there is enough wild game and fresh water to support us and our pokémon." The suggestion was perfectly reasonable and we didn't argue with its logic.

"To the grass!" Usagi declared, waving her arm wildly through the air from the back of her Dandelion. I think she believed there to be a possibility of wild pokémon in the grass. Makoto brought it up, though.

"Well, there could be," Usagi muttered. Hell, there really could be. No way would I admit to that slim chance, not if I wanted to stay sane through the rest of the trip.

Times like this made Setsuna wish she wasn't so chronically cryptic and mysterious. Her future self had to know what had happened to the Senshi. With rules as concrete as the ones she lived by, Setsuna didn't even think about asking.

Viewing the Senshi's pasts up until their disappearance took almost as much time as if she had jumped back and watched each scene unfold. She was pleased to see how much the girls had improved and couldn't even find anything to complain about in the changes made to their transformation spell by Ranma. The kidnapping of Usagi by government agents came as a shock, even to Setsuna, but Ranma, leading the remaining Inner Senshi, had freed the Princess, in the process releasing dozens of dangerous demons and Nerimans (a sub-species of human nearly as bad). Ranma's doing, and without doubt premeditated.

As she watched the last few weeks before the Senshi's disappearance, the puzzle began to come together. Ranma was slowly, with admirable patience, subverting the girls. His discovery of Usagi's mind block was too coincidental to be a coincidence.

When the government contacted the Senshi and Ranma, Setsuna debated whether or not she should begin reviewing the past of the Emperor and his men, but ruled it out due to a lack of time (yes, she was actually running out of time). The big break came when Ranma's services were requested by his conspirators in the closing of a ruptured tomb belonging to a long-dead warlock who had died in personal battle against Queen Serenity a century before the fall of the Moon Kingdom.

Setsuna was truly frightened for the first time in centuries. Ranma was involved in too many random occurrences and coincidences pertaining to the Senshi and the Silver Millennium. Why had she ever trusted him? The answer was even more frightening. She, the manipulator, had, herself, been manipulated. So subtle had the manipulation been, that even her temporally-honed senses hadn't detected the outside influence.

Who could Ranma's backer be? Another Dark Intelligence like Metallia? Enemies from the future? The possibilities were too numerous to count. She really had her work cut out for her.

(Note: I always have thought of Pluto as something of a manipulative bitch with way too much time on her hands, literally.)

It's pretty easy to get tired of grass, especially when there's nothing but grass. That's why I was damned excited when Demon and I, flying ahead to scout for a water hole, found a river. It wasn't a meager little stream, either. The wide expanse of water moved at a smooth, if slow pace. This was more than just a break in the scenery. Towns and cities are built on rivers. They make natural shipping routes. Following the river would be our best bet at finding other people.

Demon made good time back to the Senshi, and I informed them of my discovery.

"Biiig Waagguuuurrr," Demon said, reinforcing my claim. The pokémon was learning to speak at an amazing rate. The shape of his jaw, combined with his unusual teeth and tri-forked tongue, made pronunciation difficult but not impossible for the pokémon.

"What are we going to build a boat with?" Minako asked. I goggled at her. That sounded like an Usagi question, a pre-divine-mind-block-removal question.

Usagi answering and making fun of the other blonde was scary. "Minako, why would we need boats? We have plenty of water pokémon. We'll make great time on them.”

Minako blushed deeply and said, "Oh, yeah." Twilight zone moment.

A river can get as boring as grass after a while. This one was working itself up to that when, at the edge of the horizon, the river began to widen dramatically, either forming a lake or emptying into a river. It wasn't this change in the natural scenery that got the attention of the Senshi and I. The really, really big city floating in the air above the lake/bay did. I left Gyarados with a command to remain in his current position, and pulled Demon out of the hat. I wasn't the only one to take flight, via pokémon. Usagi on her Zapdos, Ami on Scyther, and Minako and Makoto on the latter's Aerodactyl, all formed a V wing formation behind me. Rei must not have cared to leave her Slowbro— that or she didn't want to borrow another pokémon. She really should have taken the trouble to catch a few besides the rat. Useful creatures, pokémon; make cats looked damned pathetic.

That thing was a city, and not some vast mirage. At first I thought that the city was a giant airship of some kind, a product of advanced technology, but as the buildings came into sight, I couldn't believe that a society with the ability to make a floating city would settle for thatched roofs on the majority of the dwellings, and wood fires for cooking and heat. It was a moment after that little deduction that I switched my perceptions over to energy patterns, almost giving myself a mystic whiplash with the violence and speed of the change.

Ah. Son of a bitch! All over the city, within large marble buildings with a disturbing similarity to the ancient temples of Rome and Greece, were vast arrays of spell constructs. They were so large, and crafted with such skill, that they were capable of levitating a city the size of Tokyo and all its surrounding suburbs. The fact that they somehow had a complete monopoly on all the energy available for sorcery on this whole freakin' planet didn't escape my notice.

I raised my arm and swung it around in a circle, a predetermined signal that meant to get back to safety. It probably scared the Senshi more than was necessary, but people in that city were most likely armed with some nasty magical weapons, and the last thing I needed was to have to save them from getting blasted into ash if one of the locals saw us and got nervous.

"It's in there, ladies." Blank stares, even from Ami. I really shouldn't have expected much more than that. None of the girls were far enough along to see what I had. "I meant the cause for our loss of energy. The energy required levitating that much mass is vast, and whoever built it decided to make the whole world their battery."

"Maybe we could ask them to land for a few minutes and let us recharge," suggested Usagi.

"Nuh-uh; very, very doubtful. From what I can see, the place isn't built to be landed. The spells active in the constructs holding the city afloat aren't the kind that can be turned off on a whim, either. Land it and the city breaks into a lot of little pieces. Cut the constructs off for even a moment, and wham, really big splash." The obvious answer was to destroy the city and, with the more powerful pokémon as precision artillery, it could be done. Not that Usagi would ever let her pokémon be responsible for such an atrocity.

"Don't even mention it Ranma," asserted Ami, to my surprise. "We've all just had the same thought and none of us would do that." I've heard about sorcerous lovers, those actually in love and who have lived together for a long time, being able to read their mates thoughts. That Ami was doing this to me… that was as disturbing as finding out that I was relatively powerless here.

No, what was really disturbing was that I could do the same thing with her, now that I thought about it. In fact, Ami was silently congratulating herself on taking such a bold stand with me. Before I could let myself even think about the implications of the next couple of thoughts about to appear in my brain, I said, "Sorta figured that. What else can we do, though? How else do we get the energy we need to go home?"

Ami shrugged. "There has to be someone that maintains the constructs you mentioned. They would surely know of a way to siphon energy from them without damaging their integrity." She had a point. "All that energy would be too valuable to allow to remain in stasis."

I nodded. "That is a possibility. Another possibility is that there is a magical cannon that shoots nuclear fireballs up on those walls somewhere, and the person operating it may be instructed to vaporize anything that moves." Extremely unlikely possibility, but still possible.

I turned my attention to a crashing splash of water and saw Demon and Gyarados playing water polo with Slowbro. Who had taught them that? Why in hell were they playing water polo? I shook my head, telling myself that we had more important fish to fry. No pun intended.

"Hey, leave him alone, you big meanies!" cried Usagi as she ran away from the little meeting, pulling out Dandelion and a pair of Dragonites that I didn't know by name. As if there wasn't enough crap to deal with. I pulled Demon and Gyarados' pokéballs from my pocket and activated the retrieval beam on each. The crimson beams of energy reached my pokémon and dematerialized them just as a Usagi's trio reached attack range.

Usagi attempted to glare a hole through my head as she walked stiffly away from the riverbank.

I waved my arms helplessly. "You can't blame them for having a little fun. Your pokémon didn't seem to mind," I said calmly, trying not to laugh.

"He was probably too scared to move. Next time you better tell those brutes of yours that I won't go so easy on them!" the meatball-headed warrior for love, justice, and the pokémon way loudly proclaimed.

"Don't worry, I'm sure they'll do their best to avoid your wrath." I said it with such sincerity that she had to know I was blowing smoke out of my ass. She just glared at me, absentmindedly stroking the pokémon stored at her waste belt.

"And back to the matter at hand…" Rei said angrily. Can't blame her for that one.

"I have an idea that could solve the safety issue." Guess who. Yes, you're absolutely correct. It's Ami! You win a tootsie roll! "One of us will simply fly within range of the city, carrying a pokémon capable of teleportation, and use it to escape if the need arises." Good plan.

"So which one of you wants—" They were all staring at me. I knew what that look meant. "That's not fair! Demon is way too big to be teleported by any of your pipsqueaks!" They didn't stop staring. I could have refused, I guess, but the combined stare of five determined girls, one of whom you may have growing feelings for, is kinda overwhelming. "Damn it, you all owe me one."

Ami winked at me, and her grin was positively wanton. What had I made this sweet, innocent girl into? Hell if I cared.

The other girls either didn't see the exchange… or chose to ignore it. Thankfully.

Wouldn't you know that Zapdos, Usagi's thunderbird, was also capable of teleportation? Why a creature capable of flight would develop such a skill is beyond me. I mean, it's not like the thing had any natural predators. At least this way, I didn't have to put up with Makoto's Alakazam. That thing was weird. What purpose did having two inverted spoon-shaped fingers serve, anyway?

"Okay, Sparky, let's see if anyone feels like killing us today." The peal of thunder, Zapdos' version of a chirp, didn't indicate that the bird cared very much for its new nickname. "Don't get touchy. It was meant as a compliment."

Despite it's attitude, Zapdos loyally followed my orders. We got close enough to the city for me to brush the crenellated upper wall and to wave to a bored looking guard wearing stiffened leather armor who lazily carried a crossbow over his left shoulder. The guy might very well have pissed his pants, so great was the fear on his face.

I was also able to get a better view of the city's internal order. It was a nice, clean place, especially by the medieval standards it appeared to be built around. People who saw me on the glowing bird dropped what they were carrying and ran around screaming in abject terror. Compared to these people, the guard had been enormously brave. Wusses.

Most important of all, beyond even laughing until my chest hurt, was the discovery that there were no items with any mystical charge whatsoever. The constructs holding the city up were it. Good news.

"They ran like I was Barney himself," I reported back to the Senshi.

"Uh, who's Barney?" Minako asked in confusion.

Oops. "An American creation. You wouldn't understand. I should have said Death or Destruction, those would have made more sense to you, sorry. Anyway, we should be safe. They don't have anything more advanced than a crossbow, weapon-wise, and their fighting ability isn't even worth mentioning." I hadn't actually seen them fight, but when the whole general populous, even the guys, runs screaming from you and a measly bird a tenth the size of Demon…

"Poor Zapdos, did he hurt you?" Usagi asked her pokémon. We ignored her.

"Crossbows aren't really such a minor threat when you consider that all of us are defenseless except for you. Pokémon can't keep us safe from the bolts without risking themselves. I wouldn't even ask any of my pokémon to do that." Ami was turning out to be an annoying voice of reason. Almost as if she were my conscience. I fought down the urge to cry. What had I done to deserve this?

Trying to salvage my good mood, I said, "Don't worry about that. I can keep anything slower than a high-power slug from getting near any of you. Not that anyone up there has the balls to shoot at us."

"Oh please," Rei scoffed. "Don't try to convince me that you can move that fast!"

To demonstrate my speed, I mooned Rei for a second, flipped her off for a second, and mooned her again, for a second. This only took me four seconds. Rei was nearing the purple range of color. Probably from rage, but I here from reliable sources that my ass is pretty nice, so it could have just been her feminine modesty… Doubt it, though.

"Okay, maybe you are that fast," Minako said, blushing. Ami did not look happy. Have I ever mentioned that my life sucks ass?

"Having along a couple big, evil-looking pokémon wouldn't hurt either." If only we had had enough rock pokémon, we could have just made a living wall, but we didn't, and besides, they're not really all that fast. "Demon and Gyarados are good choices. Any others?"

Usagi launched into a recital of at least fifty pokémon she thought were scary. Once again, she was ignored.

Since there was no visible gate, ramp, or any other conceivable entrance to the city, we just flew up to the side and glided to the street nearest what I assumed was the headquarters. The streets here were easily wide enough to accommodate Demon once the pedestrians had run away. As predicted, they screamed like maniacs as they departed.

"So, should we just walk up the steps and knock on the door?" I asked. The building we stood in front of was large and overly decorated. It could have been someone's house, but the statues of people in robes with books and other stuff in their grasp indicated otherwise. The gold-veined marble that the building was constructed from did look pretty cool, though.

"Why not?" Minako asked. She was the last one to put her pokémon away.


To be continued.

Author's Notes: So far this story has been received much better than I thought it would. Thanks! I've gotten a lot of requests for background info on Ranma, so I'm thinking about maybe doing a few prequel chapters on his earlier adventures, but that could change. C&C welcome at dark_phoneix@hotmail.com

Chapter 11
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