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A Ranma ½ / Sakura Taisen fan fiction story
by Jonathan Rosebaugh

Merely Players

Ranma scanned the message again. It didn't say much, but then, it didn't have to. He shook his head. "You promised, dammit! You promised I wouldn't have to do this again. Don't you know how much it cost for me to fight with you?"

The blonde glared at him. "Tokyo needs you, Ranma. If we do not fight, the demons win. Is your conscience big enough to handle that?" she asked, gesturing to the city outside.

He sighed. She always had been the best leader the group of fighters had. "You have a point. But what would my wife say?"

"She will understand. She always did before, didn't she?"

A Good Idea, At the Time

Snow fell gently across downtown Tokyo. Here, in the heart of the city not ten minutes walk from the Imperial Palace, the life of Tokyo was fully evident. Ranma and Akane made their way, hand in hand, through the bustling crowds, both of them dressed in their finest. "There it is," Ranma said, pointing to large building just across the street. "The Imperial Theatre."

Akane nodded. "I wonder how Nabiki got us these tickets? This is one of the best theatre companies in the Capital." She frowned at Ranma's shrug; he ought to care how Nabiki did business given how often that business affected him, but he'd never learn. A billboard on the roof of the Theatre caught her eye. "Look, Ranma. 'The Imperial Theatre Company salutes the beautiful warriors who defend our city'."

"Heh. I don't know why you're so fascinated with those girls. I've had to deal with demons myself, you know. That group is nothing special."

"Then why is it that they are just girls, Ranma? How come they don't have any guys fighting with them? I bet even a guy like you wouldn't be able to join," Akane said, smirking. Ranma's ego always did need a little deflating. "Come on, we need to get good seats."

Hidden in Daylight

"What's this all about?" Ranma was getting annoyed. It was the intermission, which seemed to be longer than usual for these sorts of plays, but still, he didn't have that much time. He was sitting in an office in the back of the theatre, and the man seated behind the desk was trying to be all mysterious.

"I'll explain." The woman's voice came from somewhere behind him, but he hadn't heard anyone enter the room. She must have been standing behind the door the whole time. It didn't sound like anyone he knew, but there was something strangely familiar about it, as if he'd heard it before. Ranma turned around. She was fairly tall, for a woman, and she had striking blonde hair. Both were odd, for a person who was obviously at least half Japanese. "You are, I assume, aware of the Demon War, and what we are doing to fight it." She paused, so Ranma nodded, and then she continued. "I am a member of the group that fights against the demons. I'm probably the closest thing we have to a leader."

Ranma snorted. "I won't argue with that. But whaddya need me for? You girls do magic; don't try to tell me you don't. I've seen what that young girl can do. I can do some interesting things, but it's all science. Just using my chi."

"Indeed. And your 'chi' would, I believe, be usable when fighting with us as well. You see, we don't really do magic either. It looks like magic, certainly. But there's solid knowledge behind it. It's just that most people don't have that knowledge." She coughed.

"Anyway, the way we fight requires a certain kind of ability. It's very hard to describe it, so I won't even try, and it is extremely rare. Up until now, we have only found this ability in women, the eight of us. There was supposed to be a ninth. A few years back, we thought we had found a man who also had the ability. We're still not sure what happened. Perhaps he had it, but not strong enough. Perhaps he didn't really have it at all. Either way, he did not survive the first engagement."

Ranma was beginning to have an idea where this was headed. "And you think I've got this gift to be one of you. You want me to join you."

"In a word, yes. We're out of time now, so I'll let you go. Do think about it. We will be in touch with you." As the woman ushered him out of the room, she handed him a calling card of some sort. "We really do need you, Ranma."

Better Than You Know Yourself

"I can't believe you're thinking about it, Ranma! Remember the last time you tried something like that? You got in way over your head, and you know it. I bet she's just interested in you, and she's using this to try to get you to spend time with her."

"No, it's not that. I can't explain how I know. I promised I wouldn't. But it's not that. You have to trust me."

"Trust you? In a place like that? Give me a break. Look, if you do this, I'm coming along. Even if they won't let me do anything, I'm going to watch, at least. I'll keep an eye on her — and on you."

Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Luck

It was easily the largest demon Ranma had ever seen, and the strongest, too. Four of his comrades were already out of action, lying fetched up against the walls of nearby buildings, not moving. They were still alive, but that wouldn't help the rest of them fight.

Ranma looked back and forth, wishing the terrain had been better. With the recent upgrades, his skills had been greatly amplified, but at a cost. If he tried to use the Hiryu Shoten Ha right now, it would certainly get the demon, but it would also damage an area about 300 meters in radius. Hardly the same skill the Amazons had taught him, anymore.

Dammit, he thought. If only we had more time. But there wasn't time. He didn't have to see his remaining comrades to know that their spirits were falling. If they couldn't beat this thing, then Tokyo's days as the center of Japan were over. Tokyo would fall into darkness.

"I didn't want to have to do this." Ranma reached up and pressed a recessed button near the top of his Kohbu. A bit of cold water spilled out of a spout and landed on his head, triggering the curse. At the same time, the boiler began increasing its output, shunting power to several formerly-inactive devices in the spirit power lines.

Ranma still wasn't entirely sure how the whole system worked. Kohran had tried to explain it to her once, and failed, but the essence of it was that the Kohbu harnessed the difference in mass between her male form and female form. It wasn't a very big difference in kilos, but even a small amount of matter provided a great deal of energy, Kohran said. Of course, if the Kohbu was destroyed while doing this, she might end up locked, but she had a greater chance of ending up dead if that happened, so she thought she was pretty safe. Even so, it wasn't one of her favorite things to do.

On the other hand, what she got in exchange for the loan was a fairly significant boost. While the Kohbu could not directly use the energy so extracted, that energy could allow it to act as an amplifier, both for Ranma's meager paranormal talents, and for her comrades. In this case, it amplified Iris's power-channeling ability, allowing her to draw energy from the backup groups even this far from the Theatre. Iris's yellow Kohbu began to glow brightly, and it, along with Ranma's black Kohbu, Maria's white one, Sakura's pink one, and Sumire's purple Kohbu all levitated into position around the demon.

"Hanagumi Teikokukagekidan!" Ranma's voice rang out, and was answered by all eight of the others, Leni and Kohran having helped Orihime and Kanna out of their wrecked mecha, and now watching from a safe distance. "Let's send this punk back to hell!" As she said this, she focused her mind on the relative positions of her Kohbu and the others. Lines of glowing light sprang up from the ground, connecting the five steam-powered mecha, and began spiraling outward in a complicated spell of dispersal. The demon was strong, but not particularly bright, and one of the effects of the spell was to reduce the chances of it being noticed while they were casting it, so the demon was very surprised when its body suddenly dissolved into dust.

"Yeah, we did it!" "Great job, Ranma!" Congratulations rang out across the TAC net; even the support personnel back at the Theatre were getting into the act.

Ranma opened her Kohbu and climbed out, raising her fist to the sky. "This is our capital! This is our nation! And we will protect it with every beat of our hearts!"

"Oh, please, Ranma, stop being so melodramatic."

"Sumire-neechan, how can you be so mean after we just won a battle?!"

"Stop picking on Ranma, Sumire. You know she means well!"

"Hey, I'm a guy!" Naturally, that comment set the girls off laughing. Ranma glared at them. "Oh, look, Goraigoh!"

A Hundred Thousand Stars

"Why did you leave us? Even once we found out about what happened to Ohgami, you always had a place with us." Maria wasn't looking at Ranma anymore. She was staring out the window, watching the snow fall gently past. "And Akane did not truly begrudge you that. You know that as well as I."

"It's not that. It's just… that wasn't what I was meant to be. The eight of you — well, nine, now — you have a higher destiny."

"Is that so? And can you not change your destiny, Ranma? God does not make us as puppets, able to do one thing only. We are actors, Ranma! We play many parts throughout our lives. It is so foolish to think you have only one purpose to serve in life. We need you, Ranma, but more than that, we want you. We want you back with us, fighting with us, laughing with us, living with us."

Ranma stood up from the chair and walked over to the window, looking out over Maria's shoulder. Even now, years later, he could still remember what it had felt like to stride through the city in the Kohbu, returning home after a battle. He realized that he felt that same feeling now. Was it possible? Did he really still think of the Theatre as home, after all these years? He smiled.

"Okay. I'll come back. But under one condition."

Maria turned around, looking him square in the eyes, her face grave. "What's that?"

"I get to be the leading man this time. If Sumire knocks me out and puts me in her costumes one more time…." The two of them burst out laughing almost simultaneously. It was good to be back.


Disclaimer: Sakura Taisen is the property of Sega, Red Company and Ohji Hiroi. Ranma ½ is the property of Takahashi Rumiko. No infringement on the rights of either is intended.

Author's notes: This originated when I watched the Sakura Taisen movie, and immediately wanted to write a fic based on it. The first idea I had was a Sailor Moon / Sakura Taisen / EVA fusion. Be glad I didn't try to write it. It would have been bad. Very bad. (I should point out that my only knowledge of Sakura Taisen comes from this movie and from reading Gryphon's Sakura Taisen fics. Given that those are set in the UF universe, you can't really rely on them for solid info.)

On the other hand, Ranma seems to work well with Sakura Taisen. I expect that you could use it with Brian Randall's "Pick One" scenario very well, but what I decided to do was see if I could trick people into thinking it was a Sailor Moon crossover, until the time was right to reveal the truth. It was difficult, because there are an awful lot of important differences between the two, but I think I might have managed it. Let me know if I succeeded, please.

(Incidentally, I'm pretty proud of myself for this. About 2000 words written in under a day. Impressive, considering my record.)

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