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Ranma stood on the edge of the pit, looking down into its murky depths. His father finished tying the meat onto his arms. "Ready, boy?" Genma asked, folding his arms, shoving the Neko-ken book in his pocket, and standing back.

Ranma shivered. "I suppose so, Pops. You sure this is the way to learn it, though?" Genma started to answer, but Ranma wasn't paying attention anymore. He was staring up at a nearby hill. "Who's that woman?"

"Woman?" Genma looked where Ranma was pointing. "I don't see anyone. Stop stalling and get in, boy."

"She's right on that hill. She has green hair. I didn't know people could have green hair."

Genma pushed him in, and then the cats came.



A Ranmoon fic
by Jonathan Rosebaugh

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.


Book One
Chapter One: Cadence Accelerating


Ukyou handed Ranma another okonomiyaki. The young martial artist grinned at his friend and began to eat. "Y'know, Ucchan, we've been here an awful long time. Pops usually keeps moving pretty quickly. Y'think he's trying to find some special techniques or something?"

"Around here? I guess maybe he could. But he just spends all his time with my dad, doesn't he?" The chef scratched his head in puzzlement.

Ranma shrugged and returned to eating. Casually looking around, waiting for his father to return, he noticed a woman sitting on a bench across the street. She wasn't dressed like a normal person. Her clothes were like a black school uniform. And she had green hair. Ranma scurried around behind the yattai. "You wanna play again, Ranchan?" the chef asked.

"No, I'm just staying away from the woman." Ranma remembered the Neko-ken and shuddered again. "Last time I saw her, something bad happened."

"What woman?" Ukyou walked around the yattai, looking back and forth. He turned to Ranma. "I don't see any woman."

Ranma poked his head around the corner and pointed. "Over there, on that bench. She's looking at me."

"There's nobody there but some birds, Ranchan. Are you feeling okay?" Ukyou put a hand to Ranma's forehead.

"I'll be okay. Can I have another okonomiyaki?"

A hand grabbed Ranma's shoulder. "Ukyou, your father wants to talk to you. Come on, boy." Genma began to wheel the yattai away as Ukyou ran off.


The knock echoed back to him. Ryouga's house really was empty. Ranma jogged back to the lot and began a kata. Focusing his attention on the flow of the forms, he spent a good hour ignoring the world.

"You are very skilled," a female voice interjected. Ranma slid smoothly to the end of the kata and looked up. The woman pulled a strand of green hair away from her eyes and smiled. "I have not seen that kata performed by a person your age in many years."

Ranma stood his ground. "I'm gonna be the best there is."

"Indeed. But not for a while yet." The woman bowed and walked away. Over her shoulder, she called out, "I'll see you again soon, Ranma."

Once she was out of sight, Ranma looked around for a place to hide from his father. Genma would be back, soon, to do something. He always was. And Ranma didn't want to leave before his friend showed up.


Ranma balanced, crane-like, on the tip of a pole. There were many poles, sticking out of the pools and reaching various heights. It was an obstacle course in the air, if one were so inclined. Genma was so inclined.

The young martial artist kept himself alert. Genma crouched upon a pole just below him and to the right. Without so much as a warning yell, he launched himself at Ranma. Spinning wildly, Ranma dodged to another pole. As he did so, he caught sight of a woman with green hair.

Flailing, he fell backwards. Water enveloped him. Water filled him. He felt change, change fueled by the magic of Jusenkyou and, unknown to him, by the magic of his bloodline.

Sputtering, he reached the surface of the pool. He reached up to brush his pink hair away from his eyes. *Wait a minute. Pink hair?* He noticed that his hand looked different as well. Smaller, more delicate. He followed the hand up the arm to his body. His body was also different. The chest was more pronounced, for one thing.

After a few seconds, Ranma pulled open her gi, saw her breasts, and screamed.


Setsuna leaned over the table, sipping at her cup of tea. She didn't particularly like this bar and the dim lighting was even worse in her corner. She normally wouldn't be here at all, since she preferred to do her drinking with friends, but she was on a mission.

A balding man in a white gi strode purposefully into the room, followed by a pink-haired teenaged girl. She immediately headed for the unisex restroom near the back of the room, while the man sat down at the bar. The bartender walked over and the gi-clad man pulled out some bills, presumably to pay for his drink. The bar was still empty enough -- the hour was early -- that she could hear their discussion.

"Sake. And leave the bottle." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a black-haired teen come out of the restroom and sit in a corner much like her own.

"I can't take Crystal Tokyo yen, sir. I'm sorry, but the boss is firm about that. He likes the Queen and all, I think, but he doesn't trust her, and since we're not in Crystal Tokyo proper, he doesn't have to accept it. So he doesn't. If you had some Japanese yen…"

The man rummaged around in his pockets and came out with a smaller bundle of money. He counted it. Counted it again. "Ranma! I need that money I gave you!" The teen slowly walked over to the bar, set down a small pile of bills, and walked back to his table. The man, whom Setsuna recognized as Genma, paid for his drink and settled back to discover how drunk he could get.

When she judged Genma to be well-enough in his cups, she stood up and made her way to Ranma's table. "Hello, Ranma."

He looked up. After a moment he recognized her. As much as he could, anyway, given the disguise magic that had been active the last times he'd seen her. "You. Who are you? What do you want?"

"Right now? Simply to talk. My name is Setsuna. I'm a friend of your mother. Your real mother."

"My mother?" Ranma seemed to be curious, but there was a tinge of fear and worry on his voice. Setsuna decided to take it a bit more slowly.

"Yes. Saotome Genma did tell you that he's not your real father, didn't he?"

"Yeah, he mentioned it once or twice." Ranma nodded slowly. "Never said anything about my mother, though, either way. And he didn't talk about it any more than that."

"I might have guessed. Anyhow, I am the one who placed you with the Saotomes, your foster parents. I'm glad to see that you turned out well, in spite of Genma's efforts."

"Hey, he's not done that bad!" Ranma, again, seemed torn between two emotions: indignation at Setsuna and anger at Genma.

"He hasn't? What about Jusenkyou? I saw the pink-haired girl who came in, you know."

"You got a point there, I guess. Still, he's not usually that stupid."

"Perhaps not," Setsuna conceded. "Nevertheless, I apologize to you. I needed you to learn some things you would only learn from Genma, but I was unable to prevent the unnecessary stupidities."

Ranma shrugged. "By and large, he's not that bad. You could have picked worse. But why did you have to put me with foster parents in the first place? Did my real parents die or something?"

"No, they're quite alive. But they couldn't have raised you in the right way for your destiny."

"Destiny? What do you mean?"

"I'll explain later. For now, would you like to meet your real parents?" Setsuna held out her hand.

Ranma didn't take it. "I'll have to tell Pops. He wanted me to meet someone here in Old Tokyo."

"Feel free. In fact, he can even vouch for my identity, if he wants to. We'll be going into the main city, to the Capital. You can come back afterwards, if you want."


"So, where are we going, Setsuna-san?" Ranma looked around at the crystal buildings surrounding him. His father, or so he still thought of Genma, had been unusually acquiescent to Setsuna's proposal, muttering something about extra time to finalize some arrangement.

"To the palace. That's where your parents are." Setsuna led Ranma to the nearby transport terminal. She punched a code into the pedestal and pulled Ranma onto the teleport pad. "Have you ever used these before?" When Ranma shook his head, she explained. "All of the crystal points that make up the regions of the city are linked to the palace, and through the palace to each other. What this does is piggyback on that link to teleport us to a given destination."

As Setsuna finished, lights began to flash around the borders of the pad. From Ranma's point of view, he was on the edge of Crystal Tokyo one moment, and deep inside the city the very next. Setsuna started walking toward the nearby building, which matched the pictures of the palace that Ranma had seen. He quickly caught up to her.

Ranma remained silent for a while. He knew quite well that he was no artist, but he knew how to appreciate beauty when he could. Years of training with Genma had taught him that his time to appreciate such things was usually quite brief, so he concentrated on enjoying his surroundings.

A great arch of marble, perhaps the only non-crystalline structure within a kilometer of the palace, stood in front of the entrance, reaching perhaps a hundred meters at the peak. Letters curved across the face, spelling something in no language Ranma knew.

"It's in a very ancient language, thousands of years old. It means, 'Let there be light'." Setsuna had apparently noticed his puzzlement. "Queen Serenity had had enough of fighting darkness on its own terms, you see."

Ranma smirked. "Smart woman."

"Yes, well, it did take a few years for her to get to that point." Setsuna kept walking towards the open doors. She passed through them and led Ranma along a twisting side-path.

"My parents work here in the palace or something?" Ranma had given up observing his surroundings, focusing instead on matching Setsuna's ever-quickening pace.

"You might say that." They rounded a corner and stopped before a door. "Ah, here we are. They should be eating lunch about now."

At Setsuna's gesture, Ranma put his hand to the door and slowly opened it. He stepped inside. Setsuna followed, but remained in the doorway.

The interior was decorated with crescent moons coupled with images of food. The room was full of equipment, some of which Ranma recognized as archaic forms of modern kitchen appliances. It was all, so far as he could tell, in perfect condition.

Inside were two men and two women. One couple -- for it was obvious that the black-haired woman and the white-haired man were a couple -- sat at a table at the far side of the room. The other two were busy at all the equipment, cooking food.

The door had opened silently and none of the four had yet noticed Ranma, so he spoke. "Uh, hello?"

The blonde woman standing over a pot of curry turned and stared. "Ranma? Is that you?" When he hesitantly nodded, she left her cooking and dashed over to enfold him in a hug. "Mamo-chan, Luna, Artemis! Look at my son, all grown up!"

"Mo…." Ranma found his voice. "Mother?" He found himself returning the embrace. "Mother?"

"Oh, Ranma, it's so good to finally see you after all these years." She began to cry into his shoulder.

The second man in the room joined the hug. "Hello, my son. I wish… I wish I could have seen you grow up."

"At least I finally know you now." Ranma smiled. After a moment, he sniffed. "What's burning?"

"My curry!" The woman with the blonde pigtails broke out of the embrace and ran back to the stove. "Oh, it's ruined. The one time a month I get to make lunch, and then you show up and I go and ruin the curry."

The man let go of Ranma and chuckled. "There's still enough food, Usako. And I don't think our guests will mind if you make more curry later, if you really want to."

Ranma grinned. "I sure won't mind. But why can't you make lunch more than once a month? Does Queen Serenity not like you using this old equipment or something?"

All four people looked stunned. The black-haired woman recovered first. "Ranma, didn't Setsuna tell you who your parents were?"

"No… She said they worked in the palace, but she didn't say anything else."

The woman's companion snorted. "I'll say they work. They work the hardest of anyone here. Young man, your parents are King Endymion and Queen Serenity."

"WHAT?"

"It's true, Ranma," Setsuna stepped out of the doorway and helped Ranma to one of the chairs. "I wanted it to be a surprise."

"Well, it was." Ranma sat down. "So. You're my parents. The King and Queen."

The two nodded as they pulled up chairs of their own.

"You don't look much like royalty dressed like that." Ranma gave a short chuckle. Indeed, the Queen was wearing a fading sundress and the King wore an apron over his short-sleeved shirt and pants.

"Well, like Usako said, we only get to do this once a month, or else the staff get upset. Once a month, we ignore who we are in the public eye and just spend time as ourselves with our friends. Part of that is cooking for ourselves."

"And speaking of which…." The Queen grinned and began to bring over plates of food. "Will you join us, Setsuna?"

"Certainly, provided it is your husband who did the bulk of the cooking."

"I'm not THAT bad, am I?"

Setsuna and Endymion nodded.

"Mouu!" Serenity shook her head and pulled a plate towards herself.

The white-haired man coughed slightly. "Mmm?"

"Yes, Artemis?" Serenity looked up from her rice and fish.

The black-haired woman leaned over and whispered in the Queen's ear.

"Oh, that's right. I forgot to introduce you. Ranma, this is Luna. And this is Artemis, her husband. And of course you both know Ranma. You were there when he was an infant." Serenity nodded and returned to her food. Ranma bowed as well as he was able, sitting in a chair.

Implications began to occur to him. "My parents are the King and Queen. That makes me a prince, right?"

"Actually, you're the crown prince, Ranma, since you're the only child," Luna answered.

"And that's actually part of the problem, Ranma," Setsuna spoke up. "I'm an expert on time, and it's part of the historic record that for at least several more years, the Queen only had one child. But it's also part of the record that the Queen's child was the crown princess. As in female."

"No." Ranma shook his head. "I'm a guy." This was all too much and Ranma found himself retreating from the assault in the only way he could: ignore it until it goes away.

"We know that, Ranma," his mother said. "Which is why we were all very surprised when you were born. As far as we knew, my first child was a girl named Usagi who, a few years from now, traveled back in time a thousand years to help us fight certain enemies. When you were born, we could tell you were the same person as Usagi; your 'mental signature', for lack of a better phrase, was identical to hers."

"No. No way. Not happening. I'll be going now, thanks." Ranma stood up.

Setsuna pulled a photo out of her pocket and placed it on the table. "Recognize her, Ranma?" He looked at it. In the picture was a teenage girl, her face full of surprise. Her pink hair was done up in pigtails. She was, as near as he could tell, his cursed form. He felt cold water pouring over him. Ranma spun around to see Setsuna holding an empty glass over her head.

"You are her, Ranma. Like it or not, you are that girl. You will save your parents' lives one thousand years ago." Setsuna's voice was firm.

"Parents? What parents? All I see here are two people who abandoned their son, only to pull him back when they thought they needed him!" Ranma turned and headed for the door.

Luna spoke up. "Ranma! You can't run away at a time like this!"

"Oh?" Her voice was laced with sarcasm. "Watch me!" With that, Ranma quickly made her way out of the palace. Nobody seemed inclined to stop her. Ranma wasn't sure if she liked that or not.

She realized belatedly that she didn't know how to get back to the tavern where she'd left Genma. Not knowing what else to do, she accosted a passerby. "Hey, can you tell me how to get to Nerima?"

"It's not hard," the woman responded. "Here, let me show you how to pull up the directory." She pressed a few buttons on the teleport console and showed Ranma how to find a specific pad in the city's network.

Ranma quickly found what she thought was the pad near the tavern and got ready for the teleport. "Thanks, lady."

"No problem." The black-haired woman smiled, then looked over her shoulder as someone called her name. "Goodbye!" She hurried off. The teleport pad kicked in, wiping the scene from Ranma's view and replacing it with a familiar street.

Genma was waiting for her outside the tavern. "Where the hell have you been, boy?" He looked to have shrugged off his drunkenness some time ago, and to have been waiting for almost the same length of time.

"To hell and back, old man." Ranma headed into the tavern to get some hot water again, but Genma grabbed her arm.

"No time for that, boy. We have somewhere to be," he said, as he tossed Ranma her pack. He set off down the street.

"Whaddya mean, 'no time'? We just got here! I wanna get some hot water and turn back into a guy." Ranma swung her pack back towards Genma, hitting him in the head with it, and turned towards the tavern again.

The heavy pack impacted her back without warning, knocking her down. Genma took the opportunity to get a firmer grip on her and demonstrated that he would carry her, if necessary. "We're going to go see an old friend of mine. Name's Tendo; haven't I ever mentioned him?"


Ranma felt a bit more comfortable having finally changed back into his male form, but that comfort was outweighed by the glare on the youngest Tendo's face. The other two daughters weren't terribly reassuring either; though he doubted the oldest was mad at him, she was certainly displeased about something, and the middle daughter looked as if Ranma's mere presence annoyed her.

Tendo Soun, apparently deciding to try to do something about the hostility in the air, spoke up. "It's not so bad, Ranma, since you can turn back. In fact, I feel sure that this curse won't be too much of a problem for any of my daughters." He went on to introduce them, concluding by saying, "So, Ranma, which one do you want to marry?"

 

To be continued.

Chapter 2
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