A Ranma ½ fan fiction story
by Josh Temple
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. However the concept for Calash, templates, imprinting and such is mine.
Chapter 9: New Growth
"These orders have forced us to declare independence."
Ranma was clearing out her garden. The redhead smiled at that. Her garden. It was originally her mother's, but after more than two years of no one tending it, it had become overgrown.
The redhead stopped her work, the white glow around her hands vanishing. A few yards down the slope, there was something obscured by a couple of trees that caught her eye. It was a large bush that had thick, gnarled branches. Only the shape of the leaves betrayed what it really was.
A smile formed on her face as she bounded over to the bush. "Wow… You're a lovely old thing," she said as she ran her hands over the plant, taking care to avoid the thorns, some of which were several inches in length.
I guess the trees helped protect you, Ranma thought as she looked at the saplings. Still, you're not doing so well. Don't even have the energy to bloom. Ranma frowned as she knelt down to examine the plant further. Great roots and branches, though.
"I can't let one of Mom's roses live like this," Ranma said as she shifted into her princess mode. Careful not to let her long dress get caught on anything, she stood up and stepped back. She smiled, sensing the life-force of the plant. The rosebush was very strong, very hardy. It would be perfect. The princess summoned her wand and pointed it at the bush, enveloping it with a bright green light.
Ranma smiled as she watched new leaves start to bud on the bush. More importantly, she could feel a connection to the plant. "Don't worry," she giggled to the bush. "I'll let you get used to your changes. I'm not gonna force you to bloom."
"I should have known you'd be talking to plants, but isn't this dress a bit much? I mean, don't you have clothing specifically for gardening?" Dan asked as he walked up to the girl.
"Sure, I could have just pulled my wand out. It's not that complicated of a spell," Ranma said as she shifted back into a tank top and shorts. "But, it's a special occasion. One of my Mom's plants that survived is a rosebush!"
"This big thing?" Dan said as he looked over the plant. "It's a mess of thorns and branches."
"Roses have thorns, you know," Ranma sighed as she went to work on clearing around the bush. She decided to leave the trees in place. They would make good windbreaks. "So, what are you doing here? I'm pretty sure you guys aren't interested in gardening."
"I was walking back from the range and saw a girl wearing a green gown blasting a plant with a wand. That made me a bit curious."
"Oh, I see." Ranma nodded. She looked up from magically improving the soil to study the bush again. "You have no idea how great this is, Dan!"
"I was worried that I'd have to grow some bushes from seeds, or maybe get them from a garden center. But now I've got good stock to grow my plants from! Look at how well it's responding to my magic."
Dan could see the plant was greening up and was looking more alive. "This thing? A wild rosebush that you've found in the woods?"
"Well, yeah. Wild Rose School. Besides, I don't mean to be rude, Dan, but what if you found something of your mother's?"
Dan frowned. "Yeah… Guess that would be something. It is an impressive plant. Got nice big thorns on it."
"Yeah, roses really are great. They're very hardy plants, very deep roots."
Dan sighed. Ranma was babbling about roses again. "As mind-numbingly fascinating as that is, I'm gonna make lunch."
"Lunch?" Ranma looked at her mother's rosebush. "I'll be right in. I'm gonna try putting some protective spells in this thing, and link it to me."
"Um… okay," Dan said before walking back to the house.
"I heard you found one of mother's rosebushes," Sarah said to her sister. Both girls were in the room they shared.
"Yup! It's a great plant," Ranma said as she sorted through her dresser drawers. "Say, do you know if Mom liked roses?"
"I think she liked them fine," Sarah shrugged. "What are you doing?"
"I'm converting my clothes." Ranma then pointed at the boxers in the drawer and with a white light they shifted into rose themed bras and panties.
"I thought you weren't sure what you were going to do?"
"Running out of acceptable underwear forced me to make a choice." Ranma sighed. "Magic clothes are great and all that, but they're not so good for use as undergarments for a prolonged period."
"Yeah, it took me a bit of time to figure it out. My 'magic clothes' are really me shifting the clothing I'm already wearing."
"And they don't get cleaned each time you change?"
"Technically they do, but it doesn't feel as clean as fresh clothes," Ranma shrugged.
"That explains why you take your blouse and skirt off every night before going to bed."
"So it's only a matter of time before all your clothing is converted anyway?" Sarah asked.
"I suppose I could just wear a couple outfits and keep the rest as some memorial to before my transformation, but then I'd have to do laundry a lot more. This way's much better," Ranma said as she started looking at what was in her next drawer.
"So… any more thoughts on that prince stuff?"
"Huh? Ranma said, dropping the black tights she had just made from a pair of pants. "Oh, that… I don't really know. I'm not feeling any different."
"Not even when you were teasing Ned?"
"Nope." Ranma shrugged as she picked up the tights. She then changed a red tang into a female cut and added some rose embroidery and gold etching. It ended up kind of fancy, but she liked fancy now.
"I guess you're just waiting for your specific prince. In most of the fairy tales the princess does only have eyes for him."
"That's a fun thought," Ranma deadpanned as she resumed converting her clothing. She was at her closet now and was going for blouses, dresses, and skirts.
"As long as you're not feeling any strange urges…."
Ranma raised an eyebrow.
"If what you said is true, I'll know it if I meet him," Ranma frowned.
"You okay? This might not even happen, and you seem okay with being a girl."
"A girl, yes, but liking some guy is something else."
"Maybe it's a prince from your past?"
"That's making it worse!"
"Okay, maybe he became a prince. You became a princess."
"Still, there weren't any good guys from Nerima. Even if I was into boys, I'd never be interested in any of them!" Ranma sighed. She blinked. "I became a princess."
"That could work. If I find myself looking for a prince… that's what I'll do!"
"Care to fill me in?" Sarah asked.
"I've been looking at this the wrong way. This prince thing just means that if I find the right person. Someone I fall in love with, that will be my prince!"
"Oh? That's better for you?"
"Sure it is. I'm not attracted to guys. So a female prince is likely," Ranma smiled as she resumed transforming her shoes.
"That's a lot of high-heeled sandals," Sarah noted.
"I like 'em," Ranma shrugged. "Besides, I have a pair of sneakers and a pair of boots."
"Still…" Sarah shook her head. "Back to the topic. You're not worried that the person you fall in love with will be male?"
"Not really. If I fall for a guy, then he has got to be worth it. I'm Princess Rose. Whoever I fall for is gonna have to meet my standards."
"With an ego like that…" Sarah laughed. "Still, 'prince' is kinda gender-specific."
"Yeah, but there's a couple female princes in magical girl things. I mean, there's that show… Utena. It has a rose princess and she ends up with a girl in the end."
"And in Sailor Moon there are two lesbian Senshi?"
"Of course, in that show, the princess ends up with a total loser of a prince."
Ranma frowned. "Yeah. Horrible waste of perfectly good roses. Whoever, whatever my prince is, I'm not gonna let her pull that kind of nonsense."
"Provided you find Mr. Right," Sarah suggested.
"I'm not in any hurry, and I'm sure it will be a Miss Right."
"Ranma smiled as she cut a clipping from her mother's rosebush using a thin line of red light from her finger. "I know you don't like being cut, but you'll be better for it in the end. You just need to get used to regular pruning again." This rosebush was a wild variety, which made it more capable of growing on its own, but it still needed some help, especially after years of neglect.
"Rose bushes respond well to trimming. I'm promoting new growth," she lectured to the plant. "You'll thank me for this next spring." The plant had exceeded her expectations. It had even started to form flower buds. It was still a large monster of a bush, but it was very healthy looking and seemed to pulse with vitality.
The redhead walked over to a garden she was making just down slope from the mother bush and planted the clipping. She summoned her wand, and with a burst of green energy it sprouted roots and was well on its way.
Closing her eyes, Ranma could feel the weak connection the young plant had with the main bush and herself. "Good. You're growing great." Ranma then repeated the pattern and planted a few more new bushes.
She then felt someone entering her garden. "Sis!" the redhead said as the turned to hug her blue-haired sister.
Erika smiled and returned the hug. "Impressive use of life energy and plant-based computing," she said, studying the roses. With her sister's help she had constructed her own internal I/O sphere.
"The computer side's just a pleasant side effect," Ranma dismissed. "It's useful in knowing how they're doing, though."
"I think there's more use to this than just that. If your plants can tell you if they need water or sunlight…."
"Oh my," Ranma smiled. "I'll tell Dan that I can help with his little sensor net."
"Can you make plants with sensors in them?"
"I've got some roses. Let's see if we can," Ranma said as she summoned her laptop.
"Impressive range on your projector," Dan said, while he sliced an apple.
"The projector's inside me, but yes, it does have to transmit to our body," Gos agreed as he stood at the other side of the kitchen table.
"Well, I'm worried," Dan suddenly said after eating an apple slice.
"About what? There's a lot to be worried about."
"This time it's our two computer-girls. Whenever they get together…."
"They do make good stuff," Gos pointed.
"They're getting bolder. I just wonder what they'll make next," Dan shrugged.
"Wait. You love this tech stuff." Gos narrowed his eyes. "I see. You just want them to help you with your template."
"You got me. Look at what Ran-man's been helping Sarah with. We should be good to go."
"Yes, the hacker bitch does like her robots and mecha." Gos nodded.
"There you are, honey!" Allison said as she walked into the kitchen. "I thought you were going to drive me to the grocery store."
"I…. forgot," Dan explained. "We can go now…."
"Yes, we will," Allison said as she grabbed Dan's hand. "Oh, and talk to the Princess today about getting your gender thing fixed. I'm getting sick of having to reinstall the program every week."
Gos looked around the empty room. "Well, I guess I'll check in on Erika then," he said before the projection switched off.
Rebecca growled as she studied her reflection. It had taken over a dozen baths, but the glitter and pink dye in her hair was finally starting to diminish. The activities of her former test subject were… confusing.
It was clear that the girl had considerable power now, but she was spending a lot of time making a garden. At least the regular combat sparring and other training made sense.
Despite herself, Rebecca was impressed. She had underestimated the power of the technology she was testing. It was clear that the redhead's programming had rapidly advanced and likely had integrated with her.
While Rebecca was curious as to what made such an event happen, she was more curious as to what her test subject's powers were. She would have to be… cautious. Her sensor drones had even been pulled back a bit.
She looked at her reflection again. This prank was actually pretty clever. With such a clear and outrageous change to her hair, she was forced to stay at home. She would need more power. Her current inventory of mecha was a good start, but it was time she used her second test subject.
She sighed. This Ryoga person would need considerable upgrading before he would stand a chance against the latest version of the first test subject. Rebecca knew that this Rose person had to be much stronger. Her second test subject would have to have some new offensive weapons and some regeneration to start with.
"Okay, I think that will solve your power issues," Ranma said as she swiveled her laptop to face Sarah.
"Wow. That's an interesting upgrade to my power system," Sarah said, while looking over the plans. "I think I can build this."
"Good," Ranma beamed. "I just enlarged the capacity and streamlined a few things. Your original design is very powerful."
"Okay." Sarah transferred the design to her laptop. "This is what I'm thinking of. I can double the volley capacity for my micro-missiles and add a pair of medium laser mounts on these underside arm slots," Sarah explained after pulling up a diagram of her armor system.
"Nice. This'll fit in well with the railguns I've been working on for you." Ranma grinned. She then showed Sarah the rotating figure of a large silver gun.
"You figured out how to make a railgun?" Sarah continued to be impressed at her sister's progress.
Ranma blushed. "Not really. I modified one of Dan's old designs, made it small enough to be carried by you, and upped the rate of fire."
"Still…." Sarah read over the abilities. "I see why you wanted to change my power systems. The energy increase will be just about eaten up by this and those new shields."
"That's great! I'm happy that you like it!"
Sarah blinked at the exuberant girl. "I've still got to transfer the code into my template and test it out."
"Of course—" Ranma blinked, and an evil smile grew on her face. "Hacker girl's back!"
"What? She's attacking?"
"Nope, it's just another one of her spy-bots." Ranma shrugged as she got up from the kitchen table.
"You tapped into Dan's sensor network?" Sarah asked.
"Something like that," Ranma grinned. Then in a flash of green and white light, she transformed into Sailor Rose.
"Wait for me!" Sarah shifted into her template.
Rose jumped out the back door and extended her wings. She flew a dozen yards and adjusted her heading, and when she had a straight shot at her target, released a thin pair of red beams. "That's a hit!" Sailor Rose cheered.
Sarah followed her sister. She landed next to Rose who was disassembling a good-sized robot. "That thing was cloaked, wasn't it?" she asked the Sailor Senshi.
"Yup," Sailor Rose said, her hand resting on the robot's computer core. "Dang…. Hacker-girl really keeps her stuff clean." She sighed and shifted out of her Senshi-mode.
"You tracked it using Dan's system?" Sarah asked as she looked around the forest. Ranma's garden was just behind them.
"Nope! I used that," Ranma said pointing to a newly-planted rosebush that was on the side of the garden closest to them.
"That came from Mom's rosebush, and I'm sure your magic did something to it."
"Erika gave me the idea. I formed a link to Mom's rosebush when I first found it. I did the same to the new plants I started from Mom's."
"And you added sensors to them?"
"After Erika suggested it. At first I just had them send me information about sunlight, water, and the like," Ranma said as she shifted into gardening clothes and checked on one of her plants.
"Yes. Good job," Ranma said, patting the rosebush. "Makes sense. You can add magic code to life-forms, and plants are alive."
Sarah looked over the rosebush. "And Dan's system didn't pick up on it?"
"Nope. You're right, I am watching the feed from that network," Ranma said as she started looking over the other rosebushes.
"If your flowers work like that, we could use them all over there. Make a new sensor net with them."
"You want me to plant more of these?" Ranma beamed.
"Yes, these freaky plants seem useful. Hmm. Calash in plants. Guess that makes sense."
"It'll take a while to plant enough to make a grid, and even then…." Ranma summoned her palmtop and started making calculations using her green stylus. "Wow, that's a lot."
"Will it require too many roses?" Sarah asked.
"There's no such thing as too many roses," Ranma corrected. She tapped the stylus to her lips. "Though it's still just a passive system." She started writing a new series of notes and designs.
"You know you're either brilliant or insane, right?" Erika asked her sister.
"It was your idea to use rose plants as sensors." Ranma sat next to a little rosebush. She looked over the bush and gave it an affectionate pat. This bush even had a couple of flower buds that were just about ready to bloom.
"At least they're growing well, but I guess you'd be good at raising them, Princess Rose," Erika smiled.
Ranma shrugged. "Sarah's sensor project almost delayed my gardening. Okay, let's get this done."
"Right," Erika said. "Your plan is to pump magic into the rosebush, using the organic tech?"
"Yes. Hopefully the rose will respond and adapt to meet my requirements."
Erika nodded. "That's what organic tech is supposed to do."
"Starting now," Ranma said as she stood up. She closed her eyes and shifted into her princess form.
"Getting formally dressed for this?" Erika smiled.
"My princess form is better adapted for this type of magic."
"Isn't this your default? You were reborn dressed like this."
"Yes, it is," Ranma agreed. "And my Senshi one has wings and is better for purification and combat. I mean, I can't kick wearing this." Ranma laughed as she pointed to her gown's ankle-length skirt.
"Okay, so you think you need to channel this much power…?"
"If I was going for raw power, I'd be in Senshi form. No, this requires finesse, not blasting holes in things," Ranma said as she summoned her wand.
The princess pointed the magical focus and poured her energy. The rosebush glowed green as the magic started to alter it. One of the buds started to expand in size and pulse with white energy. It eventually started to peel open, revealing a few petals encasing something… delicate, green, winged, and possessing antennae.
"Wow." Erika gasped, noting the contents of the flower. "That's one way to get the mobility requirement satisfied."
"Yup," Ranma smiled. "Let's activate it and start testing."
"What the hell is that?" Allison asked as she watched a small creature flutter into the living room.
"It's a fairy, honey," Dan said from his position slumped on the couch. "Tiny girl with antennae and dragonfly wings? Dead giveaway." He then rolled over.
"I know what it looks like! But it can't be that! Everyone knows that fairies went extinct during the industrial revolution."
"Since it's wearing a tiny little skirt made of rose petals and a bikini top from the same material, I think that narrows down where it came from," Dan said, still lying on the couch.
"Erika's over today, isn't she?"
Allison stood up, eyed the flying little green-skinned… girl, and walked to the back door and opened it. "What's with the funny little golem?" the blonde shouted in the direction of the garden.
She turned around and found the fairy flying just in front of her face. "Least you're a cute little thing. Man… Princess is making dolls now." She noticed the fairy's expression change. "Don't frown at me. Hey, cool. Wonder what else you can do?"
"She's not a golem," Ranma said as she and Erika slowly walked up onto the back porch and into the kitchen. She had her palmtop out and was making notes with her stylus.
"You don't dress like that in your garden. Usually your fancy dress is for when you're reading your plant books or when you're doing magic stuff."
"I did just make that." Ranma pointed to the fairy, which was currently examining Allison's hair.
"Yeah, it's a cute little golem," Allison said as she looked over the fairy, which now had changed from having deep emerald green hair to blonde.
"She's not a golem," Erika repeated. "She was made from a rosebud."
"Fine, a plant golem. Still very cool. She's very expressive," Allison then stuck her tongue out at the fairy and was pleased when it copied the move.
"She's got an organic AI in her," Erika said.
"Uh… why? Is there a need for that? I mean, what does she do?"
"An excellent question. Ichi, please come over here." Ranma beckoned the fairy over.
"Yes princess," the fairy said in a high-cute voice. She flew over to the redhead.
"Cool, she talks," Dan said after walking into the room, half of his face red from lying on the couch.
"Of course she does. Ichi here is my latest security system. I wanted something that was more mobile than my rose bushes and could react a bit if need be, so I put the requirements into a plant and had my magic work on the problem, and this is what it came up with."
Ichi bowed in midair.
Ranma pulled out her stylus and started pointing to various parts on the four-inch-tall fairy. First were the antennae. "She's got the same sensor and communications abilities as my stationary roses. She's strong, relatively speaking, so she can pick up things. Wings, of course, are her main locomotion. She can photosynthesize, but she still needs water and other nutrients. If you'll notice the bracers she's wearing, she packs a bit of a wallop. Nothing that can be used offensively, but for defensive work it's good enough. They're also good for clearing weeds and brush, which is good for her gardening use."
"She gardens too? Why am I not surprised?" Allison sighed.
"Why wouldn't she? She's gonna be out in the garden most of the time anyway, except when she's powered down recharging in one their special rose bushes."
"Why a fairy? I mean, a big dragonfly or something would have done the job," Dan inquired.
"Because they're cute," Ranma smiled.
"So, why's it bugging me then?" Allison asked as she looked at the blonde fairy.
"She's curious. Side effect of their sensor nature. You should be glad I wanted them stealthy, too. Otherwise she'd be a chatterbox, wouldn't you, Ichi?"
"I suppose so, Princess," Ichi said after pausing to think.
"So she's got an AI because the tasks you wanted her to do needed to be learned?" Dan asked.
"That, and it's easier to have something that can learn how to weed than for me to have to program it in manually."
"She's very flexible, and has a lot of capability to learn things." Erika nodded in approval.
Ichi smiled at the praise.
"She's now wearing what I am!" Allison said as she examined the little fairy.
"Talk to her about it, then," Ranma dismissed.
"So, why are you copying me?"
Ichi paused to think. "You're very interesting," she finally responded
"Oooo… Princess, I like her!" Allison exclaimed.
"So how smart is she?" Dan asked.
Ranma shrugged. "Right now, she's got enough mental power to do what she needs to do, but she is designed to learn more."
"Okay, what the hell is that?" Sarah demanded as she walked into the kitchen.
Ranma sighed as she gave her explanation again.
"Oh, that makes sense." Sarah looked over the fairy. "So am I the only one who picked up that her name means 'one' in Japanese?"
"You're going to make more, aren't you?" Dan asked.
"Just enough to help in the garden and patrol in shifts," Ranma said as she looked down at her gown.
"Wonderful, our house is guarded by rosebushes and fairies," Sarah dryly remarked.
"They did put my system to shame," Dan pointed out.
"You want me to do what?" Ranma asked as she came in from gardening and training. She was currently wearing her "Wild Rose" gi.
"My sex-changing thing is just a copy of yours…" Dan said as he looked around to see if that fairy had followed Ranma in. He was still a bit weirded out by the thing. Yesterday evening, he had even had a little chat with the fairy, which struck him as very inquisitive but shy. "…but it's not complete and has to be reinstalled every week," Dan continued. "I was wondering if you could help with that."
"You like being a girl, don't you?" Ranma shifted into a blouse and skirt.
Dan shrugged. "Meh, I don't mind it, but Allison really likes it. You saw how she got with that 'cute Goth' thing."
Ranma smiled. "Okay, I'll help you. Shift into girl-form."
"Done," Dan said once she had turned female.
Ranma's finger glowed as she poked Dan in the forehead.
"Ow!" Dan complained. "What the…? You didn't just get taller, did you?" Her gaze then went downward. "Oh my…" Dan said as she looked at her enlarged assets. "Why the hell am I so short?"
"No idea. I ended up shorter, too. All I did was make your body real. More effective than that previous copy curse you were using." The redhead then smiled playfully. "Oh, Allison! Someone wants to see you!" Ranma shouted.
"I like," Allison purred as she entered the kitchen. "Thanks, Princess," she said as she picked up Dan, who was now a few inches shorter than Allison, and carried her out of the room.
Ranma then turned to face a small fluttering figure behind her. "Yes, Ichi?" she calmly asked. If it were an emergency, the fairy would have communicated directly with her mind.
"I found a rosebush that would make a great candidate, princess. It's very healthy," Ichi said, almost shyly, as she transmitted the location and some information about the plant.
"I suppose you're getting lonely. Have you finished your gardening?"
The fairy nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! Planting those roses for the South end was a bit of a challenge, but I figured it out," she said proudly.
Ranma smiled. Ichi was doing very well, even on difficult, open-ended tasks. She would cautiously keep trying things, until something worked. "Very well. Let's make you a friend," Ranma walked back outside with the exuberant fairy.
The redhead laughed at the glee Ichi had. It was another positive sign. Ranma was very curious as to how a pair of fairies would interact to solve problems as a team. She would tell Dan about her proposed upgrades for the terminator template later. Allison and Dan would be busy for a while.
"Where's your little friend?" Dan asked as she walked out to the back porch. "Doesn't she normally read over your shoulder?"
"Ichi's teaching Ni how to weed," Ranma said, not looking up from the gardening book she had checked out of the school library. She was sitting in one of the reclining chairs that gave a partial view of her garden.
"Ni? You made another one? Took you long enough." Dan shrugged.
"I wanted to make sure Ichi was working out, and I had to wait for another new bush to get healthy enough," Ranma said as she turned to a new page.
"Why aren't you there with them?"
"I'm seeing how well Ni can learn and if Ichi is capable enough to teach."
"Oh, I see. So why are you reading the actual book? Can't you just flip through it scan every page and read it later at a high speed?"
Ranma closed her book and folded her hands in her lap over it. "I like the topic and I want to absorb everything I can. So, I'm going slow."
"Fair enough." Dan eyed the long gown the girl was wearing. "But why are you in your princess dress?"
"I'm relaxing," Ranma said as she looked at her book.
"When I relax all the way, I go into my default mode," Ranma said as she looked at the line of roses that spiraled up her dress. It also helped that she really enjoyed her dress. She had taken the time to design it and all the accompanying accessories.
"Oh, I see. I guess I'll let you read in peace."
"Sorry," Ranma apologized, and looked at Dan. "So did Allison like the new Dianna?"
Dan coughed. "Well, she got pissed when she tried to play dress up and her bras wouldn't fit me." He grinned. "But I got her over it."
"Glad to help," Ranma laughed. She shifted into a rose-accented blouse and green skirt and summoned her laptop.
"Well, since you're here, I have a few ideas for your template."
Dan raised an eyebrow. "Really, now?"
"Yes. Remember the third Terminator movie?"
"It sucked. So? Just last week we watched it and made fun of it."
"That's what gave me the idea," Ranma smiled as she pulled up a few files.
Dan studied the schematics and nodded approvingly. "Just one issue. Does it have to be a girl terminator?"
"You're not more concerned about the nanotechnology I've suggested?"
Dan shrugged. "Not really. It's not like even you could pull that off."
"Oh, a challenge!"
"Are you sure you should be doing this, Ichi?" Ni asked as she flew through the forest on patrol. The communication was through the connection they shared.
"Of course. Princess Rose made us to follow her orders, observe, and learn," Ichi transmitted to the other fairy. She turned back to watching her princess train.
"I suppose so. You do have no current tasks to complete," Ni relented as she scanned the woods.
"You’re just jealous that I'm free to watch her," Ichi teased. She had recently learned of the concept and it intrigued her. The fairy then smiled as she watched her creator leap up, rebound off of a tree trunk, flip in midair, tumble to the ground and stick a perfect landing before seamlessly transitioning into her next move.
"Hey, I'm just gonna see it tonight when we sync up our memories," Ni shrugged as she investigated an unusual spike in the ambient magic field. It was just an outcropping of rocks that seemed to churn the energy immediately surrounding it.
The fairy flew around the rock a few times studying it. She then resumed her patrol, marking that as something to return to when she had free time.
"Oh… nice anomaly. That's a good trade." Ichi smiled as she resumed watching Rose train.
Ranma smiled as she listened to the fairies chatter. They were really starting to grow on her. As she practiced a series of mid-air kicks she made a mental note to make a third one when a rosebush got strong enough. They seemed to do so much better when in a team.
The redhead flipped around and bounced off another tree, causing the nearby fairy to yelp and dart out of the way. When she landed on the ground she was just in front of her sister, Sarah.
"Don't scare the fairies," Sarah teased. She then looked around the area of the forest. "Odd place to practice."
Ranma laughed. "The range was too bland. Now that I don't have to worry about being watched by the hacker girl, I can cut loose a bit more."
"But this is your garden…."
"Flowers and martial arts don't mix."
"Really, now," Ranma drawled as she narrowed her eyes. "I am making a dojo as well as a garden. If you can't tell the difference between the garden and the dojo, then I'm doing a good job. Wild Rose School can't be taught in a normal hall, after all."
"Just seems like you'd damage your plants," Sarah defended.
"Don't worry. I've got it worked out," Ranma said as she summoned her palmtop and displayed a map on it. "See, the rosebushes are on the edges of the really heavy training areas, which are bordered with grass. The more moderate stuff is mixed with the gardens and accessed by paths."
"Are those a bunch of vertical bamboo poles inside a huge rose patch?" Sarah said examining the notations on the map.
"It's for balance training."
"You want people jumping over rose plants?"
"It'll be very pretty. Besides, my roses can handle it."
"But the thorns!"
"I told you. It's for balance training," Ranma smiled. "Of course, Mom's rosebush is in the center, right in what will be the meditation area."
Her face brightened as she used her stylus to alter the map. "That's what it was missing! I'll put a big koi pond right there. There's a natural basin right in that part of the western spur."
"Yeah, there was one back at the Tendo's. It was great. Very good for training." Ranma looked at the map and sighed.
"What's wrong? Your plans too complicated?"
"No, that's just a matter of time," Ranma smiled weakly and made her palmtop appear.
"The Nerima thing? Don't worry about them," Sarah said as she put her hand on her sister's shoulder. "Even if they did come here, you could handle them. Not like they'll even get here."
"I'm not worried about that, sis," Ranma sighed. "It's hard to explain. Maybe it's that I have time to think about something other than getting free of the template. Maybe it's my transformation, but I'm kind of regretting how I left them."
"You can't undo what you did. Besides, you did fine," Sarah reassured.
"I guess so. I'm a little bit curious what happened to them, though."
"How humiliating." Nabiki sighed as she looked around the airport terminal. A seeming phalanx of angry and heavily-armed policemen watched them.
"You're humiliated?" Akane shouted. "At lest you're not handcuffed!" She raised her hands a few inches showing that she was wearing two pairs of cuffs. One to secure her hands to each other, and one to secure her hand to the armrest of the chair.
"You know I can rip this chair out of the floor?" Akane shouted to the tall police lieutenant.
Nabiki dropped her head into her hands. This had started out as such a good idea. She had gotten Kuno to fund this whole trip, and things had gone well. Sure, every lead on Ranma eventually led to a dead end, but it was still a free vacation. They even got a few rumors that someone matching Ranma's description had moved further south. Then cops showed up.
"Miss, please don't force us to secure you further," stated Lieutenant Ray Walter, one very exasperated policeman, through a translator.
"I can't believe it ended this way," Cologne sighed from her seat farther down the line.
"Great-grandmother, why can't we go?" Shampoo asked in her native language. She was cuffed much like Akane was.
"Silence. You will obey me or I'll subdue you myself!" Cologne reprimanded. She sighed. At least Mousse was back in Nerima minding the shop. That was one less problem to deal with.
"Can you please stick to languages I understand?" the translator requested.
"This does seem a bit odd. We didn't do anything wrong," Akane grumbled.
"Tell that to the six Seattle SWAT officers that got injured. That's a quarter of our force. You can see that the rest have to baby-sit you guys. You folks are very lucky things didn't escalate."
"Tatewaki and his sister are drugged up!" Akane shouted.
"He's still under from the surgery. The doctors were amazed at how much trauma he could take."
"You didn't have to electrocute him," Akane muttered.
"He did come at officers with a sword,"
"It was wooden," Nabiki noted.
"Big factor in why he's still alive. He's lucky they got a chance to hit him with stun guns. If he'd charged us with live steel, we would have been forced to shoot him."
"You still beat him with clubs." Nabiki smiled. That had been an amusing sight.
"We got him to drop his weapon, but he was still a threat." Walter shrugged. "As for his sister, she was drugged up from exposure to her own chemicals. Chemicals that are quite illegal, I might add."
"You guys did burst into our hotel room with guns drawn," Nabiki stated. "Is it our fault you morons got the address wrong? I guess American police really are overzealous thugs."
"Ma'am, nothing would have happened if your friends had not resisted us," Lieutenant Walter explained. "Instead, we got three women attacking us and one sword-wielding loon."
"I still can't believe Kodachi drugged herself," Akane murmured.
"It's not like her potions can go through a gasmask," Nabiki stated.
What disturbed Walter the most was how lucky his men had gotten. One of the girls had disabled herself. Another was ordered to stand down by the old woman. The last had fought but was held back a bit by her older sister. That left the sword-guy. Even he was a huge problem to bring down.
"Yes, a lovely cloud of toxic chemicals. That was a great addition to the situation." Walter removed his sunglasses. "If it were up to me, I'd have you girls charged with everything we've got. But the district attorney wants this situation quieted up."
"It would look bad in the papers. A bunch of cops raiding and beating Japanese tourists, most of whom are schoolgirls," Nabiki smirked.
"That's the DA's opinion of things." Walter nodded. Cologne and Shampoo were Chinese, but the news media would not bother to make that distinction.
"So you're just going to kick us out of the country?" Cologne asked, in English.
"Yes. The six of you are to board that plane and return to Japan," Walter stated.
"Great-grandmother?" Shampoo asked.
"Yes, we will find him, but on our own," Cologne reassured in their local dialect of Chinese. She narrowed her eyes and looked at the others. "Without all this baggage."
Walter looked at the translator who shrugged. He sighed. This old woman was troublesome. She seemed way too accommodating. "Are you going to take this deal?" he asked, some hope entering his voice. Once they were on the plane they would no longer be his problem.
"We don't have any choice. This trip's been fun, but I want to go home," Nabiki stated.
"I don't think Ranma's even in this city, at least not anymore. That creepy little freak probably lied to you, sis," Akane said as she tugged on her handcuffs.
"Yes. It's looking more and more like a wild goose chase. Something to waste our time," Nabiki growled. It seemed that Hikaru had gotten the last laugh on her.
"We spent over two weeks looking for him here, and there was no real sign of him," Cologne sighed. Ranma was somewhere in this country, but not in this city.
Shampoo looked at the floor. She had tracked Ranma before. She would track him down again.
"We were done here anyway," Cologne said.
Walter looked to the two unconscious Kunos and smiled. "That's very good. Your flight boards in ten minutes. I trust you folks can stay calm until then."
"What did you do?" Ranma asked as she looked up from the rosebush that she was tending. It had just started to flower and she was inspecting the petals.
"I just changed a couple numbers in a police database," Gos explained with a sigh. "You sure we can't talk inside?"
"So it's gonna start to rain," Ranma shrugged. She was rather fond of the feeling of wet soil between her toes.
"I don't like the rain."
"Spoilsport." Ranma got up and dusted her hands on her shorts. She mentally checked to make sure Ichi and Ni knew about the coming precipitation and were ready for it. "So, you altered the dispatch of a SWAT team? Sounds dangerous," she said as they walked back to the house.
"Well, I knew that the criminals weren't in the original location of the raid. They wouldn't have met them anyway. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. It was their hotel suite, which was quite nice, it had several adjoining rooms and a balcony. All I had do to was change the room number, and alter the hotel's records a bit," Gos explained. "I have been keeping tabs on their entire little Seattle adventure."
"Still… having cops smash into that group," Ranma shook her head. "At least no one important got hurt."
"What's wrong, Ranma? I thought you'd be happy. They'll have a really hard time getting back into the States. Isn't this what you wanted?"
"I guess." The redhead tugged at her hair bow.
Gos rolled his eyes. "Look, it's their own fault they got kicked out. If they'd have just kept their cool, they'd still be free to roam the countryside looking for you. It was their own nature that got them in trouble."
"You still took advantage of them. I didn't want them hurt."
"And, discounting Kuno, you got that. Personally, I'm kinda disappointed." Gos glared. "Don't get soft on me, Princess. You gave me permission to do this little scheme. If you're really so concerned about those people, you can deal with them if you want. You clearly find my methods unacceptable."
"Sorry, I didn't realize it was such a sensitive thing with you," Ranma placated.
"I didn't offer to do this just because I owed you. I did it for myself, too."
Erika's projection suddenly appeared. "I'm sorry, sis, but I have to agree with Gos. You do know that Tatewaki hurt six men during that fight, two of them seriously. Also remember that they were coming to take you back by force." She sighed. "Sis, you've got a big heart, but…." She paused. There was no delicate way to put this. "You're still thinking fast, not smart."
"Yeah, yeah," Ranma sighed. "I know. Alone, some of them are pretty okay. Not the guys or Kodachi, but the girls. Ukyou, Akane, Kasumi, Shampoo, even Nabiki. However, get them in a group…."
"I told you earlier that was just how they would act," Gos stated. "And if they did that near you and your family? You know what Sarah, Dan, and Allison are like. They would waste those guys without hesitating. I did them a favor by just sending SWAT after them."
"They would do anything to protect me, wouldn't they?" Ranma blinked.
"Yeah, congratulations. You've got a great family," Gos deadpanned.
"Look at it this way, too. Maybe those nimrods learned something from this. That there're consequences to their actions," Erika interjected.
"One can only hope," Gos grumbled.
Ranma's face brightened. She knew she should not get her hopes up, but a little cautious optimism helped. Either way, the world's largest ocean was once again between them and her.
"Look, it's over with," Erika said before swapping Gos for the solid body. "And next time they start sniffing around for you, you handle it, sis," she offered, wrapping an arm around her.
"You're powerful enough to take care of them as you see fit," Gos agreed.
"Thanks, guys," Ranma said as she hugged Erika.
"Sorry to interrupt your hug-fest, but unless you want to get soaked…." Sarah said from the back porch.
"No! Let them stay out! Wet T-shirt contest!" Allison teased from next to the redhead.
"I wear bras now, you know!" Ranma shouted back.
"No fun," Allison mock-pouted. "Good thing I've got my Diana!"
"What was that about having a great family?" Ranma asked Gos.
"Come to think of it, you're a part of it too," Ranma smiled as they walked up the steps onto the porch.
"Erika's my sister and you're her boyfriend."
"Yeah, that works," Allison nodded. "I mean, I'm a part of the family."
"Yes. Yes, you are." Sarah sighed theatrically.
"Maybe they should move in, then? Allison did," Dan suggested. "We do have a spare room."
"You mean the guest room that Allison supposedly uses?" Sarah asked.
"It would save on asking people to give us lifts," Gos noted.
"You're over here enough anyway," Sarah noted.
"And we can move out of that horrible apartment!" Erika cried.
"Sean's a good friend of mine. He was the one that gave me my first I/O sphere," Gos said as he walked into the house with the rest of them.
"His apartment's still small and stinky," Erika said while scrunching up her nose.
"The bedrooms here are larger." Gos paused to think.
"It's not our choice," Sarah reminded them.
"Fine, I'll call," Ranma said she flipped her hand and a white cell-phone with green lettering appeared in her hand. Leaning on the kitchen counter, she typed the number to the Lockridge police station.
"We do have a landline," Sarah noted.
"Ranma's always been a show-off," Gos said.
"Hi, dad! I'm good; thanks for asking. How are you doing? Awww… sorry to hear that. I hope your deputy feels better soon. You work too much with just your own stuff, dad. Say… I was wondering. You know Gos and Erika? Yes, they're the couple that shares a body. Uh huh. Well they're looking for a better place to stay. Oh… Well, what about Dan's room?"
From his office, Jack O'Neil, looked out his window into the pouring rain and sighed. "Sorry, Ranma, there's no way Allison's parents would let her live in the same room as her boyfriend. Maybe if she is bunking with her girlfriend… well, I might be able to talk them into it."
Ranma blinked. "That's very silly sounding."
"Allison's parents insisted on them having separate bedrooms even though that doesn't stop anything," Jack explained.
"Okay, I'll tell them. Thanks, dad!" Ranma said before hanging up. She then explained the conditions to her family.
"Why does everything around me seem to think it's best to make me stay a girl?" Dan shook his head.
"Hey, I know how you feel man," Ranma sympathized.
He looked over to see the redhead had shifted into a red dress with a green vine pattern "That's not helping, Ran-man," he sighed
"Like you'd be spending any less time as a guy in bed," Allison snorted. "Have you forgotten how well things work now that Princess has improved your girl-side?"
"That's more information than I needed to hear," Sarah said as she walked out of the room.
"Come on, Erika. Let's talk about your template," Ranma said, while grabbing her other sister's hand and leading her upstairs.
"You have an idea for a battle template for me?" Erika asked, once they were in Ranma and Sarah's room.
"Take it. Sis really has a knack for improvements and upgrades," Sarah said from her lower bunk. Her laptop was out and she was working on her own template.
"Thanks," Ranma blushed. "I have to get more data from my fairies. Preferably, with twice the number I have," Ranma said as she mentally requested Ichi to come to her.
"I knew there was more to them than just sensors, gardening and curious chit-chat!" Sarah grinned.
"It's no coincidence that they use the same type of organic programming as Erika and I. Observing how they grow and develop has been very informative," Ranma admitted as her laptop appeared.
"Like flying lab rats?"
"I'm here, Princess," Ichi bowed after flying into the room. She then turned to Sarah. "I suppose that's correct, Sarah-san, but data collection is critical to advancement. If Princess Rose can learn from me while I complete my tasks, I'm serving her on two levels."
"My, she's getting bolder," Sarah noted. "Now how did you get into the house?"
Ichi blushed, causing her green skin to darken to match her hair. "It was a very interesting problem to solve. I had the strength to turn the knob, but not the leverage," the fairy said as she flew over to see what Sarah was working on.
"Ichi here is a good demonstration," Ranma said waving her hand at the fairy that was studying Sarah's armor designs.
"Wouldn't Ni be just as good? I mean, their memories are synced up every night. Clever way to build their experiences and capabilities, sis," Sarah said.
"I didn't come up with it. It's how Ichi taught Ni. She was the one that came up with it."
"Wow, nice going, Ichi," Erika complimented.
"Thank you, Erika-san. It was the most efficient way to teach her," Ichi blushed, her skin turning a darker green.
"I was using her as an example for the application of living magic on a living host."
"So, she's practice?"
"For bigger things," Ranma smiled.
"Still it's a long way from roses to humans," Erika said.
"Oh! That's what you're planning for Erika's template!" Sarah's eyes widened in realization.
"Did you expect anything else from me? I'm a princess who's a Sailor Senshi."
Erika nodded. "I really like the irony. I mean, I'm one of Gos' creations. Makes sense I'd wear one of his other ones."
"You know, there is one really good upside to this. This won't make any more roses," Sarah joked.
Ranma nodded. "You're right. Can't have two Sailor Roses."
"Just watch," Ranma told her father as she powered up her wand.
"It's gonna be that bush, then?" Jack asked pointing to the little rosebush.
"It's been growing very well." The gown-wearing girl nodded as she closed her eyes and enveloped the plant in her energy. The plant glowed green as one of its flower buds started to grow in size.
The lawman watched the transformation intently. Soon the flower opened, and a fairy identical to the other two emerged. The tiny green woman stretched and flexed her wings. She then flew up to face her princess and bowed.
"San, please go find Ni and sync with her."
"Yes, Princess," the fairy said before flying off.
"Once she does that, she'll know everything they know?" O'Neil asked. "Impressive."
"Thanks, dad!" Ranma beamed as she led her father down a pathway. "I'll show you how helpful they've been!"
As the two slowly weaved their way through the garden, Ranma explained the things she had done. Jack smiled at how his daughter was carrying herself. Using the official plant names and other technical terms, she was even still wearing her princess clothing. "Daughter, how can you walk in heels like that on rough ground? That long dress can't help either."
"It's just training. Balance for martial arts, and deportment for being a princess," Ranma shrugged and went back to explaining the stones she was thinking of using for the rock garden section.
"I know Genma gave you an incredible amount of martial arts training, but when did you go through princess training?"
"Ever since my transformation, I've been researching and training in how I should act," Ranma admitted.
"Fair enough. So, all these roses came from Nodoka's bush?" Jack asked, amazed at what the girl could do in just under a week. He could see what had to be at least a hundred plants. Only a few of them were flowering, and among those he could see a variety of colors.
Ranma smiled. "Yes. Some are now fourth generation plants from Mother's. Only the first batch of second gens, those that are cuttings from Mom's plant itself, are clones. The rest, as you can see, have been altered. I can't wait until they start to seed. Then I can have some real fun with that group of plants."
"Wow. You're doing great here." Jack then looked to see that all three fairies flying around a running hose. "Aww… looks like it got away from them. I think watering may be too much for them."
"Wait, dad," Ranma said with a slight smile.
He then watched as San fired red beams into the water pouring out of the hose. The steam was then hit with a green beam fired by the Ichi and coalesced into a cloud that while small, was many, many times larger than her.
She then flew off with the cloud tethered to her by that same green beam. Ni fairy then made another cloud and flew off with it. San then flew over to the hose faucet and turned off the flow.
"They're watering with clouds?"
"Yup! According to them, they're surprisingly easy to make with magic. This is another reason why I'm working on that pond. A big pool of water near the center of the garden will really help watering," Ranma said.
"You girls never cease to amaze me," Jack smiled as he put his arm around his daughter's shoulder. "First Sarah showing off that new template of hers this morning at the range, and now this garden."
Ranma sighed happily as she leaned onto him. "Really? Sarah's done? That's great!"
Jack nodded. "I wonder how they came up with that idea."
"We'll ask them," Ranma said as she called San over to them.
"Yes, Princess, Sheriff O'Neil?" San bowed.
"That's the fairy you just made?" Jack asked. Unless they were copying someone's hair or clothing, the fairies were all identical.
"And she's already gotten all the information from the other two. Again, amazing." He turned to the expectant fairy. "So what gave you the idea to water the plants that way?"
"When asked to water, we researched it in an encyclopedia the princess had in her memory. We learned that plants normally get their water from rain. So we looked up rain. Rain is water vapor condensed into clouds in the air. We then found that by heating water past the boiling point, you get water vapor.
"It took a few tries, but eventually we managed to get controllable cloud formation. Thank you for creating me, by the way. Ichi believes that a third fairy was helpful in our success."
"That's a roundabout way of doing it. Very clever," Jack congratulated the fairy.
"Thank you." San blushed. "Princess, is that all?"
"Yes, you may go," Ranma said.
San bowed again and flew off.
"I've got one more thing to show you," Ranma said as she shifted her clothing. "You've seen the magical and gardening sides of Wild Rose School. Now for its martial side," she said, wearing her gi.
Ranma stretched slightly before leaping into the air, she then twisted and bounced off a tree branch before firing at a small ki-ball at a vertical target log. She bounded off the ground and then landed on top of the same log.
Jack nodded and watched as his daughter continued her routine. She kept firing at various target logs from contorted midair positions. Jack strongly suspected Sarah had mentioned to Ranma that she had finally beaten him in a target shoot.
Eventually Ranma finished her display and landed in font of her father. "What do you think, dad?" she asked.
Jack nodded. "Again, you're amazing. So this garden really will be a training ground."
"Thanks!" Ranma gushed.
"Well, let's see how the others are doing. Dan seems to be taking the new sleeping arrangements well," Jack noted as they walked back to the house.
"It's not a big change for him, really. I'm glad that Allison's parents were okay with it, though."
"Thanks for letting us use your truck," Gos said as he loaded a box into the back of the black Suburban.
"No problem," Dan said as he put another box in.
"I just wish Sean could have helped, but he's at his mother's until Sunday," Gos explained.
"What kind of paint job is that?" Erika asked, standing next to Ranma.
"Creepy, moving black stuff." Ranma, who was wearing a blouse and matching skirt, shrugged
"How much stuff did you two have? You moved here after Ran-man," asked Dan as he and Gos went back into the apartment.
Gos shrugged. "Erika's a girl, and we ordered more equipment when we moved in."
"Gos is right about that. If I didn't have magical clothes…" Ranma shook her head as she and Erika followed the guys.
"That's because you like to try every possible combination of various shades of red, white, and green combined with different ways of adding roses," Erika countered.
"Maybe you should get some new colors, Ran-man," Dan suggested as he picked up a pair of flat-panel monitors.
"Roses do come in more colors than red," Gos reminded. He then pointed at a box.
Ranma glared. "Yeah? It might surprise you, but I know all the colors roses come in."
"Then wear something else. There are black roses," Gos smiled darkly.
"No. Just no," Ranma shuddered in revulsion. "I'll try some other colors."
"Blue would look good on you," Erika added.
"We can talk after we get the truck loaded," Dan suggested.
"Yeah, that would," Ranma admitted before carrying a box to the car.
Sheriff O’Neil looked around the town hall conference room. It was surprisingly dark for a government room. Seated before him at a trio of tables formed into a "u" shape were the Town Fathers. This was the collection of men and women who ran Lockridge. Only half of them were members of the town government in any official way. The rest were important in other capacities. He had just finished his weekly briefing. It was all the standard minutia of policing a small town.
"Oh, I heard you've adopted your wife's first child," Mayor Kenneth Loren said, almost causally, from the head of the "u", directly opposite the lawman. Loren looked respectable without being too dapper, critical for a small town mayor. His slicked-back, thinning white hair and plain face helped with that.
"Yes, I did," Jack O'Neil said.
The other Town Fathers muttered briefly. "Is it true about her nature?" Alden Jefferson of the utility department asked.
"She does have some very advanced Calash in her, yes," Jack allowed.
"You can vouch for her stability, I assume," Loren stated. He was now looking critically at the lawman.
"Of course. She's my daughter. I am responsible for her," Jack casually shrugged.
"Good," Loren smiled, his face taking an amused cast. "If only more parents around here took responsibility for their children," he said as he looked at the assembled Town Fathers.
"It is rumored that her… condition is due to the actions of another. There's no chance of things becoming explosive between your daughter and her rival?" the man next to Jefferson asked.
"That would entirely be up to Ranma's rival. She is the one that has been antagonizing, not just Ranma, but my entire family," Jack sternly stated.
"We are in a risky situation. More advanced Calash use is encouraged, but this risks more attention being brought to us," Loren moderated.
Jack stood still. He had some idea what the Town Fathers were planning. For one, it had a long timetable and was only just now reaching the halfway point.
"We should not overly concern ourselves with these children. You all remember what it was like when we were young," Richard Stockworth who sat across from Jefferson smiled in remembrance. He was the head of the Lockridge branch of Rotary International.
"Yes, there are larger organizations that threaten us," Jefferson remarked.
Loren shot a glare at Jefferson before turning to O'Neil. "Always a pleasure, Jack. Best of luck with your family," the mayor smiled.
"Thank you sir. If you have nothing else, I'll be going now," O'Neil said, picking up the cue to leave. He turned and left the room.
"You're still concerned with Winston's plans?" Stockworth almost smiled. "The man is a businessman. His interest is purely economical. Revealing Calash does not profit him."
"Only because he understands the risks of what would happen to his company if he went public with it," Jefferson smiled darkly. "That's the risk you take when you run a family business. It makes you very susceptible to… leverage."
"I don't believe it will come down to that. Robert Winston knows how to play ball. He doesn't even live in Lockridge anymore," Loren shrugged. "Besides, I think this new 'Princess' will prove to be a large concern for us."
"I doubt she'd try a coup," Stockworth laughed.
"There's no need. She's young and connected." Loren smiled. "Don't be surprised if in ten years she's sitting at this table."
The Town Fathers looked amongst themselves.
"You really believe she's that powerful?" Alice Franklin, superintendent of the town schools asked.
Stockworth nodded. "She has the potential, and if she really does think of herself as a princess…."
"Then political ascension is something she'll want to do," Lorenz completed.
"So she might see Lockridge as her private magic kingdom?" Jefferson grumbled.
"I wouldn't worry about her," Loren dismissed. "In fact, I see this situation as potentially quite useful. She even knows that Ned Winston fellow."
"We should keep an eye on her. If she shows as much promise as you suggest, then we could have her be an asset to us," Alice proposed.
"Perhaps, but it's too early for us to make a move," Loren cautioned. "We have to be sure of what's going on. A little bit more patience can't hurt."
"You sure about this?" Sailor Rose asked Sarah as she ran a hand over the runes on one of her bracers. The two redheads were on the range and were both in combat mode.
"We've tested my shield with all sorts of weapons over a dummy target until it failed," the armor-clad girl sighed. "But sometime we have to test it when it's on me. You did design this system!"
"That is true," Rose agreed.
"Just remember, no wand. When you get with that wand, scary things happen," Sarah said as she looked to see a fairy watching them. The tiny-green girl smiled and shifted her hairstyle to match Sarah's.
"I've only made four so far," Rose said.
"And how many do you plan to make?"
"Not too many. Two more should be able to cover the garden duty and patrol the grounds nicely."
"Half a dozen? Okay." Sarah shrugged. "Guess you really are a fairy princess."
Sailor Rose pouted slightly.
"You're the one that decided to make them with fairy bodies instead of something else," Sarah laughed.
"You're right." Rose then smiled as her bracers started to glow. "I suggest you power up your shields now. You wouldn't want to get your pretty new armor scratched."
"That's the spirit," Sarah said as she activated her shields. A slight blue shimmer bubbled around her.
"Okay, sis," Sailor Rose said as she powered up her bracers. A pair of thick beams lanced out of her hands and struck the shield. Part of the beams diffused into the shield, but the majority reflected off of it. Rose stopped the beams and gave the thumbs up to her sister.
"That was…. interesting," Sarah blinked.
"You're okay?" Sailor Rose asked.
"Yeah fine," Sarah said as she shifted out of template.
"Great! We've just got to test your new weapons then, and you'll be done," Rose smiled as she pulled out her palmtop. "Hmm. Still working with Dan on his stuff, and Erika's coming over soon."
"What are you doing with her now?" Sarah asked. She was not too fond of the magical girl's smile.
"I should have known this would be your idea," Gos said as he and Erika stood out in Ranma's garden.
"Erika helped," Ranma said.
"It was an interesting idea to increase the power of a template while reducing the risk," Erika said as she checked her status.
"Yes, instead of a full merger like Ranma did, we just increase our bonding to a template that uses advanced organic tech. What our little princess calls living magic."
Ranma narrowed her eyes.
"It is a symbiotic bonding with some very high-powered magic. We do need a combat template, Gos," Erika reminded.
"Yes, and in theory it all works out." Gos nodded grudgingly. "In exchange for lower power levels, the risk is reduced to a sane amount. Besides, with two of us in this body, a full merger would be… troublesome."
"So what's holding you back?" Erika asked.
"Clearly it's the uniform. Don't you want to see your girlfriend dressed like that?" Ranma teased. "You did make that type of uniform for me."
"Fine. Let's do it then." Gos shrugged. He then vanished as the projector generating his image shut down.
"You sure about this?" Ranma asked. "You really want to be one of my Senshi?"
"Sure. Working with you sounds good," Erika said as she readied her programming.
"Great!" Ranma then shifted into her princess mode and pointed her wand at Erika. The white rosebud at the end opened and green and blue energy came out and enveloped Erika. It spiraled around the girl and coalesced into clothing of an expected pattern and theme. "I see you went with willow blossoms. Very pretty," Princess Rose said as her wand powered down. She would check to see if there were any willow trees nearby.
"Wow. So this is what it feels like," Sailor Willow said as she used white-gloved hands to adjust her deep blue skirt. "Are the heels really needed?"
Ranma smiled. "I'm afraid so. It's part of the uniform, just like the jewelry and bows. At least you have high-heeled boots. Besides, the uniform's not that bad."
Gos then flashed into existence. "Man… the irony of you saying that. Though I guess you like this type of fuku now." Gos looked over Erika. "You know you look just like Sailor Mercury, right?"
"You're the one that gave me blue hair," Sailor Willow reprimanded.
"And she really doesn't. Mercury did not have light green bows, nor did she have a lacy choker with willow blossoms, or anything floral really."
"So why did you pick willows?" Ranma asked after transforming back to her gardening clothes.
"Lovely flowers and trees. They get very strong and very big. Grow real easy from clippings. For a power base, they're pretty common. Unfortunately, they only bloom for a short period too," Willow explained, before reverting back to Erika.
"That's good, given that this plant's going to be your power base. It's bigger because you have a tree, but it also takes longer to grow and mature," Ranma then smiled evilly. "Looks like I've got my first student."
"Wild Rose School, of course. I'll teach you how to use your powers, fight, garden, and, if I'm feeling thorough, manners and deportment."
"Well, I do need to learn how to fight and how to plant willows," Erika sighed.
"You…" Gos pointed to Ranma. "…can teach manners? Did that princess stuff get to you that much?"
"It was mostly a joke, though come to think of it, manners are really just learning how to control your actions in a social situation. If you really want, I can come up with some training that uses it." Ranma then grabbed Erika's arm. She checked the map of plants that her fairies had composed. "Good, there's a few around here. We should pick out your willow. This is the best part!"
Ned rode the elevator taking him from a subbasement to a ground-level floor of his family's Teakettle Ridge facility. He then walked the corridors until he came to South Building, where his apartment was. The teen would rather spend more time building in his lab, but he was too fatigued to continue. If things were not tense enough with the change in the Ranma and Rebecca situation, his great-uncle Robert had paid another visit and seemed to indicate that things should be stepped up, just in case some people were to try anything against the family.
"You're not looking too well," Julie said as she came out of her own lodgings. She looked at her brother. "I guess you're skipping school again."
"It's a school day?" Ned looked at his watch. "Damn, it is!"
"Since when did you care? Oh, it's about your redheaded princess." Julie laughed.
"She's a princess?" Ned asked, leaning against the wall near his rooms.
"That's the rumor. The Terson girl calls her that, but you know how blondes are." Julie smiled. "Well, I'll see you after school."
"Yeah, school," the heir to the Winston empire said as he unlocked his door and stumbled into his room. Thoughts about Ranma would have to wait until he got some sleep.
"That sounds silly." Gos smiled as he read the name of his girlfriend's attack
"I like the alliteration," Willow said as she flexed her hands, and looked at the upright log in front of her
"Try it," Sailor Rose said from the side.
"Willow Whip!" Sailor Willow shouted. As she flicked her arms forward, a pair of thin, flexible willow branches seemed to spool out of her hands and flew towards the log. Once they touched it, the branches spun around, ensnaring it in coils. Willow then clenched her hands and the coils constricted, grinding into the bark and the softer wood.
"Useful in capturing things, I'll give you that." Rose nodded.
"That's only the first part," Willow smiled as she tugged on the whips, which suddenly erupted in a blue glow. The branches then spun inward, biting into the log. They made steady work and eventually cut through the large log.
"A bit slow," Rose appraised.
"That was just for demonstration," Willow smiled as she dropped the two lines and summoned another glowing whip. This one she flung at the target and immediate cut out a large chunk of the log when it touched it. "It's similar to your purification energy, but more localized. It only disintegrates what it's immediately touching," Willow explained as she snapped her wrist and hit the log again, this time carving a long serpentine cut in it.
"Imaginative," Rose smiled with approval. "I'll keep this in mind with your training."
Gos shrugged. "I thought you would just have some advanced sensors."
"Well, of course I have that." Willow released the energy in her whip and tried to use it to grab a piece of the log.
"Yeah, you definitely need more whip practice." Rose nodded. "Though once you master it, it will be very useful."
"That's it!" Allison said as she suddenly appeared behind Gos in a shower of quicksilver.
"Good. We were waiting for you to show up." Willow winked to Rose.
"What? Oh… advanced sensors. Damn flower girls, “Allison mumbled. "I don't care how silly the uniform is. The perks are worth it. I mean, come on, whips?"
"You," Sailor Rose said briefly raising an eyebrow. "You want to be a Sailor Senshi. Okay."
"I can still use guns and high explosives, right?"
"I don't see why not," Rose shrugged. "You'll have to wear the uniform of course, and be a floral Senshi."
Allison smiled. "Yeah, yeah. I don't care."
"This could even help cure her quicksilver madness problem," Erika proposed. Invisibility was a useful power, but not at the risk of insanity.
Rose nodded. "I think we can work something out. Welcome aboard." The princess smiled.
"So where's my fuku?"
"You're going to have to help me get your mind ready, and modify your existing template. It was easier with Erika since she's more like me than a normal person, but don't worry. We can get you fighting for love and justice in no time," Sailor Rose reassured.
Allison blinked. "I think that's a good thing…."
To be continued.
Author's notes: Special thanks to my prereaders PyroRaven Patrick Wray, Mondu, and Truk. As usual they've been a great help.
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