A Ranma ½ / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon crossover story
by Josh Temple
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.
Chapter 7: Response and Recruitment
Ranma looked at her parents. Her mother was wearing a white lab coat that almost certainly had a firearm concealed within it. Her father was maintaining a surprising level of composure. The man was only fidgeting slightly, and he remained fairly silent.
"Now, husband, is this your idea of raising a 'man among men'?" Nodoka asked in a cold, mostly dead voice. "Look at her!" she then shouted as one of her hands dropped to her waist.
"It was the Drake's idea," Genma replied.
"With a name like Sunshine, I have no doubt. I told you that man was a bad influence. He's an irresponsible lunatic," Major Saotome said flatly.
"I was simply trying to get the engagement to work," Genma defended. He was still off kilter. He had not expected his wife to simply walk into the kitchen and sit him down. And now their son was here. It was almost as if it was planned, as if events were choreographed but that was absurd.
"I'm amazed that you haven't screwed that up as well," Nodoka said as she narrowed her eyes. At least Kasumi was a good Company girl, and she had a fair deal in common with Ranma.
"What's going on?" Ranma asked. "I didn't expect you to be back so soon." The redhead was still in her improved Furinkan High School uniform.
Genma's eyes widened with realization. Ranma had found her mother and told her that they were at Soun's place.
"Before Genma took you, he wrote and signed an agreement. Basically it stated that if he failed to make you into a 'man among men', you'd commit suicide. This was supposed to make me feel better about the abduction."
"That's insane!" Ranma cried. She then turned to her father. "You were under that agreement, and you still put me in school as a girl? What the hell is wrong with you?"
"It was for your own good," Genma said as his eyes tracked the exits. His friend Soun had left the room, but Kasumi had entered the hallway that lead to the kitchen. He had not see her move, nor had he heard her arrival, but he had more pressing concerns than the observation of Ranma's fiancée.
"Now, Genma, I'm giving you a chance to make things right," Nodoka said as she reached into her coat. The steel machine she pulled out, while placed softly on the table, still made a heavy metallic clunk. Nodoka then pulled back, letting the firearm complete her statement for her.
Genma looked at the gun. He blinked. It was still there. The bore of the weapon stared back at him. He knew that the back door was behind him. Escape was still an option.
Ranma shook her head. Stupid Company theatrics. Her mother could not be serious. If she really wanted him dead, she would have just shot him. The Company had no problems with disposing of bodies. The demoness then turned to see Kasumi alertly watching everything. The agent's hand was on her weapon and she seemed ready to draw.
"Genma!" Nodoka shouted, getting her husband's attention. "I'm giving you a chance to take the easy way out," she then said in a much friendlier voice.
Genma looked at the gun, and then at his wife. Putting his left hand on the table, he took a couple deep breaths. The man then leapt to his feet, knocking his chair over in the process. He spun around and ran to the back door, which he tore open and dove through. Genma then sprinted across the back lawn and disappeared into the forest that surrounded the property.
Nodoka sighed and holstered her sidearm. She then pulled out a cell phone and flipped it open. Nodoka entered a speed dial number and establishing a connection. "We have a runner. Stage one complete. Yes, I'd like to be picked up."
"What just happened?" Ranma asked.
"Oh, nothing, dear. Just a little training exercise," Major Saotome said as she got up.
"You're going to have a bunch of agents after him," Ranma observed.
"Of course I will. We have to make sure he's not working for the enemy," the woman said to her daughter in a soothing voice.
"What are you going to do to him?" Ranma inquired. She was just starting to think that these guys might not be so bad.
"Nothing too damaging, I'd suspect. Chemical means can extract just about anything now," Nodoka mused with what seemed to be disappointment in her voice.
Ranma blinked, her eyes felt a bit strange. "And now what are you going to do?"
"I'm going back to WIC Toronto-A. The Commander wants to speak with me." The woman then turned to the Operations agent. "Lieutenant, please make sure my son doesn't do anything rash."
Kasumi nodded and turned her attention to Ranma. "Please don't make this difficult."
"Why would I do that? I'm still angry at the stupid oaf for this Sunshine crap. If a few Company goons are gonna dope him just to find out what bars he stole from, why should I care?" Ranma said in a muted tone. Her mind was distracted. It seemed like Nodoka wanted to have Genma's death be payment for her absence in Ranma's life.
Kasumi smiled at this. Ranma was taking the event most well. She then left the room. It would not do to watch the redhead, and if she really wanted to go there was little Kasumi was allowed to do to stop her.
The lieutenant's concerns were unnecessary. Ranma sat at the table for a few minutes before going up to her room.
"Stupid trees," Genma mumbled as he dodged another branch. He had been on the run for about ten minutes. His plan was to spend the night hiding somewhere, a place that preferably had a bar, and then come back in the morning. By that time his wife would have either left or calmed down and Genma would have a foolproof explanation, one that would prevent her from taking out that gun. He almost wished his wife had brought that damn sword of hers instead.
Before any of that could happen, he would have to get out of this forest. His eyes widened when he saw the end of the trees ahead. A few seconds after that he was able to make out an asphalt surface cut in the woods. He knew there was a road behind Soun's house. The martial artist's elation was cut short when he felt a pair of strange pains flare in his chest. His pace staggered and he found it hard to concentrate.
Agent Morrison paused just long enough to confirm his visual. Immediately afterward he depressed the trigger. He then watched the projectile make contact with the target. His partner had fired another shot. It too made contact. They waited for the target to go down before the approached the body.
From his position, Genma saw two shapes from just before the treeline rise up. Their outlines were somewhat humanoid, but they were broken up by a strange mesh of leaf litter and other debris. They had weapons aimed at him.
"Bishop One to King. We have the pawn," Lieutenant Patterson said after confirming that the target was breathing, unconscious, hooded, and that his arms and legs had been properly secured. The shackles on the man were rated for Class 4 and under. The agents were sure they would hold for a human.
"This is King. Acknowledged, Bishop. Rook is ETA in six. Repeat. Rook in six," the voice responded in Patterson's and Morrison's headsets. The senior agent then turned to the road. All they had to do now was wait for the van to stop at the side of the road and load their cargo onto it.
Genma's vision swam into focus. Or at least it tried to. The room he was in was bright, far too bright. Several lights were pointed at him. Behind them he could see several shadows moving around that might have been people. The martial artist then noticed that he was strapped into the chair he was sitting in. Even his hands and feet were rendered immobile. He closed his eyes and tried to gather his thoughts, but he found the process sluggish.
"Ah, you are awake now? Very interesting," a voice with a strange clipped accent said. Genma tried to twist his head to see who was talking but he could only turn it a few degrees.
"I apologize for inconvenience," the voice said emphasizing the G in the second word. "But we must be certain that you will be cooperative," the man said, pausing as if to remember the correct word.
Genma was sure it was a man now, and possibly a European man. He listened as the voice from behind him said a few sentences in some language. He recognized the words "Hans" and "und". The words "Königin" and "Pfandgegenstand" were particularly odd and stuck in Genma's mind.
"Now my friend, we will talk. Yes?" the voice from behind Genma asked in a jovial voice.
Genma froze when he saw the needle. It was being held in a nondescript man's hand.
"Again, I apologize, but it is your fault. If you hadn't run from us all those years ago Why did you have to take your son, Gendo?" the man asked.
"That's not my name," the martial artist said, trying to break out of his bonds.
The interrogator simply laughed.
"Well, that was disappointing," Jacob remarked after he finished watching the recording. He was in Stillwater's office in WIC Toronto-A
"At least we've confirmed that the man knows nothing relevant to our plans," the commander replied. "The Major should be pleased with the other things we learned."
"Unless Genma has had his mind worked over before," Jacob pointed out. The interrogation had gone by the book and their subject was already released, but something nagged at his mind.
"If that's the case then he would have been useless anyway. It also served as good training. I see that Captain Jarvis has gotten more skilled with information retrieval."
"But that godawful accent?"
Stillwater smiled slightly. "Other than English, German was the only language all the agents involved spoke. We had to give Genma the impression that we got the wrong man. I thought the Captain's acting was quite good."
"Okay, he did pull that off rather well," Jacob conceded. "I also like that rum spray idea. What about Major Saotome's wishes?"
"They'll be granted for now," Stillwater stated.
Genma woke up to the sound of distant traffic and wind brushing through leaves. With a headache that normally accompanied the darkest kind of hangovers, Genma pulled himself upright. He fought off vertigo as he tried to take his bearings. He found himself sitting in a gully in a lightly-wooded glen. Looking at the sun, he guessed that it was still early morning.
Stumbling, the man made his way towards where he heard the cars. Genma soon found himself at the edge of a paved road. As Genma followed the asphalt path, his mind slowly cleared. Eventually he arrived at a familiar intersection and made his way back to Soun's place.
While he walked back, Genma considered what had happened to him the previous night. His memories were jumbled and confused, but he knew that his wife had found him and he had been abducted by some strange people, foreign men who thought he was some Gendo character.
"Where's Pops?" Ranma asked as she got into the kitchen. "Didn't he come back last night?"
"I haven't seen him," Soun said with only a hint of concern. Genma normally ran off when faced with a difficult decision. It was how his friend got time to think things over.
Ranma then turned to Kasumi, who was brewing coffee.
The agent shrugged at the seifuku-clad redhead. Kasumi then turned to the front of the house. She had heard the sound of an approaching car. "It sounds like we have guests," the young woman observed as she walked towards the front door.
"Oh, hello, Mrs. Saotome," Kasumi said respectfully as she opened the door.
"At ease, young lady," Nodoka smiled. "Has my husband shown up yet?" she asked. She hoped that the agents were not too rough on him.
"Wait. Mom? You don't know where he is?" Ranma asked skeptically.
"No, I don't," Major Saotome replied honestly.
Ranma was not sure how to respond to that, so she changed the subject. There was something else that was nagging on her mind, something that had not let her sleep. It kept circling in her head.
"Mother, I have a question. It's about that girl that I turned."
"Really? What?" Nodoka asked.
"I think that's Genma," Kasumi said, interrupting her fiancé while pointing at a disheveled figure that had just come into view.
"We'll talk later," Nodoka assured her daughter.
"What the hell happened to him?" Ranma asked as she walked over to her father.
"Looks like he's been drinking," Nodoka observed. "He used to do this back when we were living with each other."
Ranma held her tongue, but she wanted to know how often her mother had threatened her father.
"He certainly smells like it," Kasumi noted once they had gotten close enough to smell the odor wafting off of the man.
"Nodoka, you won't believe what happened to me!" Genma cried. He then spoke in a hurried pace. "I was running through the woods and I got abducted by these angry Germans. They thought I was this Gendo guy, so they drugged me and asked me all these weird questions. Then they found out I wasn't him so they dropped me off in a ditch out in the woods."
"Definitely been drinking," Nodoka noted.
"I was not!"
"You were drunk, dear. You probably hallucinated the whole thing," the elder Company agent said, her voice darkening at the word "dear". "Remember the day after our third anniversary? You disappeared for a week and when you came back you swore you had been kidnapped by aliens."
"This is different! I wasn't drunk this time!"
"I'm sure it is," Nodoka sighed. "Now if you don't mind, I have something to discuss with our son." Her eyes then narrowed. "I'm planning on talking to you afterwards. Don't leave."
"So what do you want to talk about?" Nodoka asked after Ranma had closed the door to her bedroom.
The redhead sighed and sat down on the bed. Nodoka noticed that the girl's fishnet-stocking-encased legs were held together at the knees. At least Ranma had enough sense to do that; that purple skirt of hers was very short. Beyond a miniskirt, it was a micro-mini. The older woman shook her head and sat down next to her child. The seifuku was very racy, but at least she was wearing a uniform. Some demonesses found clothing restrictive.
"I've done something horrible," Ranma finally admitted as she made eye contact with her mother.
Nodoka paused. What was her son admitting to? With her demonic body, it could be any number of things. Keeping her voice clear and free of distress, the major asked Ranma what she had done.
"It's about that demon girl you saw me with. After I well made her, I ignored her."
Nodoka nodded. She had noticed the cold shoulder Ranma gave her minion in Operations Centre Three.
The redhead sighed, and looked at her modified Furinkan High School girl's uniform. "I'm only now starting to realize how inappropriate that was. All she wanted was some attention, but I was too afraid."
"It's okay," Nodoka soothed as she put her hand on the girl's shoulder. "Do you have any idea what you should do?"
"Yes," Sunshine Saotome said, staring at the wall. "But I'm not sure if I can go through with it."
"You have to do what you think is right," the agent advised. "No matter the price," she then added somewhat to herself.
Hikaru Gosunkugi waited in the hallway. His eyes narrowed when he saw Rod approach.
"You have the translation?" Rod Ferris asked, grinning slyly.
Gos sighed and held up a rewritable compact disc.
Ferris quickly pocketed the jewel-case-stored media. "Isn't technology grand?"
Gos simply shrugged.
"What? Are you afraid I'm wearing a wire?" Rod inquired. "Never mind. My associates are much appreciative of this token."
Gos looked the other teen in the eye and walked past him.
Rod smirked and walked off in the opposite direction.
Two floors above this exchange, another was taking place.
"Mistress, what's going on?" Nariko asked after Sunshine locked the door to the Drake's office. The principal was kind enough to allow them to talk privately in the room.
"I have something to confess. Ever since I made you, I've been treating you badly," Sunshine said, looking at the other demoness.
"That's not true."
"Yes, it is. I've done nothing but treat you like dirt," Sunshine said, using a decorative Canadian beer themed mirror to study her reflection. "Normally, that'd be fine, but you are my responsibility, and it's time I owned up to it."
"So what are you planning?" Nariko asked, expectantly.
"Nothing like that," Sunshine responded, sternly. "The thought of being romantically involved with you repulses me, and it's not just because you were once male."
"What then, mistress?"
"I spawned you," the redhead said while gazing into her violet flecked blue eyes. "I'm your mother. That's why I can't be romantic with you, why it repulses me so much; but I can still love you as a parent. I have to take care of my child," Sunshine admitted haltingly. It was a strange concept to the redhead, but her mother had provided good advice.
Nariko blinked. "Mistress? Mother?" The black- and violet-haired demon did find that concept appealing. The demoness before her had given her life.
"Yeah, that's it," Sunshine said as she turned to face the other girl. It was then that she felt the bond between them. It was the connection between an elder demon and one of her children. From that link, she felt the absolute loyalty and devotion that Nariko had for her. The desire for affection that had repulsed her so much was now in a completely different light. "I'm sorry," Sunshine said after her realization.
"Mommy!" Nariko shouted as she bounded over to the other demoness. She then embraced the slightly taller girl.
Sunshine tensed at first but then she returned the hug. This was not some girl that was hitting on her; this was her flesh and blood. Nariko sighed happily, enjoying the sense of security and protection that her mother gave off.
The redhead looked down at her daughter. It was hard to accept, but it was the truth. She sighed and hugged her child tighter.
"I love you, momma," Nariko said, happily.
Sunshine paused. She decided to go with her gut. "I love you too," she said as she stroked her daughter's hair. The redhead then kissed Nariko on her forehead. It was the simple loving kiss of a mother to her child. If Sunshine had turned to the mirror she would have seen her eyes briefly flare purple before turning back to blue with an increased density of violet flecks.
Two school girls were walking back to their apartment complex. They were both dressed in the fuku of Furinkan High School. One had fairly short blue hair, and the other had longer, shoulder-length auburn locks.
"Well, that physics club was a bust," the somewhat taller girl observed sourly.
"They weren't that geeky," the other girl countered.
"Yes, Ami, they were; but that's not why I'm disappointed. They're not doing anything. Back in Cheyenne, our physics club actually made things. These guys go to competitions where they regurgitate physics trivia. That's interesting, but eventually you have to do something with what you've learned," Janet stated.
"What'd you guys do?" Ami asked. Janet had shown her blueprints and photos of some of the machines that she had built.
"Mostly fighting robots."
"Maybe they can do that too," Ami suggested.
"I doubt it. Those guys don't even have a workshop," Janet countered sadly.
Ami shrugged. She then looked at the convenience store that they were about to pass. "You mind if we go in? I have to pick up some orange juice."
The two girls then crossed the small parking lot. Only Janet paid any attention to the small puce-colored Honda that had pulled into the far end of the lot.
"Come on, Davis. We have a meeting to get to, and I for one don't want to be late," the man in the passenger seat said.
"Sorry, Mitch. I'm hungry," the driver countered. "It'll be a simple in and out. Just another dead 7-11 clerk. Not only will we get fed, but we'll have some spending money."
"It's broad daylight, though," Mitch stated.
"Are you afraid of some clerk? We can take him out before he has a chance to do anything. Anyone else in there's a bonus," Davis stated. He then opened his door and stepped out of the car, ending the discussion.
Mitch shrugged and followed his associate.
Janet was browsing the snack aisle when she saw two average-looking men walk up to the clerk's counter. They were dressed in black-and-dark-blue sweats and looked like a pair of college students stopping in for a quick snack, a fresh pack of smokes, or a case of beer. She then watched as one distracted the clerk by asking for some lottery tickets, while the other moved his arm towards the man behind the counter.
A lead-filled sap hit the shopkeeper, and he fell to the ground. The taller of the two guys leaped over the counter and pried open the register. The other then pulled a pair of large revolvers. The guns were stainless steel, and polished until they shone brightly.
"Okay everyone! This is a holdup!" the armed man shouted to the handful of patrons in the mini-mart. "I'm sure you all know the deal. Keep them high where I can see them, and I'm sure you'll be home before dinner," he said in a reasonable-sounding voice. Davis smiled inwardly. Humans were so much like cattle, a few soothing words and they would ignore the man with the maul.
Janet did not have her hands up. She went down just after the clerk did. There was a chance that the robbers were simply that. However, it was also a large coincidence that they attacked the one store that had a Sailor Senshi in it.
Even if the two men were human, they were still criminals. Janet knew what she had to do. Normally, she would have drawn her weapon and taken them out right now, but there were too many witnesses and she had to maintain her cover.
Staying down, she went to the back of the store. The girl hoped to find a bathroom, or some other place she could change without being seen. Janet did not see her friend Ami and hoped that she was okay.
Janet quickly found herself in the dogleg hallway that led to the stockrooms and a pair of bathrooms. "Goddamn it," the girl quietly swore when she found out the door to the women's room locked.
Ami had taken to leaving her Mercury Computer on and in scan mode. She knew she was being paranoid, but the precaution made her feel safer. It paid off when in the beverage aisle her computer started to beep. Recognizing the tone, she glanced around the store. Her gaze fell on a pair of men that had just entered the store. She calmly made her way to the back. If things turned bad, she wanted the ability to do something about it.
Ami was in the small women's bathroom when she heard one of the men start to shout out orders. Even if they were simple criminals, she had a duty to stop them; especially with Janet still out there. She locked the door.
"Mercury Crystal Power. Make Up!" Ami shouted, activating her Super Sailor Mercury form. Having the transformation sequence occur in such a small space made for an unusual spectacle.
After the lights died down, Sailor Mercury turned to see someone try to turn the room's doorknob. It turned slightly before meeting resistance. Mercury then heard a familiar girl's voice on the other side of the door swear.
The magical girl blinked, and walked over to the door her in knee-high high-heeled boots. If Janet was in danger, she had to help her. Mercury unlatched the door and popped it open.
Janet's reaction to the sudden appearance of a Pretty Sailor-Suited Warrior of Love and Justice was puzzling to Mercury. "Oh, good looks like I'll have some help," Janet stated after pausing to look at the Sailor Senshi.
Mercury then watched as Janet shrugged off her backpack and pulled a weapon from behind her back. As her eyes tracked the length of the metal object, puzzlement crossed her face. The auburn-haired girl then held both her hands, one over the other, on the grip of the handle.
Mercury stared in amazement at what happened next. Janet smiled as she thrust the large gold-and-silver inlaid hunting knife upward. Several points of white light flared on the auburn-haired girl's forehead. They formed a somewhat hourglass-shaped figure. The "belt" of the figure consisted of three points that formed a slanted line. She then shouted, "Orion Constellation Power. Make Up!"
Bright green and purple light swirled around the girl as her clothing dissolved. The etchings on the double-edged blade of her knife flared to life and the edged itself began to glow a golden color. As Orion started to twist the weapon, the handle on it began to grow in length.
A white body-hugging garment that was very familiar to Mercury appeared on Orion's body. As that happened, the purple light split into three parts. One went to her waist and formed a pleated, white-trimmed, light purple miniskirt. The middle went to her chest and formed a similarly colored collar. The last divided and went to her arms forming purple-trimmed elbow-length white gloves.
The green light then divided into three streamers. The first two hit her chest and the back of her waist. They formed big, almost neon-green bows. The third went to her feet and formed a pair of light green two-and-a-half inch high-heeled pumps.
The girl continued to twirl her weapon around. Its silvery handle, now over three feet long, continued to elongate.
Jewelry then flashed into place. A white choker appeared around her neck. On the front of it was a diagram of a familiar constellation. The stars were represented using diamonds and the lines connecting them were done in gold filaments sewn into the material. Her earrings were bright green eight-pointed stars. A golden tiara then appeared. Set in its center was an Alexandrite, a gem that seemed to change from light blue to dark purple depending on how the light hit it.
Her hair was then styled slightly. It was still center-parted and shoulder-length. But now it looked like it was freshly cleaned and brushed, making her auburn tresses shine. Makeup that was slightly lighter than Ami's in intensity then formed into place.
By now, her weapon was no longer a simple knife, but a glaive-like object. Its shaft, nearly six feet in length, was tipped on either end by a long double-edged blade.
"I'm glad I finally found another one," the auburn-haired, apparently magical, girl said as she adjusted her bladed staff and made her way forward.
Mercury blinked at the other sailor-suited girl. "Sailor Orion?" She had never heard anything about Senshi of constellations.
"Yeah," the other girl nodded. "Come on, let's do this," Orion said quietly as she carefully approached the corner with her staff pointed forward and slightly inclined. While staying low, she used one of the polished blades from her staff as a mirror to check on the location of the two enemies.
With her free hand, Orion pointed at Mercury and then moved the hand so that it was horizontal. She then lowered the hand. Orion then pointed right. Mercury nodded in understanding. The other girl wanted her to crouch down and go around the store with her.
The two girls moved out. Janet had halved the distance between the bathroom and register, when Mitch turned to look at the movement in the corner of his eye.
"No, not a Senshi," Mitch sighed as he gripped his weapon.
With her cover blown, Sailor Orion stood to her full height. "Convenience stores are for quick transactions involving overpriced commodities. They are not a harvesting ground for monstrous bastards. In the name of Orion, you will be destroyed," the Senshi announced in a cold voice as her eyes narrowed.
"Davis! Help!" Mitch cried unnecessarily. His partner already had his guns trained on the green-and-purple Sailor Senshi.
Mercury positioned her hands and with a shout of "Mercury Aqua Rhapsody," fired at the creature. Her eyes widened. It was too late. He had gotten off a couple of shots.
Sailor Orion's thoughts were carefully controlled. This was what she had practiced for. There was no time for second guesses; she had to act now. Assuming that Mercury was covering her, Orion leaped at the shorter of the two enemies. In an efficient motion, she rotated the forward blade of her weapon through the target.
Mitch screamed as his left arm was sliced off at the elbow. His eyes then tracked the girl in front of him as she rotated her staff while increasing its pitch. He caught a glimpse of a blade heading for his neck.
Just before the other Senshi's blast connected, Davis watched his partner's decapitation. Davis did not even have the satisfaction of hitting the girl. Poorly aimed, his shots hit nothing but the dairy section.
"You okay?" Orion asked as she warily looked at the two piles of ash.
"Yeah," Mercury replied.
"I didn't think it'd be so fast," Orion commented.
"We should get going."
"Just let me get my bag," Orion said as she dashed to the restroom hallway, careful to not step into the growing pools of spilt milk.
Mercury followed her after she realized that she too had left her own bookbag there.
"Where are you staying?" Sunshine asked her daughter as they walked down a subterranean corridor in WIC Toronto-A. The Company was more than happy to give the girls a ride from Furinkan to their facility.
"With father," Nariko stated.
"How is he taking this? You're not having trouble with him?"
"No, he seems to be okay with it. Unnerved, but okay. I'm just glad my sister is still away. I don't know how she'd handle it," Nariko admitted, leaning on the other girl as they turned left at an intersection. "What about your parents?"
"My father's clueless. He wouldn't understand anyway. And my mother's an agent."
"Oh, and what does she think of me?"
"That's what I'm about to find out," the redhead sighed as she knocked on a door.
"Come in," an older female voice said. Major Saotome looked at the two girls in the hallway. One was her son, the other .
"Is this my granddaughter?" the agent asked, her tone becoming somewhat puzzled at the last word.
"Yes. Nariko Saotome, this is my mother, Nodoka Saotome," Ranma introduced.
"Saotome?" Nodoka asked.
"Well, she is my daughter," the redhead shrugged. "I'm going to ask Jacob if he can change her name again."
Nodoka looked over the demon girl. She had been cleared by Command and turned by her son. It was strange, but what part of her life was not? She then smiled. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Please come in. I apologize for the mess, but I just moved in," Nodoka then turned to see the woman bounding over to her.
"Grandma!" Nariko shouted with glee as she hugged the lab-coated woman.
Ranma smiled, amused that this time she was not on the receiving end.
The older woman returned the girl's embrace. The girl seemed so eager and affectionate.
Ranma looked around the lab. Smaller than the one her mother had in WIC Japan, the room was filled with crates and boxes. Some of them were open, their contents stacked on the counters and floor. "You got your transfer?"
"Yes. I wanted to be closer to my family," Nodoka said as her eyes fell on her granddaughter.
"Nariko-chan was born a boy named Tatewaki Kuno. He had a thing for Sunshine and Akane," Ranma explained as she told her mother how she had gotten a daughter.
"I wanted both of them," a blushing Nariko interrupted.
Three generations of Saotome women were in the commissary eating a light snack — at least, Nodoka's portions were light. Ranma's were slightly larger, and Nariko had already surpassed both.
"She's been doing this for a while now," Ranma said after chastising her daughter for eating too fast. Normally, she would not care, but she wanted Nariko to have some restraint in front of her grandmother.
"She's a growing girl," Nodoka said with amusement. This is perfectly natural for young demons. They grow rather fast in the first few months, the agent thought to herself.
"Sorry," Nariko said after taking a drink of water.
"Excuse me," a female Company agent said as she walked up to their table.
Ranma tuned to look at the woman. It was the communications agent who was in the mobile command center.
"Miss Nariko, your father is here," Maya Iverson stated.
"I guess I should be going then," Nariko said sadly.
Ranma looked at the girl's expression and sighed "I'll call you when I get back. Okay?"
Nariko's face brightened. She then turned and followed agent Iverson out the commissary.
"So what do you think?" Ranma asked once Nariko had left the room.
"I'm very proud of you. You had a very tough decision, but you made the right choice."
Nodoka's daughter nodded.
"Just remember being a parent is a lot of responsibility. She may look like a teenager, but she's really very young."
"I know," Ranma said. "I'm not sure what I've gotten into, but I couldn't ignore her. God, all she wanted was some affection from the person that created her, but I was too repulsed by what I had done to treat her like a person." Ranma's head was down and she could feel her eyes beginning to tear up. She had kept her emotions in check for so long, only to lose control now.
Nodoka put her hand on her child's shoulder. "What's important is that you came around now, and you're giving her the love she needs. The worst thing that can be done to a child is to take away her parent. That's what I did to you. I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Ranma said, returning the gesture to her mother.
"I did everything I could to try and find you. It just took so long," Nodoka confessed.
The redhead slid herself closer to her mother and hugged the woman. "I know, mom. I know you're trying your best."
Nodoka returned the hug and smiled slightly. "I think your own daughter knows that you're doing the same."
"I don't remember there ever being Constellation Senshi," Luna said from her perch on the kitchen table. Three girls and two moon cats were having a meeting to discuss what Ami had seen.
"You didn't remember DarkStar either," Usagi countered.
"What did you do after the fight?" Minako asked Ami.
"Well, Janet looked at her watch and ran off."
"Does she know who you are?" Artemis asked.
"I didn't tell her my name, but I was the only one missing and I picked up my bookbag. There's also the hair color," Ami idly remarked.
"Makoto and Rei are going to wish they hadn't gone to the video store," Usagi commented, referring to the two absent Senshi.
"So what should we do?"
"I scanned her. The results were very close to a Sailor Senshi signature."
"So she's a new Senshi? Wouldn't be the first we've met in Canada," Minako stated.
"And she seems to be more of a Sailor Senshi than this DarkStar," Luna noted.
"We should ask Pluto about Senshi of constellations and then talk to Janet herself," Usagi said.
Akane was taking her after school jog. Her mind was mulling over today's events. She had seen her sister's fiancé hugging that new girl, Nariko. At first she thought that Ranma had a girlfriend and was into some sort of weird lesbian sex. Further inspection showed that the body language was wrong for a romantic embrace.
It was more like the two girls were sisters, or at least very close friends. Upon further reflection, the girl found something wrong with her assumption. There was something about how the redhead had been talking to the other girl, something that Akane felt should have been obvious.
Asking Ranma proved to be no help. The redhead stated that they were close friends and dismissed all further inquiries. Frustrated, Akane went jogging. Initially, it was successful at preventing her from obsessing over it, but then Akane had an epiphany.
The reason she did not recognize Ranma's stature and tone initially was because of how absurd it was. The conversation Akane overhead was like that between a parent and child. It did not make sense. Granted, a person could take a protective stance over a friend, but what Ranma had been doing was eerie.
This realization only spawned new questions. These were much more urgent than the initial one. What did she really know about Ranma? Why didn't the curse bother Kasumi? Why did Kasumi keep taking Ranma with her to work?
Akane pondered, but was not able to solve anything. There was a missing piece. Her thoughts were interrupted by what felt like an insect biting her left hip. She slapped the spot and continued running.
After a couple more paces, the girl's legs began feeling numb. Her left foot then failed to land properly, and she tumbled off the shoulder and into the drainage ditch that ran next to the road.
The driver in a passing green van saw the body, pulled over and stopped. What looked like a pair of good Samaritans got out of the vehicle, checked to make sure that the girl was alive, and then placed a quick call using a cell phone. After carefully loading the girl into the back of the van, they drove off.
In the suburb of Vaughan, off exit thirty-four of Canadian Highway 400, was a small light industrial park that had recently come under new ownership. Parked inside one of the small warehouses in the lot was a green van.
The warehouse was deserted. After parking, the two people in the van carried their package into an adjacent building. What had originally been the office space for a custom machine shop had been redecorated in manner that was spartan yet plush. It looked like someone with fine taste was building up their furnishings in stages.
"Mistress, we have her," the van's driver called out, while gently placing the teenage girl on the room's thick burgundy carpeting. She immediately averted her gaze from the woman standing before her.
"Excellent, you have done well, Laura," Mistress Alexia said after she confirmed that the stock was not unduly damaged. With mid-back-length curly blonde hair, dark green eyes, tanned skin, and an erotically proportioned six foot tall body, the woman looked imposing, sexy, and very, very cold. This was accentuated by her long blood-red nails, her leather ankle-high, five-inch-heeled boots, her pieces of gold and ivory jewelry, and her green-trimmed black leather dress. The garment was low cut and hung from a pair of shoulder straps, and was secured down the front center by a series of small gold buckles.
She knelt down and removed all of the girl's clothing. Alexia swung one of her legs over the girl's body so that she straddled the unconscious teen. The blonde then smirked as her canines elongated and her eyes began to glow. Alexia's teeth pierced the teenager's neck. She summoned her power and started to remake the teenager.
"So, you're all Senshi?" Sailor Orion asked the five girls seated in front of her. The six teenage girls were in the living room of the apartment the inner Senshi shared.
"Yes," Sailor Moon responded.
"Thank God I'm not alone," Orion sighed. "We're all stellar or astronomical objects. Interesting. Are there more of you?"
"Yes there's a few more of us back in Japan," Moon stated.
"Any of them named after constellations?"
"None that we know of," Mercury replied. "So you don't know any other Senshi?"
"Nope, you're the first I've met."
"So how'd you get your powers, Janet?" Venus inquired.
"A couple months ago, I had a weird dream. In it, a man wearing old-fashioned hunting clothes asked if I would be his avatar. I said yes. When I woke up, I found this under my pillow," Orion said patting her double-bladed staff. "Of course, it wasn't this big then," the auburn-haired girl laughed.
"I guess we can change back," Mars said.
Orion shrugged and powered down. Her weapon shrank back down to a silver-and-gold hunting knife. "Damn, that's still cool," Janet laughed.
After transforming out of Senshi form, Usagi looked over the girl. Earlier, she had called up Pluto and asked her what she knew of Sailor Senshi of Constellations, specifically of Orion. Setsuna's voice had strained briefly. The green-haired woman then told Usagi everything she knew about them.
During the Silver Millennium, a group of mages working at Serenity's request researched the possibility of expanding the number of Sailor Senshi. Several methods were looked into: bonding candidates to the other moons in the system, linking candidates to elemental sources, having more than one Senshi to a planet, and tapping into the energy that the Constellations represented.
Setsuna recalled that the group had made little progress. Their work was all in the theoretical stage. They were only just starting to test mockup spells and modeling when the Silver Millennium fell. The time guardian then said that if Ami's computer gave her a positive match, then she probably was a Senshi, but that it was best to be cautious.
"This is definitely Silver Millennium," Luna said as she looked over Janet's knife. "Don't normally see this type of transformation item, though."
"I still can't get over the cats," Janet noted. "You guys really are a troop of magical girls."
Usagi sighed. She would have liked to have Pluto look over the girl, but apparently Setsuna had urgent business. There was a fresh lead on Murdock that the older woman was investigating.
The blonde woman looked into Janet's green-grey eyes and made her decision. Sailor Orion had already proven herself in the store today, and now was not the time to keep prospective members out. Especially considering a demonic near-Sailor Senshi who simply refused to join their team.
"Welcome aboard," Usagi finally said.
"What would you have me do, mistress?" a newly-created demoness eagerly asked her mother. Naked, she had a pair of dark blue horns, a black tail with blue fins, and a pair of wings with blue-black membranes. The rest of her body was remarkably similar to a certain human female. If her demonic extras were removed, she would be nearly identical to that girl. It was the eyes where the difference was; they were still brown, but something was not quite right about their shape and pattern.
"Patience, my child," Alexia said, with a cold smile. "I think I'll call you Eclipse," the blonde said as she stroked her chin.
The demoness smiled at her new name and bowed to her mistress.
"I have a mission for you," Alexia said as she drummed her fingernails on the armrest of the couch she was sitting on. "Inside you are the memories of a little piece of meat."
Eclipse nodded. She felt the experiences of a weak, pitiful human inside of her.
"These memories will help you kill a traitor," Alexia said before she described DarkStar.
The young demoness' face hardened. To her mind there was no greater sin than betraying her mistress, her mother.
"You will assume a human-looking form, go to this girl's house, and pose as her. Do not arouse suspicion. Once the traitor has fallen asleep, you will go into her room and kill her. She normally sleeps in the guise of a male human, so it should be very simple," Alexia said.
"As you wish," the young demoness replied as she bowed again.
"For your reward, you may eliminate the other humans in the house."
"Thank you," Eclipse stated, her eyes looking adoringly at her mistress.
"Get dressed. Laura will drop you off."
Eclipse nodded. After making her demonic appendages disappear, she grudgingly donned in Akane's clothing. She would suffer the indignity of wearing the dead girl's clothing to serve Mother's will.
"So where's Mommy?" Nariko asked the Company agent.
Kasumi looked at Ranma's progeny and sighed. The two young women were in the kitchen of the Tendo house. Her father and Genma were out, most likely drinking. Nabiki's car was also gone. Akane was either out with Nabiki or jogging. Given that Akane's running shoes were missing from the shoe rack next to the front door, Kasumi guessed the latter.
The lieutenant then turned back to the demoness. She really hated babysitting assignments, especially the ones that literally involved watching some kid. "Ranma's still at the base. I believe he's in a meeting with the colonel."
"Ah. So she's going to be here soon?"
"Yes, she should be coming home soon. Major Saotome is coming too."
"Yay! Mommy's coming soon!" Nariko practically squealed, "And Grandma's going to be here too!"
Kasumi smiled despite herself. It was hard to stay cold in the face of a girl who was so exuberant at the simple prospect of seeing her parent. The agent wondered if Ranma had any idea of the kind of commitment he had made. She imagined that he did, given that Nariko was essentially moving in with them.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the front door being unlocked and opened. Kasumi walked over and saw her youngest sister entering the house. The agent evaluated the girl and found a few things amiss. Her clothes were stained and ripped in a few places, yet her top was still tucked into her running shorts. The girl's gaze was also off somehow. Lt. Tendo knew that something was wrong and kept her guard up.
"Oh dear, did you trip?" Kasumi inquired.
"Yes. I did Kasumi," the blue-black haired teenager replied in a distant voice.
"You hit your head?" A concussion could explain this behavior.
The younger sister nodded as she walked into the house.
"Let me look at your injury," Kasumi proposed as she approached the girl.
"No, I'm okay. It's just a little bump," the girl backpedaled.
"Okay, maybe you should sit down for a bit," Kasumi said carefully examining the girl. She then closed the front door.
"What are you doing?" the younger woman asked in a panicky voice.
"Just checking to make sure you're not badly cut or bruised," the agent stated, looking at the girl. Concern was evident on her face. Less obvious was whether it resulted from her sister's injury or her sister's behavior.
"Oh, it's Ranma's friend," the girl noted, looking between her sister and the other girl. Her expression became confused. Akane's memories did not say that the traitor had any demonesses with her, but that human's memories also missed that there was a demon living with her in the first place.
Kasumi turned to look at Nariko. The girl's confused expression that made the agent even more wary.
"Did Mommy turn you too?" Nariko asked the younger girl. "It doesn't smell like it was her," the demoness commented, curiously.
"What?" Eclipse asked with confusion. Mistress had said this would be easy.
For the Company agent, it became all too clear. Training took over as she drew her weapon, cocked the hammer, and aimed it at the girl who was wearing her sister's skin.
"Kasumi, what are you doing?" Eclipse asked, trying to keep her tone innocent. This was her largest mistake. If the real Akane had suddenly found her sister holding her at gunpoint this would not have been her reaction.
"Get down on the floor. Hands behind your head!" Kasumi ordered.
As Eclipse started to kneel down, she began to think. If she could kill both the human and the traitor's spawn and hide the bodies, then the plan would be salvageable. When she was crouching, Eclipse sprung forward at the human and manifested her true form.
Kasumi's eyes narrowed. She ignored the wings that had torn out of the creature's back and the tail that had popped out of her shorts. The woman even overlooked the horns, fangs, and glowing eyes that appeared on her sister's face. The agent simply acquired her target and depressed the trigger.
The silver-jacketed slug hit Eclipse in the top of her right shoulder. The angle allowed for the projectile to travel through several of the demon's internal organs. The young demoness yowled in pain as she tumbled from her planned trajectory.
Kasumi swiveled to avoid the creature and fired another round into the demon's chest. Eclipse fell to the ground. Raw hatred filled her face as she looked up at the human who had done this to her.
It took all of the agent's training to keep her hand from shaking. "Stay down," she ordered to the demon.
Eclipse flared her eyes and tried to charge forward.
Kasumi uttered a noise that was halfway between a sigh and a sob and placed another round into what used to be her sister. She noted that the monster was bleeding heavily, but still breathing for now.
Eclipse cried. She had failed her mistress. She was worthless. She deserved to die this way, gunned down by a mere human.
Kasumi adjusted the aim of her weapon. It would be easy to end it. One more pull and she could destroy this mockery of her sister and end Akane's suffering right now. It was then that the agent looked over at Nariko. "Will you save my sister?" Kasumi asked. She knew full well what that meant.
Nariko looked at the broken demoness. She remembered the feelings she had for Akane. Since her conversion, she had neglected them. Her mistress had taken all of her affection. However, with Sunshine as her mother now, Nariko still needed a mate. The red-eyed girl knelt over the other demoness.
Eclipse tried to fight the intruder, but she was too weak. She then felt the other's teeth sink into her neck and her essence mingling with hers. It was then that the mortally wounded demoness lost consciousness.
Nariko hoped that she was strong enough to do this. Not only would she have to bond Akane to herself, and by extension to Mother, but she also had to heal the girl's wounds. While healing was only a side effect of the bonding procedure — and in the case of humans, the conversion process — it still took power.
Kasumi looked away slightly. She then pulled out her cell phone and hit the speed dial for WIC Toronto. She explained the situation and then called in a medical team and a strike team.
"So your daughter's going to live with you?" Nodoka asked her child as they wandered the corridors of WIC Toronto-A. After Nariko had left, Ranma had stayed to talk with her mother. Given the subject they were discussing, her son felt more comfortable in female form. Nodoka fully understood this.
"Yes. We'll tell them that she got in trouble with her uncle Drake and that he kicked her out. Given that she just transferred here, and I'm an old friend "
"Ah. I see. What will your father think of this?"
"He can be convinced to look the other way," Ranma said, smirking. Whether Genma admitted it or not, he was afraid of his son's new cursed form and would try to avoid confrontation when Ranma was a girl. That was another factor that had made the Sunshine thing all the more irritable. Especially given that she could almost start to stand that name.
"And Lieutenant Tendo can talk to her father," Nodoka surmised.
"Exactly. Now my only problem is—"
The redhead was then cut off by the public address system activating. "Major Saotome and Ranma Saotome are requested in medical lab one. Medical emergency. Incoming wounded," the inappropriately pleasant voice of that Company dispatcher stated.
The two Saotome women ran to the nearest stairwell and went up the two floors to the level where the medical laboratories were. As the entered the corridor, they glimpsed a medical team rushing two gurneys into one of the rooms.
"Dear god," Nodoka gasped after she had gotten a clear view of the two unconscious people being moved from the gurneys to a pair of beds in the medical room.
"What the hell happened?" the redhead asked. On one of the beds was a familiar demoness. She had black-violet highlighted hair, red eyes, little red horns, black violet-tipped wings, and a violet tail with black fins.
The other demoness was somewhat new to Ranma. This one had light blue hair with silver highlights, brown eyes, dark blue horns, blue and white wings, and a white tail with blue fins. Her face, however, was very well known to the redheaded demoness. There was also something strange about her form. It was a familiarity that she could not quite grasp.
"Nariko turned Akane," Ranma observed flatly. "What the hell happened?" the redhead repeated.
Lt. Tendo cleared her throat and began to speak. "I was alone in my residence with Nariko. Akane then came home. Her speech and movements were most unusual. She then panicked and manifested, revealing that she had been turned into a demon. She then attacked me."
The agent paused, then continued. "I defended myself. I shot her three times. I then asked Nariko to heal her."
The redhead blinked in disbelief. Someone had turned Akane and sent her back to her house. "That's horrible." She now understood why Kasumi had reacted that way when they first met. An unfamiliar demon was a very dangerous thing, especially if she was once a family member.
"Yes," Kasumi stated.
"What do we do with her?" Nodoka asked.
"If Nariko converted her, there may be a chance," Kasumi proposed. She then looked to see Section Chief Tofu run into the room.
"Okay, one's a rather immature D4. She's healthy, but rather drained," Tofu said as he looked over the scans of Nariko.
Ranma smiled a bit with pride despite herself. Her daughter had gone up two classes.
The doctor then started examining the other girl. "Almost newborn D1. She looks like—" He stopped when he examined the readout from his scanner. "Incomplete conversion! She's unstable. We're gonna lose her," the doctor stated, in a detached voice after his initial shock..
The redhead sighed. Her daughter had tried, but she was not strong enough to both heal Akane and break the bond to her original parent. Ranma could not let Kasumi's and Nariko's efforts go to waste.
The redhead walked over to the younger Tendo sister's form. She then leaned over and completed the work her daughter had started. It did not take much time. This would be the second time she had done this procedure, and now she was only finishing up.
Kasumi's eyes narrowed. She kept her hand at her side. This made a total of three demonesses at Akane's neck today, but this was the only option.
Nodoka froze. She knew that her son had the body of a demoness, but until now she had been acting as if her son simply turned into a girl. Now she had to face up to the truth. Her child was not human. She had a demoness for a daughter.
When it was over, the forensic pathologist examined the blue-haired demoness. "That should do it," he said, indicating that the girl was now healthy.
"Akane? Momma?" Nariko muttered as she began to wake up.
"Yes?" Nariko's mother asked, going to her daughter's side.
"I saved her," Nariko said, smiling at her mother.
"Yes, you did. I only had to help a little bit."
"She's now one of us," the younger demoness said. Her eyes were now alert, and she was alternating between gazing lovingly at her mother and her mate.
If the redhead could have gotten any paler she would have. The consequences of what had just happened had finally hit her. "I've got another daughter," Sunshine realized with a mix of horror and euphoria.
"Can I speak to you outside?" Kasumi asked Ranma, startling the redhead.
"Sure." The two young women then stepped out of the room and into the hallway. After the door closed Ranma sat down on one of the benches that were next to the wall. Kasumi sat down next to the redheaded demoness. She unholstered her handgun, dropped the magazine, ejected the chambered round, and started working the slide. "You know why I let Nariko do that? You have to. I couldn't let my sister die. Fuck. I never thought my life with the Company would come to my family," she rambled as she field-stripped the weapon. The pieces went into a small pile on the table that was next to the bench.
"Akane's now bonded to you and Nariko," Kasumi observed as she reassembled the pieces without looking at them. "She's now your responsibility. You will help her recover. You won't neglect her," the agent stated staring into the redhead's eyes, "am I being clear?"
Ranma stared at Kasumi for a moment, and then her eyes narrowed.
Kasumi's breath caught in her throat as Ranma's hand blurred toward her, and she felt a sinking feeling in her stomach as the newly reassembled gun clattered on the floor in front of her.
"Shut up," Ranma mumbled. "Shut up now." The redhead's eyes remained hard. "Don't you dare talk down to me like I'm some goddamn agent under your command."
The agent's face remained expressionless, though her hands twitched slightly from the stinging sensation of having the gun slapped away.
"I know you've just been through a lot of crap. I know it hurts. I know that for all you act like a robot, you're not going to stand there and shoot your sister in the head, all right!" Ranma grit her teeth as Kasumi's face continued to stare straight at her, unflinching.
"Yes, I'll help her recover. No, I won't neglect her. I'll be responsible for her." Ranma's eyes hardened again. "But you keep in mind that you asked Nariko to do that, not me, and that I don't take orders from you. Am I being clear?"
Kasumi continued to look at her fiancé. She reached down, picked up her gun, and holstered it. "Crystal," Kasumi replied with a hint of a smile.
"Dear God. That better not have been a fucking test!"
"I was concerned about Akane," Kasumi replied, simply.
"She's my daughter now. Since I finally understand and accept what that means, I know what I've got to do. I won't screw up again." Though the young mother felt insulted by what Kasumi had done, she felt both it and her defense were justified.
"Good. I'm very concerned about her. You know how delicate these things can be," Kasumi then said.
The redhead then put her hand around the agent's waist. The older girl stiffened at first, but she then relaxed. "It's okay, Kasumi. If you hadn't thought to use Nariko, we'd be arranging a funeral."
"Just don't fuck this up. It's too important," Kasumi said as she closed her eyes, trying to hold back her emotions.
The redhead nodded. The guilt over what she had done to Nariko weighed on her mind, and now there was this. It was too much. "I promise," she said, attempting to hold back her own tears. It did not last. The demoness started to sob.
Kasumi smiled and held the other girl. After a minute, the lieutenant looked into the redhead's blue and violet eyes. This demon This girl Her fiancé had very human emotions and motivations. It looked like Akane had some hope after all, and for just a moment, Kasumi almost wished their engagement was more than just a charade.
The demoness stared back. "Come on, let's go inside." Sunshine smiled through her drying tears as she stood up.
Kasumi nodded and followed the other girl into the room.
A blue-haired demoness opened her eyes to an unfamiliar room. It was very drab and grey. More importantly were the people in the room. She smiled at the tallish black-haired demon that stood next to her bed. She then leaned up and kissed her mate on the lips. Nariko immediately responded and leaned into the girl's embrace. Soon the two demonesses were in the bed, tangled into each other.
Ranma sighed. Part of her felt uncomfortable at this. Another part felt very lonely. She almost wanted to lean over and kiss Kasumi herself. The agent was her fiancée, after all. "After you two finish, I have a few questions."
Nariko broke away from her mate and looked at the redhead sheepishly. "Sorry, Mommy."
"Mommy?" the blue demoness asked. Yes, that was her mother.
"Yes, she's our mommy." Nariko smiled.
The redhead then walked over to the youngest demoness and stroked her hair. On a whim, she then kissed the blue-haired girl on the forehead. "So what happened? Do you remember who you are?"
"I was Akane Tendo, but then I was taken. My old mother made me into Eclipse," the blue-haired demoness said with a mix of revulsion and pleasure. Akane then closed her eyes and sighed. "She then sent me to to kill you. All of you," she added sadly. "But then Nariko saved me. She broke me free from my mother — no — from Alexia. You saved me too," the blue haired demoness said, as she looked at her mother's face.
"It's okay. You couldn't control yourself," Sunshine said to her daughter. She then turned to her other daughter. "You did good, Nori-chan. Akane's alive because you saved her."
"I'm happy that you're back," Kasumi smiled at her sister.
"Thanks, Auntie Kasumi," Akane beamed before she kissed Nariko again.
Kasumi sighed. Her sister still needed a lot of help.
"You have my word: Akane will have all the love she needs to recover. Unlike " Sunshine as unable to finish the sentence.
Nariko looked at her mother. "Stop beating yourself up, Mama. I I was an ass before "
"I know. I thought only of that. I could only see you as a horny transsexual trying to get into my panties. Not as my child who only wanted love from me."
"But with Akane-chan we'll get it right, right, Mommy?" Nariko asked.
Sunshine looked at Nariko and smiled despite herself. She felt a powerful urge and went with it. She grabbed both of her daughters and held them tight. "We'll try, girls. Kasumi, Mom, will you help us?"
"Of course," Kasumi said, smiling at her fiancé.
"You didn't need to ask. I would be honored to help my daughter heal my granddaughter," Nodoka replied. For the Company agent, the words were still strange to speak, but they felt so right.
"Sorry to interrupt, but I'd just like to tell you that both of your children are healthy," Section Chief Tofu said after checking the sensor readouts.
"Great," Sunshine smiled. At least her children were physically healthy.
"Well, I'll leave you alone then," Tofu stated before leaving the room.
Akane leaned back in her bed and yawned.
"You sleepy?" Nariko asked her mate.
"We should leave, then," Nodoka said, tapping on Kasumi's elbow. "Come on, Lieutenant."
Kasumi looked at her sister before following the major out of the room. Akane needed some time alone with her mother.
Sunshine looked at her sleepy daughter. "Scoot over," she then said as she slipped into bed with Akane. The blue haired girl complied. Sunshine then looked disapprovingly at Akane's clothing. Her jogging suit was ripped in the back and covered in blood. "Take those off."
Akane happily slipped out of the trappings of her old life. Being naked in front of her mother did not feel odd in the slightest.
"Come on in," Sunshine then said to her other daughter.
Nariko looked at the empty space by her mother's left side. It would be a tight fit, but she did not mind. She then climbed into the bed and snuggled next to her mother. Sunshine's form then shimmered and she became naked. The three demonesses lay there, blanketing each other with mutual reassurance.
Somehow, Sunshine knew sleeping as a family would help and the waves of warmth and love from her children told her why.
"This is an interesting turn of events," Jacob commented as he watched the live feed from the medical room. As usual, the two senior agents were meeting in Stillwater's office.
"Have we found any information on the demoness that turned Miss Tendo?" Commander Stillwater inquired.
"Just a name: Alexia. We also have teams searching the area where she was captured. We might get lucky," Jacob shrugged.
"This does not bode well."
"We should have expected them to try hitting Ranma close to home. At least they'll be safe for now."
"This demonic brood is of some concern to me," Stillwater said, looking at the monitor.
"I disagree. I think it's the best thing that could have happened to Ranma. Before, he had nothing to anchor him. He was divided between his humanity and the demon within. Now she has responsibilities and a family that loves her and trusts her," Jacob countered, emphasizing the pronouns in the last sentence.
"Provided that she can bear the responsibility."
"Yes, that is a given. However, we do have excellent support in place. Major Saotome and Lieutenant Tendo will be invaluable."
Stillwater nodded in consideration.
"Now please turn off that monitor. Give them some privacy. You can always review the archives later," Jacob stated respectfully. Those three demonesses might not have a problem with nudity, but the agent still had his sense of decency. Given some of the things he had done for the Company, it was a strange for him to have a sense of modesty like that, but Jacob held onto what he could.
Sunshine could not believe how quickly all her apprehensions and doubts melted away as she lay between her two children. She even knew that the Company was watching them, but she did not care. For once she had nothing to hide. Given her state of undress, her thoughts had a more literal meaning as well.
Each of her daughters slept with an arm under their mom, and another loosely draped over, as if sharing something valuable. The two girls had weathered a lot today, but their mother's presence her presence had helped both sleep soundly at last. As she drifted off to sleep, content, she wondered what her life in the future would be. And what choices she would make.
Her last conscious thoughts were of Akane and her new child's fate. Would she be like Nariko? Or would she be able to help the new demon back to being Akane, or as close as she could be, considering her daughter's new body and its needs?
Ranma looked over at Kasumi. It was easier to gaze at his wife than look through the glass. Only a few years had passed since he had come to the toughest decision of his life. "Sunshine" was just a memory now, still brought to life in cold water, but he did not surrender his soul to the demon. And the Enclosure was the cost of his personal victory. The Company was willing to maintain the room, and that too had its price. Swallowing, his gaze returned to the two residents of the glassed-in area.
Food had just been dropped off, so the demons were eating. Although both had regressed to a near-feral state since Ranma had freed his mind and soul from DarkStar, the two demonesses had matured and certainly looked content. What remained of their humanity could be seen in their grooming, or perhaps it was natural for demonesses to groom themselves too.
The silvery-blue haired demon who had been Akane blinked for a second, and then looked up to the glass that allowed the humans to see into her world. She spoke only one word, "Mommy."
Ranma and Kasumi both read the girl's lips from above. Ranma closed his violet eyes. Akane was not there in the darkness. Her tears were not falling. He could not see her. He had done what he had to do. He had been saved. The schools had been joined, even if by a marriage of scant love.
He knew that when they got home Kasumi would take out her handgun, that handgun, and stare at it. He was certain that his wife was just remembering that day, and that she was not planning anything rash. Later they would go out and have a nice quiet dinner.
He was happy.
He had to be.
The scene shifted.
Akane, dressed in the yellow gi she favored, leapt into the air with a cry. Soun tried to dodge his daughter's attack, but failed. Akane landed a solid blow to his chest after snaking around the attempted dodge. Flipping, she landed softly on her feet, her long, light-blue hair falling gently to her middle back.
"Good choice of attack, Akane. The Saotome School is excellent in that situation," Genma shouted from the edge of the mat.
"Yes, daughter, well done," Soun said as Akane hurtled towards him
"Thanks, daddy," the girl said as she hugged her father tightly. She had passed father's test. She had proven herself.
Sunshine watched from a position next to her own father, a proud smile on her face. She turned to Genma, "So, Pop. Does this mean the schools are joined?"
"Yes, boy er daughter. I guess it does," Genma said as he turned to face his child.
Sunshine held out two arms in an offer of embrace.
Genma looked a bit sheepish, but lightly encircled his daughter with his arms. Sunshine, never one for half measures, squeezed her father hard for a few moments before letting go. "Are those tears I see, Pop?"
"No, just some dust in my eyes," Genma said as he looked away.
The sound of bare feet on flooring interrupted Sunshine's thoughts as a yellow blur flew into her field of vision. "We did it, Mom. We did it!"
Sunshine looked down into her daughters eyes and saw intellect, happiness, but most of all Akane.
Sunshine awoke to a pillow wet with her own tears. Her children still enclosed her with warmth. She realized that this was the choice she would make. No, this was the choice she had already made. To stay Ranma, and true to himself, she had to become Sunshine, embrace her life and make it his.
Later, Sunshine would reluctantly untangle herself from her children to visit the bathroom. She glanced at the mirror while washing her hands. Though the reflected demoness' eyes now were almost a quarter violet flecks, she was neither surprised nor concerned.
"So what happened to my newest toy?" Alexia demanded. She and her minions were in their Vaughan hideout.
"I'm sorry, but we lost contact with Eclipse," Laura stated as she bowed before her mistress. "The observation team spotted a contingent of police and military style vehicles on the property. They believe it was the Company. Since night has not fallen, we suspect she has failed."
"So, someone alerted the Company? Interesting. Any sign of her?"
"None. We must assume that the Company has killed her," Laura replied.
"Yes, that is how they operate. But it is unusual for them to respond to a house where a demon has been staying. Hmm, they also came very quick. Eclipse hadn't been there all of a half hour. I wonder ."
Alexia's smile widened. "Of course! DarkStar always had a soft spot for humans. Very clever girl. So you've found another group of meat bags to defect to. I wonder if she'll get all of these killed too."
Murdock sat alone in the Red Turtle bar. "You believe in fate?" the runic mage asked the bartender.
The man behind the bar paused and looked at his customer. There was something strange in the man's watery grey eyes, something repellant but enticing. "Yeah, I guess I do. I mean there's got to be some reason for everything, some point to all this."
"My thoughts exactly. I can tell you that there is definitely something behind this," Murdock smiled before he took a sip of his beer. "Of course, then we get the question of fate and free will."
The bartender nodded. His experience had taught him to let the customer do the talking.
"Now, anyone with knowledge of history would know how free will affects fate. History is the consequences of the choices that individuals make. That's it — nothing more. Now, a person's choices are influenced by past decisions of others."
"So what about fate?" the bartender asked after he returned from pouring a drink for another customer.
"Fate, destiny, is the pattern that all these choices sum up to," Murdock chuckled and looked into his opaque beer. "The thing people forget is that it's a two-way street. Yes, people are influenced by the choices of others and from that destiny, but they often forget that destiny can also be changed by individuals. Hell, look at whatever happens when someone dies," Murdock said with a dark grin. He then sighed. "I can't believe that I forgot that second part, and now I've lost her."
"Woman problems?" the bartender asked. Maybe it was that tall, tanned woman with the nice green dye job. Sometimes she would sit with this customer. She was not here tonight, which was a bit odd.
Murdock smirked. "Yeah, I guess it was that obvious, what with me getting all maudlin. But I thought I could make it work. Hell, I'd gotten so close but it's too late for that."
The bartender gave a sympathetic nod. He knew that now was definitely the wrong time to ask for more information. It was much better to just let the man talk and drink.
"I keep leading her along, and now my lies are catching up with me. I guess I went too far today. I thought that it would bring her to me. But I didn't take everything into account. I got sloppy."
As he refilled his customer's glass, the bartender suppressed a sigh. That made sense; there was something of a flimflam man to him. Charming and smooth. Chicanery was undoubtedly this fellow's forté.
"All I wanted was to be the man behind the woman behind the queen, and now I'm going to pay for it. It's a damn good thing I have a backup plan."
To be continued.
Author's notes: Here it is, the first chapter in the Second Arc of The Return.
Many thanks go to Kevin D Hammel for spurring this fic in a new direction and getting it out of its production slump. Also there are a couple of scenes he had a direct hand in making. Mike Koos also gets credit for getting me into contact with Kevin.
Prereading credit goes to Kevin D Hammel, Jerry Starfire, Wray Loflin, Joe Fenton, Bill Heineman, and Black Dragon.
|Layout, design, & site revisions © 2005||
Webmaster: Larry F