A Ranma ½ / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon / Ah! My Goddess crossover story
by L. S. McGill
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 characters property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Sailor Moon characters property of Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. Ah! My Goddess property of Fujishima Kosuke, Kodansha, TBS and KSS films; AnimEigo, Studio Proteus, and Dark Horse Comics. Other characters who may cameo are property of respective owners. All are used without permission. I did not write this for profit, but for practice. Will be removed at request of original creators or authorized rep.
Zhu Shu (who shoo), Tao-Ching, Xi'an Chi (zy-an chee), and Clans' Dragon and Skorpion are mine, and may be used so long as I am asked beforehand.
Book One: The Mandarin
Chapter Two: Unexpected Meetings
Ranma was running down the street, being chased by Genma. Under normal circumstances, this might have drawn some attention: a raised eyebrow, or perhaps a second look.
But, since it was raining….
Needless to say, a cute redhead being chased by a giant panda drew more than a little notice. People dove out of their way as Ranma skidded to a halt in the middle of the street.
He'd been following Genma to a friend's house just a few minutes earlier, and had actually been glad to get back to Japan and away from the backwaters of China. He'd gotten so tired of having to build fires just to warm water that he'd given up several weeks ago and spent the rest of his time in China as a female; it had just become too much effort to try and avoid the constant drenching that seemed to come with the curse. He'd no sooner turn male than something would happen to get him wet again. Even dealing with periods was better than being wet all the time.
Besides, it had seemed like every time they stopped to rest, Shan Pu had almost caught them. The Amazon had been nearly impossible to dodge. Sheer luck, and a convoluted trail, had kept him from having to face any of the slow agonizing deaths the Guide had painted for him at Shan Pu's hands. The Guide had seemed oblivious to the effects his stories had on the pair of them as he droned on and on to pass the time while traveling. Ranma had no idea how much of his confusing ramblings were true or due to embellishment, but he had more than one nightmare about the bloodthirsty girl during the two months she had chased them around China. Genma had refused to head back to Japan until they were sure they had lost the girl for good. Then he'd taken a few days in a seaside village on the west coast of Honshu just to make sure she hadn't found them again.
After all of that, Japan had seemed like a haven. He'd looked forward to spending most of his time as a male again. Zhu Shu may have taught him enough about being female that it hadn't been that bad being one full time in China, but he was male and wanted to stay that way.
He'd even looked forward to meeting the Tendos — friends of Genma's that they were going to stay with for a while….
Then Genma had told him he was going to have to marry one of them.
It had been the last straw! A curse, a homicidal Amazon, and now a betrothal! Enough was enough!
He faced the panda across the rapidly emptying street, then Genma lunged and he launched herself over the massive paw. "Yo! Cut that out!!'
Ranma's return kick sent Genma flying. Ranma set himself as the panda rose in front of the muttering crowd. "Your move!" he called. Genma responded with a flurry of blows which forced Ranma to duck furiously.
"Well, I still say," he dodged a fast moving paw, "this whole thing sucks!" Ranma snagged the paw before Genma could pull it back. "Picking my fiancée for me…" Genma flipped and hit the ground with a loud TWHOOOOM as Ranma finished. "…without even asking!!!"
The panda lay there like he was unconscious as Ranma pushed the braid he had taken to wearing back over his shoulder. Homicidal Amazons were better than this! And maybe if he could find Zhu Shu, she could help him search for a cure. "I'm going back to China! So suck on that, old man!!!"
He picked up his pack and shoes, then started trudging back down the street. Behind him, Genma sat up, casually grabbed a street sign, and whacked him across the head with it. Ranma's triumphant thoughts fled before a tidal wave of darkness.
Rain was supposed to be a cleansing, a refreshing of the Earth as it washed down the dust and fed thirsty crops. All of her life, Shan Pu had liked rain.
Until she came to Tokyo.
Now, it was just another sign of the depression she had sunk into. She had never thought any place could ever be as huge as Tokyo. Nine days of searching high and low had revealed not a single clue to Ranma's whereabouts, and she had only explored a small part of the city. It was far worse than she had anticipated, and she had not counted on the problems she had encountered as a girl alone in Tokyo. While she had been safe enough from the one mugger she had met, she spoke poor Japanese, and what little money she possessed had soon been spent. Nothing in her life as an Amazon warrior had prepared her for a place like this insane city.
At present she was setting in the rain on a low railing, overlooking one of the city's drainage canals and feeling like she would never redeem her honor.
After losing Ranma in China, it had been logical to suspect he had finally returned home, so they had come to Tokyo by boat. It had seemed like such a smart suggestion for her and Zhu Shu to split up and search the city for him. In retrospect, it had been anything but. She had come no closer to finding her groom, and had not seen her blood-sister in days. Now, to top it all off, she'd been caught in the sudden rain and was stuck as a cat till she found hot water.
She growled in aggravation, once more cursing the arrogant prince who'd….
"Ya know, you're feeling schorry for yourself loud 'nough to wake the dead,"a slurred voice said from behind her.
Shan Pu turned, the voice coming from so close behind nearly making her jump out of her skin. The woman it belonged to was a sight that made her blink several times in hopes of banishing the vision. It didn't.
The white haired woman seemed to be having trouble standing steady, and stank of rice wine. She was pretty enough, and dressed in a very revealing outfit, but the tattoos on her face were a trifle odd. She stumbled to the rail and leaned over, nearly falling into the canal and out of her dress before righting herself. Shan Pu blinked at her again as she gave a questioning mew.
The white-haired women brushed her bangs back from her face and looked down at her. "Oh, yeah. I'm… I'm… Oh yeah, Urd. Goddesh schecond class." She slumped to the ground beside the rail. "An' on pro… pro… probation." She held out a bottle of sake. "Want schome?"
Sham Pu sniffed the bottle, her whiskers curling at the smell. Urd laughed. "No… prolly not. Got a cat's tongue… Cat's got your tongue,"she giggled. "Scho anyway… you got nothing to feel schorry for. Now me… thas 'nother schory. Try bein' the host for tha' Lord a' Terror. At least you didn't nearly destroy tha' world!"
Shan Pu sighed. A drunk. Just what she needed on top of every thing else. She started to turn when she felt fingers grasp her by the neck and lift her in front of the drunken woman's face. She tried to turn to bite her, or get her claws into her, but try as she might she couldn't reach.
"Schimmer down, Schampoo,"the woman said. The shock of hearing her name used caused Shan Pu to stare at the self-proclaimed goddess. "I heard you in the bar, and I schaid to… to myschelf… I schaid, Urd… now there's schomeone who could use a little of the old Urd magic…" She looked Shan Pu in the eye. "Scho I came over… Just for you! Don't you feel special?"
Shan Pu gave her a raised eyebrow. Special? She was being dangled by the scruff of her neck by a thoroughly drunk woman who was delusional, and she was supposed to feel special?
"I am not de… de… delusional!" Urd protested drunkenly. "I'm a Goddess of Love!"
If Shan Pu could have crossed her arms, she would have. If she wasn't stuck as a cat, she could show this crazy lady this was not how you treated an Amazon!
"I… I can prove I'm a goddessh,"Urd slurred, taking another slug on her bottle. "You betcha!"
Shan Pu rolled her eyes. She was stuck for the moment, but when she got free, oh the scratching Urd was going to get!
"I can!" Urd drained the bottle of sake and tossed it behind her. She stood, staggering and stumbled to the center of the alley. "Jus' watch!" She started reaching into various concealed pockets and pulling out odds and ends: sunglasses, a walkman, a few CDs, but not what she was obviously looking for. Finally, failing to find the object of her search, Urd grumbled "Dammit! I left my ID schomewhere!" She blearily looked at Shan Pu, obviously almost drunk enough to fall unconscious.
"Well, I guess I got one way left." She looked around conspiratorially. "I'm not- not schposed to do this, but hey, whathahell, right? Not like I can get in more trou- trou- trouble. Scho tell me cat, wha's your wish?"
For Urd to put her down for one thing, so she could get on with looking for Ranma, and get away from the crazy woman. She struggled again against the woman's grip, but it was useless. Urd was hanging on desperately.
"No, come on, really! A real wish." Urd was almost pleading. "I can schow you I'm a real goddessh. I can! Wha's your mos' heartfelt wish? I can do it, I know I can!"
Fine. She wished that her relationship with Ranma would work out happily for everyone concerned! But most of all, she wanted to be let go!!!
Urd blinked at her twice, seemingly stunned, then her eyes lost focus as the tattoo on her forehead blazed into light. Shan Pu found herself floating in mid-air as Urd's head tilted back and she stared at the sky, the blaze on her forehead growing brighter and brighter. A wind kicked up around the alley as small objects started floating and Urd lifted off the ground.
Urd's hand released, and Shan Pu drifted to in front of the floating woman as wisps of light swirled around the alley. A feeling like static filled the alley as the very air seemed to hum with power. The faint sound at the very edge of her hearing began to build, like a bass rumble so low she could only feel it. It built until it seemed the ground must surely crumble beneath the weight of the sound.
Then a shaft of argent light shot towards the heavens, the glow so intense Shan Pu had to put her paws across her eyes. Then, as the light, and pressure faded, she found herself drifting to the ground again, looking as Urd collapsed to her knees and stared at her.
"Well, whaddaya know. Your wish has been approved." Urd whispered in shock before her eyes rolled back in her head and she fell forward.
Zhu Shu had to admit she was lost.
She hated having to admit it; it was too close to admitting defeat, that she had failed in her quest to find Ranma as badly as she had failed in her quest for a husband. In the two months since she and Shan Pu had left the Amazon village on the husband hunt, they had repeatedly almost caught up to the pair only to have them slip away in the chaos that seemed to follow them. They had succeeding in tracking the pair all over China to a small seaport, only to find they had escaped by swimming to Japan.
She'd agreed when her blood-sister had suggested they split up to search, and since had learned how insane the idea had been. She should have known better. Sighing heavily, she let her mind wander back to the day she had realized she was in over her head…
A week previous, Zhu Shu had been up a tree, looking out over yet another school.
She'd learned quickly that Japanese teenagers went to school longer than she had in her village, and that Ranma, being a year younger than she, wasn't even in the highest class grade. That being the case, she had figured the schools would be a likely place to search for her quarry. She'd just never thought there could be so many. This was probably the hundredth school she'd checked in the last four days and they were all beginning to blur together.
She rubbed her eyes, glad her year of wandering had acquainted her with at least a semblance of how to survive in a city, though Tokyo itself had stunned her with its sheer immensity. In four days, she'd covered a bare fraction of the sprawl and was realizing it might take months to search the rest. She wasn't even sure where she currently was. The city had proven too much a maze for her, and she'd been reduced to wandering from school to school almost at random.
A crash of thunder shook the air nearby and flung Zhu Shu out of her tree. She flipped to catch herself on the wall of the school and dropped down to the sidewalk near the gate, facing a young man who had just bolted through it, running from something Zhu Shu couldn't yet see…
"Save me! She's gone crazy!" the boy cried as he leaped into Zhu Shu's arms. They both went down in a tangle… She tried to roll to get free, and finally got her feet under her for a leap away from the wildly flailing boy, but just as she jumped, his hand caught in her underwear and she ended up in a heap on top of him when they caught around her ankles.
She kicked free and scuttled back against the wall as the boy set up, holding her panties. As he leered, a young girl wearing a tiger-striped bikini flew out of the gate.
"Darling! Will you never learn?! Must I always find you with another girl!?"
"But… but… but… Lum…" he got no further before the flying girl let loose with a lightning bolt.
Zhu Shu tried diving out of the way as the boy jumped towards her, but with uncanny luck, she tripped and fell, landing on her rear in a puddle on the sidewalk. Cold water soaked the hem of her dress as she changed, the boy landing head first between her spread legs. He lifted his head out of the water and looked up under her dress, a huge grin spreading…
"Nice view—" was all he had time for before the hilt of Zhu Shu's sword connected with the top of his head.
"Pervert!!!" she yelled in Chinese at the unconscious boy.
"Darling?!" The flying girl looked down in horror, dropping to land beside Zhu Shu and grabbing the unconscious boy. "Ataru??"
Up close, Zhu Shu could see that what she had taken to be hair decorations were actually small horns. "Wahhhhhh!!!! You killed Darling!!!!" she wailed, revealing long upper and lower canines.
"Zhu Shu not kill! Just bump on head!" the Chinese girl said indignantly.
"He's not moving!"
"He knocked out! Of course no move!"
"Why'd you hit him?!?"
"He look up dress!" Zhu Shu grabbed her wadded up panties out of the boy's clenched fist, "and steal panties! Why you attack?"
"Darling was chasing the cheerleading squad again!!!"
"So why angry at Zhu Shu??"
The other girl looked puzzled for a second then smiled. "Well… I suppose you couldn't avoid him…" She sighed. "I suppose I shouldn't be mad at you… Of course he's going to make a beeline right at you…" She sighed again. "Darling can be so… so… aggravating!" She turned back to Zhu Shu. "I'm Lum, of the Oni. This is my fiancé, Ataru Moroboshi of Earth." She held up his limp hand. "We're going to get married!"
Zhu Shu bowed politely. "Song Zhu Shu, of China."
The girl looked at her in confusion. "China? You're a native of Earth?"
Zhu Shu nodded, puzzled. Where else could she be from?
"But you look like a Beast Girl! From a planet near home!"
"Lum is not Earth?" Zhu Shu asked in wonder.
"Oh no. I'm an Oni. We were going to conquer earth a few years ago, but Ataru beat me in a game of tag, then asked me to marry him, so Daddy called it off. I moved here to be with Ataru." She waved a hand in a vague direction overhead. "Home's out that way a couple of hundred light-years, I think."
"Ah. Zhu Shu is of Earth. Has curse." She smiled, brushing her blonde hair back over her long ears. She understood now why the girl had not reacted to her cursed form the way she had come to expect. Water had proven difficult to avoid since Jusenkyo.
"A curse? Really?" The girl seemed excited. "I know! Let's take Ataru to Nurse Sakura. She's a witch! Maybe she can help!"
Zhu Shu raised an eyebrow, then shrugged mentally. She supposed it couldn't hurt. She helped Lum pick up the unconscious boy. Between the two of them, they dragged Ataru back to the main building, Zhu Shu stepping carefully to keep her too-short skirt from riding up any more. At the Nurse’s office, a few small bolts from Lum's fingertips cleared off the small crowd of boys from before the door, and they entered the small office. A tall gorgeous woman looked up at their entry and sighed.
"Again? Lum, that's the fifth time today! What did you shock him for this time?"
"I didn't!" She pointed at Zhu Shu with her chin. "Darling stole her panties and she hit him with a sword!"
Sakura sighed again. "Great! Just what we need. Another Mendo!" She waved them away towards an examination table.
Lum dragged Ataru over to the table, not noticing that Zhu Shu stood riveted to the floor, her eyes locked on Sakura and a strange expression on her face. Sakura turned from her small hotplate with a cup of tea and caught the Chinese girl's intense expression.
Zhu Shu shuddered as she suddenly drew in a breath, then blushed and looked down. "I… I sorry to stare. Please forgive."
Sakura tilted her head. "What were you looking at?"
Zhu Shu looked up. "Sakura have very strange aura. Like nothing Zhu Shu ever see."
Sakura's breath caught. "You can see auras?"
Zhu Shu nodded.
"Are you a witch?"
"So what do you see?" Sakura asked curiously.
Zhu Shu's eyes narrowed. "Many images. Like spirits that surround Sakura. Much chaos."
"Interesting." Sakura smiled. "I wish I could see them." She turned to check on Ataru. "As a witch, it would make things much easier."
Zhu Shu nodded, still studying Sakura's aura as the nurse looked over Ataru, then her attention was distracted by the kettle on the hotplate. She took advantage of the warm water while Sakura finished her examination. "As for why my jumbled aura, I'm a priestess as well. I seem to be a walking magnet for wandering spirits…" Sakura continued. "As for him, he's fine. Doesn't even have a concuss…" She trailed off as she turned and caught sight of Zhu Shu. "Wha— weren't you a blonde a second ago?"
Lum bounced up. "Oh! Yeah! She's got a curse! That's why I brought her to see you!"
"A curse?" Sakura shook her head. "I thought she was one of your weird alien friends… A curse…. I haven't worked on a curse for awhile… Let's see…"
In a blink, Sakura had changed out of her nurse's uniform into a priestess's robes. A small wand with long paper streamers folded into squares dangling from the end appeared in her hand, while a cloth had been tied around her head and held two lit candles on either side of her head. She moved around Zhu Shu making passes with the wand and humming to herself. "Hmm… Yes indeed. A powerful curse of a type I'm completely unfamiliar with… Wherever did you pick this up at, dear?"
Zhu Shu stopped staring at the strange garb and shrugged. "Zhu Shu fall in pool. Jusenkyo spring have curse. Zhu Shu get wet, Zhu Shu change."
"I see. I'm not familiar with Jusenkyo. Where in Japan is that?"
"Not Japan. China. Qinghai province."
"Ah!" Sakura went over to a bookcase against the side of her desk and search for a moment, finally picking up a book labeled Great Curses of China and How to Cure Them. She flipped through its pages for a few moments.
"Oh! Here we are… Jusenkyo, the ground of accused springs… That is completely unhelpful! It says the only cure for a Jusenkyo curse is to not fall in a spring in the first place! Failing that… hmm… It says one curse can affect another… also it mentions a few items that affect the curse… something called a Chiisuiton that locks a curse… the Kaisuifuu that unlocks them… Ah! Here's an item that would be useful: a bracelet that would allow you to control the curse and change at will… Let's see… last location… Joketsuzoku village… lotta help there… who the hell are the Joketsuzoku???" She sighed and looked up. "I'm sorry, dear. It looks like I'm not going to be much help on a Chinese curse. My Japanese magic would likely cause unpredictable results."
Zhu Shu nodded. "Zhu Shu not mind. Curse livable." She really hadn't held much hope Sakura could have broken the curse, no-one at the Amazon village had known how either… but it didn't matter. She hopped up to sit on the counter. "Maybe can help in other way. Zhu Shu look for boy."
Sakura smiled. "I don't know about setting up a date for you, dear. I wouldn't trust most of the boys at this school to behave themselves on one anyway."
Zhu Shu shook her head. "Zhu Shu not look for lover. Look for friend. Ranma Saotome."
"Hmm… we don't have anyone by that name in Tomobiki."
"Ah…" disappointment colored her voice. "Zhu Shu look elsewhere."
"Wait!" an eager Lum called "I got an idea! I can help you look!"
"Zhu Shu not know. Not realize Tokyo such big place. How find one boy in city?!?"
Lum thought hard for a moment… then brightened… "Mendo! He always seems to have ways of finding things out! I'm sure he could help!" She grabbed Zhu Shu by the hand and led her out of the office. "And in the meantime, you can stay in the saucer!"
As Zhu Shu was lead out of the office, she noticed a hand start to climb towards Sakura's breast. Without even looking down, the nurse slammed a frying pan against Ataru's head. Zhu Shu sighed. Hopefully this "saucer" Lum was talking about would be free from the letches this school seemed filled with…
As it turned out, the saucer was indeed safe from Ataru, if for no other reason than his reluctance to allow Lum to drag him into it, fearing she'd try to kidnap him to her home planet. Zhu Shu mostly stayed out of sight in Lum's saucer for the next week, staying out of Ataru's hands as the private investigators hired by Lum's friend Mendo sought out news of Ranma. She had found out on her first day it was safer avoiding the students of Tomobiki, since she didn't have Lum's ability to shock the lecherous "Hentai Squad". All her means of defense would have resulted in visits to the nurse for broken bones or blood loss.
Still, the saucer offered security from the roving hands of Ataru and his friends, as well as Lum's jealousy; dodging lightning bolts had lost its appeal the first day. She liked the strange alien girl well enough, but she was just too temperamental for Zhu Shu to feel comfortable around her. In the saucer, only Lum or her friends Oyuki or Benten came to visit, and she didn't have to threaten to cut Ataru's hands off every five minutes. Besides, Zhu Shu had found out she loved to watch anime, and Lum had a vast collection. She found herself engrossed in the adventures of various young girls having adventures far more exciting than anything she had ever dreamed of, and found herself wishing she could be whisked off to be the savior of a magical world, or prove to be the long-lost princess of a fabulous kingdom.
Of course, the Hentai Squad knew she was hiding in the saucer, and when Lum had let slip that Zhu Shu loved all the little cute animals from the different shows, Zhu Shu had found herself quickly gifted with a small mountain of stuffed versions in an attempt to get her to date one or another of the boys.
That of course had led to problems with the other girls at Tomobiki, to the point that Zhu Shu had finally just refused to come out of the saucer for the rest of the week till Mendo's investigators had found something.
She had started to be a little worried about no news for so long, had wondered if Ranma maybe had gone somewhere else, or back to China, but the phone call from Mendo earlier today had reassured her. He'd even graciously offered her the use of his car, Lum's saucer being far to high-profile for taking her to Nerima, where the pair had been spotted in the Ginza. Zhu Shu appreciated Mendo's generosity, though it had earned her a few muttered words and nasty looks from Shinobu, but it was worth it if she could indeed finally find Ranma.
Mendo had carried on a polite and friendly conversation with her in the car, until they had gotten to the Ginza, where workmen were repairing a broken street sign. He made her promise to call him for a pickup if her search was unsuccessful, then departed. A quick question to the workers, two men who were charmed by her broken Japanese and short Mandarin dress, revealed she was only about an hour behind the fugitive pair. She had tried searching an ever widening spiral, but had quickly gotten turned about. Now, after wandering through the mazes the locals called streets for hours, she had climbed to the top of a shrine in hopes of seeing a landmark, anything that looked vaguely familiar….
She surveyed the Tokyo skyline over the cherry trees that surround the hilltop shrine in resignation and sighed. Nothing. She raised an eye to the lowering clouds overhead, noting the signs of rain scattered across the city. She needed to find shelter soon, or she was likely to spend the night soaked.
Without warning, a beam of light pierced the heavens, so bright it had made the night seem like a stark black and white drawing. As it faded, clouds swirled around the hole the beam had made in the sky.
Zhu Shu blinked, trying to clear her eyes from the blaze of light. She had never felt a surge that strong. It had ripped through the night like a hurricane, leaving her senses reeling and raw and her consciousness teetering on the brink of the abyss. She closed her eyes as she sought her center, slowly regaining her equilibrium as the aftershocks faded.
A footstep behind her caused her to turn quickly, swords in hand. Green fire flickered fitfully along the edges, a sign of how shaky her chi control was following the wild surge, but she forced herself to focus. She'd heard no sounds of approach, and she'd found that in cities, stealth usually meant trouble.
But the fires died as her concentration was shattered by what greeted her eyes.
The girl who stood behind her was wearing a variation of the typical school uniform that Zhu Shu had seen all over Tokyo, yet it looked far different in major ways. White gloves covered her arms to her elbows, form fitting and trimmed in red. Her top was fitted so closely to her torso that Zhu Shu figured it couldn't just be cloth. Her red pleated skirt was so short that it barely passed her hips, and a large red bow adorned the back. A ruby heart held the center of a large blue bow on her breast and a tiara of gold made a V above her blue eyes. Her long shapely legs ended in a pair of red high-heeled shoes. Her waist-length black hair framed a pretty face that was currently occupied with a puzzled look.
"Well, you don't look like a Cardian, but what are you? I felt you the moment you entered the temple's grounds, and those swords fairly screamed with energy a second ago, but now you feel like a normal girl."
Zhu Shu returned the puzzled look. "Zhu Shu is Zhu Shu. Is only girl. Not know what other things is."
"She doesn't seem to be radiating any negative energy right now, but her signature is really weird this close up. Similar to Ail and Ann's," another voice chimed in. Zhu Shu spun to see another girl in a sailor outfit, similar to the first, but in blue and white, who was looking at her through a set of lenses.
"So is she a leftover Cardian? I thought Ail and Ann took all of them with them," asked a third, this one with two long blonde ponytails and round odango.
"I don't know," Blue replied.
Zhu Shu counted five girls surrounding her and cutting off any direction of escape. Her senses were still too raw from the aftereffects of the wild surge for anything remotely resembling clear sight, but she sensed too much energy for them not to be prepared to attack. Chi began to flicker along her blades again.
"She's spiking again!" Blue cried. "That weird bio-signature is getting stronger!"
The red suited girl stepped in front of the orange and green suited girls as they took defensive stances. "Hold it! Hold it! I really don't want to start a fight on top of THIS shrine!"
The other girls stepped back as Zhu Shu said, "Zhu Shu want know who girls and why threaten?!"
All five of the girls looked shocked.
The blonde with the red bow in her hair recovered first. "Who— who are we?!" she asked unbelievingly.
"Yes! Zhu Shu just stands here! No look for fight! Who girls want fight Zhu Shu?!"
The twin pony tailed girl stammered "W-w-w-we're the S-Sailor Senshi! Don't you know who we are?!"
Zhu Shu shook her head.
"But, we're famous! We're in every paper in Japan!" The red-bowed blonde protested, "I've even got a manga!"
"Zhu Shu not from Japan. Zhu Shu Chinese."
The red sailor laughed, "Serves you right, Sailor Venus. It seems your fame isn't quite as universal as you thought." The orange clad girl looked crestfallen as the odangoed blonde stuck her tongue out at her. The red suited girl kicked her in the shin, "Sailor Moon!"
"Wha—" the blonde started, straightening up.
"Don't you think we should introduce ourselves?"
"Oh… yeah… Right!" The blonde stepped back and struck a pose. "For Love and Justice, I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier, Sailor Moon! In the name of the Moon I… um… greet you?"
Sailor Venus broke out in a mad fit of giggles. Sailor Moon glared at her, "What?! I'm used to introducing myself to bad guys, right before I blast 'em. Give me a break!" At Venus' continued giggles, she crossed her arms and pouted.
The blue suited girl went next, "I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier Sailor Mercury! For the element of water, I greet you!" She ended with a sweet and friendly smile and added, "And maybe we can figure out why you keep spiking on my sensors…."
The orange suited blonde continued, "For the planet of love, I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier, Sailor Venus! I shall deliver love's heavenly vengeance!" She gave Zhu Shu a wink, "Or at least I shall to those who deserve it," she finished as an aside, then looked at the red-suited Sailor.
"For the element of flame, I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier, Sailor Mars! In the name of Mars, I will destroy evil!" Mars finished her speech and turned to look at the tall girl in green.
"By the element of lightning, I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier, Sailor Jupiter!" She looked around at the other girls, "And we are the Sailor Senshi."
Zhu Shu stifled her laugh at all the posturing, then bowed, "Song Zhu Shu, of China." She looked around at the Senshi, "Still not tell why want to attack."
Just then, the still swirling clouds overhead let loose with a light gust of rain.
"Energy spike off the scale!" Mercury shouted as the other Senshi looked on in amazement at the suddenly blonde, animalistic girl.
"Possession!" Mars cried, "She is a Cardian!" She began to chant as she pulled out an ofuda. "Rin, pyou, tou, sha—"
Zhu Shu recognized the scroll as part of a spell even though it was in Japanese and her swords flared as she moved to stop the girl's casting. As she stepped forward, ribbons ready to tangle Mars' hands, Mercury cried out "Shabon Spray Freezing!"
Zhu Shu launched herself straight up over the spray of bubbles that sprang from Mercury's hand and coated where she had been standing in ice. In midair, she crossed her swords and focused, "Dragon Tail Whip!"
The ribbons of Zhu Shu's swords streaked down towards Mercury, and at full extension launched a small ball of green fire at the blue clad Sailor. It struck the girl in the chest in a small explosion that knocked her backwards several feet.
Zhu Shu grimaced. The girl should have been knocked out at least. She angled for a spot on the roof away from the girls.
"Crescent Beam Shower!" the blonde called as she launched a shaft of golden light at Zhu Shu. Zhu Shu's ribbons flashed into a spiral dance around her as the beam split into dozens of shafts of light and arced towards her. Her ribbons disintegrated, deflecting the barrage, but the impacts threw off her landing and she came down badly on her ankle, twisting it as she hit the roof. Through the pain, she sensed the ionization of the air and Lum-born reflexes tried to move her away as Jupiter called, "Supreme Thunder Dragon!"
Her ankle betrayed her as the lightning dragon's jaws closed around her back. Her world went black and white, then only black….
Ranma sat in the Tendo's bath, listening to the crash of distant thunder and wondering what his dad had gotten him into now.
Three Tendo girls, and he was supposed to select one. How was he supposed to choose?
Kasumi was nice and all, but she exuded such a sisterly aura it would be unnerving to actually marry her. He'd feel… incestuous.
Nabiki was cute enough, but she seemed far too… mercenary. He'd constantly fear she'd trade him in for a new car or something.
Then there was Akane: "Let's be friends!" Could she still be friends when she found out he was a boy? She had been so… vehement about them after their sparring match.
But, she'd been so nice to him… Like Zhu Shu had. In the months since he had left the Chinese girl, he'd learned what loneliness really was. Akane had, for just that little while, made the loneliness go away….
Would she still treat him that way when she found out? Finally deciding that there was only one way to find out, he stood up, muttering, "I may as well go out as I am."
In mid-step, the door opened and a fully nude Akane stared at him, too shocked to even cover herself with her towel.
Just as shocked, Ranma stood frozen as Akane's eyes traveled down his body, then she took a step backwards and slid the door closed.
He heard the sound of her putting on a robe… then her sandals… Finally, he heard the outer door click closed and her leaning on it to draw a breath….
In the dining room, Soun and Genma looked up at the scream and the sounds of Akane's approach. Kasumi and Nabiki, just starting to bring out dinner, stared as a still yelling Akane ran past them to grab a large stone ornament from the garden.
"I'll weigh him down! I'll drown him in the tub!!!"
Curious as always, Nabiki was the first to ask, "Akane, what is it? What's that for?"
"There's a pervert in the bathroom!!!" Akane yelled.
"Why don't you just kill him with your bare hands?"Nabiki asked, ever logical.
Never logical, Akane could only say, "Because I'm afraid!!"
With a worried look, Kasumi added, "That's odd. Ranma was in the bath just now."
Just then, Ranma appeared at the end of the hall.
Akane glared as Kasumi started, "Who… who…. "
"Who are you?" Nabiki finished
Even more embarrassed than the first time, Ranma could only stare at the floor.
"I'm… Ranma Saotome." He scratched the back of his head. "Sorry about this…."
All three girls just stared in shock….
Shan Pu stared at the unconscious woman and wondered what the hell had just happened. Obviously, the woman really was something more than human, but exactly what she had no idea. She had barely dodged out of Urd's way as the woman had fallen over, and had pushed her face out of a puddle, but now had no idea what she should do. If the woman really was a goddess, it might not be a good idea to just leave. It probably wouldn't do to give her the scratching she deserved for manhandling her like that, but…
The sound of a motorcycle pulling up to the end of the alley interrupted her thoughts, and Shan Pu hastily pulled back her extended paw and sheathed her claws. She backed into a space between two trashcans where she could see Urd and evaluate the situation, as the sound of approaching feet could be heard.
An absolutely radiant woman stepped into her line of sight, dressed in a flattering outfit similar to what she had seen on young adults all around Tokyo, with a loose skirt and long grey hair tied back in a tail. Next to her, carrying an umbrella, was another young girl — a little older than Shampoo — with long black hair wearing an oversized jacket and jeans.
The first woman bent down to touch Urd's forehead, and Shan Pu realized she had facial tattoos similar to Urd's. Was this another goddess?
"Is she okay, Belldandy?" asked the younger girl.
"She'll be fine, Skuld. But she's probably going to have a terrible hangover."
"At least we finally found her. When she disappeared like that, I was afraid Big Sis had flipped or something."
"I was too. I know she felt guilty over…" Belldandy broke off and turned to where Shan Pu was hiding. "I'm sorry. I don't know what ever happened to my manners. Please forgive me, but I was so worried about my sister I didn't sense you. You must be Shan Pu? I'm Belldandy, and this is my other sister Skuld. Won't you please come out? I assure you we mean no harm."
Shan Pu raised an eyebrow as she gave a questioning mew. How could this girl know her name too?
Belldandy nodded. "I'm sure this must be confusing for you. I am so sorry. Usually, we meet clients far more formally. I'm sorry my sister was drunk. She's had a very hard time recently."
Clients? What ever in the world was she talking about?
"Oh." Belldandy said as Skuld busied herself rummaging through a trash can and tossing out odds and ends of metal. "We work for the Goddess Relief Office. We grant deserving mortals wishes. Odd, though. Urd's on probation, and as a goddess second class, she's not supposed to grant wishes. But it was accepted by the Ultimate Force, so Kami-Sama must have assigned her to you."
Shan Pu felt her head spinning, and gave up trying to understand. She just wanted to get dry and find Ranma.
"You're more than welcome to stay with us for a while." Belldandy offered. "Keiichi won't mind, and I can get you some fresh cream, or tea if you'd like to change first. I'm sure we can come up with some clothes to fit you."
Shampoo looked at the contraption the younger girl had built to move the unconscious Urd and blinked, then shrugged. It was obvious that they were more than normal humans, and supposedly, she had been granted her wish.
She looked up at the sky, and the falling rain. It was certainly a better offer than just staying wet.
With a tail twitch, she walked over and allowed Belldandy to pick her up, and in a fairly short time found herself falling asleep in the goddess's lap as Skuld drove them all home…
The five Sailor Senshi stood around Zhu Shu's unconscious body as Mars finished her exorcism.
"That was weird." Sailor Moon said as Mars carried out the last few chants. "How could she be able to deflect Venus's attack like that and not be able to handle Jupiter's lightning bolt? And why did my healing have no effect at all?"
As her chant concluded, Sailor Mars looked puzzled as well, "She should have changed back to normal and the Cardian forced out of her if it was possessing her."
Mercury tapped her computer, "That's not the weirdest part. Now that she's unconscious, all traces of that bio-energy are gone, but I've still got massive traces of the other kind. She's definitely one of the sources we've been tracking all week, but it's wild. It's almost impossible to detect from any kind of distance, except when it spikes, and then it's too quick to triangulate. I've gotten three other spikes since we got her, but I can't get a lock on any of them. And those swords… I can't make heads or tails out of the readings on them." She sounded frustrated.
"It's okay, Ami." Mars said from where she sat with her hand touching the ofuda on the unconscious girl's forehead. She looked over the prostrate form. "Now that I've had a chance to get a really good look at her, I think I know what your readings are. I'm so used to fighting evil villains that I wasn't thinking like a priestess," she sounded upset.
"Rei? What's up?" Sailor Moon looked worried. When Mars was upset, it usually meant that she had screwed up.
Rei stood, "Usagi, help me get her down to a bed in the shrine. I'll explain inside."
Sailor Moon nodded and moved to help pick up the unconscious girl. Venus bent down to pick up the pair of fallen swords and just for an instant, the faint dragons etched on the blades flared brightly.
Ami dropped her computer and ripped the visor off her eyes with a cry of "Ouch!" She rubbed her eyes.
"What happened?" Venus asked, looking at the swords in askance.
Mercury picked up her computer, "Silver Millennium energy spike… off the scale. It almost overloaded my computer."
"Silver Millennium?" Rei looked at her, "From the swords?"
"I can't tell. It was too quick a flash."
Jupiter looked from the swords to the unconscious girl, "What is she, Rei? Is she a Cardian? I've never seen one so quick."
"She's not a Cardian, Mako-chan." Rei said as they jumped down and entered the shrine. "And as a Shinto priestess, I should have known," She looked down at the strangely beautiful face of the changed girl, "It's my fault we nearly killed this poor girl. Her only crime was trying to defend herself against the five of us."
"Hey," Ami called, "The readings on her are much clearer in here. She almost glows."
Rei nodded, "I thought that would be the case." She nodded down at Zhu Shu as Minako and Makoto slid back the doors of a spare room. "This girl is probably perfectly human, and I suspect she's under a spell of some sort." She settled Zhu Shu onto the bed and removed the ofuda, "I should have known. Close as we were, I felt the spike when she changed, like that huge bolt that occurred just before we got to the roof. It could only have been magic."
She pulled out her wand and transformed.
Back in her normal garb, Rei continued, "I'm a priestess. I should have recognized it immediately. I suspect the surge you keep reading is the spell which transforms her."
Ami nodded and started tapping away at her keyboard. Minako closed the door to the room and asked, "But what about that weird green energy she hit Ami with? Or that flash from her swords?"
Rei closed her eyes and sighed, "I don't know. Some other kind of magic, I guess. It almost feels like ki, but on a level I've never heard of."
"Just plain old ki?" Makoto asked. "She'd have to be some kind of super Martial Artist for it to be that. I've never seen anyone who can manifest enough ki to even be visible, much less anything else she did."
Rei shrugged, "It's doesn't feel 'magical' that way the transformation spell does. Anyway, it's my fault she's like this… I'll take care of her ‘til she's awake." She laid a hand along side the scorched girl's cheek. "She's a hell of a lot tougher than we had any right to expect for a simple human, even a cursed one. She'll be okay, but we were lucky this time."
Makoto nodded, "Yes. We owe her a big apology when she wakes up. I'll cook dinner for her."
Usagi suddenly got a big grin. "I know!" she said, her finger held up to indicate her great idea. "We can take her to that new okonomiyaki restaurant in the Ginza! That'll make a great apology!" She beamed in happiness at the thought. "And that cook is just so dreamy looking!"
Rei nearly kicked her.
Ranma awoke lying face down on a sleeping mat, a wet cloth over a bump on his head and a memory of having smugly told Akane he was better built rattling around in his skull.
"Ah! She's awake!" Kasumi called out next to him. Ranma's head popped up, then pain hit, "Ooooooooooh…." Ranma said.
Kasumi leaned over, concerned, "Are you okay? Don't think badly of Akane," she pleaded, "She's really a very sweet girl… She's just a violent maniac."
"Oh, good Kasumi. That makes lots of sense." Nabiki said from her seat next to Kasumi.
Ranma shrugged. He thought they were all crazy.
A few minutes later, after assuring Kasumi that he was alright, Ranma stumbled down the steps towards the bathroom feeling the bump on the back of his head. It still smarted. What kind of girl was Akane anyway? Zhu Shu had been much nicer. Hell, even Shampoo had at least been understandable! What was Akane's problem?
Friends, she'd said! So much for friends when she found out he was a boy!
He stripped in the outer room and thought again of Zhu Shu. It would have been nice to have another friend like her, but it didn't look like that friend would be Akane.
He was reaching for the door to the tub room when it slid aside. A once more completely nude Akane stood there.
Ranma was taken aback, and tried to think of something to say as Akane stared at him getting madder and madder.
"Why… you… you… YOU…" Akane growled, then she slapped him… Hard.
"So she's got spunk," Genma said after Ranma had finally gotten his bath, "That just makes a fiancée cuter!"
"Cute is not the word." Ranma growled.
Behind him in the dining room, Nabiki was discussing the incident as well. "But you were both girls, right? That makes it okay!"
Akane refused to be mollified. "Okay is not the word!!!"
Following Usagi's comment, Rei chased the other Senshi out of the shrine, and then returned to her patient.
"Whoever you are, I hope you can forgive us," she whispered as she knelt beside the bed with a bowl of warm water and a washcloth. She looked over the scorched girl, taking careful stock of her condition. Her clothes were charred and useless, as well as her pack, but surprisingly little damage had been done to her body. Rei thanked her ancestors for that. Gently, she rolled the unconscious girl over to check her back, where the lightning bolt had hit.
Most of the back of the silk dress had been charred to ash, coating the girls skin with black smudges, but here and there, faint metallic gleams caught Rei's eye. Reaching for her small first aid kit, she took out a pair of bandage scissors. With enormous care, she began to cut away the rest of the ruined dress. Afterwards, she took the washcloth soaked in warm water and began to wash away the soot.
At the first touch of the warm water, Rei jerked her hand back as the unconscious girl shifted back to her original form. She watched carefully for a few moments, but there was no other reaction, so she resumed. Cautiously, she wiped away the ash….
The first stroke revealed a brilliant pattern of red and gold scales picked out in metallic ink along a sinuous form. Gently, Rei washed more of the ash and soot away from the rest of the tattoo, revealing an elegant Imperial Chinese Dragon. Golden eyes seemed to watch her as the girl's breathing seemed to make the Dragon writhe. Its long serpentine form crawled across her back from her right shoulder in spiraling coils down to its tail just above the joint of her left leg. Enwrapped in those coils was a long golden staff that Rei found hauntingly familiar, yet could not place. In overall appearance, it vaguely resembled an old-fashioned key topped by a large ruby.
In one of its four claws, the Dragon gently held cupped a pink flower; a cherry blossom, so exquisitely drawn as to almost seem real. A single dewdrop traced down a petal, almost like a tear. As she touched it, Rei sensed an enormous sadness, and an almost unbearable sense of loss.
She looked away, not sure if the feeling was hers. Her "feelings" were never predictable, or controllable, and she wished she understood them better.
Another claw was reaching out towards a tiger as beautifully drawn as the flower. It seemed as if the Dragon yearned to reach the tiger, but it was just beyond reach. Rei had a strange sense of connection, however, as if the Dragon and the Tiger were in some way a part of each other in a way she could not describe.
She shook her head and moved on to the next claw. The symbolism was puzzling to say the least. This claw gripped a sword identical to those born by the unconscious girl, complete with the long ribbons, but those ribbons twined about an object that Rei had to look twice at to be sure of. It appeared to be an oversized spatula. The ribbons twined around the object in a tight spiral that tied the two together as one.
The last claw also held a sword, this one's ribbons wrapped around a throwing star. The four objects made a complimentary spiral down the girl's back, from the flower on her left shoulder opposite the dragon's head down to the star on her right cheek; they formed a double helix around the golden staff. Rei was reminded of a DNA helix. The artistry throughout was a master's handiwork, and surely, to have spent such a long time detailing the individual items, they must possess a significant meaning to the unconscious girl, but Rei had no clue as to their purpose….
As she cleaned the last of the soot away, a final detail emerged. At the base of the long staff, just above her coccyx, a group of golden symbols circled a gold ring with a dot in its center.
Rei's breath caught at the sight of those symbols, and her hand reached out involuntarily to the uppermost one….
Her symbol… For Mars….
As her fingers brushed the sign, a feeling of an electric shock coursed up her arm and images formed in her mind… A pink haired girl with sad eyes, waving goodbye, a black haired Japanese girl holding twin tiger-head pommeled swords, a flash of golden cat-slit eyes glowing in the darkness, a flash of fire followed by a vision of a girl dressed in a boy's outfit, holding out an okonomiyaki with a heart on it, replaced by a female in a red ninja's gi, holding a fan and a spray of darts… A flash of light illuminated one of the dragon etched swords, a golden fire burning along its blade as the dragon blazed like the sun… As the light faded, the ring with the dot burned in the darkness, then drew back to assume its spot in the center of the ring of nine before darkness covered them all. In the darkness, those golden eyes opened again, then as the dragon's face appeared around them, it drew back to form the heart of a burning mandala. Rei felt a surge of power throw her backwards, and she lost contact with the tattoo.
As quickly as it had come, the vision passed, leaving her no wiser than before. Shaken, Rei dropped her cloth into the basin and willed her heart to stop racing. She looked at the still form of the Chinese girl and whispered.
"You become more of a mystery yet."
Finally getting a hold of herself, Rei finished the sponge bath, then tucked the girl into the bed. Taking the girl's swords to her room with her, Rei sat and started to polish the soot off of them, humming a song that was running in her head, then softly singing the lyrics.
It never even occurred to her to wonder that they were all in Chinese.
To be continued.
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