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Chocolate Oranges π:
The Self-Serve Deli at the End of the Galaxy

A Ranma ½ retrofic
by Rylan Hilman (sabremau@yahoo.com)

Disclammer: Well, I've never plucked a rooster, and I'm not too good at ping-pong, and I've never thrown my mashed potatoes up against the wall, and I've never kissed a chipmunk, and I've never gotten head lice, and I've never been to Boston in the fall!

Oops. That's not it….Ah, here we go. Take two!

Disclaimer: This fanfic is strictly for non-profit use only. The characters and situations of Ranma 1/2, as well as the fantastically versatile Mr. Yotsuya, are owned by Rumiko Takahashi and those she licensed them to, including, but not limited to, Shogakukan and Viz. Naga the Serpent is a character from Slayers, originally created by Hajime Kanzaka. Segata Sanshiro and associated characters are owned by Sega, developer of excellent imported video games. Pereshte, however, is my own original character. The Sony Playstation is not a webshooter. Disclammer inspired by Larry the Cucumber. Terry's Chocolate Oranges themselves are produced by Kraft Foods, and though the author agrees that they are tasty, this story is not a paid advertisement for their product; it is a free and unsolicited advertisement, selected solely by the discretion of the author. The events and persons in this fanfic are completely fictional and any resemblance to actual events or persons is completely unintentional, and the author is not responsible for any injury, trauma, or other detrimental condition resulting from proper or improper use of this fan fiction. Do not apply internally, severe tire damage.

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Space is big. In fact, space is really, really big. Its size is so spectacularly huge that most cultures simply give up at even trying to fathom how big their own little niches in it are. Moreover, when every dimension in existence is considered, each with at least one vast universe contained within, only a select few in some of the higher dimensions attempt to fully comprehend the science behind this nearly unimaginable continuum.

Even in these dimensions, where science has been advanced to the point where their own inhabitants cannot draw significant distinctions between it and magic, the utter failure of attempts at significantly influencing the space-time stream of other dimensions from a safe distance has led the elites of their respective scientific communities to the conclusion that the whole thing is a colossal waste of time.

Still, there are those who try. Most meet with tragedy, but there is at least one who had some triumph mixed in as well.


"There he is, right where I predicted. And you thought I couldn't do it!" the Vry'cian graduate scientist triumphantly remarked to her partner. "Every single one of my formulae running at, oh, what was that capacity again?" She smugly turned to the schematic readout diagrams on the display behind her.

"Full… full capacity!" He still could hardly believe she actually pulled it off; the equipment in the room, while not exactly the most advanced to be found in the Empire, was handling every fluctuation in the linkup between the two dimensions as effortlessly as if it were calculating trivial integer multiplication.

With a mere thought, she refocused the interdimensional scope to rewind through that foreign time stream until the scope was filled with individual moments from that distant young man's life, rapidly scrolling back and forth through them.

"Of course. And that look on your face," she withdrew her hand from a pocket of her laboratory robe and pointed at him, "is EXACTLY what I can't wait to see on the face of the Emperor." She grinned in triumph, walking closer to the giant spherical display to view her current research subject a little more clearly.

"Yes, I'm quite sure he'll be well pleased with your research," her companion agreed. "Just one question, though… Where do we go from here?"

She looked, not at him, but rather at the human on the screen. Her eyes began to take on a faraway look as she reminisced, "You know, I've been keeping an eye on this boy ever since I started my research here. Until now, I never had the ability to watch his life with quite this level of signal resolution. He's having an extraordinarily interesting life over there, even by our standards. Excitement, comedy, adventure!" She shrugged. "Not to mention a large factor of sheer weirdness. And now, I finally have the perfect way to test out the newfound abilities we've just mastered."

He looked at her. She looked at him. There was an expectant pause.

"…And that is?"

"I'm going to self-insert myself into this universe as his mate."

"You're going to WHAT?!"

She spun around in a happy daze, her robe billowing out in a wide circle as she danced. "Think about it! Actually living as a native of one of the lower dimensions, and in one of their own bodies! Not just watching the story from afar, but experiencing it as an active participant! Besides…." She stopped and gestured towards the bank of omnilateral processors running along the far wall of the lab. "Not only do we now have the ability to self-insert, but I'll also be able to have advance knowledge of every major event in their lives before it even happens! Have a sense of fun, will ya?"

"Uh, sounds great… Wait, is the picture supposed to be flickering like that?"

She froze and suddenly realized that the picture was indeed fading out. Numerous systems all around the laboratory began powering down, displays going blank and mechanical components slowing to a halt. She pulled up a readout and frantically tried to figure out what was going on.

"What?! This is impossible! All the components are still running at full capacity, but we're losing power! HOW?! We're on a dedicated circuit!!" A high-pitched tone on the side of the room prompted her to look over, just in time to see the door open and her Imperial Representative walk in, looking solemnly depressed.

"Hello, milady. I suppose you have noticed by now what I came to tell you." He clasped his hands in front of his grey congressional robe and looked down. "Your budget allocation has been diverted onto a rider bill by Senator Chaloria, and she is currently running a twelve-day filibuster attempt to keep it from being passed."

"SHE'S WHAT?!"

"She is speaking at length on the migratory habits of certain species of birds, I believe. In any case, the payment deadline of the energy allocation for your laboratory passed but a few moments ago, despite our most principled attempts to extend it. I am truly sorry, madam." He bowed in humble respect.

She, on the other hand, began to quake in fury, shouting incoherently at the meddling senator. Not wasting much time, she began to gather her research discs and papers into her robe, all the while continuing to mutter angrily. "Well, she thinks she's going to stomp on my dreams without a fight? Gentlemen, come with me! We're going to the Senate, and as surely as our Emperor Vry'ci lives, today we're still going to make interdimensional HISTORY!" She stormed out, her colleague and her Imperial Representative trailing close behind.


Sadly, this was not to be. Their attempt to break the filibuster would fail, their budget would not be reinstated, and within the day, both of them would be forced to start a long quest to find safely non-bureaucratic sources of funding for their dimensional research. In other tragic news, Emperor Vry'ci died earlier that afternoon while choking on some fruit. These facts can be safely revealed without ruining suspense, since they have absolutely nothing to do with Ranma, Nabiki, nor anyone else in this saga.

And now, the conclusion….


Chocolate Oranges Pi π:
The Self-Serve Deli at the End of the Galaxy

[Subtitle: This Is the Part Where It Starts Making Sense]

A Ranma 1/2 conclusion-fic
by Rylan Hilman (sabremau@yahoo.com)


On the outskirts of Nerima, not far from the Sea of Nerima, a girl and her father slowly trudged into town. The girl, Ranma Saotome, was still walking with a bit of a limp due to injury, and was fairly tired. Her father, Genma Saotome — wearing a white gi that was thoroughly, though accidentally, stained a light shade of pink from top to bottom — was flat-out exhausted.

"Hey, why can't we just get a hotel or something here, then go meet your friend in the morning? There's gotta be—"

He cut her off, wobbling awkwardly and panting out, "There is no hotel around here. It will be dark soon. There is no hotel around here." He took a couple more unsteady steps, stopped, and smoothly collapsed to a seated position. He took a roast chicken out of his backpack and handed half to Ranma. "By the way, boy," he asked his (at-the-moment) daughter in between bites, "why haven't you changed back yet? I've still got this, you know." He patted the kettle of tea he had been carrying tied to his pack.

Ranma stopped eating and angrily pointed at her shirt exasperatedly. "Hey, you got ANY idea how hard it is to wash that red tea stuff out of these clothes?! If I'd seen any other hot water on the way, I'd have jumped in it in an instant, but all you had was that TEA!" She sighed in frustration and continued eating her snack.

The sun began to dip low in the sky, and for a fleeting moment Genma felt that he had arrived too late, but he breathed a sigh of relief as it started edging back up to its previous position; that was only a practice run.

"Well, my son, we're in luck!" Genma jumped back to his feet, completely re-energized by roast chicken.

"What? You found some hot water?"

"Nope. We're here!" He grandly pointed to the house right next to them, the sign on the gate clearly identifying it as the Tendo residence.

Ranma blinked. "Huh. That was quick. Hope they got some hot water in there." She slowly got up to her feet, trying to put a little more weight on her bruised hip.

"Yeah, me too." Genma paused, looking thoughtful. "Ranma, do you know how important being a man among men is?"

Ranma rolled her eyes in annoyance. "Not like you haven't told me a million times already, ya know."

Genma walked towards the gate. "Well, you're about to find out."

"Huh?"

A flock of mice watched silently from across the landscape.


Somewhere far away, in a densely wooded forest practically untouched by mankind, a swift figure ran on the wind, moving quickly and with great ease over miles and miles of countryside.

His name was Idaten, and he was no mere mortal. As a Japanese deity charged with defending justice, the law, and the kitchen, he was uniquely situated to handle the newly arisen crisis that had befallen Earth. Using his inhumanly fast running abilities, he had to deliver what was possibly the planet's last hope into the hands of the one mortal who could properly use it.

"Assuming I can stay conscious long enough, that is…." he mused as he ran. Nobody else envied him this particular assignment, since even if he was immortal, it was still probably going to hurt.

The pain started right around that point, as he ran smack into the target of his search. The impact knocked him back several yards, bowling him head over heels. As he began to scramble up to his feet, he froze, finally realizing who exactly he had just run into.

"Se… Segata Sanshiro!!"

The judo master stood there unmoved, a scowl on his face and his arms folded. With a single practiced motion, he raised both fists into the air and charged at the deity.

Initially, Segata Sanshiro merely tossed Idaten into some trees, but, seeing as he was not quite convinced of the benefits of playing Sega's fine quality video games, he kicked him towards Mt. Fuji, bounced him off of it, then kicked him into the mountain again. Racing all-out at a speed that would make the runner god himself envious, Sanshiro caught up with his crumpled adversary about a third of the way up the mountain.

"Segata… Sanshiro… I bring news… about your… brother…." Idaten painfully gasped out. He slowly reached into his pocket to bring out the device he had brought from his kitchen for just such an occasion.

"What? Where is he?! Tell me, Idaten!!" Sanshiro angrily demanded.

Idaten handed him the metallic sphere, coughed twice with no small amount of difficulty, and explained, "He's about to face… the gerbil. You… must bring this… to him. For… justice!"

Finally, the exertion became too much for him, and Idaten, the Guardian of the Law, collapsed into unconsciousness. Segata Sanshiro, as a way of thanking him for his courageous efforts, placed a new Sega Saturn on the runner's stomach before walking away.

"Play it!"


Segata Sanshiro put away his interdimensional cell phone as he neared his winter cabin. He had just been on a lengthy conversation with his brother, discussing strategy for putting the gerbil down for good and saving an entire world from his corrupting influence.

He scowled at the foolishness of Nabiki Tendo, erasing all that they had worked so hard for. Granted, it was a rather clever reality parasite they were up against, but she had fumbled a golden opportunity to keep him deep in the ground, dead and buried. His springing back to life was all due to a single miscalculation caused by that girl.

Sanshiro finally reached the door of his cabin and swung it inwards. Observing a time-honored Segata family tradition, he stepped inside, put on his slippers by the door, and bellowed, "HONEY! I'M HOOOOME!!"

His wife walked up to him, holding a lengthy printout. "Welcome back, Sanshiro! Oh, and I think I've finally tracked down that bug in the new game… you know, the one where it freezes on the Sega logo? We've got to initialize the memory after allocating it to each thread." Then, looking up, she finally noticed his somber expression. "Sanshiro, what's wrong?"

He sighed. "Idaten ran into me while I was out training. He informed me that the evil gerbil Pereshte lives on, and that I must bring this over there; the Chocolate Orange," he explained, placing the foil-wrapped sphere on the living room table.

Segata Sakura blinked, looking confused. "Pereshte? I thought you said the Tendo girl finished him off already…."

"She did, but he had already engineered the timeline so that he could be revived, and Nabiki apparently triggered it." He walked over to the fireplace and sat down cross-legged in front of it, closing his eyes in thoughtful meditation. "I was just speaking long-distance with my brother, who lives in that dimension. He can use the Orange, but I must get it to him quickly, or they are all most certainly doomed."

Sakura frowned sympathetically and paced around the room for a moment or two, glancing around their well-furnished cabin looking for some inspiration. Suddenly, she noticed the Shinguuji family sword, Arataka, on the mantle above Sanshiro. She pulled it off of its display and knelt down behind her husband.

"What if… What if we used a variation on my Ouka Houshin technique to punch a tunnel through the dimensional barrier so you could get through, bring them the Orange, and help out in the battle?" she suggested, holding the sword out towards him.

Sanshiro looked back at Sakura, shaking his head slightly. "The timing and aim for that would have to be magnificently precise," he said, sounding concerned, "and there's no telling what that gerbil could have waiting on the other side of the rift. It would be quite risky, for you as well… and it might not even work."

She gently squeezed his shoulder and smiled back at him. "If we work together, I'm sure we can do it. Shall we start training, then?" She drew the ancient sword from its sheath and held it up to the light. The fire in the hearth crackled encouragingly, casting a warm glow over the ancient sword. Gradually, a smile came over Segata Sanshiro's face as well.

"Let's begin."


Meanwhile, back in our previous timeline, the Port of Tokyo was having a spectacularly bad day. Shipping traffic was down, the nation's economy was in a general malaise, and workers were fleeing their stations due to the nearly constant barrage of incoming cannon fire.

Normally, such an incident would be brought to the attention of the Self-Defense Forces, who were sure to respond if cannonballs, missiles, or enormous mutated animals were causing all this mess, but the fact that the entire port was being pelted by an apparently limitless supply of herring, instead, caused the officials much confusion. This led to chronic indecision among all concerned.

The source of all these fishy missiles sailed triumphantly into Tokyo Bay, its dozens of special-order cannons firing rapidly at anything that tried to get in its way. Giant sails, painted with the likeness of the ship's captain (though not very skillfully), guided the junk as it sped along the surface of the water, kicking up an impressive wake behind it.

Happosai stood on the bow, enjoying his front-row view of the mayhem surrounding him. Ever since he had escaped from the cave in which his disciples imprisoned him, he had been dreaming of this moment. Long years in total darkness had been spent formulating the perfect way to exact revenge for his former students' insolence, and it was now tantalizingly within reach.

A thought momentarily occurred to him, but the constant booming of the ship's cannons knocked it loose before he could notice it.

He raised his arms in triumph and laughed, long and loud and clear. "Finally!! The master of Anything-Goes Martial Arts will reign once again, and this country will now be mAAAAAAAAAAAH!!"

It should be noted here that Happosai had no real intention of making the country maaaaaaaaaaah, but he involuntarily said it anyway. The reason for this is that at that very moment, the junk had run aground, knocking him from his perch on the bow and causing him to plunge to the ground, where he landed with his arms planted firmly in the dirt over his head in triumph.

"Oh, that's right, now I remember," he muttered, extracting himself from the shore and climbing back onto the deck. He grinned evilly. "Time to add the magic touch!"

The cannonfire died down, and Happosai pulled an especially large herring from a nearby ammunition pile. Exerting all his martial arts skill, he leapt from mast to mast while swinging the herring around in circles above his head. With the speed he was twirling it, bits of sparkling dust began to emit from the fish and float down to the deck, which itself began to glow.

After a couple minutes, the junk began to creak. After a couple more minutes, it began to float higher in the water. Finally, after one more couple of minutes passed, the keel lifted completely out of Tokyo Bay. The sails re-inflated upon catching a hefty breeze, and Happosai was on his way once again, the sparkling ship flying in the direction of his former student's home in Nerima.

Happosai resumed his laughing.


Nabiki Tendo was irritated to be continually interrupted by the sound of Nabiki Tendo.

"Hello out there!! Nabiki!! I know you can hear me!" Her own voice, though not under her control, kept echoing loud and clear within her head, making slight progress towards dislodging her self-image as the sane one in the family.

Nabiki winced and sipped some tea, hoping the rest of her food would arrive shortly. She had come to this cafe in the hopes that a little recreational spending on something unusually tasty would distract the voice in her head from yelling at her. Still, even with the big plate of ginger yakiniku, large slice of cherry pie, and cup of steaming hot red tea on the table in front of her, her mind continued to yell loudly.

"Listen, Nabiki, I'm in here and you're in here, so why don't we get this discussion behind us, okay?" The internal voice fell silent, and for a brief moment, Nabiki opened her eyes and figured it had finally gone away, but then it began to sing. It wasn't a song Nabiki was very familiar with, but it had three particularly annoying attributes.

First off, it was comprised of a single note. Secondly, said note was repeated at random intervals for random lengths of time. Finally, it was earth-shakingly loud.

"All right, all right!!" Nabiki thought, clapping her hands over her ears, in spite of the fact that the noise was coming from inside anyway, "Who are you and why are you in my head?!"

The singing mercifully stopped and the mysterious voice resumed. "Thank you. Time is short, so I'll make this brief. I'm you — or rather, I'm the part of you who knows what's actually going on. To put it simply, I'm the sane one. Normally, we're fused as one, but in this world, we've been disconnected, and that's why I've been trying to get your attention for the past two hours. Took you long enough…" Nabiki-II grumbled.

Nabiki herself was a bit unnerved by the idea of having two of her inside her head, so she decided, instead, to imagine that her other self was talking to her through her teacup.

She glanced down and whispered to her tea, "So, assuming I'm not crazy… What exactly is going on?" She didn't really mind not having control of the situation, but not even knowing what the situation was, was admittedly a bit of an unfamiliar and worrisome territory to find herself in.

Nabiki-II sat in Nabiki's mind, her metaphorical jaw hanging open at the sight of her alter-ego talking to a cup of tea. "Uh… Well, there's good news and, er, bad news."

Nabiki nodded at her tea. "Okay, I'm following so far. What's the good news?"

"Okay, the good news is that you are, today, the sixth most important person in the world." Nabiki-II sighed. "The bad news is that the world will probably be ending in a few hours anyway."

An uncertain numbing chill went through Nabiki's body as she realized that one of two things was probably true: either she had accidentally gone insane and was holding a conversation with her tea, or that voice in there was actually telling the truth and the two months worth of homework she had finished yesterday was all in vain.

Nabiki sat there staring at her tea, somewhat rattled, so Nabiki-II continued, "Now, you'll at least get a chance to do something about it, but it's going to be a team effort," a certain edge entered her voice, "and the Nabiki I know isn't going to clumsily fumble this opportunity like some Tendos I know, RIGHT??"

"Wha…? Oh, yeah… right." Nabiki responded, somewhat startled. She tried taking some deep breaths to calm her nerves, but this was all beginning to get too weird too fast for her tastes.

A sudden silence fell over the cafe, causing Nabiki to look around. Aside from her, the restaurant had inexplicably become deserted, though the street outside still contained a normal amount of pedestrians, as she could tell through the window.

Her psyche decided to use that moment to take her nervousness and kick it up several notches. Spooked, she uneasily glanced back at her tea. "Uh, hello? Something seems to be happening…."

Nabiki-II sighed. "Yes, that gerbil's up to his tricks again. Really sorry, but I've got to go now. You should know one more thing before I leave, though…."

"WHAT?! WAIT!!" The unexpected mention of "gerbil" caused the image of Pereshte's furry little face of evil to run screaming into her mind. In an uncontrolled chain reaction, this unleashed a relentless torrent of other memories from that world, flashing through her consciousness. Genma the elk, her father's bathing song, a pomegranate tree, and her little sister being possessed by a gerbil, among other images, all revealed themselves in one horrifying instant of clarity.

Her voice had now dropped all pretense of her usual controlled and calm demeanor, something made much easier by the fact that nobody else was in the cafe who would be hearing her. "WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!"

"Look behind you."

She did.

"Nabiki Tendo."

She froze. That voice was outside her head, quite a bit deeper, and coming from the other side of her table. She spun around and saw that it was Mr. Yotsuya, now sitting on the chair opposite hers, his facial expression perfectly neutral, his hands folded on the table, and his fedora and trench coat both covered with perspiration.

"GYAAAAAAAAH!!!" she didn't scream, even though she was ridiculously startled.

"Wh… what are you doing here?!" she didn't ask, though she was indeed very curious at his sudden appearance.

"It's you, isn't it? You're the one who knows what's going on! What happened to Pereshte? How did he survive? What on earth happened to our universe?! Tell me, please!!" she didn't demand, although she very nearly did. She was not quite in the proper gear of mind to suddenly shift and begin down any of these potential conversation-starting paths.

While all of these things were busy not being said, yet another awkward silence settled over the cafe. It snuggled in for a good twenty seconds this time before it was finally evicted.

"Yes, yes, I know," Yotsuya calmly intoned, deciding to take the initiative in restarting this conversation, "it's been a long reality for all of us. However, we have precious little time to work with, and you must be ready to accept your destiny… Should the need arise, that is."

"…Huh?" Nabiki finally croaked out.

"Breathe. I assure you, it will make the rest of this conversation pass much more smoothly," he advised. After a couple moments of indecision, Nabiki followed his suggestion, and to her great relief, began to calm down significantly.

Yotsuya smiled. "Much better. Now, we know that the gerbil is around the area somewhere, but he's rather adept at masking his presence; we have no idea where he is. He should, I suspect, make his move fairly soon, so we must be ready to move fast once he appears."

Nabiki, however, was momentarily distracted by something. "Wait a minute, Mr. Yotsuya… Why is your coat all wet?"

The smile disappeared, and his usual neutral face returned. "I've been training. For the time being, that's all that needs to be said about that."

Another thought occurred to Nabiki, about six seconds after she had hoped it would. "Uh, didn't I already squash Pereshte? I seem to remember that being a big part of that weird world back in the… Well, wherever that was…."

"After you killed Pereshte, returning to your original timeline," said Yotsuya as he leaned forward, staring down Nabiki with more seriousness than a human being is normally allowed to possess, "what exactly did you do, afterwards?"

"Well, I… I thought I had been dreaming, so I got off the floor and, well, Akane came in, saw the hole in my shirt, and then… Wait a second. That panel! And… And the inscription…."

"'THE BEGINNING', am I correct?" He raised an eyebrow at her surprised reaction. "My dear Miss Tendo, if I'm not mistaken, I do believe you managed to rewind an entire universe."

Nabiki's jaw dropped, a look of stunned incredulity on her face, and she all but shouted, "I DID WHAT?!?!"

"Do not be alarmed, it wasn't by your power; you just happened to trigger a far greater mechanism simply by reading those words. Still, to make a long story short, we are currently in a time long before your gerbil-stomping expedition." He glanced at his watch, then reached into his pocket. "Nabiki, the events of today are already set into motion. Your portion of the plan, as it has been decided, is to take this and guard it with your life."

He placed the smooth orange ball on the table. Nabiki looked at it for a moment, looked back at the irritatingly calm face of Mr. Yotsuya, then back at the ball.

"It's a c—"

"Yes, yes it is," He quickly interrupted her, holding up a hand to stop her from saying it out loud.

Nabiki blinked. "But it's a c—"

He broke in again, more forcefully, "We both know what it is, Miss Tendo, but for the time being, it shall have to suffice. It is a dangerous opponent we face, and the wrong words spoken in haste may quicken our destruction." The grave weight of his words clamped heavily upon Nabiki, so she didn't try to say anything more about the device.

Even if it is a cardboard prop, she decided, it's gotta be important somehow….

She picked it up, briefly surprised at how unnaturally light it was, and asked Yotsuya, "So, now that you're here, what do we do?"

Yotsuya raised his other eyebrow. "'Now that I'm here?' I'm sorry to disappoint you, but at the moment, I am most definitely not here." He smiled enigmatically.

Nabiki looked at him, her mind trying to wrap itself around this rather unexpected claim. "Uh, yeah. Okay, if you're not here, then how come you're sitting right in front of me?"

Yotsuya shook his head and indicated the plates of ginger yakiniku and cherry pie, still sitting on the cafe table. "Please try to understand. If I was here, as you claim, then think: why have I not asked to share in partaking of your fine meal?"

Nabiki realized, after a second or two of consideration, that he had a point there. "I… guess so…." She buried her face in her hand, trying to stave off yet another confusion-induced headache. "So then, where exactly are…?"

She looked up. Yotsuya had vanished. The cafe remained eerily empty.

"…you?"


Mr. Yotsuya was a very busy man.

While busily not being at the cafe talking with Nabiki, he was the one man on the entire planet fully aware of the situation they had now found themselves in, courtesy of a certain reality-warping rodent. Due to his unique position, his time had been very occupied with equipment training and coordinating strategy with members of his immediate family, who were not currently in his local dimension at the moment. As a group, they had finally come to the conclusion that Pereshte, in his new state, could not be permanently killed.

This presented a problem, as the gerbil had entrenched himself into the fabric of local space-time quite thoroughly. After Nabiki's failed attempt at squashing him, evicting him this time would be prove to be nearly impossible.

Fortunately, that was not his plan.

As such, he and Segata Sanshiro had agreed on a delaying strategy, buying just enough time for their mother to arrive and take care of business. With her help, along with the Chocolate Orange, they could finally exile Pereshte once and for all time, delivering humanity from a bleak future of being tossed around by his every whim.

Yotsuya knew, as Nabiki-II did, that the sixth most important person on the Earth, based upon their significance to the success or failure of this undertaking, was Nabiki. He himself was not, however, the most important person; he was merely the coordinator of the entire thing.

The single most important person on Earth was, at that moment, sound asleep, dreaming a dream of both her past and her future.


The chamber erupted into spontaneous applause. Representatives from nearly every inhabited world in the galaxy rose to their feet as one, paying their respect and admiration in the form of a standing ovation to their queen. Her words, being broadcast in real time to an audience of several trillion throughout the empire, had managed to inspire an astounding level of optimism, confidence, and hope.

The technology of Subspace-Link Instant Constituent Polling, created specifically to dynamically gauge the mood of millions of subjects during speeches like these, had never before recorded so much positive sentiment than this queen had acquired, mere days after ascending to the throne.

In her role as the supreme ruler of what was perhaps the greatest interstellar federation ever to appear on the galactic stage, Kasumi was, all things considered, doing a pretty good job.

Much of this was due to the fact that she had an uncanny ability to project vast and nearly unchallengeable military power over dozens and dozens of star systems (as her predecessor had done quite well), while at the same time putting forth such a pleasant and good-natured public image (as her predecessor had been completely unable to do) that hardly anybody despised her leadership much, if at all.

"Thank you." She bowed slightly, humbly accepting the cheers coming from the assembled crowds. "Thank you all very much." She smiled, one of those comforting Queen Kasumi smiles that gave the average citizen a sense that all was right with the galaxy.

Kasumi looked down at her notes, quickly doing some mental preparation for one of her favorite parts of these public addresses: the question- and-answer session with the press. She had such a pleasant rapport with this current batch of reporters that….

"Huh?" She caught herself in mid-thought, interrupted by the sight of her reflection in one of the video panels down below. Something was most definitely not right. Momentarily concerned, but not yet worried, she tapped a few controls to bring up a video feed of herself on a monitor to her right.

Her hair was dyed.

The sudden realization that she had been standing before trillions of people while sporting a quite unnatural hair color stunned Kasumi to an immense degree, so much so that she very nearly let a rather disturbed expression slip onto her face, but she managed to regain her senses and catch it at the last instant.

Using all of her self-control to keep her subjects from knowing the discomfort and embarrassment caused by this unexpected revelation, she turned back to the microphones and gently announced, "Excuse me just a moment, if you please," before quickly turning around and walking off the balcony and back into the palace.

An aide rushed up to her. "Queen Kasumi, what happened? The conference is not yet completed…."

She looked at him steadily and asked, "Tell me, how long has my hair been this color?"

He paused, looking confused. "My queen, has it not always been so?"

Kasumi shook her head. "No, it's supposed to be brown. I've always had it that way, and I didn't notice this new color until just now. What is going on?"

Her aide pondered this a moment. "Oh dear… Well, we could perform an emergency dye job, but that would take some minutes."

"Yes, that might work…" she paused thoughtfully, then sighed. "Yet, I do owe it to my people to finish this session…." She then looked around. "Do we have a hat, or a crown of some sort, which I could cover it up with until then?"

"Well, we do have something…."


The crowd was beginning to murmur in confusion, wondering why Queen Kasumi's public conference had been unexpectedly interrupted. One voice near the stage gave a shout, and within a second the audience was back on their feet, applauding at their monarch's return to the podium.

Kasumi, her hair neatly tucked into a ten-gallon cowboy hat, smiled warmly and resumed her former position before the microphones. "Thank you all very much for your patience, and I'll be taking some questions now." Several hands went up in the private press box nearby, and she pointed at one by the edge. "Yes, Mr. Todain?"

"Queen Kasumi, much talk has been made recently over your decision to marry or not to marry. As you know, the Holy Committee has just narrowed the official list of suitors to three, and we have been wondering: have you made your choice?"

Kasumi closed her eyes and smiled at this remark, finally deciding to use this moment to make her announcement. "I'm very glad you asked that question, because I have chosen…" she drew out the pause, secretly enjoying the hush it caused, settling the crowd, "…to marry." She grinned.

This news had much the expected result, as waves of surprised yet excited jubilation rolled in across her balcony from every segment of the crowd. One cloaked figure towards the back, not personally taking part in the cheering, took that as the cue set his plan into motion.

"A follow-up, Queen Kasumi, if you will…!" Mr. Todain raised his hand again, and was relieved that she beckoned towards him once again. "Out of the three official candidates, have you yet chosen any of them?" He, along with the rest of the assembled masses, fell silent once again, awaiting her answer.

She paused and thought this over for a few seconds. She had seen the candidate list much earlier, when it was still several dozen strong, but she had not yet developed any solid preferences. Wanting to quickly refresh her memory, she pulled up profiles of the three on her local monitor.

The first was a fairly handsome and rugged prince from one of the more rural worlds out towards the Northern Quadrant of the galaxy. She had met him some months earlier at a state dinner, she recalled, where he had proven himself to be quite an intelligent and thoughtful statesman.

The second was a dark-haired youth, wearing a much less ornate robe and wielding a wooden practice sword. Kasumi raised her eyebrows, also remembering him attending the same state dinner, although he had gotten a crowd to gather around him primarily for his ability to converse with everybody at once for over eighty minutes without taking a breath.

The profile of a third suitor popped on screen, and Kasumi stopped in confusion. It was a red-haired girl, wearing some strange outfit of a red shirt and black pants, and yelling indignantly at her through the monitor, despite its lack of an audio speaker.

"HEY!! I'm a GUY!!"

At that instant, the figure in the back of the crowd tossed off his cloak, leapt into the air, and flew directly at Kasumi. Startled, she looked up from her monitor in alarm as several people attempted to jump and tackle the assailant, but were instead knocked aside.

Several of the Royal Guard, their powered staffs at the ready, ran in front of their queen in formation to protect her, but were swatted away by the dark force emanating from this creature. With them down, nothing stood between him and Queen Kasumi.

Kasumi, not by any stretch of the imagination defenseless herself, tossed up a mental force field, which was immediately struck by the energies that were surging forth from the Gravity Elemental.

Initially, it seemed as if she would subdue the creature, as her power reserves were, for all practical purposes, limitless. However, a sudden authoritative voice behind her caused a critical distraction, and with a renewed charge, the elemental slammed into her, knocking her cleanly from her hammock and to the floor, where she woke up instantly.


"Kasumi, are you all right?"

She groggily blinked, rubbing the side of her hip where she had landed on it awkwardly. "Yes, Father, I'm okay… What is it?"

"We have guests here, and I wanted you and your sisters to meet them, but I can't find Akane or Nabiki anywhere." Soun stood at her door, looking concerned at his eldest daughter sitting on the floor. "Are you sure you're fine?"

Kasumi stood up slowly, but steadily. "Yes, I am, thanks. I think Akane and Nabiki left a little while ago."

"Ah, okay… Well, if you're SURE you're not hurt…" He slowly turned to leave. "…then please come downstairs and meet them. I do hope the others get back soon…."


Ranma watched the kettle intently. It would definitely boil while she was keeping a close eye on it, just as it had done the three previous attempts without fail. This was not her problem, though. Every time she filled the kettle with cold water and placed it on the stove, what she ended up with was something that was almost hot water, but not quite.

"No, no, NO!" She poured some of it into the sink, verifying that it was, in fact, the same red tea that her father had been carrying with him all the way from Jusenkyo. "Look, let's try this one more time, okay?!"

She angrily reached into a cabinet and pulled out a fresh new tea kettle, inspecting the inside to make sure it was clean. Placing it under the faucet, she began to try to explain things to it in sufficient detail.

"Alright, I want some hot water. Hot WATER! Not hot tea an' not cold tea…hot WATER! There is nothing in this pot except cold water, and when you go on the stove…" Ranma put it on the stove. "…you're supposed to be hot water, and not TEA!!"

Ranma, becoming more than a little annoyed, watched the new kettle to try to sense if it was the sort that could understand all this. She had no way of knowing that, at that particular moment, it could understand her perfectly. However, she also had no way of knowing that it was just as confused as everybody else.


"Sorry to keep you waiting, Saotome." Soun returned to the dining room, where Genma was already seated, still wearing his pink-stained gi. Genma had already filled Soun in regarding the training trip, the dunkings at Jusenkyo, and the eventful ride back, so Soun just assumed that the odd coloration was meant to be a badge of honor and endurance.

Kasumi, having just awoken, had not heard of any of these events, so she sat down at the dining room table merely assuming that the odd coloration was, instead, some sort of prophetic sign.

"No, not at all, Tendo!" Genma beamed. At last, his long quest to train up his son in the ways he should go was nearing the awaited payoff, when Ranma and one of Tendo's daughters would fulfill the engagement planned over a decade earlier.

Soun turned to Kasumi and indicated Genma, sitting on the other side of the table from them. "Kasumi, I'd like to introduce you to Genma Saotome, an old friend of mine." He smiled for a moment, then looked around questioningly. "By the way, Saotome, where did Ranma…?"

"AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!" Ranma's scream came in from the kitchen, followed by a loud clanging and splashing sound which echoed around in the sink. She stomped out of the kitchen, still completely dry and fuming in utter frustration.

Upon storming into the dining room, she suddenly noticed Soun, Kasumi, and her father staring at her in wide-eyed confusion. Slowing down, she nervously cleared her throat and waved at the Tendo family. "Uh… hi…."

Soun regarded the girl carefully, already assured of the fact that she was really a boy, but not yet assured that she wouldn't suddenly become upset and smash the table over his head. "Hello, Ranma… Er, I'd like to introduce you to my daughter here, Kasumi. Kasumi, this is Ranma Saotome, Genma's son. He's going to be engaged to you or one of your sisters!"

"I'M WHAT?!" Ranma slammed her fists on the table, creating small craters where they impacted. She stared incredulously at her father and Mr. Tendo in turn.

"He's what??" Kasumi asked, though not nearly as intensely as Ranma had. She was still a little disoriented from being Queen of the Galaxy one minute and being tossed into an arranged marriage the next.

Genma and Soun froze, giving each other a stunned "What do you MEAN you didn't tell them?" look. The only sound to be heard in the Tendo house for the several awkward seconds that followed was the splashing of some adventurous carp out in the garden pond.

Ranma, now extremely ticked off, fixed her gaze coolly on her father and growled, "You mean to tell me you're marrying me off to some girl I met just thirty seconds ago?!"

Soun, sweating slightly from the redhead's ferocious tone of voice, shrugged. "Well… perhaps. I do have three daughters you can choose from, and maybe…."

"Oh!" Kasumi suddenly remembered something. "Um, Father? I meant to tell you something about Akane…." She looked down at the table, somewhat embarrassed to bring this up in front of guests, but feeling that this was something that probably should be brought up before Soun got the idea to engage Akane without knowing the whole story.

Soun looked over at his daughter, furrowing his brow in confusion. "What about Akane?"

"Well, it's like… There's this boy at school, Tatewaki Kuno," she said quietly, a blush beginning to settle on her cheeks, "and Akane and he are kind of… you know…."

"WHAT?!?!" Soun's thunderous reaction knocked both Genma and Ranma backwards in surprise. "SHE AND THAT KUNO BOY HAVE BEEN…?!?!"

Kasumi nodded and stayed put, used to his emotional outbursts by now. "Yes, for several weeks now."

"And Kuno… actually knows how to play tennis?!"

"Quite skillfully, actually. I was surprised, myself."

Soun shifted back to a calm and thoughtful mood with quite astonishing rapidity. Cupping his chin with his hand and thinking for a short while, he mused, "Huh. Didn't see that one coming at all…." He looked back up at Genma and grinned. "Oh well, that's all right, then. Saotome! I have two daughters your son can choose from, and…."

"THE GERBIL!!!" Nabiki burst into the house, completely forgetting to take off her shoes as she ran by the assembled families, carrying the small orange cardboard prop tenderly in her hands. "He's on his way here! Mr. Yotsuya isn't here!" She reached the refrigerator and tossed the sphere in, sparing no time as she raced back through the dining room on the way upstairs to her room. "We have to stop him! WHAT ON EARTH IS HIS NEW PASSWORD?!"

Her father, not missing a beat, continued, "…Kasumi would make your son an excellent wife! She's a wonderful cook, is always gentle and kind, and is just as beautiful as her dear, departed mother…." Soun trailed off, beginning to quietly cry in a mixture of pride and sorrow.

Ranma, by now thoroughly confused, stammered, "Well… I dunno… I mean, I'm not sure, y'know, if Kasumi here would… uh… even want to be en…." She stopped and looked down at the table, still somewhat embarrassed to even say the word "engaged" quite yet, let alone becoming such.

Kasumi looked closely at Ranma, an eerie feeling of deja vu beginning to creep in. "…Ranma?" she started, wanting to test out her theory. "Are you… really a girl?"

The other girl snapped her head up in indignation. "Hey! I'm a GUY!" she shouted. However, realizing who she had just yelled at, she lowered her voice and added, "…Sorry, it's just I hadn't found any clean hot water to change back with yet…."

Feeling very strongly that this was meant to be, Kasumi turned to her father and requested, "Father? I think that since Akane's spoken for and Nabiki's… not quite herself right now, that I should be the one to fulfill yours and Mr. Saotome's arrangement." She looked back at Ranma and smiled encouragingly. "Ranma, would that be all right with you?"

Ranma blinked. So far, the day had been going completely not according to plan. So much so, in fact, that she had (until that moment) been seriously considering just jumping up from the table, running outside, making a beeline for the setting sun, and not stopping until she was too tired to run anymore.

This plan had been looking pretty good up until right about that point when, in a moment of inordinate clarity, a fairly attractive (the he-inside-the-she had to admit) older woman had smiled that comforting Queen Kasumi smile at her, and had actually agreed to the engagement.

"Uh…" she gulped, thinking this through as quickly as she could, "…after I… er… find some hot water and change back to a guy… I guess…" Ranma paused, finally starting to catch up with this line of thought, "I guess we could give it a try…." She smiled nervously.

Genma clapped his son on the back and laughed. "Well done, m'boy! Our style of Anything-Goes Martial Arts will live on another generation! I think this calls for a celebration, eh, Tendo? Uh… Tendo?"

Soun's face had suddenly gone pale, with his hair standing straight on end and his eyes wide open in shock. He began to stammer unintelligibly, finally gathering enough wits about him to whisper, "…he found us… I don't know how, but he found us… RUN FOR IT, SAOTOME!!" He grabbed Kasumi's hand and jumped to his feet, running out to the front door as quickly as he could with her in tow.

"What?! Who?!" Genma followed hastily, Ranma trailing close behind.

"Who do you think?!?!" Soun yelled in panic, dashing outside a short distance before stopping unexpectedly. Unable to slow in time, Genma, Ranma, and Kasumi all crashed into him, toppling the four of them in a heap at the feet of Happosai, who stood before them with an evil smirk on his face.

"HEEEEEEEEEE-EEEEEEEEEE-EEEEEEEEEE-EEEEEEEEEE-EEEEEEEEERE'S HAPPI!!!"


Yotsuya looked up in alarm. His proximity detectors back at the Tendo household were blaring at him, almost halfway around the world. Deciding to cut his current training exercise short, he grabbed his briefcase and tossed it into his boat before jumping into the craft himself.

"No… He's too early…!" He began to rev the rowboat up to maximum power, so as to hopefully arrive before too much damage was done. His biggest worry was whether or not Ranma and the others would be able to protect Kasumi, because without her, the Earth had no defense at all.

The Yotsuya Rowboat, emboldened by the gravity of the situation, powered up to an energy level it had never before reached in any of its travels with Mr. Yotsuya, and blasted off back in the direction of Nerima, leaving behind a good quarter-kilometer stretch of vaporized snow and ice in its wake.


"No." Sanshiro shook his head. "Try a little to the north."

Sakura took a deep, steadying breath, focused on her sword, and ever-so-slightly adjusted her grip on its handle. The small dimensional rift floating just above the tip of the sword blurred as her scan flitted over several miles before slowing down and stopping, giving the two a view of a completely different neighborhood.

Pacing around the small portal to see the target area from a wider arc, Segata Sanshiro sighed in frustration. They were now aiming even further away from their intended target in Nerima than before, and time was running out all too quickly.

"Let's go back to the last point and try a more gradual vector in a northwesterly direction, and be ready. The instant you get the lock, fire. No hesitation."

She carefully shifted back to her previous stance, a motion of no more than a couple of centimeters, and without taking her gaze away from the targeting rift, asked her husband, "Are you sure you'll be able to get through in time if I launch it that quickly? And you do have the Orange on you, right?"

He looked up and gave her a roguish grin. "Of course! Just get me that tunnel," He clapped his fist into the open palm of his other hand, "and that gerbil will learn what true power looks like!"

Changing the sword's position by mere fractions of a centimeter, Sakura smiled to herself. "Well, if anyone could do it…."

The rift blurred once again.


"So! Who wants to go first?" Happosai asked his former students, glancing between them to see which one of them felt particularly stupid today. "Y'know, boys, being sealed in a cave for years isn't just about alternating between boredom and anger while obsessing over revenge, but it's also an excellent way to learn patience! So, I'm giving you boys a whole twenty seconds to choose! Double what I would have given you before! Now, don't you feel grateful you have me as your master?" He laughed and began a timer on his watch.

Soun stood in front of Kasumi, turning his head aside and whispering, "You and Ranma, go through the house and wait out back… We'll take care of this." Silently, he added, I hope….

Genma edged up next to him, holding a hand by his mouth to try and keep their conversation as private as possible. "Tendo. I don't think we have a choice; he'd tear through either one of us without breaking a sweat… We'll have to use that old combination technique."

Alarmed, Soun stared at his old friend as if he had just been asked to go skydiving off his own roof. "What?! We've only studied that, not practiced it…!" He glanced back at Happosai, who was counting down the seconds on his watch, seemingly uninterested in their hushed conference.

"First time for everything! Hurry up, he's almost done…!" Genma hissed back, then stood in the appropriate position to start the maneuver.

Tossing caution to the wind, Soun stepped aside a short distance and mirrored the other man's stance. With carefully measured steps, the two of them moved inwards, performing the first motions of an ancient and powerful maneuver, one which would provide the necessary strength to defeat the old master and restore peace and justice to the land.

"FU……!!"

They got no further than that. Happosai, flinging his watch aside, made an inhumanly abrupt dash at the two, then punted Genma off into the distance. Continuing without any loss of momentum, he swung his foot around and launched Soun off in the opposite direction. Within seconds, both men were out of sight.

"Well," he grunted to himself, "that was spectacularly dull. I was hoping they'd last as least twice as long as that." The ancient master looked around the yard of the Tendo house, quickly spotting Ranma and Kasumi, who had already forgotten Soun's instructions to leave the area as quickly as air resistance would allow. With a lecherous twinkle in his eye, he looked the two girls over, deciding on what exactly he felt like doing that day.

Ranma stood protectively in front of Kasumi, dropping into a ready stance, and growled, "Who are you? What do you want?" She put forth significantly more bravado than she actually felt, after seeing her father (who wasn't too terribly below her skill level) effortlessly launched over the horizon like a pastel pink rocket by this… Well, whatever he was.

"Spunky… I like that in a girl, and I see you know some martial arts as well! I think I'll play with you first." He turned towards the street, still deep in thought, and methodically paced away from the girls. He called back, "Don't worry, I'll deal with the two of you shortly. I just have a little unfinished business to attend to first. After all, what good is revenge without a little gloating?"

He reached the middle of the street and stopped. No cars were on the road for miles in either direction, and sunset had finally entered its final phase for the day. Happosai stretched a couple times to limber up, faced back towards the Tendo house, and hollered at the top of his lungs.

"BEHOLD…!!" He turned to the left, facing in the direction he had booted Genma over the horizon. "THE PELVIC GYRATIONS…!!" He spun on one heel in a 180-degree turn, looking off towards Soun's landing spot. "…OF MY VICTORY BOOGIE!!"

Happosai boogied.

Immediately, the cosmic gyrations began to show their effect on the surrounding houses. Cement foundations cracked, gates and fences spontaneously crumbled, walls folded in on themselves, and at least two roofs in the neighborhood flew straight off their houses, inverted themselves, and landed again, making great messes in the process. The Tendo house remained unharmed; he wanted to save that for later. Further destruction was prevented by a rather spectacular event, occurring just in time, that completely threw off Happosai's groove.

Right as he began to bust out some truly impressive moves, lip-syncing to a song he happened to be thinking of at the moment, a medium-sized intercontinental ballistic suitcase smashed into the ground nearby and almost immediately began to emit an obscuring cloud of steam, into which a dark, silhouetted figure rose ominously.

Happosai, uncharacteristically startled by the fact that he couldn't even sense that coming, halted his boogie. Something was not quite right here; he felt a lack of a presence, one he hadn't felt since….

*WHAM*

The Yotsuya Rowboat, taking advantage of this flashy distraction, flew majestically into the back of Happosai's head. The impact sent the old man flying forward, skidding face-first along the street before coming to a painful stop, half-embedded in a lamp post.

Yotsuya guided the rowboat over to Ranma and Kasumi's spot over by the house, calmly disembarked, and sent the flying boat off to maintain a holding pattern nearby. He glanced down at the two girls. "Hello, Miss Tendo, Mr. Saotome. Glad to see you both doing well. Would either of you happen to know where Nabiki went off to, by any chance?"

"Nabiki? Yes, she went upstairs earlier," Kasumi responded cheerfully, feeling much more confident now that Happosai was struggling to extract himself from a lamp post and not bringing down the neighborhood with his boogie instead.

'Unflappable. Absolutely astounding… It's no wonder that she's my mother's beacon,' thought Mr. Yotsuya. Out loud, he asked, "Ranma, why have you not changed back yet?"

"Um, uh… Who are you?" Ranma asked uncertainly, making Yotsuya realize that she was quite a bit less unflappable than Kasumi at this particular moment.

Yotsuya put his hands on the redhead's shoulders and spoke to her, slowly and carefully, "Ranma. You need to become male again for any of this to mean a thing. Go back into the house and reverse the Jusenkyo curse as soon as you possibly can." A rattling crash out in the street alerted him to Happosai managing to work his way free by performing a localized boogie that knocked the lamppost over.

He looked over to Kasumi. "Please, keep yourself by Ranma and, above all else, remain safe. Your time to act will arrive soon. However, in the meantime…" He straightened his trench coat and walked back to the street. "…I shall keep Happosai… occupied."

"You?!" Happosai stared openmouthed at Yotsuya, finally pointing an aged finger at him in anger and shouting, "What do you think you're doing here, Yotsuya?! This is my territory; you can't just barge in and interrupt me in the middle of my fun!"

Yotsuya regarded his old colleague with feigned boredom. "Come now, Happosai, those days are decades behind us both. Times change. Worlds change. And at the moment, I'm afraid I'm going to have to object to your involvement with the Tendo family." Silently, he gave mental orders to his briefcase, which began to close up and slowly rise out of its crater.

Happosai's face brightened. "Really? Well, isn't that nice? Mr. Yotsuya has freed me from my obligations to lead the Anything-Goes School of Martial Arts! Y'know, I think maybe I'll go into retirement, living in a cave or something! Yeah, that's the ticket!" He laughed bitterly. "Always the jokester, Yotsuya… Would you like me to remind you how badly I stomped you around last time? Now get out of my way, or you're gonna feel it in the morning."

With that, Happosai advanced threateningly on Yotsuya, slowly at first, but then all of a sudden made the same superhuman dash at his former sparring partner as he had at his former students and swung an equally devastating roundhouse kick at the taller man's head.

*THUD*

In an instant, Yotsuya's briefcase flew past Happosai, almost as if it had materialized in his hand, and blocked the kick, swatting the old master back to the ground. Yotsuya gave him a barely perceptible smirk. "Last time was an illusion. This time doubly so. You cannot win."

Enraged, Happosai began a swift flurry of offensive strikes, moving almost too quickly to be seen by the human eye. With calm and practiced ease, Yotsuya blocked each and every one, using a combination of his briefcase, his fedora, and his trench coat, which all benefited greatly from his recent training expedition. Silently, the fourth piece of his arsenal swung in low to catch his opponent off-guard.

*WHAM*

The Yotsuya Rowboat, this time taking advantage of Happosai's focused yet careless attack, cleanly swiped him away from Yotsuya, sending him tumbling down the street.

Yotsuya watched him, to see what his next move would be, but to his confusion, the ancient pervert stood up, hopped over a nearby wall, and ran off.

"What in the… NO!!" Sensing the same thing that Happosai did, Yotsuya ran as fast as physically possible, trying to catch up with him before he reached his target and became a threat that not even his complete wardrobe would be able to contain.


"You found some?!"

Kasumi nodded at Ranma and indicated the proper door. "Yes. The furo's all ready and filled with clean, hot water. It's all clear, so you can go in any time."

Ranma shook her head in amazement and gratitude. After all this time, she finally was within reach of regaining her original male self. In addition, she was getting more and more comfortable with this engagement with each passing moment; the eldest Tendo daughter was nothing if not pleasant to be around, and she had already solved Ranma's biggest frustration of the day. The Saotome pseudo-daughter resolved, in the back of her mind, to find some appropriate way to repay Kasumi's help.

"Oh, that reminds me," Kasumi said, noting Ranma's rather scuffed-up and dusty outfit, "would you like me to wash your clothes while you're in the bath?"

"Huh?" Ranma blinked in confusion. It had been several months since she had had her clothes washed in anything more complicated than a convenient creek she and her father had found while training in the woods, and she blushed slightly. "You mean, you want me to give you my clothes before…?"

The older girl laughed gently, "Oh, no, Ranma, I just meant that you could leave your clothes in the basket in here before you go in to the tub. After all, I don't really have anything else too pressing to attend to right now," she stated, unaware of how spectacularly incorrect she was, "and it's the least I can do, since you'll be staying here starting today."

"Oh… Okay, I guess," Ranma shrugged, inwardly kicking herself for not having anything more confident-sounding pop into her head. With a sigh, she entered the dressing room and began to remove her clothing into the basket, redoubling her resolve to find something nice to do for Kasumi, regardless of how uncomfortably new and sudden the engagement was.

As she was removing her outer shirt, a sudden draft whooshed in under the door, causing Ranma to sneeze. She decided to hurry up, so she could relax in some hot water and be her old self once again.


"RANMA!!"

Ryoga ran onward, nearly tirelessly. Years of wandering the world had gifted him with almost superhuman stamina, which was coming in quite handy at the time.

"THIS IS PRETTY MUCH MOSTLY YOUR FAULT!!"

He would have been yelling with fewer qualifiers in his accusation of responsibility, but years of wandering the world had taught him that Ranma, though an arrogant bread-snatcher and a guy who couldn't even stick around at a duel site a lousy four days, was nowhere near China at the time Ryoga had acquired his own Jusenkyo curse.

"OHO HO HO HO HO HO HO!!"

That and the weird, scantily-clad girl flying behind him wasn't too much of a downside, he considered, except for her constant pursuit and the fact that, whenever other girls got too close to him, she had a worrying tendency to stop them, announce her name and titles, then proceed to launch giant icicles or huge fireballs or make the ground explode or something else equally violent.

After the first couple of such incidents, he decided to simply try and get away from her. This strategy was meeting with considerably less success than he had hoped, as she kept doggedly trailing him, even after he doused hot water on himself to negate the female-attracting effects of his curse. He figured that she was just really enamored of him, though he wasn't really a big fan of having to take responsibility for the damage she kept causing.

Naga, on the other hand, was (for the most part) merely having more fun with Ryoga than she had had in years. She was consciously aware of his curse and the effects it had on females, but that was definitely not the full reason she kept up her relentless chase. It was also a….

*BAM*

Ryoga, running ahead of her, hit the ground face first, twitching slightly. She was so focused on his sudden stop that she didn't see the reason for it until it was nestled lecherously on her ample chest.

"SAH-WEEEE-TOOOO!!!" Happosai exclaimed, drawing more energy in seconds from the floating sorceress than he would have gathered from hanging around an entire room full of bikini models for a day. Ki, both mystical and martial, surged into the old man, and he greedily absorbed every bit of it.

"WHAT THE…?! GET OFF ME!!" Naga shrieked, attempting to fire a blast into the pervert's head from point-blank range. However, flipping effortlessly, Happosai spun around, amplified her intended shot, and sent it right back into her, blasting her miles out to sea.

He floated down to the ground, wielding the residual effects of her Raywing as it faded. "And thank you, ma'am! Too bad you had to leave, but even I, sometimes, gotta put business…" He grinned and looked over at Yotsuya, hopping over a fence and arriving just moments too late to stop his power-up. "…before pleasure."


Ryoga, in a surprising turn of luck, had leapt up from the ground with quite astonishing rapidity, run down an alley, and gotten himself safely lost while trying to chase down and punish whoever it was who had just slammed his face into the dirt. Furious, he ran tirelessly, directly away from the fight while shouting, "WHOEVER YOU WERE, THAT WAS ALL YOUR FAULT!!"


Crackling with his newly stolen energy, Happosai slowly advanced on Yotsuya, smirking with newly charged confidence. "Now, would you like to try that last round one more time? I bet it'll be much more fun!"

Yotsuya grimaced, holding his suitcase in a defensive posture, but knowing all too well that the older man had the overwhelming advantage at this point in the fight; he had only trained to hold him off defensively, but Happosai now had more than enough power to punch through his suitcase and outfit with ease. Calling his rowboat again, his only real offensive weapon, Yotsuya made a feint towards Happosai to try and catch him off guard.

*CRACK*

Happosai, without looking, swung a fist backwards, catching the bow of the Yotsuya Rowboat dead-on and shattering it with a single hit. The jagged shards of wood clattered to the ground harmlessly, and Happosai laughed in triumph. "Ready to surrender and let me have my fun now, eh, Yotsuya?"

Yotsuya's worried expression suddenly froze, then returned to its usual emotionless state. He turned his back and stepped back a few paces, calling out, "No need to surrender. Your fight is just starting, while mine… is nearing its end."

Happosai stopped, momentarily confused, but he was unceremoniously interrupted by a wobbly rift forming in the air behind him, as well as the techno remix of a certain heroic theme song blaring forth through it.

With an ethereal female shout of, "HAJA KENSEI… OUKA HOUSHIN!!" a bolt of energy burst through the rift, tearing it open. Happosai dodged it, but he was nowhere near quick enough to dodge Segata Sanshiro, who ran through and grabbed him in a painful headlock.

| Aoi oozora shiroi ukigumo
| Makka ni tagiru asobi no chi
|
| Mattaku betsu na jikuu ni wa
| Katana ni todokesaseru zo!
|
| SEGATA SAKURA! SEGATA SAKURA!
| SEGA SATURN, SHIRO!

Moving with almost poetic ease, Segata Sanshiro flipped in mid-air, tossing Happosai into a neighboring house at such a great speed that it appeared as if Happosai was one solid blurred streak, visible for but an instant and then fading from view. The house, empty for the day, promptly collapsed on him.

"Good day, brother," Yotsuya greeted Sanshiro, tipping his fedora in respect. "I assume you brought the Orange?"

"Here. Where's the gerbil?" Sanshiro handed over the device, while looking around trying to sense any enemies nearby other than Happosai, who was rapidly boogying his way out of the rubble.

"Hiding." Yotsuya took the Chocolate Orange and hid it in his trench coat, turning to leave back to the Tendo house. "We deal with Happosai for now, but keep your eyes open. He may attack at any moment. Mother has already left home, so I shall go and get the Tendo girls ready."

Sanshiro snorted in disappointment, having hoped to encounter a real fight upon arriving in this dimension. Happosai, even at his new energy plateau, was not that much of a challenge for the veteran judo master.

Happosai finished extracting himself from the rubble and charged at Segata Sanshiro, ready to begin an all-out, knock-the-Earth-down fight. Sanshiro flexed his fists and cheerfully obliged.


Yotsuya ran into the Tendo house, noting with no small amount of relief that Ranma was currently male and relaxing in the furo upstairs. That segment of the mission out of the way, he entered, uninvited, into Nabiki's room.

"Go away," Nabiki mumbled, not bothering to see who it was. She was on her bed, her voice rather muffled as a result of the makeshift shelter she had placed on it.

Yotsuya shook his head in disappointment at the particular way Nabiki was choosing to handle this crisis; although, with her sane part detached, it was not too terribly surprising. He walked over and knocked on her shelter, which was little more than a large overturned cardboard box with the words "Nabiki's House" scribbled on one side.

"Miss Tendo, it is time. Your destiny awaits, and the future of all humanity rests upon you," he spoke gravely, so as to force his words through the cardboard with their intensity fully intact, "so it would be very nice if you got out of this box right about now."

"Mr. Yotsuya? Are you here? I mean, really here?" The top flaps of the cardboard box known as Nabiki's House popped open, and Nabiki got up to see if he was actually where he said he was, and not Not Here as he was earlier.

He sighed, slightly frustrated by Nabiki-II's absence; he really wanted to be dealing with the sane one right at the moment. "Yes, Nabiki, I am here, because if I wasn't here, I wouldn't be able to give you this." He handed her the Chocolate Orange, carefully using both hands.

She reached up to take it, but almost lost her grip, startled by how amazingly heavy it was. Alarmed, Yotsuya quickly clasped his hands over hers, making sure that she wouldn't drop it accidentally.

"Be careful!!" he warned her sternly, breathing a sigh of relief. "Do not drop it, except when I tell you to! You have the fate of this entire galaxy resting in your palm, and I would be most grateful if you did not break it prematurely…."

Nabiki, shocked by Mr. Yotsuya's sudden burst of volume, decided to hold the Orange much more carefully, using both hands. Yotsuya, however, trailed off, his Gerbil Sense tingling.

"He's close…." He got up and walked around her bed to look out the window, realizing that Pereshte was finally showing himself. His eyes shot wide open in panic. "No, HE'S HERE!!"

Mr. Yotsuya kicked out Nabiki's window and jumped out, hitting the ground running. Even with his trench coat-enhanced speed, he knew he probably wouldn't be able to arrive in time to stop Pereshte, but he had to try. There was no alternative.

Nabiki, still sitting in Nabiki's House with the top open, watched him leave, remaining fully confused while tenderly holding the single most powerful destructive device in the galaxy.

"Um… Now what?"


The fight between Happosai and Sanshiro was anything but even. The master of Anything-Goes Martial Arts, even supercharged with Naga's drained power, was getting tossed around the street like a rag doll. All of his attacks were getting parried and redirected, and his strength was not nearly enough to even cause a dent in his opponent.

Segata Sanshiro, hoping to finish the fight soon, grabbed Happosai by the scruff of the neck and flung him straight upwards. Immediately after the launch, Yotsuya skidded to a stop right by his brother.

"Sanshiro! Pereshte is here! We've got to…!!" Yotsuya shouted, but it was already too late. With a remarkable leap for such a small rodent, Pereshte shot out of his hiding spot in the neighbor's front yard, flew straight at the airborne Happosai, and skewered him with his bamboo drinking straw.

Almost immediately, a brilliant explosion of light rocked the skies of Nerima, dimming the sun in comparison and causing both Yotsuya and Sanshiro to have to shield their eyes. As the light faded, the two of them stood alone in the middle of the street, an eerie silence settling over the neighborhood.

"Where… where is he?!" Sanshiro couldn't see either Happosai nor Pereshte anywhere, and Yotsuya's Gerbil Sense had gone silent as well. The silence only lasted a few seconds, as it suddenly started chirping at him, about a quarter-second after Pereshte materialized right in front of his face.

"Boo."

Yotsuya could not even think quickly enough to dodge in time as Pereshte, now several times larger and significantly more powerful after absorbing Happosai, spun around and slammed him on the chin with his tail. The extreme reality warp that the gerbil possessed amplified the strike to the point that it launched Yotsuya cleanly off his feet and in a shallow arc over the neighborhood.

Turning back to face Segata Sanshiro, Pereshte said nothing, but merely floated to the ground and twitched his newly-enlarged whiskers at him. He knew the fight was over, and it was only a matter of time before his absolute control over this world was achieved.


Nabiki finished folding up Nabiki's House for storage, on the off-chance she might need it later. With the psychological roller coaster that seemed to be intent was dragging her along that day, one never could be too careful.

This turned out to be very convenient accidental foresight, for just three seconds later, Mr. Yotsuya smashed through her wall and landed on the bed, now cleared of all cardboard. Having sustained only minor injuries, he rolled off of the bed and to the floor, which was also conveniently cleared of all cardboard.

"Mr. Yotsuya! What happened?!"

He began to scramble to his feet, a nasty bruise beginning to form on his chin, and all but shouted, "We have no more time! Take the Chocolate Orange to the furo, now!"

Nabiki hesitated. Whether it was from Yotsuya's annoyingly sudden reappearances or the fact that she would now have to pay to have both her window and her wall repaired, she was not sure. She started to pick the Chocolate Orange back up when Yotsuya picked her up bodily and ran with her over to the furo.

Right before reaching the furo itself, Yotsuya and Nabiki ran into Kasumi, who was carrying a basketful of Ranma's clean clothes. Not wanting to waste any time, Yotsuya grabbed her as well, kicked down the door to the bath, and rushed everybody inside, where Ranma was still relaxing in the tub.

"HEY!! What are you guys doing in here?!" he loudly protested, trying to cover up as much as possible. Yotsuya put the two girls down, Kasumi blushing heavily and averting her eyes from her fiancé, and Nabiki too confused to bother. Yotsuya pointed at the surface of the water and looked urgently at Nabiki.

"Put it in, now!"

"Wait…" She hesitated yet again, causing a vein to pop out on the otherwise calm and bruised face of Yotsuya. "What does that do?"

A massive explosion from outside shook the house, and half a moment later, Segata Sanshiro came crashing in through the ceiling, landing facedown right next to Ranma's tub.

"Um, hello? Anyone listening?" Ranma asked, though not really feeling as if he'd get an answer.

Yotsuya closed his eyes, slowly counted to pi, and restated in that slow, methodical, I-wish-Nabiki-II-were-in-there manner he had come to know and despise, "Put the Chocolate Orange in the hot water or I will throw you out the window and let the gerbil take you."

She needed no further persuasion. Hefting the Orange high above her head, she brought it down onto the surface of the water with a rather satisfying *WHACK*. The Orange did not submerge, however, but merely melted off its outer covering, separated into twenty brilliantly glowing wedge-shaped segments, and promptly detonated.


The Chocolate Orange, an ancient and mystical weapon of extreme destructive power, was forged long ago in the bakeries of a civilization so advanced that it annihilated itself (as civilizations that advanced had an annoying tendency to do). Chocolate in name only and Orange in color only, these spheres were designed for one use, and one use only: the complete reformatting of an entire galaxy.

Once activated, the energies within would begin to deconstruct the fabric of reality itself at a low level. In its place, the Orange would then introduce its own matrix, rebuilding upon itself in a chain reaction until it ran into the relatively matter-free edges of deep space, transforming an entire galaxy into a colossal orange plastic Frisbee.

Due to concerns over misuse of this device, very few of them were ever forged, and they were sold only to select deities and others considered responsible enough to only use them in appropriate situations. Once formatting had begun, the process was completely irreversible; the galaxy could not, by any means, be returned to its previous state.

Oddly enough, in a bizarre coincidence, remarkable facsimiles of this weapon were constructed on several versions of Earth, designed for food rather than programmed for destruction. A certain prominent interdimensional researcher, when asked about this coincidence, gave this comment: "They're just weird that way."


"IT DOES WHAT?!"

The bath of the Tendo house had become the focal point of a galaxy- wide reformatting process, which proceeded swiftly and quietly behind the scenes, out of sight of human vision. The explosion of the Orange above the bathtub had not destroyed anything right away, but had merely phased the fragments of the Orange into the appropriate realms of space and time, where they would begin their assigned mission.

"Miss Tendo, if I had explained this beforehand, you would most likely not have agreed to do it, and that would have been very tragic indeed."

The people of this particular Earth, at that point, had approximately three minutes before the Orange's effects would start to intrude upon their reality in a visible way, rearranging matter and energy at will. Unfortunately, anyone left on the planet by that time would become part of the colossal orange plastic Frisbee.

Nabiki, incorrectly assuming that she had directly caused the extinction of the entire human race, calmly passed out with a fever.

"Well, that part went smoothly…" Yotsuya mused, knowing Nabiki wasn't necessary for the next phase of the strategy. "Ranma, get a towel on. We need to you help Kasumi get us all off this planet."

Segata Sanshiro stood up unsteadily, preparing himself for another bout with the gerbil, only this time remembering to dodge. What occurred next, though, surprised both him and Yotsuya.

"COME FOOOORTH, SQUARE GUITAAAAR!!!"

Pereshte's squeaky little voice boomed through the neighborhood, followed by a low rumbling that shook the house. Kasumi, Yotsuya, and Sanshiro wobbled and tried to remain standing, while Ranma remained in the tub, its hot water sloshing about in protest.

With a sound that closely resembled five thousand people zipping up their jackets in unison, Pereshte's newly-summoned Square Guitar, which vaguely resembled a floating tank in the shape of a square guitar, locked up the dimension.

"He knows our plan… He's not going to fight us; he's trying to lock us in!" Yotsuya realized, surprised that Pereshte had become that desperate. With the Orange beginning to overwrite his control routines of the dimension, he had apparently decided to use the last of his remaining power to take all his enemies down with him. "Sanshiro, we must… Sanshiro?!"

The judo master was beginning to fade out, becoming increasingly translucent. He looked at himself in shock, then up at Yotsuya. "He severed the link! He's trying to force me back with that… that guitar!!" An expression of extreme frustration came over his face.

"Sanshiro, Mother cannot get us out of here with the Guitar sealing off this dimension," Yotsuya said, trying to come up with a new plan in the two minutes and fifteen seconds the Earth had left. "Now, if I made a distraction with…."

Sanshiro held up an almost see-through hand. "No. You tell those two what they need to do." He gestured at Ranma and Kasumi, then stood up, glancing out the window with an ever-increasing righteous fury. "The gerbil is mine." With that, Segata Sanshiro leapt out the hole in the ceiling and ran across the roof, powering up despite his handicap and preparing for one final last-ditch attack.

Yotsuya smiled at his brother's courage, then sighed and decided to get back to business. Ranma, not quite following this conversation, had gotten out of the tub and put on a towel. Kasumi, off in the corner of the room, was still averting her eyes out of modesty.

"Ranma, Kasumi, come over here." He took Ranma by the hand and walked him over to his fiancée. "Now, you two are about to perform the single most important act ever done on this Earth, so listen carefully. We only have eighty-six seconds to do it in."

Ranma's eyes bugged out, and Kasumi's blush grew even more intense. Yotsuya paused, then shook his head. "No, not that. Just listen up and listen carefully. What I want you to do is…."


Pereshte boldly stood atop the Square Guitar, relaxing slightly with the knowledge that, even if those meddlesome brothers had managed to cause the galaxy's self-destruction, that his interdictor would force them to share in its fate. He, personally, had designed more than enough safeguards that even the Chocolate Orange could not destroy him, but merely rearrange his surroundings.

"PERESHTE!!!" Sanshiro jumped off the Tendo roof, leaping high into the air in an obvious frontal attack. Pereshte looked up nonchalantly, knowing full well he could swat aside such a barefaced tactic that he didn't react until it was too late.

The undisputed master of all things Sega Saturn suddenly adjusted his trajectory in mid-air, bounced off the wall of a house behind Pereshte and, faster than the gerbil could react, grabbed him in a bear hug and began to power up to his limits, and beyond.

"IT'S OVER!! ROUKO MEKKYAKU…!!!"


"Um, what?" Ranma shook his head, not quite believing what he and Kasumi had just been told.

"Touch your index and pinky fingers to Kasumi's and repeat, 'There's no place like somewhere else! There's no place like somewhere else!' It's really quite simple."

Kasumi stood there silently, slowly realizing that what Yotsuya was saying actually did make sense, even though she wasn't quite sure why.

"Okay… and why are we doing this?" Ranma asked tiredly, not realizing that they were down to sixty-two seconds before it was too late.

Putting as much urgency into his words as he possibly could, given the time allotted, Yotsuya explained hastily, "Kasumi Tendo is this world's current chosen beacon for my mother. She is the one who is going to breach this dimension, take all of us with her, and drop everybody off in a nice, Pereshte-free reality. However, with all the interference in interdimensional travel, it is unconditionally imperative that she and you, in unison, perform these exact, universally-recognized steps so that my mother can locate us and so that we are not all killed in forty-six seconds. Is that clear enough for you, Mr. Saotome?"

Ranma gulped. "Um, okay. Makes sense, I think…." He nervously looked over at Kasumi, who gave him that encouraging Queen Kasumi smile again and took his hand in hers to help him resolve to do the right thing.

"Let's begin."


"I AM JUSTICE!!!"

Segata stood on top of the Square Guitar and held on to Pereshte with all his might. Dauntlessly, the huge gerbil struggled, shouting at his captor incoherently in an ancient rodential language, but in vain.

Fading rapidly, yet wielding more raw power than he had ever amassed in one attack, Segata Sanshiro gave one final push and unleashed his ultimate attack.

"SHIN-TEN… DOOOOOOOUCHI!!!"

A thundering explosion of ki erupted out of him, searing through Pereshte and cracking the Square Guitar. The houses that immediately surrounded the Guitar, previously damaged and evacuated after Happosai's Victory Boogie, took that opportunity to vaporize completely. Sanshiro, having done what he came to do, vanished completely, being snapped back to his home dimension.

The Square Guitar, having become irreparably damaged, lost its ability to levitate and fell the whole four feet to the street below, crumbling into bits. Pereshte landed amidst the wreck, mostly unharmed. His recent absorption of Happosai meant that the damage he took was merely limited to singed fur.

"Well, that was rather dull," the gerbil grumbled to himself, honestly surprised that that mere human had been able to wreck his Guitar less than two minutes after he had built it. So surprised he was, in fact, that he didn't hear the enormous dimensional rift forming behind him until what came out of it smashed into the back of his head.

*W*H*A*M*

Tsunami, First Tree of Jurai, the most powerful ship of her own and many other universes — and Mr. Yotsuya's mother — burst through the rift and sent Pereshte uncontrollably flying down the street. With the Square Guitar destroyed, Ranma and Kasumi's signal had come in loud and clear, and she arrived in Nerima with approximately twenty seconds to spare.

"Yotsuya!" she telepathically called her son, "is everybody ready to go?"

His voice sounded in her mind, loud and clear, "Indeed! Begin the transport, and I'll keep Pereshte at bay!" She could see him a couple of blocks away, climbing out of the hole in the roof of the Tendo house and gathering his briefcase.

"Good. Here we go…." Tsunami concentrated, and began teleporting the entire population of Earth, in compacted form, into herself for the long interdimensional journey out of this world.

Pereshte got up, mildly stunned by the impact of one of the most powerful starships in existence on the back on his head, and in a single terrifying instant, realized what she was up to.

"No… No! NO!!" He sprung to his feet, and utilizing all the power he had absorbed from Happosai and, through him, Naga, formed a brilliantly intense ball of energy between his paws and flung it, in beam form, directly at the bow of Tsunami.

The resulting explosion rocked a large portion of Nerima, bringing almost all the rest of the partially-damaged buildings that had survived thus far to the ground in flaming ruin. When the smoke cleared, though, what he saw was Mr. Yotsuya, standing in front of Tsunami, holding up his glowing Briefcase of the Light Hawk, which had completely absorbed the main brunt of the blast.

Yotsuya smiled at Pereshte. "Like mother…." He opened the briefcase and walked into it. "…like son." The briefcase flashed brightly for a moment, and was gone.

Having loaded the entire world's population into her storage bays, Tsunami reopened the rift behind her, went into reverse, and likewise disappeared.

The Chocolate Orange, having completed its three minutes of behind-the-scenes preparation, began to tear down Pereshte's fortress-reality and replace it with its own design. Pereshte threw back his head and shrieked powerlessly against the destruction of space and time bearing down on him.


On board Tsunami, things weren't going much better. With billions of humans in storage, the journey between dimensions, already fairly difficult, had become downright dangerous. Even in compact form, that many people on board made the ship's maneuvering incredibly awkward.

"Hey, where am I?" Ranma stood, a towel wrapped around his waist. Next to him was Kasumi, equally confused. The two stood in a huge, dark room, filled with trees and ponds as far as the eye could see. In fact, it would have been a rather relaxing sight, if not for the fact that the whole set was shaking and rumbling as if in an earthquake, only worse.

"Kasumi Tendo!" a vaguely familiar voice spoke up behind them. They turned to see a woman with long blue hair and brilliantly regal robes, which Kasumi instantly recognized from her earlier dream. "It is good to see you here, but I'm afraid we don't have time for pleasantries."

"Tsunami…" Kasumi voiced quietly, not sure how exactly she knew the older woman's name, but unmistakably certain nonetheless. She straightened her dress and bowed humbly. "I'm ready. Let's do this."

"Do what?" Ranma asked, trying to keep his towel from being shaken off by the turbulence reverberating through the ship.

Tsunami turned to him. "Ranma, I am bringing all the people from your world to a new one, safe from the threat of that gerbil warping the normalcy of the planet in his own image…." Her voice took on a more melancholy tone. "However, if Kasumi and I do not merge into one, we may not even survive the journey there."

The shaking began to intensify, causing ponds to half-empty through splashing onto their shores, and one or two trees in the distance fell over, uprooted by the tremors.

Kasumi looked over at Ranma. "I'm sorry, Ranma, but I must do this. Before I go, I just wanted you to know…." She smiled sadly, tears beginning to appear in her eyes. "I wanted to thank you for all you did to help."

Ranma looked at Kasumi in confusion, not quite sure what it was he did, and knowing that they were only engaged for fifteen minutes before the Earth swallowed itself up, but he managed an uncertain smile anyway. "Uh, thanks." He immediately slapped his palm into his face and groaned for not coming up with anything more memorable than, 'Uh, thanks'.

Kasumi walked over to Tsunami, no simple feat with the increasingly irregular motion of the ground under her feet, and the two promptly vanished.


The ship spun erratically through quasi-space, slightly energized by the fusion of Tsunami and Kasumi, yet still mortally damaged by the turbulence.

A fresh, clean dimension appeared off the bow, and the newly renamed Kasunami lurched towards it, beginning to transport the inhabitants of the doomed Earth forward into their new home, even as the ship began to develop significant cracks in its superstructure. With a final push, her engines screamed out in protest as the ship literally shook itself apart.

With that, the last remnants of the ship formerly known as Tsunami shredded away into the void.


"Well, that was odd." The portable monitor showed the diagram of a dimension sealing itself off and another one shifting its contents radically. "That was one of the human dimensions, wasn't it?"

The scientist on the other side of the table looked over her readouts and shrugged. "I suppose. Looks like someone set off a Chocolate Orange over there, or something." He frowned. "Hey, I thought you were busy looking up for grants or funding or something; what are you doing monitoring those lower dimensions again for?"

She shook her head and smiled, picking up a few more lunch cubes. "Hey," she replied with a shrug, "I just like humans, that's all. I do agree, they're definitely weird, but they're a fun weird. These upper dimensions can get so boring sometimes."

"Where on Earth am I now?!" lamented a familiar voice from the other side of the restaurant.

All conversation in the room stopped as they realized a human, under his own power, had somehow managed to end up in a dimension he should have, by all rights, been completely unable to enter.

The Vry'cian graduate scientist, much more experienced in humans than anyone else in the room, also noticed that this particular one had a rather intriguing set of pheromones on him.

She shot him a predatory grin from across the room. "Fun and weird indeed…."


Pereshte fumed in outrage. It wasn't so bad that he had been thwarted at the last possible second by Yotsuya and his associates, or even that his dreams of ruling an entire planet with phenomenal cosmic power were slapped down by Tsunami.

What really made him mad was that standing atop a galaxy-sized smooth plastic orange Frisbee was intensely boring.

Sure, he could survive indefinitely standing in the vacuum, but with nothing to explore except orange plastic for light-years in all directions, and his hacking into reality completely locked off by the conformity imposed by the Chocolate Orange, it was shaping up to be a spectacularly dull eternity.

He stomped in frustration. It felt refreshing, so he did it again. A couple more stomps and, to his surprise, a fridge popped out of the ground nearby. Curiously, he walked over and, his paws calm and not trembling in the slightest, he carefully opened the door and looked inside.

It was filled with Snapple and Jell-O.

"Well," he mused, a little more contentedly, "the consolation meal's not too bad…."


Segata Sanshiro materialized several feet above the ground, which cheerfully rushed up to meet him.

"Sanshiro!!" Sakura, still standing in her Ouka Houshin pose, dropped her sword and ran over. She kneeled down and asked, "Sanshiro, are you all right? Did it work?"

He coughed, still wobbly from the exertion of performing his Shinten Douchi attack, and reached into his gi for his interdimensional cell phone. "Well, there's one way to find out…."


The phone rang. Kasumi, busy preparing lunch for herself, her father, and Mr. Saotome, called from the kitchen, "Nabiki! Could you answer that?"

Nabiki rushed down the stairs, wearing her school uniform and ready to head out. On her way by it, she picked up the phone. "Hello? Oh, hi, Mr. Kobuchizawa! Yes, I'm fine, how about you? Uh huh…yes, she's here, just a moment…." She put the phone down and jogged over to the kitchen. "Kasumi, it's for you! I gotta go, bye!"

Kasumi dried her hands and went over to pick up the phone. Akane's voice rang out loud and clear from upstairs, loudly complaining that Ranma wasn't even dressed yet and that he was going to make them both late for school. His response, equally loud, was along the lines of he overslept because of having to fight with Mousse, Kuno, and an oni- possessed Ukyo at three in the morning, and that the school really ought to just let him sleep.

Kasumi answered the phone. "Hello? Ah, yes, we're all doing fine. Ranma was a bit noisy with his friends last night, but nothing he couldn't handle. Uh-huh? Yes, I'll make sure they all play nicely. Okay? All right then, goodbye…."

She replaced the phone, just as Akane and a still-getting-dressed Ranma raced down the stairs and out the door, each giving a quick, "Goodbye, Kasumi!" before running down the street towards school. She sighed and walked back to the kitchen to finish up.

A sudden familiar presence nearby made her pause, and she walked over to the kitchen window to look out and see her son standing in the distance, wearing his usual trench-coat-and-fedora combination and perching on top of a bathhouse chimney.

"Now, Yotsuya," she telepathically called to him, "I want you to behave yourself in this new world, okay?"

His response came back, calm and composed as usual, "And when, Mother, have I ever behaved less than such?"

Kasunami smiled. "I know how you think; I may have changed with this fusion, but I'm still your mother, and it IS my job to know these things, you know."


Yotsuya chuckled quietly. "As always. Don't worry; I can take care of myself just fine. I am going to miss the old homeworld, though."

Kasunami's voice resounded in his mind, "I know you will. Good luck out there." With that, she went silent, getting back to preparing lunch for her newly-adopted family.

Yotsuya breathed heavily and surveyed the landscape. It was not exactly the old Nerima, but it was definitely close enough. The gerbil was infinitely far away, and the possibilities for entertainment on this new world were endless.

He hopped down from the chimney, landing on the street below with ease. Ignoring the startled expressions of the pedestrians around him, he quietly walked down the street and towards the sunset, snacking on an orange.

 

The end.


Chocolate Oranges End Theme:

SEGA SATURN, SHIRO!

Vocals: Hiroshi Fujioka
Music: Ichirou Tomita
Composed by: Fumio Okui
Released by: Warner Music Japan, 1998
(WPDV-7138)

 

Asobi no michi ni tamashii kometa
Hitori no otoko ga kyou mo yuku
Majime ni asobanu yatsura ni wa
Karada de oboesaseru zo!

SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGATA SANSHIRO!
SEGA SATURN, SHIRO!

TENISU ya KARAOKE NAMPA ni KURABU
Hoka ni suru koto aru darou ga
Murenakya asobenu yatsura ni wa
Kokoro ni toi kakeru zo!

SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGATA SANSHIRO!
SEGA SATURN, SHIRO!

"Wakamono yo!
Shinken ni torikunde iru mono ga aru ka!
Inochi kakede ochikonde iru mono ga aru ka!
Sega Saturn, shiro!
Yubi ga oreru made! Yubi ga oreru made!!"

Setsuna no kairaku oitsuzukete mo
Munashii yosei ga nokoru dake
Tokoton kiwamenu yatsura ni wa
Karada ni tatakikomu zo!

SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGATA SANSHIRO!
SEGA SATURN, SHIRO!

Aoi oozora shiroi ukigumo
Makka ni tagiru asobi no chi
Tochuu de nagedasu yatsura ni wa
Karada de oboesaseru zo!

SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGATA SANSHIRO!
SEGA SATURN, SHIRO!

SEGATA SANSHIRO! SEGATA SANSHIRO!
SEGA SATURN… SHIRO!

<Owari>

 
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