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By Shade

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and affiliates are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Rifts and Phase World are owned by Palladium. Other references belong to their respective owners.

3-C: The other shoe drops…

-Negaverse, T-minus 7 hours

From the lifeless depths of the dark void came the order that they had been dreading.

"It is time. Go, and do not fail me."

The three generals knelt partly in respect, but mostly in fear. Maybe death wouldn't be so bad after all compared to having to live in terror and suffering for all eternity.

"As you command, Master."

But it was millennia too late for them.

They left for the Material Plane with their individual signatures of teleportation; smoke, cherry blossom petals, and shards of crystal respectively. But they did not go alone.

A number of smoky, featureless wraiths went with them.

Metall'a was through with being subtle and letting the Senshi nibble away at her resources. Her string of defeats, spanning back to the Silver Millennium, had shown her that when it came to death and destruction, sometimes the old fashioned ways are best. Instead of using one youma at a time that would quickly get blasted into Moon dust and result in yet another loss of her precious psychic energy, this time her minions would be prepared and numerous enough to overwhelm even that old Time Witch. It would be amusing to watch as the mighty Sailor Pluto was slowly broken by a thousand years of degradation at her tendrils. Yes, the Intelligence had many plans for its hated enemies.

If the first attack failed, then another would soon follow it, and another, and another, and so on. It would strain her reserves to the limit, but the end result would be worth the lost power. Unlike Metall'a, the female warriors needed to eat and rest. For every youma that she lost, two would be sent in the next attack, but when one of the Sailor Senshi eventually fell that would mean they would have one less for the next attack. The Senshi were mortal, and therefore weak.

While the Gaki she had created from her own life essence were not as strong as her greatest warriors, the Seven Shadows were, they had one crucial advantage over her lost minions. They knew their opponents. They knew their strengths, their tactics, and most importantly of all, their weaknesses…

It was a foolproof plan.

Too bad nobody bothered to tell a certain CosmoKnight that.

-Again, that unnamed place

"A bold move, but you've left your King wide open."

The ebony Queen seemed to ooze menace as it slid into position in front of the opposing ivory ruler.

"Queen takes pawn, Check."

-Furinkan High

"Prepare to face the wrath of the heavens, swine!"

{Doesn't this guy ever shut up?! What's his problem, anyway?}

Ranma could honestly say that of all the people and creatures he'd ever met, Kuno was not the most annoying or even the most thickheaded. He'd run into people back in Rifts that made this guy look like a bona fide genius. But the loudmouthed kendoist definitely was up in the top ten, and he had to repeat to himself over and over that "A Knight fights only to destroy evil and defend the innocent… this loudmouth isn’t worth it… he’s just stupid…"

"Hah! I see that yon base frame doth tremble at the prospect of facing such magnificence as mine own! Your foul hands clench in the grip of mortal terror at the sight on my noble blade!"

{Isn't cruel and unusual punishment illegal on this world?}

"Whatever. This is pointless. I'm going to class."

With that Ranma pointedly turned away and started walking.

"You dare to try and flee from the raging wrath of Kuno!? Take this, fool!!!"

Kuno charged from behind with his bokken overhead to deliver a deadly slash, aimed toward this insolent newcomer's back.

"Look out!"

Nabiki looked shocked by her outburst. She wasn't the only one.



Impossible! How had the cur avoided his perfect technique?! Instead of the satisfying sensation of his blade striking flesh, he had merely cut a sizable hole in the school building's side.


His second swing fared no better. A mere tree branch was severed, instead of the legs he had been aiming for. This was fast wearing away the few bits of restraint that Tatewaki possessed. Was he not the greatest warrior in this school… no, on this planet… no, in the entire Universe? How could this mere flea continue to elude his righteous blows?!!

"Hold still! Cease thy infernal movement that spirits you away from the Blue Thunder's strikes!!"




Missed again.


Sorry, better luck next time.

"Um… that's the whole point of dodging."

"Silence, Fiend!"

For just a brief moment, he considered just ignoring the pompous buffoon and letting him find out on his own that sticks and stones would NOT break Ranma's bones.

"Demon! Honorless dog!! Fight me!!!"

{Ah, the heck with it.}

Throwing any pretense of caution aside, Ranma ran straight toward Kuno and the school doors behind him.

"I have you!!" Kuno proclaimed triumphantly as he brought his sword to bear.


The running figure's lines blurred as he zoomed past the attempt to strike him down.

At that moment the young knight committed an error most grievous, that would bring him only more headaches in the future. Even as he reached his class right before the bell rang, the upperclassman remained outside, frozen in mid-swing by a small cluster of nerves in his wrist that had been hit just right. Unmoving except for an insane fire in his burning eyes.

For he had a perfect view of his blade and the desecration performed upon it. It had been intended as a lesson of sorts, to give the young man time to think about the errors of his ways, as he was forced to see the message left to him by the upstart newcomer.

So it was that Tatewaki Kuno, age 17, did swear to have his revenge upon the foul sorcerer, for only the most dark and vile magic could have defeated a noble samurai warrior. He looked at his defiled sword and his rage burned ever hotter.

Scratched deeply into the side of Tatewaki's noble bokken was one simple word.


Noble Rook moved into position, putting the Dark Queen in peril now.

"Ah, I didn't see that reversal…"

"What the heck is he doing?"

The sound of lots of big heavy things being moved around was quite noticeable.

"You know how he is, always a performer at heart."

Shadow didn't look up from where he was standing, even as he answered his counterpart.

"Does he really need that many speakers?"

"Well he said he wanted to give the scenes a little more pizzazz."

"More like he's going to give us a temporary case of deafness at this rate."

The Guardian really wished he'd gotten a pair of earplugs. The Half-elf's reputation was not without some basis in fact… in THAT minstrel's hands, music was literally a lethal weapon.

"I'm almost ready…"


The feedback squeal nearly blasted the entire gathering into next Tuesday.




-Tokyo, T-minus 3 hours


`Wow! This is so cool!"

"The truck!! The truck!! Watch out for that TRUCK!!!"

Driving with Mihoshi was a unique experience… the same way skydiving without a parachute is a unique experience. It wasn't that she was a bad driver; rather, the detective seemed to have forgotten about a few basic concepts like inertia, gravity, and friction.

"It's just like being in a roller coaster!"

Needless to say, Sasami was having the time of her life.

"Look out! Wrong lane!! Wrong lane!!!"

Kiyone was well on her way to a nervous breakdown. For the umpteenth time since buckling her seatbelt at the start of this little demolition derby from Heck, she swore that she was never going to do this again. Kiyone made a lot of promises like that, sorta like how she always promised herself she would get a transfer and a new partner.

"Oh… umm… now, where are those brakes again?"

The Eternally Innocent Blonde was oblivious to her passenger's reactions as it required all of her attention and reflexes at these speeds to keep the car from winding up as a metal and glass stain on the road.

Her partner's skin was starting to turn the same color as her hair.

Kiyone gave serious thought to praying for divine intervention.


Mihoshi let out a nervous giggle.

"Oops! Umm… Oh well, they didn't really need that sign anyway."

Kiyone then considered fainting.

"Black Bishop moves to block."

The named piece slid into place, to defend the stronger piece from danger.

In response a white pawn knocked off one of the opposing knights.

"Cute, but that won't work a second time."

-A certain temple, T-minus 1 hour 37 minutes 25 seconds

"Keiichi, have you seen Skuld?"

"No, I haven't seen her all day, now that you mention it."

"She must have gone out for ice cream again."

"I'm sure she'll be fine, Belldandy. Skuld's a big goddess now. Plus, Banpei's not here either. She probably took him along, too."

"I hope you're right, I'm just worried that something bad is about to happen…"

Once again, Keiichi Morisato faced that age-old dilemma.

How do you reassure a goddess who is both smarter and more powerful then you could ever hope to be?

Well… hot tea helps.

-Furinkan High

"Class, I'd like you to welcome a new student recently arrived from China, Mr. Ranma Saotome."

Hushed whispering broke out.

{"He's only a sophomore?!"}

{"Wow! I thought for sure he was a senior…"}

{"Looks so mature for his age…"}

{"Sayuri! You already have a boyfriend!"}

{"You can have Daisuke. Good thing I brought an extra lunch with me."}

{"No fair! Who wants that Akane-chasing loser?!"}

"Uh… Hi."

Ranma knew he was forgetting something important, but all the stares he was getting since he'd entered the room were making it hard to concentrate on remembering the customs of this time period.

"Hello, Ranma!" The all-female chorus replied, their voices dripping with sugar and spice. The boys that were supposed to be in here had all mysteriously come down with some ailment just minutes earlier (a sudden need for spine transplants, perhaps). The predatory undertone to their greeting was completely missed by the uncomfortable target, though not by a glowering Akane. Just her luck that she wound up in the same class as that… that…

{How dare he act like he's innocent! That womanizer!}

Now he remembered! He was supposed to bow as a sign of respect to the class.

Instead of the traditional polite gesture that the class was expecting, they were treated to a bow more fitting for a royal palace then a simple school classroom.

"Ranma Saotome, at your service."

{"Wow! It's so romantic…"}

{"Like a prince out of a fairytale…"}

{"… We must not rest until one of us dates with him!"}

-Juuban District, T-minus 45 minutes

Trouble was brewing…

Skuld looked a little guilty as she exited from the ice cream parlor. She knew she was supposed to tell one of the others, or leave a note behind, so that Belldandy, Keiichi, and Urd (yes, even her) wouldn't worry about where she was. But there had been a sale! A real honest to goodness half-price on all three hundred twenty seven flavors of that cold, sweet ambrosia! Once she'd seen the advertisement in today's paper, the next thing Skuld knew she was riding on Banpei and telling him to get the lead out.

And it had been worth it. Oh had it ever been worth it! The sugar rush alone was enough to have the petite techno-goddess floating a few centimeters off the ground. Banpei, her trusty robot sidekick, was currently in scooter mode and parked a little further down the street.

Skuld wasn't worried. Banpei's scanners would pick up any trouble way in advance and give her plenty of time to deal with it. Her patented super duper weapon system would easily wipe out any possible threats, if they dared to show their faces here.

She would not have been so confident had she known that Sailor Mercury's visor was just as high-tech, and the Sailor Senshi's attacks had grown over the years to such an extent as to match even divine craftsmanship. But Metall'a's minions had come prepared with just such an eventuality in mind. So quietly had they crossed over that even the Guardian of Time herself was unable to detect them… at first. So it was that while the guardian robot's screens remained clear, evil had already penetrated into the heart of the city and prepared to strike the first blows of their mistress's revenge.

Skuld's morale would have plummeted even further had she noticed the watching darkness lurking above, where no shadows should be. A darkness that paid very close attention to the unsuspecting Goddess…

Black Rook takes remaining Bishop.

-Juuban District, T-minus 30 minutes

Amazingly, despite Kiyone's worst fears, they had all arrived alive and in one piece. After taking a moment to kiss the sweet ground and then another one to verbally chastise her partner (i.e. screaming and ranting only to find that Mihoshi wasn't paying attention again) the three finally walked into the supermarket.

For the youngest princess of Jurai, it was like stepping into her own little world. All these yummy ingredients to cook lots of delicious meals for everyone were stacked from floor to ceiling all around her. The smell of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices mixed with that of beef, fowl, fish, and cheese to become a heady perfume that tickled and teased the palate.

Sasami loved the supermarket with a child's innocent glee, for it was here, as in the kitchen, that she wielded ultimate power. Washuu knew science, Ayeka had manners and rituals, Kiyone carried the GP manual in her heart, Ryoko could party like no one else, and Mihoshi… Mihoshi… could… could… karaoke and knew the story of every soap opera in known Universe. But when it came to cooking, it was Sasami who they all bowed down to.

Kiyone and Mihoshi quickly became loaded down by the little sprite's shopping list. Surprisingly, there weren't many people shopping that day, which left the usually bustling building rather quiet.

In the silence a certain stomach growled.


"Waa! I'm sorry, but I'm just so hungry, Kiyone!"

"You just ate a few hours ago!"

"But that was just breakfast!"

"Well, just wait till we get back to the house!"

"I… I… I can't!"

"Mi… ho… shi!"



"Oh, no!"

"This is all your fault, Mihoshi!"

"I'm sorry!"

"Why me?! If I've offended some unknown deity and am being punished for it by this… then I'm sorry, already!!"


"*Ack*… Can't… breathe… let go… Mihoshi…"


A flood of tears worthy of the Anything Goes School poured onto the rapidly-turning-blue officer's new skirt.

"… *gasp*everything going dark… must escape from hug of death…"

Somewhere in the excitement, the third member of their party had vanished.

The White Queen took the other rook.

Now both sides had totally lost an advantage in the field.

Yet Black still held the upper hand.

{What are you planning, old friend? This stratagem is only delaying the inevitable. You can't hope to win by staying on the defensive, not against me at any rate… what are you up to?}

-Alliance Space <BGM: Return of the Jedi: The Fleet enters Hyperspace>

Like a small sea of shining jewels, the largest armada of Rebel ships gathered in a decade amassed at the edges of the Ristmoth system. Hidden from Imperial sensors by the gas and dust of the nearby asteroid belt, the final preparations for their attack were underway.

"All wings reporting in."

From the command ship a pleasant, neutral female voice went about the task of getting the various task forces organized.

"Red group standing by."

"Green group standing by."

"Gold group standing by."

The various strike craft and bomber squadrons sounded off as they moved into position. They, along with the faster escort vessels, would spearhead the first strike. Their job was to engage the security perimeter defenses while the more heavily armed capital ships took out the orbital battle-stations and ground defenses. At the very rear of the armada were the troop carriers and heavy transports, accompanied by a smaller rear guard taskforce and the fleet's medical ships.

"Alliance Corvette 119, assume point with Destroyer forces 4 and 9."

"Understood, HopeBringer. We're moving into place now."

The Untamed Stallion's sleek lines seemed to radiate the predatory nature of the ship itself. Its four engines powered up to maneuver the small (in comparison to the assorted cruisers, dreadnoughts, and carriers) but deadly craft around its larger neighbors, until it finally reached the very edge of the gathering. Two flights of twelve destroyers joined it, as well as their accompanying fighter patrols.

"All ships are in position, Admiral."

"Prepare to make the jump into Hyperspace."

"I keep expecting someone to say 'Lock S-foils into attack position'."

"Don't give them any ideas!"

As the stars streaked into lines, the entire Alliance fleet made the transition to faster-then-light speed. In the space of a few seconds, the area that they had occupied was cold and silent once more.

A few moments later, the first lights of battle lit up the early morning skies above the third planet of the system.

-Furinkan High

Nabiki Tendo didn't care much for Tatewaki Kuno, but he was rich and the bills needed to be paid. So it was with some reluctance (and a substantial reduction in the weight of his wallet) that she finally dragged him into their class, the upperclassman still paralyzed by the nerve strike Ranma had delivered earlier that morning.

She did get a fair bit of amusement from the look in his eyes at having to be dragged into class by the female he despised most. The word scratched into his prized weapon was worth a small laugh too, though she had to make sure that Kuno didn't see it. As long as he remained her biggest source of income, she had to display at least the pretense of discretion around him.

The raspy whisper was barely audible, as locked vocal cords finally unfroze.

"… Damn… you… foul… sorcerer…"

"Looks like whatever he did to you is finally wearing off, Kuno baby."

Nabiki's voice dripped with sympathy… or rather a severe lack of it. He had it coming for having every eligible boy in school chasing after Akane and leaving her out in the cold and without a date for every weekend of the school semester.

"… I… despise… you…"

"I am so glad to hear that."

Liquid magma would have frozen at that frosty tone. Unfortunately for all humanity, stupidity is a natural insulator.

-Juuban District, T-minus 15 minutes

Two girls ran headfirst into each other.




Royalty met Divinity.

"Sorry about that!"

"No, It's my fault. I should have watched where I was going."

"My name's Sasami. What's your name?"

"I'm Skuld, Goddess Second Class, Limited… Oops! You didn't hear that from me!!!"

If Urd learned about this she would never hear the end it! But something about this girl reminded her of Belldandy. It had simply felt wrong to try and hide anything from her.

Sasami laughed at the look of sheer panic on the other girl's strangely marked face.

For some strange reason she was reminded of Washuu. That subtle aura of scientific mayhem was unmistakable.

"You're silly."

-Not so nice watchers

They were obviously too young to be the Senshi, but such an opportunity couldn't be passed up.

"Wait for my signal."

Swiftly and silently, the forces of darkness moved into an entrapment configuration. There would be no escape for the princess this time.

Jedi'te and Malach'te exchanged a look. Despise each other they might, but both knew that they had no choice but to work together.

The alternative wasn't even worth thinking about…

-Furinkan High

"E equals MC squared."



"Charles Dickens, Mary Shelly, Sir Francis Bacon…"

Mr. Yoshida didn't like disturbances in his average, boring, dead-end job. His idea of excitement was springing a pop quiz on the class on subjects that he'd never taught them. He was also one of the few instructors that had disapproved of the daily morning brawls for Akane. The uproar that had been caused by this new student hadn't exactly pleased him either. For the past hour he'd attempted to demonstrate his superior intellect by throwing questions that were more appropriate for college graduates then simple high school students. So far all his efforts had proven in vain.

A fine sheen of sweat had started to build on the increasingly annoyed teacher's brow.

Finally the balding man started to pull out the big guns. There was no way that this wise guy could possibly answer a question that had stumped the most brilliant scientific minds on Earth!

"GUT, which was resolved by the discovery of the anti-graviton and harmonics of electromagnetic particle waves. The principle equation was the basis of all contra-gravity theory and led to faster-then-light drive development."

Mr. Yoshida's jaw smacked painfully onto his desk. He shot an evil glance at the Saotome boy's slumped head. Bad enough that he was a bloody know-it-all, but literally answering the questions in his sleep was going too far!

"Please keep your flights of fancy out of school, Saotome. Making things up will only get you into trouble. In fact, for not paying attention, go stand out in the hall."


"GET OUT!!!"

{"I thought that this was supposed to be a History class?"} Yuka whispered to Sayuri, disappointed by the loss of the view she had been getting from her seat behind Ranma.

"Everyone else turn to page 576 of your text and get ready for a pop quiz!"

The entire room groaned in dismay, and more then one of the girls there gave serious thought to breaking a few rules in order to get out of class and join the cute new student in detention. The veins throbbing violently on the instructor's forehead and the slightly bloodshot maniacal look in his eyes was enough to discourage them, however. Yoshida-san was going to make it his personal quest in life to utterly crush, humiliate, and otherwise make his new student's life completely miserable.

Holding the two heavy water filled metal buckets with his pinkies, Ranma yawned and tried to keep in mind that nothing exciting happening was supposed to be a good thing.

If this was what Furinkan was normally like, he decided that he should sleep in class more often. He could survive lasers, bombs, bullets, even magical girl speeches, but he had yet to find a defense against plain old boredom. The whole point of going back to school had been to start learning how to live in this planet's society without committing too many gaffs that would reveal him for what he was. So far the results hadn't been very promising. Ranma wasn't sure who was wackier here, the students or the teachers.

And it was only his first day attending this place.

Maybe it wasn't too late for a transfer. Tomobiki High sounded good, or maybe the Ohtori Academy…

There are some Universal constants that hold true, no matter how much the fabric of reality is reshaped and rewritten.

For example; Akane Tendo will never be able to cook, Ryouga Hibiki will always lack a sense of direction, and Tatewaki Kuno…


"Well actually Kuno, he…"


{…managed to squirm out of it for the moment and he's just a guest of the family now. Not that you'd bother to listen once you set your mind on something. Honestly, you and Akane deserve each other. Everything goes in one ear and out the other.}

The bored voice of educational authority interrupted the dramatic speech in mid-rant, much to the relief of those few students with a sense of good taste.

"Go wait out in the hall, Kuno."

Grabbing two buckets, the former greatest fighter of Furinkan High ran out to rescue his beloved fierce flower. After ducking into a nearby empty locker for a moment, the sound of a shirt being ripped in two came from behind the door.

"Never fear, Akane! Kendo Champion Man is here!!"

Out popped Tatewaki in his traditional samurai fighting gi with one addition, a big red cape. Recently, his father had exposed him to a 24-hour marathon of poorly translated gaijin television programs, and there had been some lasting results…

-Juuban, T-minus 14 minutes

Sasami's pink eyes widened in horror as she looked up and saw the dark forms descending behind Skuld.

Her scream rang out loud and clear as a bell in the quiet district.

A second scream joined hers a moment later, when the girl with strange markings on her face turned around.

The youma thought that they had found easy prey, but though young, Skuld was a Norse goddess descended from Heaven's finest warriors and fighting ran in her blood. Once she got over her initial panic, the monsters found out firsthand that their chosen victim wasn't quite as easy a target as they'd thought she'd be.

"Banpei! Attack sequence #35, anti-monster mode! And make it quick!"

The little robot beeped an acknowledgement even as Skuld pulled out her Bug Masher Mark II and brandished the dreaded atomic mallet. The faithful machine hopped up to defend its creator. A double rocket-punch took care the first wave. The Gaki's forms were partially insubstantial, a protection against normal physical damage and some energies, but useless against divine craftsmanship. Concussion grenades fired from two launchers that popped out of the robot's shoulders, scattering the evil creatures in every direction.

Meanwhile the spunky patron of the future had not been idle as her invention's program ran its course.




"Neo-Skuld Bomb!!!"


It is a well-known fact that a mallet in a woman's hands is the most dangerous weapon on Earth. When that woman happens to be a Goddess, heaven help the poor fool who has incurred her wrath.

A lifetime of squashing bugs had given Skuld a strength that went beyond mere appearance, as well as refined her technique over the millennia.

Metall'a's forces never knew what hit them.

"Wow! You did it! You beat them!!"

Sasami was impressed, and it showed. If Kiyone and Mihoshi could see this, she bet they'd be amazed too.

"Hah! That'll teach… them?! Hey! You're not supposed to get back up!!"

Both girls paled a little as the fell creatures arose once more, seemingly unscathed by the blows they had taken just moments earlier.


They could only watch helplessly as the dark swarm congregated on the most dangerous of the opposition. Ruthlessly the creatures attacked through the blasts and explosions, to rend and tear at the metallic covering of their enemy. The valiant creation was pulled down by sheer numbers, fighting to the end.

-Juuban, T-minus 10 minutes

After such a long, strained, expectant wait, the first actual attack came as a kind of relief to the Senshi. Those that could transformed and headed toward the disturbance immediately.

Those that couldn't were stuck in detention and trying their best to come up with an excuse to leave. It was going to take them awhile to catch up to the others, and the shift schedule had already left the Sailor Senshi at barely two-thirds strength. The first girls to arrive were going to find themselves badly outnumbered. Worse for them, the generals sent to Earth were expecting that and intended to take full advantage of this opportunity.

As the living nightmares closed in on the two frightened girls, reinforcements finally arrived.

"Shabon Spray!"

A cold, blue-white fog filled the street, concealing everything from sight. Using it as cover, Skuld and Sasami managed to put some distance between themselves and their pursuers.

Jedi'te smiled maliciously. His revenge was finally at hand. Of all the Sailor Senshi, he hated Mercury, Mars, and that blasted Sailor Moon the most. It was all their fault that he'd been imprisoned in the horror of eternal sleep. The other two would get theirs soon, but Mercury would be at his mercy!

"Not this time, Sailor Failures. Today marks the beginning of my vengeance and the end of you and your pathetic friends."

Malach'te was of a similar mind, as a giant bolt of green lightning and a yellow laser beam heralded the appearance of Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus. His palms crackled with dark energies that paled next to the black fire burning within his breast.

"Take them!"

The Youma rushed out to fulfill his order. In the span of a few heartbeats, the three Senshi on the scene found themselves badly outnumbered and fighting for their very lives. No matter how many times they blasted, fried, or froze the horde, it would only slow them down. After a few moments to bio-regenerate, the monsters entered the fray once more. Even the appearance of Sailor Saturn a few minutes later failed to turn the tide. There were just too many of them.

Saturn was hampered by the fact that they were in a commercial district and she didn't dare risk using her destructive powers. The possibility of civilian casualties was simply too high. Metall'a had planned her attack well. While the sailor-suited warriors were crippled by their morals, her minions had no such qualms. As long as they got their targets, it didn't matter who else got hurt in the process.

A third Pawn fell to the Black Knight.

Sasami was starting to regret leaving the Galaxy Police officers behind while she did some more shopping on her own.

{I wish Kiyone and Mihoshi were here right now!}

She hadn't felt this frightened since Kagato had nearly trapped her and Tsunami. Except this time there was no Tenchi to save her.

The Sailor Senshi were doing their best, and even Skuld was getting into the thick of things with her mallet and explosives, but even she could see what the likely outcome would be. The wraiths were too many and too hard to destroy, and they weren't fighting fair at all.

"Someone, please help us!!"

-Furinkan High

A burning pain suddenly enveloped one of the bucket-carrying digits.


Ranma yelped in pain as he spilled the water all over the floor. Clutching his hand protectively, he looked to see that the ornate silver ring he wore was glowing slightly. That could only mean one thing…

Sticking his head out a nearby window, the young Knight started to look around, searching for any sign of the trouble that he was being warned of.

{Now how am I going to find it? Give me a sign or something.}

A blue geyser of flame exploded high into the sky from a city district not too far away, followed by the faint sound of multiple explosions and the scream of emergency vehicle sirens.

{Call me crazy, but I think that's where I need to go.}

Reflexively, he leaped up to avoid the bucket full of dirty mop water hurled at him by the upperclassman charging toward him with a full head of steam.

"What's your problem now, Kuno?" Ranma asked distractedly, as he tried to think of a plausible excuse to leave the campus without raising suspicion. From what he'd seen so far, he might not even have to.

"NEVER! NEVER, Ranma Saotome!! I will never accept your engagement…"

"Hey! Now just wait a second here!! I ain't engaged to nobody!!"

"…to fair Akane!!!"

{Arrrggghhh!!! Why me?!}


The windows behind Kuno slid open in response to the shocking news.



"NO!!! She's stolen another one!!"

"I thought she was… you know. *Nudge, nudge* *wink, wink*."

The crowd's mood was starting to turn ugly. There was only so much they were willing to put up with. Having both the most popular girl in school and now the most eligible boy both rendered unavailable was simply going too far.

"Wait!! It's not true!! Our parents decided!! Who'd want to marry a pervert like him anyway!!"

Ranma would have been tempted to ask Akane where she had come up with that pervert crack, if it hadn't been for the insistent spiritual tug he was getting from the little trinket he was wearing. He started running toward the nearest available exit with a sword-swinging, caped nutcase following close behind.

The mob of students, with Akane at their head, followed a few seconds later. The marathon passed the poolside of the building and made a left toward the side that faced the soccer field.

"Stand your ground, coward!"

"I don't have time for this Kuno! And for the record, I'm not engaged to any of the Tendos!!"

"Liar! Relinquish your hold on Akane!!"

Ranma leaped out the nearest open window without another word. He was severely tempted to demonstrate his control of multidimensional profanity, but managed to resist… barely.

"You think to escape me?! I follow!!"

"HEY! This is the THIRD FLOOR!!"

The speaker's jaw dropped a moment later as he saw the new student make a three point landing by one of the large oaks next to the school building.

Kuno wasn't as fortunate. In his haste, he had jumped out a little too far.



There was a brief moment of respectful silence among the men of the gathering. Several of the heroes doffed their hats and muttered a few ancient prayers as they averted their eyes.

"Well, I think I'm emotionally scarred for life now," the Bard squeaked in a high pitched voice. His legs, like the others, were crossed tightly in instinctive reflex.

"Knock on wood, anyone?"

The groans at that horrible pun nearly drowned out the whimpers from the more sensitive members of the audience.


Slowly, ever so slowly, Tatewaki slid from where he'd landed, clutching himself where he'd had the misfortune to encounter a very large and very, very solid branch.

Ranma was already long gone, much to the disappointment of the students who'd been expecting an entertaining fight.

Nabiki was not amused when she heard about this.

-Tokyo, T-minus 5 minutes

Even as he moved across the roofs of the city at a pace that would give most cheetahs a heart attack, Ranma was hoping for a fight. He was just itching for something to work off the frustrations of his first day at school.

But first there were certain formalities that needed to be followed. CosmoKnights had the ability to transform for a very good reason.

"Cosmic Armor Up!"

A bright flash of white surrounded him as Ranma's assumed his true form and became the Forces of Evil’s worst nightmare.

The energies involved in the transformation did not go unnoticed, even with the ring's jamming in place. That much power being released all at once was impossible to fully conceal.

Especially from the greatest scientific genius in the Universe, the Guardian of Time, and a Goddess First Class Unlimited.


"Setsuna!! Haven't you ever heard of a thing called privacy?!"

"You can indulge in your love play later. Get your uniforms on and get ready to move out. I've finally gotten a trace on the Invader."

Somehow, the media had found a news crew brave enough (or stupid enough) to televise the battle between the famous Sailor Senshi and the horrible monsters tearing up a good-sized portion of prime real estate.

So it was that every household in Japan with a television on got a special live coverage of the battle and some of the events that would follow it.

In fact, a tape of this scene would eventually be rebroadcast on an international scale, something Ranma would not find out until much later, unfortunately.

-Juuban, T-minus 1 minute

Sailor Jupiter clutched her bruised ribs with her good arm as she stumbled back from the line of fire. A dazzling Love and Beauty Shock bought them all enough time to catch their breaths, but things looked grim. A blow that would have caved in her skull had it connected fully, had clipped the little girl with strange markings and the big hammer. As it was she was barely conscious and had been dragged back to relative safety by the cute little blue haired girl.

Venus was limping slightly, and her normally cheerful blue eyes showed signs of strain and exhaustion. Mercury's uniform had become a two piece set and the ugly bruises to her shoulders and midriff would take a while to heal even with the accelerated recovery provided by their Senshi transformations. Saturn had fared the best out of all of them, despite the fact that main concentration of attacks had gone to her. With the Silence Glaive and her Silence Wall to protect her from their blows she had actually managed to destroy a number of quick healing monsters. But for every one that fell, half a dozen were ready to take its place.

The sheer amount of special attacks that all the Senshi had been using had taken their toll and they could all feel themselves getting weaker with every second of fighting that passed. It was only a matter of time now, then the two Generals waiting patiently behind their minions would move in for the kill.

Even though things looked hopeless, the Sailor Senshi fought on. They wouldn't give their enemies the satisfaction of just giving up and being slaughtered like sheep in butcher's shop.

-T-minus 20 seconds

Disaster struck.

One of the larger youma broke through their desperate last stand to go after the two girls that the Senshi had been doing their best to protect.

Only Sailor Saturn had stood in the seven-foot hulk's way and she was swatted back only to trip over Skuld's semiconscious form.

-T-minus 15 seconds

Her glaive skittered off to the side with a metallic clang of finality. There was no way she could possibly reach it in time. With a sort of morbid fascination, Saturn watched the inky black clawed limb raise for the deathblow. Then a small form got between her and the monster and spread its arms out in defiance.

-T-minus 12 seconds

It took all of Sasami's courage to not run away screaming from the horror she faced, but she couldn't just let the girl who had been fighting to protect her and the others be killed. The youma didn't even hesitate, her death simply meant that the amount of life energy they would rip from her body would double, and it would have three kills instead of only two.

The grotesque appendage reached its peak and then descended.

Sasami, Skuld and Sailor Saturn shut their eyes as they braced for the final blow.

It came impossibly silent, impossibly fast.

Someone screamed.

-T-minus 10 seconds

A gust of heated air rushed up against her trembling form. Slowly, unable to believe that she was still alive, Sasami opened her eyes.

The monster that had been in front of her was gone. Only a large, smoldering crater in the street where it had been standing just moments earlier remained.

"How?" The Warrior of Silence asked softly. Relief at not having to die again left her limbs as weak as wet spaghetti.

"Urd, is that you?" Skuld's head ached even as she tried to find any sign of her older sister.

"WHO DID THAT?!" Malach'te and Jedi'te both yelled out in shocked fury as their eyes finally recovered from the blinding light that had just come out of nowhere and wrecked their careful plans.

As if in common accord, everyone (as well as the only working camera there) turned toward the direction that the mysterious beam had come from.

<BGM: Iczelion Opening Instrumental>


The Senshi's eyes widened as they looked up. This definitely wasn't Tuxedo Kamen! Sasami let out a cheer as she beheld the awesome figure standing above.


The youma instinctively knew that this newcomer was an enemy, a very dangerous enemy. Fear swept through them and even affected the hardened Generals as they beheld the terrifying apparition. More then mere physical appearance, this newcomer radiated an aura power that made the hair at the back of Malach'te's neck stand on end.


-Masaki Household

"Oh no! Sasami!! Miss Washuu, do something!! My sister is in danger!!!"

"Come on Ryo-ohki! Let's go!!"

"Right behind you, Sis!"

Minagi was already in her combat outfit, but it was a toss up as to which one of them was more intimidating at the moment. The house odds currently favored Ryoko.

"Hold it!"

"Miss Washuu?!"


"What in Tsunami's name is that?!"

"It looks like… my soon-to-be new guinea pig!"


-A familar temple


"What's she doing all the way over in Juuban?"

"And what in Heaven's name is THAT?!"


The Cavalry had arrived.

And as the Knight moved into place, it came within striking distance of the Dark King.


For that pure undiluted spine-tingling atmosphere of excitement, nothing beat the classics. And when you have a semi-powerful, nearly cosmically talented demi-human musician in charge of the gosh-darn biggest speaker system ever set up in the past several thousand years, with a full case of movie and anime music CDs at his disposal… well…


"No thanks."

The giant wide screen 3-D viewer had been a nice touch too. Craning one's head to look down into a small pool for hours on end only benefited one's chiropractor. So now the couple hundred or so entities that had been watching and making side wagers on the events taking place were now all comfortably seated and ready for the mayhem to resume.

While they are feared and reviled by the Kreeghor, hated by the Splugorth, loathed by demons and alien intelligences, and absolutely despised by Genesplicers, Necromancers, Dominators, and other assorted baddies, even the most megalomaniacal of their enemies respect the potential power of even the most novice of CosmoKnights. A respect that more often then not turns to fear when facing a veteran Knight, and with good reason. Most CosmoKnights are usually killed, or fall from grace, within the first three years of assuming their role as Guardians of the Cosmic Forge. Those that survive accumulate enough experience that only a full-scale armada or the most ancient beings of darkness have a prayer of actually killing them.

Along with that experience comes a hard-earned knowledge of what not to do when confronting an unknown supernatural enemy, who has superior numbers. The first and most important rule is never, ever confront them head on. Common military wisdom holds that it's best to divide and conquer whenever possible. The vast majority of CosmoKnights felt it was folly to go against conventional tactics.

Ranma Saotome wasn't one of them.

It was a risky course he had chosen, one that allowed for no mistakes if he was to have any chance of success. By not immediately engaging after firing that one blast, he'd forfeited the advantage of surprise, a mistake more suited for a beginner rather then a warrior with Ranma's experience.

But he didn't care. In fact, he had a lot of unrelieved pent up stress and frustration to vent right now, and so wasn't thinking very clearly at the moment. Being forced to leave his ship and crew behind during rumors of a new assault being planned against the Empire. The discovery that his father had treated him like a damn commodity to be traded for whatever the old bear wanted. The stupid engagement they'd tried to force on him. That viper Kuno with his words of slander, and now this…

The bastards were attacking children.

That was it, the final straw. They had crossed the line and all bets were off. Forget being sensible. Forget strategy. He was going to send this scum to Hell in a hand-basket, one piece at a time.

It was stupid… it was foolhardy… it was totally reckless.

His former weapons instructor would probably have applauded.

-<BGM: Maze Opening: Megaburstspace>


A CosmoKnight in full armor is one of the most impressive sights one can see in the Multiverse, even when one knows what to expect.

Standing nearly seven feet tall, the metallic black armor's design was somehow reminiscent of a high tech powered combat suit combined with the more sleek lines of modern padded body armor, that molded along him like a second skin.

The helm was beautiful and inhuman at the same time, evoking the image of a bird of prey, or perhaps even a more fantastical predator.

In fact he looked more like some great dark metal angel then a man. The small protrusions along the back even vaguely resembled razor sharp wings.

"Looks like one of the Iczelions, except with more coverage."

"Really? I thought it was more along the lines of Teknoman-meets-Transformers."

"You're both nuts, he looks more like Macross crossed with Triax."

"Well, it's very impressive anyway."

"On that, we're all in agreement."

"Uh, oh… that's going to be trouble."


"Take a look at that little thing on his left breastplate."

A moment of shocked silence descended.

"Damn, you didn't…"

"She did."

"Oh dear."

"Oh my."

"Oh hell."

"Already checked the book, no rule says they can't do it."

"You are one devious CosmoKnight, aren't you?"

"Flattery gets you in trouble."

For a long moment, Ranma's armored form regarded the horde of smoky shifting forms. No two of them were alike. Some bore a resemblance to certain predatory invertebrates, others appeared to possess a more reptilian nature, and the remaining few were grotesque mockeries of the humanoid form, that were too horrible for mere words to describe. It was not a sight for the faint of heart, and by his hurried count they outnumbered him 46 to 1.

And then he was upon them like a merciless dark bolt of Divine Retribution™. Ranma's earlier gamble had paid off. Unaccustomed to feeling the terror that they themselves inflicted on the puny mortals, the youma were crippled for those first few precious seconds of the melee.

His first enraged punch tore the head off of something that looked like a giant mantis with traits of a scorpion and an octopus. Its mandibles continued to click in denial even as the macabre missile went flying back with enough force to slam into a telephone pole. The reinforced titanium proved harder then the luckless youma's skull, splattering it like an overripe melon.

Even as the first body started to disintegrate into dust, a sidekick from Ranma buried itself so deeply into another gaping Gaki's scaled midriff that its back bulged impossibly outwards. Its fanged maw opened in a futile attempt to scream even as an open palm drove the front portion of its skull in and reduced the contents to processed jelly.

Three more of the disgusting monsters fell, before the rest finally recovered enough to start fighting back. They closed in on all sides, trying to overwhelm him with sheer numbers, as they had done to the Sailor Senshi. Special attacks of every possible description were released from innumerable orifices. Gouts of dark red flame, streams of sizzling green acid, puffs of noxious purple gas, wicked barbed spikes, even an occasional bolt of bioelectricity was fired toward the intimidating CosmoKnight. In addition those closest to him tried to pin Ranma down in hand to hand combat long enough for their foul brethren to finish him off.

But it was like trying to hit the wind. No matter how hard they tried, the Knight was never where they aimed at. More then once they wound up striking each other in their attempts to hit him. He was running them in circles, using his superior speed and agility to keep them off balance as he picked them off one or two at a time. The few hits that Ranma took were absorbed by his Cosmic armor and amounted to little more then a few scratches that quickly disappeared, thanks to its remarkable regenerative properties.

The two generals watched in unbelieving shock, as their forces were whittled away youma by youma. Even bio-regeneration was insufficient to heal the grievous damage being inflicted on their troops. Something had to be done before all of their forces were wiped out!

Finally they managed to keep Ranma in one place long enough to dog-pile him, burying him underneath a squirming black hill of monsters that clawed and tore away at the nearly impenetrable protection surrounding him.

Malach'te's cruel eyes narrowed as he saw the opportunity presented.

"Now's our chance! Blast him!"

Jedi'te looked at him in disbelief.

"But the youma are in the way!"

"So what? Do you want to report a failure to Metall'a?"

"Good point."

Together the two let loose a devastating barrage of magical energy that enveloped the entire area in an ever-expanding chain of white-hot explosions.

A gasp of dismay arose from the spectators, as their savior vanished in the inferno of destruction wrought by the villainous pair. Nothing could have possibly survived that hellish holocaust. As the glare subsided a little behind them, the generals swiveled to face the battered Senshi. The few remaining youma still in one piece (more or less) began to close in. It was obvious to all that the heroes were on their last legs. Only sheer stubbornness still kept them standing. Even Sailor Saturn had somehow managed to struggle back to her feet, and stood with the others on shaking legs that threatened to give out at any moment.

"So, you little girls are still defiant. No matter, it doesn't make any difference in the end! Time to be embraced in the arms of oblivion!"

Maniacal Ranting 101 is not a required course for demented super villains, but it should be.

"Think again."

On the other hand, Witty Retorts 241 is standard material for all true heroes. And the look on their prissy faces was worth spoiling another opportunity for a surprise attack. Stepping through concrete that had become runny and sticky due to the tremendous residual heat, Ranma's armored form emerged unharmed from the heart of the conflagration with a pale blue glow surrounding him. A deathly chill descended down the spines (or in several cases, exoskeletons) of the surviving forces of Darkness. What did it take to stop this thing?!

"I think I like this guy, talk about devious and sneaky sleight of hand…"

"Come again, Shadow? How the heck did he manage to survive that? Even with the armor, he should have sustained some injury."

"He used his invincibility power tattoo to absorb the blast. See how the blue aura surrounding him is nearly transparent now? Normally, it'd be really bright, but its protection is almost all used up. But now those little baddies think that Ranma is some kind of monster. In fact, I'd wager that the foppish duo are wetting their pants right about now."

"You're on, fifty platinum says you're wrong."

It was almost too easy.

"Get him! Get him!!"

None of the remaining monsters made a move to follow Jedi'te's slightly hysterical shouting. They had no intention of confronting that one again anytime soon. Seeing so many of their fellows being massacred so easily had cowed the normally ferocious beings. The youma were evil, not suicidal. Metall’a had to be told of this new threat immediately.

In spite of the threats and direct orders given to them, one by one they teleported back to the shifting darkness of the Negaverse, leaving the two villains alone with a very annoyed celestially powered being— that was capable of taking on large alien warships… and winning.

"Since you two have already given me your best shot, I guess it’s my turn."

Malach'te and Jedi'te were already opening fire with dark blasts of Negative energy that dissipated the last wisps of the protective aura surrounding the Knight's armored form.

Then there was a snap of rapidly displaced air followed by a miniature sonic boom as Ranma went from 0 to 1,200 mph in less then three seconds.

Only sheer reflexes saved the blond Jedi'te from meeting the same fate as his minions. A nanosecond before black metal knuckles crushed his face in, his telekinetic force field snapped into place and the killing blow meant for him smashed into it. A spectacular shower of sparks erupted from the point of impact. A noticeable dark stain started to spread down the front of the pale twitching general's long pants as his eyes crossed to stare at the hand that would probably have been squishing deep into his gray matter if his psychic based defense had been even a hair slower.

Malach'te's slightly crossed legs hid his secret shame a little better. He'd never thought that anything could move that bloody fast!

{By all that is unholy, what kind of monster is that?!!!}

Jedi'te's relief at having narrowly avoided a gruesome painful death was short-lived, as Ranma withdrew his fist only to start throwing a dozen rapid fire punches in the blink of an eye at the barrier separating him from his quarry.

Hits that could crush a heavy tank like an empty aluminum can struck the solid energy shield at supersonic speeds. The intense tempo pounded on relentlessly as the substantial amounts of kinetic energy being delivered were absorbed and converted to thunderous sound. Almost immediately, shimmering cracks started to form on the nearly transparent surface as the force field started to buckle under the incredible hammering it was taking.


"You should have known better, Guardian."

"I'll just add it to his tab."

Shadow rolled his eyes a little as he continued to watch.

"I guess the Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken is going to be a little redundant. The look on Cologne's face should be priceless."

Sailor Mercury finally managed to pry her jaw off the ground, and through a heroic effort of willpower managed to tear her eyes away from the spectacle unfolding before her.

A quick glance at the others revealed they were similarly mesmerized by all that damage being caused by that one man, if there really was a man behind that stern faceplate.

While she was very grateful for the "just in the nick of time" rescue, seeing how casually and effectively he inflicted such brutal violence was extremely disturbing. Especially since they had no idea as to whose side this guy was on. Sure, he was fighting against the Negaverse at the moment, but if he decided that the Senshi were enemies too, the results would most likely be… extremely unpleasant.

Mercury didn't even have to think to activate her visor, it had become as natural as breathing to her. But the results were not what she expected. Instead of a detailed readout listing the figure's power level, structural composition, possible weak points, and just about anything else possible that her sensors could detect, all she got was static punctuated every now and then by brief spikes of high energy that had her computer throwing a fit. It couldn't determine if it was Senshi energy, Negaverse energy, or something totally alien to this Universe.

One thing was for sure, she really didn't want to have to fight this guy, no matter what Sailor Pluto had told them about Rifters.

"I want one of those." Sailor Jupiter sighed. Surely, all of that well-defined muscle tone wasn't just the armor.

Sailor Venus just nodded her head in agreement. It was getting rather warm over here all of a sudden.

The expression on Saturn's face was unreadable. But she never took her eyes off Ranma for a second as he continued to fight.

-That darned temple again

"What?! For your eyes only?!"

The platinum haired goddess continued to hold the phone long after the click of a dial tone ended her call. Skuld was in trouble, and their father was worried about keeping secrets?!

"Is something wrong Urd?"

"I think Father has been watching that Ian Fleming marathon on cable again."

"Oh, dear."

Belldandy was a fine example of the power of positive thinking, and her prayers sent toward Juuban had a greater impact then most.

-<BGM: Ranma ½ Movie 1: Seven Lucky Gods vs. Team Ranma>

Dozens of deadly explosive black spheres hurtling toward him forced Ranma to disengage before he finished busting through the terrified life essence's telekinetic force field. It was also at that moment that Jedi'te finally remembered that he possessed several supernatural abilities useful in situations like this, such as the ability to teleport. He did so immediately.

Hovering several dozen feet off the ground, Malach'te released yet another small swarm of marble-sized death at his quick-footed foe. Again, Ranma was long gone before the balls were anywhere near enough to do any possible damage. In return, he grabbed and threw a loose piece of pavement about the size of a bowling ball with crack shot accuracy and a physical force equal to that generated by a small cannon.

It blew up harmlessly against the sorcerer's magical force field. And to make things matters even more unfair to boot, the sneaky SOB had teleported, too. This time he reappeared a safe distance behind the Knight before raining blue bolts of magical destruction in a spread pattern, to limit Ranma's ability to get out of the way. It looked like Jedi'te would join in the fun as soon as he got over his fright and his normal malicious nature reasserted itself.

Now that was starting to finally get Ranma annoyed. Magic users were always a pain to deal with even in the best of circumstances, and the little free for all with those wimpy monsters had finally cooled the roaring heat of his anger down to glowing embers.

It looked like it was time to start bringing out the big guns… the really BIG guns.

Hidden beneath his faceplate, Ranma smiled knowingly.

{Oh, partner, it's time to come out and play…}

[You say the sweetest things.]

The two villains paused in their attack as some long dormant hint of common sense registered that something very bad was happening.

The space around Ranma's outstretched right hand shifted and shimmered as ripples of extra-dimensional fabric parted to reveal Ishtar in all her shining glory.

Gold, silver, and ivory intertwined into one to form a hilt emblazoned with symbols that had been old when this world was still cooling from its fiery creation. A silver angel with wings of purest gold served as the crossguard for the magnificent Rune Sword. The ornamentation was neither gaudy nor simple, rather it was just enough to give the blade a powerful presence, without making its appearance cheap and overblown. Two tiny, wingless ivory dragons uncurled from the handle to come around Ranma's wrist and form the beginnings of a pure white kote over his armor. (1) Twin white curved talons branched out over his knuckles to add an extra layer of protection that could also be used for attack.

In short, it was a very impressive sight.

The two servants of Metall'a took one look at her and promptly fouled their suits.

"Oh, shit!!!"

Malach'te's mouth opened and closed, but for once he'd been rendered completely speechless. Greatest Rune Weapons tend to have that effect on those who recognize them for what they truly are.

"Welcome to the Big Leagues, boys."


To be continued.

Author's notes:

  1. Japanese armored sleeve. Thanks, Gregg.
Part 3-D
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