Continuing Tales

Dark Kingdom Renegades 8: Titanite's Bogus Journey

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 6 of 7

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Titanite's Bogus Journey

Titanite was in an unusual state of mind. Mentally and physically exhausted by the effort of controlling the Lord of Chaos she was on the verge of collapse. She was also riding on the last vestiges of her undermind's ferocity which was keeping her going. Add to this the euphoria of thinking she'd achieved her quest and you have one very confused young lady.

Which was why, very uncharacteristically, she surged forward, grabbed Ranma by his shirt and hauled him off the ground. Ranma was, not that surprisingly, rather startled. The girl had appeared right in front of them, her eyes briefly a solid glowing blue before becoming an ordinary pair of blue eyes. She'd shown a remarkable turn of speed in grabbing him and was now holding him overhead at arms' length with one hand and no sign of strain.

"You're Ranma Saotome, right?" Ranma nodded automatically. He was beginning to suffer a recurrance of matrimoniphobia, an extremely rare fear that any new girl you meet will turn out to have been engaged to you during your mutual childhoods.

"Excuse me ..." Akane tapped Titanite on the shoulder. She was a bit ticked off. They'd actually been getting along for a change until this girl had shown up. Now it seemed Ranma had either acquired a new fiancee or a new challenger. The girl's gaze snapped in her direction.

"You're Akane Tendo? His fiancee? The one who's not sure about him?"

"Uhhh ... yes ... well our parents set the whole thing up without asking us ..." She nodded and turned back to Ranma. He'd been trying unsuccessfully to pull his shirt out of her grasp. It wasn't budging. He could tear himself free but he'd rather not ruin his favorite shirt. She hadn't done anything to him except haul him around like a sack of potatoes so he didn't feel the need to break her grip by violent means. He didn't like hitting girls anyway. Besides if she could haul him around this easily she had to be very strong. Suppose he tried to break free in front of Akane and failed? He'd look like a weakling! She was looking at him again.

"You turn into a girl whenever you touch cold water and hot water changes you back?" How'd she know that? Okay so it wasn't one of the best kept secrets around he still thought he knew the identities of everyone who knew about it.

"Umm ..." She began to shake him.


"Yes!" The annoyed expression vanished to be replaced by a wide grin.

"YES! I made it! Success!" The grin faded abruptly as the adrenaline wore off and exhaustion hit her. "But now I need a little rest." She toppled over backwards maintaining her deathgrip on Ranma's shirt. She hit the ground backfirst dragging Ranma down with her. Not wanting to crash on top of her Ranma reacted instinctively. His hands slammed into the pavement absorbing the shock of impact. Supported by his arms he hung over her face to face. She seemed to be unconscious and was looking a lot cuter than she had while waving him around. She looked a bit younger than he'd first thought, 14-15 somewhere in that range. She didn't look familiar which was good as that reduced the chances she was some childhood friend turned fiancee. Unless the old man had set something up while they were toddlers which was always a possibility. No, that was unlikely. He was at least a year older than her and all the other candidates were his own age.

"RANMA!" Akane's voice banished his speculations, she sounded very angry. He turned to look and gulped. Akane was surrounded by a glowing blue aura, she was royally pissed.

"Akane! Why ... why are you looking so mad. You saw her, she just grabbed me ..." Ranma's voice trailed off as a terrible realization struck. His right hand was resting on the cold ground and the locked arm bearing all his weight. His left hand was simply lying on something warm and soft. With a sinking sensation he looked towards it. Sure enough it was resting on Titanite's chest. He was sweating as he looked back at Akane, the glow was intensifying. "... It ... it was an accident ... her grip threw me off ... I was aiming for the ground ... Akane! ... why ... why are you looking at me like that ... WAIT!" Akane had acquired a hammer and was raising it for the swing.


Ranma made a faint "eep" as it belatedly struck him that he should have moved his hand before starting his explanation. Then Akane struck him repeatedly.

Having pummelled Ranma mercilessly Akane calmed down a bit. Both Ranma and the girl were out of action. She'd fainted and he was severely concussed. She recognised the signs from past experience. Perhaps she'd overreacted a bit, it could have been an accident on his part. After all he hadn't asked the girl to grab him in the first place. Who was she anyway, and why was she dressed like someone out of "Sailor Moon"? Akane knew the show was aimed at preteens but watching it was a guilty pleasure. Ranma had stopped making fun of her for being a fan after she'd shoved the first ten volumes of the manga down his throat. She didn't recognise this particular costume (who wore a yellow skirt?) but the resemblance ... was that blood on her gloves? There were a number of other weird stains on the outfit. Come to think of it she had seemed to appear out of nowhere.

At any rate she should do something about them. She couldn't just leave them sprawled on the sidewalk. She didn't know the girl was a threat. In fact knowing Mr. Saotome's habit of leaving a trail of broken promises and bilked debtors across both Japan and China she could well have a legitimate greivance. Fortunately it wasn't far too Dr. Tofu's clinic. But she couldn't carry both of them. Perhaps she should have had Ranma carry the girl to the clinic before pounding him. What to do?

By a strange coincidence (of which there was never a shortage in Nerima) she saw a familiar travelweary figure wandering past. He didn't notice her, just kept plodding along.

"Ryoga!" That got his attention.

"Akane-san?! What are you doing in Hokkaido?"

"Uhhh ... this is Nerima, Ryoga-kun." Poor guy, he had no sense of direction. But this was apparently inherited so it was hardly his fault. As he was a little sensitive about it she was careful not to make light of the fact. Not like that jerk Ranma, he didn't deserve a friend like Ryoga.

"Oh ... are you sure?"

"Yes but it's a simple mistake to make."

"Yes ... they both look identical don't they?" True assuming you'd been blind from birth. Ryoga gave an awkward laugh. "What can I do for you Akane-san?"

"Actually I need some help."

"Of course. I'm always ready to help you."

"Thank you, you're a good friend. I wish Ranma was more like you." Akane missed seeing Ryoga's smile become a lot more brittle. She indicated the pair on the sidewalk and Ryoga noticed them for the first time.

"Ranma and ... YET ANOTHER WOMAN! Fear not Akane I will avenge your honour ..." She cut him off.

"That's kind of you but it may be unnecessary. I don't know who she is yet. She appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Ranma then collapsed."

"Oh. Then what happened to Ranma?"

Akane blushed. "Well ... I did. I overreacted to him and the girl."

"Perfectly understandable."

"Thank you. Anyway I thought I'd better have Dr. Tofu have a look at them. If I carry the girl can you bring Ranma?"

"Certainly. I'm always ready to help you Akane ..." He trailed off and as he often did looked like he had something to say but had become tonguetied. Akane broke the awkwardness by stooping down and scooping up the girl.

"Just follow me Ryoga-kun." He nodded. Now he was a nice guy, always a gentleman. Not like Ranma with his habit of walking in on her when she was changing or having a bath.

Behind her back Ryoga grabbed the comatose Ranma's ankles and began hauling him along the street. When they were almost at the clinic he stopped to pick Ranma up and toss him over his shoulder. Pity the ground hadn't been bumpier.

After exchanging greetings with Dr. Tofu (during which she was careful not to mention Kasumi's name) Akane put the girl on the examination room's table and reentered the waiting room. Ranma was sprawled over the couch and Dr. Tofu was finishing his examination.

"Well Akane, it looks like the usual head injuries. Temporarily incapacitating but otherwise not threatening. Luckily your fiance has a very thick skull. Aside from them and a bald spot on the back of his head he's fine."

"Bald spot?"

"It looks like it was friction induced. Know anything about it?"

"No, it's a complete mystery to me." Neither noticed Ryoga trying to look innocent.

"Well there could be a lot of explanations. Ranma leads a fairly ... adventurous life. In the meantime I'd better examine our guest." Dr. Tofu stepped into the examining room and decided not to close the door. Best to have witnesses rather than be alone with an unconscious girl these days. According to Akane she'd collapsed after hefting Ranma with one hand. So she'd fallen with their combined weights. Her back had taken most of the impact but her head had struck the ground. He ran his fingers through the hair to the skull. First rate dye job, it was green down to the roots. No trace of any other color. Minor abrasions on the skin. Very minor. No sign of trauma.

He carefully rolled her on her side and examined her back. The leotard like outfit she wore was intact. Gentle probing encountered only minor bruising. No sign of dislocation or damage to the spine or other bones. Her pulse was strong, still he'd better listen to her heart. Locating his stethoscope he put it to her chest ... and heard nothing. He grabbed her wrist again, the pulse continued regularly. So why didn't he hear her heart? He moved the stethoscope over her chest ... ah here it was. Why was it over there? Some sort of congenital defect? She certainly seemed healthy enough and there was no sign of deformity. Strange.

She seemed to be resting comfortably. As a final thought he decided to check her reflexes. He poked a pressure point on her arm.

Nothing happened. Frowning he tried another. Still no reaction. What was going on? A little experimentation determined the girl had none of the usual pressure points. Or rather she had them but the locations were all a bit off. For all these abnormalities she seemed to be in very good shape. It looked more like she was asleep rather than unconscious. The bloodstains on her gloves appeared to be from menstrual discharge rather than the result of traumatic wounding. So she probably hadn't been hurting anyone.

Half an hour passed. Akane stayed saying she'd wait until Ranma awoke as she wanted an immediate explanation from him. Ryoga stayed to keep Akane company. They talked to pass the time. Or rather Akane talked, detailing Ranma's many failings as a guest and a fiance. Ryoga just made sympathetic noises and glared at Ranma silently vowing to pay him back for all he'd done to Akane. The girl slept on undisturbed and Dr Tofu caught up on some paperwork. There was a groan and Ranma stirred. "My aching head ..."

Ryoga grabbed him by the throat and began shaking him back and forth. "Ranma you fiend! How dare you betray Akane with another girl. Especially one so young!" Ranma's reply was rather incoherent, this wasn't the best way to wake up. Akane put a hand on Ryoga's arm.

"Ryoga, please wait. Let's give him a chance to explain." Ryoga flushed and released Ranma. It took his dizzy victim a few minutes to compose himself. Dr Tofu gave him a quick look over.

"How are you feeling?"

"Headache and shaken up, otherwise okay. What happened to me anyway? Oh right, I remember now. That macho tomboy went berserk again."


"Please Akane, no fighting in the clinic."

"Sorry Tofu-sensei. Okay Ranma what's the story on her?" She jabbed a thumb at the sleeping girl.

"How should I know. She just showed up and grabbed me ..."

Ryoga sneered, "We're supposed to believe that Ranma?"

"That's what happened. You'd know that if you'd been there P-chan!"


"Please Ryoga." Akane stepped between the two. "Ranma stop picking on Ryoga." Ranma seemed to think it was funny to keep calling Ryoga her pet's name which Ryoga took as a serious insult. Why was Ranma so immature? "Now explain yourself, Ranma!"

"Explain what? I've never seen her before in my life!"

"So she just happened to know who you are?"

"Yeah! Matter of fact she knew who you were too!" Akane frowned, Ranma was right, the girl had called her by name.

"Are you being honest?"

"Akane I swear I've never met her before. It's possible this is another of Pop's old scams coming back to haunt the Saotomes but I don't know anything about it." He sounded sincere and he'd never actually lied to her. Weaseled out of telling her things and let her jump to conclusions but never told her a deliberate untruth. His sense of honour wouldn't allow that.

"So I guess she's the only one who can explain what all this is about." There was a yawn and they turned to see the girl sit up and stretch. Her eyes still closed she muttered, "It can't be time for school already."

"Excuse me young lady ..." She tensed and her eyes snapped open. Then her jaw dropped as she took in the group.

"Ranma, Akane, Ryoga and Dr. Tofu! Wow!" She grinned like an idiot. Before anyone could address her she said, "I made it. Question is is this the anime or the manga version?" What the heck was she talking about? She seemed to realize something and suddenly glanced at herself pulling a lock of her hair before her eyes. "Ah! ... You're wondering about the clothes and hair, right?" As an afterthought she removed her mask.

"Among other things!" Akane's voice was dry. "Mind telling us who you are and how you know who we are when we know nothing about you?"

"I know this stuff because I'm a fan but that doesn't really answer your question, does it?" She didn't wait for an answer. "This is a little tricky to explain ... does the name "Sailor Moon" mean anything to you?"

Ranma snorted. "Are you kidding? Is there anywhere in Japan you can avoid seeing that loathsome show? OW!" He glared at Akane. "What'd you do that for?"

Titanite tried to think how to explain this. "First I need to get my bearings. Excuse me Ryoga ... sorry I should call you Hibiki-san ..." It was simpler to address people when they only had a single name. Full name except with close friends and family when abbreviation was okay. Had anyone in the Dark Kingdom other than their little group done the latter? Probably not, who else would have been close enough. Possibly Kunzite and Zoisite and that was it. Kunz and Zoi? Yick. She was getting sidetracked again, Ryoga was waiting for her. "Hibiki-san do you have a girlfriend named Akari?"

Ryoga felt himself panic, she'd blown the secret of his feelings for Akane! Sure he wanted Akane to know how he felt but he wanted to be the one who told her. Now ... wait a second she hadn't said Akane! "Who?"

"Akari." The girl looked a little unsure. "At least I think I got the name right. You know the one who raises giant sumo wrestling pigs?"

Everyone was staring at her now. "Giant sumo wrestling pigs?!"

"Never heard of her, huh? Guess this is the anime, not the manga version. Or it just hasn't happened yet." She realized Akane had backed away involuntarily. "Uh ... I'm not crazy." Akane looked unconvinced. "Look at it this way, is the idea any stranger than any of the other stuff that's happened around here."

Akane thought about it. "Well no, not really." At which point Dr. Tofu handed Titanite a glass of water.

"You sound a little hoarse and I suspect you have a lot to say."

"Thank you sensei." She took a sip then continued. "How to explain this ... okay to you Sailor Moon's just a TV series right?" Ranma and Akane nodded, Ryoga didn't see much TV due to his constant wandering and looked blank. "Where I come from it's real. There are real Sailor Senshi ..." A little white lie wouldn't hurt, "... and I'm one of them, Sailor Polaris!" Nothing wrong with a little self promotion. "There's also a popular anime and manga series called Ranma 1/2. It's a romantic comedy about the misadventures of this guy who turns female everytime he gets wet and his various fiancees. A little while back I discovered that what's fictional in one world could be real in another. So I decided to have a look for this world." She paused to take another drink. "From the way you're all looking at me I'd say you don't believe a word I said." She put down the glass.

Dr. Tofu was wearing his professional smile. "I believe that you believe it. I think I know some people who'd enjoy hearing your story ..." His voice trailed off as a sphere of energy formed between the girl's hands.

"How's this for a start?"

Ranma looked unimpressed. "Big deal. There's a lot of martial artists can generate energy spheres by focusing their Ki. Gonna take a lot more than that to convince me of a story this crazy!" Ti shrugged and held her lefthand palm up. The sphere moved and hovered over it freeing her right to pick up her glass. After a quick drink she dashed the remainder in Ranma's face. The change was remarkable. His body shifted almost instantaneously from male to female. This wasn't simply Ranma with female characteristics added. He'd lost height, mass, his frame was slighter and his facial features had shifted. Incredible. She'd never seen such smooth shapeshifting before.


"Sorry, just trying to make a point. Which is crazier, another dimension where Sailor Sehshi exist? Or here, where you can acquire a curse that makes you shift gender every time you touch water?" Ranma didn't seem to appreciate her logic.

Akane looked thoughtful. "She's sort of got a point. If I'd never met you and somebody told me about your curse I'd never have believed it."

"That's different!"

Titanite swung her legs off the table and stood up. Good no sign of dizzyness. Still holding the sphere she headed for the door. "Guess I'll have to offer a few more examples that I'm what I say I am." No one tried to block her, that sphere looked powerful. They followed her outside. Once outside Ti looked for a good place to ditch the sphere. An idea occurred to her. With a cry of "POLARIS MISSILE!" she launched the TK sphere upwards. It tore upwards, it would keep going until it encountered sufficent mass or expended its power. By the time it reached the cloud it was weak enough to react to the diffuse mass and flare in an impressive lightshow. Now what to do next? She felt her strength to be about normal so ...

The self proclaimed Sailor Polaris leapt without difficulty to the roof of the clinic. Ranma was about to call that he could do that easily when she launched herself into the air. Akane gasped as she soared past Ranma's maximum height and kept rising. At about three times Ranma's best she reached apogee, performed a triple somersault then freefalled straight back to the ground. She landed easily halfway down the street, rose and gave a victory sign. Ranma glared.

"Big deal. So you've got strong legs. Doesn't prove a thing!"

"So how about this", she called back. Ti had already picked the reentry point and focused her energy. To a layman it would look like she did this without preparation. She vanished and flickered into existence directly in front of Akane. "Hi!" Her smile was a little forced as she fought to ignore the warp sickness. Which seemed less severe than usual.

"Wow!" Akane was converted. "Sailor Teleport Power!"

Huh? "Um ... yeah."

"A real live Senshi! ... How come I've never heard of Sailor Polaris?"

"Well those animes aren't exact representations of our world. I visited this world similar to Bubblegum Crisis ..."

"Never heard of it."

"Oh. Well anyway they had Sailor Moon anime but after the first season it bore no resemblance to our world. So some of what you've seen happened and the rest was just the writer's imagination."

"Wow. Can I see your transformation wand?"

"Umm ... I don't have a wand, I have this bracelet and it's sort of broken. It got damaged on the last world I visited." Titanite supressed a shiver. She was still trying to work out what had happened ... actually she'd been trying to ignore what had happened and this world made a great distraction. "Until I can get it fixed I'm stuck like this."

"Oh. Say are you here fighting evil?" Ranma suddenly thought of something. If this somehow was a real live magical girl who went around purging badguys maybe she could set her on Happosai.

"No, just visiting." Which sounded better than "I was considering stealing your boyfriend." Anyway so far Ranma wasn't impressing her. Besides just being here was fun. It kept her mind off ... other things.

Akane nodded. "Great. Listen I'd love to talk to you about you adventures. How about you join us at my place for a bit ..."

"WHAT! Are you nuts she's more dangerous than you are ..."


"RANMA NO BAKA! Sorry about that. Anyway he's just a guest himself he can't extend or refuse our hospitality. I'd love to have you visit."

"I'd be delighted to accept you invitation." She could spare an hour or two before ducking back to her own world.

"Wonderful! Doctor do you have a coat you could spare. Polaris-san's outfit is a little conspicuous." He nodded and headed back into the clinic. He'd seemed completely unruffled by Sailor Polaris's demonstrations. It seemed the only thing that could truly phase him was Kasumi.

"Polaris is just a title so just plain Polaris is fine. Or you can call me by my real name ..."

"But what about your secret identity?"

"Different universe so it doesn't matter."


"Anyway my name's ..." Give her the fake ID? No. ".. Titanite. Ti to my friends."

"Titanite?! That sounds like ..."

"There's a story behind that."

"I'd love to hear it."

"I wouldn't!"

"Quiet Ranma!" Dr. Tofu emerged with a long coat which Titanite thanked him for. He also gave Ranma a splash with hot water so he regained his original form. With Titanite sorting out her version of events Akane lead the way to her home. Pointing out all the local landmarks to the gawking Titanite. Ranma provided his own running commentary on places they were passing concerning the various people fought there and why. Titanite considered suggesting they get some okonomiyaki as they passed Ukyou's but decided Akane might take that the wrong way. Ranma seemed to be more of a blowhard than she'd anticipated. Or was he feeling insecure because she'd just shown she was stronger, faster and could pull a few stunts he couldn't? That's ridiculous. He can't possibly think I'm a rival for Akane! Can he? Perhaps he just resents my monopolizing her attention?

She was pondering, both Ranma and Akane were talking while Ryoga trudged along silently. So they were almost to the gates of Tendo hall when Akane noticed and said, "Where's Ryoga? I thought he was right behind us?"

"The moron must have taken a wrong turn and got himself lost." Things were looking up for Ranma. Now if he could just find out what this lunatic in the sailor suit was up too. He didn't buy her story for a second which meant this was some sort of scheme. But who was behind it? Cologne? Happosai? Herb? Kodachi? Or any of a dozen others. One thing he didn't lack for was enemies.

Nabiki was out on a date with Kuno. Which probably meant she'd arrive home counting a new wad of yen having sold him pictures of Akane and/or "the pigtailed goddess". Akane usually resented this but right now she was rather grateful. If she'd been around she'd have been frantically trying to merchandise Akane's guest. After greeting Kasumi, father and Saotome-san (the last two had barely looked up from their gameboard) the trio settled down. Akane and Titanite talked while Ranma watched Sailor Polevault (or whatever it was) suspiciously.

Titanite was halfway through the slightly fictionalized story of how she'd saved her brother and friends from the Dark kingdom and joined the Sailor Senshi (okay the "based on a true story" tv movie version of the events of her first adventure) when Kasumi entered.

"I thought you might all like some tea." They all thanked her and Ranma grabbed one of the cookies on the tray.

"I'm starving. Good thing I've got your cookies to keep me going."

Kasumi smiled. "I'm glad you like my cookies but I can't take credit for those. Akane made these earlier." Ranma's hand froze halfway to his mouth and his jaw froze in instinctive self preservation. He stared at the contents of his hand as if he'd suddenly realized he was holding a poisonous snake. Actually he'd have preferred the snake.

Akane glowered. "What are you waiting for? You said you were starving!" Ranma didn't budge and she turned to Titanite in exasperation. "Why does he always put down my cooking? I'm improving!" Titanite eyed the plate dubiously. She didn't want to offend Akane but if the anime was accurate her culinary efforts should be avoided at all costs. Well her Renegade metabolism could deal with toxins that would finish a human so she should be all right. She reached over and took one. Ranma watched her closely.

Chewing it took more effort than she'd expected. She turned slightly green but as she'd hoped her hyperimmune system took care of the more dangerous components of the alleged food. However this did nothing to improve the taste.

Akane had been watching her hopefully. "What did you think?"

Titanite tried to think of something nice to say. "It was ... unique."

"Really?" Thankfully she'd taken that as a compliment.

"I can honestly say I've never tasted anything like it." And considering some of the stuff we ate in the Dark Kingdom that takes some doing.

"Hah! Hear that Ranma. Ti-chan likes my cookies and you won't even try them."

"She's some sort of spooky monster chick. You think you can trust her opinion?" Nethertheless Ranma tried the cookie. He bit down and winced. He took the cookie from between his teeth and examined it. It was unmarked. Experimentally he rapped it on the tabletop. The table dented. "Geez, this is harder than rock!"

"You're not giving it a fair try."

"Come off it. I wouldn't feed this to Kuno. Why don't you give them to your freaky little friend. I guess she's used to chewing on steel."

"RANMA NO BAKA!" Akane had hauled a mallet out of somewhere and lunged for Ranma. He made a sudden retreat. The two of them began a spirited chase around the room. Soun and Genma had disappeared when they'd heard Akane's cookies were available which left Ti and Kasumi. It seemed rude to ignore her and watch the chase so Ti said, "This is very good tea."

"Thank you. I'm glad you like it." There was a crash "Oh my!"

"Was that expensive?"

"No, shortly after Ranma arrived Nabiki had all the valuable heirlooms moved into storage. She said it was the only way we'd have anything left to inherit."


"It seemed a little disrespectful to father's friends but I have to admit it was a good idea."

Titanite nodded. "So it seems." They sipped their tea and watched the chaos unfold.

Sometime later Ryoga Hibiki was wandering the streets attempting to find Akane's house. Ranma must have deliberately ditched him so he could keep Akane for himself. The snake! He couldn't be content with a wonderful girl like Akane, instead he kept stringing along half the women in Nerima. Oh Ranma might claim he didn't like having dozens of fiancees but when Shampoo lost interest in him thanks to the reversal jewel he bent heaven and earth to get her back. How dare he toy with Akane this way! As soon as Ryoga found the dojo he'd give Ranma the beating he so richly deserved. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts he almost walked into the couple ahead.

Calcite studied his tracker, the readings were indisputable. "No new gates so it looks like she stopped in this world. According to the signs we're now in Nerima."

"Well it certainly looks better than the last world. Smells better too. So now what? I can follow her scent but if she's been here for a few hours she could have gone all over the place. It'll take a while to trail ... Hey! He's got traces of her scent!" Margrave pointed at the teenager heading their way.

The angry and depressed young man stopped just before walking into Calcite. He blinked in confusion then said, "Sorry, didn't see you."

"Quite all right. Excuse me a moment but I'm looking for my sister." He produced the photo and thrust it into Ryoga's hand. Ryoga studied it, you could practically hear the wheels turning in his head.

"Sorry I don't ..." The few braincells not occupied with considering the world a dark and lonely place fired. "... wait, she looks sort of familiar! She kind of looks like that weird girl Akane met. Except the hair's wrong!"

"It should be green?"

"Yeah! Weird girl. She was claiming to be Sailor Polemic, whatever that is." Calcite sighed. Occasionally he wished he'd been an only child.

"Did she happen to mention where she was going?"

"Akane invited her to Tendo hall and she accepted. We were all heading there when I ... got distracted. It must have been Ranma's fault!"

"Ranma?" That name rang a bell for Margrave. Where had she heard it before? One of Ti's animes? Hopefully nothing to do with monsters or giant robots.

"Ranma Saotome, Akane's so called fiance. Except he's engaged to two other girls and he's stringing along dozens of others!" Margrave nodded, that seemed to fit the minimal description she'd got from Ti concerning the boy she was looking for.

Ryoga was just hitting his stride concerning Ranma's many and varied crimes when Calcite interrupted. "Well it certainly sounds like I should get my sister away from this boy. Can you give us directions to the Tendos' residence?"

Ryoga nodded after a moment's thought. He was sure he knew the way there from here. Besides it is characteristic of guys to never admit to being lost or to ask for directions. Human guys anyway, being youma Calcite didn't have any problem doing either.

"Sure let me draw you a map." A little later the two of them waved goodbye to Ryoga. Had they known he was also planning to visit the Tendos they'd have felt a lot less confident in his map as he was walking in the opposite direction.

"Okay let's go collect Ti before she gets herself in any more trouble."

"Fine by Margrave, she sick of this dimension travelling nonsense!"

Calcite looked at her suddenly, "Sorry?"

"I said, 'Fine by me, I'm sick of this dimension travelling nonsense!'."

"That's what you said?"

"Of course. What's wrong with you?"

"For a moment you sounded ... well never mind let's get going."

About half an hour later they were walking through a restaurant district which didn't seem to be on their map. Calcite was squinting at the map in confusion. "Is this thing blurring."

Margrave took it and shrugged. "Look fine to Margrave."

"I was afraid of that. My eyesight's going!"

"That impossible! Calcite Renegade. All organic damage repairs fast!"

"It does, but as soon as it's back to normal it starts to go again. My regeneration factor seems to be fighting against something in the environment."

"Margrave's eyes fine. Why Calcite losing sight?"

"I don't know". He sounded frustrated. "I also don't know why you're talking broken Japanese and referring to yourself in the third person."

"What Calcite talking about? Margrave not talking third person ..." She realized what she'd just said. "Margrave is talking third person. Why she do that?"

"I don't know. The broken language could be caused by a translator malfunction. Except after using it this long you should have a good Japanese vocabulary. The third person speech pattern I can't explain."

"Margrave ... I ... I ... am ... having ... trouble ... speaking ... normally. If I speak quickly Margrave come out with big mess words. She not know why."

"I have the nasty feeling being in this dimension is changing us somehow. The sooner we find Ti and get out of here the better."

"Margrave over here. Calcite talking to lamppost."

"I knew that! I was just ..." He tried to think of something to change the subject. "Have you noticed all the senior citizens we're seen are under two feet tall."

"Margrave wonder about that. Also no see any Japanese blondes either."

"Anyway getting back to Ti ..."

"Ti pass by here but hours back. Only old scent."

"I'm not getting any youma auras around here either. Frankly I'm wondering about this map."

"What we do then?"

"Ask for more directions. Let's try that restaurant."

"Hai." They headed for the U-chan's. With his vision temporarily restored Calcite noticed Margrave's human guise looked a lot cuter than usual. Was that significant?

Uykyo sized up the couple as they entered. A couple of bewildered looking tourists. The man seemed to have some eye problems as he was squinting. Perhaps he's lost his glasses. "Can I get you folks some okonomiyaki?" She hoped they spoke Japanese, her English was almost nonexistant.

"I'm afraid not. I was hoping you could direct us to the Tendo training hall. Our map seems a little inaccurate." Ukyou stared at the scrawl, it looked familiar.

"This is the worst map I've ever seen. Follow this and you'll end up on the wrong side of town."

"Boy trick us. Margrave punish!" Ukyou blinked. The woman had suddenly gone from barbie doll cute to GI Jane ferocious.

"Mind if I ask who gave you this?"

"A young man we ran into. He looked like a traveller and was certain about how to get there."

"Large backpack, wearing yellow and black bandannas, small fangs and a very depressed look?"

"You know him?"

"Let's just say he's the worst possible person in Nerima to ask for directions. Let's just correct this." She grabbed a pencil. "Okay you turn right here ..."

After correcting the map it occurred to her to wonder what these people wanted at the Tendos. What if they were after Ran-chan? Casually she asked, "Mind if I ask your business up there?"

"I'm told my sister's there. It's time for us to head home so we're going to collect her."

That sounded harmless enough. Except ... "Why's she there?" The woman answered.

"Margrave think it cause boy she like live there." Both Calcite and Ukyou looked at her. "Ti tell Margrave she want see boy with many girlfriends for herself. Not say he not live local though. Ranma boy fit bill."

"You didn't mention that earlier."

"Margrave not sure. Ti no say she taking key. Margrave think Ti mean boy in school our world."

"Not another fiancee!" Ran-chan what's going on? If your father's been messing around again I'll pound him! Again! For real this time!

"Not to worry. My sister will be returning with us." Margrave nodded.

"Margrave no want stick round Nerima. Not like!" No, she didn't like sounding like either an idiot or a slow talking geriatric. Calcite wondered if the chef had taken that the wrong way.

"Margrave didn't mean any offense. It's just we need to get home."

"Uh sure. Umm ... is she alright?"

"Margrave? Oh, well her Japanese isn't very good."

"It's better than some I've heard. But why is she talking about herself in the third person."

"Uhhh ... Blame that on her language instructor." Ukyou nodded. She wondered if it had been the same person who taught Shampoo.

The couple exited and Ukyou thought. There were no customers right now so perhaps ... She turned off the stove and flipped her sign to closed. It wouldn't hurt to go look in on Ran-chan.

Meanwhile back at the dojo Ranma was picking himself off the floor and trying not to wince. Challenging Titanite to pit her "Polaris Missile" against his "Mouko Takabishya" technique had not been the smartest thing he'd ever done. She dodged his attack, he'd dodged hers. Except hers had turned and chased him across the dojo before catching up. The fact she'd yelled "Polaris Homing Missile!(tm)" should have tipped him off.

"Score another one for Ti-chan!" Akane looked inordinantly pleased. Stupid tomboy! Just because he said her favorite show was cutesy junk. Well it was! Imagine a whole world full of dimwits like this Polaris! Which reminded him of something.

"You claimed where you come from there's a manga based on me?" Ti nodded and Akane muttered something about who'd want to read about a battlecrazed pervert. "Okay then, who's my writer?"

"Rumiko Takahashi."

Ranma snorted. "Come off it! I've read her stuff. She's always writing about guys who get themselves in no end of romantic trouble by getting mixed up with too many girls and then they go from one ridiculous adventure to another with everybody always misunderstanding everyone else and leaping to conclusions and it's always this big mess ..." Ranma suddenly thought about his life. Somewhat reluctantly he said, "That almost makes sense."

Then he shook off the idea. "No this is ridiculous. I've got better things to do than hang around with someone who thinks I'm one of those indecisive manga idiots." He stormed out of the dojo angrily.

Akane called after him. "You're just upset that Ti-chan kicked your ass!" Ranma growled but didn't turn. He headed through the house, stormed by Kasumi and headed out into the night.

Calcite and Margrave were almost to their destination when the glowering Ranma flung the door open and stalked past. Calcite's eyesight was fading again so all he saw was a blur. Margrave watched him go and inhaled deeply then licked her lips. A glance at Calcite showed him stumbling along, sure she was following. She glanced at Ranma in time to see him jump from the street to a nearby rooftop. He commenced vaulting from one house to another. Well why not? Margrave quietly left Calcite's side, leapt to the nearest roof and began to follow him.

Calcite knocked and waited for the door to open. His eyesight was improving again so he was able to make out a kindly (if blurred) face.

"Good evening sir."

"Good evening. We're told that my sister Ti, she may be calling herself Sailor Polaris is visiting. We'd like to see her."

"We?" She seemed puzzled.

"Yes, Margrave and I ..." He realized there was no one beside him. "Where'd she go?" Great, now he'd lost Margrave. First things first. "My friend seems to have wandered off. About my sister ..."

"I believe Akane and her friend are in the dojo. If you could wait a moment?" He nodded and she disappeared inside. A minute later she reappeared. "Your sister is waiting in the dojo. I think she wants to introduce you to my sister Akane. Titanite apologizes for your having to come looking for her. She completely lost track of time."

"Good thing too or she'd have got back in time to destroy the note and who knows how long this idiocy would have kept going?" He didn't say this out loud. All he said was, "Thank you Tendo-san."

"Please call me Kasumi."

"Very well, thank you Kasumi. My name is ..." Well why not? "Calcite."

She nodded. "Your sister mentioned." It figured.

Leaving his shoes he followed Kasumi through the house to the training hall. She opened the door and motioned him inside then returned to her chores.

As soon as he stepped inside Calcite's battle instincts went into overdrive. He moved and a sphere tore through the space he had occupied. It began to curve towards him. He hit the ground, bounced and hit the sphere with a shockwave. It was flung away, struck the wall and detonated ripping a large hole through to the outer wall and beyond. Simultaneously he created and threw a handful of blades. His attackers yelped then found themselves pinned to the wall by the knives through their clothing. Calcite landed in a crouch looking for other adversaries, ready to energise or detonate his blades if necessary. No one else, just the pair he'd trapped. The righthand blur cleared her throat.

"Um ... Hi big brother."

"Ti?" It was her aura all right. But why had she attacked him?

"Look at the wall! You said he'd block it with his forceshield!"

"Uhm this is Akane. I sorta promised her she'd get to see you in action ..."

"So you heaved one of your "Polaris Missiles at me?"

"Well it seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean I know your shield can withstand them easy. I thought you'd just shake it off."

"Ti this was not a training exercise. It's a very bad idea to rely on your forceshield. If it's not powerful enough to stop an attack you're either injured or dead. I've told you that enough times! You should know by now that I wouldn't give you advice I don't follow myself. As for your ambush ... If somebody attacks me without warning I assume it's for real. You're lucky you weren't hurt."

"Speaking of which I'd like to get down. NOW!" Akane sounded angry. Calcite shrugged and dissolved the blades. The two stepped away from the wall and examined their clothes. Akane fingered the holes in her gi and muttered angrily. "Well I guess that is more effective than roses."

"Ti you have overstayed your welcome ..."

"Uh ... I'm over here, Cal." He sighed.

"My eyesight's getting worse. Lucky I can still read auras or I'd have had to counterattack blindly." Which could have been very bad for your health.

"Your eyesight?"

"Something in the environment seems to be affect me. The probe must missed it. I guess it's exclusive to Renegades as Margrave wasn't affected."

Titanite frowned. "My eyesights fine. I collapsed after I got here but that was just plain exhaustion."

Exhaustion. "Ti just what did happen in the last world? The people ... I don't know exactly what they were but they were neither human nor youma ... whoever they were they said you'd beaten that thing they called the Overfiend ..."

"LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND! That's the name of that piece of trash!"

"Huh!" Akane looked puzzled.

"Try to stay focused sister."

"Sorry Cal. I ... I've been trying to avoid thinking about that. At least until I put all the pieces together. I think ... I think something tried to possess me. It was horrible! Like I was drowning in this freezing cold oil!" She shivered and Calcite rested an arm on her shoulder. "I've never felt anything like it. It was pouring into my mind and pushing me under and I couldn't do a thing to stop it! Everything was black and cold and I was so helpless and I couldn't even scream ..." The memory was too much and she began crying on her brother's shoulder. He held her and waited for her to calm down. Akane watched them and felt very awkward.

"Sorry. Didn't mean to turn crybaby."

"It's all right. You've been through a lot." This made a certain amount of sense now. "So something took control of you and used your body to destroy the Overfiend?"

"Well no. I think I know what happened now. I was helpless while this thing poured into my brain. Then something exploded in my mind. It was like this tremendous fury. It grabbed the black stuff and held it. After that it was like a dream. I was watching myself do all this incredible stuff which was totally impossible. I think ... I think it was that berserker thing I saw you do in MegaTokyo. And I think it was drawing power from the thing that tried to control me. I can't explain it but that's what happened. Towards the end I was waking up and the thing was struggling. Last thing my berserker self did before switching worlds was kick out my wouldbe possessor. Then I was here and I was feeling kinda messed up. I saw Ranma so I grabbed him."

"Ranma's the boy you were interested in? The one you told Margrave about?"

"WHAT!" Akane sounded angry.

"CALCITE NO BAKA!" WHAM! "Where'd this hammer come from?"

"TI! ..." Akane looked unhappy.

"Wait! I thought I was interested in Ranma but that was just a stupid crush. Now that I've met him I can see why you think he's such a jerk." Akane subsided a bit and Titanite breathed a sigh of relief. "Uh ... are you okay big brother?" He was rubbing a bump on his head.

"Just peachy! Those things pack a wallop."

"Sorry about that. It was just sort of instinctive ..." The mallet began melting. Akane frowned.

"Mine never do that. They just disappear instantly when I stop being angry."

Ti grinned. "It's psychoplasm. I made it!"

"What?" Calcite peered at the last vestiges of the mallet. "You're right!"

"I forgot to tell you but on the last world I created psychoplasm weapons twice!" Her face fell. "Except I don't know how. It just sort of happened."

"That's more than you've managed until now. Looks like you've finally got some access to your abilities! We'll have to step up the training when we get back."

"Yeah. I can see it now, 'Polaris Nuclear Mallet Attack'!"

"Uhh yes ... we'll have to discuss the most effective use of your abilities once you can access them at will."

"Okay!" Something struck her. "Hey big brother. I'll bet I know why your eyesight's going! It's dimensional adaption. I know that's just a theory ..."

"Not anymore. We had some problems with it on the way here."

"Oh. Anyway it's simple. You're becoming Mousse."

"I don't think I'm growing antlers Ti."



"Stop hitting me!"

"Sorry. My temper seems to be getting shorter all of a sudden." She had a sudden insight into who she might be synching into but decided Akane might take offense. "Anyway Mousse is the name of this martial artist who seems to be able to pull weapons out of nowhere. I guess you're the closest match to him thanks to your powers. Thing is he's got lousy eyesight."

Calcite nodded. "Maybe. In which case it's another reason to get out of here fast. I don't want to pit my regeneration factor against cosmic shaping forces." Something occurred to him. "That's probably what's happened to Margrave."


Calcite nodded. "She came with me but ran off shortly before we got here. She'd been acting a bit strange. Her Japanese was deteriorating and she was referring to herself in the third person."

"Sounds like Shampoo."

Akane tried to break into the conversation. "Hold it. Are you saying somebody is turning into another Shampoo?"


"Great. That's all I need!"

"Who is this Shampoo?"

"She's this Chinese martial artist ... from the same village as Mousse. I forgot to mention that. Anyway she's cute and bouncy some of the time, a dangerous warrior the rest of the time. Oh and she's got this curse that changes her into a cat."

Calcite sighed. "Cute, lethal, feline ... remind you of anyone we know?"

Titanite nodded. "It fits Margrave perfectly."

Akane signalled for their attention. "You forgot one thing in your description, Ti."


"An obsession with Ranma."

"Yeah well there doesn't seem to be a shortage of that. No offense."

"None taken. Why should I care what that idiot does?"

Something had just occurred to Calcite. "This Ranma ... is he around?"

"No he went off in a huff because Ti-chan beat him. Just before you arrived Calcite-san."

Uh oh. "So that was the guy who dashed by us when we were almost here? It was about then that Margrave disappeared." Titanite looked at her brother.

"You think she went after him?"

"It's possible."

"Uh oh. Poor Ranma."

"I think we'd better go have a look."

Akane frowned at the two of them. "What's the big deal? Ranma never lets any girl push him around. He always ducks out of it somehow."

Titanite answered hesitantly, "He's never dealt with anyone quite like Margrave before."

Her brother nodded. "She's not one to take no for an answer. When she wants to be she's very persuasive." Calcite was looking very unhappy about the idea. Titanite suddenly remembered Mousse was fanatically jealous over Shampoo's obsession with Ranma. This could be more trouble than she'd thought

"About which the less said the better."

"Let's go." Was he glowing slightly? The trio headed outside. "Now how do we find them? It'd be quickest to scan for Margrave's aura except her glamour will throw that off."

Titanite smiled. "I've got a quicker method. Just listen ..." Lacking alternatives Calcite followed her directions. Faintly he could make out the sounds of battle. Ti nodded.

"Whenever Ranma's around there's going to be trouble. Just follow the roar of combat." They took to the rooftops, Ti carrying Akane piggyback.

A little earlier Ranma had stopped his aimless run across the rooftops. This wasn't solving anything but at least he'd burned off the worst of his anger. He'd lost! Worse, he'd lost in front of Akane! Not that he cared what that stupid tomboy thought but he really hated being shown up in front of her. Well no one beat him more than once. He just needed to learn a countermove. But how?

Cologne. The old hag knew every martial arts technique in the world. Problem was she'd want something in exchange. Her ultimate goal was for him to marry Shampoo but she was smart enough to know he'd never agree to that. So she'd try something subtler like have him date Shampoo then hit him with her latest love potion. Well he'd always manage to dodge Shampoo's attempts to drug him. Almost always. Anyway when he hadn't Shampoo had always screwed up not being the brightest girl around. Yeah, so he'd agree to date Shampoo if Cologne told him how to counter Sailor Whatsit's move. Brilliant. He was a genius. Too bad Akane would freak over him dating Shampoo but that was her tough luck. It's not as if there was really anything between them.

That was when someone glomped onto him. Geez he'd left himself wide open. Well he knew who this must be so he turned to face her. "Not now Shampoo, I have to see ..."

It wasn't Shampoo. She was older and bigger ... taller! He meant taller! She wasn't Chinese either, American or European with a mane of thick white hair. The look was different from the way most girls looked at him. More like Kodachi ... no, Kodachi's eyes were tinged with madness. This woman was giving him a far more primal look. Her voice was a soft purr.

"Hello handsome boy. Margrave following last little while."

Ranma made some incoherent noises and tried to wriggle free without luck.

"What your name?"

"Ra ... Ranma Saotome."

"Ahh!" She seemed to think something. "Sorry Ti, Margrave always give in to impulses."

"Uhm ..."

"Margrave see boy. Margrave want boy!"

"Wha ... but ... but you're older than me ... it's not right."

"How old Ranma?"

"16!" Almost 17 but why complicate things.

"Margrave 23 Earth terms. Seven years not too many."

"But ... but ... I've already got three fiancees! And Kodachi!"

"That okay. Margrave not looking for long term."

"Wha ..."

"Margrave just visiting, have some fun. She just wanting hot passionate sex!" Ranma turned scarlet. Margrave grinned and began whispering in his ear. After a few moments Ranma demonstrated that Ryoga wasn't the only one who could do mega-nosebleeds. Two streams poured down and stained his shirt. Then the lightheaded Ranma fainted. Margrave was a little surprised.

"That first time Margrave draw blood before start. No worry. Margrave know good way wake boy up." She lowered Ranma to the rooftiles and tried to decide if she should find someplace warmer before getting going. Then her combat sense kicked in and she ducked her head aside. The bonbori whipped through the space it had occupied. Margrave spun around in a fighter's crouch to face her attacker.

The purple haired Chinese girl looked very surprised she'd dodged. "Old woman leave Shampoo's husband alone!" Shampoo had been heading over to surprise Ranma with a free dinner (laced with a few exotic herbs) when she'd seen him crossing the rooftops pursued by this woman.

"Shampoo? Girl's name is Shampoo?"

Shampoo nodded and Margrave broke out laughing. "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA ..." She regained her self control. "That stupidest name Margrave hear since Tuxedo Kamen."

Shampoo glared. "Old woman make fun of way Shampoo talk!"

"Little girl go away not bother Margrave. She in wrong mood mess with. She been spooked by dead city, attacked by pervert, freaked out by giant monster now she talking in third person all time and sound like total damnfool. Boy first good thing happen since start trip. Margrave like Ranma scent. Margrave have fun with boy! Little girl go away!"

"Shampoo not go away! Shampoo claim husband for own." Shampoo charged Margrave sure of her own speed and skill. Margrave slid past the girl's maces and whacked her on the back of the skull. Shampoo crashed to the roof. The folks below decided it was a good time to go catch a movie.

"Girl fast. Margrave faster." Ignoring the unconscious girl she turned back to Ranma. "Now what Margrave thinking ... ah she remember!" What she didn't notice was Shampoo stirring. Shampoo had a fairly thick skull herself.

Shampoo couldn't believe it. She had lost in combat over Ranma. There was only one course for an amazon warrior. The woman was bent over Ranma, all her attention on him. She had her opening.

Margrave was muttering, "Zip stuck. Margrave slash pants off", when Shampoo leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

Margrave spun away from Shampoo and came to rest facing her. "Pervert girl not do that. Margrave not that way. She experiment when younger but prefer males!" Shampoo took a moment to interpret this then flushed bright red.

"That not mean that!" She took a moment to regain self control. "That kiss of death. Shampoo promise to kill you."

Margrave didn't look intimidated. "Pervert girl reconsider. Margrave not take challenge lightly!" She slashed out at a nearby chimney. For a moment nothing seemed to happen. Then it fell apart in four equal segments. "Margrave say little girl go away before get hurt!"

"Amazon never back down from fight!" This woman was fast, Shampoo had to distract her somehow. Perhaps ... Shampoo dived off the roof. Margrave blinked.

"Girl smarten up!" Yet she didn't think so. So she wasn't too surprised when Shampoo landed on the roof again. But why was she carrying a bucket of water?

"Shampoo take husband from old woman!" The girl flung the bucket. Yet not at Margrave. It sailed over Ranma and dumped its' contents. Margrave looked to him momentarily ... then froze in astonishment. While she was amazed by the gender shift Shampoo charged in swinging.

Margrave squalled and fell from the roof but twisted in midair and landed on her feet. Shampoo dropped down to face her. Margrave rubbed the bruise on her face. "Pervert girl get good shot with trick. Only one she live to enjoy. Before Margrave finish pervert girl tell Margrave how change boy back."

"Shampoo die first."

"Okay Margrave figure out for self." She hissed and charged.

The furious battle went back and forth through the alleyway. Shampoo quickly realized she was in a lot of trouble. The older woman was stronger, faster and seemed able to absorb all the damage Shampoo inflicted. Worse she seemed to be playing with her. In their last face to face clash the woman had hissed, "Pervert girl lucky this not old days or she dead already."

Something slammed into Shampoo and she went crashing into the yard where she'd filled the bucket. She'd forgotten to turn the hose off and splashed into a large puddle. The change hit.

Margrave landed in the yard. "No more games. Margrave pummel girl senseless, get answer then go back for boy ... where pervert girl?" The girl was gone but not without a trace. Her tightfitting red satin clothes were lying in a puddle. Empty. "Another hentai teleporter? Or this decoy?" Margrave picked up the wet trousers and saw somethin fall out one leg. "Girl leave panties in pants? Either very eager or disappear inside clothes." She looked around the yard. A purple and white cat hissed at her then resumed climbing to the roof. No sign of a naked girl. Not even a trace of her scent. "Weird. Well fight over ... Margrave just ask boy ... girl how he become boy again." She nodded and headed for the roof. To find company.

The chef she'd met earlier was propping up the semiconscious Ranma. He was male again and there was a steaming thermos beside her. The cat hissed at her but she ignored it.

"What chef doing here?"

"Looking for Ran-chan. I saw him go by followed by you and Shampoo so I decided somebody had better look out for him. The cat hissed at Ukyou again. "Give it a rest Shampoo!"

"Shampoo?" It suddenly clicked for Margrave. "Pervert girl became cat. Shrank out of clothes!" She broke out laughing. It was this noise that snapped Ranma out of his stupor. He reflexively grabbed for the nearest thing to him. Which turned out to be Shampoo. He began to shake. Margrave smelled heightened excitement from him. Cats were a turnon for him? Perfect. "Boy like cats? Margrave can make him very happy!" She dropped her glamour. Ukyou stared in amazement, Ranma began hysterical giggling then started to meow.

Had Margrave watched any of Ti's Ranma 1/2 tapes she might have known that Ranma was severely ailurphobic. A side effect of his father's illadvised attempt to teach him the "Cat Fist" martial arts technique. Being dumped into a pit of hungry cats while wrapped in fish sausage had made quite an impression on the six year old Ranma. His father's subsequent attempts to make him face his fear (by dumping him back in the pit while wearing a variety of seafood) had only increased the trauma. During extreme attack of his phobia he would begin to act like a cat. Frequent exposure enabled Ranma to withstand Shampoo's cat form without suffering a total breakdown. However the sight of a giant woman shaped cat ... well that was another matter.

Margrave was getting worried. That didn't smell like lust, more absolute terror and something she couldn't identify. She was suddenly distracted by a black rose embedding itself in the rooftile by her left foot. She felt a sudden burst of terror herself. "It can't be! It ... it girl in black leotard?" The newcomer gave a laugh that Queen Beryl would have been proud of. "Who you?"

"The monster can speak? I am Kodachi Kuno, the Black rose come to claim my darling Ranma."

"Wonderful. New obstacle for Margrave ... what that?" Ranma was on all fours and hissing. Ukyou and the Shampoo cat were backing off. He charged forward and playfully battered Margrave across three rooftops. Then began bouncing around the neighbourhood, shredding rooftiles like paper.

Margrave came to to see Ranma curled up a nearby rooftop. Ukyou was approaching cautiously when the Shampoo cat knocked over her discarded thermos. The nude Shampoo charged Ukyou from behind. With a startled cry Ukyou and Shampoo toppled off the roof. "Margrave getting very confused." She moved suddenly and the razor edged hoop Kodachi had thrown zipped by. "Margrave starting to wonder if boy worth all trouble."

At which point Shampoo reappeared wearing Ukyou's clothes. "Shampoo start fight again." Margrave hissed then dodged again as knives rained down. The chinese boy in the volumnous white robes landed next to Shampoo.

"I am ready to fight beside my beloved Shampoo!" Shampoo whacked him over the head.

"Mousse go away. This Shampoo's fight."

Mousse got up minus his glasses. "But Shampoo ..." He grabbed her. At least he tried. Kodachi whacked him over the head with a club.

That was when Ukyou, clad only in her underwear and looking very unhappy, vaulted onto the roof holding her giant spatula. "You've finally pushed me too far Shampoo!"

Ranma looked at all the people surrounding him and hissed. Suddenly there was a burst of lightning and a young man with a sword was on the roof. "The vegeance of heaven is slow but sure. The Blue Thunder of Furinken High has come to settle matters with the sorceror Saotome and free his loves from the monster's foul grasp."

The way things were going Margrave wasn't too surprised when the boy who'd given them directions clambered into view and announced, "Ranma! It is past time for you to pay for your crimes against Akane."

"Hold fast oaf. My vengeance comes first."

"Get out of my way Kuno."

"You need a lesson in manners vagabond!"

Ranma hissed and the free-for-all began.

Calcite, Titanite and Akane arrived in time to take in the sight of this. Akane groaned, "Not again", while Titanite watched in fascination. Then she realized Calcite had a bright glowing aura. As he saw Shampoo and Mousse ganging up on Margrave (while fighting off Ukyou and the playful Ranma) she heard him speak quietly. "I have had enough off this nonsense!" Titanite jumped down to streetlevel carrying Akane.

"What are you doing?"

"Duck and cover. I think big brother's going to freak!"

The various combatants suddenly froze as they glimpsed the blinding glow. Margrave immediately flung herself to the roof and tried to make herself two dimensional.

"ULTIMATE GENERAL FINAL ATTACK!" There was a massive flare and every roof within ten blocks was stripped bare. Margrave cautiously raised her head and looked around to the widely scattered groaning figures. Calcite scent was filling the air. Very agressively masculine. She liked it. To hell with whatshisname. She slunk over.

"Wonderful move. But why Calcite yelling?"

"I have absolutely no idea."

"Margrave over here, you talking to chimney."

Calcite sighed. "Let's get the hell out of here before anything else happens."

"Margrave do anything Calcite say."

"First time for everything." They dropped down to ground level. Akane looked at them. Actually she stared at Margrave until the catwoman restored her glamour. Akane regained her train of thought.

"What just happened?"

"I'm not sure but I think we'll be leaving before it happens again. They're all fine, just a little dazed." Which was something of a surprise but why mention that? "Ti, say goodbye. We're leaving."

"But ... but ... but there's so much we could learn like ... Like if they know who Rumiko Takahashi is that means she exists in this world. Since she won't have done a Ranma 1/2 manga here she'll have done something else. A whole new Takahashi manga unknown in our world. I've got to investigate ..." She trailed off as she saw the way Calcite and Margrave were looking at her. "Well maybe another time. Bye Akane, it was great meeting you. Good luck with Ranma."

"Good luck? My luck's been bad since I met him. It's been fun. Good luck fighting the Deathbusters."

"Who?" They all thought. Titanite waved then the threesome vanished. Akane climbed up to the nearest roof and shook her head. She spotted Ranma sprawled over an exposed roofbeam under Ryoga and Kuno. She shifted them off him, carefully in Ryoga's case while she dropped Kuno into the interior of the house. Akane checked Ranma didn't have any major injuries and wondered why she bothered.

"Baka." It sounded almost tender.

Meanwhile the threesome had rematerialized at the gatepoint. Calcite took out his key and squinted at the settings. Titanite checked hers. "So do we just run the circuit again?" She replaced the battery with one of Calcite's spares. With her bracelet toasted she'd better stay Sailor Polaris rather than reactivate her glamour and become Titania Hobbes dressed as a Sailor Senshi. She unfolded her mask and fitted it back in place.

"That's the safest method. This time we don't have to waste time probing. Let's go." Ti nodded and reset her key. The gate opened and they stepped though.

Shift. The smoldering city surrounded them. By the corpse of the Overfiend the blank eyed Nagumo and Akemi watched Megumi kick her brother's body around.

Shift. Salarymen heading off to drink their frustrations away until the next night saw the trio appear then disappear. An optical illusion. Nearby gawkers stood outside the police lines against a bulletriddle cafe and traded stories that were less fantastic than the truth of the evening's events.

Shift. The dead city. Pitch black. No sign of life. At least none they stayed to see.

The taller of the pair watched the place she'd been told idily. What does she expect me to see? She felt an itch in her scalp and cursed. Not lice again! She'd already cut her hair far shorter than she liked. Well all this rough living was bound to get to you. She could remember when her armour was white instead of grubby grey. Then she saw the trio appear and her jaw dropped. They'd disappeared again before she'd managed to find her voice and scream "WAIT!". Gone. Gone where?


Her friend moved out of concealment clutching her computer. "Zeus, the readings just reappeared ..."

"Readings hell! There were people! Three of them!"

"I scanned three objects but the anomaly messed up the sensor readings. All I got was size and mass. They could have been human ..."

"Forget could have been they were! Listen to me! I didn't get a good look at the two in back but the one in the lead ... I swear she was dressed like a Senshi!"


"INTERESTING? THAT'S ALL YOU'VE GOT TO SAY! YOU COLD BLOODED ..." The slap broke her rant. She rubbed her cheek and glared at her leader.

"Calm down. We don't now who they were or where they came from. I'm going to study the readings. When I've done that maybe I'll have some answers. In the meantime we'd better move on. We've pushed our luck too much already today."

"Okay. Sorry I got out of line."

"Understandable under the circumstances. Now let's move."

Some time later and in another dimension Azurite and Pyrite were heading home. Or rather to Calcite and Titanite's home. Another week and they'd be moving into their own place. No more Margrave complicating life daily. No more of Ti's cooking which was a shame. Ah well, you have to take the rough with the smooth. They were both in a very good mood.

They entered the house to find the others grouped in the living room. Margrave was sporting several bandages and wincing, Calcite looked unhappy and a bit disappointed while Titanite looked downcast.

Azurite sighed. "So who wants to tell me what's going on?"

Everyone started talking at once.

Dark Kingdom Renegades 8: Titanite's Bogus Journey

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 6 of 7

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