Continuing Tales

Destiny's Child

A Crossovers Story
by Fire

Part 20 of 26

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Destiny's Child

Everyone was gathered at Ami's place. Perhaps that was not so unusual since her mother was working late at the hospital - again. What made this particular Senshi meeting unusual was the fact the Sailor Mars had called for an emergency meeting, and that the Outer Senshi were there.

Even the elusive and enigmatic Meiou Setsuna was there, making one of her rare and dramatic appearances. Rei had not managed to get into contact with her since she decided to call the meeting, nor had the other Outer Senshi... Setsuna had just appeared at Ami's door and wandered in; no explanation was given as to why she was there, nor was there any explaining how she knew about the meeting. Setsuna had just given a guarded smile and walked past Ami when she opened the door.

The Guardian of Time was currently sitting off to one side of the room, doing her best to look wise and dignified. This was made a little bit difficult by the small girl that was sitting on her knee bouncing up and down. Sailor Pluto was one of Chibi-Usa's friends in the future and the small girl regretted the fact that she could not see much of her at the present.

Eventually everyone was there and had started on the snacks that Ami's mother had left for them. That is, most people had started; Usagi was most of the way through Rei's portion having already finished her own share. While she shovelled the food into her face as fast as she could, she was obviously eyeing up who else she could steal some food from. Watching the path of her friends eyes, Makoto sighed and nudged the plate in her direction. Makoto rationalised that she needed to loose weight for the gymnastics anyway.

Rei stood up and brushed an errant strand of hair back from her face. "OK, everyone."

A hush fell over the room, broken only by the sound of chips being forced down Usagi's throat. After a moment of listening to the 'rattle, crunch, crunch' noises, Minako gave her a nudge and whispered in her ear. "Shhh, I think Rei wants to say something."

Big blue eyes looked up at the brunette and she asked innocently, "Did you, Rei-chan?"

Rei threw up her hands in disgust. "Of course I did! Why else do you think I called for an emergency meeting?"

Makoto chimed in: "You wanted to tell us you were giving up on Ranma to pursue your mystery boyfriend?"

"No!" Rei blushed furiously. "I'm not giving up Ranma! Besides, it's not as though were even going out together or anything."

"No, you just spend every evening together 'studying'. Hey, even Ami- chan doesn't study that much."

Now it looked like Rei's face was as red as the skirt she sometimes wore. Blushing as strongly and as often as she has been lately would no doubt lead to a coronary if she keeps it up.

"She does too! Besides... study is all we ever do..."

Her voice dwindled off and the Senshi had the good grace to look sheepish. It was all good fun to tease her about what might have been happening, but only if it actually might have been. Unfortunately for Rei, everyone was quite familiar with the fact that Ranma and Rei got on like a jar of nitro-glycerine at a jackhammer convention. It was like someone took everything good and perfect and right from Usagi's relationship with Mamoru and made sure that Ranma and Rei had none of those moments.

After a moments silence, Rei looked up again and pulled some folded paper from her pocket. "Remember the Daimon attack yesterday? Well, our mysterious friend was there, and he gave me a letter this time."

Most of the girls nodded. Setsuna looked blank... or was she really hiding vast knowledge and intricate plans behind a facade of false ignorance? Usagi just looked confused. As Rei started to read the letter, she rudely butted in again.

"Who are we talking about?"

Minako gave the girl a nudge. "Come on, Usagi-chan. Not even you could forget the handsome tuxedo suited boy that's been chatting to Sailor Mars."

Brows came down and little fists clenched. "Oh, you better not be cheating on me, Mamoru. I'll make you _so_ sorry!"

Before the much maligned Mamoru had a chance to defend himself, someone piped up.

"Not Tuxedo Kamen, the other guy."

"Huh? What other guy?"

As the Senshi started to pick on her, Ami put her book on the floor and walked over to sit next to Usagi. "You know, I think she might be right. I really don't think they've ever been in the same place at the same time."

Luna threw in her two cents also. "That would also explain why I have no recollection of who you are talking about. I am usually escorting Sailor Moon and since she always arrives late, it would explain why neither of us have seen this man. Artemis? Have you seen him?"

The white cat stretched self indulgently on her person's lap and looked at Luna with sleepy eyes. "Yeah, sure. Lots of times. He's always there these days. I haven't had a close look yet since I'm smart enough to stay out of the fighting and he's silly enough to try and talk to Mars in the middle of the fight... But, yes, I've seen him."

Luna batted Artemis' nose with one paw. "Silly cat! Why didn't you tell me something as important as this? It could be vital information, and you've been keeping it from me."

"Right, and I'm sure that you would have made great use of it even if you did know. Besides, its not as if there's anything you could do about it, is there?"

Luna was opening her mouth to reply when Rei jumped to her feet and cried out. "QUIET!"

Everyone fell into stunned silence. Rei was standing there with her fists tightly clenched at her sides. "I've got some really important information here, and you've not giving me a chance to tell you."

"Humph, you're just saying that because your boyfriend gave it to you."

Minako looked rather cowered under the harsh gaze that was levelled at her. When she was sure everyone would remain silent for at least a few minutes, Rei opened up the pages she was holding and began to read.

"To the pretty soldier Sailor Mars and her friends." That earned a few snickers. They might introduce themselves that way, but none of them actually though of themselves as Pretty Soldier So-And-So. When there was quiet, she resumed.

"The first and by no means most important part of this letter is to clear up something that might be worrying you. Recently I have looked into the auras of you and your friends and seen new traces of fear.

"Fear for what I ask myself? What could possibly make the... er... the sexy soldier Sailor Mars..."

This time she had to stop for a while. The laughter was just too loud to continue.

"What could possibly make... Sailor Mars afraid? What was worth worrying about?

"I wracked my brain, and I tried to divine what it was that would upset you so. Your enemies have not changed, and despite being set upon from all sides, you triumph at every turn. What could possibly make you worry so, and how could I ease your fears.

"Then I realised: you know nothing about the Dragon Slave."

Ami perked up hearing that. It was a leading statement, promising to divulge more of the secrets of the universe to her ever hungry brain. Joining in with the others, she badgered Rei: 'What was the Dragon Slave?', 'Do dragon's really exist?', 'How does he know anything?', 'Can we trust this information?', 'Are there more chips?', 'How does this affect us?'

This time it was Setsuna that quietened the room. Although her voice was soft, it held the strength of wisdom. Over the time that they had known her, all of the Senshi had learned to listen when she spoke. You might not always understand what she was saying, but it was always worth hearing.

"You would be wise to listed to what Rei has to say. What she is about to reveal of the Dragon Slave may well change your views on how things are to unfold."

Inside Setsuna cheered herself. She had recognised the name 'Dragon Slave', and now she had an opportunity to demonstrate her supposedly perfect foreknowledge. True, she was older and wiser than any of the Senshi, so she could do a good job of guiding them, but she deliberately did not know everything that was to come. Not only would it spoil the surprise but it represented an unacceptable danger of creating a temporal paradox. Most times - like now - all she needed to do was nudge the girls in the right direction with a few well chosen words.

When it came to wise sounding statements that contained very little real meaning, Meiou Setsuna excelled beyond anyone politician ever born.

Rei looked down at the paper and began to read again.

"I have watched your fights and realised something important: both yourselves and your enemies are White Sorceresses."

That statement caused a few mumbles of discontent. How could he place the Sailor Senshi into the same category as the Witches Eudial or Kaolinite? For that matter, how could he describe the Witches as being White Sorceresses? White was the colour of the good guys... surely.

When the comments subsided, Rei sighed in frustration and continued.

"White magic is the magical power derived from within a single person. This is not to say that bad, horrible people cannot use White magic, they just use it for evil purposes."

"Elemental magic is another form of focus..." Rei put in a comment of her own here. "I suspect that Ail and Ann used Elemental magic, after all, they got their power from draining things around them.

"Holy magic is power given to the caster by the Gods, this is not to be confused with Spiritual power, the power of the human spirit is something completely separate to magic, and developed in a different manner.

"Finally, there is Black magic. Black magic uses another source of power, and it is that source that defines the magic as Black. I will not go into details because of the dangers involved, but suffice it to say that the Dragon Slave is a fraction of the power that the source of Black magic can deliver."

"Black magic takes some of this power and uses it for the caster's purpose. The caster does not need to be evil to cast this magic... but it is often the situation.

"The Dragon Slave is one of the most powerful spells available to Black Magic, and a skilled caster can rival the power of a minor god for short periods of time and in small areas.

"Take heart, pretty soldiers. The caster of the Dragon Slave is on your side. The destruction of the Daimon in such a manner is an object lesson for those who would oppose us. Victory will be ours, and we shall smite our enemies in glorious battle."

As the Senshi let that start to settle in, Rei read out the short paragraph at the bottom of the page.

"You do not need to fear the source of the Black magic becoming active or malignant. I have it on the best authority that in this era, all those that supply the power are completely incapacitated.

"Besides, if they were capable of acting, you, I and everyone else would be nothing more than chaff for them to harvest as they desired, such is their power compared to ours."

"The source of the power is not my concern, and neither should it be yours. I am writing this to tell you that you have nothing to fear from the caster of the Dragon Slave.

"We are all on the same side. All fighting for the one cause, all striving to protect our Queen and those we love.

"United we stand, and we shall never be defeated."

Rei looks up from the paper and looks at the girls and their cats. "He just signs it: 'With you until the end and beyond.'"

When she stopped talking, there was a moments silence, then everyone began to speak at once. Ideas flashed back and forwards as people tried to make sense of what they heard. This went on for a while until Ami's normally quite voice rose and brought calm to the room.

"We can't go on like this. I'm sure we know all the answers, it's just that we probably don't know what the right questions are.

"First things first, let's make sure everyone is clear on who gave us this information. For the last month or so there's been another man dressed like Tuxedo Kamen appearing at the start of the fights. He usually only stays around for a little while, then he leaves again."

Minako wiggled her eyebrows at Rei: "He only stays long enough to give his darling Sailor Mars a rose or chocolates or something. Then he's off again."

"It was my rose he gave her the first time, too." Griped Mamoru. He had a light tone in voice to reassure Rei that he did not mind, but his comment drew a few chuckles nonetheless.

Rei leaped to his defence. "I don't think he actually runs away. I'm actually pretty sure that he's still around somewhere... he's just hiding. I'm not sure how I know... I'm just sure that he's there watching over me. I think he realises that I have a job to do, and he doesn't want to interrupt it."

Ami cleared her throat. "We're getting off the topic again. Let's get together a description, and see if anyone can recognise who he actually is. I think it's probably safe to assume that he is related to either the Moon Kingdom or our current adversaries in some way. Since he seem keen on Sailor Mars, we can probably say he's not an enemy."

"He wears black pants and a white shirt, just like Tuxedo Kamen."

"He's got this really big black cape."

"He's got a black mask... not white like Tuxedo Kamen's."

"True, but remember, his mask is actually part of... I don't know... a scarf or something that covers his whole head."

"I've never seen him use magic! Remember, he held off the Daimon for a while this morning while Sailor Mars was busy with the fruit juice for breakfast."

The other scouts added various features that they remembered, Rei even mentioned his piercing blue eyes. She was the only one that had received a good enough look at him to vouch for that, so no-one disputed it.

As the description built up, Luna began to look concerned, or as concerned as a cat can look. Even though Chibi-Usa was sitting on her knee, Setsuna also became agitated. After a time she set the girl on the floor and began to pace slightly. At the sight of this, silence fell onto the room. Setsuna was always in control. She was never worried or afraid. If man was someone who could upset her, then the Senshi might have a serious problem.

When she noticed the silence, Setsuna looked over the girls and focused on Luna. "You know who it is, don't you?"

"Saturn Knight..."

The Guardian of Time nodded. "Yes. Saturn Knight."

Artemis looked horrified and smacked his own head. "Saturn Knight! Of course. How could I have forgotten. Yes, it's definitely Saturn Knight... Oh no."

Setsuna raised an eyebrow at that. Now that the cards were out on the table and she had no more unexpected surprises, she was much calmer.

"We have Saturn Knight wandering around and you can think of something else to say 'oh no' about?"

"He has the Silence Glaive."

The three people who realised the implications of that statement went white. Actually Artemis was always white, and since Luna was a black cat, she just 'went white' in an implied sense. Setsuna did actually go white. She recovered with admirable speed and aplomb, but it was yet another sign to the Senshi that all of their mentors were worried.

Searching the faces of the three people discussing her suitor, Rei demanded answers. "Back a step! Who is Saturn Knight, and why is it so bad if he has the Silence Glaive?"

"Saturn Knight was someone we all knew in the Moon Kingdom." Luna began. "I expect your memories will start to return over time now that they have been prompted, but that's not particularly necessary.

"If Endymion was not engaged to Sailor Moon - which made him 'Prince' - he would have been known as 'Earth Knight' since he was from Earth, and he was one of their leaders. Similarly, if Sailor Venus had a husband; he would have been called Venus Knight. Hence we have Saturn Knight.

"We all like to think of the Moon Kingdom as being a paradise. Somewhere that nothing ever went wrong. Somewhere ideal.

"Saturn Knight was exception."

Amid the curious and confused looks, Artemis picked up the story.

"If you ask me, Saturn Knight was a borderline psychotic, and a danger to everyone around him. The only people he cared about was Sailor Saturn and Queen Serenity. Even then, the Queen was his second loyalty. The man was a harmful presence and a threat to society. He was mentally unbalanced and delusional."

"Then why couldn't Queen Serenity cast a healing on him. Surely she could make him better."

Setsuna gave a short laugh. "She did. After the healing he was a borderline case, close enough to normal that people actually questioned whether he was sane or not. Before the healing there was no question at all. The man actually threatened to kill me once."


"Oh yes. He and I never got along. I think he saw me as some kind of threat. I know I saw him that way. Imagine letting a paranoid with tendencies to violence be the closest advisor of the strongest and most hair triggered Senshi.

"Sailor Saturn was the only person who understood him, the only one that really talked to him. The Queen held his loyalty since she supported him and Sailor Saturn, but even then she was rather wary of him. She treated him like a pampered pet tiger: calmly, nicely and with lots of respect.

"The reason he threatened to kill me was because he somehow got the idea that I was trying to create a rift between him and Sailor Saturn. He took great offence to it, and told me that if I ever tried to interfere with him again he would see me dead."

"Were you trying to interfere?"


"Could he have killed you?"

Setsuna laughed. "Not even on his strongest day. Saturn Knight was a brawler, a fighter. He had no real magic to speak of. He may have been the most skilled magician in the Moon Kingdom, but he did not even have the magic to light a candle. Despite the fact that he got into fights with almost all of the Senshi - attacking them at royal balls and the like - he never could do any real harm."

Ami nodded. It made sense. If the man was powerful and crazy, surely something would have been done. If he was just a nuisance, he would be tolerated and treated as well as possible. "Does this mean that it wasn't Saturn Knight that cast the Dragon Slave?"

"Perfectly correct. I may not tell you who cast it, but I can assure you that it was not him."

"Possibly Sailor Saturn then?"

"No. Sailor Saturn has not awoken yet. She still slumbers, hidden deep in the subconscious of whoever she currently is. Also, Sailor Saturn's magic is quite distinctive. If she had cast the Dragon Slave, I would have known instantly."

Rei was beginning to feel concerned. She had spent quite a while now, talking to Saturn Knight. Each time the Senshi were called to battle, he would seem to materialise. The would talk, sometimes joking, sometimes serious. Always he was so polite and perfect. She could tell by the way that he acted that he cared for her. He brought her small gifts of flowers, juice, small cakes or poetry.

He might not be perfect, and they were both still hiding behind their masks or magic, but she felt her heart being drawn to him. Just being near him, she knew that he felt the same way. It was the way that he looked at her. It was the way he moved. It was all of the little things. There was no way that her lovely man could be the same person they were describing.

"Don't you see? He's not the same person he was then. We've all changed since we were reincarnated. Why can't he? Believe me, this Saturn Knight would never do any of those things that you have described. He's nice, he's just like Tuxedo Kamen was when we first met him."

Setsuna did not look convinced. Before she could open her mouth to raise further objection, Ami shifted the focus of the conversation slightly. Rei gave her an appreciative look. It is hard to accept it when people debase and insult someone you care for; unfortunately what they were saying was true, it just did not apply any more.

"You seemed worried that Saturn Knight had the Silence Glaive. Why is that? Also, what is it?"

Luna jumped onto a table and pointed out the distance between herself and the wall. "The Silence Glaive is Sailor Saturn's weapon. It's a magical pole arm about this long, a weapon of massive power and capabilities.

"No-one knows exactly where it came from or when it was made. All that is known about it's history is that one day Sailor Saturn arrived at one of the royal functions carrying it.

"She demonstrated it's power for the Queen once. I remember watching as an entire asteroid was boiled away into space.

"In many ways the Silence Glaive is just another example of how unbalanced Saturn Knight was. He was obsessed with the weapon. Every time he met the other Senshi, he would describe how great the weapon was. He would tell everyone how great it was, and then claim that he had made it.

"It was another part of the fantasy world he lived in. He honestly believed that he had created it, when everyone knows that it takes a great and powerful magician to make even the weakest of magical items.

"It was sad, really."

Ami steered the conversation for a while, trying to elicit all of the information that she could about Saturn Knight, Sailor Saturn, or anything else that it seemed that Setsuna may not have been completely open about.

They talked for over an hour, rehashing what they knew, and making sure that no-one missed any of the details. This was especially difficult since Usagi was beginning to get bored. Once she had verified that Mamoru was still he loyal and devoted boyfriend, and that there was no immediate and present danger to herself or her friends, he mind started to wander. For a while she considered sleeping but that would have earned her a cat in the lap. Luna would have claimed that she wanted to be patted, but Usagi knew that she would be making sure she stayed awake.

As the next most entertaining alternative, Usagi decided it was time to tease Rei. Rei not only had Ranma, she also was apparently making some good moves on Saturn Knight. Now Rei had read out one page of the letter she had shown them... that means that there are two pages they have not heard. Some good gossip to be found there!

Working her way around the room, Usagi spent gradually crept up on Rei. The letter was hanging loosely from her fingers, and Rei was concentrating intently on what was being said. Now her hands were just millimetres from their goal and no-one had noticed yet...

Got it!

Before Rei could rescue the pages, Usagi was dancing backwards out of her reach. Laughing in delight at her good fortune, she scanned the pages, looking for juicy bits.

First page: dull, just that stuff she already read out.

Second page: dull, something about the focusing of spell energies and alternate power sources. Hmm, 'Mars Fire Soul Bird' nice name, must be some sort of power up for the current 'Mars Fire Soul' attack that Sailor Mars used.

Third page: jackpot. This was what she was after. Out loud she began to read, retreating across the room from the rapidly pursuing - and rather angry - Hino Rei.

"Oh, I like this bit:
'What Earthly beauty distilled /
Than the single rose /
Withering on the virgin thorn /
That live, grows and dies /
In single blessedness?'

That last part was not in the poem. That came about when - at the same time as Rei seized her letter - Usagi fell on her behind. As tended to be the case, it was the much abused Luna that took the brunt of the damage, Usagi escaping with not even a bruise on her dignity.

Rei towered over the girl, shaking in anger. Her face was red, and her hands were tightly clenched. "That was a private letter, Usagi! If it had anything to do with the Senshi I would have read it out. But it didn't. It was between him and me. Private."

Grabbing her jacket, Rei stormed out of the room, heading for the door. Usagi looked up at her retreating form, tear brimming at her eyes. She did not mean to hurt her, she only wanted to have some fun: these Senshi meetings could be so dull some times.

"Rei-chan... please..."

The brunette did not even turn her head or acknowledge her leaders words. Shrugging into the jacket, she opened the door and stepped outside into the night air. "Goodnight."

The silence in the room was broken only by the sound of Usagi's timid crying. No-one made any move to scold her. Everyone could see that she knew she had crossed a line she should never have been anywhere near.

Two days later Rei was still fuming slightly at Usagi. She had calmed down mostly, now it was a delayed indignation. Her feelings were more the sort of 'I don't believe she did that...' than 'I want to tear her lungs out and see how well she can talk then...'.

Despite the size of Usagi's gaff, it was hard for Rei to stay angry. Not only was she the sort whose anger burned brightly and briefly, but there were other reasons. It can be difficult to be truly angry with someone who you had lain down your life to save. Even harder still to be mad at someone who brought you back from the dead. Considering Usagi fill both of those categories, and she really did not mean any harm, Rei buried her anger.

What helped bring her around were her friends. Everyone understood why Rei was upset; who would not be? It was the way that the other Senshi criticised Usagi's actions that made Rei realise what a minor issue it really was.

Despite (or perhaps because of) their flirtatious and boy hungry natures, it was Makoto and Minako that had come down on the clumsy leader of the Sailor Senshi the hardest. Just listening to Makoto talk made Rei realise that she needed to patch things up with Usagi. Her own anger she could deal with; being the focus and reason for someone else's anger was another matter. She was a champion of love and justice, she should not be making people angry. As long as she stayed mad, so would her friends, and that was bad for everyone.

That was the reason she had allowed herself to be talked into this trip with Makoto. She had agreed to go to one of the Martial Arts classes that Ranma taught. It was not as though the insensitive jerk could compete with the suave, sophisticated and charming Saturn Knight, but he was here and he was accessible.

Most importantly, the trip from Makoto's to the dojo gave the two time to talk, time to air out all of the issues. Time to end the problems with Usagi. It did not take long to convince Makoto to forgive the girl, all of the Senshi were too close; they were friends as close as any group of girls could be... Other than Michiru and Haruka, but that was another matter.

As they neared the dojo, Makoto pointed to her watch. "You'll like this, Rei-chan. Ranma has about half an hour left with the kids class before we begin."

"What? Why did we come so early?"

"Come on... Surely you have to realise just how cute Ranma is under that Chinese shirt he always wears. Just think of it: firm muscles moving under that perfect skin. Sometimes his Gi comes open, and you can see all the way down his perfect chest to those rock hard abdominals.

"Ohhh, it sends shivers down my back thinking about it."

A look of scorn crossed her face. "Oh, please! I prefer my men to have a brain in their head, not just be some insensitive, idiot, jock with muscle in place of his brains."

Makoto chuckled. "Just wait until you see him with those little kids. I bet it will change your opinion of him forever."

When they arrived at the dojo, it was a struggle to get to the front of the crowd so that they could see Ranma. The entrance of the dojo was not very large, but it was currently required to fit almost forty mother, some of which also had a pram or other infant child with them. Looking out onto the training floor, Rei could understand the number of parents: the class was packed.

In the middle of the room, Ranma was demonstrating a basic throw for an enthusiastic group of children. The most amazing thing that caught Rei was not the large number of children that were present, but it was the way that he treated them. Ranma seemed to take the time to treat each of them as individuals, while simultaneously pitching his instruction to the whole class. Feeling a little envious of the attention the children were getting - not to mention upset at the fact that she had never had a teacher like this - Rei leaned over and whispered in Makoto's ear.

"Wow, the dojo must be making a fortune with a class this large... and he does this what, three times a week?"

Makoto gave her an odd look. "Not from what I hear. Miyama Sensei, that's the dojo's owner, used to charge for the children's class, but I hear that Ranma asked him to stop. When Ranma started teaching here, they began an adult's class: it's the one we're going to. They charge for that, nut since it was so successful, Ranma got permission to teach the children's class for free."

Rei chewed on that for a while. She was no stranger to charity work - she was training to be a Shinto Priestess, a job that was not well known for it's massive pay - she just did not expect to see it in others. Least of all she expected to see it in an insensitive jerk like Ranma. So why would he be willing to do a children's class for free... unless...

"Hey, Mako-chan? Do you remember a while back, Hotaru accidentally got Mamoru into some sort of trouble about Chibi-Usa?"

"Yeah, apparently Hotaru thought Mamoru was interested in Chibi-Usa, you know, like _that_. Then she decided to do something about it. Without talking to anyone, or asking what Chibi-Usa or Mamoru thought, but she's just a kid, so she can make mistakes. Poor Mamoru though, being beaten up, then tossed into a garbage bin."

"Eww, yuck! You don't think that's why Ranma does these classes for free do you? If he and Hotaru were on their own for a long time, then they might have had some sort of problem when they were younger. Maybe this is his way of trying to protect the little kids, the way he wished he was protected?"

Makoto shook her head. "I think you're reading to much into this Rei- chan. Ranma just likes to teach. Besides, he's so good now, he must have been able to fight well when he was younger. Did you realise that Ranma was the one who beat up Mamoru?"

"What? All by himself? I've seen Mamoru take on three or four guys at once. You've can't make me believe that someone like Ranma could possibly beat him by himself."

They might have continued for longer, but the children's class had ended, and the adults were beginning to line up. Joining in, Rei prepared herself for some heavy exercise. 'Who knows?' she thought, 'I might actually learn something here.'

After bowing to Ranma, they began their warm ups. Leaning over to Rei, Makoto whispered in her ear. "I think Ranma might be better than Mamoru, after all, I've fought against both of them, and I can't even hit Ranma."

Class went well. Ranma showed no favourites, other than giving Makoto and Rei a short smile. For Ranma it was almost like going back in time. The last time he had taught classes like this was when he was in the Amazon village, or before that... before that was when he taught classes with Akane.

Today's class was similar to the Amazon's since almost everyone in the class was female, but he was male, and that was how he remembered the idyllic days of teaching when he was young. Physically he was only a little younger than he was at the moment so that made little difference. What brought it all back was the little things. The sound of feet on wood, the way the dojo blocked the cooling breezes he was used to outside, the subtle echoes of voices inside a building.

It was so easy to loose himself in the luxury of the past. Sometimes he would be helping someone, and he would turn slightly, and catch a glimpse of black hair. Even as his eyes brushed across the face, he could see the scowl, that slight lowering of the eyebrows as she frowned her impatience. Later it would be the way someone moved, some mistake he had seen before, and he would he a voice call him idiot as he fooled around trying to illustrate his point.

Time passed in a daze, Ranma calling for a second round of sparring and to change partners. He could almost here Akane laugh as she bowed to her partner and walked up to him from the side. "Care to spar with me, Ranma?"

He deliberately turned his back on the girl with the black hair, knowing the sort of malletting the comment would get him; it had become almost a ritual with them, a friendly reminder of what it was like when the first met.

"Sorry, I don't fight girls... Even a tomboy like you, Akane."

Ranma tensed his shoulders slightly, waiting for the blow, but none came. Silence reigned, finally prompting him to turn around. Rei was there, eyes starting to brim slightly. "Rei-san? What's wrong? Are you OK?"

"But... But you sparred with Mako-chan before. And you just fought that girl with the blue hair... Aren't I good enough? Is that it Ranma?"

Ranma squeezed his eyes shut and scratched the back of his hear under his pony tail. "Heh, heh. Sorry, Rei-san. I was thinking of someone else for a while. Sure. I'd love to spar with you."

The fire in Rei's eyes returned, and she looked up into his eyes and poked him in the chest (hmm, nice firm chest this!). "Don't think you can go easy on me either, Ranma!"

Ranma called for everyone to start fighting and walked into the middle of the room followed by Rei. "Course I'll go easy on you, Rei-san. I'm the best there is!"

Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Rei sent two punches and a kick past him. Although her form was uneducated, she had the fighting experience of battling the evil the infested Tokyo to teach her the hardest lessons. Pleasantly surprised that his temple maiden was not a total stranger to fighting, Ranma tried to see how deliberately bored he could look while Rei attacked.

It was a shame he did not have a book to read.

Striking all of the time and never hitting can be very tiring. After sparring with Ranma she decided to rest herself against the wall and chat to one of the other girls there. Mako-chan was out on the floor trying her hand against a brown belt. Near the entrance stood a tall girl who had as much purple hair as Rei did black. She looked like she had just come in, and was now standing next to one of those ugly little statues. Probably supposed to scare away evil spirits.

"Hi, I'm Rei. Are you new here too?"

"I Shampoo. Here to get husband."

"Humph! I think half the girls here are trying to get a husband. Honestly, I don't know what that see in that insensitive jerk."

The girl called Shampoo snarled and brought her bonbori up to a ready position. "You no insult Shampoo husband or Shampoo teach Rude-Girl lesson!"

Rei went white and she slowly looked between Shampoo, Ranma and back again. "He's... He's your husband?"

The words caught in her mouth and barely made it out. 'He had a wife? All this time he's had a wife?' Not once had he mentioned having a wife. All those talks that have had, but yet he never mentioned his wife? How could he? How could he?

The purple haired bimbo, the harridan that had surely entrapped him into marriage, the hussy in the short skirt, that stain upon humanity that made Rei see red was saying something else. Something about Amazon laws or some guff like that. Rei ignored it and tried to sort out who she would kill first; Ranma for deceiving her and leading her on, or this bimbo for stealing her Ranma.

She had just turned back to Shampoo with death in her eyes when she felt strong hands holding her from behind. In front of he she could make out Ranma being belted over the head by one of the brightly coloured bonbori. As Makoto's soothing words captured her attention in a way that her arms never could, Rei realised something. She realised that Ranma was there holding Shampoo away from her, and he had most definitely taken a blow that was meant for her.

He was also shouting.

"I've told you before Shampoo, I'm not your husband. I don't mind if you come here and watch, but you are not allowed to attack my students. Especially Rei-san!"

Rei could hardly believe it when he turned his back on the still angry Shampoo and looked her in the face. All her anger seemed to drain out of her like the emptying of hot bath water. He reached out a hand for her cheek. Closer. Closer. He eventually stopped when his hand was only millimetres away. Rei could feel his body heat at that distance. Warm and inviting.

Rei's big eyes shimmered as she looked up into his concerned face. "Are.. are you all right, Rei-san?"

A nod. Just a small one. It moved her head and maybe - just maybe - she felt her cheek touch his palm. Before she could be sure of what she had felt, Ranma's hand was back behind his head, scratching under his pony tail.

"Ha, s-sure you are! M-macho tomboy like you'd probably be able to take on the Amazon's all at once. Gee, talk about uncute!"

This time Makoto fairly pushed her forward to attack rather than holding her back.

Rei had thumped him on the head a good four or five times before he even began to retreat. Again it was not a retreat, more just a circling, placing his own body in the way of an angry Shampoo.

"Shampoo think you Pervert Girl, like hitting Shampoo husband!"

Everyone started yelling at once then. Makoto was trying to Rei and Shampoo to calm down. She knew that she might be able to fight Shampoo... might. Rei would be turned into hamburger the instant Ranma stepped aside at this rate. Shampoo, Ranma and Rei had a three way yelling competition going. They were ignoring what each other was saying, but somehow they expected that sheer volume would make themselves understood.

Cologne watched as the class finished with only one of the Sensei. The other, her son-in-law, was busy discussing the finer points of etiquette with Shampoo and some friends.

Bouncing forward she keenly observed the way they behaved. Shaking her head, Cologne sighed: kids these days. Ranma spotted her movement and stopped shouting at the others, instead he locked gazes with Cologne and pointed a finger at her.

"You! You can call off Shampoo, can't you? The Matriarch has the authority to arbitrate in situations like this."

Noticing the new arrival, everyone else shut up. Whether it was fear, respect, or something else did not matter. Now the quintet was surrounded by silence, broken only by the sound of Ranma or Cologne speaking.

"Of course I could. I am the Matriarch. I can make any decisions I like, and I have decided that you should follow our laws and marry Shampoo."

"Feh! Is that all you can say? Do this, do that, marry Shampoo... You know, you sound like a little kid when you talk like that. Always telling people what to do, never listening to my side of the story. Perhaps I should treat you like a kid, ne, Cologne-chan?"

"If you were an Amazon, you would know to respect me. You would know better to try such a form of address with me... Although I can understand why you could confuse me for someone as young and beautiful as Shampoo."

While everyone else collapsed in shock at that thought, Ranma forged on, swooning with the sugary sweet words. "Oh, Cologne-chan! Were you not a married woman, I might challenge you for marriage, since you are so close to my own age."

Cologne chuckled. Son-In-Law had a sense of humour. Good. He would need it if he was to become a proper husband to Shampoo. "If I was three hundred years younger, I might take you up on that, but for now: Shampoo is your wife."

"I'm sure you would try, Cologne-chan. I'm sure you would." Ranma pulled himself up to his full height and pointed an arm at Cologne. "I, Tendo Ranma, challenge you! I shall prove that I am a member of the Amazon tribe, and you shall no longer force Shampoo to marry me because of the fight that she lost!"

Shampoo bounced up and down, clapping her hands. All that bouncing showed what a really, um, _healthy_ and _unrestrained_ girl she was. Cologne merely narrowed her eyes and stared at Ranma. Something nibbled at the back of her brain, saying that this was a bad idea. She crushed the thought as it started; there is no way that an upstart young male like this could pose any real threat to her.

"Let me check: if you win, I no longer force Shampoo to marry you under the normal marriage laws. If I win, you marry Shampoo. To win, you'll fight me and prove that you really are an Amazon."

Ranma nodded.

"Any conditions on the fight?"

Ranma nodded. "None of the following attacks: Breaking Point Technique, Perfect Shi Shi Hokodon or Perfect Moko Takabisha or Rising Dragon Defeat. I'll also give up the Saotome Forbidden Techniques."

Cologne's mouth wanted to fall open and hit the floor. For a male to know those techniques was bad enough. For someone outside the village was a crime beyond measurement. No matter what happened with this lad, heads would roll when she returned to the village. She did not care whether he actually knew them or not, he should not even know the name. Not even Shampoo knew of the existence of some of those attacks, so secret were they.

Nodding Cologne also understood the significance of all of the selected attacks - aside from the so called 'Saotome Forbidden Techniques' - all of them were fairly indiscriminate attacks of mass destruction. A careless attack could destroy homes or injure bystanders.

As his head started to dip indicating his acceptance and readiness, Cologne struck. A quick swipe with her staff to his kneecaps and the challenge would be over in moments. She was close, very close. If he had been just a few moments longer in reacting, she would have stunned his leg and made him a cripple for the rest of the fight. A month or two of rest would have healed it, but by then he would be Shampoo's. As it was, he executed a back flip out of the way but Cologne still caught his leg in a solid hit.

Ranma wobbled on his feet for a few moments, and it was long enough for Cologne to come in for another strike. Favouring his left leg, Ranma retreated. Both fighters swapped blows at an unbelievable rate. To the amazement of everyone present, Ranma and Cologne gave a demonstration of the best possible from Martial Arts and their most gruelling attacks.

Makoto, Shampoo, Rei and the dojo's owner had rapidly retreated to the corner of the room for fear of becoming "collateral damage". Everyone involved was surprised at the combatants' abilities. Cologne looked like a harmless little old lady, dangerous only by the fact that her face was so hideous. Yet they could see her standing toe to toe with Ranma, doing a full speed Amakurigen attack for almost three minutes.

Ranma was an equal surprise. Shampoo and Cologne both knew that he could do the Chestnut Fist, but to be able to perform at this level was another matter. A man this good may even be considered a challenge to the Matriarch... and that was something that had not been contemplated in living memory. Even though the leader of the Musk was held in awe, he was a known variable and able to be brought back because they knew his weaknesses. Besides, familiarity breeds contempt.

Finishing their high speed attacks, Ranma and Cologne leapt out of the dojo, wordlessly giving each other sufficient time to recover from the immense drain upon their energy. Once outside, they again took up the battle, this time in a whirlwind of kicks and punches.

Such an attack could last of only so long before one of them began to tire. To all appearances it was Ranma that was loosing this battle. Although he was good, Shampoo could see that her great grandmother's moves were just slightly more efficient. So it was that Ranma began his retreat, loosing three small Ki balls at Cologne's feet to make her give ground.

In an instant she was after him, and the pair bounded out of sight of the dojo. From one roof to another they moved, each time they met they would throw a number of kicks, punches and small Ki attacks.

Roofs across the suburb suffered considerable damage as the pair wandered. TV aerials became makeshift swords, while tiles would become shuriken. Anything that protruded or caught their attention would become a temporary weapon. By the time they descended to the ground again, each of them had a number of small cuts and they were sweating profusely.

Looking around the small park that they had come to a halt in, Cologne admired the puffing Ranma. "Well done, Son-In-Law. I never expected that someone so young as you would be able to give me such a challenge. But now you shall witness some of the ultimate magical power of the Chinese Amazons! Behold, the Splitting Cat-Hairs!"

Cologne was glad to see the way that he flinched when she named that technique. Now she began to move, circling him. Knowing that he was safe from the Hiryuu Shoten Ha, Ranma made no move. Shortly he was surrounded by afterimages of Cologne. All around him she moved, each image slightly blurred from her speed and the magic she used to create the after images.

Then she attacked. Seemingly from every side punches would come out, knocking him from all sides. Before she could finally fell him, Ranma leapt straight up into the air.

"You should have left it to normal attacks or Ki, Cologne-chan. There's no way that you can beat me using magic. ELEMENKIA LANCE!"

A beam of bright yellow light flew from his palm, crashing straight down into the middle of her illusionary circle. The Elemenkia Lance was a lethal attack spell, but he had aimed it at the ground, rather than Cologne. With a explosion, dust, dirt and grass was thrown into the air, knocking Cologne out of her expected path. If he had hit her with such a spell, they would have been picking bits of her out of the trees.

When he landed, Ranma allowed Cologne enough time to reclaim her staff and get back onto her feet. The blast had not really hurt her but it's unexpectedness had surprised her greatly. If she had felt him powering up for a Ki attack, she would have braced or dodged. Instead he had thrown a magic attack that was completely beyond her experience.

Knowing that she was now at a disadvantage, Cologne backed towards the stream that ornamentally split the park. Releasing her own battle aura, Cologne threw a pair of powerful Ki attacks at him, forcing him to dodge and leap. What she had not expected was for him to then land and prepare his own Ki attack. With the amount of energy he had already expended, he should be near to exhaustion.

Even as she could feel him focusing his Ki, Cologne saw her chance. Now he was stationary, a small blue ball beginning to form in his hands. If she struck now he could dodge and yield his attack, or stay and be hit. Firing off a small attack, she waited for him to dodge.

Only, he did not dodge. He stayed where he was. As she fired her own attack, she saw the real result of his preparation. Ranma dumped all of the Ki he had been preparing internally into the ball in his hands. The glowing sphere went from tennis ball to larger than a beach ball in less time than it took Cologne's attack to cross the range. When her attack hit, it was simply absorbed and negated.

Ranma locked eyes with Cologne and gave a brief chuckle as he saw fear flash across her face. "MOKO TAKABISHA!"

With a roar the sphere shot over her head and she dropped to the ground. Even though it missed, she could feel the heat of it's passage. Distracted for a moment, she was unable to react as she suddenly felt Ranma's hands on her.

As one arm crossed her throat like a bar of iron, another began to stress her elbow, preparing to break the joint in the most painful manner possible. Just as she realised that he was only just applying the strangle and arm bar, she heard his words whisper in her ear.

"You're a hundred years too soon to beat me, Cologne-chan."

A shock went through her system and all of the pieces fell into place:

The fight in a small clearing surrounded by trees, with a small stream to one side.

The name Cologne-chan.

That cocky attitude, but always careful and caring.

The strangle and pain hold.

Finally those words. Words spoken to her three hundred years ago by a cocky young man as he defeated her challenge for marriage. Blinking back tears, Cologne rolled onto her back and looked up into the concerned face that hovered only inches from hers. Fear, excitement and amazement barely let her get the word past her lips. A word that was a name. A name she had never expected to say again.


Ranma held her to him so tightly she feared her ribs might crack. "Cologne-chan... Oh, God I've missed you!"

Makoto looked at her watch again. She could hardly believe that two people could fight each other that long. It had been almost an hour since the three girls lost track of them and returned to the dojo. From her position seated on the steps into the dojo, Makoto could see Rei nervously pacing as she waited for Ranma's return.

Shampoo just stood there. Although she projected an aura of confidence, she knew the other girls could tell she was troubled. Shampoo knew that no-one should have given her great-grandmother so much difficulty. Any boy that she attacked should have fallen in moments. No-one should have been able to keep her occupied for this long, no matter what they did.

Rei made no secret of hiding her worry. She could not believe it. That insensitive jerk had reached a new all time low. Picking on old women! How bad can you get. Rei spun on her heel and flicked a glance at Shampoo. 'Grrr, it was all her fault. I hope Ranma's alright.'

The sound of voices and laughter brought their attention back to the present quickly. Stepping past the corner of a building came the most amazing sight. Ranma was running along with both hands outstretched making aeroplane noises. Sitting on his head, staff across her lap, was Cologne. What was strangest of all was that Ranma held an ice cream cone in each hand.

Skidding to a stop in front of the shocked women they both smiled. While licking his own ice cream, he held the other up for Cologne to take a lick. The silence was perfect.

Shampoo put a hand to her mouth and gasped. "Oh no! Great Grandmother already use Xai Fang Go Shiatsu technique to make husband into her slave!"

After savouring the silence for a moment, Ranma finally moved their ice creams away. "I think you have something to say... Don't you, Cologne- chan?"

Cologne cleared her throat and looked down at Shampoo. Hmm, good view from up here. Maybe I should get someone to do this for me more often.

"Yes... Yes I do. Shampoo, I am afraid to say that this boy has proven his claim to be an Amazon to my satisfaction. I am afraid that you current claim against him for marriage is therefore invalid. At his request, I hereby nullify your claim on this man."

Rei and Makoto looked like they were in heaven, while Shampoo's heart shattered. She had only known him for a while, but he was perfect. If there was ever a better man, she did not know how to find him. Twin tracks appeared on her face as silent tears began to drop.

"Since I am the Matriarch of the Joketsuzoku, and this man has been without a wife for so long... Shampoo, I hear by appoint you to be his new bride. Under my authority, you must do everything possible to bring this man back to our village as your husband."

The moment of stunned silence was all she needed. Leaping off his head, she knocked the remainder of the ice creams into Ranma face. Taking Shampoo's hand they sprinted off between the buildings. "Ha, Ha! I shall see you wed yet, Soap Onna Rope!"

Destiny's Child

A Crossovers Story
by Fire

Part 20 of 26

<< Previous     Home     Next >>