Continuing Tales

Destiny's Child

A Crossovers Story
by Fire

Part 23 of 26

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Destiny's Child

His fiery Sailor Mars had just delivered another lovely attack against the forces of darkness and evil. Leaning contentedly against a wall, obscured by darkness, Saturn Knight sighed. She looked so lovely, a moving tribute to the ultimate sculpture. Just watching her was a pleasure in itself. Poetry in motion, the very definition of a pretty soldier.

He had held her hand earlier. It was not the first time that he had touched her, but it was the longest. Even though they had both arrived on the scene of a Daimon attack, he stole a few moments of her time to be with her. He gave her an evening dress today, she might never wear it in public since they still hid their real identities from the world and each other, but he knew she liked it. He cast an eye over where it sat, out of danger from her battle. No-one would be able to steal it while it was under his observation.

Her compatriots were doing better today. She was a warrior, and he respected her fight and her ability to defend herself, but it hurt his heart every time she was attacked. At least today things seemed to be going well.

Things were going so well in fact that the heroines could spare someone to come and visit him; aware of his environment, Ranma could feel someone climbing the side of the building. Sparing the man a quick glance he returned to his vigil of Sailor Mars. It was only Tuxedo Mask. He watched over Queen Serenity in the same way that he watched over Sailor Mars. Saturn Knight gave a chuckle. It amused him no end that the mighty Queen of the Moon Kingdom needed constant help, while his warrior maiden was able to defend herself against the best that her enemies could do.

"Can you wait for a time? We would like to speak to you."

Saturn Knight did not even turn his head. There was no point: he could sense where Tuxedo Kamen was, and since they both wore masks, there was no need to see his face.


"Please. Saturn Knight, we need to discuss what is happening with you. You could be of great assistance to us."

"No. I have no interest in helping you."

"Please, Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars have both asked."

"It is not Sailor Mars that wishes to speak to me. She would have asked me when we were together."

"Does that mean you will be here?"

"I will talk with the Queen alone. Because she and Sailor Mars wish it."

Tuxedo Kamen took that as consent. He had no choice really, Sailor Moon was in trouble and needed his help. Again.

The battle ended in another partial victory. They had managed to defend the innocent people who had been attacked, and they had stopped the Daimon, but the evil Witch that was the cause of all of their difficulties had escaped. There would be a time when all the forces of evil would be defeated, and he would be there on that day watching their victory.

On the other hand, it seemed as though Tuxedo Kamen had hearing difficulty. It was not just the Queen that was approaching, but all of the warriors. With a soft sigh, Saturn Knight dropped from the building and deliberately began to walk away from the assembly. He kept pace with the group as they approached. When they stopped, so did he.

Listening to the distant mummers of their whispering, Saturn Knight waited. After a time the Queen stepped forwards, leaving the rest of the group. She looked nervous, as did the other Sailor girls and her guardian. The only one that did not look nervous was Sailor Mars. She just looked irritated with her Queen.

Standing still, Saturn Knight waited until the small figure of Queen Serenity stood beside him. Sketching a brief bow, he indicated that they should move on. Not everything he said to her did he want his Sailor Mars to hear.

"Saturn Knight... How much do you remember of the Moon Kingdom? Most of us have had memory problems since our reincarnation."

"I remember most things. My memories are clearer when I summon my costume and the Silence Glaive... Over time the memories are filtering back into my normal self."

The Queen nodded. "Tuxedo Kamen had the same problem. When we first met him, he didn't even remember being Tuxedo Kamen when he returned to being Ma... When he changed back to normal."

A short laugh. "Things are not that bad. They are just... clearer for me now. What did you wish to ask me, my Queen?"

"Why do you call me Queen? My name is Sailor Moon."

"There is no Sailor Moon."

The Queen seemed very upset at that idea. "There is! There is! I'm Sailor Moon!"

Saturn Knight would have given her a questioning glance at that, but there was no use with the mask on. "Do you remember your mother?"

"Yes... She was Queen Serenity. She died to stop Beryl from conquering the Moon Kingdom. I remember that it was her that sent us all into the future."

"So the Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. There is no Sailor Moon."

"But... But I'm the pretty soldier Sailor Moon! I'm not ready to be Queen yet! I don't even have a Kingdom. Besides, what about Sailor Chibi Moon? If I'm Queen, doesn't that make her Sailor Moon?"

"It does not matter if you are ready yet. You must grow into your role, because the world needs you. As for Chibi Moon, she is just that. When she is ready to assume the full mantle of her powers, then we shall again have a Sailor Moon."

She pondered on that for a moment. Perhaps sensing how long they had been talking, she gave a small wave to her friends. When she turned back to him, he was still standing there, his sea blue eyes staring at her as though he had all the time in the world.

"What I really needed to know is if there is anything you can do to help us. Do you know anything? Can you help us fight?"

Saturn Knight looked away. "I remember your mother helping me in the days of the Moon Kingdom. I gave her my loyalty for that, I did not give my support. I will always be here watching. If things are bad enough, if Sailor Mars is truly threatened. I will help. You may not like the form of my help, but I will be there."

"That's it? There's nothing else? B-But what about Sailor Saturn?"

"What about Sailor Saturn?"

"Can you tell us about her? When will she awaken? Who is she? What was she like when you knew her?"

Saturn Knight placed a hand against his head as though in some pain. "I... I do not know any Sailor Saturn. I remember you, and your compatriots, but beyond that... there is a gap. I remember a girl with black hair, with care in her eyes... But I do not remember any Sailor Saturn."

The Queen stopped dead in her tracks. "You don't remember Sailor Saturn? But... But Luna told us all about you and her. It was so tragic."

"The cat lies. They all do. They were all out to get me... To get us... I... I can't remember... It hurts..."

His Queen placed her hand on his arm. "It's OK. Don't try and remember if it hurts. It will all come back in time. I still keep remembering things all the time."

He gave the small girl a tentative smile. It worried him how he could not remember these details. All he could remember were broken dreams that he had when he reverted to his normal self. When he slept they were detailed, but when he awoke, all he could remember was the love and the loss that he felt. Something was missing in his life, as though it was still asleep.

Looking down at his Queen, he decided to take her into his confidence on a most grave matter. "Long ago, I was trained in the arts of magic by a sorceress named Lina Inverse. You will never find her, she has been dead a long time, and most people never even knew she existed.

"Lina-sama taught me many wonderful things, but of the things too dangerous to teach me was the location of a powerful magical device that her people created a hundred thousand years in the past.

"A device so powerful, and so dangerous that it was used once to save the entire galaxy, and then sealed away... never to be used again.

"Lina-sama did teach me to detect its usage. And I have felt it. Queen Serenity, I tell you now, someone has their hands upon a device so powerful and so dangerous that even its creators feared to destroy it, so they hid it away. Safe from human use."

Saturn Knight looked down at his Queen. "Someone has access to the Gates Of Time. I shall find them, and I shall stop them. There is no- one that should have access to that power. Not even me."

With that he leapt to the top of a house and began to sprint into the distance, quickly becoming invisible to the ground based Senshi.

The Sailor Senshi arrived moments after his departure and stood around their leader. Sailor Moon was delicately nibbling on one gloved finger as she tried to think about what she should do.

"Umm... Sailor Mars... You know how you said that Saturn Knight was perfectly stable? Well, I think we had better give Sailor Pluto a call... He seems to have a little problem with her time travelling."

Then her eyes travelled down, ending up on the small figure of Sailor Chibi Moon who had joined them that day. A girl sent there from the future. She did not care how good his motives may be, if he ends up threatening her daughter, she would show him just how powerful Sailor Moon could be in defence of the ones she loved.

* * *

Ranma pushed open the door and walked inside.

Ukyo could tell that it was bad right from the start. He had walked in. Ranma never walked anywhere. He ran, he jumped, he sauntered, he strutted, he was even known to dance along if he was in a particularly good mood. Ranma never just walked.

Ukyo took a quick look at her three customers and decided that she had some time to spare. Grabbing the batter container, she poured a generous helping onto the griddle. "Hey, Ranchan. The usual?"

From the grin he gave her Ukyo knew things were not as bad as they had first seemed. Anyone that can give a grin so full of mischief like that cannot be too troubled. Even before he nodded, Ukyo was grabbing the ingredients for her 'Ranchan Special'. No-one else got an Okonomiyaki like he did. Sure, everyone got food better that anywhere else in the world, Ranma got the best of the best... by the best.

She watched her fiancee slide onto one of the bar-stools, he seemed rather down in the dumps, but not the way he usually got after a fight with Rei. Watching as he fiddled with a menu on the counter, she tried to figure out what was the matter. Let's see... he was not actually reading the menu; she did not think he had ever read the menu. She just made him what she knew he wanted. Now she knew he was a bit tense, he only ever played with things when he was tense.

He wasn't angry though, Ukyo thought as she tossed a few prawns onto the culinary masterpiece. She'd seen him angry a few times, and she could swear that he almost glowed with radiated anger. If he'd had a real fight with Rei, she knew he would be in here pacing around and cursing all of the tomboys in the world. Something was bothering him, but she couldn't figure out what.

Smiling her cutest smile, Ukyo tossed the food onto a plate and held it in front of him. "One Ranchan Special ready to eat."

The smile on his face spread. Nothing could make him smile like her food could. "Uh-uh. If you want this, you've got to tell me what's bothering you."

The challenging smile on her face faded somewhat when the Okonomiyaki vanished off the plate, faster than her eyes could even see. Instantly she looked right at him, and her mouth fell open. In the time it took her to blink once, Ranma had taken the food off the plate and managed to shove half of the extra large size Okonomiyaki down his throat.

Currently, his mouth was open amazingly wide as he tentatively tried to force the last morsel inside. It was an effort however, and too much for him to achieve with the same lightning fast speed he had just shown. Ukyo waved her spatula at him and silently congratulated herself on making it just that bit bigger this time. If it had been a normal size, she would never have seen it go.

"Now, now, Ranma. That's no way to treat fine food like that. You should savour it. Appreciate it."

"Mah mamm ma mememafunfunf."

Wiping the bench she just raised an eyebrow and waited.

"Gulp! I am appreciating it!"

"All right, Ranchan. You've had my Okonomiyaki, now spill the beans. You can tell your cute fiancee what's the matter."

Ranma leaned against the counter, cradling his chin in his hands. "Ahh, it's just been a rough couple of days, Ucchan. I'd rather not talk about it, OK?"

"Come on, Ranchan. You've got to learn to talk to people and not hold it all in. Hey, how long have we been friends and you never even told me you were married?" Ukyo hoped he would get the hint and spill the beans about Akane. It had hit her pretty hard the other day when she had found out that Ranma not only had been married, but the fact that everyone seemed to know about it other than her.

"Aww, Ucchan..."

"Don't 'aww, Ucchan' me! Come on, you've always been able to talk to me before. How many times have you been in here complaining that your tomboy fiancee doesn't understand you? You can talk to me. You don't need to keep secrets, you can trust me."

The mere mention that Ranma might have secrets perked him up slightly. The thought of telling old buddy Ucchan some of the secrets he knew brought a smile to his face. His smile faded again when he remembered some of the not so secret things that were weighing on him.

"All right, all right. Yesterday was about the worst day I can remember for ages. First off, two days ago was Akane and my anniversary. I always light a candle for her. It's... it's a day I always spend alone.

"Yesterday, my oldest friend died. You never met Takuhi, but he was the sweetest little spirit you ever met. Rei and her friends were attacked by someone. I don't know who yet, but Takuhi was there to protect them. They killed him, Ucchan. His poor little chest was caved in, and his feathers were all burnt."

Watching her fiancee stifle a sniffle, Ukyo wondered at who this Takuhi was. She was beginning to get the feeling that the more she knew about Ranma, the more she needed to know. Before she could ask him to elaborate further, he continued.

"The today, just five minutes ago. I'm there yelling at Rei-san, she's yelling back. You know, we're getting a real good rhythm going. Suddenly she goes all quiet and then she's chasing me away. Snap, just like that. One minute were walking down the street insulting each other, and the next thing she says she's got to go, that she can't be with me now. What's wrong with her?"

Ukyo sighed and sat back on her stool. "Only you could think that was weird. Think about it, Ranchan. You probably managed to say something that really offended her. Haven't you heard of a brush-off? She probably got so angry with you, she didn't even want to speak to you, let alone keep arguing."


Ukyo saw her chance. Maybe she could make him realise just how badly he and Rei actually were for each other. "Sure. Look at it this way, whenever she insults you, you seem to come here and moan about it. She's probably just had enough. Heck, at the moment, she probably doesn't even want to know you."

"What? That uncute tomboy? Why should she be upset? All I said was that she looked good in the samurai outfit she wore at the start of the party. The Hakama skirt pants hid her thick legs, and the bamboo armour meant that you couldn't see how of a tomboy the rest of her was. Why would she be upset at the truth?"

Ukyo rubbed her face in her hands. How thick could the boy be? "It's pretty obvious, Ranma. First, no girl likes those sorts of insults. Second, she'd stopped wearing her costume by the time you got to the party. She must have thought that you meant she looked better when you couldn't see her at all."

"You really think that would upset her?"

Ukyo had reached the limit of her endurance. Even if the insults weren't levelled at her, girls needed to stick together. She had just grabbed her battle spatula to knock some sense into his thick skull when someone smashed through the front wall of her shop.

It was a smallish woman. She had yellow frizzy hair, and a puffy red skirt; a skirt that only covered as much as the Sailor Senshi's skirts did. Having someone go through the glass window in your restaurant is not a totally unknown occurrence. Usually it's someone drunk going the other way as part of a brawl.

It was even more surprising since she seemed to have been driven through the window by some sort of magical attack and to Ranma's experienced senses, she fairly reeked of magic. This magic did not surprise him too much when he got a decent look at her: Witch Mimete.

Revenge had to wait, Ranma needed to get Ucchan to safety. Pulling Ukyo to the ground behind the counter, Ranma counted his blessings: they were the only people in the restaurant at the time. All of Ukyo's other customers had finished eating and left while they were talking. The second blessing was his biggest: outside the shattered window, he could hear the sounds of Queen Serenity and her pretty soldiers. The cavalry had arrived.

Sticking his head over the top of the counter, Ranma was just in time to see Witch Mimete fire her Charm Buster staff at someone out of his sight. From close personal experience, Ranma knew how painful that was. Even at his best he could not defeat someone as magically powerful as Mimete. Even the Sailor Girls had a hard time fighting her, and as a group they were considerably stronger than he was.

"Come on, Ucchan. We've got to get you out of here!"

Picking Ucchan up, he bodily thrust her towards the back door. Just as he released her, one of the impostor Sailor girl's water attack blasted through the front of the Okonomiyaki shop. Tearing another large chunk from the front wall, Ranma watched in stunned horror as the Witch dodged it. Bracing his arms in the moments he had, Ranma raised his aura shield and cringed as he was struck.

Blasted across the room by the Deep Submerge, Hotaru slowly struggled to her feet, every bone in her body aching. It was bad enough to take that sort of abuse when you were prepared. If he had received a moment's less warning, they would have been needing a new Saturn Knight. Trying to clear the fog from her eyes, she realised that it was the Mercury Bubble Burst that prevented her from seeing anything.

Stumbling through the fog, Hotaru listened for a voice telling her that Ukyo was all right. Eventually she heard Ukyo calling for her. By the muffled sounds, Ranma thought - and hoped - she was outside. If Witch Mimete was in the building, and the impostors were outside, there was no way to tell who would get attacked. Ranma knew that if an errant attack struck Ukyo, she would almost certainly be hospitalised. She might be a high calibre martial artist, but her level just could not protect against the fearsome magical energies people were wielding here.

Ranma had just demolished a chair - it leapt out and attacked her, honestly - when she heard ominous sounds from outside.

Michiru: "She's still in there!"

Haruka: "Why did you stick the fog up, Mercury? Well never find her now!"

Sailor Mercury: "But I---"

Michiru: "We've got to catch her! We can't let her escape!"

Haruka: "Right! WORLD SHAKING!"

And it did shake. Everything shook. The walls shook, the floor shook, and the ceiling began to make very ominous creaking noises.

Sprinting as well as she could in the quaking, fog covered restaurant, Hotaru tried to force her small body past chairs and tables trying to get outside. Somewhere nearby she heard Mimete scream, and then the roof fell in. Bricks, mortar, wooden beams and all manner of materials collapsed down as the small building Ukyo owned was abruptly levelled.

Her life endangered. Ukyo almost killed by their reckless actions. Ucchan's destroyed. Her - pretty little Hotaru - buried in building rubble. Her curse almost revealed to everyone. After the last couple of days, her fuse was gone. They had finally pushed her too far. Maybe the next time she saw them, she would be calmer, but now... now she wanted blood.

Releasing her Ki, Hotaru started to glow like the firefly she was named. With a blast, she knocked the debris off her self. Not even bothering to brush the dust from her too-large clothes, she called 'RAY WING' and took to the air.

Like a blue burning ball, Hotaru brought her hands together and prepared a Ki strike. Any of four targets. She didn't care. Any of them. Michiru, Setsuna, Haruka or Mimete. Let her lay eyes on them and they would really begin to appreciate just how powerful the human spirit was compared to mere magic.

There they were! Down the street, three or four blocks, the Witch was engaging in a running battle against the three impostors and the Sailor girls. 'How did they get so far? Damn, those collapsing beams must have hit me harder than I thought. No matter. The Witch looks like she'll escape this time, but I'm going to slow one of those impostors and take her down permanently!'


The Ki blast flew straight and true, burning deep into Michiru's calf, sending the girl tumbling to the ground. With a cry of success, Hotaru began to fly closer. Even Haruka had stopped running after Mimete to try and help her friend after the unexpected attack. Hotaru did not know if she could beat the two of them alone, but hopefully the real Sailors would help her, and finally rid themselves of the menace they presented.

What Hotaru really wanted was to cut loose. It was possible that they could survive a Dragon Slave (Lina had been able to), but it was unlikely. In any event, they would have been too weak to defend themselves. The only drawback: lots and lots of other people would die if she cast it here. Her most potent attack, and it was useless.

The girls were looking around now, trying to find who attacked them, and that gave Hotaru precious time to prepare. She was almost ready to launch an oversized fireball and singe them both when she heard cries from beneath her. Looking down from three stories high at the crushed remains of Ucchan's, she could see the distressed owner. Coated in dust and limping, Ukyo was walking across the rubble calling Ranma's name. Every now and again, she tried to move one of the heavy pieces of wreckage, but to no avail.

Casting a glance between the fake Sailors - who where now recovering - and her friend, Hotaru decided where her priorities lay. She could get revenge some other time. Now Ukyo looked like she had just lost another friend. If she thought Ranma had died, as well as Kikyo, she may never recover.

Quenching her Ki, Ranma dropped three stories to land softly on the ground. Killing the flight spell, she saw a competitor's snack shop and stole a jug of fresh tea. Dousing herself, Hotaru grew to Ranma. It was only when she heard startled gasps did she realise that people had seen her change. 'Damn, right in the open! How could I be so stupid?'

Pulling a small smoke bomb from his shirt, Ranma dropped it to the ground. As soon as the smoke was thick enough, he used the old vanishing-ninja trick and slipped away. A few moments of running later he was on the other side of the rubble that was once Ucchan's. Lying down on the ground, Ranma grabbed a couple of handfuls of dust and threw them over himself. Just before Ukyo arrived, he sat up.

If she knew just how powerful he was, he would probably scare her away forever. He'd seen it before with some of his best friends in Poland. They wanted a superhero fighter, but when they got one, it too much for them to handle. Ranma valued his Ucchan too much for that to happen. Maybe, over time, he could let her get used to him, but all at once would be too much.

"Ohhh, Ucchan, I have the worst headache!"

Tears streamed from her eyes and left streaked trails down her dusty face. "Oh, Ranchan. I thought you were in there."

Ranma looked at the rubble in question. "Don't worry, Ucchan. It takes more than a broken building to keep me down."

As she held onto her fiancee, Ukyo wondered how long it would be before she could open again. Insurance covered it all, but the time it took to rebuild would be as damaging to Ucchan's reputation as the loss of sales was.

Then again, it was only a building. She was all right, and so was Ranma. Everything else could take care of itself.

* * *

Ranma arrived at Rei's place on Wednesday afternoon expecting her to be angry. It was the first time he had seen her - as either himself or Hotaru - since her abrupt departure the previous day. Yesterday afternoon, Ucchan's had been destroyed, so he could not bring himself to desert Ucchan and go and check on Rei. Now school was over, he had changed, and now he could see the tomboy and let her get all that anger out of her system.

Ranma was pleasantly surprised to see Makoto escorting Rei up the temple stairs as he approached. He liked Makoto, she was always nice, sort of like Ucchan. He thought it was a bit of a shame that the poor girl seemed quite keen on him. Recently he had been starting to feel differently about Sailor Mars. Perhaps, maybe, someday he might even tell her who he was.

Catching up with the girls as the walked up the stairs, Ranma returned Makoto's smile. Bracing himself for a blast of Rei's famous temper, Ranma watched in amazement as Rei's eyes simply passed straight across him without even acknowledging his existence.

Makoto seemed equally surprised. Last night as they were on the way to intercept Mimete, Rei had told her what Ranma had said. Now, instead of abusing him, Rei just ignored him. Perhaps Rei really was mad this time.

After the cold shoulder treatment continued all of the way into the temple, Ranma laid a hand on Makoto's arm and took her aside. Rei continued on into the kitchen fairly steadily and started on making some snacks. "Mako-chan, what's wrong with Rei-san?"

"She must be even madder than I thought. I've never seen her this mad before. She wasn't even this mad when Usagi-chan stole her letter from Sat... Um, from this guy she likes. She even accepted Shampoo's challenge today when she turned up after school."

Rei's been getting letters from someone? Hang on, Shampoo is an Amazon. If she challenged Rei, there should be nothing left of her. "She fought Shampoo?"

"I tried to talk her out of it, but she was still so mad at you. She just said that her grandfather taught her some Karate, and couldn't be talked out of it."

Fidgeting, Ranma looked into Makoto's eyes, trying to see if she was making some sort of joke. "Mako-chan, Shampoo is an Amazon. There's no way Rei could beat her. Heck, without some special training for a while, I don't think you could. Amazon's play for keeps. I saw her as she walked up the stairs: there's no way she fought Shampoo and got off that lightly."

Makoto shrugged. "I'm telling you, she did. We'd all met up, and we were heading home. Shampoo came along and walked right up to her. As clear as daylight, she challenged her and Rei accepted. "When they started fighting, we lost sight of them for a little while, but soon enough we found Rei again. She was trying to get up off the ground, so I guessed Shampoo must have beaten her and called it quits then."

Hands went into the air in exasperation. "That's not how it works, Mako-chan! Amazons fight for real. They don't stop the first time someone falls down, especially in matters of marriage. If Shampoo challenged her to a fight, I can guarantee you, she wouldn't stop until Rei-san is out of the running! Permanently!"

A soft voice intruded from the side. "I realise you are new here, but would you mind not yelling in the shrine. We try to preserve a peaceful atmosphere."

Ranma turned to see Rei in her traditional Shrine maiden's garb. She had snacks laid out on her tray for two people. She _seemed_ uninjured.

"I'm sorry, I didn't bring any snacks for you, I did not realise you were here. Here you go Mako-chan, would you like some?"

Turning to her tall friend, Rei offered some of the snacks she had prepared. After a moment's hesitation, Makoto took one and watched as Rei sat down, completely ignoring Ranma. When time passed and Rei failed to offer any to Ranma, Makoto passed up a plate with some nuts on it. "Here you go, Ranma. Have some of these."

"Um... Thanks."

"I didn't notice you there. Are you Mako-chan's boyfriend?"

Makoto's eyes started to shimmer when she heard Rei say that. 'Oh, how long I have wanted Rei to realise that Ranma was my boyfriend and not hers.'

"Rei-san, I'm Ranma. You know me."

"Hmm. Ranma... Ranma... I know! A popular noodle dish!"

"That's Ramen."

"Oh... A major Hindu god."

"That's Rama!"

Makoto leaned across and whispered in his ear. "Face it Ranma. She's ignoring you. I think the other day was just too much, now she's refusing to even talk to you."

"It can't be. I insult her like that all the time. She knows better than to be upset by it. Shampoo must have done something to her."

"I'm telling you Ranma, Shampoo didn't do anything. Look at her: not even a hair on her head was touched."

Ranma leaned close, then closer as Rei scooted away from him. "You know, Mako-chan. I think you're right. Rei-san's hair's cleaner than ever. Shampoo must have done something, then cleaned it out!"

Makoto sighed and placed her face in her hands. "Ranma, you're impossible."

Rei looked at her in confusion. "Who?"

After a few more minutes of continually introducing himself to Rei, Ranma got fed up. Makoto might not believe it, but he knew. Shampoo had done something. Something horrible. Something that made Rei-san forget him. Who was he going to argue with if she ignored him?

A few minutes of roof hopping brought him to the Nekohaten. It was a small Ramen shop that Shampoo and Cologne had set up to help fund their stay in Tokyo. Actually, Ranma suspected that Cologne wanted a holiday from the duties of being the Matriarch, but who was he to complain? After all, the longer she lived here, the longer he got to spend time with his oldest and best friend.

Dropping to the ground out the front of the shop, Ranma walked through the doors and saw Shampoo cleaning tables while Cologne was cooking in the back. As soon as he stepped inside, Shampoo launched herself at him, draping herself around all over him.

As Shampoo rubbed her obvious assets against him, she tried for a kiss. Leaning backwards, Ranma struggled to keep his distance. With his friend in trouble, the last thing he wanted to do was be kissing Shampoo.

"Shampoo! Will you just hold up for a minute? This is serious."

Hearing the distress in his voice, Shampoo, released him from her loving embrace and led him to a table. Sitting down with him, she held his hands and asked her great grandmother to bring them some Ramen. "Shampoo be very serious for her husband."

"Shampoo, I'm not your husband."

"Soon you marry Shampoo, then you husband. Why you wait?"

"Because I've got friends here... and... and I like it in Japan... and..."

Tearing up, Shampoo released his hands and turned away. "Shampoo understand. Shampoo too too ugly. Husband never want Shampoo. Shampoo go back to China in disgrace. Shampoo heart broken..."

"Ah.. N-no! That's not what I said. I mean you're real pretty an' all Shampoo, it's just---"

Launching herself across the table, her tears magically evaporated and she began nuzzling against his chest giving small sounds of contentment. Ranma's distress quickly faded as he realised just how she had made him say those things. He was also rather glad that Cologne's reflexes were still as good as they used to be. She had been just about to place the bowls of steaming noodles on the table when a cuddly bundle in a short skirt suddenly decided to occupy the same space. Cologne rescued the food without loosing a single drop.

"Hey, Cologne-chan, maybe you can help me. I think Shampoo must have done something to Rei-san. Shampoo challenged her this afternoon, and now she doesn't even recognise me."

"If she accepted Shampoo's challenge, I see nothing wrong with whatever the outcome would be."

Accepting a bowl from Cologne, Ranma began to eat. Shampoo seemed a little busy at the moment, so the wizened old figure bounced onto a neighbouring table and began to eat it for her. "Hey, I care what the outcome was. Shampoo should have challenged me if she wanted a fight."

"There is noting wrong with one girl challenging another for the affections of a man they are competing over. Or for any other reason."

"Well... I mean... Yeah.. But Rei-san didn't stand a chance. She's just not in the same league as Shampoo."

"All the more reason why you should choose Shampoo and move back to China with us. Please, Ranma. This mourning for you wife has lasted long enough. We, the Amazons, are you family. Please come back to us."

"Aww, Cologne-chan, you know I never really left. I'll always be an Amazon... in my heart, where it counts. Come on, you know she did something. What was it?"

Shampoo looked up at Ranma. "Shampoo use ancient Amazon technique on Violent Girl. Xia Fang Gao Shiatsu technique, block all memory of Husband. Now Husband no worry about Violent Girl, come back to China with Shampoo, yes?"

Ranma pushed Shampoo off him and looked at her. "Come on, Shampoo. A tomboy like that would never stop me from going to China with you if I wanted to."

"Husband agree marry Shampoo?"

"What? No! I didn't say that!"

"Then Shampoo no cure Violent Girl. Soon Husband realise that Shampoo everything Husband need."

Clutching his head in frustration - as well as he could with Shampoo still clinging onto him - Ranma turned his attention back to Cologne.

"I've never hear of this Xia Fang Gao Shiatsu technique. How come there's some technique I don't know?"

"Did it ever occur to you that maybe you were not taught everything while you were there?"

"Err... Actually, no, it hadn't... I thought I was taught everything."

Shampoo spoke from where she rested on her comfortable pillow. A nice, warm, chest-shaped pillow that just happened to be attached to Ranma. "Is very ancient technique. Almost 250 year old!"

Shampoo's grip loosened when Cologne's staff struck her on the head, causing Ranma to smirk. "I agree, Cologne-chan. 250 years isn't old. It's barely getting into the prime of life."

"Too true. Too true."

Watching as Cologne gathered up the empty Ramen bowls, Ranma tried his final option. "I don't suppose you would be interested in teaching me?"

Cologne smiled. "Why would I do that, my friend? Shampoo acted in accordance with the rules of challenges, and she was quite compassionate. Besides, I happen to think that there would not be a better wife for you in the entire world than Shampoo.

"She is smart, she is beautiful, and she is the best fighter of her generation. Look at her, she loves you dearly and would be easily able to accommodate your curse when you choose to reveal it. Most importantly: she is an Amazon."

A note of pleading entered her voice. "Come back to China with us. Marry Shampoo. Be among your friends and family. You used to be so happy there. Please..."

Untangling himself from Shampoo, Ranma walked to the door. "I can't say I like what you did to her, Shampoo. But... Thank you for not hurting her. It shows you are a true warrior when you can deal with those who are not as capable as you are.

"I... I want you to know, this hasn't really changed anything. If I can't cure her by Friday, I'm gunna head back to the village. I'll find someone there to teach me, then I'll come back and cure Rei-san."

Watching as Ranma walked away, the women were quiet for a moment, then Cologne turned to Shampoo with a huge grin spread across her wrinkled old face. "Well done, Shampoo. Your plan worked even better than I expected. When he is back in the village, studying and amongst friends, he will never wish to return to Japan.

"Congratulations, Great Granddaughter. Soon you shall have your husband."

* * *

Night. Darkness. Silence. A time for people to sleep, and evil to plot.

Again Mistress 9 sat on her throne looking down on her subject, Tomoe Souichi. Darkness cloaked the room into obscurity and gave an ominous taint to the decorations. Around the throne, dolls were placed, scattered at random on the floor. The shadows and darkness gave their porcelain and plastic features a sinister aspect. Smiles turned into leers, eyes became sunken pits of evil, and delicate hands seemed to clench and hide dangerous secrets.

Mistress 9 resided in the shadows, almost drinking them up. Seated on her throne, she occasionally stroked one of the dolls. She petted it as though she was a third rate villain in a cheesy spy movie pampering their cat. Of course, no-one would dare to pamper a cat here, so close to her. Her host's influence was still too strong... Such an act would be foolhardy at best; dangerous at worst.

Moving her head, Mistress 9's eyes seemed to shine in the reflected light. "How goes the gathering of Heart Crystals?"

Souichi cleared his throat. "Things are progressing. Some have been gathered... but the Sailor Senshi continually interfere."

Such an admission was dangerous. Not only for Mimete, who was currently in charge of collecting them, but also for him. If Mistress 9's displeasure should fall upon the messenger - her appointed leader of the Witches - he could expect his death to follow quickly.

"Something has occurred that has changed our priorities. In this task you cannot fail me. There is to be no excuses this time."

"Y-yes, Mistress."

"Good. There is a girl... Her name is Hino Rei. Recently she was subjected to the Xia Fang Gao Shiatsu technique. You have until the end of Thursday to cure her. Do you understand?"

"N-no, Mistress. I... I do not understand. Who is this girl? Why should we care what happens to her? When Master Pharaoh 90 appears, what would it matter the state of one girl?"

Her regal voice was like ice. "Do not question me. Do not ask me how I know this. Suffice it to know that I have commanded and you obey... Wait... Let me say that if you fail in this, our entire mission is endangered. Failure at this crucial point means we may fail to summon our Master. Spare no effort.

"A group of Amazons operate a restaurant called the Nekohaten. They will know of the cure."

Realising that he was dismissed, Tomoe withdrew from the room. He did not know who the girl was, or why she was important. All that mattered was that they needed to cure her. If they failed... it would not only mean his end, it would be the end of all they had worked and strived for.

In the darkness, Mistress 9 continued to pat her doll, wondering how best she might convince Ranma to stay in Japan. She had seen all he had that day, from her vantage point lurking within his mind. For him to go to China would be an unmitigated disaster.

* * *

Dawn was but a few short hours away as Mimete arrived out the front of the Nekohaten. As soon as the elder Tomoe had left his mistress, he had awoken the Witch, commanding her into action. Dragging someone as flighty as Witch Mimete out of bed and depriving her of her beauty sleep was a sure means of bringing out the worst in her personality... And you don't get to be one of the head minions of the forces of evil by being a goody-two-shoes.

She was only armed with the knowledge that a girl in here knew how to fulfil their mission. Well... that, her substantial magic and the presence of two Daimons. Even now a third one was being prepared back at his home: Souichi had pulled out all the stops and had armed her better than ever before. Both their lives and the future of their entire mission waited upon her success tonight.

Stepping forward, Mimete placed a hand on the door. Even as she touched it, a flicker from one of the streetlights caught her attention. Whipping her head to the side, for a moment she could have sworn she saw one of the Sailor Senshi... but there was no-one there. Besides, none of the Senshi would hesitate to attack her. She must be feeling tense from lack of sleep and the fear of her burden.

Giving the handle a light shove, she smashed the door off its hinges. With a rattle and clatter it landed in the middle of the darkened restaurant. Mimete smiled as she walked in and sat at one of the chairs. That much noise would be sure to rouse any people still sleeping in here, which meant they would come to her. Since her two Daimons were hidden in the shadows at the moment, she knew that they would be surprised.

She had barely had time to admire her nails before the fun started. A tall, glamorous looking girl in a shirt dress and her ancient housemate came down the stairs and entered the dining area of the Nekohaten. Mimete gave them her nicest smile, looking as cute and innocent as could be.

"Pretty please Miss... Please tell me how to cure the Xai Fang Gao Shiatsu technique."

Shampoo frowned prettily. Actually, everything she did, she did prettily. "Who you?"

Cologne simply stayed quiet. Her eyes and senses were better than Shampoo's. She was more observant, and could see the two forms hulking in the shadows of their restaurant. Palming a pair of shuriken she routinely kept hidden on her, Cologne prepared herself mentally. She could tell by their shapes that the lurkers would not be identified by 'who' but by 'what'.

Gesturing slightly with her hand, Cologne passed a message to Shampoo: 'enemies'. No doubt the girl realised this already since their uninvited guest had just told them that she wanted to cure Hino Rei. Why this person expected Shampoo to cure her was a mystery: it took so much effort to afflict her in the first place.

A shadow moved outside, and Cologne struck. Against this sort of force, there was no need to be delicate. Against this sort of force, she wished Ranma, the Sailor Senshi, and anyone else they could find was also here. But they were Amazons, and they would die like Amazons.

Both shuriken struck Mimete, one each in the front of her shoulders, causing her to scream in agony. "Ha! Your overconfidence is a weakness!"

Mimete stumbled backwards, a small trickle of blood trickling down each arm. "Catch them!" She yelled. "Do not damage the young one, but with the old one you need not be as careful."

With a yell and a scream, Shampoo drew her bonbori and charged. Her great grandmother had started this, and she would finish it. Concentrating on the retreating form ahead of her, Shampoo was caught by surprise when a massive grey arm struck from the darkness, belting her across the room.

Pulling herself from the hole she had made in the wall, Shampoo collected herself and charged in. This time she was more careful, and joined her great grandmother in the fight against the two Daimons. She did not know what they were, but now that they were out of hiding, she could see them for their evil selves.

Against two monsters, the most Cologne could manage was a retreating defence of her and Shampoo. When Shampoo leapt in, the young warrior was able to get a devastating hit against the grey skinned one that had hit her earlier. With a sharp 1-2-3 action, her bonbori hammered into its undefended side, knocking the two... things... together.

As she landed and moved into a ready stance, Shampoo was horrified to see how much effect her hardest blows had. None. Both creatures were struggling back to their feet, and now they seemed even angrier.

Returning to the fray, Shampoo and Cologne continued to beat at the Daimons. All in all, they gave better than they got, but they were being worn down. When a blow sneaked through Shampoo's defences and sent her across the room stunned, Cologne struck. It was a modified version of the Amakurigen technique, one she had specifically tailored to defeat their enemies.

Working her way down one massive arm, Cologne hammered at it with her staff. Before the Daimon could dodge or block, she had strafed the limb, pock marking it with innumerable holes, and assuring it of agony.

Although the Daimon withdrew, Cologne could see that it was not from her attack. Both of them had backed away, leaving space for their controller to see Cologne. Cologne smiled and deftly reached for another pair of shuriken. "Back again little miss? You shall fare no better this time."

This time when the spinning blades went out, the Witch moved with an unnatural speed. It almost seemed as though the rest of the world had slowed down compared to her. Simply placing her palm upwards in the path of the shuriken was enough to deflect them and send them clattering to the floor.

Even with her limited experience in the field, Cologne could tell that woman reeked of magical power. Somehow she was using it to accelerate all of her actions. To someone magically enhanced like her, speeches and a battle could seem to take ten or twenty minutes. To the rest of the world, mere seconds or minutes would pass. It was why Sailor Moon and her ilk could have the time to shout challenges and defeat demons - not to mention their long attack sequences - all because of their magical enhancements. Added to Mimete's magical shielding against Cologne's projectiles, and the fact that she had managed to heal the small wounds in her shoulders, it was all enough to make Cologne's blood run cold.

Cold enough for the Hiryuu Shoten Ha, if only she could live long enough to use it. She did not know if such an attack would defeat their enemies, but a successful attack would certainly by them the time they needed to escape. Even as she moved in for the attack, Cologne knew she was too slow. Watching as the Witch brought up her wand, Cologne prayed for the timely arrival of rescuers, but she knew it would not happen.

The words seemed to shake the walls as Witch Mimete cried them. "CHARM BUSTER!"

When the star on the end finally pointed at Cologne, wave after wave of crushing power came pouring out. Struck full in the chest, Cologne was knocked from her staff and smashed through the wall of the Nekohaten. Any physical blow that only knocked her that far she would have been laughed off. Magic was different, and as she grasped futilely at consciousness, her last view was of black boots and skirt, and long, green hair.

When Shampoo recovered from the blow that had knocked her into the wall, she was being held by her long purple hair. Her feet were dangling off the ground by almost a foot, and her arms hung by her side. Glancing around the room cautiously, she could see all of their enemies intact, one of the big monsters still held her great grandmother. Although the old woman did not look injured, she was definitely unconscious or dead. Shampoo released a breath she did not realise she was holding when she could see Cologne's chest rise and fall slightly.

Mimete smiled at her and fluffed her hair. "Hello again. Do you want to talk to me now?"

Shampoo clamped her lips together and resolved not to tell her anything.

Still smiling, Mimete turned to the Daimon nearest her, the one that held Cologne. "Tear an arm off the old woman."

"NO!... Sh-Shampoo talk. Shampoo tell Evil Witch how to cure. Just no hurt Great Grandmother."

Mimete waved lazily, and the Daimon ceased its actions. Releasing a shuddering breath, Shampoo began to speak.

It was a betrayal of the Amazon tribe, but Cologne's death was too high a price to keep the secret. Besides, come morning, she would find her Husband. Together they would hunt down this woman and dance on her grave. You can take things from Amazons, but you never get to keep them.

Eventually, the Witch and her minions left. As Shampoo crawled to her Great Grandmother and held her in her hands, she could have sworn she heard the sound of another pair of booted feet. As quickly as the sound started, it faded into the darkness and silence of the night.

* * *

Thursday morning was quite a normal breakfast for the Outer Senshi. The three of them had met at a fashionable little French style café, and were enjoying the beautiful day. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping in the trees.

Haruka took a big bite from a croissant, and smiled at Michiru's comment. "It was so funny. I was over at Rei-chan's last night, and they were so silly. You know how Mako-chan and Rei-chan have been competing over the same boy for a while? Well the competition's over."

The tall blonde placed her hand on Michiru's. "Silly girls, fighting over a boy."

"Well, I'd fight for you if you started after someone. Anyway, it seems that everything has been resolved now. It sounds like our favourite soap opera has probably ended."

Setsuna raised an eyebrow as she delicately spread some jam. "Who won?"

"What? The omniscient Meiou Setsuna doesn't know?"

"Please, Haruka-san. The Gates of Time are a great responsibility. I do not use them to find out all of the gossip before it happens."

Michiru continued, covering up before Haruka got to say anything. "Mako-chan as a matter of fact. Apparently Ranma and Rei-chan had a really big fight on Tuesday. Now they even refuse to speak to each other."

That gave Setsuna pause. "I thought... I thought that Rei-chan would end up with Ranma. They seemed... almost compatible. Michiru, Haruka, you know Rei well. Can I ask you to speak to her? Perhaps she can be convinced to restart her suit for Ranma."

"But... But I thought you didn't like Ranma because he was Hotaru- chan's brother."

"True. It is true that there is something strange about Ranma. It is also true that his sister seems to be connected to the forces of evil. On the other hand, consider who Rei-chan's other suitor is."

"Umm... Of course! Saturn Knight! Boy, you really do have it in for him if you would prefer Rei-chan to associate with Ranma than with Saturn Knight."

"I do. I have no trust for Saturn Knight. While I have little trust for Ranma, there is always the hope that while she is pursuing two men, she might meet a third, acceptable, man." Setsuna punctuated each point with a small piece of sweet bread she held between her long, elegant fingers.

Haruka gestured with her own jam coated bun. "If it's this important, why not look into the future? We could always use that information to try and make things better, but only if we know what is going to go wrong."

Grimacing, she hid her expression behind a sip of juice. "I cannot. No, more precisely: I may not. I have expressly forbade myself from investigating the future at this juncture. For that matter, I have also been forbidden from examining the recent past of the Senshi and their associates."

"Really? Who forbade you? Neo-Queen Serenity in Crystal Tokyo?"

"Worse. I did. The one person who I cannot disobey. If Neo-Queen Serenity or Sailor Moon - as she is known now - forbade me, I may consider some events too important to risk obeying her. Since my future self forbade me by saying she did not know, I assure a paradox if I look."

Michiru frowned in concentration. "What if you were lying?"

Setsuna did not even deign to answer that one.

"Oh... Right... Silly question. OK, then, we'll do it. Haruka? What do you think of a quick ride to Rei's place?"

The place in question was the Hikawa shrine. A beautiful little shrine set back from the road, with trees and flowers and those little dangling paper ornaments. It was a lovely scene, with a light breeze stirring the healthy green branches, and gently tinkling a wind chime somewhere.

Even just the beauty of it all was enough to make the Daimon want to puke. When you counted in the fact that the Shrine was surrounded by wards, and the Daimon was here on a mission of mercy to heal someone... it all added up to a distinctly nauseous feeling monster. Not that this monster was going to let a little tummy ache scare it away. It had a job to do, and no-one would stop it from succeeding.

No matter how much it disliked the idea of helping someone.

Leaving its mistress and fellow Daimon concealed in the shadows, the Daimon strode forward in the morning light. Now was the time to strike, the recipient of their reluctant good deed would just be waking up, and should be vulnerable. With only the slightest of resistance, the Daimon smashed through the wards around the shrine. Although it could not hear them, the Daimon knew those broken wards would be attached to some form of alarm system, warning the priest of it's intrusion. Time was short.

Suspecting that the girl it was after was in the house adjacent to the shrine, the Daimon charged there at a run. Just as it rounded the corner, it bounced into something small and soft. Small, soft and attached to a massive quantity of black hair. The girl! The Daimon was so ecstatic it chuckled slightly. This was going to be so easy! Heck, judging by the way she dressed she was some meek and mild temple maiden.

The Daimon stepped forward and reached out for her. "You have nothing to fear... this won't hurt a bit."

Rei looked up at the monstrous form that towered over her. It's breath was fetid and long, ropy strands of yellow saliva fell out of its maw as it spoke. 'There's no chance I'm waiting around for that thing to catch me!' Kicking its arm to one side, Rei rolled over and dodged away from the hulking form.

Getting to her feet, she could feel the massive hands reaching for her again. As fast as she could move, Rei was not fast enough. A large, clawed hand snagged the back of her shirt and she felt herself being jerked backwards. Even as she struggled, she could see the Daimon bringing a bottle of something toward her head. 'No! They must have discovered I was a Senshi! If I stay here, I'm going to end up brainwashed like Beryl did to Tuxedo Kamen!'

Bracing her feet against the Daimon's shins, Rei angled her arms backwards then kicked off. With a mighty effort, she burst the top few buttons one her shirt, and rolled out of the bulky garment. Coming up from her roll on the ground, Rei reached for her wards. If she could tag the Daimon, it would give her enough time to transform and then she could really get cooking.

Her reaching hand met bare flesh. Looking down, Rei cursed her stupidity. In her hurry to escape the Daimon, she had forgotten that all her wards were in one of the shirt's inner pockets. Scrambling to her feet, Rei let out a short scream and began to run away from the monster that was chasing her.

They had done two laps of the shrine, and Rei could feel her lungs searing with every breath. The tireless Daimon was still right on her heels, and unless she got help or managed to distract it, she knew she was done for. Who knew what horrible fate awaited her when the Daimon caught her?

She was passing the front of the shrine when she heard three voices cry out amid the screeching of brakes. Sparing a glance down the shrine stairs, she saw some innocent bystander, and two of the Outer Senshi. She sincerely hoped Haruka and Michiru would risk changing; she was not sure if she could keep running long enough to let them hide first.

Luck was on her side, and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, three forms were charging up the stairs. The pretty soldiers Neptune and Uranus were sprinting up, and beside them was the angriest looking man she had ever seen. Somehow, she almost worried that he was in league with the Daimon, because surely no normal man could move that fast. Nor did they glow bright blue and leave smoking marks on the stairs.

Rei passed the stairs and was gone in a moment. Behind her came the Daimon and it met a welcome that few would ever see, and none would survive. In a flair of green, gold and black, two magical and one Ki strike hit home.




The preoccupied Daimon did not stand a chance. Even if it had been fully prepared, the orchestrated strike may well have defeated whatever resistance it presented. As it was, it was simply pummelled into pieces; little bits that sprayed over the cobble stones, then shortly vanished.

Heaving and gasping Rei staggered to a stop and collapsed to her knees. As she drank in grateful breaths of life giving air, she gave mentally gave thanks to her two friends that had rescued her. Behind the partially dressed Rei, Neptune and Uranus dropped from their Senshi forms back into their normal attire. While they were preoccupied with this, Ranma brought his Ki under control and fought to control his anger.

Seeing Rei in danger had made him loose control. Despite his desire to hide himself from these women until his time for revenge, Ranma had shown some of his true power. Not only that, but he had even use one of the sealed techniques. His father's invention, the Kijin Raishuu-Dan, or Fierce God Attack Shot was one of the deadly Yama Sen Ken, first of the Saotome forbidden techniques. He only hoped that his temporary allies had been too busy to observe and learn the attack. The thought of his enemies having access to Ki powered vacuum strikes sent shivers up his spine. The Saotome Forbidden Techniques were sealed for a reason.

Looking at the two tall girls, Ranma forced a tight grin. "Thank you. I could have handled it, but... but you helped Rei-san, and I won't forget that."

Michiru smiled and tried to bring the conversation to friendlier grounds. "Rei-chan is a friend of ours. We couldn't let her get hurt. Please, Ranma, there's no need for us to be enemies. We all want the same thing."

Ranma slapped away her hand as she offered it to him. "The day I accept a partnership with you and your kind is the day I will rot in hell."

Turning to speak to his temple maiden, he turned bright red. The poor girl was still in the middle of pulling her shirt on with the assistance of Haruka. If Ranma was not already aware of the fact that she was really a girl, he would have taken her apart there and then for such a transgression. Turning his back, Ranma waited until he heard them approach.

"Michiru, Haruka, thank you for saving me. I... I don't think I could have kept running much longer."

Glancing across at the still stern looking man beside her lover, Haruka cleared her throat. "Rei-chan, I realise you and Ranma have had a fight, but he was trying to save you. The least you could do is say thank you."

"Who?... Oh, hello. I didn't notice you there. Have you come to visit the shrine?"

"Ahh, Rei-chan, you saw him running up the stairs with us. He was going to attack the Daimon."

"I did? Oh, nice to meet you, Sir. I'm Hino Rei."

Michiru and Haruka tried to get her to admit to knowing Ranma for a while. The whole time, Ranma stood there with the slightest of smiles on his face. He had to admire Shampoo. The Xai Fang Gao Shiatsu technique worked perfectly. It really was a work of art. Not only had she forgotten him, she seemed incapable of remembering him. He would have to get that cure. There was no way that he would live without someone to yell at him.

Without a word he turned and headed down the stairs leaving the temple. He would take a look at some of his information at home, and then he would try and cure Rei-san later today. Mulling over his plans, he hardly noticed it when Michiru walked beside him down the stairs, and out to where Haruka's car was parked.

"There's something wrong with Rei-chan, isn't there?"


"She'd never behave like that. Even if she's been in a fight with you, she would never be this rude. You know, don't you? You know what's wrong with Rei-chan."

Ranma nodded his head. The way she sounded, he could almost believe that a cold hearted killer like her had a soft side. But then again, even killers can have friends they care for. "There are a pair of Amazons living at a place called the Nekohaten. They've used a memory technique on her called the Xai Fang Gao Shiatsu technique." Ranma shrugged. "They won't teach me the cure, but I can find it out in China. If I haven't managed to figure out a cure for her today, I'll head back to China and ask the Joketsuzoku myself."

Michiru played with a strand of green hair and looked nervous. "Would... would they be willing to teach Haruka or I? We're Sailor Senshi, after all."

Ranma laughed out loud. "Don't be absurd, and don't be insulting: you're no more one of the Sailors than I am. Besides, the Amazons prize their secrecy above all else. They'd laugh in your face."

Ignoring her protests, Ranma turned his back on her and ran off. The sooner he was back at his home, the sooner he could look for a solution to Rei-chan's problem.

Behind him, a flustered Michiru returned to help Haruka with Rei. The strong willed girl was quickly recovering from the attack. She had fought monsters countless times before, and this one was no different really. The Outer Senshi might not agree with the Inners on how things were done, but they were all on the same side really, and that meant protecting each other.

Outside the Shine, Mimete and her Daimon cursed. They would retrieve their reinforcements, and then try again. They had completed half their mission flawlessly, there was no way a simple temple maiden would be able to resist them.

Leaving the fully recovered Rei at her temple, Michiru and Haruka cornered Setsuna back at their home. Haruka was pacing in front of her, and Michiru looked concerned even though she was seated next to the older lady.

"I'm telling you, it was really weird. Rei honestly didn't know who he was. Even if we introduced him, she would forget in just a few moments."

Michiru nodded in agreement. "It was quite disturbing."

Setsuna placed a finger to her cheek as she though about what the girls had told her. Some sort of exotic mind manipulation technique? It sounded implausible, but they were quite sure of the results. The two Outer Senshi might not have her breadth of experience, but they were smart and good observers. If they said that was how Rei behaved, she would believe them.

The question was, what could they do to help Rei? Not only because she wanted Ranma and Rei to get back together to offset any chance that Saturn Knight might have, she also cared about the girl. Setsuna tried hard to maintain her cold and indifferent exterior, but inside her heart had leapt with joy when she had been reunited with the Inner Senshi and her Princess. They girls would need time to grow into their roles, and become the beacons of nobility they once were, but Setsuna was prepared to wait. Her only problem now was time. This problem needed a resolution, and it needed one now.

Time seemed to be the key problem wherever Setsuna was concerned. There was either too much - like waiting thousands of years for her Kingdom to be reborn - or too little - like now. What was worse was her own prohibition against using the Gates Of Time to observe the Senshi or their friends. The Senshi or their friends... That was the key. If her future self wanted to bar her from all time travel, she would simply have said so. Instead she had said not to watch the Senshi and their friends.

Shampoo attacked Rei, and was Rei's rival for Ranma. She crashed Makoto's party and had no other association with the Senshi other than Ranma. Ranma was not one of the Senshi, but he was one of their friends. That meant she could not watch Ranma's activities, but there was nothing against watching Shampoo's. If the Amazon had indeed used some form of magic or acupressure against Rei, she would be able to see exactly what happened. Even better, she could watch the girl's entire life if necessary and find the cure that way.

Barely a moment had passed while Setsuna had considered her options. Her brain working furiously - and trying to fit in some of the annoying pieces left in the puzzle - she smile confidently. Gesturing with the hand that had been scratching her cheek, Setsuna moved herself from puzzled co-conspirator to wise benefactor.

"Well done. Your work has confirmed what we needed to be sure of. Now that we have checked on this, there is nothing else that you need to worry about. I shall meet you again this afternoon with the cure to the Xai Fang Gao Shiatsu technique."

"But... But... You mean that's it? What about the Daimon? What about the Witches?"

Setsuna gave a smile, and tried to hide the fact that she had momentarily forgotten the Witch's involvement. 'Well, I'm only human,' she thought. "Naturally we must be concerned about the Witches. I am also suspicious about that attack on Rei this morning. Something does not feel right. I will leave dealing with them to the pair of you."

With the minimum fanfare possible, Setsuna transformed into Sailor Pluto. With a wave of her staff she opened a portal to the Gates Of Time. Giving a nod of her head, she walked though into that other realms. The Gates Of Time were a mystery even to her; the person who guarded them. They were a source of unlimited danger and unlimited benefit. In the wrong hands, they could destroy the world. Wielded properly, they could do untold good.

Twisting with her mind, she forced one of the Gates to open to the Nekohaten. If she wanted watch Shampoo, this would be the easiest place to find her. Hmm. The place was deserted. Deserted and heavily damaged. Sailor Pluto tapped her lip in perplexity. This should not be possible from what she had heard. None of the Senshi had done anything to them in the last few days, and from what she had heard of their fighting prowess, few other people would be capable of doing this.

With a mental wrench, the Gates shifted further back, easily sliding in reverse until an ambulance arrived. Cologne was unloaded and returned to the restaurant on a stretcher. From there, ambulance men lifted her gently to the ground, checked her pulse, consulted with a frantic Shampoo, then got into their ambulance and charged away backwards.

Not only could the Gates be useful, they could also be entertaining. She remembered a time long ago when she had watched a volcano erupting... all in reverse. Lava pulled trees from the ground, birds flew backwards and... The wool-gathering soldier Sailor Pluto shook her head. Reminiscing was fun, but it did not get the job done. Looking through the Gate, Pluto watched the ambulance arrive again. Shampoo was very worried about her great grandmother that had not awoken yet. She was also babbling about monsters, if she was interpreting those gestures correctly.

Sailor Pluto smiled. This was what she had really come to see. The view twitched again, and Pluto could see it was early morning, and a trio of shadowy figures were approaching the Nekohaten in the darkness. 'This was when I want to be', she thought as she stepped through. 'There was something too coincidental about Rei's attacker today.'

In the darkness of the night, Sailor Pluto's arrival was marked by a brief flash. Quickly she stepped back and placed her back to the wall of the restaurant. She did not have to wait too long before the sound of breaking wood announced the entry of Mimete.

After giving them a moment to enter, she slid around to the front and peaked into the entrance. Watching Witch Mimete sitting calmly inside made her blood boil. All she really wanted to do was jump in and destroy the woman before she could hurt these innocents but she held herself back. She needed to know what the Witch was after and, more importantly, she could not risk damaging the timeline like that. Viewing the past was more dangerous than viewing the future. The risk of doing something irreparable was much, much greater.

From her position in the doorway, Sailor Pluto watched the fight, cringing every time Shampoo or Cologne was struck, and silently cheering their every victory. Watching the two of them fight, she could believe quite easily in some mystical mind erasing technique. Anyone that could do those sorts of attacks at that age must be a living library. An old woman that could hold off two Daimons and a Witch for as long as she did was someone irreplaceable in the world.

When she saw Mimete powering up for her Charm Buster attack, Sailor Pluto knew she needed to act. She could not confront the Witch directly, nor could she whisk Cologne from danger entirely. What she could do was ensure that the old woman survived the encounter with the Witch's deadly magic. Sprinting around to the side of the building, Pluto extended her powers through the wall, and around the old woman. Sweating with effort, Pluto laid in a protective shield for Cologne. It would not block all of the damage, but it would block some.

When the attack came, Pluto grunted in shared agony. Just as Cologne sailed through the concrete wall of the restaurant, Pluto was there, catching the stunned woman and easing her to the ground. The poor old lady already seemed unconscious, but at least she was still breathing. Nobody but her would ever know what she had done, but deep inside, Pluto smiled. It was nice not having to do what was necessary - but sometimes unpleasant - all the time. It felt so refreshing just to do something good and helpful purely because she could, without concern of raising the Moon Kingdom again.

When the Daimon came to retrieve Cologne, Sailor Pluto was already in the Nekohaten. She was hiding in the shadows that had originally hidden the Daimons from Shampoo. From her vantage point, she heard and saw everything. Eventually Mimete departed, and Shampoo was distracted by Cologne. Taking advantage of the situation, Pluto made good her escape also. Outside the Nekohaten, Sailor Pluto summoned a portal to the Gates Of Time and left the here and now of her subjective past for the where and when of the nebulous Gates.

Sitting in her sanctuary, Sailor Pluto pondered on what she had seen. True, The Witches 5 now had the knowledge of a cure for the Xai Fang Gao Shiatsu technique. But they did not have the technique itself. More importantly, there was only one person afflicted by it, and her blind spot only extended to Ranma. Why would the Witches 5 be interested in curing Hino Rei?

It could be Ranma, but she doubted it. From her limited exposure to him - and mainly based on reports by Michiru and other Senshi - he seemed a reasonably nice but slightly naive person. No, she doubted that he would have the inclination or the influence to organise something like this. Nor was he likely to have his own fiancee assaulted. On the other hand, his sister might. They Outers were already quite sure that she was in league with the Witches in some fashion: Means. She might prefer Rei to Shampoo, the Inner Senshi thought so: Motive. She was living with Tomoe Souichi, and may have spoken to Ranma about Rei's problem last night: Opportunity.

Means, motive and opportunity, the three keys to any crime. Everything pointed at Tomoe Hotaru, but even then it was all circumstantial evidence. It was all they ever seemed to have on the girl... but some day she would slip up, and then they would know for sure. In the mean time, Sailor Pluto had all they needed to be able to cure Hino Rei, and stave off Saturn Knight's further affections to the Senshi.

* * *

Hotaru slammed the book shut then threw it across the room in a fit of pique. 'Damn! All this study, and she still didn't have anything!' The best lead she had been able to find so far was in a old German text book she had found in the library. She did not speak German, but her Polish was good enough to be able to read most of it.

According to this guy Freud, Rei was probably suffering a severe case of penis envy, and all her troubles could be traced back to an incomplete relationship developed with her mother. Personally, Ranma thought Freud was a bit strange in the head, but he was supposed to be the expert. Unfortunately, his book did not really indicate any practical cures for amnesia or secret Amazon memory techniques. The best it offered was the suggestion that Rei should be kept in familiar surroundings, and everyone should treat her normally.

Nodding her head, Hotaru realised that this was where she had gone wrong. She had tried to be nice to Rei and look what happened: Rei can't remember her. There was an easy solution to that. He knew that Rei's and her friends liked to hang out at one of the malls not to far away. If Ranma should happen to bump into her there... well, what sort of things could he say to make an uncute tomboy feel normal?

Outside the house, Ranma poured some hot water on himself and filled out his clothes. It had to be outside because the first time he had done so inside, Souichi had seen it. Immediately the father-figure had panicked and started raving about evil alien entities possessing his daughter. Ranma had changed back then and managed to calm him down with the aid of Mistress 9's advice. Since then he had known to transform out of the man's sight.

Once he was in the mall, it was a matter of searching for the girls. He had already taken a quick look in the Crown Arcade, but none of the crowd was there. That meant they must be out, either looking at boys or searching for ice-cream. It all depended who was leading today; Makoto or Usagi. He was just getting ready to set out when he felt a familiar voice in his mind.

"Ranma... do you feel something? I don't know what it is... almost like someone is watching us..."

Ranma concentrated and swept the room with his extraordinarily keen senses. There didn't seem to be anything wrong. He was just about to reply when he felt it. It was a sensation he had felt before, but not for a while. Groaning in resignation, Ranma walked on.

"There's nothing we can do. It's just the Kami. Every now and again they get playful and like to cause trouble. You wouldn't believe how bad it was when I first got my curse."

"What does you're curse have to do with it? And what do you mean '_just_ the Kami'?"

"Well, my curse seems to have put some sort of cosmic 'Kick Me' sign on my back. Whenever the Kami get bored, the like to annoy me."

To punctuate his words, a cup of water fell from the level above him, covering him in water. As he shrunk into his clothes, Ranma shrugged and looked around. No-one seemed to have noticed. This time.

"See? You can bet it was a real bitch when I was first cursed. I didn't mind changing from a girl to a guy, I just didn't like the boiling water that kept hitting me. Sometimes they stretched coincidence a little too far.

"You know, I always figured that since the Kami were fairly quiet when you started your work, it meant they approved or something. I always saw that as a big cosmic tick mark for what you were trying. Can you imagine how easy it must be for them to change me around now? Warm water's good enough!"

Looking around for something to help him change, Ranma spotted a cafe. As she nonchalantly walked past, Ranma snagged a cup of tea and splashed herself. Rising and filling out his clothes, Ranma retreated as quickly as possible. The little kid in there seemed just a little too happy playing with his lemonade.

A few more minutes of searching turned up Makoto and Minako. Ahh, where he finds two, he can find more. Walking up behind them, Ranma asked. "Hi, everybody. Have you seen Rei-san around?"

Spinning around, the startled girls looked for Ranma. Even as she turned, Makoto was babbling. "No, no I wasn't looking at guys with Mina-chan. We were just... Oh, Hotaru, it's you! You sounded so like your brother then."

Wiping her face, Hotaru grimaced. Damn kid from the cafe still managed to get him somehow. In a voice drier than her hair, Hotaru deadpanned: "Remarkable, isn't it? Have you seen Rei-san?"

"No... Hotaru-chan, I want you to know I'm really sorry about Rei- chan's fight with Ranma. We're all trying to get her to make up with him, but she still refuses to even admit he exists."

"It's OK. They're not fighting, Shampoo used a secret memory manipulation Shiatsu technique on her. Don't worry, I'll cure it soon."

Minako smiled down at her. It was so sweet how she believed the story Ranma had given her to cover up his fight with Rei. "Sure you are. Sure you are. Well, Rei-chan should be over there. See? Third shop along."

Waving goodbye to the two girls, Hotaru found the shop they had indicated. Honestly, she could not have chosen a worse shop to pick. Hotaru was willing to admit she wore women's clothes sometimes - getting men's clothes to fit her young female form was too annoying after four hundred years - but did she really have to meet Rei in a lingerie shop?

Once inside the shop, Hotaru checked it for threats. Rei-san holding some underwear: safe, well, safe so long as she doesn't look too closely. Shop assistant holding some wrapping paper: safe. Kids outside with milkshakes: safe, she was already female, and she wasn't sure that milkshakes would work anyway. All in all it looked like she would be worry free for a while. Now she just needed to hope that Rei remembered her while she was a girl.


The taller girl looked down and smiled, holding forth something small and lacy. "Hello, Hotaru-chan. What do you think about this one?"

Hotaru turned bright red and looked away. "Ahh... Good... err that is, I'm sure it would look very nice... umm."

Hearing Rei's musical laugh, Hotaru risked a quick look. It was still a bad time to be looking. Now Rei was holding it up front of her. "You're so silly! I didn't mean for you, I meant for me. But don't worry, soon you'll be old enough to get some pretty things like these for yourself."

Turning even more red, Hotaru almost choked herself trying to hold back the rushing feelings of disdain, merriment, confusion and perplexity. All she managed to do was start coughing as she tried to laugh and start sprouting denials at the same time. Half doubled over with the image of her full sized male form wearing a little lace teddy designed for a twelve year old, Hotaru did not even notice Rei approach.

Only when Rei's arm went around her shoulders in concern was Hotaru able to get a decent grip on herself. Assuring the other girl that she was fine, and it was just something she had swallowed the wrong way, Hotaru brought herself under control. Or as much under control as she could get with Rei's warm arm around her shoulder, and some piece of women's underwear draped across her back.

"Rei-san, I have to talk to you about something really important. Can... Can I meet you outside when you're finished?"

Rei smiled down at the little angel. Hotaru was always so sweet, and besides, how could she deny anything for such a dedicated fan? "No problem. I'll be right there."

Things started well enough. Rei came out with a wrapped package in her hand. "Just one question before you start, Hotaru-chan... Why are you wearing clothes that are so big?"

Hotaru looked down. True, she was virtually swimming in her normal Ranma clothes. "Would you believe me if I said that everything else was in the wash?"

Rei shook her head, plainly amused, but she did not press the point. They talked and walked for a little bit. Hotaru had managed to convince Rei to return to her shrine early, saying that there was something important she needed to show her that she could not do in the shopping centre. All was going well until disaster struck. Twice.

They were walking along, minding their own business, when three horrible figures leapt through the roof of the mall and landed not to far away. The sight of a pair of Daimons and one of the Witches 5 was enough to make anyone's blood run cold. At the thought of the Daimon's being in Rei's presence, Hotaru's blood ran even colder.

Not cold enough to prevent the second disaster, however. When they broke through the roof, the Daimons must have severed a water pipe. A hot water pipe. With all the inevitable power of a force of nature, the water cascaded down, drenching the small girl. Since she was right between Rei and the Daimons at the time, it also ensured that Rei received a perfect view of what happened.

Even as screams and cries begin all around them, Rei and Ranma faced each other with dumbfounded expressions. After a moment, Ranma's changed to shame and depression. In the same instant, Rei's turned to concern and even more confusion. "But... But... Hotaru-chan?... What happened? How did you?... Where did you?... What?..."

"I... I'm sorry, Rei-san I can explain."

"What? Who are you? Where did Hotaru-chan go? She was here just a moment ago."

"I'm Ranma, it... it's my curse, Rei... I change into Hotaru when I get wet."

Rei stood there stunned for a few more moments until she was distracted by the sounds of combat. A veritable legion of Senshi had appeared. Arrayed around the minions of evil were an almost full assortment of the true Senshi, reinforced on one side by a trio of fakes. Moving at enhanced speeds, the Senshi began to fight it out with their adversaries, and sections of the mall began to suffer incidental damage.

Rei looked around for somewhere to change. She also needed to find little Hotaru. The girl was her responsibility, and she would hate to see her hurt. After looking for a few seconds, the only person she could see nearby was a cute looking stranger in a red silk shirt. "Excuse me... Have you seen a little girl?"

"Err... I think she went that way..."

"Thanks!" Taking advantage of his advice, Rei dashed down a supply corridor and pulled out her henshin stick. She did not know if the man had really seen the mysteriously vanishing girl, but it was the perfect opportunity for her to transform and join the fight.

Even with a full compliment of eight Senshi attacking the Witch and the two Daimons, it was a slow and dangerous battle. The Witch was almost immune to all of their attacks, and they could ill afford to be struck by the Witch's attacks.

Within a minute, all of them had been injured to some extent. Even the mighty Outer Senshi had managed to take a beating, but they were winning. Although Jupiter and Venus had been taken out of the fight, one of the Daimons was dead, and the other was heavily wounded.

By the end of the battle, Sailor Mercury had used her Bubble Blast six times to allow them to recover and regroup. Sailor Uranus was holding her left arm as though it hurt, but she was still up and fighting. When Mimete had lost both of her Daimons - and saw herself facing six Senshi with their two gentlemen supporters still fresh and in the wings - she decided it was time to retreat. Although she was only lightly wounded, there was no real chance she would win. Worse, her quarry had vanished, saved by the delay the Senshi had caused.

With a flourish, Mimete jumped back through the hole in the roof she had arrived in. Gratefully the Senshi gathered their friends and began to retreat. They had won this round, but without Sailor Moon transforming into her Super Sailor form, they had little real chance of destroying Mimete. Her time would come, and they would be there to make sure of it.

Changed back into their normal forms, the Inner Senshi met up outside the mall. Rei was in need of a rest. Two attacks in one day had exhausted her, and she needed to recover. Bidding the other girls goodnight, Rei separated and left for her shrine.

In the afternoon light, she was followed by a tall figure in a short skirt. She in turn was followed by a young man in a red shirt. Once off the less public thoroughfares Rei was stopped by Sailor Pluto. Seeing his friend in danger yet again, Ranma began to power up a Ki blast. They were almost motionless and if he could get a good hit on Setsuna, he may be able to kill her while she was unprepared.

Too far away to be able to make out their whispered words, Ranma was almost ready to fire when he saw something that made him stop. The evil impostor had pulled a bottle of shampoo from a pocket, and was about to give a willing Rei another dose of Xai Fang Gao. Or perhaps not. If Shampoo had been fooled by her disguise, it was almost possible the Amazon had taught one of the Sailors the cure. When you added in his conversation with Michiru this morning...

Swallowing his Ki again, Ranma descended to the street and approached the pair. By the time he arrived, Setsuna was finished and turned to face him. "We are not your enemies, Ranma. Do not try and make us enemies, and do not make the mistake of thinking you can follow me without my knowledge."

Rei turned around and looked at him. He felt like crying when he saw the look of recognition in her eyes. Suddenly the look turned to horror, and he knew she must have remembered what happened to him in the mall.

"Oh no! Ranma, your little sister was with me in the mall when it was attacked. But she just vanished. I'm so sorry! I couldn't find her. Come on, let's go back, maybe we can find her if we keep looking."

Inside, Ranma cheered at the effectiveness of Shampoo's technique. It had really saved his skin this time, despite all the problems it had caused. "It's OK, Rei-san. I found her before I followed this woman."

With a nod of her head, the Senshi in question turned and ran into the distance. It had shaken her badly when Ranma had seemingly appeared from nowhere. She resolved to spend more time working on her more mundane skills. There should be no way that a young pup of twenty could sneak up on a woman as old and skilled as her.

Watching Setsuna vanish into the distance, Ranma was filled with conflicting emotions. Love, happiness, confusion, hatred and amazement. All that he really knew was that he had Rei-san back, and it was the pernicious Setsuna that had done it. As much as it stuck in his throat, he owed her. He knew their paths would cross again; on that day he knew she would use up whatever good will she had generated today.

* * *

It was dark again. Dark and ominous. With trepidation, Mimete and Souichi entered the throne room. Once more the shadowed figure of Mistress 9 dominated everything, and the two servants cringed. They had failed. Failed completely. Because of them, there was no way that Master Pharaoh 90 would enter this world. All was lost.

Neither of them spoke, hoping to generate whatever last seconds of life that they could. They knew they would die. For a failure this great there could be no other punishment. The only question was whether they would die quickly, or slowly and painfully.

In the small area of light that shone on the bottom half of her face, Mistress 9 smiled. That was all it took to start Mimete's knees shaking. She was smiling. It was worse than they ever suspected. Their deaths would set new records for pain and suffering. Mimete gave a small whimper.

"Well done, my servants. Although you did not manage to cure Hino Rei, it is thanks to your actions that the disaster has been averted."

"I... I don't understand."

"It is well that you do not. Suffice it to say that while you wasted three of our precious Daimons, victory shall be ours. Spare no effort: get me the Heart Crystals I need to complete my domination of this body!"

Destiny's Child

A Crossovers Story
by Fire

Part 23 of 26

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