Luna's ears pricked up.

        The mooncat opened her eyes, then slowly stood up on Serena's
bed and stretched, yawning. She took a quick glance around and leapt
over to the windowsill.

        Tonight, the sky was quite beautiful, yet at the same time,
somewhat ominous. The bright white light of the full moon was
visible, shining through a circular break in the rippling black and
red-hued clouds.

        Luna sighed. The Moon... The Moon _Kingdom_; her former home,
destroyed untold ages ago by the Negaverse and its host of evil
monsters. Unfortunately, her recollection of the Moon Kingdom and
the events leading up to its destruction were sketchy at best. Try
as she might, she simply could not remember enough details to be of
any great use to Sailor Moon, the other Scouts... the other _Senshi_.

        The mooncat looked down, frowning. Funny that she should
choose now to make that distinction. Were the girls merely young
Scouts, or were they Senshi; Soldiers? Clearly, they were young,
inexperienced, and had difficulty concentrating on their mission,
which was to...

        Luna scowled in frustration. Could she have forgotten her
mission _that_ easily? After a moment's thought, it came back to her:
Fight the Negaverse and find and protect the Moon Princess... But if
things _that_ important could slip her mind, what else could she be
forgetting? Perhaps something even more important, like the fact
that she held the Crescent Moon Wand, an artifact of great importance
that held the key to not only finding the Princess, but also to
finding the Imperium Silver Crystal, the power of which could be
used to destroy Queen Beryl and the Negaverse once and for all.

        The black cat laughed quietly as she hopped back onto the
bed and curled back up to go to sleep. Yes, give her a chance, and
she'd probably forget about that, too. Honestly, her memory nowadays
was becoming totally unreliable...

        Luna paused, her eyes widening as she realized the sheer,
unadulterated importance of her last few thoughts. "The Crescent
Moon Wand!" she half-shouted, standing.

        "Luna," Serena whispered groggily as she rolled over in
her bed, "can you keep it down? I'm trying to get to sleep _early_
for once..."

        "Serena," Luna said, looking up at her, "there is something
important I need to give you."

        "Can't this wait 'till tomorrow?" the pigtailed blonde
groaned, her eyes sliding partially open.

        The cat shook her head. "No, I am afraid that this cannot
wait." She jumped upwards and performed a midair backflip before
making a perfect, four-point landing back onto the bed.

        A wand plopped down into Serena's lap. Its handle was an
off-pink color, and was topped with a large, but thin, lopsided
crescent moon ornamentation. Between the handle and the crescent
moon was a jeweled intersection.

        "This," Luna said, "is the Crescent Moon Wand."

        "Oh," Serena mumbled, idly picking it up. "What does it do?"

        The mooncat prepared to tell her everything she knew about
the Wand and its inner workings. Most importantly, she prepared
herself to tell about how it could be used to help fight the

        Unfortunately, she was drawing a blank at the moment.

        "Er, well," Luna began uneasily, "it's the..." She took a deep
breath and continued in a more confident tone. "For one thing, it is
the symbol of leadership among the Sailor... Scouts. You are their

        Serena raised a tired eyebrow. "Shouldn't, like, Terra get
that, then? _She_'s a princess, remember?"

        The cat coughed. "Ah, well... Yes, that's true, Serena," she
said, "but she was merely the _adopted_ princess of the Moon

        "That's gotta count for something..."

        "Right, it most certainly does, but..."

        "But... what?"

        Luna sighed and looked the girl in the eye. "To be perfectly
honest, does Terra look like she would be of use leading any real

        "Okay... I guess that could be a problem. Why don't you go bug
Raye about it?"

        "Serena," Luna hissed, narrowing her eyes, "why do you
keep trying to evade your responsibilities as a Sailor Scout?"

        "I just wanna go to sleep!" Serena whined, covering her
face with her pillow.

        "Oh, alright!" Luna replied, turning around and laying down.

        "Hmm," Serena began, putting down her pillow, "you've been
_really_ pushy since you kicked Arby out..."

        "I have not," Luna sulked.

        "Do you miss him at all?"

        The black cat closed her eyes and shook her head. "_Him_?
Absolutely not. Not after what he did last week."

        "What did he do? You still haven't told me about it."

        "Hmph. I don't want to talk about it."

        "Okay, whatever. Goodnight, Luna," Serena finished, then
rolled over onto her side, snuggling up against her nice, fluffy
feather-down pillow.


        His lips curled back into a sneer and his eyes still
burning a bright blue color, 'Tim stretched his hands forward
toward Piccolo, who lay bruised, battered, and beaten on the
hot desert sand.

        "What... are you?" Piccolo asked as he inched away on his back,
holding the clear-fluid-dripping stump where his arm had been a few
minutes ago.

        The aura around the pink-haired man flared in response, but
he was otherwise silent as energy gathered in shafts to his hands,
creating one large blue swirling sphere. "YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE,

        With that, he released the ball toward Piccolo.

        *BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!!!* A tremendous explosion
rocked the landscape, digging a deep hole into the ground and
blasting up dust and other debris.

        Breathing harshly, the aura around 'Tim flickered out, and the
glow of the crescent moon on his forehead decreased in amplitude
before settling into a solid gold color. The energy burning in his
eyes also faded. He smiled as he took notice of the destruction
before him. "Oh yeah, baby... That's what _I'm_ talking about."

        After a tense moment, the dust cleared.

        'Tim frowned.

        A black-haired man wearing a set of thick, ribbed upper-body
stood, hovering above the hole that 'Tim's blast had created. A
red aura around him flickered, occasionally deflecting a random piece
of flying debris.

        Behind him, Piccolo's jaw dropped. "Goku...?"

        The levitating individual glanced back at the Namekkian,
raised an eyebrow, then turned back to 'Tim and frowned in mock
disapproval. "Tsk, Tsk, Tsk. Beating up on a harmless Namekkian...
You should be _ashamed_ of yourself."

        "He's just a hologram," 'Tim said. "He can't feel anything."

        *Squelch!* Piccolo grimaced as he regenerated his arm.

        "Heh. Riiight," the black-haired man said. "Of course he's
a hologram." He pointed at himself and smiled. "I'm a hologram, too."

        *Shing* The crescent moon on 'Tim's forehead gleamed audibly.
"I doubt that," he replied, and took a step forward. "Now, could you
please get out of my way: I'd really like to finish him off in an
unneccesarily graphic fashion, if you don't mind." He shrugged. "You
know, it's a macho thing I picked up somewhere back in the middle
ages. You go draw your sword, lop off a couple of their limbs...
remove their eyes, then you go and chop off a few limbs of your own
to add to the general mess, then the rats come..." He shuddered. "I
hate rats: They drive me crazy." He paused. "Crazy... I was crazy
once. They put me in a rubber room. I died in that room. Then they
put me in a little pine box. Then the rats came." He grimaced.
"Rats... I hate rats: They drive me crazy." He paused. "Crazy, I
was crazy once... Twice, actually. They put me in a rubber room-"

        The armor-clad man stared at him. "Get on with it."

        'Tim looked at him with a start. "Oh! Right... Who are you?"

        "My name," the black-haired man replied, "is Kakkorotto."

        'Tim blinked. "I'm sorry."

        Behind Kakkorotto, Piccolo stood, frowning deeply as he took
stock of the man's appearance and attire. "Wait a sec... You're not
Goku, are you?"

        "Who's Goku?" Kakkorotto asked, not turning around.

        Piccolo warily took a step back, his eyes narrowed at him.

        "He's a fictional character, like Piccolo here," 'Tim said,
then chuckled. "A _sayajin_."

        "Really...?" Kakkorotto asked, starting to look interested.
"What do you know about sayajins?"

        The pink-haired man smiled, thinking it over. "Hmmm... Let's
see... When they have hair, it's black and all messed up, the smaller
ones are usually more powerful, they've got this brown tail that they
keep tied around by their waist..." He paused. "Actually, they look
a lot like you."

        "Maybe," the sayajin replied, "that's because I _am_ a sayajin."

        "That _could_ be it," 'Tim admitted. "Either that, or your
hairstylist had an epileptic fit..."

        Kakkorotto looked at him and laughed. "Your hair looks just

        "Yeah? Mine's pinker. Got a problem with that?"

        "So what if I do?"

        'Tim cracked his knuckles and pulled out a knife and fork.
"Transform," he ordered.

        The sayajin raised an eyebrow. "What?"

        "Transform. Turn into that great, big oozaru I know you
can be."

        Kakkorotto was at a loss for words. "Uh... why?"

        "Don't worry, I'll still be able to fight you."

        "Why?" Kakkorotto pressed. "Why do you want me to transform?"

        "Because it's dinner time... and I missed lunch."

        The black-haired sayajin glanced up at the sun, which was
in the middle of the sky. "Dinner time, huh?"

        'Tim nodded. "And you'll be the main course. Oozaru is...
well, a little over twenty thousand years ago, it was my favorite.
So, since I've been reviewing a few things I haven't done for a
while, I thought I'd-"

        "So you're twenty thousand years old..." Kakkorotto said,
then pushed a button on his heads-up display, causing a few
undiscernable characters to appear on the glass. "That explains a
few things... Like how a _human_ of all things has twenty-"

        "Are you going to transform or not?" 'Tim asked, impatiently
tapping his knife and fork together.

        "Hmm... Let me think about that one. No."


        Kakkorotto levitated a little closer. "I don't think so."

        'Tim advanced, his arms wide. "PRETTY plea-"


        The two stopped.

        'Tim frowned and pulled out a three by five by one inch black
rectangular device with a one-line LCD display. "Remember to take
Jade to the meeting with... Oh, no, I forgot about that." He looked
at Kakkorotto. "Look, I'd _love_ to have you for dinner, but duty
calls. Computer, beam me-"

        *ZZR!* A quick, beam-like blast from Kakkorotto knocked the
device out of 'Tim's hand. "Don't worry, it can wait," the sayajin
noted, not leaving a great deal of room for argument.

        'Tim looked down at the charred remnants of his obliterated
pager. "I really wish they'd stop doing that..."

        The golden crescent moon mark on his forehead flickered for
a second, then turned a dark shade of blue.


        The beautiful, white-blonde Goddess of Love, Urd, stared at her
Yggdrasil terminal...

        "Why's the registry coming up _now_?" she asked rhetorically.
"I was working on... Hey! It's that guy again!"

        The terminal was clear, aside from a small list:

        [Urd:       Goddess 2nd Class Limited.   Of the Past and/or Love.
         Belldandy: Goddess 1st Class Unlimited. Of the Present.
         Skuld:     Goddess 3rd Class Limited.   Of the Future.

        *Wish request* Working.............. done.

         'Tim: Goddess 1st Class Unlimited. Of the *cOntInUITy ErRRor$


        Urd frowned deeply as the terminal continued to gibber
incoherently, before it fell over, screaming. "Oh no..." She hit
Ctrl-Alt-Delete to reset the terminal. "I thought Skuld said she
fixed that!"



        Across the desert landscape, a ripple of crackling blue energy
blew the rocks and sand away from the origin of the outburst: A
pink-haired man in a green and pink gi.

        Within a couple of minutes, the blast died down and the sand

        "Uhhh... Proved?" 'Tim muttered. He shook his head in an
attempt to clear it. His crescent moon flickered back to a gold

        "That was... different," Kakkorotto noted, unphazed.

        "Okay," 'Tim said, rubbing his forehead. "Ow..." He sighed and
looked at the other man. "As much as I'd like to stay, I need to go.
Now." He pulled out yet another small rectangular device. "Computer,
power down gravity net."

        [Powering down,] the device intoned. [Six gees... Five gees...
Four gees... Three gees... Two gees... One gee. Powerdown

        "Whoah," 'Tim said, reeling from the sudden change in forces
surrounding him. He stumbled around for a second, before realizing
that he hadn't requested a beamout. "Oh... yeah, Computer, beam me

        Kakkorotto had his finger raised for another taunting blow, but
for some reason, he couldn't bring himself to stop the other man from
leaving. "Dang," he murmured as 'Tim vanished in a flickering,
sparkly effect.

        A twig, the only twig for five hundred miles, snapped behind

        "What?!" the sayajin shouted, whirling around to see the
Namekkian powered up for a massive blast.


        "Heh heh heh," Piccolo laughed as he brought two of his fingers
forward, which had been charged with horrendous quantities of energy.
"Special... Beam... Cannon... FIRE!!!!"


        "Oh, please," Kakkorotto groaned, rolling his eyes. He held out
a hand in front of him.

        *RRRRRRRRR-BLAAAA-* The Namekkian fired off a thick, spiraling
red beam at the sayajin... but the blast stopped several feet away
from Kakkorotto's hand, and stayed there for several seconds as
Piccolo continued his attack. As soon as the beam cut off,
Kakkorotto, with a flick of his wrist, sent the energy right back at
his enemy, in the same form as it came.

        Piccolo looked on in dismay as his own attack sped toward

        *BLAM!!!* ...and passed harmlessly through his chest,
obliterating a mountain behind him.

        "What the..." Piccolo whispered, looking down to see that there
was no gaping, cauterized hole through him that would normally have
accompanied a situation such as this.

        "Oh, and by the way," Kakkorotto said, slowly powering up for a
shot of his own, "I _love_ the dress."

        Piccolo stared agape at the sayajin, idly fingering his tutu.
"Such power..." Suddenly, he scowled in angry realization. "So I _am_
a hologram... Fine, then! Do your worst, Kakarot!"

        "Oh, don't worry, I will. And it's Kakkorotto, by the way."

        *Chink* A small rock from the obliterated mountain behind
Piccolo hit something on his arm. *Zrr..zrr* He flickered and
vanished, then a small, thin metallic object fell unheralded to the

        Kakkorotto's jaw dropped, as did his arms. "Not ANOTHER weak
battle!" he exclaimed in disbelief. "What kind of triple A plus
planet is this?!"

        The armored man sighed in disappointment, then tapped his
scouter. He brightened at the figures that appeared on it. "Now
_this_ looks promising..."


Initializing.......... Done.

Galactic Address: Furinkan;;Nerima;;Tokyo;;Japan;;Earth;;Sol
Time Index:       990 BCT, 15:23 (1993 AD, 3:23 PM)
E. Margin:        20 Sesquacent
Meandering:             Acceptable

        A purple and black vortex opened above the Tendo Dojo. It
crackled with electricity for several seconds before a redheaded
teenage girl in a pink-highlighted sailor fuku fell from it...

        *CRASH!* ...right through the roof of the household, landing
facedown in the middle of the practice hall floor.

        A green-haired woman in a black-highlighted sailor suit that
carried an ornate red-orb-tipped staff appeared next to her, pulling
the girl to her feet. "We have arrived, Ranma," she said, barely
managing to conceal her distain. "You are home."

        "Thanks, Setsuna," the girl replied, taking a moment to
stabalize herself. "That was _some_ vacation. A weird powerup, a
new level of training, a _battle_." She looked up at her fiancee.
"Is Happosai _really_ gone?"

        Sailor Pluto smiled, her eyes narrow. "Most assuredly, but
he is not the one you should be worried about."

        Ranma smiled at her. "Who _should_ I be worried about?"
She tugged at the pink bow on the front of her outfit. "I mean,
with _this_ thing, I feel like I could've fought off Pantyhose,
Herb, and Saffron at the same time without breaking a sweat!"

        "I wouldn't go _that_ far," Pluto replied, making her way
toward the room's exit. "Powerful though you may be, you only
rate point zero... zero... _zero_ three SVs."

        "Uh... SVs?"

        "Sailor Vegitaseis."

        "What's that?"

        The taller woman was silent for a moment. "Someone powerful far
beyond what your meager imagination can comprehend. Eldest sister to
that world's prince... even _he_ fears her. Her capabilities exceed
that of even the primal forces of the universe: Nature, Science,
Power, Chaos..."

        Ranma blinked, mulling that over. "So I'm... like, only four
orders of magnitude off stuff _that_ powerful?!" She grinned.

        "Amazing," Sailor Pluto muttered, "that one so dense
understands the concept of orders of magnitude..."

        "Anything Goes Martial Arts Quantum Mechanics," Ranma added.

        "Yes... It took you nearly a month to learn."

        "Hey! It was only two and a half weeks!"

        Pluto stopped, then whirled to face her. "That is irrelevant
now. Ranma, I am giving you one last chance before I pronounce your
everlasting torment: Renounce our engagement at once."

        The redhead blinked. "Where'd _that_ come from?"

        The green-haired woman looked down at her, anger apparent
in her red eyes. "Ranma..."

        Ranma began fidgeting. "Er..." She held the brooch on her
chest forward slightly. "Say, uh, how do I get outta this thing?
You haven't told me yet."

        "Do _not_ change the subject."

        "Well, um..."

        Setsuna nodded knowingly. "That's what I thought." She
placed an open hand on Ranma's chest.

        Ranma stood still, looking nervously at her. "Uhhhhhhh..."

        *RIIIIP!* The Guardian of Time removed the brooch from the
girl's outfit. The item in question was hesitant to leave, and
made a rather excruciating tearing sound that would make one believe
that more was removed than actually was.

        *ZZRrrrrrr...* Ranma's skin glowed as the fuku disappeared in
a shower of pink autumn leaves, soon to be replaced by her sleeveless
Chinese-style shirt and black pants. "Okay, that's better," she
commented as she readjusted to the feeling of having her old outfit
back. She paused, and looked up at Setsuna. "All I need now is some
hot water, and I'll be good to-"

        Sailor Pluto silently handed him a steaming kettle.

        "Oh, thanks, Setsuna!"

        The redhead poured the hot contents onto herself...

        *Splash!* No effect, save for a lingering... dampness.

        Sailor Pluto smiled at her. "I warned you. Countless times.
Therefore, a few... alterations have been made to give further

        Ranma, looking rather shocked and confused, opened her mouth
to speak... but was interrupted when a short, black-haired boy in
a white gi walked in.

        "R-Ranko!" he started. "Where have you been for the last two

        Ranma blinked. "Ranko...?" She glanced around. "Is Mom here?"
She looked back at the boy... then stared for a second. "Akane!?"

        "Kaneda," the boy corrected, looking somewhat annoyed, "your
fiance, remember?"

        Ranma's jaw dropped. She quickly glanced at Sailor Pluto, who
nodded. "And things will just become worse the longer you resist,"
the time guardian added matter-of-factly. "As things stand, you
were born Saotome Ranko, _daughter_ of Genma and Nodoka. You are
engaged to Tendo Kaneda, who does not mind the engagement _nearly_
as much as Akane did."

        Kaneda frowned and looked at Ranma. "What's _she_ talking
about, Ranko?"

        The redhead started to respond, but a previously unseen
panda came up from behind with a large wooden sign and batted her
out of the room, through the roof.

        Outside the Tendo household, the decorative fish in a large
pond swam peacefully, contemplating the mysteries of the galaxy,
meditating on the ways to perfection...

        *SPLASH!* ...then a redheaded girl crashed into the water,
destroying forever that which would have become the cornerstone
for universal telepathic tranquility for mute sentient beings.

        A black-haired boy rose up out of the water, spitting out
one of the hyperintelligent, fish-like Koi. "What the..." the
boy whispered as he noticed the change. "So I guess that means..."

        "...That you, Ranma, are now a _girl_ that is cursed to become
a boy when splashed with cold water," Sailor Pluto noted, appearing
next to the pond.

        Ranma-kun raised an eyebrow as he stopped to consider the
implications of that. "That's... kinda warped, isn't it, Setsuna?"

        Pluto nodded, her expression indicating that he had just
hit right upon the point of it all.

        The young man frowned deeply, and climbed out of the pond.

        For some unfathomable reason, Ranma's mother, Nodoka, chose
that moment to walk by...

        Ranma-kun stopped as he noticed. "Uh, Mom?"

        The middle-aged woman smiled as she approached. "Oh, how
manly my daughter is!" she said proudly, looking between Ranma-kun
and Sailor Pluto. "I'm so proud of you!"

        Ranma-kun blinked. Hard.

        A teenage girl with a pageboy haircut walked out of the
house, grinning broadly as she flipped through a stack of large
photographs. "Kuno-chan's going to LOVE these... I'm going to
be _rich_!"

        *Oof!* In the euphoria of the moment, though, her foot
accidentally caught on a stray rock, sending her slamming into the
ground, scattering the pictures she had taken at some undisclosed
time. "No!"

        As Nabiki stood and dusted herself off, simultaneously
grabbing for the flying pictures, Nodoka caught one of them.

        Ranma's mother froze in shock as she examined the picture.
She slowly lowered it and glanced between Sailor Pluto and Ranma,
her gaze settling on her offspring. "What is the meaning of
_this_!?" she yelled in that very special horrifying way that only
parents can, showing the photo to Ranma-kun.

        The picture was that of Ranma, in girl form, in a pink-
highlighted abbreviated sailor fuku, looking rather downtrodden
at the destroyed crystal structures around her.

        "UHHH... I can explain!" Ranma-kun started, holding his
hands up defensively.

        Nodoka narrowed her eyes, then drew her katana and leveled
it at him. "YOU HAVE UNTIL I CATCH YOU!!!" she yelled, running
forward, swinging her weapon angrily.

        "Yipe..." Ranma-kun said quietly, then took off running.

        Nodoka followed the boy around the area in a crazed, yet
predictable circle as Ranma-kun tried to explain the situation,
but which all came out as, "Uh... Ah... Eh!"

        Sailor Pluto looked at the frightened young man as he
passed near and noted that, "I will reverse all this if you will
simply nullify the engagement!" she called. She paused and muttered,
"Though how I was bindingly engaged to a young _girl_ is-"

        An old man in a black gi hopped on in, looking very
forlornly at a bottle he carried in his hand. He sighed and
tossed it behind him as he bounded away.

        *SHING!* A random slash of Nodoka's katana split the
bottle in twain, splashing all the contents onto Setsuna....

        The muscular, green-haired man in a _tight_ white and black
sailor fuku gasped, his mouth and eyes wide in shock. "What...
NO!" he screamed as he felt the change take place.


        "ENOUGH!!!!!" Sailor Pluto shouted, smashing the crystal
imaging globe into jagged shards with the tip of the Garnet Rod.

        The tall woman threw aside her staff and turned in rage back
toward the towering gothic vaults of The Archives.

        "Theoretical temporal simulations," Setsuna spat, "USELESS!
Twenty out of one hundred fifty margin of error... BAH!" She
slammed a fist into a nearby pillar, badly cracking the marble
support. "Billions of years of the best collected works _ever_,
and they still cannot find a better solution than the one I
discovered earlier..."

        The Guardian of Time took several halting breaths, her eyes
filled with tears. "But... it is too much, even for _him_!" She
gritted her teeth, kneeling down to pick up the timestaff. "Surely
I needn't go _that_ far in achieving my goals." Her breathing
calmed. "Yes... Maybe this globe was malfunctioning... I shall
find another in the adjoining wing and..."

        Sailor Pluto cursed under her breath, slamming the end of
the staff into the stone floor. "No! I MUST do it... All of this
distraction; this meandering; this PROCRASTINATION is keeping me
from doing what _must_ be done."

        Picking up a small book from the table, the determined woman
began toward the exit.

        "It ends, Ranma," Sailor Pluto hissed.

        One way or another, it _ends_.


        "Giddyap!!" Reenie commanded, rattling the reigns.

        "Urgh... Yeah," Ranma-chan replied, then muttered, "What's
this kid on!?"

        Ranma-chan had been continuing her recently added duties of
watching over and taking care of Crystal Tokyo's Crown Princess.
Babysitting, if you will.

        Small Lady, or Lil' Mucus, as she is commonly referred to in
the ancient ArbyFish anecdotes, had requested that the new Sailor
Earth play a game with her.

        "C'mon," Reenie urged, tugging at the rope, "giddyap!"

        Specifically, the young princess had asked for a 'horsie ride;'
a _wild_ horsie ride, and there existed none that fit the description
better than the recently recruited Senshi.

        "Ehhh, right," Ranma-chan replied, and began to move along
gingerly on her hands and knees, the content little girl on her back.

        "Faster," Reenie ordered.

        Sighing, the cursed martial artist plucked along the ground
at an increased rate.

        "Alright, this is greaaat!"

        Indeed it was, and the experience was nothing short of
phenominal, for the horsie ride was complete with a saddle, bit
and bridle...

        "You don't have to tug so hard..."

        A desert setting...

        "The ground's getting sorta hot, y'know..."

        The midday sun beating down upon them...

        "The glare's getting to me..."


        "AAH! Owowowowow..."





        *HISS!*SNICK*SNICK*SNICK!* "Oh, 'ello, madam!" *Munch*Munch*

        "Yaaaah! Make it stop!" Reenie shouted, trying to brush the
odd thing out of her hair.

        Ranma-chan was about to continue her shouts of agony... then
she realized that she wasn't in any pain, even from the snake
stuck to her right calf. However, the snake was not her primary
concern right now. Neither was it the cactus spines stuck in her
hands and arms, which were rapidly healing from the Sailor Earth
energy pumping through her. Oddly enough, it wasn't even the
ArbyFish bothering her.

        The main focus was, rather, the fact that storm clouds had
suddenly rolled in, pouring their liquid contents all over the
barren desert. Again, though, it was not the clouds, nor the rain
that she was most worried about.

        One might ask what was so worrisome to a boy-turned-girl-
turned-hyper-powered-warrior-for-love-and-justice, considering
how much she had endured and surpassed in the past.

        One might also answer that it was the seventy story-high
wall of water headed directly for her.


        "Ooooh," Reenie said in awe at the tremendous flash flood.

        "Aye loikes it," Arby said, and clamped firmly onto one
of the pink puffs of Lil' Mucus's hair with his front flippers.

        "Okay, no problem," Ranma-chan said, removing the bridle
and taking Small Lady off of her back and into her arms. The
wave was still several hundred feet away. "Now, if I could
remember that teleport trick Venus showed me..."

        The ArbyFish raised a flipper, keeping a firm grip on
Reenie with his other. "Aye rememba'!"

        The sailor-suited girl looked down at him. "Okay, how?"

        The greenish seal-thing cleared his throat. "Well, ya
see... Ya'z gots ta..." He paused, looking toward the approaching
deluge. "Oh, look! There's 'Abberjug n' Willywug! 'Aven't seen
'em in _years_!" He looked at the redhead. "Aye gots ta go take
me revenge for years a' trial n' torment. Be back in a bit."

        *Splash!* With that, Arby dove into the water, somehow managing
to leave Reenie and Ranma-chan confused enough to merely stand there
as the flood overtook them...


        Meanwhile, in the Royal Crystal Tokyo Salon, Neo-Queen Serenity
and four Inner Senshi were getting haircuts...

        "Just a trim and styling, please," Neo-Queen Serenity said
to the hairstylist.

        "Like, okay!" the orange-headed hairstylist, Kim, squealed in
delight, getting out a spray bottle, a comb, and a pair of scissors,
stylin' away like there's no tomorrow.

        *Snip*Swish!*Snip* Four other girls, Kimmy, Kimmus, Kim-Kim,
and Kimmaeus, each of whom looked _exactly_ like Kim, joined in the
conquest over the rebellious hair of the Senshi.

        If you were to ask the scissors, they'd insist it was a mere
police action, but...

        *Shing!* The primary hairstylist accidentally severed Neo-Queen
Serenity's right pigtail.

        "Aaah!" Kim blushed crimson. "Um, eh heh... Sorry."

        The Queen, the Senshi, and the various Kims looked in shock at
the fallen hair.

        Mercury gasped as she took notice of this.

        Mars frowned.

        "Uh oh," Jupiter muttered.

        "I never thought I'd live to see the day..." Venus bubbled.

        Serenity sat for a moment, then looked back at Kim. "You...
You can fix that, right?"

        Kim nodded emphatically. "Yes, yes, of course!"

        The Queen formerly known as Serena sat straight on her
seat. "Then make it so."

        "Engage, Master Wharf," Venus whispered under her breath in a
stiff tone, forcing a serious expression, "warped factor nine." She
snickered, smiling.

        *RIIIP* Serenity's hairstylist took out a large roll of a
shiny, dark grey material and peeled off a section, then picked up
the pigtail and immediately went to work at it.

        "So," Sailor Jupiter began, "when do we get to redesign the
Senshi 'uniforms?'"

        Neo-Queen Serenity blinked. "Why would we want to do that?"


        "I don't know," the brunette continued, "maybe because most
of the foes we get are women, and thankfully, most of them aren't
distracted by the... Well, you know. And then there's all that
moral decay stuff we've got to worry about: Like it or not, we're
role models, so I don't know what kind of message we're sending by
spending twenty-four hours a day in something like _this_." She
straightened her 'choker'-style collar for emphasis. "But aside from
that," she tugged at the pink ribbon on the back of her outfit, "this
bow's starting to get to me..."

        "Hmm... It has never been a problem before," Mercury noted.


        Serenity thought for a moment. "Do you really think we should
change it? I think it's possible, but we've had it like this for I
don't know _how_ long... Should we, even?"


        "We could always switch to what the Star Lights had," Sailor
Mars suggested sarcastically.

        Jupiter looked at her, forcing Kimmus to readjust her cutting
angle. "Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you?"

        Mars blinked. "And that's supposed to mean...?"


        The brown-haired girl grinned slightly. "Oh, just that you're
the closest one of us to that already. High heels, red skirt... and
that line you used once, 'I'll punish you in my high-heels...' All
you need is leather and a whip, and-"

        *Thwip-PSSH!* Venus whipped out her non-shouted-attack version
of the Love-Me Chain. "There'll be no dissection in the ranks while
I'm queen," she said in a slightly parodied militaristic English
accent, assuming a stern posture on her seat, shifting her Chain
under her arm as a general's baton.

        There was a sudden shout from outside. "Wait! Stop that, stop
that!" All at once, the ArbyFish fluttered in, dragging a dripping
wet pink-haired girl behind him by the rabbit-ears. "They'll be no
meta'phors here! This's a no meta'phor zone!!!"

        "...Arby?!" everyone present exclaimed, excluding Reenie. The
way Arby said it was more of a mocking sort of tone.

        "In-deed!" Arby said, flinging Lil' Mucus onto Neo-Queen
Serenity's lap and fluttering over to sit on Sailor Venus's head.
"Aye find you all guilty of breaking the code of conduct, Sect'n
Twoice n' 'Alf Ova' Again," he continued, marching back and forth
across Venus's head, "moy punishment will be swift. You will all be
sentenced to twelve n' a quarter-"

        "Not...so...fast!" a black cat with a crescent moon on her
forehead said, her voice only slightly muffled by the purple-furred
kitten she was carrying in her mouth by the scruff of the neck.

        "There he is," Diana said, pointing out Arby, "that's the one
who did it!"

        The ArbyFish suddenly leapt up into the air. "Nope, nope, nope!
Ya can't prove anything!"

        "We'll see," Luna growled, still holding her kitten with her
jaws as she leapt up in an attempt to snag the seal-like creature
with her claws. On her third jump, she got her claws within a mere
millimeter of the elusive ArbyFish, when suddenly...

        "Not...so...fast!" a brown-haired man in a black trenchcoat
shouted as he entered, dragging in behind him a yellow-haired former
Nemesian pilot named Jane. "I am Inspector What's-All-This-Then,
and I-"

        "Inspector What's-All-This-Then of the Yard?!" Diana, Luna,
and Arby said in surprise.

        The Inspector nodded, and continued, "I have been informed
of a certain-"

        *Snick* The lights went out.

        There was the sound of scuffling, followed by a gunshot.

        *Snick* The lights went back on.

        Arby, Luna, Diana, Jane, and What's-All-This-Then lay dead
on the floor.

        The ArbyFish sat up. "Ha-ha! Ya'll neva' catch me aloive!"
He glowed momentarily with a green aura, and sped out of the room
at a phenomenal rate. "The 'Shroom Empoya' will live on!"

        One by one, the rest of the 'dead' individuals got up and
followed in hot pursuit of the escapee.

        Everyone remaining stared... Well, except for Reenie, who
was gibbering incoherently.

        Sailor Venus cleared her throat. "Anyway, as I was saying..."
She held her Love-Me Chain under her arm like a military baton.
"There'll be no dissention within the ranks."

        Sailor Mars decided to let the topic go.

        "Oh, and speaking of that," Jupiter added, "the ranks, I mean.
I wanted to go and talk to Sailor Earth--you know, Ranma, but I
checked around and couldn't find her room listed _anywhere_." She
looked at Neo-Queen Serenity. "Where'd she finally get to sleep?"

        The Queen looked up from her daughter. "That's a good
question..." She frowned. "I don't know."

        "_Did_ she ever get to sleep?" Mars asked.

        "Oh, of course she did," Venus said.

        "Where?" Mercury queried.

        Venus grinned. "Over at my place."

        There was silence for a time, save for the occasional snip
of scissors.

        "What?" the blonde asked innocently.

        Mercury turned toward her. "There is... one surface in your
home that could be readily used to sleep in-"

        "That huge, red, heart-shaped bed!" Mars cut in, scandalized.
"How long has this been going on?!"

        Serenity looked sideways at the Senshi commander. "Mina...?"

        Jupiter raised her eyebrows suggestively. "Perks of leadership,
eh?" She chuckled, shaking her head.

        *Snip* "Could you please hold still?" Kimmus pleaded, trying
to keep up with the cranial motions. "Thanks."

        Sailor Venus looked back at them, not blinking or breaking her
grin. "I know what you're thinking... and you're _wrong_. There's no
two ways about it." She straightened. "It just so happens I lent her
my room, while I spent the nights out spiking tequila with friends."
She paused, then giggled, blushing. "Oh, did I say that out loud?"

        "That's... very encouraging," Jupiter said. "And just who are
these friends you've been going out with...?"

        "Why, the Black and Decker ArbyFish Clans, of course!"

        Everyone present except for Mina winced, shuddering.

        "Oh, _them_," Jupiter whispered.

        "Hey, at least it wasn't the _Purple_ ArbyFish Clan," Venus
added with a shrug. "And all the Blue ones ever did was muck about
in the water, having a good time..."

        "And here I thought Saint Patrick drove all the ArbyFish out
of Crystal Tokyo," Reenie muttered, her left eye twitching.

        "No, wait, didn't Saint Patrick drive all the elephants out of
India?" Venus asked.

        "It was ArbyFish," Reenie insisted.

        The blonde youngish-looking Senshi shook her head. "Elephants,"
she said, pointedly waving her index finger at the pink-haired girl.







        Reenie stood up on her mother's lap, closed her eyes, drew in
a deep breath, opened her mouth wide, and yelled at Sailor Venus,

        Venus blinked, leaving Kimmaeus to puzzle over her customer's
now-blown-back hair. "Wow... I sit corrected."

        Neo-Queen Serenity pulled the little girl back down. "Small
Lady..." she said, not sounding at all happy about the outburst.

        Reenie looked up at her. "Someone _has_ to get history right,
Mommy!" She sighed. "I mean, if people can't remember stuff as
simple as Saint Patrick banishing talking, mutated cats from the
planet Earth-"

        "I still say he was the Pied Piper of India," Venus muttered.


        Mars shut her eyes and groaned. "Mina... Reenie... Saint
Patrick drove all the _snakes_ out of _Ireland_!"

        Mina paused, thinking over Mars's statement, then giggled.
"Oh, yeah, that's right..."


        Sailor Jupiter shook her head. "Some people never change..."

        Reenie was about to make a retort to Mars's statement, when
a thought stirred in her cute little oversized head. "Mommy," she
began, looking up at Serenity, "when I grow up, can I have a dress
like Ranma's? I like the colors and-"

        "Of course you can," the Queen replied, "_if_ you behave..."

        Jupiter frowned. "Wait a second... Where _is_ Ranma?"

        "Oh, she's off babysitting Small Lady," Venus said.

        "...Babysitting?" Mercury asked. "What about-"

        Venus nodded. "That's right, I fired that old 'Poppins' bag
and assigned Ranma to look after Reenie."

        "YOU DID WHAT?!?!" three Inner Senshi and one Queen shouted,

        "Back... _down_," four hairstylists urged, pulling their
charges to their previous seats.

        Sailor Venus shrugged. "I figured Ranma needed something to
occupy her time with besides all those boring katas... And besides,
Setsuna said it'd be a good idea." She paused. "Of course, then
she started laughing maniacally, but..." She frowned as she suddenly
remembered something crucial. "But... if Reenie's _here_, then..."

        Neo-Queen Serenity looked urgently down at her daughter. "Small
Lady, where is Ranma?"

        *RIIIP!*dab-dab* Kim applied more duct tape to Serenity's
previously removed pigtail.

        Reenie shrugged. "We were playing horsie in the desert, then
this big wave came, and..." She frowned. "Then Arby dragged me off."

        "Which desert?" Serenity asked.

        "I forget... It was south, I think. But it just had a big flash

        Mercury suddenly turned toward them.

        "Aaah! Don't _do_ that," Kimmy gasped, barely avoiding a rather
nasty styling mishap.

        "I'm sorry," the blue-haired woman replied to her hairstylist,
then slowly, carefully looked back at Serenity. "I have been keeping
close track of the weather... and there should not have been a single
drop of rain anywhere near the southern deserts."

        "Ah," Venus said, "then someone with water powers must have
caused it!"

        "Let's not jump to any conclusions," Mercury said, then paused
and glanced around. "But... has anyone seen Sailor Neptune?"

        "Don't try to shift the blame. We all know you did it," Venus
grinned. "You were jealous of her from the start."

        Mercury raised an eyebrow, looking at her quizzically, then
continued, "As a matter of fact, I have not seen any of the Outer
Senshi since this morning..."

        "Whatever you're trying to imply," Mars said, "get to the

        "Hmmm," Serenity began, "I think I know what she's getting at."


        Lightning flashed amongst the black clouds as the sailor-suited
girl dragged herself out of the filthy, muddy river. Rain continued
unabated around her, quickly washing away the dirt, leaving her fuku
its normal white and pink color.

        Ranma silently thanked her bowl of lucky charms that Happosai
was blown away. If _he_ saw her like this...

        The cursed martial artist then briefly considered the
possibility that the dead can see you anywhere, anyway...

        "Ugh," Ranma grimaced, considering the implications, and
shuddered. "Reenie!" she called.

        There was no response, save for the roaring of rushing water,
the fall of rain, and the crashing of thunder...

        The drenched redhead's expression darkened. "SMALL LADY!"



        No response.


        Still nothing.

        "...LITTLE MUUUCUUUUS????"

        Ranma collapsed to her knees in the soily muck, her eyes wide
in shock and realization at what must have happened. "She's gone,"
she whispered.

        The girl whom she had been commanded to protect was gone;
swept away into a watery grave... Gone forever.

        Never again would Ranma hear sweet little Reenie's voice...
Never again would she-

        All of the sudden, that thought was cut off by a chorus of
angelic singing...


        A pillar of light fell upon the sailor-suited girl.


        Ranma looked up and saw...

        *AAAAAAAH!* ...a tremendously huge, beautiful, majestic
chocolate parfait! It levitatated a few dozen meters above a dark
stone castle in the distance...

        Without any hesitation, Ranma stood, and sprinted off toward
the castle, faster than the poor traction of the muddy ground should
have allowed.

        It wasn't any surprise that she did this, really, considering
the fact that she hadn't eaten in over a week...

        Within seconds, she had traversed the distance to the
castle, crossed the hedged courtyard, and-

        *RIIP!* Her brooch caught on a rather sturdy--too sturdy,
actually--stone cupid statue, and remained there, hanging from the
bow and arrow assembly by a thin, pink ribbon.

        Ranma didn't even look back at the magical device, and took no
notice of her de-transformation sequence, which left her clothed in
her long-sleeved red chinese shirt and black pants.

        She slowed considerably, but made it to the large, wooden
double castle doors, quickly becoming soaked by the heavy downpour.

        *KNOCK-KNOCK!* The formerly sailor-suited girl pounded on
the door, and yanked on the massive, unyielding titanium handle.
"OPEN UP!" she shouted. "C'MON, PLEASE! OPEN UP-"

        *SPLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASH!!!!!!* A cauldron of hot, seething
cheeseless macaroni poured down upon... him, reversing his curse's
bodily modification.

        The door pulled inwardly open, and Ranma fell in...


        The rather handsome, muscular, drenched black-haired boy
slipped inside the castle, rolling in on a pile of macaroni.

        "Huh. No cheese," the boy whispered, examining the food
product, then looked up, and beheld...

        "Hello," a group of perhaps a dozen beautiful women in
white, robe-like outfits greeted him, smiling deeply.

        Ranma climbed out of the macaroni and stood on his feet,
his hair dripping with the remnants of the recent deluge.

        "Welcome," another woman added, coming forward. She was
approximately 5'4" with shoulder-length purplish-black hair.
"Welcome, gentle sir, to the Castle..." She paused in thought,
then nodded. "Welcome to The Castle."

        Ranma blinked. "The... Castle?"

        The woman nodded sadly. "It's not a very long name..."
She brightened. "But we are nice, and will tend to your every,
_every_ need."

        "You've... got the... icecream here?" the young man asked.

        "The what?"

        "You know, the big, chocolate parfait-"

        The woman took Ranma by the arm and started leading him
away. "Oh, but you are tired and must... rest, yes, rest a
while." She looked to the other women gathered around. "Haruka!
Michiru!" she called, maintaining a pleasant expression.

        "Yes, Hotaru?" a tall, short-haired blonde and a shorter
aqua-haired woman approached. They were attired in white outfits
similar to those worn by the others.

        "Prepare a bed for our guest," Hotaru ordered.

        The other two smiled. "Thank you. Thank you, oh, thank you!"

        The black-haired woman waved them off. "Away, away!"

        Haruka and Michiru nodded, slowly backing off, their eyes
full of gratitude.

        Ranma stared after them. "Those two look so familiar..."

        "Anyway," Hotaru continued, snuggling closer against his
shoulder, "the beds here are warm and soft... and very, _very_

        Ranma wasn't quite sure how to deal with this. "Well, look,
I... I, uh-"

        Hotaru stopped, turned, and looked into his eyes, obviously
very enchanted at what she saw. "What is your name, handsome?"

        The martial artist _still_ didn't quite know what to make
of the situation. "Ranma. Ranma Saotome..." He paused, giving
himself a second to think. "No! Saotome Ranma."

        The woman's smile deepened slightly, before she let go
of Ranma and looked down at her feet. "Mine's Hotaru. Just...
call me Hotaru." She once again took Ranma's arm. "Oh, but
come!" She began to walk off with him again.

        "L-look, please," Ranma stuttered, "I haven't eaten
anything since... I don't know. Where's that parfait I-"

        Hotaru looked at him. "Oh, but you have suffered much.
You are delirious!"

        Ranma blinked. "I saw it... It's upstairs in-"

        The woman drew back, looking deeply hurt. "Ranma! You
would not be so ungallant as to refuse our hospitality!"

        "Well, I, uh... That is-"

        Hotaru sighed. "But... Oh, I'm afraid our life must seem
very dull and quiet compared to yours..."

        Ranma looked around. It was indeed peaceful... Too peaceful,
in fact. What could possibly be wrong with this picture...?

        A thought bubble appeared over his head.

        *WHAM!* {RANMA NO BAKA!!!} a black-haired girl in a blue
dress shouted, passing through the bubble and slamming a mallet
into his head.

        *WHACK!* {Ran-chan!!!} a woman with her brown hair tied back
with a white bow shouted, slamming the flat end of a giant spatula
down onto his head.

        *BAMMM!* {Airen!} a purple-haired girl in a Chinese outfit
called, smiling as she slammed a multicolored, beachball-like
mace onto Ranma's head.

        *THWACKK!* {Ranma-samaaaaa!} a brunette in a black leotard
exclaimed, slamming a white club into his head.

        {Hmph,} a green-haired woman in a black-highlighted sailor
fuku sighed, briefly brandishing her ornate staff, then backing
off, shaking her head. {Why won't you give up?}

        The thought bubble vanished.

        Ranma sighed in utter confusion. "I can't quite place it, but
there's _something_ about this..."

        Hotaru continued to lead him by the arm, up a flight of
stone stairs. "We are but eight score young blondes, brunettes,
bluettes, violettes, and redheads, all between physical ages of
sixteen and nineteen and a half, cut off in this castle with no
one to protect us..." She shivered against Ranma. "Oooh, it is
a lonely life: Bathing, dressing... undressing... modeling very
exciting fuku designs." She looked at him. "We are just not used
to handsome young men..."

        Some of this information was starting to seep into Ranma's
thick skull. "Ummmm..." And as such, he started to hesitate in
his steps.

        Hotaru urged him on. "Nay, nay..." In another moment, they
made it to an open door, at which Ranma started hesitating again.
"Come. Come." She led him inside. "You may lie here." She indicated
a rather large, king-size bed in the middle of the room.

        Ranma began to protest, but any words he had to share were
interrupted by a sudden, uncontrollable urge to yawn. "Uh, okay,
right..." He climbed onto the bed, and instantly started to doze

        Hotaru gasped. "Oh, but you are wounded!" She pointed toward
the rattlesnake attached to the boy's calf.

        The young man sat up and looked at it. "Eh, it's nothing."

        "Oh, you must see the doctors immediately!"

        Ranma paused, then shook his head and started to climb out
of bed.

        "No, please!" Hotaru pleaded. "Lie down." After Ranma complied,
she looked away and clapped her hands together twice.

        Seemingly out of nowhere, a short, *CUTE* blonde girl,
apparently sixteen years of age, stepped forward and stood on the
right side of the bed. A youngish-looking woman with reddish-brown
hair came to the other side of the bed.

        "Well, what seems to be the trouble?" the blonde asked.

        Ranma blinked at the rather unprofessional-looking pair.
"You're doctors?"

        "Er, well..." Hotaru began, "they have-"

        The short blonde brushed back her somewhat longish hair with
her left hand and held out a handful of diplomas in the other. "An
M.D. from every major medical school this planet has to offer."

        The other doctor frowned, then smiled and said, with a hint
of a New Jersey accent, "I've got a G.E.D." She held up a small
wooden plaque.

        Ranma's shoulders slumped. "Oh... Okay."

        "Come, come," Hotaru said, "you must try to rest." She
turned to the doctors. "Doctor Jade, Doctor Naru, practice your
art." With that, she walked softly out of the room.

        Soft music began to play in the background.

        The two doctors smiled at Ranma.

        "Please try to relax," Doctor Naru said, suddenly attempting
to stifle her grin.

        Doctor Jade leaned in, placing a hand on Ranma's chest.

        Ranma slinked back against the bedpost. "Uhhhh, is that...
Do you have to do that?"

        "We must examine you," the brunette insisted, wrapping her
hand around Ranma's calf.

        "Er, um, th-there's nothing wrong with that. Really," Ranma
said, then broke off as Doctor Naru removed the rattlesnake.

        "Please. We _are_ doctors," the cute blonde doctor added in
a soothing, almost seductive voice as the lights dimmed. She leaned
in closer.

        Ranma couldn't take it anymore. He shot out of bed and backed
up against the wall. "Alright, look, I know what you're-"

        "Back to bed," Naru ordered.

        "I-I just came to get that ice cream I saw, and-"

        "No ice cream here," Doctor Jade noted.

        Ranma looked around frantically. "I know I saw it!" He spied
a curtained doorway, and flung it open. "Aha! I knew I would..."
He broke off, and it was pretty obvious why.

        "Hello..." a large number of attractive females in varying
states of undress greeted, smiling _very_ deeply.

pretty much summed up what Ranma had to say. He then caught sight
of a purplish-black-haired woman in a very skimpy sailor fuku:
Basically a Senshi outfit with everything from the top of the skirt
to just below the chest bow edited out, and a sharp reduction in
the rest of the material used for the other sections. "Hotaru...?!"

        The woman stepped forward, escorting Ranma away from the
rest of the girls. "No, I am Hotaru's twin sister, umm... Firefly,
yes! That's it." She nodded, continuing to smile as she assumed
a very close escort position.

        "Well, um, sorry for just kind of..." Ranma began, then
paused, thinking something over. Finally, he nodded, and tried
to pull free of Firefly's grasp. "Excuse me, I-"

        "Where are you going?" Firefly asked, staying very close.

        "I... t-think I should go look for that parfait," Ranma

        Firefly paused, then frowned deeply, looking down. "Oh no..."
Her expression grew to shock. "Oh no! Bad, BAD Hotaru!"

        "...What?" Ranma asked.

        The scantily clad woman let go of Ranma, and walked a few
steps. "Oh, wicked, bad, naughty, _evil_ Hotaru..." She looked
at the young man. "She has been setting alight to our beacon,
which, I have just remembered, is icecream-shaped." She looked
down. "It is not the first time we've had this problem."

        "It... wasn't real?" the black-haired boy asked, frowning.

        Firefly continued to look down. "Oh, wicked, bad, _naughty_,
evil Hotaru!" She looked into Ranma's eyes. "She is a bad person,
and _must_ pay the penalty!"

        Firefly paused, and looked away. "Do you think this scene
should have been cut? We were _so_ worried when Ben was writing
it..." She smiled. "But now, we're glad. It's better than some
of the previous scenes, I think."

        "'Least moine wuz confusin'," Arby noted.

        "Hey," 'Tim said, "mine had _great_ explosions. It wasn't
just copying off some movie script that guy found somewhere."

        Piccolo growled. "Well, get on with it!"

        Kakkorotto nodded. "Yes... Get on with it!"

        "YES! GET ON WITH IT!!!" an army of several thousand Oneshot
Senshi from chapter twenty-five shouted, waving their assortment
of magical tools.

        Firefly snuggled up against Ranma. "Oh, I _am_ enjoying this

        GET... ON WITH IT!!!

        "That's the only hint _I_ need," Firefly added with a grin,
turning to face a very confused-looking Ranma. "Oh, wicked,
_wicked_ Hotaru... Oh, she _is_ a naughty person, and must pay
the penalty, and here in the Castle, we have but one punishment
for setting alight to the parfait-shaped beacon..." The buxom
woman leaned in yet closer. "You must tie her down to a bed...
and _spank_ her."

        "A spanking! A spanking!" all of the other girls exclaimed

        Firefly nodded, her expression becoming very serious. "You
must spank her well, and after you have spanked her, you may deal
with her as you like. And then..." She paused, then smiled.
"Spank _me_!"

        "And me," Michiru said.
        "And me," Haruka added.

        Firefly looked at Ranma. "Yes, yes! You must give us _all_
_good_ spanking!"

        "A spanking! A spanking!" the women cried out in joy.
"There is going to be a spanking tonight!"

        "And then," Firefly continued, "the bed martial arts."

        "Bed martial arts! Bed martial arts!"

        If none of that _other_ stuff caught Ranma's attention, _that_
did. "Well, I guess I could stay a _little_ longer..." he said
quietly, a grin coming to his face.

        Firefly nodded, grinning just as deeply as she started to
lead Ranma away.

        "...Ranma!?" someone called.

        Ranma looked back. "Oh, hi, Serenity."

        Neo-Queen Serenity looked at him for a moment, then shook
her head, a frown coming to her face. "Quick!" she called, coming
between Ranma and the scantily-dressed females.

        "What?" Ranma asked, feeling really quite relaxed at the

        "Quick!" the queen repeated, pushing the boy back, away from

        "Umm... Why?" Ranma questioned.

        Serenity narrowed her eyes and brought out her wand,
preparing to defend herself and Ranma, if necessary. "You're in
_great_ peril!"

        "No he isn't," Firefly interjected.

        "Silence, foul... temptress!" Serenity shot back, enraged.

        Ranma blinked. "Hey, she's not a-"

        The queen forced him back further. "Come on! I'll cover
your escape!"

        "I'm fine!" Ranma protested.

        "Come on!" Serenity urged, moving back amidst the swarm
of beautiful women.

        "Raaaanmaaaa!" the girls called.

        Ranma stopped. "No, look, Queen Serenity, I can take 'em!"

        "Yes, let him take us!" Firefly said.

        "Yes! Let him take us!" the girls insisted.

        Serenity shook her head, backing up. "_No_, Ranma. Would
you hurry up?!"

        "No, really," Ranma added, "I can handle them!"

        "Oh, yes!" Firefly exclaimed. "Let him handle us!"

        "Yes! Let him handle us!" the other advancing women repeated.

        "No!" Serenity shouted, and said back to Ranma, "Quick...

        "Please!!!" Ranma urged desperately. "I can beat 'em! There's
only a hundred and sixty of them!"

        "Yes, he will beat us easily," Firefly said, coming closer,
"we haven't a chance!"

        Finally, Neo-Queen Serenity and Ranma reached the door...

        "He will beat us _easily_!" the horde of girls added.

        *THWAM!* The Queen threw the door open and slammed it behind
her as she and Ranma exited.

        Firefly (Hotaru) sighed, slumping into a kneeling position
on the floor. "And here I thought we were going to get away with

        Haruka put a hand on Hotaru's shoulder. "Better luck next

        "But why does _Setsuna_ get him?" Hotaru pouted.

        "We are not meant to know," Michiru added.


        As soon as the queen and the martial artist got out,
Serenity breathed a sigh of relief. "It looks like I was just in
time... Do you realize what kind of peril you were in?!"

        Ranma folded his arms, narrowing his eyes. "I... don't think
I was in _any_.

        Serenity looked sternly at him. "Oh, yes you were. You were in
_terrible_ peril..."

        The black-haired young man pointed toward the door. "Look,
just let me go back and face that 'peril.' Ranma Saotome _never_
runs away from a challenge." He paused. "Well, not the second time...

        "No," the blonde woman replied in a firm tone, closing her
eyes. "It's too... _perilous_!"

        "Hey, it's my job to... sample as much peril as I can!"

        "You're just not getting it, are you? Let's go. Come on..."

        Ranma looked downtrodden. "Oh... Can't I just have a
_little_ peril for once in my life!?"

        "No," the queen snapped, "it's _wrong_! It's... peril!"

        "You really like that word, don't you?"

        Serenity sighed and sat down by the cupid statue, then noted
the brooch hanging off of the arrow. "Ranma, Ranma... What am I
going to do about you?"

        Ranma had been looking back anxiously at the door. He stopped
and turned toward her. "What do you mean?"

        The woman took the Sailor Earth brooch off of the statue. "The
Outer Senshi have, shall we say, 'looser' rules than the Inners. It
has been that way for as long as I can remember... but you are an
_Inner_ Senshi, Ranma!"

        "Great," Ranma muttered, turning away, "first the sailor fuku,
now dumping more rules on me, and-"

        "You _agreed_ to this," Serenity said, "or have you

        "Yeah, but that was just 'cause you wouldn't..." the martial
artist broke off when he noticed something: He was a guy... and Neo-
Queen Serenity only met him as a girl...

        "I wouldn't what?" Serenity asked.

        Ranma suddenly turned back toward her. "Umm... I'm a... guy
right now. How-"

        "It's nothing I haven't seen before," the pigtailed woman said.

        The martial artist blinked. "Oh..."

        The queen nodded. "The Star Lights, for example, took a male
appearance while not fighting. I won't bore you with why, but they
did." She sighed. "But... I keep thinking of you as Terra, and I
shouldn't expect you to have the same attitude... or values, for
that matter..."

        "Hey... What's all that supposed to mean?"

        Serenity looked him in the eye. "It means that for some reason,
I feel that you are somehow... desecrating Terra's memory for taking
a form like that; for _corrupting_ her apperance into-"

        "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Ranma said, waving his hands in front of
him wildly. "It ain't like that at all!"

        The Queen looked down at the brooch she held in her hand, a
tear falling down her left cheek. "But that is what it feels like...
to _me_." Shs shook her head. "And what it looked like you were going
to _do_ with all those-"

        "I could... change back," Ranma offered, "y'know, if it'd make
you feel better..."

        Serenity looked up at him and sniffled slightly. "You'd do
that for me?"

        "Uh... Sure! I mean... why not?"


        Just outside a pair of titanic metal doors, blue-suited workers
hurried to unload the crates they had been ordered to deliver to this
position. Many had been brought in already, and they sat stationary
near the doors.

        "Put that one over there," Sailor Pluto said, motioning with
her staff. She paused, looking at one worker. "What do you think
you're doing?"

        The worker in question, a teenage male, had the lid of a
crate half-off, and peeked into it.

        *SQUEARRRK!!!* Something inside of the crate made a horrific
sound, throwing the boy several meters away.

        "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" the boy screamed, his eyes wide and
unseeing, as his body erupted into wild convulsions.

        "See to him," Pluto snapped at another worker, "and close that

        *Scree...* A noise from another crate sounded.



        A rapid series of clicks and other primitive modes of
communication occurred.

        *PYKAAA!*WHUMPWHUMPWHUMP!!!* The largest of the crates began
vibrating, wobbling across the ground, bright light shining through
the cracks between the wooden boards.

        "TIE THAT DOWN!" the Time Guardian screeched.

        A few workers with ropes approached, hurriedly lashing
the crate to a post.

        The worker that attended to the victim of what was
contained in the crates held the boy in her arms and looked
with horror at Sailor Pluto. "What... what are you doing with

        The green-haired woman glared at her, lips drawn back. "That
is _not_ for you to know... Now complete your task!"

        Many of the volunteer laborers looked at each other. What
sort of diabolical plot could Sailor Pluto be planning with all
these creatures!?