Subject: [PMFFML] [FFML2] [Fanfic][X-over][R.5/SM]All the Small Things--Chapter 5b
From: Slacker
Date: 3/11/2001, 4:01 PM
To: FFML2

FFML2 - http://ffml2.rcbooks.org

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Okay, I KNOW I said this would be out on Saturday. But...a friend
dropped in. From California. Needless to say, I was busy. So here it
is now. (I'm sure it's still Saturday somewhere.)

******************
All the Small Things--Chapter 5b

A Sailor Moon/Ranma 1/2 Crossover

By Slacker (rheins@pmt.org)
******************

    Tuxedo Kamen crouched on the edge of the 
roof and tossed another rose. It punctured the 
eye of one of the group of youma they were 
fighting. Of course, that only removed one eye 
out of four.

    All of the youma looked exactly the same. 
The easiest way to describe them would be to 
imagine them as an eight-foot tall humanoid 
Praying Mantis. They were insanely fast, and 
tough enough to be a pain.

    Kamen was using his roses to do pin-point 
attacks from the roof tops. They were 
surprisingly effective, having already accounted 
for seven of the twenty-plus youma.

    "Still hiding on the roofs, pretty boy?" a 
voice asked caustically from behind him.

    Kamen didn't even bother turning. "Actually, 
I'm providing support and precision fire."

    "Good. You've finally learned something. 
Sitting on a roof while killing an enemy is 
usually easier than getting in its face. Not as 
much fun, though." Nemesis commented as he 
walked over next to Kamen. He stared down at the 
fight.

    "This isn't right." Nemesis stated in a very 
unhappy tone.

    "What do you mean? We're winning!" Kamen 
replied irritably. <Isn't he EVER happy?>

    "These youma shouldn't be that organized. 
They're using tactics. I've never seen a youma 
built like that with anything that even 
resembled a brain." Nemesis explained.

    "So they're different from what you're used 
to. Big deal." Kamen's voice was flippant as he 
tossed another rose.

    "They're being controlled." Nemesis smiled. 
"That means I get to have some fun. Stay here 
and keep up the...passable work. How many are 
left, by the way?"

    "Eight." Kamen threw three roses in rapid 
succession. "Make that seven."

    "Good. Stay out of my way when I find the 
leader." Nemesis commanded, as he jumped off 
the rooftop.

***************

    "Well, that was easy." Jupiter announced as 
the last youma went down. "Why were these things 
so weak?"

    "I'm not sure." Mercury replied.

    "They were testing us. Trying to find out 
more about our tactics and styles." Pluto 
stated. "That means someone was watching."

    "That's what Nemesis said, too." Kamen 
interjected as he landed next to Moon.

    Pluto's head snapped around. "Nemesis is 
here?"

    "He took off. Said something about having 
some fun." Kamen informed her, as he checked 
Moon for injuries.

    "Oh, dear." Pluto whispered.

    "What? Is that bad? Why is that bad?" Saturn 
asked. A block away from them, the top four 
stories of an office building vaporized in a 
gout of flame. The shockwave threw all of them 
to the ground.  

    "That's why." Pluto groaned, after she spat 
the dirt out of her mouth. "Large scale 
explosions are Nemesis' idea of fun. At least he 
doesn't know the Dragon Slave."

    *THA-WHUMP* A smoking body slammed into the 
concrete in front of Venus. After a few seconds, 
it coughed, letting loose a small cloud of 
smoke, and spoke.

    "Anyone smell barbecue? Oh, wait. That's me. 
Heh." Nemesis started to chuckle as he rose to 
his feet. "That's one nasty little fellow. He's 
mine."

    "Who is?" Moon asked.

    "Him." Nemesis pointed down the street 
towards an approaching figure. "Of course, if 
you get a clean shot, take it. I'm crazy, not 
suicidal."

    "Right." Uranus started to grin.

    "And don't forget, I will survive ANYTHING 
you can throw at me. You hit me just for fun, 
and I'll make the training I put you through 
before look like a walk in the park." Nemesis 
cautioned, before turning and walking towards 
the figure.

    By this point, they could make out what the 
figure looked like. It appeared to be a man, 
dressed in a tasteful pinstripe suit, the kind 
of suit that subtly screamed "I'm expensive as 
hell!" It was also smoldering. He had short 
light black hair, dark eyes, and an average 
build.

    "Do you know what this suit cost?" he asked 
pleasantly. "More money than you'll ever see. 
I'm afraid I must insist you make reparations."

    "And how do you think I'll do that?" Nemesis 
asked, once he was close enough to speak 
normally.

    "Well, you could replace it. I've been 
thinking about getting one made out of leather. 
You look to have enough skin on you to make a 
decent start. I'll just take the rest from your 
little friends. I do hope they manage to stay 
alive during the skinning." The man responded, 
sounding positively delighted at the thought.

    "You don't want a leather suit. They get 
sweaty and chafe." Nemesis politely informed 
him.

    "Really? I guess I'll just kill all of you, 
then. Thank you for that little tidbit, though." 
Came the disappointed reply.

    "You're welcome." Nemesis cordially answered 
as he kicked a chunk of rubble into the man's 
forehead.

    "That hurt, you know." The man rubbed his 
forehead as he spoke. There wasn't a mark on it.

    "It was supposed to. I'm Sailor Nemesis. 
Senshi of Chaos, protector of Queen Serenity, 
bodyguard to the Royal Family, and one hell of a 
poker player. And you are?" Nemesis asked, 
casually dodging the blood-red blast the man 
shot at him.

    "Oh, I'm Augstyn. Soldier of the Imperial 
Roman Empire, Praetorian Guard, and extremely 
good at killing anything that annoys me. You 
annoy me, by the way." He replied, jumping back 
as Nemesis tossed a car at him.

    "Well, now that the formalities are done 
with, shall we begin?" Nemesis inquired.

    "But of course." 

    As soon as Augstyn replied, Nemesis blurred 
into action. He slammed a kick into Augstyn's 
chest, sending him flying through the brick wall 
of a building. He quickly ran after the man.

    The Senshi stared at where the pair had been 
a few seconds before. A series of violent 
explosions resounded in the direction Nemesis 
had gone.

    "Did he just...exchange pleasantries with 
someone who wants to kill every last one of us?" 
Mercury hesitantly asked.

    "That's what it sounded like to me." Neptune 
slowly answered.

    Pluto opened her mouth to say something, but 
was interrupted by a beeping coming from the red 
gem on her bow. She blinked and looked down at 
it. "The encrypted channel? How did he get THAT 
access?" she murmured as she touched the gem.

    "...amned thing working? Why the hell isn't 
this thing transmitting? Pluto, you there?" 
Nemesis' voice sounded.

    "I'm here. What do you want? And how did you 
get access to this frequency?" Pluto testily 
asked.

    "YOU gave me the access, remember? Anyways, 
the reason I'm using this is--WHOA, THAT WAS 
CLOSE! NICE TRY, MOTHER-FU--Ahem, I need you 
guys to get me a clean radius. This guy is good. 
And he just broke my nose. And three ribs. And 
dislocated my shoulder. So screw it. I want some 
vindication." Nemesis sounded almost happy.

    Pluto paled. "Vindication?" 

    Her voice was a whisper as she turned 
towards the Senshi. "Run."

    "What? Pluto, what did you sa--OOF!" Moon 
started to ask Pluto to repeat what she said, 
but was cut off when Pluto dashed over to her, 
flipped her over her shoulder, and started 
running.

    "I said 'RUN'!" Pluto yelled, as she took 
off running. 

    The Senshi shared a glance. No words were 
needed. They were all thinking the same thing 
and they knew it. <Pluto freaked = very BAD 
thing = RUN!>

    Pluto was carrying Moon, who wasn't the 
lightest person on the planet. They still had a 
tough time catching up to her.

    "Pluto, *huff* why *puff* are *pant* we 
*wheeze* running?" Jupiter gasped out.

    Pluto showed no visible effort as she 
answered. "Nemesis is about to cast one of his 
'Big Three'. Its name is Vindication. It's the 
first on a three-step scale. The next is named 
Absolution. That's what he used on Mimas. The 
most powerful is named Solitude. We suspect 
that's what was used to destroy the planet 
Nemesis."

    "What kind of blast are we talking about? 
How big?" Uranus asked, easily keeping pace once 
she had caught her breath.

    "I'm not sure. Let me check." Pluto tapped 
on her gem. "Nemesis?"

    "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?!" His voice 
bellowed a reply. "I'M BUSY HERE!"

    "How far do we need to be?" Pluto asked, 
unperturbed by his tone.

    "I'd recommend three blocks from my current 
position. YEAH, YOU LIKE THAT? HUH? YOU WANT 
SOME MORE OF THAT? WELL, COME ON YOU LITTLE--"

    His voice was cut off as Pluto quickly 
tapped the gem. "I think we've heard enough."

    Behind them, a HUGE fireball rose in to the 
air, leaving behind a corona of black smoke. The 
ground shook.

    "I REALLY hope we don't have to pay for 
that." Moon commented from her perch.

    "I really don't think they'll care about 
that in a few seconds." Pluto commented, as she 
ducked into an alley and tapped on her gem 
again. "We're clear."

    "Good. Let me get into a better position." 
Nemesis responded. "I'm there. Brace 
yourselves."

    It wouldn't be right to say they heard him 
begin. Even if Nemesis screamed at the top of 
his lungs, if would be doubtful that they would 
have heard it. 

    Nevertheless, they KNEW when he started to 
cast the attack. They felt it in their bones. 
Their magic resonated with it. It skittered over 
their skin like a million spiders. Their 
instincts screamed at them to "RUN!" They 
concentrated on ignoring all of it.

    There was a huge flash, the ground shook, 
and car alarms went off. But there was no 
shockwave, no ear-shattering explosion. Just a 
flash and a tremor.

    Pluto slowly poked her head out, then walked 
out. She jumped up to the roof. The rest of the 
Senshi followed her, and sucked in their breath 
at the sight.

    What appeared to be an entire block was 
just...gone. Buildings were cut cleanly as if by 
a knife. Power lines sparked as they danced 
insanely over the ground. A perfectly circular 
section of Juban had been completely vaporized.

    "Kami protect us. How many people did he 
kill with that attack?" Mars whispered in an 
absolutely horrified tone.

    "None. Absolutely none. The bastard skipped 
out before it killed him. But he was seriously 
hurting." Nemesis said from behind them. They 
whirled.

    "WHY THE HELL DO YOU keep...doing...that?" 
Uranus' voice trailed off as she got a good look 
at Nemesis.

    He had a deep cut directly over his right 
eye, his nose was obviously broken, and his left 
eye was rapidly swelling shut. From the way he 
was holding his right arm over his chest it was 
obvious the broken ribs he had mentioned hurt, 
and his left arm was hanging loosely in its 
socket. His shirt had large rents all over it, 
and Mercury thought she saw a brief flash of 
bone through one of them. He looked like someone 
had been put him in a blender and hit 'Frappe'. 
He was nonchalantly leaning against a vent to 
his right.

    Mercury gasped and hurried over to him. 
"Hold still." She commanded.

    "Whoa! Not the aAAARGGH!" Nemesis screamed 
as Mercury touched his left arm and it shifted 
just below the elbow. She quickly snapped her 
hand back and stepped back. Her eyes had a mute 
question. He satisfied her curiosity.

    "Blocked a manhole cover doing Mach 1.8. 
Turned out to be a bad idea. Who knew?" Nemesis 
tried to shrug, but failed. "Actually, it's not 
so bad. It's annoying, that's all. The broken 
left femur is what I'm pissed about." 

    "Broken...left...femur." Mercury repeated 
slowly.

    "Yup. Got it blocking a telephone pole. Or 
maybe it was that tanker. Whatever." Nemesis 
tried to shrug again. He still didn't quite 
manage it. His gaze sharpened. "Pluto. They need 
training. A lot of it, too. Either you take care 
of it, or I will. I'd suggest you start 
immediately. As in tomorrow."

    "We have school tomorrow." Mercury 
informed him calmly.

    "All the schooling in the world doesn't 
matter if you're not alive to use it. Just a 
little reminder." He smiled, showing lots of 
teeth. He looked down. 

	"Saturn, what are you doing?" His voice 
was pleasant, almost kind. Saturn had walked 
over to him and had placed her hands on his 
stomach.

	"I'm going to heal you. Please don't 
move." Saturn replied, as her gloved hands began 
to emit a white glow.

	"Don't bother. Wouldn't work." Nemesis 
gently removed her hands.

	"Why not?" Saturn asked unhappily.

	"It's just the way my magic works. I can't 
be healed by outside forces. You'd just make it 
worse. Thank you for the thought, though." 
Nemesis smiled kindly at Saturn.

      He turned and more or less fell into the 
shadows, swearing under his breath the entire 
time.

      Pluto sighed as she looked up at the sky. 
"It's getting dark. Let's go to my house. It's 
the closest. You can call your parents from 
there and tell them you're staying over." 

******************
Somewhere else.

    "I can explain, really I can." Augstyn 
babbled. He was a mess. Literally charred over a 
good 70 percent of his body, one eye gone, the 
bones in his right arm ground into powder, and 
occasionally coughing up blood from his 
punctured lung. The fact that most of his 
internal organs were the consistency of soup, or 
the multiple hairline fractures on his skull 
didn't appear to be slowing him down, but they 
still hurt.

    A shadowed form stared at him with glowing 
red eyes from its perch in a large, overstuffed 
Laz-E-Boy. (Just because you're evil doesn't 
mean you don't like comfy chairs.) This was the 
Master. If he had another name, he had never 
bother to inform anyone. He calmly watched as 
Augstyn babbled away.

    "You see, I knew we needed more data on the 
Senshi, so I thought--URK!" His voice was cut 
off by a hand closing around his throat. He was 
slowly lifted into the air and brought close to 
his Master's face. Augstyn nervously stared at 
the razor-sharp teeth that were well within 
biting distance as the Master started to speak.

    "That is just the problem. You 'thought'. I 
was under the impression that I had broken you 
of that habit. Of course, if you 'think' you 
understand more about my goals than I do...." 
his Master's gravelly voice trailed off.

    Augstyn frantically shook his head. He could 
feel his Master's claws digging into his neck. 
He tried desperately not to remember the time he 
watched the Master gleefully flay a man with 
those nails.

    "Listen to me, and listen well, little 
Augstyn. I have not spent all the time I have on 
this miserable little mudball to have my efforts 
ruined by you. I was already sick of this planet 
when your ancestors considered a bronze sword as 
the height of weaponry. 

    "I hate this pathetic hellhole. I would like 
nothing more than to reduce it to random atoms 
floating through the void of space. But, until I 
accomplish my goals, I CAN *NOT*. If you EVER 
endanger my plans again, I will make you wish 
your great-grandparents had died at birth. 
Understand?" The Master's voice was coldly 
formal and flat.

    Augstyn nodded quickly, trying to ignore the 
obvious enjoyment the Master had at his terror.

    "Good. Now get out of my sight." He was 
tossed to the floor carelessly. Augstyn ignored 
the pain, ignored the broken bones, just 
scrambled quickly for the door. He had to get 
away. HadtoHadtoHadtoHadtoHadto!

    A chuckle sounded through the room after 
Augstyn had managed to pull himself out. "Good. 
Maybe next time he'll actually listen. Now, what 
should I do? Ah, I know. I'll go...exploring. 
London? I've had fun there before. Maybe it's 
time for Jack to come back."

    With that, the dark figure disappeared, 
laughing the whole while in a harsh, grating 
tone.

******************

      "I can't wait to go to sleep." Minako 
commented as the group minus Mamoru (who had a 
test to study for) and the cats (Setsuna 
informed them that Ranko had an extreme allergy 
to cats), walked towards the door of Setsuna's 
home. 

	Everyone absently nodded as they kept 
their full attention on Haruka, who was telling 
a story about their houseguest.

	"...So Ranko stumbles in, shirt ripped, 
pants shredded, and one shoe gone. Has a black 
eye, a split lip, and one massive bruise on her 
side. You know her only comment?" Haruka waited 
a bit to build suspense. 

      "And I quote: 'I ran into an old friend. I 
was kicking his ass until he got lost. We got 
any ice?' That was it! She never mentioned it 
again!" Haruka shook her head in exasperation. 
"Man, she's come home just about every night 
with something. I don't know how she manages to 
keep herself clothed."

      They were halfway to the door when Setsuna 
froze and blocked the group from going any 
further with her arm. Haruka was about to 
complain, but one look at Setsuna's face halted 
her.

      "Setsuna? What's wrong?" Haruka asked in a 
concerned tone. 

      "The door is open. And I know I closed and 
dead-bolted it when I left." Setsuna's voice was 
quiet. 

	"So Ranko came home after a fight and 
didn't lock it. Big deal." Haruka negligently 
replied.

	"Ranko never uses the front door, 
remember? She always goes through her window." 
Setsuna reminded her. "Now, stay here."

      They watched as Setsuna cautiously 
advanced the last few yards to the door. When 
she got to it, she knelt down and touched her 
fingertips to the doorstep, then lifted them and 
rubbed them together. She motioned them forward.

      "What did you find?" Ami asked nervously.

      "Blood. Pretty good puddle, too. Smeared 
on the door handle, the pot where I keep the 
spare key, and the key. Key's still in the lock, 
too." Setsuna stood and commanded in a firm 
voice, "Follow me. Watch your backs, and be on 
your guard. It might just be a burglar who cut 
his hand. If it is, he's going to regret it." 
Unspoken, yet still understood by all, was the 
thought that it probably wasn't a burglar, 
though.

      Setsuna pulled open the left side of her 
jacket and reached in. What her hand was holding 
when it emerged made the other Senshi gasp and 
caused their eyes to pop.

      "That's a mighty big gun." Haruka calmly 
commented. (And ranked an 8.5 on the coolness 
meter.)

      "It's a Taurus Raging Bull. Fires .454 
ammo of my own make. Trust me, you hit someone 
with this gun, they don't get back up." Setsuna 
informed them in an almost happy tone.

      "You do know that guns are highly illegal, 
right?" Makoto asked calmly.

      "Not if you have the right permits." 
Setsuna replied, as she pushed the door open 
with her foot.

	"Why do you have a gun, anyways?" Ami 
interjected.

	"Because it's not always practical to 
transform and hit my enemy with a Dead Scream. 
Now be quiet!" Setsuna commanded, then dashed 
into the front room, gun at the ready. 

      She swiftly and silently followed the 
trail of blood through the room and up the 
stairs. The others followed her, though not as 
swiftly, and nowhere near silently.

      "This is just like one of those Bond 
films. Minako Aino, starring in: 'Lotsopussy'!" 
Minako loudly whispered. Haruka choked. Most of 
the other Senshi tried to illuminate the room 
with blushes alone. Hotaru was confused at their 
weird behavior. Older people were just weird 
sometimes.

      "That's 'Octopussy', Minako." Haruka 
finally managed to get out through her attempts 
to keep from laughing out loud.

      "Oh. Well, close enough." Minako 
flippantly replied.

      Haruka was about to say more, but was cut 
off when a hand was slapped over her mouth. 
Setsuna glared at her.

      "Do you mind? I can't hear anything over 
you people!" She hissed. "The blood trail goes 
to the bathroom. I'm going to check it out. You 
stay here. If I need help, you'll know. Just 
listen for loud booms."

      Setsuna started to stalk slowly down the 
hall. Haruka looked over at Michiru, raised an 
eyebrow, grinned, and followed her. The rest of 
the Senshi followed Haruka. 

      Ahead of them, Setsuna silently groaned to 
herself. <Nemesis is right. They DO need to 
train.>

      She slowly edged around the open door of 
the bathroom. There was a small form laying on 
the floor just inside the door. Keeping one hand 
firmly on her pistol, she reached over and 
switched on the light.

    "SON OF A BITCH!" 

    The Senshi nearly jumped out of their skins 
as Setsuna bellowed an obscenity and ran into 
the bathroom. They quickly ran to the door and 
looked in. 

    Setsuna was kneeling down next to a familiar 
red-headed female. The blood obviously belonged 
to her, as she was lying in a small puddle of 
it.

    "Ranko?" Haruka's horrified whisper sounded 
hideously loud in the sudden silence. <Oh, hell. 
This is a lot worse than last time she crawled 
home.>

    Setsuna returned her pistol to its holster 
and slowly reached over to Ranko's still form. 
She could see that she was still breathing, 
which was a good thing. However, she appeared to 
be unconscious, which was a bad thing.

    As Setsuna's hand touched her, Ranko jerked 
a bit. 

    "Wha? 'Suna? 'Zat you? Ya, 'tis. Good. Need 
a lil' help here." Ranko slurred out.

    "My God, Ranko, who did this to you?" Rei 
asked.

    Ranko snorted and chuckled weakly. "'m fine. 
Y' sh'd see th' other guy."

    She was still chuckling softly when she 
passed out.

******************

    "I simply can NOT believe she won't take 
Ranko to a hospital! What's she trying to do, 
kill her?" Rei raged as she stalked around the 
living room, waiting for Setsuna to come down.

    "I'm sure she has a reason." Haruka 
pragmatically said. <Of course, if it's not a 
damn good one, I'm gonna kick her ass.> Haruka 
had to admit, Ranko could be REALLY obnoxious, 
but she grew on you. 

    "What kind of reason could she have? Ranko 
has to have massive blood loss, could have 
internal injuries, and needs to be x-rayed at 
the very least! We should be out finding the 
bastard that did that to her and making him 
pay!" Ami nearly snarled from her seat by the 
window. 

	Everyone stared at her. Ami was almost 
growling as she said that. Ami growling was NOT 
a usual thing. It was scary.

	"You can't find him. By now he's long 
gone. And even if you did, you wouldn't be able 
to hurt him. Not if he managed to hurt her like 
that." Setsuna announced from the doorway.

	"And just why aren't we taking her to the 
hospital? She needs medical attention!" Ami 
yelled.

	"Don't yell. Ranko's asleep." Setsuna 
calmly commanded as she walked across the room 
to a cabinet against the far wall. She opened it 
and pulled out a crystal-cut bottle filled with 
amber liquid and a large glass. She pulled the 
stopper out and filled the glass to the brim. 
She lifted the glass to eye level, and looked at 
it.

	"Bottoms up." Setsuna commented, then 
tossed back the entire glass in one shot. She 
winced, then poured another glass and downed it 
too. She replaced the bottle after pouring 
a third glass, then walked over to the couch and 
sank into it next to Makoto. 

	Setsuna swirled her drink as she started 
to speak. Her voice was quiet and serious.

	"Ranko has...certain people after her.
Because of that, I cannot take her to a 
hospital. It's also the reason she's so good at 
fighting. She's had a LOT of practice. In all 
likelihood, the person who did that to her was 
one of those people."

	"So let's find them and 'convince' them to 
leave her alone." Ami growled through gritted 
teeth.

	"If they did *that* to her, you wouldn't 
stand a chance. Trust me." Setsuna said softly.

	"I'll transform." Ami quickly replied.

	"It wouldn't matter." Setsuna sipped at 
her drink.

	"What do you mean, 'It wouldn't matter'?" 
Haruka asked.

	"Ranko could defeat you even if you 
transformed. Blindfolded. With both arms tied 
behind her back. Without breaking a sweat." 
Setsuna stated, looking Haruka straight in the 
eyes. "She's been holding back against you. A 
lot."

	"Has she." Haruka's voice was flat.

	"Oh, yes. If you attacked her in her 
sleep, she wouldn't even have to wake up to 
knock you out." Setsuna said, then drained the 
glass.

	"Setsuna-mama? Can I heal Ranko?" Hotaru 
asked hesitantly.

	Setsuna smiled tenderly at her. "No, 
Hotaru-chan. It's not necessary. Ranko just 
needs some sleep and a lot of food. I'd lay 
money on her being fine in time for school 
tomorrow."

	"Are you serious?" Makoto incredulously 
exclaimed.

	"I'm very serious. Ranko has trained her 
body to heal faster." Setsuna answered, as she 
moved over and filled her glass again.

	"I'd be careful how much of that you put 
away, Setsuna. Double-malt scotch will knock you 
on your ass." Haruka cautioned.

	Setsuna laughed. "Haruka, I couldn't get a 
buzz even if I wanted to. My powers ensure it. 
They don't let me get drunk. Most I can manage 
is a bit relaxed." She smirked as she mock-
toasted towards Haruka. "Ever wonder why I never 
have hangovers? Bottoms up."

	"Well, that must come in handy." Minako 
commented.

	Setsuna just smiled as she sat down again. 
There was silence for a few seconds, then she 
spoke again.

	"He was right."

	"Who was? And about what?" Michiru quickly 
inquired.

	"Nemesis. He was right. You DO need 
training. We should start tomorrow." Setsuna 
glanced at her watch. "Make that today."

	"When are we supposed to train? At night, 
we have to deal with youma, and during the day 
we have school. I don't see how we can manage 
it." Ami calmly stated the facts.

	"Simple. You don't go to school." Setsuna 
responded.

	"WHAT?!" The room exploded into a babble 
of voices. Some of them (Minako, Makoto, Usagi) 
were excited by the prospect of no school, while 
the rest were protesting.

	Setsuna silenced them all by lifting her 
hand. 

	"You didn't let me finish." She coolly 
stated. "I never suggested you stop learning. I 
merely suggested you stop going to school. I am 
fully licensed to teach well past a college 
level education. I could go to any college on 
the planet and get a job nearly instantly." She 
shrugged, "I had to do something while I waited 
for all of you to be reborn."

	"And how long would it take for you to set 
this up?" Haruka asked.

	"I already have. Why do you think I was 
making all those calls on my cell phone as we 
walked home? I start tutoring you tomorrow. Ami 
still has her juku after school, though."

	"How did you manage that?" Michiru 
incredulously asked.

	"There are some good things to being your 
school counselor. It allows me to assign all of 
you to an 'inter-personal teaching study group' 
at a moment's notice. With Rei, I just had to 
request that she be included to 'facilitate a 
wider diversity amongst the student ratio'. 
After that, it was just a matter of calling your 
parents and informing them of the great honor 
you had just received. Simple, really." Setsuna 
smirked a little.

	The Senshi all stared at her in amazement. 
Setsuna smiled as she stood, then spoke.

	"You should sleep now. We're going to 
start early tomorrow. I'm afraid none of us are 
going to be able to sleep upstairs, though. 
Ranko's nerves are too tightly wound right now 
to stay asleep if we went up there. Haruka, 
please show them where the spare bedding is. I 
have dibs on the couch." Setsuna calmly 
declared.

	"Why do you get the couch?" Minako 
demanded.

	"It's my house. It's my couch. It's the 
first time I've gotten sleep in the last week. 
*I* *GET* *THE* *COUCH*." Setsuna never raised 
her voice, but her tone made everyone take an 
involuntarily step back.

	"You get the couch." Minako squeaked.

	"Thank you." Setsuna smiled sweetly.

	Everyone gulped, then followed Haruka to 
get blankets and whatnot.

*******************

	Rei jerked awake. She glanced around 
hurriedly. No one else was moving. Everyone was 
sleeping on the floor in Setsuna's front room. 
Except for Setsuna who had sighed happily as she 
lay on the couch. And Hotaru, who was curled up 
in the highly comfortable chair.

	One of the bad things about being both a 
fire maiden and Sailor Mars was the fact that 
she was mildly empathic and was unable to turn 
her empathy off. As Sailor Mars, it meant that 
she could sense evil. As Rei, it meant that she 
was constantly being awakened by strong 
feelings. She had lost count of the number of 
times she had been jerked awake by someone 
arguing in front of the temple. And she could 
never manage to get back to sleep, either. After 
a while, she had almost gotten used to it, but 
the loss of sleep still left her grouchy.

	It wasn't anger that had jerked her awake 
this time, though. It was a feeling she was 
quite used to sensing whenever she arrived on 
the scene of a youma attack. It was fear. 
Soul-wrenching, gut-churning terror. 

	Rei slowly got to her feet, staggered 
over to the light switch, and snapped it on, 
waking the other occupants of the room. She 
opened her mouth to speak over the grumbling, 
but was interrupted by a scream behind her. It 
came from upstairs. 

	Rei started to snap around, but was shoved 
to the side by a green-haired blur. Rei stared 
in shock as Setsuna ignored the stairs and 
leapt to the second floor.

	Rei regained her footing, only to be 
shoved aside again. This time by Hotaru, who 
followed Setsuna's example and leapt to the 
second floor as well.

	Rei shook off her shock and rapidly ran up 
the stairs. The rest of the group followed en 
masse. They followed the screaming down the hall 
to its origin, the room at the end of the hall. 
Idly, Haruka and Michiru noted that it was 
Setsuna's room. Hotaru was standing in the 
doorway, her face pale.

	As the Senshi clustered around the 
doorway, they saw a sight that branded itself 
into their brains. 

	Ranko was curled in a ball on Setsuna's 
lap, sobbing hysterically. Setsuna was cradling 
Ranko's head against her chest and making 
soothing noises while rubbing her back. Ranko 
had her arms wrapped around Setsuna, and showed 
no intention of ever letting go.

	Rei hesitantly began to enter the room, 
but was halted when Setsuna shot a glance at 
her. The glance was a clearly stated "BACK OFF!" 
She retreated to the doorway and watched 
helplessly.

	After a few minutes that seemed like days, 
Ranko's sobs began to ease off and she loosened 
her hold on Setsuna. Setsuna slowly eased 
herself out of Ranko's grip as her crying 
stopped and gently lowered her back onto the 
bed. Ranko shifted a little in her sleep as 
Setsuna pulled the covers back over her and 
tenderly tucked her in. 

	Setsuna brushed the hair back from Ranko's 
face, then kissed the first two fingertips of 
her right hand and touched them to Ranko's 
forehead.

	"May the Goddess protect you from the 
demons of your own mind." Setsuna whispered 
softly, before standing and walking towards the 
doorway. None of the Senshi needed any prompting 
to go back downstairs as quietly as they could.

	Once they were back in the living room, 
Rei turned to Setsuna and asked in a calm, 
deadly voice, "Setsuna, what the HELL was that?"

	Setsuna ignored her and went over to the 
cabinet again, removing a now-familiar bottle 
and glass. She carried both over to the couch 
and collapsed into it. She poured and drank 
three glasses in quick succession, then lifted 
the now-empty bottle and gazed at it.

	"It's times like this that I REALLY wish I 
could get drunk." Setsuna's voice was wistful. 
"You don't realize how much you miss the little 
things like that until they're gone."

	Rei tried again, this time with a little 
more heat in her voice. "Setsuna, tell me what 
the HELL just happened. What did that to Ranko? 
She didn't even wake up!"

	Setsuna sighed, then opened her mouth to 
speak. Everyone leaned in close to listen as she 
spoke. "Ranko's not allergic to cats."

	And then everyone simultaneously fell 
over. Rei jumped back to her feet. "WHA-MMMPHH!" 

	Rei's scream was interrupted by Setsuna's 
hand over her mouth. Setsuna's voice was ice-
cold as she spoke. 

	"Please don't yell. You wouldn't want to 
wake up Ranko, now would you?" 

	Rei shook her head. Setsuna smiled a tight 
smile as she removed her hand and sat back down. 
She started to speak.

	"Remember how I told you how Ranko was an 
extremely GOOD fighter?" Everyone nodded. 

      "It's because of her training. Ranko has 
trained nearly every waking hour since she could 
stand unaided. Almost sixteen years of intensive 
martial arts training. No breaks, no off days, 
no vacations. No mercy was shown, or asked for, 
because mercy did not exist in the training, or 
the trainer's heart." 

      Setsuna paused, then looked around the 
room. "What I'm about to tell you is NEVER to be 
discussed. EVER. *I* tell Artemis and Luna, not 
you. *I* will tell Mamoru, not you. *YOU* will 
tell NO ONE. If Ranko brings it up, you can tell 
her I told you. Otherwise, do not mention it. Do 
you understand and agree?"

	Setsuna waited until she received 
agreement from everyone in the room before 
continuing. "Ranko's primary teacher in the Art 
was her father. To call the man an idiot is an 
understatement. The words simply do not exist to 
convey the pure stupidity of that...thing." 
Disgust dripped from her voice. "He cared about 
nothing but making his child into the best 
Martial Artist on the planet. He succeeded, but 
screwed her life over as a result."

	Setsuna paused and took a deep breath. 
"One of the ways he decided to teach his child 
was a technique known as the Neko-ken."

	As Setsuna calmly described the training 
for the Neko-ken, the Senshi's faces grew 
progressively paler. As Setsuna described the 
side effects, Haruka's legs gave out and she 
collapsed to the floor. As Setsuna explained 
how the Neko-ken actually worked, Usagi dashed 
to the nearest bathroom and became violently 
ill. After what seemed like years, Setsuna 
finally fell silent. As she tried not to faint, 
Ami absently noticed that a single tear was 
sliding down Setsuna's cheek.

	"That bastard DIES." Michiru stated in 
an enraged, hate-filled voice. Everyone in the 
room nodded in agreement.

	"No. You are not to try to find him. You 
are not to try to do anything to him." Setsuna 
coldly announced.

	"WHY?!" Rei screamed, "Because of your 
all-important time stream? Is that it? Will his 
death cause your precious Crystal Tokyo to not 
exist? Is that it?"

	In a flash, Setsuna was standing in front 
of Rei, staring into her eyes. Setsuna's eyes 
were literally glowing with rage. They looked 
like a preview of the flames of Hell. Rei 
gulped.

	"No, Rei. His death doesn't mean a thing 
to Crystal Tokyo now. His death won't affect any 
further major events. His death is entirely 
meaningless. However, none of you are going to 
take action against him, for one simple reason: 
He is *MINE*. I have millennia of experience on 
all of you. I can make his last hours into 
weeks. By the time I'm done with him, death will 
be a comfort." Setsuna hissed, in a tone that 
would make Satan himself think twice about 
crossing her.

	Rei collapsed to the floor as Setsuna 
turned away and tried to remember how to 
breathe.

	"Setsuna, how do you know about this?" 
Usagi asked from the doorway. Her face was pale, 
and tears were streaming from her eyes. Setsuna 
averted her eyes, and said nothing.

	"You were there, weren't you." It wasn't a 
question. Setsuna remained silent.

	"Setsuna?" Michiru's voice was aghast. 
"You could have stopped that? Why didn't you?"

	"I couldn't have stopped it." Setsuna 
answered in a small voice.

	"Bullshit. You could have stopped it, you 
just didn't. Let me guess: 'Sanctity of the time 
stream?'" Rei's voice was harsh and mocking. 
Setsuna whirled to face her.

	"Damn it! I COULDN'T! *I* told MYSELF not 
to! Do you know what happened the LAST time I 
ignored myself? Do you? Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 
that's what! I DIDN'T HAVE A CHOICE!" Setsuna 
cried.

	"You always have a choice, Setsuna." Usagi 
firmly stated.

	"Some choice. If I had stopped that 
attempt her father would have tried it again in 
a different place. That time, Ranko would have 
died." Setsuna responded in a haunted voice.

	"Setsuna, you should have done SOMETHING." 
Usagi's voice was earnest.

	"I did what I could. If Ranko hadn't gone 
through the Neko-ken, she would have died. If 
she had died, right now large portions of the 
planet would be irradiated craters." Setsuna 
rubbed her temples, then continued.

	"I've been protecting the Time Gate since 
Arik created it and put it on Pluto. I've been 
alive for so long that not even *I* remember 
just how old I am. None of you know what that is 
like. I did what I had to do. It doesn't mean 
I'm proud of it. End of discussion." Setsuna's 
tone indicated that the subject was closed as 
far as she was concerned.

	"Setsuna, this conversation is not over." 
Usagi stated.

	"Yes, it is. We can continue it after 
you've experienced something close to what I 
have." Setsuna laid down on the couch and 
prepared to go back to sleep.

	"And when will that be?" Minako asked.

	"Ask me again in a thousand years." 
Setsuna replied.

	There was silence for a few seconds. Then, 
Makoto broke it with a question.

	"So you're saying we've gotta wait until 
Crystal Tokyo?" 

	Silence.

	"Setsuna?" Makoto walked over to the 
couch. She peered at Setsuna. "Setsuna? She's... 
asleep?"

	"Wow. That was fast." Usagi commented.

	"Trick I picked up from Hannibal's troops. 
Along with learning how to sleep lightly." 
Setsuna said, without showing any other signs of 
activity. "Now, go to sleep. School starts 
early."

	"Yeah, sure. Whatever." Haruka 
sarcastically commented as she and Michiru got 
comfortable in their sleeping bag.

	As the rest of the girls started to slowly 
fall back to sleep, Setsuna smiled to herself. 
<Haruka, you never learn, do you?>

*************

	Michiru mumbled a little under her breath 
and shifted. There was a cold draft blowing down 
her and Haruka's sleeping bag. She tried to 
cuddle closer to Haruka, but slim hands slowly 
rolled her away. She batted them away.

	"You just haveta' be difficult don't ya, 
Michiru." A voice grumbled.

	Michiru sleepily nuzzled up to Haruka 
before something occurred to her. <That wasn't 
Haruka's voice.> Her eyes snapped open and she 
whipped her head around. A hand was slapped over 
her mouth before she had a chance to speak, 
though.

	Michiru stared at the figure over her. 
Ranko's eyes twinkled as she lifted a finger to 
her lips in a silent instruction to stay quiet. 
She grinned mischievously. 

	<Ranko's awake? She's moving?> Then 
Michiru looked around the room and noticed that 
a window to the back yard was open, with the 
screen leaning against the wall beside it. <She 
wouldn't.>

	Ranko grinned as she grabbed the back of 
Haruka's shirt and the hem of her panties.

	<She would.> Michiru concluded.

	The group was treated to a loud, cheerful 
bellow from Ranko as she picked up Haruka and 
threw her.

	"TIME FOR A SWIM, HARUKA!"

	As Haruka flew through the open window, 
she had just enough time to notice Setsuna 
standing on the porch and saluting her with her 
customary cup of tea. Haruka drew in a breath 
for a scream just before she entered the ice-
cold water of the pond.

	Inside the house, the Senshi snapped awake 
at the yell, adrenaline going into hands 
reaching for henshin pens instinctively. They 
stopped when they didn't see any enemy, just the 
tail end of Ranko's pigtail as she jumped out 
the window.


      Everyone felt the temptation to turn over 
and go back to sleep, but loud laughing from the 
back yard destroyed that idea. Everyone crawled 
out of their sleeping bags and stumbled over to 
the window and looked out.

	Ranko was standing in the middle of the 
yard, dressed in her usual red and black Chinese 
clothes, and mocking Haruka as she crawled out 
of the pond.

	"What's the matter, Haruka? You appear to 
be soaking wet. My, I wonder how that happened?" 
Ranko seemed to be enjoying herself immensely.

	Haruka growled, then winced. She reached 
down and made a few adjustments to her underwear 
before standing up. Ranko smirked as Haruka 
charged her.

	Ranko hopped over Haruka's fist (and her 
head), which left her back wide open. Haruka 
took advantage of the opportunity with a kick, 
only to have Ranko impossibly twist around in 
mid-air to dodge. 

	Ranko's foot shot out and hit Haruka in 
the forehead with just enough force to sting 
slightly. Haruka instinctively jerked back and 
slipped on the dew-slicked grass, resulting in 
her impacting the ground on her butt. Ranko 
started laughing.

	"Real graceful, Haruka! Geez, I've seen 
pandas that fight better than you!" Ranko 
taunted.

	Haruka regained her feet, and the 
'sparring' started again. Haruka continued to 
try to even touch Ranko, who stayed just barely 
out of reach the entire time.

	The Senshi stared in shock as Ranko 
bounced around the yard like a ping-pong ball on 
espresso, taunting Haruka the entire time. It 
was obvious to everyone that she was in no 
danger of Haruka catching her.

	"Now you see why I said she'd be fine? And 
why I refused a hospital? All she needs is a lot 
of food to replenish what healing herself took 
out of her." Setsuna announced from behind them. 

	None of them even twitched. They were too 
busy staring at Ranko play with Haruka like she 
was a child.

	"I want to learn how to do THAT." Makoto 
said in a reverent voice.

	"All you have to do is ask her. She's 
already agreed to teach all of you. But I warn 
you, her training will not be easy. And once she 
starts, she won't stop until she's happy with 
you." Setsuna warned, knowing her warning would 
fall on deaf ears.

	"I don't care if she makes me walk through 
Tokyo naked as long as she teaches me how to do 
that." Makoto replied, watching as Ranko flipped 
Haruka into the pond.

	Setsuna smiled. <I warned them. Now, 
they're in for it.>

*******************

	"You gonna eat that?" Ranko asked Rei, 
pointing at the stack of waffles on her plate. 
Rei mutely shook her head.

	"Great. Mind if I eat 'em?" Without 
waiting for a reply, Ranko slipped them onto her 
plate, doused them with syrup, and proceeded to 
devour them.

	Usagi leaned over to Makoto and whispered, 
"Do I eat like that?"

	Makoto shook her head as she whispered 
back. "No, your manners are better." <But not by 
much.>

	"Ranko, how much CAN you eat?" Hotaru 
asked with uncharacteristic bluntness. So far, 
Ranko had devoured several LARGE stacks of 
waffles, enough orange juice to float an 
aircraft carrier, and seemed intent on consuming 
an entire pig in the form of sausage.

	Ranko just smiled as she reached for more 
food. It took several heaping plates more before 
she pushed herself back from the table. She 
wiped off her mouth, then spoke.

	"As I was comin' in, Setsuna said ya all 
wanted to learn the Art from me. That right?"

	Everyone nodded, and most of them had 
eager looks in their eyes. Ranko pursed her 
lips.

	"You understand, I ain't gonna go easy on 
ya. And I was just playin' with Haruka this 
morning. Trainin' under me 's gonna be tough, 
and I won't stop 'til I'm happy with ya."

	Everyone paused, taken back by the 
absolute seriousness in her voice. Rei leaned 
forward as she spoke.

	"We would learn, if you would teach us... 
Sensei." Everyone echoed their agreement as 
Ranko glanced at them. 

	"All right. You asked for it. The most 
important rule is contained in my style's name: 
'Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu'. Roughly translates to 
'Anything Goes.' States everything ya need to 
know. The only rule is this: Whatever it takes 
to win. Period. You are bound only by your own 
limits. And I'm gonna make those limits bigger."

	Ranko glanced around the table. "I ain't 
gonna lie to ya. It's gonna be rough. It's gonna 
be hard. Before the end of it, you'll wish I was 
dead. But you will learn. And you'll learn to MY 
satisfaction."

	Everyone gulped and began to wonder what 
they had gotten themselves into. Ranko smiled as 
she finished her speech.

	"We'll begin tomorrow. But first...." 
Ranko trailed off.

	Everyone leaned forward in anticipation.

	"We need to get some more food. I'm 
starving." Ranko announced firmly. There was a 
chorus of meaty *thuds* as several foreheads hit 
the table. Ranko grinned and stood. "A martial 
artist lives by his body. Your body lives by 
your stomach."

	Ranko turned and bumped into Setsuna, who 
had been silently standing behind her chair. 
Ranko noticed the cup of tea in her hands just a 
little too late. The full, steaming cup of tea. 
The full, steaming cup of tea that was now 
falling right towards her. Ranko froze in panic. 
<Oh, damn.>

	Setsuna's hand flashed out, slapping the 
cup aside so that the tea missed Ranko, hitting 
Haruka instead.

	"AAAAAHHHHH! HOT!" Haruka screamed. 

	Ranko ignored her. She was too busy 
looking into Setsuna's eyes. There was something 
there. A certain look in them. Ranko knew that 
look. Nabiki had it all the time. It was a "I 
know something you're hiding" look. It was a 
look that Ranko did NOT want to see.

	"Setsuna, can I talk to you?" Ranko asked, 
jerking her head to the door. Setsuna nodded 
agreement. Ranko followed her past, the now-
muttering Haruka, through the living room, and 
up the stairs to Setsuna's room.

	Ranko wasted no time in small talk once 
Setsuna had shut the door. "You know."

	"Know? Know what?" Setsuna asked 
innocently. Ranko glared at her. 

	Setsuna sighed. "Yes, of course I know. We 
can't talk about this now. There's something I 
need to do, so we'll talk later. I need you to 
pick up some things from the grocery store while 
I take care of my business. Take the girls with 
you."

	Ranko opened her mouth to protest, but was 
stopped by the look in Setsuna's eyes. Ranko 
knew that look, too. She had seen it in both her 
mother's and Kasumi's eyes. It meant "You will 
do it. Period." Ranko sighed.

	"Fine. We'll talk later." Ranko bit out as 
she turned, opened the door, and started to slip 
out. Setsuna's voice stopped her.

	"One last thing, Ranko. Pressure points 
wear off." 

	"What?" Ranko asked as she snapped her 
head around. The room was empty. Ranko blinked. 
<I don't know how she did that, but I have GOT 
to learn it. And what the hell did she mean by 
that?>

******************

	"Why are we getting groceries? We should 
be studying." Ami asked as she walked and 
studied the shopping list that had somehow 
appeared on the table when no one was looking.

	"Oh, lighten up, Ami!" Usagi exclaimed. 
"It's a lot better out here than stuck in the 
house learning stuff we'll never use anyways! 
It's such a nice day, too! Nothing can ruin it!"

	It's that kind of statement that nasty, 
vindictive gods live for. The kind of gods that 
make sure it rains during a picnic. Or ensure 
that all the snow melts just BEFORE you can 
build a snowman. Or, like in this case, make a 
youma attack occur just in front of you. (It 
isn't that the gods don't have a sense of humor. 
It's just that their idea of a good joke tends 
to drive mortals insane.)

	Everyone leapt for cover as a large, 
blue-scaled hand burst through the wall to their 
left. Everyone except for Ranko, that is. She 
just stood there, waiting to see what the arm 
was attached to.

	She didn't have to wait long. The youma 
quickly created a hole in the wall and stepped 
through. It was about six feet tall, and was 
covered in light blues scales. It had a 
slightly-unfinished look to it, as if its 
creator had tired of it before completion, with 
no ears, mouth, nose, or hair. It had claws, 
though. It showed this by extending them and 
taking a swipe at Ranko with its right hand.

	Ranko slipped around the blow and almost 
casually planted her right foot alongside its 
head, resulting in the head bouncing off the 
part of the wall that was still standing. She 
didn't even bother to take her hands out of her 
pockets.

	The youma staggered a bit, then attacked 
again. Ranko grinned a cocky smile, as she took 
her hands out of her pockets and spoke.

	"Let's party."

	The Senshi could only stare as Ranko 
proceeded to start to beat the crap out of a 
youma with her bare hands. (And feet. But they 
had shoes on them, so they don't count as 
'bare', obviously.)

	Ranko lead in with a quick backfist to the 
temple, then a side kick to the stomach. (Or the 
youma equivalent, that is.) She stepped in, and 
released a jab to the face, followed by a 
crescent kick to the head. She ducked in under 
another claw-swipe and unleashed a rapid series 
of punches to the chest, letting a bit of 
Amaguriken-level speed creep in.

	The Senshi winced as the sound of breaking 
bones drifted over to them. Ranko jumped back 
and commented "I don't see what's so tough about 
these things. Ribs are softer than Ryoga's!" 
>From the way she was grinning, the Senshi 
quickly realized the bones that had broken 
obviously weren't hers.

	Ranko sighed, then charged in, kicking. A 
slow claw-swipe was brushed to the side, 
allowing her to unleash several good hits with 
her knees to the youma's already-damaged 
midsection. Ranko stayed in close, brutally 
pounding anything that looked like it would 
hurt. She seemed to be having an incredibly fun 
time.

	"Should we transform?" Ami asked weakly.

	"Would there be any point?" Haruka 
sarcastically inquired.

	"I don't think so. Ranko seems to have it 
well in hand." Ami admitted.

	Ranko grinned as the youma fell back under 
her assault. It stumbled and fell to the ground. 
Ranko started to move in, then something caught 
her eye to her right.

	"What is she doing?" Makoto asked in a 
perplexed tone as Ranko vaulted over the railing 
into the street.

	"I don't know." Ami replied, in a puzzled 
tone.

	They quickly got their answer as Ranko 
reached down and grabbed something at street 
level. She lifted it, revealing it to be a 
manhole cover. She placed it on edge on the tip 
of her right index finger and began to spin it 
like a giant coin.

	"Those things weigh over a hundred 
pounds." Ami noted, in a dull tone.

	The youma struggled to its feet and 
started to walk towards the Senshi's hiding 
place. Ranko stopped the manhole's spinning and 
grabbed it with one quick motion. She threw it 
with a negligent flick of the wrist, much like 
anyone else would have thrown a Frisbee. It 
slammed into the side of the youma with a loud 
*CRACK* and a squishing noise.

	"I don't know why, but I just had to try 
that." Ranko commented as she jumped to the 
sidewalk. She jerked a thumb back over her 
shoulder towards the youma.

	"That's what the Sailor Senshi have to 
take down? And they have trouble? Sheesh." Ranko 
had quickly heard most of the stories about 
Juban's favorite urban legends. She decided not 
to discount them. She'd seen weirder stuff. But 
if THAT was what they had trouble defeating, 
they were pretty pathetic.

	"Yeah. That was a youma." Ami answered as 
she stood from behind her cover. "Usually 
they're harder to--LOOK OUT!"

	"Huh?" Ranko flipped around just in time 
to see the apparently-unharmed youma rush 
towards her. "How in the hell did it--"	

	Her sentence was cut off as the youma 
grabbed her by the throat and threw her 
across the street and down the block. 

      Ranko twisted her body and attempted to 
lessen the impact. She knew from experience that 
she was going too fast to try to prevent an 
impact. She slammed into, and through, some kind 
of fairly weak metal objects. She grunted as a 
pole of some kind stopped her head-first flight. 

	<Okay, that hurt.> Ranko admitted as she 
slid down the pole. She lay on the ground and 
concentrated on opening her eyes. She blinked 
them open. Right above her was a sign. She 
absently read it. <"Please deposit windshield 
squeegee back in holder." Huh. Weird. Hey, 
what's that smell?>

	Ranko sniffed once or twice. She was lying 
in a puddle of some liquid and there was a 
familiar odor that she knew she SHOULD 
recognize. <What IS that?> 

	She was trying to get her ringing head to 
function when it hit her. <"Windshield 
squeegee." Puddle. Smell. Oh, no. Please don't 
let it be what I THINK it is.>

	Ranko wrenched herself to a sitting 
position. The sight in front of her was what she 
had feared. The mangled remains of two gas 
pumps, still spraying gasoline everywhere. She 
was lying in a rapidly growing puddle of 
EXTREMELY flammable liquid. By some miracle, it 
hadn't ignited.

	Ranko's brain finally re-booted itself and 
reasserted its priorities. <The youma! The 
girls!>

	Ranko snapped her gaze across the street 
and located the youma just in time to see it 
throw the manhole cover towards her still-seated 
frame.

	Ranko started to scramble to get out the 
lake of gasoline. Even as she tried, she knew 
the outcome. It was with a fatalistic gaze that 
she watched the manhole cover skip off the 
ground directly in front of the gasoline. A 
single, solitary spark lit. Ranko stared at it 
as it seemed to slow to an impossible crawl as 
it drifted downwards.

	It touched.

	The Senshi were blown off their feet and 
into a wall as the gas station was vaporized in 
a massive fireball. They watched as a red-haired 
figure was covered in a wash of flame.

	"Ranko..." Usagi whispered in a tortured 
voice.

	A single scorched piece of red silk 
drifted down and landed in front of her.


The End.


























(Yeah. Right. You think I'm THAT stupid? Not 
hardly.)

TBC......
******************


	And with that, the *EVIL-NASTY* (TM) 
cliff-hanger makes it's return. I love being me 
sometimes.

	Thanks to my pre-readers, who helped (and 
help) me a LOT.

	ANY C&C is appreciated. Good, bad, whatever. 
Heck, I'll even read the flames. (Before laughing my 
head off and deleting them, that is.)

Ja Ne!
Slacker

-- *********************************************** Ever wonder if there are others of Yoda's race, and if they speak the same way? Imagine the Yoda-men in the office, around the water cooler: Yoda 1: Hello, Bill. Yoda 2: Morning, Hank. Yoda 1: Finish that proposal you did? Yoda 2: Yes, finally. Quite a chore it was. Yoda 1: That Henderson, a slave driver he is, eh? Yoda 2: Yes. To kick his ass I'd like. "There is no try, only do." Asshole he is. (From a conversation with PatchMonkey.) After finishing a story: If you liked the story, drink a bottle to celebrate. If you disliked the story, drink two bottles to cheer you up. If you're apathetic, then drink till you care, dammit! (From a Slayers drinking game.) ______________________________________________________________________ To unsubscribe, write to FFML2-unsubscribe@listbot.com - .--- Patch Monkey's TEMP FFML ---. | Administrators - Majordomo-Owner@patchmonkey.net | | Unsubscribing - majordomo@patchmonkey.net | | Put 'unsubscribe ffml' in the body of your e-mail. | --------http://www.patchmonkey.net------------