Subject: [FFML] [Ranma/SM/OMG] A Different Viewpoint: Curses and Demons: Chapter 29
From: "Christopher Olsen" <christopherolsen28@hotmail.com>
Date: 11/4/2002, 5:46 AM
To: ffml@anifics.com

 

All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by
Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications.

           A Different Viewpoint: Curses and Demons:
                                  Chapter 29 

He hated these jobs. As head of Homicide, it was all too often his duty to
inform people of the loss of a loved one. It was far worse when it came to a
situation like this, telling a mother about her child's death. <We don't
knowfor sure she's dead.> He thought for a moment. 

Inspector Jyuzou Megure shook his head sadly. <There is little chance the
girl is still alive though... not much chance. It's such a puzzling
situation. Where is the girl's body, and where did that panther come from?> 

He looked up to the building he had arrived at. <Here's the hospital...
better get this over with.> He got out of his car an started trudging up the
steps. <God, I hate this part of the job. It never gets any easier.> 

Several minutes later a nurse showed him into Dr. Mizuno's office. "Here you
go, Detective." 

The doctor looked up from the computer on her desk. "Detective? Well, am I
insome sort of trouble?" She had a rather bland expression on her face and
itwas a moment before Inspector Megure realized he was being kidded. 

"Ah, no Ma'am, um Doctor. That's not what I'm here. You see, it's about your
daughter..." He trailed off. "I'm afraid I have some bad news for you...." 

It took him a few minutes to give the doctor all the details. Through out
hisrather grisly story, the Doctor sat very still, hardly breathing. When he
had finished however.... 

Doctor Mizuno looked the police inspector in the eye dubiously. "My daughter
is not dead. There is no evidence that supports that." 

"Nothing conclusive." The detective admitted. "But the circumstances don't
look very good, I'm afraid. We should be prepared...." 

"For the worst?" Dr. Mizuno shook her head. "I refuse to accept that... that
my daughter is gone... not without more proof. You've said that the blood
found on her clothing wasn't hers, and there was no trace of her aside from
her clothing, correct?" 

Inspector Megure sighed. "We're still looking, of course, doctor. I just
don't want you to get any false hopes." 

Doctor Mizuno looked at the rather large, grim faced man calmly. "I've given
this speech before, detective. You don't have much of a bedside manner, do
you?" She bowed her head. "I'm sorry, I'm not myself right now. I should go
home, get some sleep. You'll keep me informed of any news?" 

The detective nodded, standing solicitously to offer her his hand. "Of
course. You'll be the first to know." 

He hesitated, obviously uncertain of what he wanted to say. 

The doctor frowned slightly. "Yes detective. What is it?" 

He sighed, scratching his head. "Well doctor, the case is a rather unusual
one, but If you wouldn't object I know someone who specializes in... odd
cases. If your daughter is alive, he'd be the man to find her." 

Dr. Mizuno gave the detective a sharp look. "Oh? And who is this man?" 

The police inspector looked at her for a second then nodded. "Perhaps you've
heard of him? Kogorou Mouri?" 

The doctor looked mildly impressed. "The famous 'Sleeping Kogorou'?" 

"Yes, and I think he's just the man for this job." The inspector dared a
slight smile. 

"Well, then what are you waiting for, Inspector? Give him a call!" With a
swift movement, she handed the detective her desk phone. 

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

"I've got a very interesting case today." Mouri Kogorou grumbled to his
daughter over his morning coffee. 

"That's nice father." Ran said as she fried the eggs over the stove. "What
makes it so interesting?" 

The famous "Sleeping Detective" frowned. "Well, it's a missing girl... only
she's probably been killed." 

Ran shook her head. "That's terrible father, but why is that interesting? It
sounds all too common really." 

Her father shook his head. "An escaped panther was found near the girls
clothing and purse, with blood on its jaws. The panther wasn't from any zoo
either... probably an exotic pet, or that's what the police think at least."
He frowned. "The girl's body hasn't been discovered yet." 

The Mouri's house guest, 7 year old Conan Edogawa was listening intently
behind his school books. <I wonder... the girl's clothes could have been
dumped there by a kidnapper, but where does the panther come in? That is
whatmakes this so interesting... could it have been a guard animal, or an
experiment subject? I'll have to check this out.> 

Kogorou was still talking to his daughter. "My client wants me to check the
places her daughter could have been, but I'm going to the zoo first to get
some more information." 

"Oh, the zoo?" Conan chimed in with childish enthusiasm. "Can I come too?
Hmm, Ran-neechan? Pleeeeease?" 

"Of course you can come, Conan-kun...." She glanced at her father. "Right?" 

"The still half awake and unshaven detective shrugged. "What does it matter,
bring the little brat." He stood up slowly. "Guess I'll... go get ready...
orsomething." <I need a drink.> He wandered off into the living room. 

"Thanks, Ran-neechan." Conan said. "I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun at the
zoo!" <And find a clue or two, I hope.> 

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

The zoo veterinarian was filling them in. "The animal was in very good
health. It was well groomed, with a clean pelt, and it was well fed. It was
obviously used to captivity, for it didn't react overtly when it awoke in
ourfacility." Detective Mouri was looking at an attractive lady vet doing
some paperwork. 

Conan shook his head. "Um, Sir, what do you mean, 'was in good health'." 

The vet blinked. "Well, the panther is no longer in our keeping. She was
shipped to another zoo last night." 

Mouri, hearing this, turned around. "Ah hah! As I thought, the panther did
come from a zoo! It was stolen from a foreign zoo and smuggled here! The
girlobviously came across the smugglers by accident, and they had to grab
herto keep her quiet!" 

The vet blinked at the detective's vehemence. "Ah... no, I'm afraid no zoo
has reported losing one of its black panthers. The panther was shipped to
oursister zoo last night to aid in a breeding program we've been trying
recently." 

Ran blushed. "Did you say... a breeding...." 

Conan was shuffling his shoes in an agitated way. "Doctor, sir... why did
yousend the panther away so soon?" 

The vet scratched his head. "Actually, that's been puzzling me as well. The
word came down that the need for this panther was immediate, but no one
askedme if she was ready for a mating, I never even got to run any tests...
they just sent her away, just like that." 

Ran was still blushing. "Without any warning? The poor panther! I hope she's
OK?" 

Conan looked over at Kogorou. "Mouri-san, I'm sure 'you' could find out why
they took the panther away... and where?" 

Kogorou puffed himself up. "Well of course... Doctor, where did that panther
get sent and why? Who authorized it? This is a very important witness...."
Hefrowned, "Or do I mean piece of evidence?" He said low under his breath.
"Well, it's important to the case!" He told the veterinarian firmly. 

The vet looked startled. "Well, It's not supposed to be told to any
outsiders... but as you're investigating this for the police...." He walked
over to the desk and picked up a file from it. "Here's the information." 

Kogorou puzzled over the file for a few moments, muttering to himself. "It
says here that the panther was... shipped to San Francisco? For a chance
test... what does this mean?" 

The vet took the file back. "It's as I told you. Our director decided at the
last minute that this panther would be perfect for the oversea breeding
program." 

The detective straightened up. "Well, I'll see your director then!" 

The vet sighed. "I'm sorry, but that won't be possible. He's on safari in
Africa until next month. He keeps in contact through his daily e-mails to
us." 

Ran sighed. "On Safari in Africa... how wonderful." 

Conan frowned. <I'll have to check on this... I'll use Dr. Agasa's computer
to have a look at these e-mails... something doesn't seem right. Why would
the director make such a hasty decision, without the approval of his chief
vet? Is he tied somehow to what's happened to this girl?> 

As the trio left the zoo, Mouri confided to his daughter. "We'll check out
this 'Tendo Dojo' next. Strange animals and people have been spotted there
onoccasion. There is supposed to be an escaped panda living there as well.
I'm sure that's these 'Tendo's' are part of the smuggling ring! This 'Ami'
has been taking martial arts lessons there." 

Ran was looking puzzled. "Tendo Dojo? Why does that sound familiar?" 

"Do you know anyone named Tendo, Ran-neechan?" Asked Conan innocently. 

Ran shook her head. "No, but I think I remember an Akane Tendo at the last
high school women's Karate championships. She's my age, but we never
sparred." 

Conan edged up to her. "Why not?" 

Ran blushed. "Well... She was kind of... intimidating. She was eliminated by
a ring out just before I was going to fight her... and I was relieved, to be
honest." She shook her head. "I thought she was going to win... I think the
judges just don't like these small schools winning the competitions... it's
bad for the schools they represent." She shook her head. "I'm sorry
Conan-kun, I guess I got off track a bit." Conan was still staring at her
intently. He suddenly shook his head and flushed slightly, and she had to
smile. <He's so cute when he's upset.> 

Conan's thoughts weren't on what Ran had just been saying though. <She's so
beautiful... when she's talking about something she really cares about,
she'samazing!> 

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

Nodoka sat on the back porch of the Tendo home, quietly sipping a cup of tea
while her husband battled Soun only a few feet behind her in their never
ending battle of tactics and guile� otherwise known as Shogi. Sometimes it
was Go, and today Shogi, but the battle was in general the same one, played
over and over again between the two men. Nodoka thought they would never
tireof it, and truthfully that was fine with her. The clack of tiles, the
constant cheating, all faded to a pleasant drone in the background that was
quite soothing. 

She needed something to calm her nerves, really, with all the stress she was
going through with worrying about her son and his extended family. A
demoness, of all things, was the last thing she wanted to be thinking about,
although Nodoka supposed it was appropriate, having a demoness show up to
balance out her husband and Soun�s demon master Happosai. Not that Happosai
was really a demon, as much as he seemed to be sometimes. Nodoka looked up
atthe sound of Nabiki entering the living room from the hall and turned to
glance back at her with a smile. 

Just then the front doorbell rang, and Nodoka automatically rose to get it.
"You two go ahead and keep playing." She told the two martial artists. "I'll
get the door." 

The doorbell rang again as she went to get it, and Nodoka hurried the last
few steps and pulled the front door open wide, only to face a tall blond
woman wearing a rather scandalous outfit in black leather and sporting a
unique looking set of tattoos on her forehead. 

"Hi!" Mara said cheerfully to the surprised housewife. The sound of a katana
sliding out of a wooden sheath was Nodoka's only response, the blade nearly
taking the demonesses head off in mid swing, surprising Mara as much as she
had Nodoka. From the hall, Nabiki gaped at the older woman as Nodoka showed
an amount of competence with her blade that she had never before shown,
driving the demoness back with a series of deadly strokes that Mara was only
barely able to evade. 

The middle Tendo sister did not stay around to watch, however, and darted
outof the hall, heading for the living room. 

Mara backflipped out of range of Nodoka's sword, coming to rest high up in a
nearby tree. "Well now... you're rather dangerous with that, aren't you?"
<That katana is the problem... where do these mortals keep finding these
things? How many anti-demon warded katanas could there possibly be in Tokyo?>


Nodoka sheathed her weapon, holding it in it's sheath at the ready as she
crouched down into a position that showed that she was getting ready to
leap."I'm sorry about this, but you have threatened not only the protectors
of Tokyo, but my family as well. I have no choice in what I do." <How in the
world am I doing this? I don't know how to fight this well!> 

Mara chuckled. "Everyone wants to be a hero these days. Luckily, I do have a
choice in what "I" do." She wrinkled her nose. "Now let me see... what
shouldI do...." <Preferably something she won't fight... an inner wish of
some kind?> 

Nodoka did her best to breathe slowly, hiding her fear with rigid control.
"Leave now. We don't have to do this." <I'm too old for this... I wish....> 

Mara smirked. "Oh yes we do. You wish you were younger eh? Fine! Wish
granted!" 

Nodoka's eyes went wide as Mara's hands went up and energy gathered in them.
"What!?! How did you...?" The demoness threw her hands forward, a wave of
energy throwing Nodoka to her knees. There was a sudden shrinking sensation,
and Nodoka was finding it hard to keep her suddenly huge katana pointed at
the blond haired demon. Mara hopped down out of the tree, looking slightly
surprised. 

"Well well!" Mara said with an eyebrow raised. "That should have aged you to
infancy. Either I'm slipping, or you were a lot older than I took you for."
She nodded to herself slowly. "Oh of course, you must have had plastic
surgery! I hear they can take years away nowadays." 

Nodoka glared at Mara in anger. "I'll have you know my family has always
agedvery well, thank you." 

Mara shrugged. "Whatever. I'll just zap you again, and you'll be reduced to
an embryo. Sound good to you?" 

Nodoka stepped back slowly, nearly tripping on her oversized kimono. "You
won't win...." 

Mara scoffed. "Oh? What is that?" 

Nodoka suddenly smiled. "Because my husband has finished sneaking up behind
you." 

There was a sudden shout, and Mara felt a sudden breeze, then saw two long
furrows plow into the ground in front of her, just before the top half of
herbody fell face first into the dirt. She looked up with a pained grimace,
only to see Nodoka looking back at her with a shocked expression on her
face.

"Damn." Mara glanced back at her lower half, only to watch it topple over a
moment later, her legs and lower body falling over to the side, even as
GenmaSaotome landed lightly behind her. "Damn!" Mara levered herself up with
one arm slowly, and pointed her other hand, palm first, at the rotund
martialartist. "Now... you've really pissed me off." With an explosion of
black energy Genma flew backwards into the far wall, cracking it, then
slumped to the ground, head lolling to one side. 

Nodoka gasped in fear and tripped herself on her kimono as she quickly
stepped backwards, falling on her back just outside the front door. Mara,
however paid her no attention, instead focusing on herself. Slowly her lower
torso started to slid toward her upper body, then rejoined it, coming
together as one unit with a bright flash. 

Mara slowly stood, brushing herself off and and glaring at Genma angrily.
"Now that HURT! You're going to pay for that, mortal." She grinned slowly.
"And when a demon says you're going to pay...." Genma leapt away from her,
jumping to the rooftop and leaping out of sight in only moments. "Wow!" Mara
said, sounding slightly impressed. "Now that was some fast running away...."
She levitated after him, following Genma into the backyard, leaving Nodoka
alone by the front door. Ranma's mother turned around to follow, only to
fallflat on her face as she tripped on her oversized kimono. 

Mara had the large martial artist cornered in the corner of the Tendo's back
yard when a sixth sense warned her of danger behind. Mara glanced backwards
just in time to dodge the warded arrow that an armored Samurai warrior had
launched at her only an instant before. "Whoa!" She skittered backwards
quickly, getting some distance between her and the Samurai as he nocked yet
another arrow to his greatbow. Mara heard Genma rising to his feet behind
herat the same time and sighed. "I don't believe this." She raised a hand.
"Fine, you win this round." Snapping her fingers, she vanished in a puff of
smoke. 

As Nodoka slowly pulled herself up off the ground, a car pulled up to the
front walk, and several people got out. A man about Soun's age, looking
almost like a long lost brother, a tall girl about Akane's age and a little
boy not much younger than she appeared herself. 

"Are you alright, little girl?" Ran asked the scared looking waif. <Is
that... a Katana?> 

"Ah, yes... I'm fine. I'm... just fine." Nodoka said shakily. <What can I
tell her?> 

Kogorou looked at the gate sign. "Ah, the Tendo dojo! This is it alright!"
Heturned to look at Nodoka. "Hello little girl, do you live here?" 

Nodoka shook her head at first. "No, I don't, the Tendo's are good friends
ofmine...." Then she trailed of into silence. The look of shock on her face
deepened for a moment. "Ah no!" She said suddenly in a very different tone
ofvoice. "My... Daddy is here! He's Mr.. Tendo's friend! I'm too little to
practice the martial arts, my Daddy says so! I'm waiting for him." 

All the time, Conan was watching Nodoka, a growing comprehension and horror
growing on his face. <This little girl... the way she was talking just
now...it was like an older woman... a traditional type, maybe 30 or 40 years
old... and her kimono is much to big for her... it can't be! She's
pretendingto be a little girl... but she can't be... it must be... APTX! The
same drug that changed me into this child's body!> 

Ran focused on the girl. "What's your name, little girl?" 

"Oh?" She seemed at a loss for a moment. "Um... my name?" Nodoka thought to
herself. <Should I use my real name?> "I'm not... supposed to talk to
strangers...." She said to gain time to think. 

Conan was remembering a similar occasion in Dr. Agasa's house, being asked
the same question, by the same person. <That would have been good... the
nameI chose is too obvious. I should have stalled to think of a better one.>


He strode forward, extending his hand with a deliberately cheerful grin.
"Hi,my name's Conan! You said your father is a martial artist right? That's
so cool!" 

"Um... yes, Gen... my father... is a friend of Mr.. Tendo." Nodoka was
finding it hard to think. <How old am I? How did I talk when I was this
young... it's so hard to remember.> She grinned back at the enthusiastic
young boy. "Um... hello, Conan. My name is... Manami Saotome." She said,
recalling the name of a childhood friend. 

He put his hand out again. "Great, then we're not strangers, right Manami?" 

She shook his hand after a moment. "I guess not, Conan-kun." He's smaller
than me... "How old are you Conan?" 

"I'm seven..." He grinned at her, "but I'll be eight really soon!" 

She nodded. <Hmm... then I might be 10 or 11 years old now....> "I'm 11
yearsold." Nodoka confided. Ran and her father had started for the front
dooras 'Manami' and 'Conan' talked. 

Conan gestured inside. "Come on, Manami!" 

Nabiki met them at the door. "Can I help you?" She glanced at Nodoka
knowingly. "Our "guest" has left unexpectedly, 'Manami'-chan. Who are these
nice people?" 

Mouri strode up to Nabiki with a slight swagger. "I'm Detective Kogorou
Mouri. I'm here on a missing person investigation. May I come in?" 

Nabiki blinked twice, her mind racing. "Of course. She opened the front door
fully and loudly called inside. "Daddy! There's a DETECTIVE Mouri here for
you!" 

There was the faint sound of someone moving around quickly as Genma and Soun
scrambled to put everything back into place, but before Nabiki finished
escorting the detective into the living room, Soun and Genma were calmly
sitting at the living room table, looking like they were simply having a
quiet cup of tea. 

Detective Mouri was already hot on the case. "What do you know about a
missing girl?" He questioned the fat, balding man in the Gi. 

Genma was quick to deny anything. "Missing girl?" He pointed at Nodoka. "But
who's that over there?" Everyone glanced at the small girl in confusion.
Before they turned back, there was a loud splash from the pond nearby. When
they did look for the man, he was gone... and a Panda was playing with a
tirenear the pond. 

Conan blinked. <A... panda? Maybe Kogorou was right about that animal
smuggling ring.> He looked around thoughtfully. <Now where did the other man
go? He really moved fast when Mouri questioned him....> 

Ran pointed her hand at the animal. "Ah!!! What? There's the panda we heard
about!" 

The panda waved a sign suddenly. 'No, I'm not that panda, I'm another panda
entirely!' 

Mouri was nodding his head. "Right, it must be another panda!" Conan and Ran
facefaulted. 

Soun laughed nervously. "Yes of course... this is a family pet...." He shot
his middle daughter an anxious look. "Nabiki, take Panda-san and feed him,
OK?" 

Nabiki rolled her eyes. "Right daddy, I'll take his panda-ness and feed him.
What did you want me to feed him too?" 

Soun put out a hand to indicate that his guests should take a seat. "I'm
afraid I can't give very good hospitality today, my married daughters aren't
home, but I could get some tea?" 

Detective Mouri shook his head. "No thanks. We're here on business, Mr.
Tendo." 

Conan spoke up. "Could I have some tea mister? I'm kinda thirsty!" He
grinnedwinningly as he sat down at the kotatsu in the middle of the room,
swinging his legs underneath the low table. 

Kougoru frowned at having been interupted. "We've come to investigate the
disappearance of a girl. She comes to your dojo for lessons. Her name is Ami
Mizuno." 

Soun looked blank for a moment. "Hmm... Ami? I think I remember... a girl
with dark black hair, cut short. She's a rather quiet student but she picks
things up quickly... you say she's missing?" 

Kogorou nodded. 'That's right! She's missing, and her clothing was found
nearan escaped panther." He stared hard at Soun. "You wouldn't know anything
about a panther, would you?" He pointed outside. "You are keeping an
endangered panda here... are there any other animals?" 

Soun shook his head. "Of course not! This is a dojo, not a zoo!" 

Mouri shrugged. "Then you won't mind us taking a look around, right?" 

Soun paused. "Um... I suppose." 

Nabiki came back into the room then. "Do you have a warrant, Detective?" 

"Kogorou, Detective Mouri Kogorou." He told her again, standing up. "I'm
working with the police on this case, Miss, and I can get a warrant if I
needone. "Now, could we see the rest of the house?" 

Upstairs, Misty could hear the conversation clearly. <I should leave before
they see me... but where should I go?> There's no where good to hide in the
house.> She looked around her room. <What would Johnathon do? No... what
would Ranma do?> 

Nabiki was still stalling on the stairs. "Do you have any ID, Mr.
Detective?"She said with a hint of irony in her voice. 

"Hmpf." Kogorou searched inside his jacket pocket. "Of course! It's right
here..." He pulled a sake bottle from that pocket. "No... must be the other
pocket...." He fished around for a few more seconds. "Ah hah! Here it is!" 

Nabiki looked at the wallet for a few moments. "Huh... you sure this is you?
Kind of an old picture...." Finally she handed it back to him. "Alright
Detective, follow me." 

Nabiki took them on a tour of the upstairs. "And this is the bathroom! Note
the spotless tile, the old fashioned fixtures, the old geezer drying his
baldpate...." 

Genma jumped. "Nabiki!" 

Soun closed the door. "Sorry old friend." He turned to Mouri. "That's just
myold friend, Genma Saotome. His son married my daughter this year to take
over our school of martial arts! We're both very proud." 

Ran pointed at the door and whispered to Manami. "That ugly old man is your
father?" 

Manami choked, then chuckled slightly. "Ah hah... yes, that's my Daddy." 

Conan shook his head slightly. <This situation isn't adding up... why is he
inside getting dry? It isn't raining, was he taking a bath at this time of
day?> 

Nabiki lead them too each room in turn, noting details for them. Mouri
seemedsatisfied, but Conan was suspicious. <She's obviously stalling... why?>


In the final room, a larger bed dominated. Nabiki explained. "This is my
sister Kasumi and her husband's room. Note the large, comfortable bed, which
is already showing signs of wear...." She grinned. "They've only been
marrieda few months." Ran blushed, Mouri coughed self consciously. 

Ran stammered, "Come on, Conan, Manami, you're too young.... Conan?" 

Conan was over by the open window, looking out at the ground. <Why is the
window open? Did someone leave through here?> He examined the window sill.
"Scratches." He said out loud. "There are scratches here, like from an
animal." 

On the roof, Misty froze, and held her breath. <Please don't check the roof,
please....> 

Mouri pulled Conan away from the window sill. "Boy! Get away from there!
We're leaving!" 

Conan frowned. "Leaving? Why?" 

Mouri pointed to Nabiki. "This young lady has shown me papers for the panda,
and Mr.. Tendo has explained that he hasn't seen Miss Mizuno since she came
to class last Sunday." He frowned and hit Conan on the head. "And don't
question me boy! It's obvious we're wasting our time here!" He thought about
Soun Tendo. <Besides, such a good looking fellow wouldn't stoop to anything
criminal, that's certain.> 

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

Later, at Dr. Agasa's house. Conan was rapidly typing into the doctor's
computer. From behind him, a mildly curious voice of Agasa's housemate came.
"What are you working on?" 

"I think I may have found another lead to the black organization, Ai." Conan
said, intent on his internet search. "I met a girl who acted very peculiar
today... as if she wasn't a girl at all, but an older lady." 

Ai pulled up a stool next to him and looked over at what he was working on.
"You think she is another victim...?" 

"Of the poison you created for the black organization?" Conan finished for
her. "Yes, nothing else makes sense. I'm trying to find clues now in the
e-mails from the zoo director." He pointed to the screen. "You see here is
the latest e-mail from him... he is asking about the status of his 'special
project.'." Conan studied the e-mail for a moment longer then clicked on the
previous one. "This one is from last week, see? The director is asking about
the daily activities of the zoo." Conan frowned. "The writing style... it
isn't the same. The person in the last e-mail sounds like a clever, excited
person, the person who wrote this one is a bureaucrat." 

Ai looked at him knowingly. "So what does that mean?" 

Conan shook his head. "Besides the fact that someone faked the latest
e-mail,I don't know yet. I think someone wanted that panther out of the zoo,
I just have to figure out why." 

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

Kasumi stretched her wings slowly, feeling a minor twinge of residual pain.
"I think I could try flying again..." She said hopefully, although the
quaverin her voice betrayed her. Honestly, the idea of stepping off the
rooftop she was on and attempting to fly again was positively terrifying.
Thememory of her flight to her currently lofty perch seemed too ethereal,
tooimpossible to be real, and despite the fact that she had indeed flown to
where she was, it was hard to make herself believe that she could repeat the
performance. 

The winged girl walked carefully up to the edge of the rooftop and looked
down, noticing with a mixture of disappointment and relief that the streets
were still crowded, and given the position of the sun in the sky, would be
sofor hours to come at the least. On the negative side, that meant she
didn'tdare attempt another flight with so many possible witnesses, but at
thesame time she was perversely relieved that she didn't have to risk flying
again so soon. 

"Johnathon will come looking for me." She assured herself confidently. "So
will Ranma and Akane and the others. I'm sure they already know what's
happened. They could find me any time now." Kasumi glanced down at herself
and blushed. "I hope it's Johnathon or Akane. It really isn't proper for me
to be dressed like this in public." Wearing nothing but her white cotton
panties and a couple makeshift bandages was not the way she wanted to be
found, not that she really had much choice in the matter. 

"These wings really are a bother." Kasumi frowned to herself, turning away
from the roof's edge and folding her wings over her shoulders with a shrug.
It still amazed her at how much control she had over her new appendages, but
despite how powerful and flexible they were, there was one thing that made
them extremely inconvenient. "If I keep getting splashed like this I'll run
out of clothes in days." She sighed. "It was bad enough when I just turned
into a cat, but at least then I didn't ruin whatever I was wearing when I
gotsplashed." 

Kasumi glanced back off the building, into the city, looking around for any
sign of her family or friends come to rescue her. "I wonder if they will be
able to find me way up here?" Just then, Kasumi spotted a figure in a black
cloak far below, moving from rooftop to rooftop while obviously searching
forsomething. "Oh my! That's Tuxedo Kamen-san! I wonder if he's looking for
me?" Forgetting for a moment her current state of undress, Kasumi stepped to
the edge of the building and waved vigorously down at the man below. "Hello!
Tuxedo Kamen-san! Hello!" The caped and masked man looked upwards at her
call, spotting her almost immediately. 

Kasumi waved for a moment more, then belatedly realized that she was
flashingthe masked defender of justice, even if from almost a hundred feet
away. With a blush so bright she wondered if he could see despite the
distance, the winged girl covered herself as best as she could with her
arms,her wings folding down over her shoulders as well to provide an
additional cover. Tuxedo Mask was already glancing away, looking around for
agood way up to the roof. Nodding to himself after a moment, Tuxedo Mask
started over toward the building's front entrance. 

"I'll come up and get you, Kasumi." He called up to her, his words faint but
clear. "Wait right there." Leaping down to the ground level from the rooftop
of the nearby building he had been on, the masked man glanced around, then
abruptly transformed into Mamoru Chiba, having confirmed that his
transformation wouldn't be observed. Moments later the young man entered the
ground floor entrance of the building she was currently standing on top of.
Kasumi shivered and did her best to adjust her wings so that they covered
hera bit more completely. She couldn't help admiring her feathers a bit as
she shifted her wings one final time. 

"They are pretty, aren't they? And it is wonderful to be able to fly... I
just wish they didn't appear so suddenly." Kasumi frowned at her taloned
hands. "These aren't quite so attractive. Perhaps I could cover them up with
a pair of gloves?" She clenched her fist several times testingly. "They do
appear quite formidable. Perhaps with a bit of training I could assist the
others when they have to fight...." She sighed. "What am I thinking? I'm no
fighter. Johnathon would never let me go into danger anyway." The winged
girlstarted to slowly pace along the rooftop, her feet making distinct
tapping sounds against the gravel as she went. After a minute or so she
headed over to the rooftop doorway, wondering how long it would take for
Mamoru Chiba to make it all the way to the roof. 

Several minutes had passed when the handsome, young, part time hero finally
opened the rooftop door. "Kasumi?" He had one hand in front of his eyes as
hecame out onto the rooftop. "I brought you a kettle and some clothes."
Mamoru held up a steaming kettle and a gray pair of overalls. "I talked the
maintenance man into letting me borrow these when I was getting the roof key
from him." 

Kasumi sighed in relief and stepped forward to take the kettle and overalls.
"Thank you so much, Mamoru-san. I was afraid I'd be stuck up here until
afterdark." The dark haired man politely turned his back as Kasumi poured
thehot water over her head and got dressed. When she had finished, she
walkedup behind the taller man and put her hand on his shoulder.
"Mamoru-san,where are the others? Is everyone out looking for me?" 

Mamoru Chiba turned to face her and nodded. "Just about everyone came out to
help look. I contacted them on the way up here, so everyone should be
meetingus here in a few minutes. Come on, let's go meet them downstairs."
Thetwo of them started down the stairs. Kasumi was thankful not to meet
anyone on the way down, although on the bottom floor a gray haired older man
poked his head out of the manager's office came near. 

"Well then. Is this young lady the reason you were in such a hurry, young
man?" The maintenance man raised an eyebrow appreciatively as he gave Kasumi
the once over, noting her bare feet and arms under her borrowed overalls.
"Not that I'd blame you. I'd do some pretty crazy stuff myself for a girl
this cute, at least in my day." 

Kasumi blushed bright red. "Oh my! You don't think that we... that he and
I...? Oh dear!" 

The old man laughed. "Don't worry, my dear. Think of this as our little
secret. I was young once myself after all." 

Mamoru handed the man the kettle he had borrowed, unperturbed. "Thanks for
the kettle, Sir. I'll bring the overalls back later, OK?" 

The old man nodded with a wink. "Sure, sure. They never looked that good on
me, anyway." 

Kasumi covered as much of her exposed arms and shoulders as she could with
her hands, still blushing fiercely, but didn't protest any further as Mamoru
Chiba led her out of the building. "Chiba-san...." She said quietly after
they had finally gotten outside. "Please don't tell Johnathon about this.
I... I don't...." She stopped in mid sentence as she spotted a black furred
half cat drop down from the rooftop of a nearby building. "Oh my." 

Akane dropped down right behind the half cat, looking a bit concerned as he
started heading directly toward his wife. "Johnathon... shouldn't you change
first? Someone might see you." 

The half cat stopped in his tracks, blinking, then reached around to pull
hissmall pack off his back. "Oh right." Rummaging through the backpack, he
brought out a thermos, unscrewed it and poured it over his head. Human
again,Johnathon Tendo stepped out of the shadows to go straight to his
wife'sside. Kasumi, looking uncharacteristically guilty, couldn't look him
inthe eyes. Johnathon put his hand on her bare shoulder comfortingly.
"Hey...." 

Kasumi turned her head away from him, blushing. "Husband...." 

Mamoru, feeling a bit uncomfortable at the married pair's reunion, slipped
over to Akane. "So... where are the others, anyway?" 

Akane hesitated. "Well, we were with Rei... she wanted to change back to
normal first, but she should be here any moment now. I think we were the
closest group." She glanced at Johnathon and Kasumi in concern. "What's
wrongwith Kasumi?" 

Mamoru shook his head. "She's alright. I just think she's a bit... er...
embarrassed. The maintenance man assumed that she and I... well, were... you
know... up on the roof." 

Akane blushed, glancing at Kasumi again. "Oh. Poor Kasumi. She must have
feltterrible." 

Johnathon patted his distraught wife on the back reassuringly, not really
sure what she was so upset about. "Listen, Kasumi, I don't care what anyone
else thinks about you. Doesn't mean a thing. There wasn't anything you could
have done about it, so just forget about it." 

Kasumi shook her head. "I'm a terrible wife. All those people... they must
think... oh... I can't think about what they must think." 

Johnathon shook his head. "Doesn't matter. I know who you are. Your friends
and family know who you are. You're probably never going to see any of the
people who saw you transform again." He took her chin in his hand and gently
turned her to face him. "And even if you do, you have nothing to be ashamed
about. You can't control your curse, none of us can." 

Kasumi sighed, then softly smiled. "You're right. The only person who's
opinion should matter to me is you, husband. I promise I will never make you
ashamed of me." 

Johnathon ruffled her hair affectionately. "I don't think that's even
possible, love." He nodded past Kasumi's shoulder. "It looks like the others
have all arrived. Let's go join them." While the two of them had been
talking, Ranma, Ryoga, Artemis, Luna, and the rest of the Senshi, save Usagi
had joined Akane and Mamoru in the shadows of a nearby building, leaving
Johnathon and Kasumi to themselves. When they finally joined the others,
Akane, Minako, Makoto and Rei gathered around Kasumi to comfort her, while
Setsuna approached Johnathon. 

"I'm glad to see that Kasumi is alright." Johnathon nodded with a smile and
took the eldest Senshi's left hand in his right, squeezing it strongly
beforeletting it go. "Thanks for the help. Now we have to help Ami. We'll
alldo everything we can to help." 

Setsuna's cheeks might have been just a shade pinker, but her expression was
as unflappable as ever as she nodded. "And your assistance is appreciated,
ofcourse." 

Standing to one side, Haruka glanced at her watch. "Hey. We'd better hustle
if we don't want to be late. The goddesses are supposed to be showing up at
our place in just a few minutes. I don't think it's a good idea to keep a
kami waiting, huh?" 

Hotaru shook her head earnestly. "I don't think Belldandy-sama would take
offense, Haruka-papa. She's much too nice a person... or goddess, for that."


Haruka shrugged. "Well, why take chances?" 

Michiru smiled. "It would be rude to make them wait on the doorstep. I think
we can still make it if we run." 

Haruka grinned. "Wanna race, then?" 

Michiru nodded. "With you? Anytime." 

Ranma, hearing the discussion, casually slid over, Ranko just behind. "Did
you guys say race?" 

Haruka nodded, grinning. "Yup... ready... set...." She was off in a flash,
dashing off in the direction of the home she and Michiru shared with Hotaru,
Setsuna, and Professor Tomoe. Michiru was only a step behind her lover,
having read the tall girl's body language better then the two martial
artists. 

"Hey!" Ranma and Ranko both yelled. "That's cheating!" They glanced at each
other with identical grins. "Won't be enough, though." They announced in
unison, racing after them, matching each other stride for stride. 

Minako broke away from Kasumi and the others. "Oops, I almost forgot.
Belldandy is doing that spell on me today." She sprinted off after Ranma and
Ranko shouting. "Hey! Wait for me!" 

Everyone else started after the runners, although at a much slower pace.
Johnathon rejoined his wife and walked along with her, Makoto, Akane and
Rei,who were still doing their best to be supportive. 

"We'll deal with these curses together." Johnathon said confidently,
reachingdown to hold his wife's hand. "As a family. Things will work out,
you'll see." 

Makoto nodded. "We'll all help, Kasumi. If you get into any more trouble
around here, you can just drop by my place. I'll make sure to always have
some hot water ready, just in case." 

Kasumi nodded gratefully. "That's kind of you, if it wouldn't be too much
trouble. You know, I just realized I don't know where any of you girls live,
aside from Rei, that is." 

Makoto tried to smile, laughing a bit shakily. "Well, that's easily fixed."
She glanced over at Kasumi, then at Johnathon. "When things calm down a
little, why don't you guys come over my place for dinner?" The tall girl
turned to Akane and Ukyo a second later. "You guys should come too, with
Ranma and Ranko. We can have a party to... to celebrate beating Mara." A
desperately worried look flashed over her face for an instant before she
covered it up with another fragile smile. 

"We'll beat her." Johnathon said confidently. "She's not unstoppable. We'll
find a way." 

Ukyo, a bit more insightful, put a hand on Makoto's shoulder. "We'll find
Amisafe and sound. I'm sure of it. I just know the goddesses will help." 

Makoto shook her head, not reassured. "What if they can't? They said that
unless it has to do with Mara, they can't help. It's against their rules or
something...." She shivered. "Poor Ami. She must be so scared... all alone.
We've got to find her. We've got to." The small group continued walking
toward the Tomoe home in a contemplative silence, each of them caught up in
their own thoughts. 

Minutes later, Ranko and Ranma came racing to a stop in front of the large
residence, Haruka, Michiru and Minako several blocks behind. "I win!" Ranko
announced cheerfully, happy to have beaten her male half at something. Ranma
frowned just slightly, but didn't argue. He really didn't want to point out
that he had been holding himself back slightly, ever since he had realised
that his longer stride gave him an edge over his twin in distance running.
Ranko glanced back curiously, looking for the others, not really noticing
Ranma's preocupied frown. "Boy, we really have to step up their training if
they're still this slow." 

Ranma shrugged, desiding not to say anything about it to her. "They're
comingalong OK. It hasn't been that long since we started training them
anyway." 

Ranko frowned slightly. "I suppose." 

It wasn't too long before the others started arriving, first Haruka,
followedclosely by Michiru, then Minako and a few minutes later everyone
elsein a group. It wasn't until they were all going inside that the
goddessesfinally arrived, the large mirror in the living room lighting up
first, and Belldandy stepping out, pulling her younger sister Skuld through
by the hand. 

"Hello everyone!" Belldandy said, smiling brightly. "It's nice to see you
allagain." She blinked slightly. "Oh my. Are you all here waiting for me?" 

Makoto stepped forward. "Belldandy... Belldandy-sama... Ami's gone. We think
Mara had something to do with it." 

Belldandy's smile disappeared, her expression becoming concerned. "Oh dear!
Tell me what happened." 

"Ami got turned into a panther yesterday, in the rain." Makoto explained
quietly. "She tried to hide, but some people from the zoo came and got her."
She swallowed hard, obvious affected by the memory. "They... shot her with a
tranquilizer gun... and put her in a cage...." 

Belldandy went to the taller girl's side, eyes filled with sympathy for her
pain. "Oh my. Poor Ami! We'll have to go get her out right away!" 

Makoto choked, shaking her head. "That's just it, we can't! Luna and Artemis
checked on her this morning at the zoo, and they've already moved her! Luna
and Artemis think that demoness had something to do about it. Bureaucracies
never do things that quickly... and they were attacked at the zoo after they
met up with the Saotomes and Kasumi-san." 

"It was very strange." Kasumi agreed, coming over to Makoto's side with a
nod. "Several of the workers at the zoo came looking for an escaped panda
with nets and tranquilizers... only Saotome-san hadn't transformed at all. A
man on the roof tops accidentally sprayed us with water, but even through
Saotome-san managed to dodge it, the men from the zoo thought there would be
a panda there." 

Luna chimed in. "Kasumi, however, WAS splashed, and she barely managed to
escape being captured herself. I sincerely doubt that any of that was a
coincidence." 

Artemis nodded. "Those men were possessed by some kind of evil energy, that
much I'm sure of. It was faint, but it was there. That, combined with
everything else makes me suspect our demoness is involved in this. Certainly
Saotome-san has his own share of enemies, but with Ami's disappearance and
the energy I felt, I fear it had to be Mara, or at the least someone working
for her." 

"I'm afraid you may be right." Belldandy said with a sigh. "This does sound
like something she might do." Her face took on a serious cast. "I will do
what I can to help find Ami-san. We should start looking as soon as
possible." 

Skuld wrinkled her nose. "If the zoo has any records of transfers I bet I
could find out where they sent her. I just need to use my computer at home."


Belldandy smiled. "That's a good idea, Skuld. Why don't you go home and
beginthe search, while I go to the zoo." Skuld nodded seriously and ran off
toward the bathroom. Moments later there was a flash of light as the younger
goddess left the building. Minako cleared her throat, stepping forward, then
hesitated, obviously uncertain. The goddess of the present still noticed the
sound and turned to face her. "Ah, Minako. I'm sorry, I did come here for
you, after all. It shouldn't take too long to complete the spell you asked
for." 

Minako blushed, shaking her head. "Oh no, Belldandy, that's OK. There's
plenty of more important things for you to be doing... with Ami missing and
everything. I'm fine, really." 

Belldandy blinked. "Are you sure? I'm positive that there is no danger. I
wasmost careful in my preparations." 

Minako shook her head. "Oh no, I trust you... but won't this spell take a
lotof energy? We can't take any chances with that demoness on the loose. You
can wait until after this is all over to do it...." 

Belldandy hesitated. "It is a complex enchantment, but I should be alright.
Please don't worry about me." 

Minako would have continued to protest, but Artemis took her by the arm
firmly. "Mina, go ahead and let Belldandy do the spell. You or Akane could
get splashed at some critical time when we need you, and we can't afford
thatkind of weakness right now." 

Belldandy nodded, smiling at Minako reassuringly. "Don't worry about me,
Minako. I will be fine. Do you still want me to do this?" 

Minako hesitated, then nodded reluctantly. "Yes... and Akane wants it too. I
just don't want you to use up your power on me when there are so many other
problems out there." 

Belldandy shook her head. "Don't worry. I was low on power at Jusenkyo
because of the accident, but I'm fine now. There shouldn't be any problems."


Minako smiled and nodded her assent. "OK!" 

Belldandy nodded and held up her hands, spreading her palms wide. "Now we'll
need a little room, so everyone please stand back." The crowd in the living
room gave way automatically, everyone moving back to give Belldandy and
Minako plenty of space. The goddess of the present raised her hands and
beganto chant in a melodic voice that was hauntingly familiar, but in a
language no one there recognized. 

Minako felt herself slowly lifting off the ground as powerful forces swirled
around her, and felt a strong influx of energy infuse her mind, energizing
her so that every memory, every thought was crystal clear. Her eyes went
widein amazement as her entire life flashed before her eyes. Years seemed to
go by like lightning, but intellectually she realized it had been only
moments before it was over, and she was setting down on the floor, her every
nerve tingling slightly with a fading electricity. Minako faltered slightly
as she fought to regain her equilibrium, and Belldandy was at her side an
instant, steadying her. 

"How are you feeling?" The goddess asked comfortingly. 

"Whoa...." Minako put a hand to her head and held herself upright, finding
herself almost back to normal. "I'm OK..., I'm OK...." She told her friends
as they started gathering around in concern. "Whoa, what a head rush. For a
second there I thought I was dying...." There was a gasp of horror and
Minakoblinked. "Oh no, not in a bad way!" She assured them. 

Makoto blinked. "Er... Mina... what are you talking about?" 

"Huh?" Minako looked confused for a moment, then nodded in understanding.
"Oh, I mean I was seeing my whole life flashing before my eyes... I wasn't
actually dying or anything." 

Makoto looked relieved. "Oh. Then you're OK then?" 

"Sure." Minako nodded cheerfully. "Never better." She smiled at Belldandy.
"And I mean that! That was really cool, Belldandy. A bit scary at first...
but wow, what a rush!" 

Belldandy smiled faintly. "I'm glad you're alright. Are you ready to
continue? I need to repeat the spell on Akane as well." 

Minako blinked, then quickly nodded. "I'm great. Let's do it." 

A quick splash of water later, a long haired Akane with a red ribbon in her
hair stood in their midst, blinking slowly. "I... I know where I am... I
think." She looked at Belldandy questioningly. "Did you just do the spell?"
She shook her head. "Wait, you just said you need to repeat it on me...."
Shetook a deep breath, then clenched her fists tightly as she visibly
prepared herself. "I think I'm ready. Go ahead." 

Belldandy nodded. "Alright. Now the first spell was to send Minako's
memoriesto you. This one will be to send your memories to her, OK?" 

Akane nodded back. "OK, Belldandy." 

Belldandy raised her hands again and waited a moment to make sure that
everyone was standing back, then began the spell once again. Akane rose into
the air with a gasp, her eyes rolling back in her head as her brain seemed
tocatch on fire. The spell ended and the cursed girl fell to the floor with
agasp, collapsing in a heap. Ranma practically teleported to her side in
concern, Ranko, Belldandy and Rei just a step behind in going to her. 

"I'm alright... just a little dizzy...." Akane started, her eyes focusing on
the person holding her. "R-Ranma...." She swallowed hard, her eyes going
misty momentarily before pushing him softly away from her. "I... I can get
upon my own. L-let me go." Ranma broke away from the cursed Akane
reluctantly, looking a bit hurt, and Akane got to her feet quickly, trying
not to look at Ranma as she did so. 

Belldandy went to her side, looking contrite. "I'm so sorry, Akane-san. I
should have taken into account the combined effect of the spells...." 

Akane waved her off, shaking her head. "I'm fine. I'm feeling better
already,see?" Akane made a muscle with her right arm and smiled. "Good as
new, see?" 

Belldandy sweatdropped. "Er... that's your arm." 

Akane blinked, then laughed nervously. "Oh, right. Well my head's OK too. No
problem" Belldandy looked at her closely, scanning the cursed girl with
senses far beyond those of a normal human. 

After several moments the goddess nodded, looking satisfied. "Good, there
doesn't appear to be any adverse side effects. The spell appears to have
worked properly." 

Akane glanced at Ranma quickly, then turned away from him. "I guess I should
test it then? I'll just go get some hot water." She started walking toward
the kitchen. "May I, Hotaru-chan?" 

Hotaru blinked, not really used to playing the hostess, then nodded. "Of
course, Akane-san. You don't need to ask." 

Soon afterward Minako came back into the room with Hotaru, her hair damp and
a large grin on her face. "I remember everything!" She announced cheerfully.
"It was like I was there in person, practically. The spell works great!" 

Belldandy smiled softly and bowed. "I am glad you are pleased." She took a
slow breath, then nodded. "Now then, I should go to the zoo and see what I
can learn. Perhaps Mara left some sort of clue there that can help us find
poor Ami-chan." 

End Chapter 29 

Please C&C, it's why I write! 

You can find almost all the previous Chapters to this at: 

http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Dojo/1449/fanfics.html

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