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Sailor Ranko: Thrice In A Millennium: Chapter 16, Betrayal.
by
Rebecca Ann Heineman

Ranma 1/2 and the characters therein are the property of Rumiko Takahashi. Based on "Sailor Ranko" by Duncan Zillman and "Twice in a Millennium" by Kevin D. Hammel.

I don't own these characters. Please don't sue me, kill me or make me appear on Girls Gone Wild.



A bright ray of light streamed into the medicine hut and landed at the side of a well worn cot. Slowly, as time went on, the beam silently crept forward along the floor, up the edge of the low bed, until it landed directly on the face of the young woman who was lying there. Feeling the heat, Konatsu opened her eyes and instantly closed them in pain. She lifted a hand to block the light and rubbed her eyes with the other, The kunoichi slowly came back from her unconscious state. Yawning, she sat up and looked around for any sign of her hostess. After a few moments of silence, she saw that the coast was clear, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Once she had regained her energy, she silently slid off of her resting place and stood in the center of the room. She wobbled for a moment and held onto to a nearby post for support. She remained still for a few seconds until her equilibrium became balanced again, and rubbed her head to soothe a headache. She was still a bit woozy from the medication that Potion had given her, and whatever it was, it had a powerful effect on her. Still, she had her suspicions, "Motaba root," she cursed.

She took a minute to scan the room and found her old ninja outfit hanging on a peg behind a closet door. She quickly removed the white robe she was wearing and put on her more familiar clothing. She took great care in zipping up the front of her outfit after remembering the tired garment couldn't take much more strain before it would fall apart. Brushing off a small amount of dust from her shoulder, she checked the hidden pockets to verify that nothing was taken. She found the item she was looking for and made sure it remained secure in its hiding place.

She moved quietly along the wall, trying to avoid attention from anyone within hearing distance. She approached the entrance to the room and listened carefully at the door. Hearing nothing, she turned the knob and slowly creaked the door open. Peering inside the next room, she breathed another sigh of relief as there were no guards in sight. She moved into the small room and found it filled with potions, animal parts, herbs and other items of possible medicinal value and it also had the distinct aroma of ginger. She quickly checked the room for alarms and traps and then she moved to the curtain that covered the entrance. Behind the curtain was another door, leading to the front porch. She moved to a small circular window to the right of the door and looked outside. There, she saw a familiar white haired old Amazon hopping on her cane and entering a hut across the way.

Once Cologne was out of sight, Konatsu looked to the left and right and saw that the space between the huts was clear. She stepped outside and noticed that the hut she had exited from had a tiny garden next to it filled with exotic plants. Little signs in Chinese marked the types of plants that populated the rows. One of them had the symbol for Motaba root, confirming the ninja's earlier hypothesis. The ground beyond the garden was covered in dirt with patches of grass where foot traffic was absent. She checked again to see if there were any prying eyes and found none. She deftly crossed the dirt path and walked around the other hut and she found a large barrel of water to hide behind. What kind of water? Here, no one could be too sure, so she kept a vigil on the fluid within. She pressed herself between the barrel and the wall of the hut, hoping that no one could see her from where she was hiding. Placing her ear against the wall, she listened carefully.

All she heard was an argument about ancient laws and people named Ranma and Shampoo. Damn, she thought. She was hoping that they would be discussing something of more interest to her. A few minutes pass and the conversation ended. Konatsu was disappointed, since this rare opportunity to spy on the elders yielded nothing of value. She pondered her next move and closed her eyes to clearly recall everything she knew about the village. Gardens, playgrounds, council chambers and yes, the pits, she recalled. She opened her eyes with clarity and crept alongside the hut wall until she could see another row of huts. Hoping that she would be welcome here, she walked, trying to keep her slight limp to a minimum. As she moved between the huts, several Amazons saw her, but none of them paid any special attention to her. The kunoichi smiled. Her plan was working perfectly.

Ahead, was a flat grassy area surrounded by a low wooden fence made of gnarled logs hammered vertically into the ground. The kunoichi was about to step on one when she took a moment to pause. Fearing a magical trap of some kind, she made a clumsy somersault high over the fence and into the center of the area the old wood protected. She landed with a metallic clang. She made a silent curse to herself for being careless and pushed aside a tuft of high grass. Underneath the brush, she found a metal grate firmly anchored to the ground covering a large pit. She looked in between the slats and saw blackness. She squinted her eyes to try to make out anything and still she saw nothing. "Psst." She whispered. "Are you there, my Lord?"

Something in the pit moved in reply. A soft meow was heard followed by a purr. Out of the shadows, came a small white cat with purple ears and paws. It looked up and meowed happily.

Konatsu ignored the feline and kept looking in the pit for any sign of her Lord. "Are you there? It's me, I'm here to get you out." She grabbed the iron grate and gave it a hard yank. It refused to budge.

The cat jumped happily and meowed a little louder. Konatsu gritted her teeth in frustration because that cat was going to attract the very attention she was trying to avoid. She looked to her left and saw another grate, identical to the one she was trying to open. She quickly forgot about the pit with the cat and was about to check the new one when she felt a tap on her shoulder. A sudden jerk followed and she was whisked away, over the fence and into to the back of a nearby hut before she knew what happened to her.

Cologne gave a look of anger and frustration and was holding her cane firmly into the kunoichi's hip. She scowled angrily. "What are you doing here?" She turned around to check if they were being watched and saw that no one was around to see the pair. She breathed a sigh of relief and turned back to face the kunoichi from Japan. She pulled her cane away and stuck it into the ground then held onto it for support. She shook her head in remorse. "You can't rescue her, it would only make it worse."

Konatsu made a frown, "Her?" She was confused. "What do you mean, her?"

"You're not here for her?" Cologne was immediately suspicious. "What are..." Before she finished her sentence, she studied everything she needed to know about this person in front of her. The woman's ki signature was a perfect match for Ukyou's waiter/waitress, but the way she stood was wrong for a kunoichi, the makeup was not applied with absolute care and those breasts weren't made of tissue paper. She spun her cane into a position to attack and shouted for all to hear. "Who are you?
Intruder!"

Konatsu was taken aback at Cologne's change of tone. She assertively challenged the elder, "I'm the Kunoichi Konatsu. I stand before you!"

If there was any doubt in her mind, it was removed with the ninja's statement. It wasn't the words. Konatsu said that line every time he issued a formal challenge. But Konatsu being assertive? Since when? And the voice, while close to the Kunoichi's, had subtle differences and Cologne was able to discern. This woman was different from the person she knew and even if Konatsu had picked up a curse, it wouldn't change how his base personality was at all unless he fell into the Spring of Drowned Pious Man. The person in front of her was not suffering from that curse. "Konatsu would never address me in that manner. How did you duplicate his body?" She took a moment to pause at the situation since pronouns were rapidly becoming obsolete in this situation. Many questions needed answers and the elder was going to get them while beating it out of this imposter.

The kunoichi sent a low kick at Cologne which she deflected with her cane easily.
"Guards!" She cried out loud enough to be heard all across the village. "We have an intruder!"

"Where is he?" Konatsu demanded, knowing full well that they weren't going to tell her anything. She jumped back and ran to the unexamined prison cell, all the while being careful not to touch the fence. Upon reaching the grate, she yelled into the darkness within, "My Lord, are you in there?"

"Stop her!" Yelled Cologne and she jumped onto her cane and pogo-sticked her way to the kunoichi. She thrust out her staff and shoved the dark haired girl into the ground. Konatsu rolled with the impact and leapt into the air as if she was made for flying. She pulled out a shuriken and threw it at the Amazon elder.

Cologne effortlessly caught the pointed star with her hand and tossed the useless weapon aside. If the real Konatsu had thrown the star, it would have been a challenge to deflect. All the more proof that this person was someone in disguise. "What have you done with Konastu? Who do you want?"

"You know full well who I'm talking about!" Screamed the ninja. "Release him at once!"

As the two women encircled each other, waiting for an opening to present itself for an attack, dozens of Amazon warriors appeared from everywhere and created a perimeter around the two combatants.

Konatsu paused for only a moment and produced a Chinese sword from the hidden place within her robes, a sword that Cologne had seen before. "It's you! Kiima!"

She just grinned in reply and with that, she spun the blade in a whirlwind attack. "Special technique revised, One Thousand Bird Wing Fan!" She stood her ground and with a tone more fitting of a military commander than a demure waitress, she demanded "You will release my Lord,
NOW!"

Cologne stepped back and maintained a defensive posture. Her cane was no match to Phoenix Mountain steel. "He's not here." She silently prayed that she was telling the truth. With all the deception going on, there was no telling if Kiima may be in the right.

"He would never have left the castle unless he was forced to. What have you done to him?" She commanded. "Bring him forth or... or..." A strange scream was heard from high above causing the small group to take pause and look up.

Instantly, everyone dived for cover as a balding fat man in a white martial arts gi, flew by at a speed that rivaled jet aircraft only a few meters over their heads. "Yeehaw!" He screamed as he whizzed by.

Cologne peered up from the grass first and softly whispered. "Wasn't that..."

"The Kinjakan!" Konatsu shouted in terror. "No!"

Cologne took a moment to put the pieces together and things being measured on the badness scale of one to ten, had reached the level of twelve. She dropped her cane in shock. Genma Saotome on the Kinjakan?!? What's going on? And how did he come by that artifact?

She didn't have much time to ask any more questions, when another missle flew by, following Genma's flight precisely. This object was a cross between a human and a bird and he was cursing. "You will pay for your insolence,
infidel!"

Without hesitation, Kiima made a break for it. She ran past Cologne and jumped into a steel barrel filled with soaking wet laundry that was sitting on top of a tiny fire. She emerged from the hot water in her birth form, an avian woman with wings. Taking only a moment to repectfully glance at Cologne, she spread her wings and flew up into the sky in pursuit of her Lord Saffron. She was only able to rise five meters before an arrow from an Amazon archer pierced her right wing. Ignoring her new injury, she flapped harder and quickly vanished into the sky in pursuit of her Lord and the Kinjakan.

As the archers sent up a full volley of arrows in a futile attempt to bring Kiima down, Gel hopped in, angrier than a bee hive that was being raided by a bear. She hatefully glared at Cologne and stood just outside of striking distance. "What's the meaning of this? What have you done?"

"What do you mean, what have I done? She's getting away!" Cologne pointed at the rapidly retreating bird woman. "She was spying on us!"

Pointing an accusatory finger at Cologne, Gel barked out the order she had waited a long time to give. "You're under arrest for the attempted prison break of Shampoo."

Cologne was seething. "You're insane! This has nothing to do with my Great-Granddaughter. She came here thinking that we kidnapped Saffron and you're accusing me of that?"

"I see though your plans. I've been watching you and you've finally slipped up. You staged this whole thing! That woman you were with? She's that Kunoichi from Japan and she's works with one of your closest associates. Ukyou, is it?"

"Wait just one..." Was all Cologne could say before a cloud of powder appeared in her face, causing her to cough and prevented her from saying anything more.

"This is an elaborate hoax for you to free Shampoo! I knew you were going to try something when I saw that kunoichi arrive yesterday."

Cologne stood there dumbfounded. She coughed again and forced out her response. "Yesterday? She's been here since yesteday? And you didn't even know she's a Phoenix Mountain dweller? That's the most flimsiest excuse I've ever heard! Something terrible is going to happen and you're wasting our time with this petty bickering?"

"Seize her!" Gel shouted to the other Amazons. The women looked at each other, totally confused as to whether or not they should obey the order. Cologne was one of the highest ranking elders and as such, was almost immune to prosecution.

Cautiously pulling out a small vial from her robes, Gel held it over the opening to Shampoo's cage. "You will do as I say and come along quietly."

Cologne froze, not wanting the contents of the vial to fall. This battle was lost, but the war was far from over. "Your foolishness just condemned us all."

"No, it's your foolish ideas who did this to us. I have to put a stop to it and I'll do anything to protect our way of life. Even this..." Gel steadfastly held the vial over the opening then loosened her grip. She was just a tiny amount of pressure away from releasing the vial into the slats of the iron grate. Never blinking her eyes nor taking her gaze away from the younger Elder, Gel spoke, leaving no doubt that she meant business. "It's a small price to pay to ensure our continued survival. Take her into custody and use the elder protocols."

The lead guard produced a magical steel chain and walked slowly to Cologne. Offering no resistance, Cologne held out her hands and the cuffs were attached to her wrists, all the while she returned Gel's hateful gaze with one of pity. A short distance away, a small iron cell was unlocked and Cologne was led towards it by a group of very reluctant Amazons. Before she entered the cage, she was stripped of her cane and a few magical items she had in her robes and the door was secured with a magically enhanced lock designed especially to keep an Amazon Elder imprisoned. Once her rival was secured, Gel tightened her grip on the vial and slid it back into her pouch with a satisfied look on her face.

She walked up to Cologne's cell, keeping a respectful distance and gloated. "You should have let me drop it. She deserved nothing less."

Shampoo's great grandmother stood silently in her cage, not wanting to give Gel the satisfaction of a response.

"Pity. Her fate was already sealed. Now you can share in her punishment tomorrow. I have plenty of vials. This one I have reserved just for you." She produced the vial and held it so Cologne could clearly read the label.

Cologne didn't have to read the label. She knew exactly what it was. It was the ultimate punishment for an Amazon. "You wouldn't dare."

Gel hid the vial in her fist. She turned around and walked away making one parting comment. "See you tomorrow."
------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Give those back, you pervert!" Screamed a young girl holding a large broom. She was chasing a shriveled old man who was carrying a large laundry bag filled with recently stolen women's undergarments and some of them were originally hers.

"
Sweeto! It's a great day to be alive!" Happosai jumped up onto a wall, then onto a high roof and easily evaded his pursuer. He ran for another kilometer to make sure he ditched that ungrateful young lady and paused to check his precious cargo. He opened the bag and found the most magical items in the whole wide world; namely, bras, panties and stockings.

He reached in and fetched a fine specimen of female clothing. He gently rubbed his fingers along the edges of the panty and absorbed the magical feminine energy. Once it was drained, he grabbed another undergarment, then another, until he was fully charged. He slid a panty over his head like a hat and pulled the elastic waist band down to his ears. "Ah, so soft, so cool, so full of sweet goodness, how I've missed you."

He turned to the direction of the Tendo Dojo with a sour look on his face. "Still, without Ranma around, there's no fun in this." He released the band, sending the panty flying into the air. Time to pay him a visit. Maybe he could be persuaded to change into a girl and do a little fashion show for me. He drooled.

He wadded up the undergarments he drained and tossed them over his shoulder. A policeman who had stopped when a panty landed on his head a moment ago had the misfortune to catch the wad of underwear just as a small mob of angry women appeared from nowhere. The lead girl pointed a broom at the officer. "Get the pervert!" The policeman stood there in surprise as he was mercilessly pounded upon by a horde of well armed women.

With his pursuers out of the way, and conveniently law enforcement as well, he placed the bag over his shoulder and roof hopped toward his old place of residence, occasionally stopping here and there to pluck another soft silky darling from a clothesline until his bag was overflowing. After a few screams from lovely ladies, he finally reached the wall of the Tendo compound. Happosai sensed only two occupants inside and neither seemed be the target of his attentions. He shrugged and jumped over the wall and ran up to a crying man. He silently watched as Soun Tendo, dressed only in a white loin cloth, made a prayer to the ancestors, then Mr. Tendo took a bucket of water and poured it on himself as part of a Shinto ritual.

The old geezer produced a pipe, lit it and took a puff. "You know, the furo is a better place to cleanse yourself."

Soun froze. No, he thought. It couldn't be. It's impossible. The Master was banished. He saw it with his own eyes. Mrs. Saotome and Sailor Mars sent the evil man to the afterlife so it couldn't really be him, could it? Perhaps, Happosai was speaking to him from beyond the grave? He reached out with his martial arts senses and there it was. He could feel the evil Master's presence. Somehow, he's returned from the bowels of hell. He bowed down as low to the ground as he could and assumed the Crouch of the Wild Tiger, the famed Saotome Technique of professional groveling. "Oh, Master, I seek your guidance."

The evil man raised an eyebrow as Soun was bowing away from him, not toward him. "At least you're showing proper respect for your Master. Now..."

He was about to speak more but Soun interrupted him. "I ask your humble guidance, oh great and powerful Master."

Happosai smiled. Soun was assuming the position but he still couldn't be trusted. The old man wasn't planning on spending another decade buried in a cave somewhere. "I'll give it to you as soon as you tell me where Mrs. Soatome is?"

"Mrs. Saotome?" Soun blinked, surprised as the Master's odd request. "She's staying with Ranma and Akane."

"Oh, nice." Two for the price of one, he rubbed his hands thinking about a romantic rendezvous with Akane-chan. "Are they staying at the Miyagi Dojo in Juuban?"

"Don't you already know, oh, wise and all powerful Master?" Soun started to sweat. That voice sounded like it wasn't from the other side, but from his backside, a place that was certainly one hundred times worse. But that's impossible since the Master was in hell, purgatory, Niflheim or Hoboken, New Jersey. Then again, he did survive a decade locked in a cave after drinking enough sake to kill an elephant and having been blown up by enough dynamite to level a small mountain. Soun, slowly turned his head from his prone position and saw the upside down image of the most horrible creature in all of Japan: His Master.

Instantly turning around, he bowed in front of Happosai. "I welcome you, Master!"

"Hmph. As if you really mean that. I was stuck in that other dimension and what did you do to get me out?" He leered, all knowing that Soun and Genma probably celebrated with sake and wine when they knew he was gone.

"There was nothing we could do." He groveled again, forcing his face into the soft earth hoping he could burrow a few thousand kilometers down.

I need to train him on how to be a better liar, thought the old fossil. Happosai shook his head in disgust at how pathetic his student had become. "Yeah, whatever you say. So, where's your partner in crime, Mr. Panda?"

"You-You don't know. Oh, you're not dead, of course you wouldn't know." He groveled again. "I beg your forgiveness, oh, Master."

"Rumors of my death were a bit premature. At least you can hold my funeral again, this time with my body in state and plenty of pretty ladies leaving me offerings." He zoned out, thinking about bras. A moment later, he snapped out of his wonderous daydream. "Now, on to business. Where exactly is Ranma and Akane staying?"

"They are in an apartment near Juuban High School." He gave him the address.

"I see. You'd better not be trying something. I'm off to my room. I'll got some things to do, people to see and some special things I need to iron!" He bounded off, and entered the back door to the house, out of sight.

Soun collapsed in terror. No! He couldn't be back. He was banished into that box. He saw for himself that Sailor Pluto took that thing away. Far away. Far, far away. Far, far, far away. But as before, he underestimated the Master. This was only an inconvenience for him and... Uh, oh...

BOOM! Soun was covered in soot as a firecracker that was left behind, exploded. He sat for a moment as he wondered about what horrible thing he must have done in a past life to deserve what he got in this one. A moment passed, and his recollection of his training regiment under the Master all but assured him that the next three lifetimes he would live would probably be worse than this one. He sighed in utter doom.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!" Came a scream from inside the house. "Soun! Where are my things!"

In seconds, Soun was at the entryway of Happosai's bedroom. From floor to ceiling were sample merchandise with the likeness' of Sailor Sun and Io and other Sailor Senshi. Nabiki had filled the room since she, like everyone else, had thought that the Master was never to return. That wasn't what angered the Master. He was kneeling over a empty hole in the floorboards. "Where is it?" He demanded angrily and glowed a bright red. He wasn't at all happy.

"Where is what, oh, great and powerful Master?" He was on his knees and bowing.

"Cut that out!" He shouted. "Where's my chest?"

Chest? Soun racked his brain trying to remember if he had seen a chest. Since the Master had gone, Cologne had visited, then Nabiki took over the room and... "I believe that Cologne took it."

"Damn! She would be an indian giver. No mind, I'll have to make do without it." He paused to look at a large poster on the wall. It was a picture of Sailor Io, throwing a ball of Lava. He studied the picture carefully.

Soun looked at the picture, then at the Master, not comprehending what was going on.

"That stance." Happosai made the same stance. "It's an Anything Goes stance. Why I'll be. I'm going to have a bit more fun than I imagined."

"Why, hello there, Grandfather." Kasumi appeared with a big tray of sandwiches and sake. "Welcome home!"

"Kasumi! It's so nice too..." Before the little creep could pounce, Kasumi shoved a sandwich into his mouth.

"I'll have your room straightened out before bedtime." Instantly, the eldest Tendo sister vanished. As she briskly walked back to the kitchen, she made the sign of the cross on her chest and held her hands in prayer.

"Mmm..." He removed the sandwich from his face and finished chewing the part that was still in his mouth. "My favorite. You could learn something from her. Now, I'm off and I expect my things to be exactly where I left them. And I do mean
everything." With that, the evil man jumped out the window and ran to the southeast, toward the Minato ward.

All Soun could think of at that moment was how lucky Genma was for running off with that strange artifact and angering that monster. If Genma was to die, he would no longer have to deal with the Master. He wondered if he could convince the woman eating Orochi if he could make an exception and eat him for breakfast.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I'm home!" Mrs. Mizuno took off her shoes and placed them next to the front door of her little condominium. It was one of the few times she was able to get home early from her job at the hospital. She went straight to the kitchen to read any message that Ami left on the whiteboard on the refrigerator when a clicking sound attracted her attention. She heard the pages of a book being turned, then more clicking. It sounded like a computer keyboard, but it beeped like a calculator in sync to the clicking. There was only one computer that sounded like that. Her daughter must be up to something important if she was using that.

Without hesistating, she opened the refrigerator and pulled out some of Ami's favorite foods. In a few minutes, she prepared a sandwich, a sliced apple and added a fresh cold juice box and lovingly placed them on a serving tray. She carried the meal down to her hard working daughter's bedroom. Tapping the door with her foot, she knocked gently to get her young girl's attention, "Ami? I've got something for you."

A hurried voice answered, "Could you leave it out the door? I'm a little busy right now."

Mrs. Mizuno smiled as she always did when her daughter was deep in study. She balanced her tray in a single hand and opened the door. As she suspected, Sailor Mercury was sitting at her daughter's desk instead of Ami in her school uniform. Mercury looked up to see her mother and smiled back. "Thank you."

Her mother placed the tray at the end of her daughter's desk. She stared at the Senshi with pride. She followed with a bit of dread, since her daughter rarely spent time in her Senshi form when she was home. Something very important was happenening to make her daughter risk being seen in her alternate guise. "What are you working on?"

The Senshi of Mercury sat back in her chair, exhausted. "I've been trying to find a cure for Ukyou's affliction."

"Affliction? What do you think she has?" Dr. Mizuno's professional curiosity was piqued. "If she's sick, why don't you have her come to the hospital? She'd receive the best of care, especially if you vouched for her."

"I wish it was that easy." She pressed some buttons on her Mercury computer and on the screen was the magical scan of Ukyou's aura. "I just can't figure out what's the next phase. It's like there's some sort of randomness controlling this."

"Ukyou, Ukyou, where have I heard that name before? Wasn't she the one that..." She gasped. It was the girl from Nerima who nearly died on her operating table from massive trauma and blood loss. It was when she was in recovery, the Senshi came and with their magic, they performed a miracle and healed her. "Her? What happened? I thought you cured her. Did she lose her leg again?"

Speaking in a calming voice, the young girl held up her computer for her mother to see. "No, she's not losing her leg, but something happened when we healed her. Look at this."

Dr. Mizuno read the information on the screen and was perplexed at what she saw. The scan was of a resolution that rivaled the best MRI she'd ever seen. There were areas that glowed that covered her lost leg and her hand, but the glow had leeched into the rest of woman's body much like the pattern of a cancer spreading into its host. She had enough experience to know that this wasn't a good sign. "What's happening to her? I take it it's serious."

She took back her computer and placed it on her desk. She tapped a few more keys and the image changed to one where the glow covered more of the chef's body. "This is what she looks like today. In the last week, it's grown twenty two percent and it's growing faster. At this rate, she'll be completely contaminated in a few days."

"What is this?" Dr. Mizuno read one of Ami's many notes she had laying on her desk and was even more confused. Medical arts, she was a master, but magic? That was something that was a bit out of her field.

"The only way to describe it is that it's our ki; our life energy. When we healed her, we gave a piece of ourselves, much like someone donating blood. We used that to reconstitute her body and heal her completely."

"And how is this affecting her? I assume she's not a Senshi."

"You're right about that Mother. She's not. But Sailor Saturn has healed many people and nothing like this has ever happened. It's like we triggered something, yet I can't figure out what it is."

Sitting down in the room's only other chair, Ami's mother crossed her legs and tried to think about the problem as only a trained professional would. Even though Ami had the brains for it, she didn't have the experience. "First, I need to know what's her symptoms. Maybe we can figure this out."

It was worth a shot. Maybe her mother could offer something new to look at that Ami hadn't thought of. Besides, she so rarely saw her mother lately, just being with her brought back fond memories of a happier time. A time when her father still lived with them and they did things together once in a while. Happily, she asked for the advice her mother was volunteering to give. "Let's see, she's manifesting behaviors from everybody who healed her. She's playing the violin, which was something she never did before. She's speaking perfect English and she made a cake that Sailor Jupiter makes all the time. It's as if a bit of each of us is inside her."

"I can see how that could affect her psyche. Has she seen a therapist? Perhaps that may be all she needs."

Mercury shook her head. "No, there's more to it than that." She pressed a few keys and an overlay appeared on Ukyou's silhouette. "This is my aura. When I asked her to solve a short math formula, this is what happened." She played an animation that had another girl's silhouette on top of Ukyou's, then it changed into one that was distinctly Ami's. "As you see, when she needs Mercury power, she tapped into my aura. It gave her the ability to think like me."

Taking it in, Dr. Mizuno sat there digesting what Ami said. "And, she can tap into the others as well?"

"Yes, I tested her and I was able to get everybody's aura, even Sailor Chibi Moon."

"From what little I know, it sounds more like this is a gift than a disease. What's the negative effects besides the psychological ones, unless it's the psychological issue you're addressing? If that's the case, I can refer her to a therapist."

"Therapy may be needed for her to cope in the long term. It's the short term that I'm worried about." She displayed the body glow again and animated it to the point where the glow covered her body. "This is forecast to occur in 48 hours. When it reaches one hundred percent, I'm afraid that the shock to her system will be too much for her."

"Shock? What shock?"

'Her heart rate, blood pressure, and EKG readings go haywire when her auras change. And they're changing more rapidly as time goes on." The blue skirted Senshi sulked. "There's so many variables, I wish I knew with certainty the outcome."

Speaking from experience, the elder nodded in acknowledgment. "Once, I was just like you."

Mercury raised an eyebrow. Was her mother trying to tell her that she was a Senshi too?

"When I was in college, I thought I knew everything. I was just starting my internship at the university hospital when I found out that despite everything I knew, everything I studied and everything I thought about medicine didn't mean a whole lot when compared to the healing power of the human body. I was so sure I had the answer to everything. I aced my tests, I listened to my teachers and when they brought this man into the hospital, everything I knew about science went out the window."

"Really?" Mercury was enthralled at her mother's story.

"Yes, really," she continued. "He was barely alive. He was a fireman who had fallen and he had numerous internal injuries. After he was stablized, everyone, including I, were convinced that his family should make plans for his funeral. He had no hope of surviving. His kidneys had failed, he was bleeding internally and he suffered brain trauma that even if his body recovered, he was already dead. And it was that night, my world changed."

"I was making the rounds, taking vital signs from all the patients, when I went into his room. He was lying there. His heart monitor was beeping, and I went to take his pulse when he spoke to me. Imagine that? A man who was brain dead, speaking to me as if nothing happened. Do you know what he said to me?"

"What did he say?"

"He said, 'Tell the building owner to fix the stairs, they seem to be broken.'" The doctor giggled.

Mercury couldn't help but giggle too.

"A few weeks later, he was checked out and in time, he fully recovered. Despite all that you know, and all that you've studied, never underestimate the power the human body has in repairing itself. Sometimes, miracles can happen on their own."

Sailor Mercury smiled back at her mother. She always knew what to say, mother's always did.

"I have faith, Mercury. I know you'll be able to help her, but don't keep the burden on yourself. She already survived the odds. When she was on my table, I didn't think she was going to make it either. But, she's a fighter. I think the odds are still in her favor. Besides..." A mischiveous twinkle gleamed in her eye. "I don't know how you girls recruit new members, but if anything, a girl with those abilities, could be a superhero, just like you."

Mercury sat in shock. Why didn't she think of that? After all, Akane was promoted to Senshihood, why couldn't they promote another? "I see your point." She jumped up and hugged her mother. "Thank you for helping me."

She returned the hug with as much enthusiasm as her daughter. "What are mothers for?"

"I've got to go! I've got meet my teammates." She grabbed her pocket computer and book bag.

"I think you'll need this." She held up the food tray.

Mercury blushed and picked up the sandwich and juice box. She stuffed the box into her bag and hurried into the kitchen to get a piece of wrapping paper. A moment later, Sailor Mercury headed toward the door.

Dr. Mizuno held out an umbrella for her daughter. "Forgetting something?"

Mercury paused in confusion. "It's not supposed to rain today, is it?"

The good doctor opened the umbrella and several roses popped out.

"Oh." Mercury dropped her senshi guise so she could travel to Rei's shrine without being assulted by every hormone drenched male along the way. "Remind me to kill Tatewaki Kuno."
------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I am Kunoichi Konatsu and I am in hell."

The little kunoichi shivered in the corner of her dark, dismal and depressing cave, isolated from any human contact. The dripping of water from the condensation from the ceiling above was her only companion. There were iron bars mounted on a sliding door that covered the entrance to her cell. Her ego was so shattered, that she had no will to even try to break the bars. Curled up into a fetal position to conserve warmth, the girl made a fresh row of tears to add to the small puddle that had formed under her head.

She wore a simple white robe, with black trim and nothing else. Her hair, once glistening with pride and joy, now was a matted tangled mess. Her makeup was smeared and ran down her face, following the water trails coming from her eyes. Her usual clothes were somewhere else, or destroyed, or lost. She didn't know. All she could remember was waking up in here after a long hard battle, a splash, then doom.

She sniffed again in sorrow, coughing out the musty dust that filled the room giving it the scent of a bag of dirty socks that have over ripened in the noonday sun.

She blinked her eyes to clear out the dust, trying to focus on anything in the darkness. Only the reflections of light coming from the guard room down a corridor beyond her reach illuminated the chamber, giving it an atmosphere that rivaled a haunted house.

"Oh, Ukyou-sama... I miss you." The kunoichi softly spoke to the flies that buzzed around her. She felt her new chest and wept again. "What am I?" Her frame was slightly smaller and her body was mostly the same except for her breasts and what was missing between her legs.

She softly wept as her dreams washed away with her tears. "How will she love me now?"

She closed her eyes and tried to remember. How did this happen? She was a genius kunoichi, one that comes every one hundred years. Yet, she was defeated. How was this possible?

The memories returned, and she immediately wished she could forget.
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Kiima stood in a fog enshrouded clearing waiting in anticipation. She glanced over to a patch of grass that was depressed slightly than the rest of the terrain and made a soft smile. A murder of crows formed a black cloud just over the horizon, and it was getting closer.

The Captain of Phoenix Mountain checked her sword. She pulled it from its sheath only a few centimeters and quickly pushed the blade back into place, satisfied that the weapon was available should the need arise. Considering her opponent, that need was soon. She gave a call back to the approaching crows and they responded in kind one thousand fold.

The cloud of crows descended rapidly and landed twenty meters ahead of Kiima. No sooner did they land, they flew off into the sky in thousands of directions. Where they touched down, a lone body lay on the ground. Kiima held her hand on the hilt of her sword. She had underestimated her opponent before, this time, she won't repeat her mistake.

Minutes passed, and the person on the grass didn't move at all. Kiima stood still, not taking her eyes off of her quarry believing this could be some sort of trick. After ten minutes of waiting, Kiima tried another tactic. "I know you can hear me. Get up."

Konatsu stayed motionless, dead to the world. Kiima wasn't buying it. She nodded at one of her companions, an archer sitting on a hill. He pulled his bow and took aim. Kiima raised her other hand and kept the open palm facing her archer. She waited another precious minute, then closed her hand into a fist. The archer released his arrow and it took flight. Kiima lowered her arm and watched her prey intently for his next move.

Move he did. An instant before the arrow was to pierce his heart, the kunoichi rolled on the grass and got to his feet. He spun in a three sixty and counted his foes. Three on the hills above, armed with bows. Four with swords blocking the exit of the shallow valley he was in and Kiima alone guarded the other way out. The terrain was strange. There were sharp craggy rocks everywhere and tall spires of rough stone made from a dark material. The area was high in the mountains with thousands of peaks dotting the landscape. Numerous overhangs protruded from the walls of the valley and in the valley ahead. This couldn't be Japan, China maybe?

It didn't matter where he was at the moment. What concerned him was the fight at hand and Kiima was the only one who was close enough for combat. All the others were at least one hundred meters away, He bounced off the ground and leapt high into the air. He threw folded paper napkins as little darts at Kiima for his opening salvo.

Smiling, Kiima unsheathed her sword and blocked the attack. The darts bounced harmlessly off of her blade except the last one. It was a lit stick of dynamite. That one exploded and shoved the warrior backwards.

Konatsu had to pull back from his attack. Arrows from three directions approached him and he barely was able to dodge them all. The archers reloaded and took aim again. Konatsu patted his robes and found that he used up all the dynamite he had. He rummaged around his pockets and found a bottle of sake. He put that back because Ukyou would be angry with him if he wasted a perfectly good beverage. He produced some shurikens and threw them at the closest archer. The Bird Warrior ducked to keep himself from getting impaled. As the discs flew past, he stood up to reacquire his target when the discs struck him from behind, throwing him down onto the steep hillside. Before he could grab on to something, the soft earth gave way and the archer slid down the hillside, covered in mud.

One down, seven to go, thought Konatsu. He jumped to the side to avoid a pair of arrows from skewering him. He did a back flip to avoid a slash from Kiima's sword. He landed on his feet and faced the white haired warrior. "Why?" was all he could ask.

Kiima slashed again with her sword and pressed her attack. She swung her sword, stepping forward with each strike, not giving any ground. The kunoichi had to keep dodging backwards to avoid a fatal blow. Kiima wore a mask of hatred as she kept spinning her sword, pushing the kunoichi backwards.

Pressing her advance, Kiima spun her sword faster as if it was a food processor and Konatsu was the vegetable she intended to mince. The kunoichi kept running backwards, dodging an occasional arrow when he lunged backwards and did a series of back flips on his hands and feet, traveling fifty meters in a matter of seconds. He landed and assumed a crane stance, then he arched his back to let another arrow fly over his chest and he returned to his stance holding his gaze at his main opponent.

Stopping her charge at the edge of the indentation in the grass, the Captain muttered under her breath. "Impossible. How did she?" She took a moment to test the ground with her boot and it gave way as she put a small amount of pressure on it. She looked up at her quarry only to be greeted by several folded napkins aimed her head. Taken by surprise, both by Konatsu's ability to traverse a trap and his counter attack, she fell backwards with her face covered in napkins. Regaining her senses, she rolled to the side to avoid another barrage and shouted to her troops. "Get her!"

On command, a full dozen more archers appeared on each side of the valley and took aim. Konatsu took stock of the situation and did what any sane warrior would do. He ran for the unguarded exit of the valley, dodging arrows all the way.

Kiima wiped the napkins off of her face and ran after her prey. In a moment she exited through the pass and entered the adjacent valley. This one was much different than the one she came from, it was populated by over one hundred springs, and several hundred bamboo poles of heights ranging from a few meters to over twenty. The ground was shrouded in mist and hopping from pole to pole was her target. She spread her wings and flew into the air, determined not to let this girl get away from her.

Konatsu effortlessly leapt from pole to pole, trying to gain distance between himself and that crazy warrior. He turned in mid-air as his senses felt a change in air pressure. He landed on another pole and assumed a crane stance and watched as Kiima flew through the area he once occupied and straight down toward a pool of water. In a shocking display of agility, Kiima spread her legs wide apart and stopped herself only centimeters from the surface of the water. She spun her head up and looked at Konatsu with primeval fury. She opened her wings further and flapped with all her might, making sure that none of her body touched the water below.

She's afraid of the water? surmised Konatsu. Why? He flipped backwards with a skill that surpassed Olympic gymnasts. Jumping off the pole he was on, he landed on a small sign that marked a pool of water in the rough shape of a trapezoid. There, he assumed another crane stance and watched his opponent fly over him and bank sharply. Waiting a moment, his eyes followed her flight until she turned again. Kiima contracted her wings and dived at a forty five degree angle, determined to knock the kunoichi off of the sign and into the ground behind it. Konatsu braced himself for the impact and moved his arms so he could catch Kiima when they collided. For some reason, the sign under Konatsu gave way and he tumbled. He twisted his body to control his fall and he landed at the rim of the pool. He then flattened himself on the ground, narrowly missing the Kiima missile. The white haired bird woman struck the ground hard, making a small crater and showering the kunoichi with small rocks.

He pushed the ground to stand back up when another strange thing happened. The earth gave way and fell directly into the spring, threatening to take the kunoichi with it. He spun in the air, rolling like a log up the rapidly shrinking embankment until he was safe on the grass again. No sooner did he find safety, he used the soles of his feet to anchor himself and bent his knees to slide his upper body away from a sword impact. Kiima screamed. "Die!"

She's really pissed off! Konatsu thought, leaping up onto a tall bamboo pole to put some distance between himself and the woman who wanted him stone cold dead. He looked around for a way to escape as he heard Kiima's troops approach. He looked high above and spied a rock outcropping just within leaping distance. It was going to be a difficult jump, but he had no choice. He bent his knees to thrust himself forward when the pole gave way. Below Kiima retracted her sword from the pole she just sliced in two and held the blade over her head so she could impale the kunoichi as he fell. She gave a look of surprise as the pole moved into the center of the pool and it made contact with the bottom and the kunoichi was still dry as a bone, three meters above the surface of the water.

Kiima screamed in rage and threw her sword into the pole, slicing it again. This time Konatsu had a better plan. He dove straight down into the water and disappeared under the surface. Kiima growled and looked around for anything she could use as a weapon. Finding a large rock, she picked it up and held it above her head and looked into the water, trying to locate her enemy.

A bamboo pole sprung up out of the water, one end firmly attached to the bottom of the pool, the other moving rapidly like a spring. It moved at high speed, directly at her head and as luck would have it, it shattered her rock instead of causing serious harm. She fell backwards from the force of the impact and she scrambled to find another weapon. The moment she found another rock, Konatsu burst from the pool, holding the other half of the bamboo pole as a weapon. She landed at Kiima's feet and wobbled a bit out of balance. She paused and looked down at her chest.

"An opening!" Kiima acted immediately. She hurled the rock at the distracted kunoichi and it connected with her head, sending her flying backwards.

She landed with a thud and she flipped upright a second later. She wobbled, adjusting to her new center of gravity when a little girl's voice called out, "Happo Fifty Yen Satsu!"

I should have seen that coming, was the last thing Konastu thought before she shriveled up and fell into the same pool she emerged from. As Kiima stood up, her troops arrived and surrounded the pool as Konatsu's body floated up to the surface, face down.

"Fish her out!" She commanded. Her body was covered in small wounds and she was sure she had to have some internal injuries. She couldn't believe that bitch in the water was able to land several blows before she went down. She hoped she was still physically able to complete her mission. Maybe she could use these injuries to her advantage? "Make sure she's bound tight." Her minions produced a fishing net and cast it into the spring. Kiima stood silently as Konatsu was pulled out of the spring and dragged on the grass. She casually told her troops, "You know what to do."

Kiima limped calmly to the other side of the spring and picked up her sword that lay among the grass and a broken sign. She slid her sword back into the sheath and picked up the wooden message. She looked around to make sure there were no other visitors in the area and when she was satisfied that there was no immediate danger, she placed the sign back into its proper place. She read the sign and gave out a laugh. "You lucky girl. Of all the springs you could have fallen into, you picked the only one that was harmless to you." With that, she left the spring labeled, 'Nyannichuan'.



Author's Notes: Please review my story. It makes me feel oh so happy and prevents me from voting Republican.

Last edited on July 13th, 2007



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