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Sailor Ranko: Thrice In A Millennium: Chapter 7, Bird Hunting.
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 give me a generous helping of Dog, the other white meat.

Nodoka stared at the home in front of her. She was not impressed with what she saw. The agent tapped his foot with impatience since this was the fifth home he had shown the trio that evening. The Saotome matriarch asked the usual question. "And how much was this again?"

Handing the elder a sheet of glossy paper, he made his pitch hoping to finally close a deal to get his commission. "Here you go. Now remember, that this is the asking price. I'm certain that they would take any reasonable offer."

She looked at the price and gritted her teeth. Nodoka wasn't prepared for the jump in price from Nerima to the Minato wards of Tokyo. Juuban was located much closer to very pricey real estate and what seemed like a lot of money for the sale of the ancestral home of the Saotome clan, didn't seem to be that much money anymore. "Is there something a little bit... Uh... Less expensive?"

"Ma'am, you have to understand that what you're asking for is going to take some financing to be able to afford what you want. Homes with three or more bedrooms in this section of Tokyo is going to cost a great deal of money. Now, if you're willing to lower your standards or go to Nerima or Itabashi, I'm certain I can find exactly what you're looking for and in the price we discussed."

Ranma sighed. He had already picked out which bedroom he wanted and now they were going to go back to square one. He walked away from the tiny bedroom with a decent view of Tokyo Harbor with an air of disappointment. He really liked this room a lot better than the room he had at the Tendo compound.

Akane followed her husband toward the front door of the empty home. She shot a glance at the beautiful kitchen that she had hoped to learn how to cook in under the guidance of her mother-in-law. "Well, maybe the next house would be a better choice," was what the dark haired girl thought.

The agent escorted the trio out the front door and paused to lock up. He opened his briefcase and leafed through some bad fax copies of the newest listings in the hope of finding something that would interest his clients. He flipped pages until he found one that would be a long shot, but he had nothing to lose. He was already losing hope that these people were going to buy a home through his firm. "Are you really set on owning a home in the Juuban district?"

Nodoka gripped her cloth wrapped katana in frustration. "Yes." She looked over to her child and daughter-in-law. "We have special needs." She smiled knowingly. "Juuban is where we have to be."

Scratching his head in trepidation, he pulled out the sell sheet in question from his case. "Well, there is a listing that went up for sale today. If you're willing to lower your standards just a bit, I think I can get you into this one."

Nodoka shook her head in the negative, since she had her heart set on a home that rivaled the Tendo Dojo. Ranma jumped impatiently in when he glimpsed at the size of the floor plan and the noticeably smaller number in the asking price. "Sure guy, why not? We've got nuttin' to lose by just lookin' at it? Right, Akane?"

"Sure, why not?" Akane wasn't very enthused. "After that, we've got to go home. We missed school today and we've got to get up in time tomorrow or we'll be in detention for being absent and late."

"I'm sure Usagi or Minako won't mind the company." Ranma joked, knowing that those two girls were almost fixtures in detention hall.

Giving in for the evening, while planning on tomorrow's house hunt with another real estate agent, Nodoka gently nodded her head to agree.

The agent looked at the bottom of the page of the fax with the listing's notes and grimaced. He thought to himself. "I'm wasting my time with these people." He checked the address, led the group into his tiny car and drove toward the last house tour of the evening.

"Now child, remember what you've been taught." Cologne instructed her new little student.

"Yes, honored guest." Plum spun a bo stick over her head, then brought it down forcefully. She took a step forward then did a three hundred sixty degree turn to strike the air in the exact same place.

"Very good. Soon you'll be ready for your next lesson." The elder beamed. "You will make a fine warrior someday. Soap would be proud of you."

Plum stopped her kata to stifle a tear. Training or not, she was a seven year old girl and the death of her mother still tore her heart. She slowly closed her eyes to allow a tear to leak out. "Elder, why did mommy leave me?"

Realizing the wound she reopened, the old woman walked next to the slightly taller young girl to comfort her. "It was simply her time, young one." She placed her shriveled hand on Plum's shoulder. "There are things that simply must be. Live to honor her memory, my child. Live to honor your Amazon sisters and your godmother. I know that your mother is proud of you."

She dropped the bo stick as she let more of her sadness take her. "How can mommy be proud of me? I couldn't protect daddy. Now he's gone, too."

Reassuring the little girl, Cologne offered some hope. "We don't know that. You said so yourself that he ordered you to come here. You didn't see him get hurt and the Phoenix people traditionally aren't violent. This whole thing might end up being a huge misunderstanding."

"But I failed him! How can I be an Amazon if I can't protect my father?" She sobbed.

Cologne smiled. "But you are an Amazon. How many people do you know could have traveled as far as you have and not be caught? Hundreds of Chinese try to leave the country and are sent back everyday. Look at you! You're smarter than all those men. Because you have the heart of an Amazon in you."

Plum blinked. She thought about the days she ran under cover of darkness across the landscape of China. The day she found the ship and stowed away only to be discovered minutes after docking in Tokyo Harbor. She had outsmarted several patrols and took them out with her simple makeshift weapons. "I... I..." She tried to talk as her thoughts of her journey flooded her mind. Showing some happiness, she faced her elder. "I guess I do."

"I know you do. You have your mother's spirit in you. I'm certain she's helping you and watching over you." Brrrriiinnngggg, went the phone. Cologne growled, "Grandson! Get the phone!"

Shampoo's father came out of the storeroom, took off a rubber glove that he wore while he was scrubbing the floor and picked up the handset.

"Good." Sighed Cologne. "As you see, men do have their uses."

"Will I ever be as good as you, honored guest?"

Tapping the future Amazon's forehead in a playful gesture. "Maybe."

Her grandson cupped his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. "Grandmother, it's for you. It's very important."

Cologne looked around the Cat Cafe looking for the great-granddaughter. Finding her to be nowhere in sight, she called out to the kitchen. "Mr. Part-time, watch the store."

Mousse looked up from the dishes he was washing with very warm water. "I'm on it!" He silently added. "You shriveled old monkey." A chopstick struck his head.

"I heard that!"

Hiro Nishida, Alex Johnson and Naomi Okazaki were sitting around a table at the Sailor Moon Fan Club planning out the book that Tatewaki wanted.

Naomi was a tiny black haired Japanese girl who handed layouts for most of the publications the company published. She was also an excellent artist who drew many of the panels of the Sailor V comic books.

Alex specialized in writing and personally wrote all of the "Sailor Moon says" forwards in the fan club newsletters. Coming from America, many people at the office viewed him with a little distaste, but his speed at writing the newsletters in perfect Japanese made up for his white skin and blond hair.

The owner placed his notepad on the table. "I've got a rush job. I'm not looking for anything publication quality. Just an eight to ten page booklet to satisfy a special order."

"Special order?" Alex asked curiously. "Is this anything like that Ice Skater who wanted us to rename Sailor Venus 'Tina'"?

Naomi's eye rolled at the thought of exceedingly weird chapters of her employment at the company. "Don't tell me it's that creepy kid with the camera. Is he trying to sell us that photo essay of martial artists again?"

Hiro shook his head vigorously. "No, no, it's a new client with a pretty simple job for us. He wants a book about the Senshi marriage laws."

Both of Hiro's companions audibly blinked. Alex shook his head to clear it as if his ears weren't working. "Marriage laws? Did I hear you right?"

Naomi giggled, "Oh, that's a new one. Where do these people come from?"

Leaning back in his chair, Hiro tossed his pencil on his notepad. "The guy's a fruitcake. But a rich fruitcake, and from what he said to me, makes me believe that he may actually have seen or even had hard evidence on Sailor Sun."

"There's that again." Alex twiddled his thumbs in a nervous habit he had developed over the years. "We know she exists. We just can't get a good photo of her."

"What do we have to do. I mean, there's no such thing as Senshi marriage laws, are there?" The girl of the group asked.

"If there were, it's news to me. But since this guy's a certified loon, let's just slap something together and call it a night. Now, here's something I dug up that I think you can hack into something that's passible for what he wants." Hiro slid a disk over to Alex. "I already emailed you a copy too. It's text from an anthropological web site about some village of women who had some really strange marriage laws. I think you can just cut and paste some stuff to make the basis of this booklet. Naomi, could you draw an action pose of Tuxedo Mask challenging Sailor Moon to a marriage duel?"

"A marriage duel? That's breaking canon."

Crossing his arms in smug righteousness, Hiro proclaimed to his workers. "Hey, we're the Sailor Moon Fan Club. Whatever we write is canon."

The sun set over the horizon sending Tokyo into neon darkness. All over the city, the glow of signs and streetlights exchanged the beauty of the city with the mystery of Tokyo at night.

Many people preferred the nightlife of the capital of the nation of Japan. Some visitors, however, didn't.

"I can't see a thing!" Mumbled Masara from his perch at the top of the smokestack. His bird vision, while during the day was far better than any normal human, sucked big time at night.

Kiima blinked with gusto in a futile effort to improve her night vision. She squinted at in the general direction of the Cat Cafe, hoping to see if anything out of the ordinary was happening. She saw what appeared to be a group of people entering the shop. "Masara! Koruma! Something's happening. We're moving out." She extended her wings to glide down to the Cafe.

"But I was winning." Masara picked up his Yu-Gi-Oh cards from the play field and shoved his deck in his shirt.

"You were cheating!" Koruma slid his deck into his pants pocket for safe keeping. "You can't have more than three monsters of the same type in your deck!"

"SILENCE!" Kiima shouted. "This may be our chance. You have everything ready as I instructed?"

"Yes, Captain!" They both answered.

"Show me." Kiima didn't trust her minions.

The two men produced fist sized eggs from their pouches. Kiima was pleased.

"I must protest this course of action!" Cologne held her anger in check. "Plum is safe here. Moving her will only expose her to danger. We're being watched at every moment."

Perfume sat in her hut in the Amazon Village. She played with the phone cord as she relayed what she was instructed to say. "It's the final decision. Lotion herself condoned the request."

"You know as well as I that Gel wants to bring up her issues when I'm present there. Taking Plum back to China is a terrible idea and she's just using this as an excuse to bring me back now. Put Lotion on the line."

"Lotion has already gone to bed. She's not as young as she used to be. Besides, it's not going to change her mind. Once the edict has been handed down, it's almost impossible to change it."

Gripping her cane with almost enough force to reduce it to splinters, Cologne pleaded with her friend. "Let's say we return to China. What good will that do? It won't bring back the guide and it certainly won't do Plum any good to be reminded of her loss."

Perfume shook her head. "I did get word today that the guide's body has not been found. There is a chance, a slim one, that he might have been captured or somehow had escaped and is still alive."

"I doubt that. The odds that he survived are slim at best. I don't want to be the one that tells her that her father is dead."

Perfume got miffed. "I just told you. We don't know if he's dead or not. His home was ransacked, yes. But there was no blood and no dead body, so we can't assume the worst. Saffron's people have always been peaceful."

"Peaceful until now, you've heard about how he's changed in the last few years. He's not the Saffron we knew of the past."

"True. But we don't know exactly what sort of person he is now. Assuming things without all the facts is a dangerous thing to do."

"I guess you're right." Shampoo's great grandmother let out an exasperated breath. "I just hope that I never have to tell her any bad news. Keep me informed and I'll make the preparations to return to China. But I want to return alone. I'll see for myself the situation between the Musk and the Phoenix people and decide what's best for Plum. I don't want her to come back to a battleground."

Perfume shuddered. "That's going directly against the council's orders. You're ordered to return with Shampoo and Plum immediately."

"Plum will be safe here under the care of Shampoo." Cologne scanned the room she was in. She felt a presence that quickly faded away. "If what I fear comes to pass, then she may be staying here for a very long time."

"Let's hope that you're wrong." Perfume hung up and looked at Gel who was listening to the whole thing. "Well, Cologne is coming, but Shampoo is staying behind."

Gel struck the ground with her right foot with all her might. It left a small crater. "Damn!"

Cologne gently hung up the phone hoping against hope that her instincts were wrong. She felt that the guide had been killed and Kiima and her crew were targeting Plum next. She contemplated the Phoenix people's true intentions as she opened her bedroom door and stepped in a scoop of ice cream.

The old women gasped. "Plum!"

Kiima sat in a tree near the Cat Cafe watching the people below her go on with their daily lives. She stared intently at the Cafe waiting for anything to happen to give her the chance to put her plan in motion. From the far side of the street, she saw a tiny girl in a mini-skirt running along the sidewalk. She was crying and holding an ice cream cone without any ice cream in it.

The girl had long black hair and looked somewhat like the Chinese girl they were hunting. She made some cooing sounds to attract the attention of her soldiers.

Masara and Koruma were in human guise standing near the base of the tree. They heard Kiima's call and saw which direction she was pointing. The two nodded in acknowledgment and ran after their prey.

They followed the tiny girl through the crowded street. Many people were milling about near restaurants, bars and other night spots not paying any attention the girl darting around them. She changed direction to avoid the crowds and ran toward a small park. She rushed through the gate crying all the way. She stopped near a swing set and cried her eyes out as she dropped her empty ice cream cone.

Masara looked around for any witnesses. Koruma gave an all clear signal and they threw the special eggs they carried at the weeping little girl. She screamed as the eggs struck her and enveloped her in a yellowish goo. She struggled to get something from her pocket but the material solidified holding her fast. The outer material hardened and changed from yellow to a solid white color. In moments, a human sized egg sat where their target once stood.

Kiima flew in to examine her men's handiwork. "Impressive. You didn't screw this up." She tossed each man a thermos. "Change back. We need to take her to the nest."

Pouring hot water on themselves to change back into their natural bird forms, the two men tossed a net over the egg, grabbed the ends and flew into the sky following Kiima's lead. They took several wrong turns due to their bad night vision, but they made it home safe and sound with their new prisoner.

"Lower your standards he said..." Ranma mumbled. He stood at the front door of the last house on their home finding trip. The door was the only piece of the house that appeared to be intact. The roof was caved-in in three places, the windows were all shattered and the giant Godzilla footprint that leveled half of the house next door told him everything he needed to know about why the house was being sold for so cheap.

Nodoka was giddy. "And both lots are included?"

"Yes, the owners are anxious to sell and move to Montana." The agent checked his sheets. "I have to disclose that the property is being sold on an as-is basis."

Akane raised an eyebrow. "How motivated are they to sell? Would an all cash deal let them drop the price a little more?"

Ranma froze at the statement. He spun around to his wife exclaiming, "You're not serious are you? This place is a dump! Look at it. A Moko Takabisha will take this down in no time flat!"

"Ranma! My Thunder Hammer Strike will take down any house!"

"Well, my Searing Plasma Blast will take down a three story building!"

"Well, my Lava Blast will..."

"AHEM!" Nodoka loudly coughed to get her charges to shut up. She turned to the agent. "Kids... Always bragging about everything. Offer them this." She wrote down a price.

Thinking about the price, he shook his head. "I don't think they'll go for it."

"If they take it, I'll pay you an extra 2% commission."

He shrugged. It was worth a shot. He dialed his cell phone and called the number of the sheet. "Yes, I'm calling about the property in Juuban. I've got a buyer with an all cash offer... But don't you want to... Considering the condition of the property, yes, it's a fair offer. I see." He hung up the phone. "Weird."

"Did they change their minds? Has the property already been sold." The Saotome elder got disenchanted since her price wasn't even mentioned in the conversation.

"No, it's for sale and if you want it. It's yours. The instant they heard it was a cash deal. They took it and shouted 'Montana, here we come.'".

The three Saotome's blinked. Akane stuttered as the suddenness of the transaction sunk into her head. "Y-y-you mean, we bought it?"

"I can have the papers drawn up by tomorrow morning." He looked at the house again. "But I really recommend that you tear this place down and start over. Moving in isn't an option."

Ranma was playing with the front door. "You can say that again." He gently closed the door shut. He took two steps away from the house when a loud screeching sound came from within. Martial arts instincts took over and Ranma grabbed his mother while Akane held onto the real estate agent and leapt out of the way as the building collapsed in upon itself in a giant cloud of dust and wood chips.

Cough! Cough! The agent gagged then looked back at the ruins of the house he thought he sold. "I'm sorry about that."

Ranma dusted off his mother. "You'd better be sorry, you almost killed us."

Nodoka waved off her son. "Don't worry about me." She stood to look the agent in the eye as best as she could in the dust laden air. "I think we can knock off 20% from my offer. Don't you agree?"

"You still want it?"

Beaming at her business sense, she visualized in her mind her beautiful new home that her son would build for her. "Of course. Now we don't have to bulldoze the old house."

Author's Notes: Please review my story. It makes me feel oh so happy and keeps me from sending a dog to eat your homework, tax returns, your great movie script and those love letters you're hiding under your bed.

Last edited on January 25th, 2007

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