Sailor Moon Expanded

Mark Latus <Mark.Latus@MSVU.Ca>


     This is my story so I at least get to tell you the start of it.  I'm
Titanite of the DKR, you might know me better as the Sailor Senshi fighting
for love and justice, Sailor Polaris!
     OK, you've probably still never heard of me.  I'm not as well know as
the other Senshi, matter of fact I'm not exactly an official Senshi yet.
But someday ...
     Anyway that's not what I wanted to tell you about.  This is the story of
how I unlocked my full powers, fought a hentai god and met a lot of crazy
people who are supposed to be fictional.  It's a little saga I call:

Dark Kingdom Renegades : Titanite's Bogus Journey

    Now where to start ... okay, I've got it. 
    It was our first autumn in Tokyo, we'd arrived back in winter.  The last
couple of months had been busy what with Magnesite, Jadeite, the Knight
Sabers and a few other weird events but it had been quiet enough the past
couple of weeks.  At least for me, Margrave and Azurite had had a run in with
those two new Senshi not long ago.  That was sort of my fault, I was trying to
get them to get along which was why they were out together.  But it seemed to 
have backfired as Azurite and Pyrite were moving out as soon as they found
their own place.  Which wasn't going to be too long.  Matter of fact they were
close to closing the deal.  They'd decided to rent a house rather than an
apartment.  Pyrite wanted to have a few rooms to use as a lab so that meant
they needed space.  Which is at a premium in this city.  Luckily we're well
enough off.  We'd be real well set except as I understand it most of our gold
reserves were placed in England before the Kingdom fell.  After all that was
supposed to be our final destination.  But things got weird and so we're stuck
in Tokyo.  Not that I mind but it makes the others a bit edgy.
     Sorry I'm getting sidetracked, now where was I?  Oh yeah ... well the
morning in question I'd headed down to cook breakfast.  No one makes me but I
like cooking and I've been doing it for a couple of years now.  I like to feel
I'm pulling my weight around here.  It was a little tricky after our arrival
because I couldn't get the ingredients for any of the stuff I knew how to
make.  But I picked up a few cookbooks and after a while got the hang of doing
human style food.  My early efforts were edible at least and now I think I'm a
pretty fair cook.  Which is good, much as I like anime I'd hate to emulate it
and cook like C-ko or Akane.  As for the latter I can tell you that they don't
exaggerate what her cooking's like ... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
     As I headed downstairs I was surprised to run into Margrave as she's not
much for early rising.  Then I realized she wasn't up yet being sprawled over
the couch and snoring slightly.  Looked like she'd had a very late night and
got this far before collapsing.  It wasn't the first time this had happened
but it still annoys me.  She spends most nights with Calcite but every now and
again she goes out looking for "variety".  I try not to ask for any more
details.  It's things like this that keep the two of them from getting any  
more serious.  Cal'll just shrug it off and say he doesn't own her so she's
free to do what she likes.  At least as long as she keeps to her vow about
not causing youma style trouble.  I think it hurts him more than he lets on. 
At least it did, I guess he's used to it by now.  But it means there'll never
be anything permanent between them.  It's exasperating really.  Sometimes I'd
swear she's going out of her way to make sure Cal and her don't get too close.
     Still when all's said and done I like her.  There's a softer side to her
that she won't let most people see.  Actually the others wouldn't see it
anyway as they've already made up their minds about her.  Cal's caught
glimpses of it but she keeps distracting him from getting any further.  If
he got another look inside her mind he might get a real surprise.  But she's
not going to volunteer and he won't force his way in so that's that.  Bottom
line is I've given up expecting to get a catwoman sister-in-law.
     Another thing I like about having Margrave around is that means another
anime fan in the place.  She's become a big fan of Nuku-Nuku, Cheshire in that
Clamp Wonderland thing and the Puma Sisters.  Matter of fact after she saw
Dominion she kept pestering Cal to buy her a machine gun.  Wonder what she
would have done with one?  Now that I think of it Azurite kept a closer than
usual eye on her that week.  Anyway the more perceptive of you will have
noticed a certain pattern in her fave picks.  Still is it surprising she's a
big neko fan?
     I was tiptoeing past so as not to wake her when the point became moot.
Azurite came stomping down the stairs looking unhappy.  Which probably meant
Margrave had done something again.  Margrave's eyes opened and she stretched
making a noise somewhere between a yawn and a purr.  "Morning Ti.  Oh and 
good morning Azurite."
     "Good morning."  Azurite sounded a bit terse, yes Margrave had definitely
done something.  I excused myself and headed for the kitchen leaving the door
ajar.  The toaster has a nice shine and if you position it right you get a
great reflection of the living room.  That's just a bit of trivia you
understand.  So I busied myself getting breakfast together and if I happened
to overhear ... well it's hardly my fault that sound travels.
     Azurite's a very different person from Margrave.  Normally she's calm,
strong and dependable but capable of raising hell when she has too.  Have I
mentioned she's secretly Sailor Arcturus?  Well it's not that secret, everyone
here knows it and I guess the Senshi do to.  Unlike me she doesn't want to be
a Senshi, it's just a way to use her powers publicly when necessary.  The
problem is Margrave gets a kick out of trying to break her composure.  They've
had a rivalry for years now but we (that's me and Cal) didn't find out the
cause until recently.  With that resolved I was hoping they'd become friends.
No such luck.  They don't want to be friends and I think they're determined to
keep it that way.  Last time I asked Azurite about it she said that it was so
unlikely to happen that if it ever did it would probably be a harbringer of
the end of the world.  Personally I don't want to see that, it was bad enough
being almost caught in the Kingdom's version of armaggedon.
     Azurite sounded edgy.  "Okay I've torn the bathroom apart.  So where are
     Margrave looked coy (which would make any of us suspicious).  "Whatever
do you mean?"  Before Azurite could tell her (probably loudly) she went off on
a tangent.  "It must be a wonderful thing to have a regenerative factor like
you Renegades have.  With the odd exception."
     "Margrave ..."
     "Have I ever mentioned how much I envy those metabolisms of yours.  Most
of time anyway."  She grinned.  "The only biological trick I can do is
shutting down my breeding cycle.  Which is and was certainly handy.  Otherwise
given my popularity back in the Kingdom I'd have been whelping litters left
and right."  I've heard her mention this before, apparently it was a fairly
common ability in the Kingdom among youma females.  Unfortunately it's unknown
among Renegade females.  I decided I knew what this was all about.  Margrave
     "Must be especially difficult when you're committed to not having
children.  Contraceptive magics are no more certain than those human devices.
There's always surgical solutions ... sorry I forgot, you both regenerate
don't you.  Tricky, tricky, tricky.  I suppose the only real solution is
abstinence during these ... peak times."
     "Where are they Margrave."  Azurite's voice had a definite edge.  "This
is the worst possible time to hassle me."
     Margrave chuckled slightly.  "Please Azurite spare me the barely
controlled death machine act.  I've talked to Pyrite, your healing factor
keeps your hormones from getting too far out of whack.  No the only real
trouble here is that for the past few days you haven't been able to get ..."
     Azurite cut her off, she sounded cold.  "Margrave, have you ever stopped
to think what the main problem with taunting a Renegade is?  I'll tell you.
We lack the desire to sadistically gloat before striking.  When we decide to
take someone out we do it quickly and cleanly.  We don't taunt or savour the
fear, we just take the target out.  So the day you finally push me too far
you'll never know what hit you."  Margrave was definitely looking a bit
uncertain.  "Now with that in mind where are ..."  Margrave pointed to the
laundry hamper in the hallway holding the washer.  Azurite flipped the lid
open, scrabbled around and emerged with a box of tampons.  With a final glare
at Margrave she headed back upstairs.  Margrave whistled a tune and Azurite
froze in place for a moment.  Then she kept going and slammed the bathroom
door.  I think Margrave muttered something about no sense of humour.
     I have to say there are some things about growing up I could do without.
That's one of them.  Especially since it's totally useless.  Humans and youma
can't interbreed, the genetics are just too different.  So if I ever wanted
to have kids someday I'd need a youma male to father them.  As the only ones
left are my brother and my cousin that's more or less that.  Could be worse, I
could have a monthly cycle.
     Here's a really sick thought.  Jadeite was probably the only chance I'll
have ever had to be a mother.  Yuck, that creep!  Forget it, I'm glad he's
dead.  As I thought that I got one of those funny flashes.  Something about a
tiara.  Just as suddenly as it came it was gone.  Nothing worth worrying
about.  Probably some sort of side effect to getting hurt in MegaTokyo.  Like
those nightmares I had during our first weeks in Tokyo about Magnesite coming
to get me.  Of course he did but since he became an ornament I haven't had a
single bad night's sleep.
     Margrave slunk in and headed for the fridge.  She'll insist all the time
that looking feline doesn't make her cat-like.  But she has a definite
weakness for cream and fish.  She was still humming the tune she was whistling
at Azurite.
     "What's that song?"
     "It's a Rolling Stones tune, 'I can't get no satisfaction.'"
     "Oh."  Boys are something of a mystery to me.  Circumstances required
growing up in near isolation so I didn't get much contact with members of the
opposite sex my own age until recently.  Not that I'd have wanted to know
Kingdom guys.  I did have a crush on this guy (at least I thought I sort of
did) but there was a bit of a problem.  This definitely wasn't something I
could ask Calcite about.
     "Margrave ... could I ask your advice on something?"
     She put down the cream bottle and looked at me.  "Is this about a boy?"
     "Sort of."
     "In that case, no I can't help you."
     "Just like that?"
     "This is some sort of first love problem?"
     "Well yeah."
     "Then I'm definitely not qualified.  Now if you had a nice healthy case
of lust I could give you plenty of advice but romance isn't my style.  I'd
suggest talking to someone else.  Someone other than Azurite."
     "I know the two of you don't hit it off ..."
     She shook her head.  "This isn't about that.  I was thinking about that
mess she got herself into with Pyrite and Calcite.  She let that drag on for
years.  Anyone who could screw herself up that badly is definitely not an
authority worth consulting."  That made a certain amount of sense.  Anyway I
plowed on.
     "The problem's this.  I've fallen for this guy ... at least I think I
have.  There's a lot of problems.  He doesn't know I exist, besides he's
already got two fiancees and a lot of other wannabe girlfriends."
     "Sounds like a lot of complications."
     "Thing is I've never actually met him.  Just sort of seen him from a
distance.  So I'm wondering if it's worth trying.  If I meet him then I think
I'll know for sure if he's worth pursuing.  Of course that'll mean a lot of
competition.  So what do you think I should do?"
     Margrave looked thoughful, as if she was reliving some old memory.  After
a pause she shook herself and said, "All I can give you is my opinion.  Which
is go meet him.  If you don't you could spend the rest of your life regretting
it.  If he turns out to be a loser then you can stop worrying you missed out
on something great.  From a personal survival viewpoint if I hadn't gone after
your brother I doubt I'd have survived my teenage years.  Besides I think
you've already made up your mind to meet him.  You just wanted someone else to
tell you to go for it."
     "I guess that's right."  She was right, I was planning to do it anyway
but I wanted someone to reassure me I was doing the right thing.  So who is
this mystery man you ask?  His name is Ranma Saotome.
     Hold on, you say.  He's only a character in a manga or ink on a cartoon
cel.  It's ridiculous to fall for a fictional character. 
     Normally you'd be right.  But I know something you don't know.

End of Prologue

Dark Kingdom Renegades : Titanite's Bogus Journey
by Mark Latus

Part 1 : Departures

     Margrave studied herself in the mirror and nodded.  Yes, this would do
fine.  Perhaps the skirt was slit a bit too far for a business lunch but she
didn't think she'd hear any complaints.  She was dressed to kill.  In the
human sense of the phrase as she wouldn't want to ruin this outfit with blood.
A final touch remained.  She concentrated momentarily and the face in the
mirror shifted.  The catlike face and white fur vanished to be replaced by a
stunning women with long flowing white hair.  The way she imagined she'd have
looked if she'd been born human.  There was one last change to make.  While
her legs looked gorgeous (as always) they also looked bare.  That wouldn't do. 
It would be simpler to wear stockings but she'd quickly learned that they
snagged on fur which was a real irritation.  Clothing was difficult to create
illusions for because you had to animate it in a way that never happened when
you overlaid a glamour on your body.  There the glamour flowed smoothly as
long as it was only skin deep.  Fortunately skintight clothing was another
matter.  A minor effort and her legs' pigmentation shifted to create the
illusion of black stockings.  Perfect.  Of course. 
     Satisfied she carefully sat down on the bed not wanting to wrinkle her
clothes.  About the only use she had for it.  Though she'd been given this
room after her arrival it was a place to store clothes and change rather than
spend her time.  For beds she used Calcite's or found other accomodations for
the night.  Or afternoon, or morning, or whenever the urge struck.  Calcite's 
remained her favorite and was the only one she actually slept in.  Dozing off
outside this house ran the risk of a glamour collapse and stories about
catwomen circulating could be very unhealthy.  There was a group out there
whose attention she had no desire to attract.
     From downstairs she heard Calcite and Pyrite's voices filter up.  It
sounded like the move was on.  Praise Metallia ... no wait it's dead.  Praise
whoever was in charge of giving her all these lucky breaks.  No more Azurite
hanging around the place.  Stuck up bitch!  No more practical jokes either
which was the downside unfortunately.  Ah well you can't have everything,
where would you put it?
     While Margrave chuckled over the Stephen Wright joke Pyrite and Calcite
talked on.  Azurite nodded to herself.  They were discussing financing the
new house rent out of the Renegades hidden cash reserves without exposing
their existence to the taxation authorities.  Pyrite was worrying about
cutting into the principle while Calcite reassured him that it wasn't going to
damage group finances.  They'd be a while which gave her the perfect
opportunity to have that little talk with Margrave she'd been promising
herself.  Putting down her magazine she glided silently up the stairs.  A
minor shift to the local air currents kept her scent from carrying.  Engrossed
in her latest favorite show Titanite remained entranced by the television and
didn't look up.   
     Margrave's gaze flicked towards the door in time to see Azurite arrive.    
She shouldn't have been able to get that close.  Or rather Margrave would feel
a lot better if Azurite couldn't get that close before she noticed.  Fact was,
while she'd joke about Azurite being loud and clumsy that was bullshit.  The
other woman lacked her feline grace but was fast, quiet and possessed a
phenomenal sense of balance.  You have to be damn good to fight a running
battle while wearing four inch heels.  She was also lethal when she had to be,
a combination which would have made her an excellent ninja.  Luckily the
profession was extinct and Azurite didn't go looking for trouble.  But when
it came looking for her she was always ready. 
     Margrave studied her visitor warily, what did she want?  Azurite had
always been somewhat mysterious to her.  Back in the Dark Kingdom she'd got
worried after smelling Azurite's phermones and realizing she wanted Calcite. 
When a more powerful youma became a rival you had three choices; strike first,
run or die.  She'd quickly realized that surprising Azurite was unlikely but
was too stubborn to take the second option.  Things had been further confused
by Azurite's interest in Pyrite, the scent was subtly different, and her
restraint in acting against Margrave.  After a nerve wracking few weeks she'd
realized that, for whatever reason, Azurite wasn't going to challenge her
over him or arrange an accident.  Say a sudden gust of wind when Margrave was
near a cliff edge.  She hadn't understood why but had taken full advantage of
the fact.  The recent discovery that Azurite and the others were Renegades
explained a lot.  To an extent.  Dark Kingdom lore held that Renegades were
cowards and weaklings.  Neither Azurite and Calcite qualified as that.  Pyrite
lacked physical power but had demonstrated his own courage on several
occasions.  If Titanite had a failing it was recklessness and lack of
judgement rather than cowardice.  Experience would provide restraint, if she
survived long enough to learn.  Ti was maturing but she still had a long way
to go.  At any rate with the security this discovery gave her and Calcite's
pledge of protection provided she left humanity alone Margrave had felt
safe in needling Azurite.  A security that had grown when Azurite defended
her, against all logic, from those new Senshi.  Yet deep inside a few traces 
of her old uncertainty remained.  Traces that were making themselves felt
by inducing sweat on her paws and a dry throat.
     Azurite broke the silence.  "Nice dress."  A neutral comment to start.
The black and white contrast was quite striking.
     "Uh yes ... I picked it up at that boutique in Shinjuku."
     "The one we wrecked?"
     "The one you wrecked!"  Azurite raised an eyebrow but didn't dispute
this.  "Yes well, Calcite figures we should throw some business their way
after the trouble you caused.  Bit of an overreaction, after all they had
insurance.  Anyway this caught my eye."
     "A little flashy for this early in the day."
     "Look he asked me to come along while he talks to this client and look
decorative.  As he asked rather than ordered I agreed."
     Azurite's voice was noncommital.  "He should have hired an escort.  Less
risk of screw ups."
     Margrave's temper rose.  "Contrary to what you think I do have some self
control!"  This was delivered in a hiss.  Azurite looked about to reply then
sighed.  She tried again in a calm tone.
     "This is getting me sidetracked, it's not why I came to see you."
     Margrave sniffed.  "The odds of the two of us managing a civil
conversation are pretty remote.  Besides you took some effort to arrive 
unnoticed which doesn't exactly inspire confidence."
     "I just want to have an undisturbed little talk with you on a few serious
matters."  Azurite stepped inside and closed the door.  The soundproofing
would keep their voices from carrying.  Margrave tried to piece it together.
This must be connected to the move somehow.  Something she wanted to say
before leaving.  It was unlikely to be a fond farewell.  A few parting
insults?  No, they did those publicly all the time.  So what was it all about? 
Azurite finished marshalling her thoughts and began.
     "Margrave, we aren't friends now and that's never going to ever change
however much Ti wants it to."  Margrave nodded, fact was they were both
comfortable with their mutual antagonism.  "I'll concede that you're unlikely
to cause major trouble.  I thought you would but I've observed you closely
enough to know you've got a firm commitment to survival and realize you're
hopelessly outmatched."  That elicted a snarl, while Margrave couldn't deny
the facts she didn't welcome them.  "The real problem is Titanite."
     "Titanite?"  What was wrong with her?  She'd into human society easier
than any of them.  So much less to unlearn.
     "Ti likes you.  I'm not too comfortable with that but that's her choice.
All I can hope is that she'll grow out of it as she gets to know you better.
The real problem is that she trusts you, and I definitely don't like that."
     "That's also her choice."
     "Unfortunately true.  The problem she doesn't know just how untrustworthy
and treacherous you really are."
     Margrave bit back the smart remark she'd been about to make.  Azurite
looked very cold right now.  While her Kingdom rep hadn't been as bad as
Calcite's she'd carved out her own ice bitch act through her actions.  Nobody
trifled with her if they could avoid it.  This would be a very good time to
remember that.  Azurite continued.
     "Titanite's important to me.  She's both the little sister I never had
and the carefree girl I wanted to be.  I don't want you spoiling that.  So
if you start getting her to follow your own warped path then I am going to
eliminate you.  Even if that means alienating my fellow Renegades.   Is that
quite clear."
     Margrave nodded slowly.  "Yes, your threat is quite clear."
     "It's not a threat.  Threat implies some ambiguity about carrying it out.
There is none.  I will do this if necessary.  This is a statement."
     "I believe you."  What else could she say?  Admitting she liked Ti the
way she was would be an unyoumalike statement.  As the last true member of her
race she had standards to uphold before the others.  With one exception.  She
didn't understand why but that was how she felt.  Besides Azurite would never
believe her.  Safest to make her think she'd scared Margrave into compliance. 
Azurite looked and smelled dead serious, Margrave wasn't planning to see if
she was bluffing.  So now she knew of two things that would push Azurite past
the point of no return.  Corrupting Titanite and seducing Pyrite.  Good thing
she hadn't intended to do either.
     Azurite watched her for closely then nodded fractionally.  "I think
that's I needed to say."
     "I hope so."
     With that said Azurite shook her head and asked semi rhetorically,
"Titanite's just too young to know any better.  Why does Calcite put up with
you?"  She wasn't really expecting an answer.
     The catwoman shrugged nonchalantly.  "He could have done a lot worse.
I was hardly his first."
     "So what was he to you, your hundredth?"
     "I wasn't quite that popular back in the Kingdom.  There are reasons
beyond our old association that make a lot of sense.  But after your little
announcement I don't feel like sharing confidences with you.  Figure it out
for yourself."
     Azurite nodded and opened the door.  To find Titanite standing outside
about to hammer on the door.  "Uhm ... I was looking for both of you but I
only expected to find Margrave in here.  The guys are done talking and ready
to get going."  Azurite and Pyrite were visiting the owners of their new
accomodations.  A few final formalities and some socializing remained.  So 
that the family they were renting from would be assured they weren't planning
to wreck or westernise the place.  Also so they could get entertained at the
renter's expense.  No shortage of formalities in this country.  But as the
Otonashi's seemed like nice folks they didn't object.  For some reason
Titanite found the landlord's name amusing.  Must be some otaku thing.
     "So what were you two talking about?"
     "Uh huh."  If they hadn't glared at each other before speaking in unison
she might have bought it.  She decided to hope they were making a first step
towards getting along and not inquire further.  Why risk disappointment?
     "I'd better get going.  See you later Ti."
     Azurite headed out and Margrave muttered, "I hope everything works out
for them."
     "Really?"  That was the first nice thing Titanite could recall her saying
about Azurite.
     "Absolutely.  If it does then she's out of here!"  Titanite sighed but
forbode to comment.  She really should have known better.  Well maybe putting
some distance between them would improve matters.
     "It must be pretty near a done deal.  Most of their stuff is already
packed."  In what appeared to be cardboard boxes but were, as Margrave could
testify, made of camouflaged lightweight paperthin crystal sheets.  Impossible
to pry open, having genetically coded locks, and capable of chipping a claw if
you accidentally tripped then instinctively lashed out (which should have cut
the sodding things open) on your way down.  Not that she cared or was at all
curious what was in them, of course.  She just wanted to make sure Azurite
wouldn't be walking off with some unspecified possession of hers.
     "Guess I should head downstairs.  Shouldn't keep your brother waiting.
Looks like it's just you here today.  Or are you heading out with friends?"
     "No such luck.  I've got a pile of homework to get through."
     "Ah yes the good old human education system.  Kingdom methods were a lot
faster.  Direct implantation of basic knowledge then learn whatever seemed
useful to you."
     "Big brother mentioned something about 10% getting their frontal lobes
burned out."
     "I'm not saying it was perfect."  None of Beryl's "tutors" ever mentioned
that until the telepathic transmitter was pressed to the child's forehead. 
This enabled them to savour the moment of pure terror without fear of
escapees.  That fear had a one in ten chance of being the last thing you ever
felt.  If you survived you were fairly useless the next few weeks as you tried
to sort through the pile of randomly organized data they'd fired into your
brain.  This is probably why most youma took a dim view of learning and didn't
try to teach themselves afterwards.
     "I don't think it's going to catch on around here anytime soon."
     "I suppose not."  Margrave finished checking her dress for wrinkles. 
"How do I look."
     "Naturally.  At least as naturally as it can be when you're using a
glamour."  Margrave regarded her critically.  "A few more years seasoning
and you'll be drawing attention away from me."
     Titanite flushed.  "Don't be ridiculous."
     "Seriously once you shed that gawky adolescent look you've got you'll be
a real heart breaker."  She grinned.  "After all you've already got one
     Titanite's flush increased, she had only herself to blame for that mess.
A few months earlier she had needed to see a few old laserdiscs so she'd
charmed them out of her school's ultimate otaku.  Toji Kimua fit all the
stereotypes of fandom ; overweight, painfully shy, socially maladroit and
not in the habit of bathing frequently enough.  Titanite had underestimated
the effect of her visit on him.  This had evidently been the first time a
female of his own age group had ever acted nicely towards him.  He'd
overreacted and decided he now had a girlfriend.  He seemed oblivious to hints
and Ti didn't want to publicly humiliate him so she was stuck with him hanging
around.  It might be an anime tradition that the attractive outsider always
falls for the geekiest guy in school but Ti felt you had to draw the line
somewhere.  Only her guilt feelings over just using him to get hold of the
BGC discs and background info kept her from telling him to get lost.  Margrave
had offered to seduce him, thereby giving him a new obsession, but Titanite
didn't feel right about that either.
     Margrave paused at the door.  "By the way you mentioned some new boy you
were interested in?"
     "Yeah.  Actually I'm thinking about doing something about him today."
     "That's the spirit."  Margrave winked.  "Have fun and don't do anything
I wouldn't do."
     "Do I really want to ask what qualifies under that?"
     "No.  I don't think you do.  Bye."
     "I'll see you later."
     After a moments thought she headed for the stairwell to call goodbye to
her brother and her ...well honorary older sister.  Which was also how she 
thought of Azurite.  Although in different ways.  Azurite was the type to
use as a role model while Margrave was more like the black sheep of the family
who rode with bikers.  A bad girl type, always fun to watch but not to
emulate.  At any rate everyone else was out of the house and gone for hours. 
Today was the perfect day and she was ready.  So why was she suddenly feeling
so edgy?
     The impulse to head directly for the lab was almost overpowering.  She
forced herself to march to her room.  She'd spend an hour working on her
homework then get to work on her own project.  Just in case anyone suddenly
came back for anything they'd forgotten.  She had enough self control to wait.
     Thirty nerve wracking minutes later she was creeping through the empty
house starting at every noise.  The lab door opened without any trouble.  The
security system was programmed to recognise and admit all of the Renegades. 
Margrave's suggestion that she be programmed in had been politely ignored. 
Or, in Azurite's case, loudly rejected. 
     Pyrite had already packed most of his equipment for transport so what
she was looking for was out of the safe.  They should be ready for easy
access, perhaps the first box?  Jackpot!
     To casual inspection the device appeared to be a tricorder as seen on
Star Trek (original series model).  The shell concealed the intricate magick
empowered crystalline heart of the machine.  It was, quite simply, a key.
A key to a very special gateway.
     Shortly before becoming reacquainted with Margrave the Renegades had
discovered that their hasty exit from the Dark Kingdom had caused a tear in
the integrity of this continuum.  They had accidently created a weak spot
between this plane of reality and others.  Initially this had seemed the
solution to their worries about the Senshi.  If they could find a counterpart
to the synchronistic zone which enabled them to survive in Tokyo they could
emigrate to a world without Senshi.  Which seemed a great idea to everyone
except Titanite.  There were only two drawbacks.  The first was unconfirmed
but it appeared parallel worlds operated by slightly different laws of
physics.  So each world encountered had its own character.  There was some
evidence that entry from an outsider into a new continuum lead to the
outsider being absorbed into the dimension's pattern.  In short you'd change
to fit your new home.  If there'd be any resemblance between the original and
new version of yourself was questionable.
     The second problem was more serious.  To date all the alternate worlds
they'd probed had shown a resemblance to anime series.  Perhaps just some
bizarre coincidence (given an infinite number of dimensions everything has
to happen somewhere) or cross dimensional contamination (psychic leakage from
an alternate universe impinged onto a receptive consciousness, now we now
where they get their crazy ideas) or some other reason they hadn't come up
with yet.  Whatever the cause the similarity of other dimensions to various
anime shows couldn't be denied.  Hence the problem.
     There is quite a bit of apocalyptic anime.  You wouldn't want to find a
world being invaded by aliens/demons/cute bigeared elves and then have them
follow you back to your own world.  Imperfect as this one was it was all they
     Following their last two experiences Calcite and Azurite had shelved the
project.  From their descriptions Titanite had identified the first as
resembling "Wicked City".  The second was currently unknown.  They'd described
a Tokyo under seige by a variety of monsters who'd been concentrating on
hunting a clumsy teenage girl with a habit of exposing very garish underwear.
The aforementioned teenager kept being hauled out of danger by a green
blooded, snake eyed fellow with organic blades in his forearms.  Titanite
hadn't been able to find a match for it yet.  Perhaps that series wasn't on
the air yet.  At any rate dimensional travel seemed more trouble than it was
worth.  They retained the keys as an emergency escape device should the Senshi
decide the only good youma was a dead youma.  Beyond that they served no
     Titanite hadn't been on any of the cross dimensional expeditions and had 
had to sneak into the BGC world.  Perhaps if she had been included she
wouldn't be doing this.  She turned the device over thinking if she wanted to     
go through with this.  On reflection it wasn't so much a crush as curiosity.
If anime series could be found in parallel worlds then it followed that the
Ranma 1/2 series was out there somewhere.  The title character fascinated her. 
With so many girls falling for him he must be really special.  Or, she
conceded, that all the girls in that version of Nerima were mentally deficent. 
It was possible to interpret events as illustrated either way.  The only way
to know for sure was to go and see.  Unfortunately she didn't know where to
find it.  So the only solution was to hop from world to world until she found
it.  She didn't think it was nearly as risky as the others believed.  They
tended to be overly cautious and pessimistic in her humble opinion.  A result
of their upbringing
    She checked her notebook.  The keys were supposed to be programmed to
not return to any of the worlds visited to date.  Still she'd avoid punching
in the codes she'd copied down just in case.  She wasn't totally reckless. 
Which was why she withdrew what appeared to a small scale model of the
starship Enterprise and a copy first ST series communicator.  Pyrite's own
fannish interests tended to manifest themselves in his equipment disguises. 
Folks would take her for a Trekkie, at least if they saw this junk.  She
didn't normally carry a large handbag so she'd picked up this cheap plastic
one a few days ago.  There was one last precaution to take.  A quick trip to
her brother's room and the deed was done.
     She headed out the door and straight for the bus stop.  It'd be a lot
quicker to teleport but she still had some problems with warp sickness.  Her
trip to MegaTokyo had taught her interdimensional travel was a lot easier to
handle.  Besides it would be best not to waste power needlessly.  Just in
case.  Funny she'd thought of that.  All the training must be paying off.
     Almost an hour later she'd arrived in the right park.  How long this  
green space would endure in this sea of concrete was anybody's guess.  One
thing you had to give the Dark Kingdom was they'd had greater respect for
their environment.  Perhaps because it had been so hazardous and sealed in
they knew they'd have to live in whatever mess they created.  Perhaps
because they'd never developed industrial civilization and massive population
growth.  Funny to think humans might have been able to learn something from
     The place wasn't very crowded with the weather turning colder.  Colder
by local standards anyway.  She seemed to be the only unattached one in the
place.  Everyone else was walking in twosomes using the temperature as an
excuse to huddle together.  It gave her a funny feeling to watch all the
couples.  Well she'd worry about that another day.  The place she stopped at
didn't seem in anyway remarkable but she'd never forget it.  This was the
first place on earth she'd been.  It was also the sight of the serendipitous
reality fracture.  Obscurely proud that she knew what serendipitous meant Ti
fumbled in the bag and activated the key.  She'd punched in a sequence at
random before she left the house.  As good a method of getting started as any.
     A small gateway opened, visible only if you knew just how to look.  No
one was in sight so she tossed the Trek model through the gate then loitered
aimlessly for the next ten minutes.  A flicker of motion caught her eye and
she snatched the Enterprise out of the air.  As casually as possible she
reached into the bag and slotted the probe into the space on top of the faux
tricorder.  The device downloaded the data and gave its answer. 
     Optimum conditions for youma.  She could thrive in the world next world
as easily as here.  At least within the twenty kilometre radius of the gate
entry point.  Something nagged at her momentarily then was gone.  She'd
taken all the precautions she could.  Time to get going.  She expanded the
gate and waited a moment for a couple to walk past.  Odd, the one with the
blue tinted hair was obviously a girl but she couldn't decide if the blonde
was male or female.  As soon as they were gone she stepped forward and
vanished.  After a few moments the gate dwindled to standby mode.
     It was getting towards evening when Calcite and Margrave returned home.
Both were in a fairly relaxed mood and Margrave was feeling a familiar itch.
The house seemed dead quiet.
     "Waste of time, her latest scent's a few hours old."  Maybe she'd after
the boy she'd mentioned the other day.  About time, by Kingdom standards she
was way behind schedule.
     Calcite loosened his tie, "Everything went smoothly."
     "Of course it did.  With him drooling over me you could have got him to
agree to anything.  But who can blame him for that?"  Humility was just a word
in a dictionary to Margrave.  There was something else she'd been meaning to
ask.  "Not that I mind but I still don't understand why you bother working.
I know we need to make money as we'd be squeezed if we just lived on those
reserves but you don't need a job.  All you have to do is go into any bank,
make eye contact with the president and zap!  He'll give you anything you want
then happily agree to forget meeting you and coverup all traces of the loss."
     "Let me ask you this.  Would you feel secure if I felt free to implant
thoughts in the minds of anyone I chose.  So you'd never know if you were
thinking for yourself or following orders I'd programmed in?"
     That was a very good point.  She was already uncertain enough about her
mind these days.  There seemed to be increasing changes in her behaviour.
"I think I'll just be thankful for Renegade scruples and let this drop."
Take Titanite, she'd once thought of the kid as cute and amusing.  Rather like
a pet.  Now?  Now she was ... what?  A friend?  Ridiculous, only Renegades
made friends.  Pyrite had checked, she was 100% normal youma.  So what was
happening to her?
     Calcite had noticed the answering machine blinking.  Azurite's voice
rolled out.  "Looks like we've got ourselves a home.  I've run into some
friends so we're celebrating the news.  Don't expect us back until much later.
Bye.  Oh a word of advice, put the cat out."  Very faintly, "Down would be 
     Margrave supressed a snarl then purred, "Just you and me then."
     "For the time being."
     "Seize the moment I always say."  The predatory look vanished.  "But
first I'd better ditch this outfit.  Don't want it getting torn."  She
disappeared upstairs.
     Calcite was mildly surprised.  It seemed she was getting a bit more
propriety about her material possessions.  Not long ago she'd have torn it off
and jumped him if she'd felt the urge.  She wouldn't feel the same way about
his clothes and he didn't want to waste this suit so he'd better hang it up.
He shut off his glamour and headed upstairs.
     As he entered his bedroom he saw the envelope sitting on the bed.  It
was addressed to him in Titanite's hand.  Must be her whereabouts.  He opened
the letter and began to read.
     Margrave had dropped her glamour and was carefully hanging her clothes
(making a note about drycleaning) when she heard Calcite swear.  He wasn't
one for overeacting which meant something had just gone very wrong.  She
dashed down the hall.
     "What's wrong?"  Most men (and women) would be startled by the sudden
arrival of a catwoman in lady fatal black lingerie.  This wasn't that unusual
for Calcite so instead of staring he said, "My boneheaded sister seems to have
done it again!"  His tone was a mix of anger and worry.  "Take a look at
this!"  Margrave took the proffered note and read out loud.
     "Dear big brother, if you're reading this then I didn't get back in time
to destroy it so I guess something's gone wrong.  I've been thinking about
this for a while and I've decided to borrow one of the dimensional keys.
There's a boy I'm interested in meeting but he's only a fictional character
in this world.  Course so were the Knight Sabers and we met them."  Margrave
had a sudden sinking feeling.  She'd told Ti to go after whoever it was.
"Uhhh ... So I've decided to go have a look for myself.  I don't know if I can
find his world so I'll try opening a few random doors and see how this works.
The coordinates for my first gate are down bottom.  If I find the right
world I'm not planning a long stay.  I'll just log the world then head back
when I have more time.  If all goes well I'll be back between 3 and 4 pm. 
Of course if you're reading this then I'm not back yet.  Or you're back early.
Either way I'm in trouble."
     "That's an understatement."
     "...So if I'm late I'd appreciate a rescue.  Thanks a lot, Ti. PS Don't
worry I'm not dumb enough to jump into another dimension without checking if
it's habitable first."  Margrave gave a low whistle.  "She's really done it
this time, huh?"
     "Ti all the worlds we visited were habitable.  It was the inhabitants
that were the problem!"  Calcite looked unhappy.  "First I'm going to find
her than drag her back here.  Then I'm going to kill her."
     "It'd be more cost effect to leave her wherever she's wound up."  The
look Calcite gave her made it clear he wasn't amused.  "Small joke.  So now
     "Now I dig out a key and a tracker, follow her and get her out of 
whatever mess she's got herself into."  Assuming that's still possible, a
small voice in the back of his head whispered.  He ignored it.  Should he
call in Azurite?  No.  No sense endangering them for Titanite's folly.  This
was partially his fault.  He should have considered this a possibility but
he'd thought she was maturing.  She's always bounced back from problems
without a scratch.  No injuries that didn't heal within a day.  It's given
her an exaggerated opinion of her capabilities.  She still doesn't believe she
can get really hurt.
     "Uh ... Cal?"  Margrave was looking uncertain.  "Mind if I tag along?"
     "Why?"  That didn't make sense.  She couldn't be seriously concerned
about Ti.  Margrave was wondering the same thing.
     "I ... well if you don't come back then that brings it down to Azurite,
Pyrite and me.  Frankly I don't want to hang around here with her as the
boss!  I'd rather be stranded with a few universes between us." 
     That made a certain amount of sense.  "Allright.  But you'll need to
wear something a little more substantial.  That outfit is a little too
conspicuous.  Especially in late autumn!"  Margrave sniffed then headed for
her closet.  Calcite quickly drafted a note to Azurite then clipped Ti's note
to it.  Tossing his suit to the floor he dressed in haste in a pair of jeans
and a slightly baggy sweater.  A moment's concentration made his hair shift
from green to blond and removed the green pigment from his fingernails.  He
tossed the note in Azure and Pyr's room and met Margrave in the hallway. 
She'd opted for jeans and a tight fitting sweatshirt emblazoned across the
chest with the legend "Silicon free zone."  A leather jacket with "Hellcat"
across the back completed her ensemble.  He forbode to comment.  She'd
already reactivated her glamour.
     Margrave followed him into the lab but stood aside from the container he
opened.  She didn't want Calcite thinking she was using the situation to grab
a few odds and ends for herself.  Her first time in here.  Not that there was
much to see, everything was neatly packed up.
     "That's the key?"
     "What are those?"  Calcite was holding a halfdozen bluegreen crystals.
     "Spare batteries.  It's possible she just exhausted her key's charge and
simply can't open a gate home."
     "Certainly possible.  It'd be just like Ti to set up a really intricate
plan then forget something obvious."
     He grunted a reply and punched in the code Ti had given.  Now since he
couldn't count on her staying in the next dimension the tracker would be
useful.  Finding and recreating dimensional gates only a few hours old
shouldn't be a problem.  The equipment went into a battered looking backpack.
It had taken a bit of wear in previous cross dimensional journeys.
     Obviously worried about Ti.  Natural enough for him.  So why was she 
worried?  "So do we take the car or ..."
     "No."  Calcite wrapped his arms around her and suddenly her senses went
berserk.  They were standing in a shaded spot in a clump of trees.  There 
were a few moments dizzyness while she adjusted to the abrupt shift in
sensory data.  Teleportation was rough on those with heightened senses.  Most
people just had to adjust to a visual shift.  She had to face an instant
change in scent and background noise level that almost no one else perceived.
     "A little warning would have been nice."
     "Sorry."  She had mentioned the problem before.  "But you'd better get
used to it.  Dimensional shift will have the same effect or worse."
     She hadn't thought of that.  Calcite checked no one was watching them
and activated the key.  Margrave felt the invisible warpgate open.  She was
about to step forward when Calcite blocked her.  He tossed something forward.
"Probe.  Just making sure.  Now we just need to kill ten minutes."  Margrave
smiled.  Not enough time for anything serious in a public place but she'd do
her best.
     Ten minutes later the probe (Klingon bird of prey design) reappeared.
Calcite grabbed it and slotted it onto the readout sensor. 
     "Everything's fine over there.  Ready?"  She nodded.
     The gateway expanded at the key's prompting.  Looking like a couple out 
for a walk arm in arm the two stepped forward and vanished.
     Undetected in the shadows a woman whose dark hair tinted to green
watched the gateway flicker shut behind the couple.  She wasn't too keen on
anyone recklessly punching holes in the fabric of spacetime but she knew that
this was necessary.  Another thread in the great tapestry of fate.
     "What will be, will be."
     She grasped her staff and faded from view.

End of part 1

Next : Valantine's Day comes a little early for Setsuna Meiou as a tall, dark
       handsome fellow steals her heart.  Also the obligatory grim stuff all
       Sailor Moon related stories seem to need these days.  Oh yes, plus the
       title character makes an appearance.
       Part 2 : Dark Interlude

Dark Kingdom Renegades : Titanite's Bogus Journey
by Mark Latus

Part 2 : Dark Interlude

     Titanite stepped through the warp then glanced around the new world in
confusion.  It took her eyes a few moments to adjust.  There must have been a
shift in time.  It had been afternoon in her own world, here it must be the
middle of the night.  It was pitch black.  She'd never seen the sky over Tokyo
look so dark.  She was in the same park, or rather this world's equivalent to
the park but things had changed drastically.  The trees hadn't just lost
their leaves they were all dead.  Some had been burned down to stumps.  The
grass had browned and died beyond hope of revival.  The empty walkways were 
cracked and twisted.  Earthquake damage?  It was so quiet.  So utterly silent.
No traffic noises, overheard voices, the thousand background sounds of a
teeming metropolis.  Just the rustle of the wind.  Nothing more. 
     It was such a dark night.  Where were the lights?  On closer examination
most of the surrounding buildings looked damaged.  With dawning horror she
realized many of the buildings that had bordered the park had been reduced to
piles of rubble.
     Titanite shivered though the cold didn't touch her.  Where was everyone? 
She was far from an expert but this damage didn't look fresh.  Why weren't
they rebuilding?  Had this area been evacuated because of some threat?  But
the probe hadn't picked up anything harmful.  At least nothing harmful to her. 
She was in the equivalent of the synchronistic zone.  How far this one
extended she didn't know, the probe only scanned a radius of 20 km.  Could
there have been a plague?  Human diseases couldn't touch her so the probe
wasn't set to look for those.
     Plagues don't wreck buildings.  An earthquake and a plague?  War?  An
invasion?  Were there creatures from another world in this city?  Apart from
her.  That is creatures from other planets that belonged in this universe but
not on this world.  Of course interdimensional invasion was always a
possibility as well ... 
      She realized she was distracting herself.  Trying to find out what was
going on was a good first step.  Her first impulse was to call out.  Of course
that might attract the wrong kind of attention.  Were those bones over by that
tree stump?  She didn't feel the urge for a closer look.  What she needed was
a quiet way of checking things out.  Of course!  Aura reading!
     All sentient lifeforms produce auras.  If this had something to do with
souls or was some side effect of brain activity she didn't know.  Perhaps
animals produced auras and she simply couldn't sense them.  Human auras
"looked" like yellow outlines around the person.  Senshi auras were bigger and
brighter versions of human auras.  Youma auras (normal and renegade were
indistiguisable) "looked" blue.  Unless glamour was used in which case they'd
pass for human.  Normally she didn't look for auras.  In a city as crowded as
Tokyo they all merged together with any sort of distance and all you'd
perceive would be a bright blur.  Besides why look for auras?  She already
knew who all the other youma in the world were and the Senshis' real
identities.  If you suspected an ambush you could look for the concealed
lifeglow but otherwise what good was this ability?  Perhaps now she finally
had a real use for it.
     She reached out with her mind probing gently for auras.  One kilometer
... two ... three.  She was at her limit now.  Her mind swirled around and
around feeling for the slightest trace.   Nothing.  No intelligent beings
with three kilometres of this place.  What had happened here?  And did she
really want an answer to that question?
     No.  All things considered what she wanted was to get the heck out of
this world.  She touched the key and clicked the coordinates up a notch.  Once
again a small gate opened and she tossed the probe through.  The sooner she
was out of this spooky place the better.  It gave her the creeps.
     And yet ... yet there was something eeriely familiar about this place.
Which was crazy as the only way she'd have visited this city would be in her
nightmares.  The probe returned and she hurriedly jammed it into the reader.
Good, the next world was reading excellent conditions for youma survival.
She widened the gate and stepped through.
     Several hours passed.  The park remained empty apart from the odd rat
scurrying through in the unending search for carrion.  There was none here.
Everything had been picked clean long ago.  Then suddenly there was a new
presence in the park.  All the rats downwind smelled cat and ran.
     Margrave staggered slightly and Calcite steadied her.  She pushed his
hands away and snapped, "I'm fine."  A lie but she hated admitting weakness.
Calcite withdrew and studied his surroundings.  After a moment he began
scanning for lifeglow.  Margrave fought off the disorientation.  She hadn't
expected the change to be so extreme.  Well she'd been unconscious on her
previous dimensional crossings.  She'd adjusted to the change in worlds while
she slept.  There was a stench of decay underlying everything.  Probably
Calcite couldn't smell it.  The odour of the humans' smelly vehicles had
faded to a minor background scent.  That wouldn't have happened overnight.
Something unpleasant had happened here months ago.
     "Nothing alive within five kilometers.  At least nothing human."
     "I'm not picking up any fresh scents.  And I wouldn't miss them here, the
air's a lot cleaner.  I've got Ti's scent though."
     "Oh?"  He tried to sound casual.
     "Not much to report, she doesn't seem to left this point."
     "Guess she took a look at the local scenery and departed."
     "It's not exactly encouraging is it?"
     "No.  Not in the slightest."
     Margrave saw what he was looking at.  "Are those bones?"
     "I think so."
     Fascinated Margrave strode over and picked up a ulna.  There were bite
marks all along it where the meat had been chewed off.  Rats most likely.
Amazing.  "Imagine leaving this much behind when you die."
     "Human remains crumble to dust eventually.  It just takes a lot longer."
     "I suppose."  She dropped the bone back into the heap.  "What happened
     "Could be a lot of things.  That sky could be a clue."
     She looked up.  "How so?"
     "There are no city lights to wash out the sky but we still aren't seeing
stars.  Maybe it's just extremely overcast but I don't see any hint of cloud."
     "Me neither.   It's just black."  Was she hearing something?  Margrave
glanced around but there was no one there.  She was feeling edgy.  Why?  No
discernable threats, this place was as quiet as ... as a graveyard.
     "Perhaps it isn't night."
     "The upper atmosphere could be full of dust which is blocking sunlight
and shrouding the world.  In which case it could be high noon."
     Nasty idea.  She'd come to enjoy the feel of relaxing in sunshine.  Even
if it did fufill catgirl stereotypes.  "What could cause that?"
     "Several things.  A large meteor crashed into the earth throwing
gigatons of dust into the air.  Not to mention causing global earthquakes.
     "Unpleasant thought."
     "That's actually the best cause of the shrouding."
     "Because that would be a cosmic accident.  No one's fault.  The
alternative is global thermonuclear warfare.  Hundreds of massive explosions
shooting radioactive dirt into the stratosphere.  Triggering nuclear winter."
     "So they could have done it to themselves?"
     "It's a possibility."
     "Ah ... that probe would have checked for radiation, right?"
     "Yes.  No environmental hazards.  This place is clean."
     "Good.  The air's certainly better."  Margrave paused as she sniffed
the city scents again.  The voice still seemed to be there on the edge of her
hearing.  Yet there was no sound.  Was she cracking up?  Of course not.  She
was too strong willed for that.  "One thing I can tell you is the auto scents
aren't ancient.  This place was a functioning city not too long ago."
     "How long ago?"
     Margrave shrugged.  "Months ... perhaps a year.  I'd estimate 18 months at
most."  Did it really matter?  A minor mystery of another world.  Nothing to
do with them.  It was curious though.
     Right now there was another mystery which concerned her.  "Do you hear
     "Apart from the wind?"
     "Yeah.  Not exactly a sound.  More like ... whispering that you can just
hear but not make out."
     "No."  Calcite looked puzzled.  "If there's anyone out there 'grave
they're too far away to hear."
     "I know but it's so ... familiar."  It was and yet it wasn't.  Suddenly
the words poured out.  "It's like ... like you've always lived by the sea so
you've always heard the waves and it's so regular that you tune it out and
don't hear it with your conscious mind.  Then one day it stops and you know
something's missing but you can't remember what.  So you move to a city and
you forget it but one day you go back to the shore and you hear the tide
again and you know what you've been missing."
     Calcite looked at her.  "I can honestly say I've never felt like that."
     "There's no whispering?"
     "Not that I can hear.  Your hearing's sharper than mine but there's no
one alive for miles.  No one human or youma anyway."
     "I know that but ..."  But what?  It wasn't really a sound.  Just her 
imagination?  Perhaps.  Could be a side effect of the disoreintation shifting
worlds had caused.  Where had she heard it before?  She suppressed a shiver.   
She wasn't going to let this place get to her.  Still there was no reason to
hang around here, was there?
     "Cal ..."
     The device in his hand beeped.  "I've tracked her second gate.  Here we
go."  The new gate opened and the probe zipped through.  Now they just had
to wait.  They surveyed the wrecked city in silence.  Calcite was beginning to
think everyone in this Tokyo must be dead or gone.  All those millions ...
what the hell could have happened?
     Margrave broke the silence, "Deja Vu all over again."
     "Just thinking there's something about this place that seems so familiar.
Which is crazy as the only other Tokyo I visited was MegaTokyo and there's
no correspondence."
     "Wasn't there a massive quake some years before your arrival?"
     "Yeah but they started rebuilding almost immediately.  This place has
been left to rot."  After a pause she continued quietly, "You really think
they could have done this to themselves?"
     "It's a possibility."
     "It is, isn't it."  A moment's silence then she continued in the same
tone.  "It's funny ... in a black humour sort way ... I mean ... well back in
the Kingdom I just took it as gospel that we were worse than the humans.  We
were youma!  The baddest of the bad!  More vicious, more violent, capable
of any mayhem while they were sniveling peace loving cowards.  Now ... I've
been looking through those history books of yours and I can see why they
disturb you."
     Calcite nodded.  "My original view of humanity was a little on the
optomistic side.  There's never been a lack of good among them but throughout
their history there have been no shortage of people who'd have fit right into
the Kingdom."
     "Yeah.  I mean when you get right down to it, compared to what they've
been doing to one another for centuries, what did we do that was so bad?"
     "Only because Beryl didn't get the opportunity.  As for humans, I suppose
it shouldn't really surprise us.  Our race derived from humans.  The
difference being normal youma get born evil.  Humans get to choose."
     "So you think I'm evil?"
     "That's a relief.  I was afraid you thought I was going soft."
     "I'm sure you'd be raising four kinds of hell if the Senshi weren't
around to stop you."
     Margrave frowned at him.  "Are you making fun of me?"
     "Wouldn't dare."  The probe reappeared.  "Looks all clear.  Ready to go?"
     "Sure.  Watching rubble isn't a lot of fun."  Besides thinking what
might have happened is getting to me.  She couldn't believe she'd just thought
that.  She was getting way too sentimental.  
     The gate expanded and they stepped forward.  The park was empty again.
     Calcite had been wrong in both speculations.  Humanity had not wrecked
the world by their own actions.  Perhaps they would have but they'd lost their
chance.  Nor was the city empty of humanity.  There were two prowling the
ruins beyond Calcite's sensing range.
      Miles away and a few minutes earlier the pair had threaded their way
through the crushed remains of the supermarket.  With a grunt the taller of
the two forced the wedged storeroom door open.  Eyes glinted in the darkness
beyond and the rats hissed.  They weren't giving up this treasure trove
without a fight.
     "Back off!"  The rats didn't budge.  They didn't fear the tall ones
anymore.  Nothing hunted them anymore, no traps to avoid.  Besides they'd
glutted themselves on the tall ones carcasses and knew they tasted good.  They
were many ... perhaps the pack would dine on fresh meet tonight.
     There was a crackle, a brief flare of light then the smell of burned
meat and fur filled the air.  The remaining rats fled and she nodded.  Her
companion's cold voice whispered, "Watch it!"
     "If they can track that little power then we're screwed for sure.  Besides
the vermin weren't backing down."
     "The rats are are getting bolder.  See if they left anything."
     "Like I wasn't going to do that?  I'm not a complete idiot ..."  As she
turned she caught the expression on her friend's face.  "What's wrong?"  Not
another fight, please God no!  They were still recovering from the last raid.
     "I ... I don't know."  It wasn't like her to sound uncertain.  The
cold feeling increased.  "I picked up something ... could just be a sensor
glitch.  It wasn't a teleport signature but something similar.  Almost like
the spacial warp to D point but again it doesn't match.  Whatever it was it's
messing up the readings."  She consulted her old city map.  "It's centered
on a park in Juban ... I used to go there every chance I got.  Beautiful spot.
They never did demolish it."  She sounded wistful.  It wasn't like her to
sound sentimental these days.  "At least it didn't get wrecked until Tokyo
died."  The icy rage was back.  "No sign of activity beyond that point and
the readings are clearing.  Could be a glitch."  Neither wanted to think what
they'd do if their equipment broke down.
     "So what now?"  As always she deferred to her friend.  She knew was
neither a leader or strategist.  All she could do was bust heads when pointed
in the right direction.  She was very good at that.
     "No sign of enemies or detection.  We might as well keep scavenging."
     "Right."  The storeroom was a disheartening sight.  It looked likethey'd
got into everything.  She stooped to pick up a soupcan.  Punctured.  The
rodents had very sharp teeth.  Was anything left?  "At least there's no
shortage of rat."
     "Too tough and bony."  An old joke.  Given what the rats around here had
been eating neither felt like touching them.  They weren't that hungry.  Not
     There was a cardboard box on the top righthand shelf which looked intact. 
She scrambled up and hauled it down.  A look inside confirmed the rats hadn't
got to it yet.  She felt a sour smile form.  Well it was better than nothing. 
"I hope you like instant ramen."
     "Beggars can't be choosers.  What's funny?"
     "Just remembering someone.  She never got her quotes right."
     "Don't think about them.  It just makes it harder to keep going."  A
single tear rolled down her cheek.  The only crack in her expressionless
mask.  Her friend shut up and began transferring the pot ramen into a large
sports bag she'd looted earlier.  They were both skating the edge and dealing
with it in different ways.  It would be far too easy to fall.  Then she heard
her friend swear explosively."
     "What is it!"  Instinctively she dropped into a defensive posture and
looked for enemies.
     "That glitch reappeared!   It's gone now but the exact same thing twice
in a row is more than coincidence.  Ten minute interval between occurrences!"
     "What does it mean?  More important what do we do?"
     Her friend studied her screen for a moment then spoke.  "We go and take
a look for ourselves.  Onsite inspection might give us some answers."
     "Is that wise?"
     "Maybe not.  This could be a trap.  But I don't think so.  Whatever it is
it's an anomoly and we need answers.  Ignorance could get us both killed. 
This is one of the few places on earth we can remain undetected.  If that's
changing we have to know.  We'll also need to find somewhere else to
     "If you say so."  Her friend and follower sounded uneasy.
     "Look Zeus we have to know what's going on ..."
     "I'd appreciate it if you used my name!  Maybe you won't answer to
anything but Hermes but I'm not throwing away my past just yet!"
     "... As you wish.  At any rate knowledge is power and ignorance is death!
We have to know what's going on or it could get us killed.  We're all that's
left!  We have to survive at all costs until we learn how to put things
right."  Her friend nodded and she hid her thoughts behind her emotionless
     She wants to believe me so badly.  Once again she cursed her
intelligence.  She knew damn well they didn't have a chance in hell.  So why
keep going?  Just for the chance to get as much vengeance as possible before
the end.  Which she didn't think would be much longer.  What else did they
have left?
     Zeus hefted her bag and the two moved silently out of the building. 
Following Hermes silent cues she moved quietly and quickly through the dead
     Her friend was wrong.  They weren't the last.  At least not just yet.
Still it's a big world and she had no idea what was happening in England.  By
a twist of destiny a fateful battle was concluding in Wiltshire.
     The two faced each other before the massive castle.  Once the megalith
circle known as Stonehenge had stood here.  It was gone now.  The stones
crushed to gravel and incorporated into the walls of the Citadel.  The
battered challenger didn't know why he'd built here nor did she care.  All
that mattered to her was destroying him.
     The woman who'd called herself Setsuna Meiou poured all her energy into
the sphere forming between her hands.  Nothing seemed to faze him, this was
her last shot.  It had to work! 
     The name was one of many she'd borne.  The latest in a very long string.
Once she'd know all the names she'd wear in the future as well.  Now
everything had collapsed into chaos.  This wasn't supposed to have happened!
How had it all gone wrong?  A single day and everything that was to have been
was shattered.
     But all she'd seen was possibility.  The future was not fixed and who
should know that better than her?  Still she'd refused to accept it.  She'd
braved the time storms attempting to salvage the future she'd seen.  She'd
known in her heart she couldn't beat the paradox wave but for once she'd
refused to accept the laws of time.  Barely, only barely had she escaped
erasure.  Re-entering normal time had been nigh impossible.  She'd managed at
last but at a point months removed from the disaster.  The world had been
remade during her absence and she seemed the only one left to put it right. 
Two others remained but they weren't strong enough to help her.  Perhaps she
wasn't either.  He'd shrugged off all her attacks with little effort.  Could
she beat him?  She had to!  Now!
     He stood silhouetted against the bulk of the citadel as the sphere
shrieked towards him.  One hand raised to meet the onrushing ball.  His
fingertips brushed it and there was a massive explosion.  Masonary sprayed
everywhere as the blast ripped open the walls.  Setsuna's knees buckled and
she leaned on her staff for support.  She'd thrown all her remaining power
into that.  It must have worked! 
     She couldn't see anything except a haze of smoke and powdered wall. 
There was the crash of falling masonary and the cries of the injured and
dying.  Human cries.  Oh dear God he'd been standing in front of the servants
wing!  Screams and prayers for intercession echoed out to a deaf heaven.
She hadn't known.  Even if she had she'd still have blasted him.  There had
been no choice!
     From behind a voice cursed her.  Four translucent figures stood watching
her.  Two male, two female.  The four quadrants of the circle.  Their images
transmitted from their palaces around the world.  This was the end of the
line.  Her powers were exhausted and so was she.  Any of the four could
teleport here and finish her with ease.  They were apt to be upset at losing
their center.  Though they wouldn't have to bother.  She couldn't handle the
approaching guards in her current state.  She clung to her staff for support. 
Neither weapon nor badge of office now, simply a crutch.
     Her life was forfeit but she'd killed their god-king.  A fair trade.
With him gone things would change.  Humanity stood a chance of regaining the
upperhand.  A pyrric victory but far better than defeat ... why was only the
eldest of the four cursing her?!  She glanced urgently to the right where the
image of the youngest stood.  She was smiling at her!  It couldn't be!  He had
to be dead!  She tried to straighten up as she glimpsed movement behind her.
     The agony hit an instant before the hand exploded through her chest.  In
the instant before her eyes filled with blood she saw it clutched something
in its' grasp.  Something whose regular pulsations were becoming irregular
spasms.  Through the haze of the pain she heard his voice saying, "If you
truly are the mistress of time this is your last chance to rewrite history."
     A normal human would have died almost instantly.  Setsuna's magically
enhanced constitution kept her going for several agonizing moments.  Long
enough to realize she was dying having failed utterly.  Her fingers went limp
and the staff slipped from her grasp.  It toppled and arced towards the
ground.  The instant before the orb on its' top could strike the ground it
winked out of existence.
     The eldest of the four watchers chuckled.  "Now that has to hurt!"  He
began to laugh then stopped.  None of the others had joined in.  The three
silently watched the Overlord with expressions of concern.  The Overlord's
own gaze remained fixed on the place the staff should have landed.  He seemed
oblivious to the slumped woman impaled on his outstetched right arm.
     To the Overlord's left the older man saw his junior (who wielded far more
temporal power) talk quietly to no one visible.  Giving orders to some flunky
standing by the hologram transmitting stage.  The female members of the circle
stood to the Overlord's right.
     The two women exchanged glances.  Then the younger cleared her throat
loudly.  The Overlord didn't react.  She tried again, making very loud and
overdone coughing noises.  Still nothing.  she was about to try a third time
when the older women made a "wait" gesture.  She spoke loudly.
     "Excuse me oh supreme lord and master of us all ... but you appear to
have some debris caught on your sleeve."  The sarcastic tone got through.  The
Overlord glanced to his right arm then shook his head.  He looked as though
he'd realized he'd forgotten to zip his fly or some other minor embarrassment.
He braced his left hand on the dead woman's shoulder then heaved his trapped
arm backwards.  It tore free with an unpleasant slurping noise bringing blood,
muscle and fragments of bone with it.  He looked at his bloodsoaked arm and
shook his head again.  This shirt was a writeoff, better call for his dresser.
Realizing he was still holding her heart he let it drop.  He released his grip
on her shoulder and Sailor Hades fell in that artless, boneless manner that
only the newly dead can manage.  His gaze flicked to her momentarily then he
turned to his left and spoke to the younger man.
     "There's a problem.  I want you to take a closer look."  The other gave
a respectful nod and stepped backwards.  His image flickered out.
     The Overlord's gaze went back to the dead woman.  He shook his head.
"That was far too easy."
     The older woman snorted.  "You're forgetting the power levels you operate
on these days.  If she'd hit you with that thing in the old days we'd be
breaking out the dustpan."  The younger woman (youngest member of the circle,
period) nodded.
     "Back then I wouldn't have been stupid enough to just stand there and let
it hit me.  Still I expected her to be more of a threat.  She has ... had a
very dangerous reputation."
     "Which we knew by legend only."  The younger shrugged.  "It could be like
the seven ... the six.  They were supposed to be hot stuff but the fact is
they're nothing very special."
     "I suppose that's true."
     "You didn't want to face a real threat did you?"
     "No, no.  It's just ... I expected more."
     The missing man reappeared.  He was now wearing his customary black
crystal armour and surrounded by hovering equipment.  The Overlord turned to
     "Examine her."  He nodded and knelt over the body.  Various crystals
moved to surround the corpse.  After a moment the Overlord asked, "Well?"
     The other shrugged then remembered the armour hide the movement.  "I'm
not sure what you want me to say.  Her first to fourth thoradic vertabrae
have been shattered, the lower half of her left lung has been shredded, most
of the lefthand ribcage has been destroyed, her heart's been removed by rather
crude surgical means and there's a hole through her big enough to stick your
arm in.  It is my considered opinion that this woman will never play the
violin again."
     "Thank you for that in depth analysis doctor."  His tone was dry but
amused.  "Getting serious we have two problems.  I didn't see where her staff 
went and I can't find her soul."
     The other frowned.  "One moment."  At his command a stasis field covered
the body preventing further deterioration.  He reviewed his indepth sensor
scans and his frown deepened.  "What the hell?"
     "Karmic track hasn't failed us yet.  We retrieved the other reincarnates
with no problem.  So what's gone wrong?"
     "I can offer a theory ... but it's fairly far fetched."
     "Let's hear it."
     "According to legend Hades had either control over time or time travel
abilities.  Perhaps at the moment of death she somehow projected her soul
through time.  So she'll be reborn at a later date.  Perhaps years from now."
     "Or she sent herself backwards in time.  In which case she's already
reborn and perhaps a battle capable adult."
     "Unlikely.  If that was the case the new Hades would be registering on
the global net.  Same soul after all.   Besides interfering in the past risks
time paradox."
     "She might have been willing to take that risk."
     "Then why face you at all?  She could have gone into the past and
destroyed us as children."
     "A good point.  We'll leave the network scanning.  If she reappears for
rebirth we'll find her host and do the usual."
     "A wise decision."  Pause.  "I'd like to remove the brain for analysis.
There's still active braincells in there so I might be able to download some
answers.  It'll be best to do it while she's still fresh so I'd like to
remove her from the field and get to work."
     "You brought a braincase with you, didn't you."  The Overlord seemed
     "Well it's a shame to waste the chance ..."
     "Go right ahead.  Can't deny my right hand man."
     The oldest watcher's face momentarily reflected his anger.  Why did that
pup rate ahead of him?  The older woman caught the expression but held her
peace.  Patience.  Now was not the right time. 
     "I'd like to dissect the rest of the body.  I realize you'll want to
display it but there's a lot I'd like to know about Senshi anatomy.  It could
be useful to the hunt teams."
     "Eternally curious, eh?  Fine but leave the face intact and preserve it. 
The rest is all yours."
     "Much appreciated."  He began checking his equipment.
     "Well we are family."
     The elder bristled again.  Past time to assert his own presence. 
Flattery and praise amusingly expressed should do it.  "Nicely done, my Lord.
Nicely done indeed.  Heh, to think the humans call us heartless!  What about
their guardians?"  He began to laugh uproariously.  The Overlord smiled, the
kind of smile you give to a bore when you're too polite to tell them to eff
off.  The second joke concerned Valentine's day.  A shadow of distaste crossed
the armoured man's face.  The elder continued, making a complicated pun on
aorta.  The youngest member of the circle sighed quietly and looked to the
Overlord's back.
     "Why do you permit that fool to remain among us?", she thought.  "He has
long outlived whatever usefulness he once possessed.  Besides you don't like
him any more than the rest of us."
     "He lets him remain for our sake."  The words were spoken quietly.  She
realized her elder's image stood beside hers.  She must have been letting her
dislike show.  Her friend continued, "He set conditions for terminating our
jester over there.  Unless the funnyman breaks them he will not act against
him.  After all if he breaks his word to him how can we trust him not to do
the same to us?  Trust is what binds us together and made us strong."
     "But he's not one of us!  None of us trust him." 
     "True but it's the principle of the thing.  We both know he always keeps
his word."  The younger woman sighed with resignation.  The elder smiled and
continued.  "I wouldn't worry too much, he won't be with us much longer.  He's
overly ambitious and nowhere near as smart as he thinks.  Within a year he'll
overreach himself and when that happens ...", she chuckled, "... you'll have
to get in line if you want to execute him."
     She smiled herself, it was a pleasant thought.  "Perhaps", she thought,
"I can speed things up a bit."
     Meanwhile the monologue was interrupted by the belated arrival of a
contingent of palace guard.  The scientist, busy opening the skull didn't look
up.  The Overlord turned lazily to face them.  The captain immediately flung
himself facedown in the moss. 
     "Oh Avatar of Supreme Darkness the hem of whose garment I am not worthy
to touch ..."
     "Captain ..."  Spoken quietly but the other silenced immediately.  "...
Let's skip the part where you spend ten minutes telling me you're not fit to
share the same universe as me and get right to the bloody point."  The captain
opened his mouth.  Sensing a flowery declaration the Overlord added, "And
address me as 'Overlord' or 'My Lord'.  It'll save time.
     "Yes oh Great ... Yes My Lord!"  The frown disappeared.  "Do you wish a
report on security?" 
     "Just the highlights."
     "Very good Overlord.  The dungeon remains secure.  All present and
accounted for."
     "Excellent.  I wouldn't want my guests rejecting my hospitality."
     "Ah ... yes, My Lord.   I have a squad stationed there in case of a
followup raid while security remains compromised.  The stasis tubes are also
secured and under heavy guard." 
     "Do you wish the casualty figures among the guard?"
     "Not right now.  Chamberlain!"  He'd been awaiting the summons and
materialized immediately.  Two terrified servants stood with him.  One held
towels and a washbowl.  The other carried a fresh shirt.  At the Overlord's
nod he indicated for them to remove the blood sodden shirt and clean their
     "My Lord?"
     "Consult with the captain and organize what we need for replacements."
     "Very good, My Lord."
     The Overlord turned to look at the shattered wing.  "Bring workers
through from the enclave and get this mess cleaned up.  Dispose of the bodies
and take the wounded back to the enclave.  If they're salvagable fix them up.
If not ..."
     "As you command Overlord."
     "Then get the workforce busy on rebuilding.  I have an image to
maintain.  Captain ...?"
     "Yes, My Overlord?"
     "Make sure the workers are guarded.  Just in case any get ideas about
     "Very good, My Lord."
     "Chamberlain ....", the other bowed again.  "Get replacement staff.  You
know what I want."
     "Female and within the specified parameters."
     "How decadent."  The Overlord turned to smile at the youngest of his four
     "I understand all your servants are handsome young men."
     "I didn't say there was anything wrong with decadence."  He laughed and
turned back to his courtiers.
     "Get busy."  The Chamberlain bowed and teleported.  The captain backed
away bowing constantly and assuring the Overlord his wishes would be carried
out.  The Overlord sighed.  "I'm all for proper respect for authority but
this is getting a little ridiculous."
     "After what you did to his predecessor you're surprised?"  He looked
over to the image of the older woman and shrugged.
     "Idiot tried to assassinate me.  He got off easy."
     "True but a death that flamboyant is bound to scare the shit out of them.
Particularly if they've had disloyal thoughts."
     "Let them think what they like.  They'll never be loyal but I'll settle
for obediance."
     "Well you've got it.  So don't complain."  He grinned and the comedy
relief brindled.  How could she get away with that?  If he tried it they'd
be talking about disrespect for the Overlord!  She continued, "Y'know you
could just wave your hand and the wall would be fixed."
     "What's the point of being Overlord if you have to do all the work?"
     "Good point.  Course it'd be a lot less drafty."
     "Heh.  Guess it's time for a tour my domains until the Citadel's fixed."
     "Great.  I'll tell the maids to break out the good silverware."  They
both laughed.  It had been a good day.  So what if Hades did come back again?
She couldn't touch him.  He'd just have to kill her again.  The toughest
Outer Senshi and he'd wiped her out with ease.  Life was good.  And once the
Circle had ditched the blowhard life would be perfect.
      Meanwhile in another dimension a few hours earlier:
      Titanite looked around in confusion.  This wasn't a park, it was a paved
courtyard.  The surrounding had shifted too.  It looked like the gatepoint on
this world had a different spacial location.  The salaryman who'd been about
to walk into her stared in confusion for a moment.  Then he realized the girl
could not possibly have materialized in front of him.  Gaijin don't appear out
of thin air.  She'd been there all along and he just hadn't seen her.  As he
hadn't plowed into her there was no need to apologise.  He stepped around her
and dismissed the matter from his mind.  The other half dozen people who'd
seen her arrival came to the same conclusion and forgot about it.
     Titanite deactivated her gate and tried to get her bearings.  This could
be the right world merely the wrong place.  Perhaps she should find a phone
directory of Nerima and check for a Tendo Dojo or a listing for Soun Tendo.
Or just check a booksellers.  If Ranma 1/2 was being published as a manga
they wouldn't be real on this world.
     Across the courtyard something caught sight of Titanite.  Unknown female
... alone .... targetting ... Lock on!  It blurred towards her unnoticed.   

End of part 2

That's enough grim stuff for the time being.  Time for a little action.
Next time : Guns!
            Gratuitous Sexual Harrassment!

            Ladies and Gentlemen meet Cityhunter!
            in Part 3 : "XYZ spells Hentai!"

Dark Kingdom Renegades : Titanite's Bogus Journey
by Mark Latus

Part 3 : XYZ Spells Hentai

     Titanite caught sight of the red and blue blur just before it reached
her.  She froze momentarily, all her training forgotten, then reached for her
transmuter bracelet.  The blur screeched to a halt resolving into a man
wearing a red shirt with a blue jacket.  His lecherous look vanished to be
replaced by a thoughtful expression.
     "Too young but definite potential.  Do you have an older sister?"
     "Huh?  Uh, no.  No really."  Her hand was resting on the bracelet ready
to activate her Sailor Polaris costume.  Though come to think of it if the
need arose, now that she was out of her own world, she could use her powers
without changing and not worry about exposing her identity.  Of course it'd be
more fun while wearing the costume.
     "Oh well.  Look me up in four or five years.  Bye!"  He thrust a sheet of
paper into her hands and blurred off.  Titanite followed his path and saw him
him accost an attractive brunette in her early 20s.  The lecherous look was
back.  He said (more like shouted) something about going for tea.  She nailed
him with a right to the jaw and he went flying.  He rolled over three times
then jumped to his feet apparently none the worse for wear.  For the next few
minutes Titanite watched him recklessly approach a variety of women and get
slapped, punched, kneed and, in one case, judo tossed.  He always bounced back
and went on to the next woman.  Who the heck was he?  The style reminded her
of Ataru Moriboshi but this guy was actually good looking.  Perhaps if he
wasn't so hyper he'd be a lot more successful.   Anyway there was no sign of 
an angry flying woman in a tiger striped bikini so the Ataru theory seemed
     Now that sounded angry.  The expression of lust had been replaced with
one of terror.  Screaming for mercy he bolted from the courtyard pursued by a
woman with reddish hair who ran past carrying an enormous mallet.  It didn't
seem to be slowing her down as she dashed in hot pursuit raising a cloud of
dust.  Had her eyes been glowing?  People seemed a little startled but not   
completely amazed.  Were furious women running around with massive hammers
     It occurred to Ti she hadn't actually looked at the handbilled he'd given
her.  It was for XYZ Enterprises.  Some sort of troubleshooting company which
proported to solve a variety of problems.  Many of them concerning personal
safety and crime related problems.  It was rather vague about what XYZ would
do about these problems and the contact instructions were a little obscure. 
Write XYZ on the Shinjuku train station bulletin board?  It was run by one
Kaori Makimura who claimed to have a dedicated and committed staff.  Although
Titanite didn't know it the staff consisted of one man.  But the claim was
true.  To an extent.  Kaori had occasionally tried to have Ryo committed in
hopes of curing his total lack of control around all women {all except her
which didn't bother her in the least [honestly]}.  He generally arrived back
home chased by angry nurses and in possession of most of their underwear.  As
for dedication... well he was dedicated to chasing any woman he saw.  No one
could deny that.
     Titanite made a note to invesigate the name when she returned to her own
world.  In the meantime she folded the paper and slid it into her bag.  Then
went off looking for the nearest source of manga.
     Several hours later the same salaryman who'd almost walked into Titanite
was crossing the courtyard again after a few drinks.  This time, he decided,
he hadn't seen two gaijin appear out of thin air.  After all people didn't
appear from nowhere so he must have imagined it.  Pleased with his logic he
headed home.  Everyone else who'd witnessed their appearance rationalized it
away.  The ability of humans to believe in the face of direct evidence is both
one of the species greatest strengths and one of its' greatest weaknesses.
     Calcite studied the skyline.  "Spacial shift, we aren't in Juban anymore. 
There's a different gatepoint in this world.  Looks like Shinjuku."  Margrave
groaned and slumped against him.  "Margrave."
     "I'm fine just ... just a little dizzy."  Her voice was weak.
     "Okay, you got me."  She paused a moment trying to gather her thoughts. 
"None of you have senses like mine.  We just switched from a silent city with
almost pure air to this noisy, stinking place.  It's hitting me harder than I
expected."  She shifted to drape an arm around his neck.  "I'll be fine, I
just need a few minutes to recover."
     "Let's find you somewhere to relax until then."  He glanced around and
spotted a cafe.  Called, somewhat ironically, "Cat's Eye".  An omen?  He
dismissed the thought.  "That'll do fine."
     Margrave leaned heavily on him as he made his way there.  Not that it
slowed him down.  With his strength her weight was negligable.  He opened the
door and stopped dead at the sight of the hulking bald figure wearing thick
dark glasses.  This was either the largest human he'd ever seen or someone
had shaved a gorilla.  Margrave gave a startled gasp.
     "Welcome."  That was probably supposed to be a friendly smile.  Well it
could speak, but Calcite wasn't quite ready to ditch the gorilla hypothesis
yet.  Maybe they should find somewhere else.  He'd better decide quickly. 
Standing in the doorway like this wasn't solving anything.
     "Please come in."  The petite woman who appeared by the whatever-it-was's
side looked like she was used to "fight or flight" reaction her associate
induced.  An attractive dark haired woman of about his age she seemed
genuinely friendly rather than simply parroting a line.
     "Thank you."  They stepped inside and the woman realized Margrave was
leaning on Calcite.
     "Are you all right?"
     "I'm fine.  Just a little tired."  Margrave removed her arm and
straightened up.  "You order, I'm gonna sit down."  Stumbling slightly she
headed for a booth.  Calcite wasn't offended by her rudeness.  Youma hated
being dependant on anyone.  After all in the Kingdom if you were reduced to
seeking help you were in a lot of trouble.  You might get it but charity was
unknown so you'd be in someone's debt.  And they'd gouge everything they could
from you in exchange.  Closer now Calcite realized the woman wasn't small, she
stood about 5'10".  She was just dwarfed by the Incredible Hulk or whatever
he was called.  Shouldn't have been a surprise, Mike Tyson would be dwarfed by
this guy.  No one else in here but the four of them.
     "Two coffee's please ..."  A label caught his eye.  "The Columbian."
     "We don't have any made so it'll take a little while to perk."
     "That's fine.  We're in no hurry."  Margrave needed time to recover more
than she needed coffee.
     "If you don't mind my asking is she really alright?"
     "She'll be fine.  Just a little disorientated from the jetlag."
     "It can be hard to adjust to new timezones.  Might I ask what brings you
     "Just tourists.  We decided to try the off season to miss the crowds."
     "Missing the crowds in Tokyo would be a good trick.  However you're
right, there aren't many tourists around right now."  Was he getting paranoid 
or was she watching him closely?  The big man (tentative identification) also
seemed to be keeping an eye on him.  He also looked a little edgy.
     "Your friend seems a little nervous."  She glanced over and frowned
     "That's odd.  You don't have a cat with you?  No of course not, perhaps
you own one?"
     "No, we don't have any pets."
     "That's odd.  Falcon-sama is ... a little phobic about cats but I don't
know of anything else that worries him."
     "Don't burden our customers with personal problems."  The giant became
silent again.  A man of few words.
     Falcon was undecided about these people.  The girl appeared uncoordinated
yet there had been a hint of something ... and why did she make him think cat?
He repressed a shudder.
     The man was another matter.  You can tell a pro from an ordinary person
by the way they move and how they observe their surroundings.  It's
unconscious.  A result of never letting your guard down except in the company
of the very few you can rely on.  So you have to choose your friends well as
that will make you vulnerable.  He was giving off pro-like vibes and yet ... 
     He didn't match the description of anyone Falcon knew.  Perhaps he should
ask Ryo.  No.  Asking his rival for assistance would be a mistake.  Regardless
of what everyone thought they weren't friends.  He just helped Ryo out so he
could be sure City Hunter wouldn't die before they chose to fight their final
     Returning to the man in question he spoke excellent Japanese for a
tourist.  Just a hint of a British accent.  Very good indeed.  A little too
good for a casual tourist.  He was concentrating on them so hard that he
missed the man who silently slid into the cafe.
     As he was waiting Calcite decided he might as well ask if they'd spotted
Ti.  "Excuse me but have you seen this girl?"  The photo was of Ti in her
"Titania Hobbes" glamour.  Miki glanced from the photo to him. 
     "No I haven't.  Your younger sister?"
     "Yes.  She got separated from us earlier.  It's nothing urgent and I'm
sure she'll find her way back to the hotel.  Still ..."
     "...Still you worry about her anyway."
     "Right.  Big Brother syndrome."
     "Perfectly natural.  I'm sorry I haven't seen her.  Have you
Falcon-sama?"  The giant shook his head.  The glasses hid his eyes but minute
head movements made Calcite think he kept flicking his gaze between him and
Margrave.  Calcite suddenly remembered Ti had dropped her glamour while in
MegaTokyo.  Perhaps she'd done the same after departing.
     "She might have dyed her hair green.  She was threatening to do that."
     Miki looked amused.  "I'd definitely have remembered seeing anyone
looking like that.  But I wouldn't worry, this is a very safe city."
     "You're right.  I'm just overreacting."  Had Ti stuck around this version
of Tokyo?  If he'd paid more attention to her viewing habits perhaps he'd
know the name of the boy she was looking for.  She hadn't given Margrave a
name either.
     Feeling a little better Margrave glanced over to the counter and saw
Calcite getting along well with the woman.  She clamped down on the automatic  
jealousy.  They wouldn't be here long so there was no danger.  She'd been
watching the people passing the window and something odd had struck her.  She
hadn't seen a single Japanese blond which was odd.  There were no shortage of
them back in their Tokyo.  It could just be a statistical fluke and yet ...
     She shook off the speculation and breathed deeply.  She was getting used
to the scents and sounds here.  Problem was she'd have to adjust again on the
next crossing.  Perhaps it would be easier with repetition.  Also if the
environment was similar there'd be less adjustment.  She closed her eyes and
let herself drift.  The whispering was gone, if it had ever existed anywhere
outside her own mind.  It could just be some natural phenomena of the other
world.  Whatever it was it didn't concern her.  She was feeling a lot better.
Then the voices at the counter cut off at the same time she realized something
was touching her chest!
     Her eyes snapped open and she saw the hands resting on her breasts.  Her
gaze flicked upwards to see the widely grinning idiot who'd crawled over the
top of the next booth in order to fondle her.
     "YEAHAH!  The shirt's right.  No silicon.  100% natural!"
     For a moment Margrave calmly considered the fact that she must be more
messed up than she thought if a human could get this close to her.  For a
moment.  Then rational thought was washed away in a red haze as her volcanic
temper triggered.  The memory of humbling herself a thousand times before the
more powerful of the Kingdom who saw her as a recreation aid.  Having to put
up with dozens of unwanted advances on pain of injury or death.  Always having
to smile and pretend they were the best lovers in the Kingdom so they wouldn't
hurt her.  Now a human thought he could touch her at will?!  HOW DARE HE!  She
snarled, twisted and slashed her claws into the goofy smile!
     Miki looked up from her conversation with the man who'd introduced
himself as Calvin Hobbes to see Ryo grab his companion.  She lashed out with an
unfamiliar but lethal looking counterattack.  Her fingernails looked longer
than she'd thought.  Calcite began to call for Margrave to wait knowing it was
already too late.  He took a step forward expecting to see the man reeling
backwards in a cloud of blood with most of his face torn off.  Then stopped
dead in amazement.
     Margrave froze in astonishment in front of her booth.  The lech was
standing before her unmarked except for four faint red scratches across his
face.  She'd missed?  But how?  She stared at her claws (which under glamour
appeared to be long, sharp, fingernails), they were fully extended.  How had
he dodged?  It wasn't possible!
     "Kitten's got claws ... and sexy thighs!"
     Now he was on the floor clinging to her leg.  She gave a battlecry and
struck downward.  The edge of the table snapped off from the blow.  Her hand
tore through the space he should have been and smashed into the floor.  She'd
missed again and her hand was now embedded in the cafe floor.  She hadn't even   
seen him move and was now stuck bent over!  At which point she felt the hands
on her butt. 
     He started to say something about how firm it was as she tore her hand
free and wheeled around.  With an inarticulate howl she slashed at him.  This
time all she got was a few red threads from his shirt.  He dodged backwards
and ran straight into Calcite who seized him by the shoulder.
     While Calcite didn't want Margrave to kill this creep he had no intention
of letting him get away unpunished.  He had a very low opinion of the way this 
guy was treating Margrave.  So he was planning to inflict a few nonlethal but
extremely painful injuries.
     The man's shoulder crumpled which astounded Calcite.  He hadn't gripped
that hard.  Suddenly he realized he was now holding an empty jacket.  What
the hell?  Was this guy a teleporter?  From the look on Margrave's face she
hadn't seen him go either.  A glance to the couple behind the counter showed
Miki wearing the longsuffering look of someone sick of this nonsense while
the man she'd called Falcon just looked embarrassed.
     Calcite ignored them and began scanning for aura as Margrave sniffed the
air.  She'd got his scent now (how could anyone have that much testosterone?),
she'd find him.  She spotted his hiding place just as Calcite raised a hand to
point to the rafters.  She growled and ripped the broken tabletop free then
flung it towards the ceiling.
     The pervert freefalled from the rafters, landed lightly then dodged to
the side as Margrave tore the exposed table stand free and flung it like a
spear.  It missed and punched a quarter of its' length in the floor.  Calcite
sidestepped to
put himself between the guy and Margrave.  Regardless of what the aura said he
didn't think this guy was human.  The man looked utterly confident that he
could get past Calcite.  He didn't seem to be listening to Falcon telling him
to leave the customers alone or else.  Miki strode over to the door and flung
it open.
     The voice of doom cut through Cat's Eye.  Calcite and Margrave turned,
half expecting to see Queen Beryl in the doorway.  Instead they saw a red
haired woman clutching a massive hammer marked "101 tonnes".  She seemed to be
glowing.  The look of confidence vanished to be replaced by naked fear.
     "RYO, TAKE THY PUNISHMENT!"  The hammer arced down and the whole cafe
jumped at the impact.  The dust cleared and they saw the man was now half
buried in the floor.  Trapped beneath the massive hammer.  Amazingly he was
still alive though not enjoying it much.
     Miki looked at him and shrugged.  "Sorry Saeba-san, but I really can't
have you harrassing the customers."  The two customers were studying the scene
before them in astonishment.  Miki looked at the percolator and shook her
head.  "Kaori-chan you've spilled all the coffee.  I'll have to start over."
     "Oh heheheh ... sorry.  He just gets me so worked up sometimes.  I have
to relieve the stress somehow."
     "I can understand that but I'm still going to have to add the floor
repairs to your bill."
     "Sorry but this is a business and the insurance companies won't even
return my calls anymore.  Excuse me Hobbes-san?"
     Calcite snapped out of the daze.  "Uh ...yes?"  He kept looking back at
the merger of flooring, Ryo Saeba and mallet.
     "I'm afraid your coffee was spilled so I'll have to start again.  It'll
mean another few minutes."
     "Uh ... Margrave how are you feeling."
     "Huh?"  She shook herself.  "Uhm ... fine, great, couldn't be better."
In a quieter voice she hissed, "Let's get the hell out of this nuthouse!"
Real savage women with giant hammers, just like in Ti's videos.  If she hadn't
seen it she wouldn't have believed it.  Besides she was afraid the groper
would shrug off his injuries and come after her again.
     "Actually if Margrave's recovered we really should be going ... how much
for the table?"
     "Don't worry about it.  That was Ryo's fault so I'll add it to his tab."
     "What's Ryo done now?"  The speaker was an attractive and very self
assured looking woman who had just entered.  She was wearing a short blue
dress which showed a slight bulge against one thigh.  Her hair was a dark
shade of black than Miki's and she seemed to radiate authority.
     "Saeko-san"  Miki sounded surprised to see her.
     "Saeko-san"  Kaori sounded unhappy to see her.
     "Saeko-chan!"  Ryo exploded out of tangle and landed in front of her.
Looking a little tattered but exhuding confidence again he took her hand.
"Have to come to pay off your tab to me."  Kaori bounced a mug off the back
of his head but he didn't notice.
     "Tab?"  Saeko suddenly sounded very airhead.  "Oh my I don't remember
any tab."
     He pulled out his wallet and produced a pile of IOUs.  "You owe me 25
nights.   Let's head for the nearest hotel and start working our way through
     Saeko looked a little panicked.  "Uh Miki-chan you never answered my
question.  What did Ryo do?"
     "Attempted to molest the lady with that gentleman."
     "I call them as I see them Ryo."
     "Really?"  Saeko saw a way out.  She flashed her badge.  "Detective
Noyama, Tokyo Police Department.  Would you like to press charges against this
     "Urk!"  Ryo's face fell and Margrave pondered.  Then shook her head.  She
had no interest in sticking around to see this creep behind bars.  She just
wanted to find Ti and get the hell off this world.
     "No.  I just to want to put as much distance between us as possible."  A
few universes should suffice.
     "Beautiful forgiving lady ..."
     "Touch me again and I change my mind."
     "And I beat the crap out of you!"  Calcite had had it with this idiot.
Falcon nodded.  That tourist looked like a pro right now.  He was radiating
danger.  Ryo wisely backed down.  The two of them headed for the door.  Saeko
took the distraction to get on with why she was here. 
     "I'm glad to see all four of you together because the five of us are in
trouble."  Falcon gave a snort, he'd spent most of his life seeking and being
in danger.  Ryo looked serious, Kaori looked worried, Miki looked calm and
resolute.  "We've received word that the second division of the Black Army
has entered Japan.  It seems they hacked into the Ministry of Defense database
and learned the names of those responsible for the failure of the "Sarah"
operation.  Their objective is to eliminate the five individuals who ruined
their plans as an example."
     Kaori gasped.  She remembered the least about the Black Army's attempt at
nuclear blackmail.  She'd been kidnapped by the terrorists and brainwashed
into thinking she was the leader of the army.  A sacrificeable figurehead to
protect the real leaders of the Black Army.
     "But the Black Army was defeated.  They were all either arrested or
killed in action!"
     "Just their first division.  We hadn't realized they'd divided their
forces before launching the operation."
     Kaori shivered then felt Ryo's hand on her shoulder.  "They won't touch
you again Kaori."  It didn't sound like bravado.  Just a calm statement of
facts.  He looked utterly serious.  Ryo Saeba the girl chasing fool was gone.
In his place stood City Hunter.  Perhaps the best gunman in the world though
Falcon would dispute that.  Suddenly his attention snapped to the windows. 
"EVERYBODY DOWN!"  Falcon was already in motion diving to the ground and
rolling so that his bulk was between Miki and the window.  The glass exploded
inward in a hail of gunfire.  Saeko made a note to work on her timing.
     A few moments earlier Calcite and Margrave had been leaving Cat's Eye.
The street outside seemed threatening somehow.  Something felt very wrong to
both of them.  Calcite's forceshield flickered around him as he activated it
instinctively.  Margrave felt it form and slid from walking by his side to
following him.  Across the street the order was given.  All targets in
position.  Fire!
     Bullets ricocheted off the front of Calcite's shield and Margrave tried
to become one with his back.  Calcite was in no danger but she was in trouble! 
If they started shooting around the sides or a bullet took a bad bounce past
him ... !  She grabbed him by the shoulders, which rather startled him and
dragged him back towards the relative safety of the cafe as fast as she could. 
As he wasn't anchored she was able to move him with ease.  He was far stronger
than her but that didn't affect his mass. 
     Margrave crashed through the door and saw bullets bounce off the steel
reinforced counter.  She ducked behind still dragging Calcite.  He brushed her
hands off.   "Do you mind!"
     "Not in the least lover.  In case you've forgotten, you're bulletproof,
I'm not!"
     "Hello again.  I didn't catch your name."  Kaori had been tossed behind
the counter by Ryo with orders to stay low.  She'd bristled a bit but with her
gun back at the apartment there wasn't much she could do.
     "Margrave.  That's Cal and I heard you called Kaori."
     "Right.  Sorry you got caught up in this."
     "Just what is this?"  Calcite stuck his head over the top of the counter
saw everyone else standing by the shattered windows.  They were all holding
weapons and popping in front of the shattered windows to return fire. 
Evidently the gun control laws were a lot laxer in this Japan.  Ryo was using
a Magnum .357, an identification Calcite based on Clint Eastwood movies.  
Falcon was firing what appeared to be either a bazooka or a rocket launcher.
Calcite would be the first to admit he didn't know much about firearms.  Miki
had a handgun he couldn't identify as did Saeko.  Saeko's skirt had been torn
away by the shattered glass exposing her thigh holster among other things.
"SEXY UNDERWEAR!"  The thought ripped through Calcite's mind and he began to
drool.  A bullet bounced off his forehead and he shook himself.  What the hell
had just got into him?  He'd never got that distracted in a fight before. 
     Kaori stared at Calcite.  For a moment he'd looked like Ryo during his
hentai moments.  Had she just seen a bullet strike him in the head with no
effect?  "Uhm this is the Black Army.  They're a terrorist group ..."
     There was a growing pile of bodies out there.  The terrorists were firing
wildly, trying to make up for accuracy with volume.  Everytime Ryo popped in
front of the window and fired somebody fell.  "Most of the ones I see look
     "That's just a name!"
     "So what do they want."
     "Right now, revenge.  We messed up their plan to nuke Shinjuku a few
months ago.  Normally they want money, power and infamy."
     "No political agenda?"
     "Not that I ever heard of."
     "So they don't have a cause?  They're terrorists for the sake of being
     Margrave looked up from hugging the floor.  "I can relate to that."
     "I'll bet."  Calcite looked to the window.  "Think I'll lend a hand."  He
vaulted over the counter and sprinted for the window.  These clowns were
getting on his nerves.  Besides it would give him another chance to ogle
Saeko-chan.  Saeko-chan?   What the heck had got into him.  He wound up
opposite Ryo.  City Hunter looked him over.  He was getting the vibes of a
fellow sweeper.
     "Got a gun?"  Like a magician Calcite raised a hand.  Suddenly it was
full of knives, flared out like a hand of cards.  "You're never going to hit
anyone across a street firing from the third floor with a knife."
     "Oh ye of little faith."  Calcite popped in front of the window and
flung a knive.  Driven by superhuman strength it blurred across the divide.  A
man in camouflage fatigues flung up his arms then fell forward from a third
floor window.
     "Hmph."  Ryo popped up and fired once.  The bullet tore through one
terrorist, ricocheted off a parked car and dropped a second man.  He raised an
eyebrow at Calcite.
     "Hmph."  Suddenly Calcite was holding a razor edged discus.  It screamed
across the street bouncing from one target to the next and took out three
terrorists.  Before Ryo could top that Falcon put a rocket through a window on
the fourth.  Five men and a few bits were blasted into the air and splattered
onto the street.
     "Hmph!"  Both of them glared at him.  Margrave had peeked briefly over
the countertop then dropped back hurriedly.  Something was very wrong here.
If Calcite wanted to wipe out the terrorists why do it this way?  This wasn't
their world, he didn't have to worry about exposing his identity by using his
powers.  He could simply teleport into the building and take the Black Army
out from behind.  Or simply stand in the window, let their bullets bounce off
his forceshield and throw shockwaves until he'd taken them all out.  Good
grief, he wasn't even using energized or exploding weaponary.  He was playing
some sort of stupid, macho oneupmanship contest.  Which was very unlike him.
What the hell had got into him?
     Dimensional shift adjustment.  Oh shit, now she got it.  Pyrite theorized
that the time required to synch into a new world would vary with the world and
the individual.  Calcite seemed to have found his pattern for this dimension.
Frigging great.  On the bright side the gunfire from outside was petering out.
Perhaps it was almost over.
     The wall behind them exploded flinging Margrave and Kaori into the
unyielding counter.  Dimly Margrave felt someone grab her and an arm like a
steel bar crush against her throat.  She could still breathe but not easily.
Her wits snapped back and she took in her situation.  The five remaining
Black Army troopers had used a shaped charge to blow the back wall.  They'd
entered through the hole and grabbed Kaori and herself as hostages.  The
black bearded one held a gun to Kaori's head.  Her own captor had a forearm
ready to crush her throat.  That wasn't a problem, she could snap his arm
with ease.   The problem was the grenade held in his other hand.  He was
saying.  "This baby has a very short fuse.  I let go and BOOM!"  If she broke
his bones pain would make his hand open and the trigger would come off.  If
it was a very short fuse she'd never get clear in time.
     The remaining three had guns pointed at everyone else who had their own
weapons aimed squarely at the terrorists.  Standoff.
     "Drop the guns or the bitches are dead."  Margrave was finding his
assumption of her helplessness irritating.  The urge to just shatter his bones
and the hell with the consequences was growing.  Also she had the sudden
terrible feeling that someone would try something as stupid as shooting the
grenade out of his hand.  Hoping it wouldn't detonate on impact and would be
knocked far enough away before exploding.  Or Calcite might create a baseball
bat and give it a try.  This was not good.
     "Margrave ..."  Calcite didn't have any weapons visible.  "You can break
free so do it!"
     "Cal you see this grenade by my ear ...?"
     "It's under control.  Trust me."
     "Trust you?"  The phrase was a joke in the Dark Kingdom.  Nobody trusted
anybody.  Except the Renegades.  They trusted one another and worked together
easily.  It made them strong.  The secret of Calcite's control over his
subordinates Azurite and Pyrite that she'd never been able to understand.  He
hadn't trusted her back then.  Not that she was trustworthy back then.  Or was
now as far as anybody knew.  "I don't know ..."
     "Just this once."  He seemed together again.  The hentai also seemed to
under control.  His gun was pointed unwaveringly at the man holding Kaori.
     "Oh all right."
     The terrorist holding her found this amusing.  "You really think this
little slut can get away from me?  You're out of your AAAAARGHHH!"  He
screamed as Margrave snapped his forearm like a twig and dived free.  His hand
snapped open and the grenade fell free.  For about ten centimetres then it
hung in midair for a fraction of a second before exploding.  A spray of smoke,
shrapnel, blood and bone fragments highlighted a sphere surrounding the
shrieking man's hand.  Or rather the place his hand had been.  Kaori's captor
stared in disbelief and she ducked her head out of his line of fire.  Ryo's
bullet severed his trigger finger and sent the gun flying.  The remaining
three were distracted for a fateful instant.  Miki and Saeko opened fire but
it was wasted effort as one round of Falcon's cannon blasted the remains of
the other three back through the hole they'd made.  Kaori's former captor
sat there staring at his bleeding hand.
      Ryo hugged the shivering Kaori and she cried on his shoulder.
      Calcite helped Margrave up.  "You all right."
      "Just peachy.  You?"
      "I ... seem to be myself again.  I guess the sight of you in danger 
sobered me up but I don't know how long it'll last.  We should get moving
before it recurs.  Before everything went crazy I was going to tell you that
the tracker had picked up a second warp.   Ti didn't stay.   She's moved on." 
Saeko had wrapped a torniquet around the handless man's wrist.  Calcite let
the implosion sphere he'd generated collapse.  The mess it had contained
spattered onto the floor.
     "How did you do that?"
     "Ancient ninja secret?"
     "Uh huh."
     He could hear sirens in the distance.  "We have to be going."
     "Leaving so soon?"  Ryo broke free from Kaori and grabbed Margrave around
the waist.  "We were just getting acquainted!"  Kaori fumed.  Ryo dodged as
Margrave slashed at him.  She took a step toward him and sighed.
     "Oh what's the point?  He'll just dodge then grab me again."
     Calcite concentrated and forged a weapon he'd originally created to
attract Ti's interest in psychoplasm shaping.  "Try this."  He handed her the
giant mallet and Margrave grinned.  Ryo paled.
     "AAAAARGH!"  He was driven into the floor like a tentpeg.  Not
surprisingly he looked dazed.
     "That was fun."
     "It always is."  Kaori had acquired her own hammer from somewhere.
Margrave looked at Calcite. 
     "A few more minutes won't make a difference.  I owe this clown some
payback.  I'm sure I can make it worth your while ...."
     He smiled.  "Well I have to open a gate then send the probe and have it
report back ... you've got ten minutes."  She purred.  Calcite vanished and
Kaori blinked.
     "Where'd he go?"
     "Don't worry about it."  Margrave hefted her hammer.  "How about a duet."
Kaori nodded and swung her own mallet upwards.
     "Oh if I had a hammer ..."  WHAM!
     "I'd hammer down some hentais ..."  WHAM!
     "I'd hammer down some hentais ..."  WHAM!
     "All over Japan ..." WHAM!
     Ten painful, if tuneful, minutes later Calcite rematerialized.  The
police stared at him but at an order from Saeko went back to dealing with the
living and dead terrorists.  Falcon and Miki were trying to work out if
anything was salvagable.  He glanced at the crater in the ground from which
faint groans emerged.
     "Having fun?"
     "Absolutely.  Well I've gotta go Kaori-chan!"
     "Okay.  Nice working with you Margrave-chan."
     Saeko looked at the pair.  "Mind telling me just who the hell you are?"
     Calcite shrugged.  "Just a couple of tourists."
     Margrave nodded.  "And this place gets crossed off our vacation list."
They waved and disappeared.  Saeko stared openmouthed for a moment then
     "I think I'll leave them off the final report."
     Calcite and Margrave reappeared by the gate.  "That was weird.  Not to
mention dangerous."
     "Hopefully the next world's better."
     "Better find out."
     They stepped forward and vanished.
     A few hours earlier in another dimension all hell was breaking loose.
That was only partially metaphorical.
     Amano Jyaku frantically wove his forcebubble through the air to avoid the
energyblast that ripped towards them.  Megumi screamed and covered her eyes to
avoid the glare.  It had missed them this time but there were no shortage of
those tentacles all spouting those destructive bursts.  Around them demons,
humans, buildings and their own people, the manbeasts, were incinerated by
the searing rays.
     Why was this happening?  The coming of the Overfiend was supposed to
bring the three worlds together in eternal harmony!  Instead the giant
creature Nagumo had become seemed to care about nothing but destroying
everything in its' sight.  There was nothing left to unite.  The Demon and
Manbeast realms had already been destroyed.  The human realm seemed to be next
on the Overfiend's armaggedon agenda.  What in the name of all the Gods and
Devils had gone wrong? 
     They'd avoided a new burst and gained a few more moments but how much
longer could they last?  Everyone who'd attacked the Overfiend had been wiped
out in seconds!  Was this how 300 years of searching ended?
     No, he wouldn't let it.  He was Amano Jyaku, the Wandering One of Legend.
He'd think of something.  He always did.  There was a way out! 
     There had to be.
     Didn't there?
     In the midst of all this chaos it's not surprising nobody noticed the
girl who stepped out of nowhere.

End of Part 3

For a further explanation of the Black Army's previous appearance check out
City Hunter 2 #49-50 (Farewell Hard Boiled City)

Next time : Sailor Polaris vs the Overfiend.  Round one ... Place your bets!
Part 4 : The Revised Legend of the Overfiend

Sailor Polaris says : I demand a rewrite!  Right now!  I'm allergic to

Dark Kingdom Renegades : Titanite's Bogus Journey
by Mark Latus

Part 4 : The Revised Legend of The Overfiend

     Titanite stared in horror at the nightmare surrounding her.  Tokyo was
dying!  The air was filled with dense smoke from the fires and ravening energy
beams that destroyed all in their path.  Overhead small flying figures,
humanoids in almost invisible bubbles and creatures more twisted than any
youma, surged through the air to join the cloud of their fellows making a last
ditch attack on the creature than towered over the burning city.  Throwing
themselves in desperate assaults against the vast bulk of the monster.  Which
stood in the razed wasteland that had been Shinjuku just a hour earlier. 
Tentacles the size of train carriages lifted to meet them.  From the tips
energy bolts spurted at the cloud of demons and manbeasts.  The symbolism was
probably lost on those who screamed and burned to cinders.  Falling like
shooting stars to the scorched ground.  No one remained down there to wish on
     The noise was unbelievable.  There were screams, prayers, pleas for
mercy, the cries of demons, the howls of manbeasts, the thunderous crash of
toppling skyscrapers, the sizzle of energy burning through the atmosphere and
the deafening explosions as they impacted.  Rising above it all was the roar
of the Overfiend.  Beneath her feet the ground rolled and bucked under the
onslaught of constant shockwaves.
     She shook off the temporary paralysis of shock.  Try to think girl!  Two
courses of action ... reopen the gate and duck back to the last world or stay
here and play hero.  Play was the right word.  There was no way she could do
anything to stop this!  That thing looked like Godzilla's big brother!  She
didn't have a hope of scratching it.  Her brother's decision to abandon inter-
dimensional travel suddenly made a lot of sense.  Yet she could hear cries
for help!  There had to something she could do.  Gather as many people as
possible and evacuate them?  How long could she sustain a gate before the
key was drained?  What if I'm trapped here!  I don't know what to do! 
     She was panicked.  She had to calm herself and think ...  The explosion
slammed Titanite across the cratered ground.  Everything became a jumbled blur
of nightmare scenes.  She came to rest and woozily noticed her shield
fluxtuating.  She must have triggered it instinctively when the blast hit her.
She dazedly studied the debris covered ground she'd bounced over.  Without the
shield she'd have been smashed to a pulp.  It disappeared, she couldn't
maintain it long in her current state.  Her head throbbed.  She'd heal soon. 
If she had the time.  Take stock ... she was sprawled against the remaining
wall of a building.  Impossible to identify.  She was bruised and hurting but
didn't seem to have anything broken.  She ... WHERE WAS THE BAG?!  She didn't
have it!  She must have dropped it in the tumble!  The key!  She'd lost the
key.  She was trapped here!
     Don't panic!  She triggered her bracelet.  There was a pause and a
crackling noise before it activated.  Her Sailor Polaris costume replaced her
clothing.  She felt a little calmer.  Stop panicking and think like a
superheroine.  She was stuck in another dimension under attack by a giant
monster that was destroying everything.  What would Sailor Moon do in her
     Wail and scream for Tuxedo Mask to save her?
     Possibly true but not really very helpful.  She was on her own here.  It
would be hours before they found her note and came looking for her.  Okay
priorities, either find the key or stay alive long enough for a rescue.  Best
to find the key and get the hell out.  If the others had to come looking for
her they'd be endangered.  She couldn't let her stupidity make them risk
their lives.
     Tactical assessment.  Right now she seemed unnoticed in this rubblepile.
The creature had already blasted this area and seemed to be spraying areas
further away.  So she might have a degree of security.  There was no sign of
the people and creatures who'd been attacking the monster.  Had it shot them
all down?!  Think.  If this world has any similarity to an anime maybe that
would give a clue to help her survive.
     We have mass destruction and a big monster (could be a hundred shows).  A
monster equipped with very phallic tentacles ... like one of those sick
H-anime things where ... (she had a sudden sinking feeling) where the
creatures always go after schoolgirls ... schoolgirls who wear uniforms
similar to my Sailor Polaris costume.  Titanite had the sudden terrible
feeling that she'd made a very big mistake in transforming.  Without thinking
she tapped her bracelet.  It sparked twice then showed no signs of life. 
Damaged by the blast.  Great.  She was stuck like this.  There was a scraping
noise behind her.  She whirled to face it.
     The creature seemed to be a combination of toad and octopus.  A noise
like giggling trickled from the razor filled mouth that crossed its' chest.  A
dozen tentacles took the place of its arms, five on one side, seven on the
other.  Each tentacle had an unblinking eye on the tip.  All of them seemed
to be looking at her.  Titanite felt herself go cold.  It reminded her of a
youma that had attacked her back in the Dark Kingdom.  She tried to create a
forcesphere.  The air glowed between her hands but nothing substantial formed. 
Her head still ached too much to focus her TK.
     Mxzfohlk was a normal low rank demon.  A creature of lust and hatred
he enjoyed nothing more than rape, torture and killing.  Which he hadn't had
much chance to practice having been confined to the demon realm for almost
his entire existence.  By chance he'd been near one of the warpgates the
Demon Elders had punched through to Earth when the Overfiend arrived to
destroy their realm.  Free on Earth he'd begun amusing himself with mortals,
like all the other demons who'd escaped, until the Overfiend returned to
spoil the party.  The Demon Elders had lead the charge against it uniting
with the surviving Manbeasts for the first time and last time.  Not having
flight abilities Mxzfohlk had had to follow on foot.  Having watched most of
his bretheren incinerated he'd decided to disobey the Elders.  An unthinkable
action a few minutes earlier but none remained to punish him for his
disobediance.  He'd decided all that remained was to indulge himself for
however long remained.  Unfortunately the pickings had been slim in this
blasted area.  Until now!
     It was impossible to mistake the creature's interest.  Titanite was
reliving one of her most hated memories.  Nine years old, on her own in the
Dark Kingdom.  The youma that had seen her, a combination of insect and
octopus.  She hadn't known what its' look meant then.  Suddenly it was on top 
of her, tearing at her clothes and she was screaming.  Then it screamed and
was gone and Calcite was there and she was clinging to him and crying and the
monster was gone he'd killed it.  But her brother was universes away now and
there was no one to save her this time and her head was pounding like it was
going to split open!  Then it howled from lust and leaped at her.
     Titanite screamed and closed her eyes thrusting her arms at the onrushing
horror.  There was a wet noise and something spattered against her cheek.  The
howl became a gurgling noise.  She opened her eyes and stared in astonishment.
     The creature had been cut in half and black blood had sprayed everywhere.
There was quite a bit on her costume.  The blood stained the ground and the
sword she held.  Sword?  The creature's upper half glared at her in anger and
its' tentacles writhed towards her.  She slashed downwards without thinking.
The sword cut through the head and chest lengthwise.  The two halves flopped
to the ground, twitched once then were still.  Titanite looked at the blade
in confusion.
     Her right hand gripped a thin razor edged sword.  She recognised it. 
When he'd begun training her to use her powers to their fullest extent Calcite
had insisted she get some training with blades.  Memory :
     Calcite creating two blades, to a casual observer pulling them out of
thin air.
     "I don't like swords Cal!"
     "I'm not asking you to like it, just to learn it.  Now copy my stance."
     So she'd been learning, though relucantly.  The swords were as strong as
their shaper forged them.  So the thin blade had been a very durable weapon. 
But one she couldn't duplicate.  She'd learned enough to feel the pattern of
the sword but she'd been unable to replicate it.  She still couldn't generate
or shape psychoplasm.
     So where had this come from?
     No sign of Calcite. 
     But he had to be nearby!
     Unless ...
     Unless she'd created this somehow!  But that wasn't possible.  Was it?
The sword looked different ... it was fading ... becoming translucent.  She
was about to loose her only weapon.  The forging exercises!  Calcite had been
pounding them into her head lond enough.  Why couldn't she remember them?
Focus Ti, focus!
     The blade resumed its' solidarity and Titanite breathed a sigh of relief.
At least she'd stabilised it, even if she didn't know how she'd created it in
the first place.  So now what?  Perhaps leaving this place would be a good
idea.  Her attacker might have friends who'd be a little upset at his demise.
There was some good cover in the shadow off that big rubblepile.  Maybe from
there she could get her bearings, retrace her route and find where she'd
dropped the key.  It was a pretty good plan.
     She made a dash for the dubious shelter of the rubblepile.  She was
actually feeling a little confident.  She'd cracked whatever was blocking her
from accessing her psychoplasm abilities.  Whenever she needed she could
create weapons at will.  Oh really?  You don't know how you made this one and 
you don't want to repeat the experience do you?  It was that annoying voice of
reason that kept whispering in the back of her mind again.  She'd ignore it.
She could handle this world.  After all she'd survived the Dark Kingdom!  Yeah
right, you were the pampered princess of the others.  They kept you shielded
from the worst of the Kingdom because they didn't think you could handle it.
They were right, weren't they!   Titanite shut out the voice.  This was no
time for reason.  Reason said she was doomed.  She'd prefer to listen to her
emotions.  They said she was going to make everyone proud!
     Zzxfruhw (demons dislike vowels) watched the girl approach.  Anticipation
was hardening his many and varied members.  He'd seen what she'd done to
Mxzfohlk but wasn't worried.  His body was like a sack of jelly.  If she
slashed him he'd reseal the wound almost instantly.  In fact he'd let the
sword cut through to his center then solidify his body trapping it in place.
The look on her face when she found her weapon stuck would be delicious.  The
change from confusion to terror ... he couldn't wait.  He had no desire to
avenge his fellow.  All he wanted was to indulge himself.
     Titanite was almost to the heap when the creature oozed itself out of
hiding.  It had a humanoid form made of green slime.  The split tail behind
it rose up to display their bulbous ends.  It had four arms but instead of
fingers the hands were equipped with ... oh great another hentai nightmare!
When she got home she was going to identify the show this world was based on,
find the authors and slap them really hard!  The anger was keeping her fear
at bay, but how long could it last?
     "I don't know if you can understand me but back off!  I don't want to
hurt you."
     The creature tittered.  "I understand you.  I want to hurt you.  I have
such plans ..."  A prehensile tongue slithered out and began weaving through
the air.  "Here I come!"  Zzxfruhw charged forward and saw the girl raise the
sword overhead for a clumsy swing downwards.  He was looking straight at her
when he realized the shadow sweeping down on him was far too large.  He looked
up and caught a brief glimpse of a ridiculously large hammer descending. 
There was a very large squelch and Titanite was splattered with ichor.
     "Gross!"  Titanite stared at the hammer in confusion.  How and why she'd
morphed her sword into it she had no idea.  It certainly seemed to have been
effective.  Maybe things were looking up.  
     Maybe not.  Suddenly she had a very cold feeling on the back of her neck.
She turned around and felt her heart drop into her knees.  The giant was
looking right at her.  Staring down from its vantage point.  Oh God, how had
it noticed her?!  A shadow of bemusement crossed its' face.  Then its' snarl
reappeared and a tentacle twitched towards her.  At about fifty meters above
her its' tip pointed to the ground and it glowed.  Energy poured down and
everything within half a kilometre was consumed.
     Still dodging through the air the manbeast siblings named Jyaku and
Megumi Amano were still looking for an opening.  Or rather Jyaku was, Megumi
slumped in their bubble resigned to her fate.  They could well be the last of
their kind.  A condition unlikely to last much longer.  Something had
momentarily distracted the Overfiend but now it was turning its attention
back to them.  Her brother snarled and focused all his attention on the
Overfiend.  Not particularly wanting to see the executioner's death bolt
coming their way Megumi was staring at the ground and reliving everything
she ever regretted.  Which is why she saw the girl materialize out of nowhere.
     "What the fuck!  Amano ...!"
     "I'm kinda busy now sis.  I need to figure out how to rip this bastard's
heart out and shove it down his throat!"
     "Stop being so goddamn macho and listen!  That girl down there just
appeared outta nowhere!" 
     "A teleporter?  That's nuts.  Only the elders can do that and they're
all toasted!"
     "Exactly!  Whoever she is she gotta have power.  Head down and pick her
     "Forget it ... urk!"  The way she'd grabbed him guaranteed his
     "Head down and pick her up right now or I crush 'em.  I'm in a fucking
rotten mood and I still think this whole mess is your fault!"
     "You don't understand Megu ...AAAHHHH!"  She stopped squeezing and her  
brother regained his ability to speak  "...  The Overfiend's seen her ...
Look!"  Megumi looked and swore.  Five tentacles were weaving towards the 
girl.  Whoever, whatever she was, she was dead meat!  DAMNIT!  Her fists
clenched, Amano screamed and their bubble blinked out.  She let go fast and
recreated it before they fell too far.  Now she was flying it and her brother
was the one lying on the bottom doubled over. 
     Titanite fought off the dizzyness of warp sickness.  She was learning to
handle it but she still had a long way to go.  The worst of her injuries had
healed so teleportation and her shield were working again.  Hopefully the
creature thought it had got her.  Only problem was she'd used line of sight to
teleport so she'd jumped in the direction she was facing.  She'd completely
lost her bearings and had no idea where her impact point had been.  Which
meant she couldn't retrace her route and find the key.  Overhead tentacles
stopped their forward advance and began to snake backwards.  It had seen her! 
She'd have to port again.  But how long would that buy her?  How many times
could she jump before she'd exhausted her power?
     Above the city the disembodied intelligence known as the Lord of Chaos
had watched the avatar of its' ancient enemy destroy the human city.  It raged
helplessly.  It cared nothing for the humans, demons or manbeasts who died.
All it wanted was to begin the struggle anew.  But that fool manbeast who
now ran from the Overfiend's attack had disrupted the ritual to let it
incarnate itself.  Without a physical presence it could do nothing.
Munhihausen had almost finished the summoning when Amano had attacked.  Not
out of anger at the women sacrificed in the ceremony, or even at the rape of
his sister.  No, he'd been driven purely by the desire to stop anyone
interfering with the rebirth of the Overfiend.  Well he'd got his desire, the
Overfiend had manifested.  The Lord of Chaos smiled mentally.  You should have
learned wisdom from the humans manbeast, be careful what you wish for, you
just might get it.
     The ceremony had enabled it to enter this world but not to gain the
chosen host.  It had tried but was unable to possess human, manbeast or demon.
So all it could do was watch the Overfiend grow strong and break free.  It was
sure its' adversary was laughing at its' helplessness.
     That was when it sensed the spacial warp and saw the girl materialize.
Something about her felt different.  It reached out its senses and recoiled in
amazement.  What was she?  None of the three races it knew, something else,
something different.  Different ... was it possible.  It reached out again.
YES!  It had the potential for great power and its nature would make it a
suitable host.  Almost as if it had been designed to serve as a host creature
should the need arise.  It shouldn't burn out too quickly and had only
rudimentary psi defenses.  It had to act fast before the Overfiend realized
the true import of this creature.  It gathered itself and surged downwards.
     Titanite was watching the tentacles approach and picking a safe place
to jump to when something dark ripped into her mind.  Her senses began to
fade, it felt as if she was being immersed in a heavy, freezing cold, black
gel.  She wanted to scream but she couldn't.  It felt like she was drowning
in darkness.  She panicked and tried to strike out but it absorbed her blows.
The Lord of Chaos felt her fading mental shrieks with pleasure.  It had
almost finished assuming control of this mind.  Another few moments and it
would own this body.  It poured deeper into Titanite's mind past the conscious
to the core.  It felt something here.  Then something exploded out at it.
     In humans' it would be called the reptile brain.  The home of all the
ancient buried instincts.  On the two occasions it had triggered in Calcite's
brain he'd called the resulting state of mind the berserker.   This wasn't
strictly accurate, it didn't exist to destroy.  It had one imperative,
SURVIVE!  It didn't think, just reacted.  Fight or flight.  Fight was the
preference, run and it'll come after you.  Destroy it and no more threat!
Not that it thought anything that complex.
     The starled Lord of Chaos felt like a supernova had gone off in its'
metaphorical face.  It was mentally seized and held firm.  Its' power tapped
and added to the body's whole.  Titanite's conscious mind remained shunted
aside.  The survivor was in firm control. 
     Above Megumi saw the girl writhing in a seizure which stopped as suddenly
as it had started.  Her eyes snapped open and even at this distance Megumi
could see they glowed a solid, brilliant blue.  Then the tentacles poured
energy down from the sky and the girl disappeared in the glare. 
     That was it then.  Nothing was walking away from that.  She dodged their
bubble to starboard, barely dodging another burst.  Amano had unrolled a
little and had his face pressed to the bubble's bottom.  He saw the tentacles
weave away from the smoking crater.  Then the smoke blew away and he gasped
in amazement.
     The girl stood untouched in the crater.  The air around her glowed red.
She looked very pissed.  Her face twisted in rage and she raised both hands.
Each seemed to hold a sphere of light.  Both tore into the sky and each
struck a tentacle.  Which promptly exploded and ripped about halfway down
their length.  An expression of annoyance passed over the Overfiend's      
features.  Which swiftly became a bellow of anger as the other three tentacles
exploded.  The girl gave neither battlecry nor cry of triumph.  All her face
showed was a burning rage.  Titanite's undermind didn't question where all
this power had come from.  It was present, it would be used.  Trapped within
the Renegade's skull the Lord of Chaos screamed in frustration.  Energies it
had painstakingly accumulated over centuries were being squandered.  It called
for the mind binding it to listen to it.  There was no response.
    Megumi realized no blasts were being directed toward them.  The Overfiend
had turned all its attention to the greenhaired one.  A welcome respite but
she saw no way to profit from it.  They still didn't have the power to injure
the Overfiend and its' new foe didn't seem to need aid.
     The Overfiend's upper body moved.  An arm the size of the World Trade
Centre swatted down on top of the girl.  All Tokyo shook at the impact.  The
Overfiend held the hand in place for a minute then hauled it back and studied
the impact crater.  There should have been a thin sheen of widely spread
organic matter but there was nothing but dust.  It bellowed in anger breaking
the few remaining windows in the city. 
     Titanite studied it from a kilometre away.  The survivor considered
running a last resort.  This didn't mean it wouldn't retreat temporarily
before renewing attack.  With the initial rage passed the undermind began to
calculate.  It reviewed attack options.  Translated into human terms these
were : teleportation (limited because of time required to initialize jump),
ground assault (bulk of creature unreachable), new option.  Her gaze fixed on
the pair of manbeasts.  It didn't wonder about how it had either the power or
the ability to do this.  It simply acted.
     Megumi spotted the girl before the Overfiend did.  She'd created another
of those force spheres.  Instead of throwing it she held it.  She was looking
at them.  The sphere expanded to engulf the girl.  She continued studying
Megumi with the same cold expression.  Then she began floating within the
sphere.  There was no hint of success in her face as the sphere rose from the
ground.  Slowly at first, straight up.  Then she began to weave through the
air at high speed as the Overfiend saw her and tentacles began spraying energy
her way.  Deep inside Titanite thought, "I can't fly!" but the survivor mind
ignored her.
     "Stop this!  You're wasting power and that's not the real enemy!"  The
Lord of Chaos was also ignored.  It was beginning to panic.  Whatever in this
mind had grabbed it was showing no signs of slacking off.  Which meant when
the host got itself killed it wouldn't be able to flee before true death.  It
would be dragged into the darkness along with the mortal.  It began to gibber
in fear.  It wasn't fair.  What had it done to deserve this?
     Amano straightened up.  They weren't moving, Megumi was holding their
bubble steady.  Which was safe enough as right now the Overfiend's entire
attention was on the girl.  She wove around it avoiding energy bursts,
tentacles which tried to slam her physically into the ground and the massive
hands of the Overfiend.  She dodged, throwing energy spheres at the torso and
tentacles while looking for a weak point.  She had one, the creature was male.
A little pointless as it wasn't going to find any woman who could accomodate
it (unless the Satue of Liberty was anatomically correct).  The girl built
another force sphere, this one forming between both hands.  She didn't throw
it.  Instead she continued to build its power as she dodged the enraged
creature.  What was she waiting for?  Then she was in front of it and had
dropped to the level of its waist.  She fired, aiming a little lower. 
External genetalia are an excellent attack point. 
     Amano winced a little in automatic empathy.  He also held his hands over
his ears in an attempt to block out the emasculated monster's scream.  The
Overfiend's arms and tentacles waved wildly leaving itself wide open.  The
girl's bubble glowed brilliantly for a moment then plunged forward.  Straight
into the massive chest.  Literally into.  A few moments later it exploded from
the back in a spray of organics.  The creature began to topple.  Titanite
dodged to the side and hovered building a final energy sphere.  The massive
head impacted the ground and stared upwards, crippling agony written on its'
face.  Remorselessly the girl took aim.  From deep inside came the impulse to
whisper "Polaris Missile."  It was ignored and the final attack thrown in
silence.  The massive skull detonated and spread blood, bone and brain over
the wasteland.
     "YES!  She killed the bastard!  I've gotta celebrate.  Where's Mimi?  Oh
yeah she's dead.  What the hell I'll have her!  She's just my type!"
     "Your type is simpering bimbos with three braincells maximum."
     "Show me a woman who doesn't fit that description."
     Megumi looked at her brother sourly.  "You might want to rethink that.
Assuming you don't want me to break your neck.  She might not like your
opinion either and offending her would be a very bad idea."  Something she'd 
been too busy to think about struck her.  "And whose idea was it to revive the
Overfiend in the first place?"
     "Hey I'll be nice.  No woman can resist me when I turn on the charm." 
His fatuous grin vanished.  "As for the other thing ... guess the legend was
mistranslated ... should have read 'destroy' rather than 'unite in harmony'.
Hey, I didn't make it up so don't blame me!"  Megumi didn't laugh.  Actually 
if she'd been listening she'd have been more likely to rip his throat out.
"What?  It's over.  Let's land."
     "Is it?  She's just hovering.  Like she's waiting for something."
     Sure enough the girl's bubble hung in the air unmoving.  She wasn't
looking down at her handiwork.  Instead her gaze was fixed to the east.  With
the power stolen from the Lord of Chaos Titanite could see energy fields.  In
her current state she simply accepted this.  She could see what no one else
could, ties between her late foe and something else.  She had traced them
back to the souce and studied it.  The survivor mind's primal drive was
self preservation not wanton destruction so it didn't attack.  Simply waited
to see if an attack would come.  A moment of dizzyness.  Titanite was waking
up.  Its' time was limited.  There!
     Amano was the first to see the figure explode out of the rubble.  "What
the fuck is ... Akemi?"  Megumi stared.  It was Akemi Ito, girlfriend and
(very recently) lover to Tatsuo Nagumo.  Better known to them as the reborn
Overfiend.  She'd assumed Akemi dead in the slaughter but the human girl
showed no sign of trauma.  As she was nude it was easy to see there were no
injuries.  She flew through the air without concern, her skin glowing blue and
her hair floating above her head.  The other girl watched her approach without 
concern.  Simply that same cold look.
     Akemi drew level with the other and studied her for a moment.  "Well met
my ancient foe.  I did not expect you this cycle."  She waited for an answer.
"Don't you wish to exchange our usual vows of mutual destruction?  No matter.
Let us begin the dance Lord of Chaos!"
     "Hey Akemi!"  The voice came from the side.  The Lord of Chaos showed no
signs of attacking.  What was it waiting for?  No matter.  The battle would
begin soon enough.  It would initiate it if the adversary did not.  For now
it amused "her" to answer these pawns.
     "You are mistaken Amano Jyaku!  Akemi is not here.  Except in body."
     Megumi sighed.  Her brother had a lot of power but could be a bit
deficient when it came to brains.  "Akemi's not home.  Something's controlling
     "You are correct Megumi.  I had been forced to operate through my chosen
avatar which limited me greatly.  But now conception has taken place I have
assumed control of my mother."
     "Mother?  Avatar?  Who ... what are you?"
     "The one you have searched for these past two centuries.  I am the
     "Bullshit!"  Amano didn't look happy.  "Nagumo was the Overfiend and he's
dead.  Good riddance I say."
     Akemi's head shook.  "Nagumo was not the Overfiend.  Merely my avatar.  I
touched his ancestral line to create the individual I needed.  One who could
absorb some of my power and be changed by it.  Changed sufficently to father
my new incarnation.  Akemi was suitable to serve as mother though many women
would have served."
     "Hold it!  If you're the Overfiend and Nagumo was just your servant then
why were you letting him run amuck?  He's destroyed our realm and the demons
and wiped most of us out.  Before that goddess or whatever she is stopped him
he was set on torching the human world as well."
     "He was not running amuck.  He served my will."
     "I intend to build a new world.  But if I built it on the existing ones
all their problems would carry over to blight my paradise.  So I shall raze
them all and begin with a blank slate.  You will have the paradise you sought.
Or rather those who come after you will dwell in paradise.  You are of the old
world and have no place in the utopia I shall build."
     Amano's face looked like all the blood had drained away.  In a whisper
he muttered.  "No!  That's ... that's not what I wanted?"

     "Do you think I care what you or any mortal wants?  I am a god and I act
as one.  What is the death of a single mortal, or a thousand or of billions
to me?  You are mayflies, you begin dying the moment you are born.  It is the
only certainty in your existence.  You have served me well though you did not   
know it.  You protected my avatar so he could survive long enough to father
me.  So I shall make your end painless once I have concluded matters."  She
looked down at the giant sprawled body and shook her head.  "It is vexed that
the avatar is no more.  Now I shall have to purge the world myself.  Perhaps
I shall wait until my host form is incubated, operating through my mother
limits me."
     "So you're not invincible!"  Amano's eyes glowed and Akemi chuckled.
     "You cannot beat me.  I merely meant it would take longer as I can focus
only limited amounts of power through this form without burning it out."
     Amano stopped building energy.  She was right, he could feel her power
from here.  "Maybe I can't beat you but she's on our side!"  Titanite gave no 
sign of acknowledgement.  Undetered he continued, "She's already trashed your
precious avatar."
     "You are a fool Amano Jyaku.  Still that is no surprise merely a
statement of fact."  Despite their desperate situation Megumi giggled and her
brother glared.  "She is possessed by the Lord of Chaos.  Who cares no more
for mortals that I.  I intend to build a world of purity and order.  The Lord
of Chaos seeks to maintain the status quo.  It prefers things to remain the
same chaotic mess they always were.  This is not about good and evil, this is
order vs chaos."  Yet something was very different this time.  Through the
expanded senses it had gifted its' host body with the Overfiend studied its'
unmoving opponent.  Then it began to laugh.
     "I was wrong wasn't I Lord of Chaos?  You don't possess this body!  It
possesses you!"  The Overfiend broke into wild laughter for a moment.  Still
chuckling it continued.  "A god bound by a mortal.  I would not have believed
even you could be so sloppy.  This will be easier than I expected."  The
mortal showed no signs of attacking.  Probably all her attention was on
maintaining control of the raging Lord of Chaos.  Without warning Akemi raised
her hands and poured energy at Titanite.  Or rather the place she had occupied. 
The Overfiend had a fraction of a second to realize it had missed before Akemi
was struck from behind.
     Titanite had not been idle during this time.  Her senses were also
expanded by the presence of the Lord of Chaos.  In her current state of mind
this was not questioned, simply accepted.  She saw the being before was
controlled by a second entity.  Which resided within the body of the first.  A
plan of attack was conceived and stored should the need arise and preparations
made.  Within the mind Titanite's consciousness stirred but thought herself
dreaming.  The Lord of Chaos bellowed to attack immediately and was ignored.
     The host body raised its hands with inhuman speed.  Slow motion to the
enhanced survivor mind.  It triggered the prepared jump as the new enemy
channelled energy and fired.  Materializing directly behind the Overfiend she
fired a point blank burst into the host.  There hadn't been time to build
power to inflict major damage but no matter.  It would disorientate which was
the point.  Not that she considered this, she simply acted.
     The manbeasts saw Akemi's body spin through the air.  The girl followed
and grabbed her, wrapping her hands around Akemi's abdomen.  The Overfiend
raged.  "Fool you cannot breach my skin and I can repair any internal damage
you cause."  There was no reply and nothing seemed to happen.  Yet suddenly
Akemi struggled wildly and her body began leaking.
     Modulated shockwaves poured through the Overfiend's shield into Akemi's
body.  Not powerful enough to cause damage they caused her skeleton to vibrate
in sympathy.  What was it doing? Those waves couldn't hurt it and it could 
easily repair before the damaged cumulated sufficently.  Akemi's bladder
released under the shaking.  Messy but irrelevant ... suddenly the Overfiend
knew it wasn't irrelevant.  It had to break free now.  Akemi's bowels released
and it struggled frantically.  This couldn't happen!  A god couldn't lose to a
mortal!  Then the menstral cycle triggered and the Overfiend howled as its
foothold on the mortal plane was washed away in a flood of blood.  The
actual moment of conception had been less than an hour earlier, all that
existed in Akemi's womb was a microscopic bundle of a few cells.  It's
questionable what followed could be called a miscarriage.
     Blank eyed, Akemi remained hovering, supported by residual power.  The
blood never reached the ground.  As it poured down Titanite built an energy
sphere and fired.  The blood vaporised and they all heard the psychic scream
as the Overfiend lost the last vestige of a hold upon the mortal world.
     Megumi pumped her fists in the air.  "YES!  She did it!"
     "Did what exactly?"  Amano looked happy but confused and his sister shook
her head. 
     "You can be very dim sometimes.  Oh shit!" 
     The glow around Akemi vanished and she began to fall.  She made neither
outcry nor protest, simply plummeted to certain death.  An impulse from the
higher mind touched the survivor.  It plunged after Akemi and reached her.
Matching her speed she cradled the catotonic girl in her arms and began to
decelerate.  She touched down and her bubble vanished.  After a moment's
thought Megumi followed.
     "Hey, I've changed my mind.  Let's give her as wide a berth as possible."
     "You think we can escape her if she wants us dead?  She hasn't killed us
yet so that's a good sign.  Besides Akemi needs help and we helped get her
into this mess."
     Amano snorted.  "Since when have you given a damn about humans.  I told
you falling for Takeaki was gonna mess you up but you didn't listen ..."  He
trailed off at the look on his sister's face.
    "Listen well brother as I will only say this once.  Our world and people
are gone!  We may be all that remain of the manbeasts.  If it hadn't been for
your obsessive search for the Overfiend, which you dragged me into, the demons
would have killed Nagumo before he changed and none of this would have
happened.  Nagumo would have lived and died the same lecherous little jerk ,
Akemi would be still be a happy innocent girl and Takeaki ... "  Her voice
wavered for a moment then resumed the same barely controlled rage.  "...
Takeaki would still be alive and normal.   The only reason I don't kill you
for this is the Overfiend implied it was manipulating you all along.  So now
I am going to do all I can to help put things back together.  You are going
to help me or you are going to die.  Is that quite clear."
     "Ye ... yes Ma'am."  When had Megumi got so fucking scary?  He definitely
wasn't going to cross her anytime soon.  Megumi touched down a few metres from
the girl.  She watched them but didn't react.  She still held Akemi cradled
in her arms.  Ignoring the blood staining one formerly white glove.  Megumi
popped her forcebubble.  Then slowly raised both hands, empty palms outward.
She hadn't been vaporized yet.  That had to be a good sign.
     Another watched them from the shadows.  Sarnithal (one of the few who
prefered having a name humans could pronounce having realized it simplified
being summoned) was the last surviving demon elder.  A condition he owed to
either prudence or cowardice.  He hadn't joined in the assault on the supposed
Overfiend.  He'd prefered to lie low.  Now both the monster and the Overfiend
were dead and he was the most powerful demon in the world.  He'd also learned
the power of the Lord of Chaos could be possessed.  He didn't know what it was
but it was certainly effective.  Once he possessed this girl it would be his. 
Neither the girl nor the manbeasts had noticed him.  His camouflage was
perfect.  Excellent!
     Megumi had taken a step forward when the demon surged from concealment.
She froze in momentary surprise at the brief glimpse of onrushing demon.  Very
brief glimpse.  Before it was halfway to Titanite she'd aimed a hand without
looking.  Sarnithal didn't have time to scream before he was incinerated.  
Akemi stayed fixed in the same place as though both arms were still cradling
her.  Megumi swallowed hard then stepped forward slowly.  Trying to seem as
nonthreatening as possible.
     "Okay, I'm not your enemy ... You haven't zapped me yet which is a good
sign ... that demon took me by surprise but not you ... so you already knew it
was there ... but you didn't blast it until it attacked ... I'm hoping that
means you only destroy threats ... I'm not a threat ... I just want to take
care of Akemi ..."  She'd reached the girl, younger than she'd expected.  The
glowing blue eyes met hers.  "... Please?"  A momentary pause then the girl
passed her burden to Megumi's outstretched arms.  Akemi gave no sign of
awareness.  Megumi backed away holding the human girl gently.  That was when
her brother strode forward.
     "Nice move babe I am truly impressed!  I've always loved strong women
and I want to help you celebrate your victory traditionally ..."  He trailed
off.  She was looking at him with no sexual interest.  All her face held was
that same merciless expression she'd been wearing when she destroyed Nagumo.
He backed away as quickly as pride would allow.  "Yeah you're right this isn't
the right place.  The ambiance is all wrong ..."  She raised a hand and Amano
began sweating.
     About two kilometres away the bag Titanite had dropped twitched.  A small
sphere appeared around it then rose into the air carrying its contents along.
The sphere arrived in Titanite's outstretched hand and promptly vanished.
Her conscious mind was reasserting itself and more impulses were leaking
through.  The urge to find the bag was felt and acted upon.  Amano noticed the 
blue glow in her eyes flicker momentarily.  The survivor mind was being
pushed back by the reawakening consciousness.  Which meant it would be unable
to protect itself or contain the invader.  Thoughts swirled and a course of
action was chosen.  Megumi saw the glow flickering faster then the girl
     Titanite reappeared at her original arrival point.  The gatepoint of this
world.  Mechanically she took out the key, punched in a new code and threw the
probe through.  One task remained.  She looked inward.  The Lord of Chaos,
weakened by the expenditure of most of its' available power felt itself
moving.  The mental chains binding it seemed to be weakening.  Suddenly they
tightened and it was being crushed.  Psychic pressure forced it to the surface
of the mind.  There!  A way out.  The Lord of Chaos exploded through the
opening tearing away from Titanite.  It had escaped!  Free!  It sped away from  
her as swiftly as possible before she attempted to recapture it.
     Mission accomplished ... this is a weird dream ... wasn't I doing
something?  I don't ... "  The probe returned and she automatically snapped
it into reader.  Survivable conditions.  The glow in her eyes was flickering
faster now as she woke up.  As its last action the undermind widened the gate
and stepped forward.  It collapsed almost immediately behind her.
     It was some hours later when a new gate opened on the site.  Immediately
on taking on the surroundings Calcite and Margrave fell into defensive
stances.  This place looked like a warzone.  Smoldering wrecked buildings,
the scents of blood and death everywhere, carnage as far as the eye could see
and the corpse of a giant ... something sprawled a few kilometers away. 
     After a moment Margrave said, "I hate to say this but Titanite's scent
goes straight toward that thing."
     "Somehow I'm not surprised."  The two advanced cautiously.  Halfway there
the scent stopped dead.  Margrave looked upward in confusion.
     "Crazy as it sounds it seems to up.  Looks like there was an explosion of
some sort here.  Must have disrupted the scent trail."  She sniffed the air
and frowned.  "The odor off that thing is masking all the scents further on.
Speaking of which I see two people camping by the thigh ..." A third dropped
out of the air to join the other two.  "... make that three."
     "I see them ... I'm reading their auras and only one of them is human."
     "What are the other two?"
     "I have no idea."
     "I see.  Well they aren't concealing themselves so ..."  Margrave's human
glamour melted away, "..might as well use my own face."
     "This isn't our continuum so there's no risk of exposure.  Besides if
they aren't pretending to be human why should we?"  There was a certain logic
to that.  Besides if this world had been a disaster area when Ti arrived she
probably shifted to Sailor Polaris.  So he might as well make the resemblance
obvious.  His hair shifted from blonde to its' natural green.  Margrave
nodded.  "A definite improvement.  By the way how long until your tracker
can say if she opened another gate?"
     "About fifteen minutes."
     "Then why don't we have a cautious word with the threesome.  I'm curious
just what that thing is and I'd like some answers.  Besides maybe they saw
Ti."  She didn't wait for a reply before loping off.  Calcite followed
     A little earlier Megumi had been sitting before the fire she'd built
studying Akemi.  She'd draped her jacket around the human girl and leaned her
against a fragment of freestanding wall.  Akemi didn't return her gaze, she
had the same vacant look she'd worn since the Overfiend was purged.  There was
no sign of awareness.  Perhaps her personality had been erased by the
Overfiend and all that remained was a vegetable.  Ugly thought but a definite
possibility.  She sensed a flightbubble approaching.  Amano was back.
     "Good news!"
     "You found a hospital or somewhere we can take Akemi?"
     "Huh ... uh no I found an intact conveniance store so I was able to snag
some beer."  He held up a sixpack."  Megumi forced herself not to go for his
throat and tried again.
     "You do remember why we sent you out in the first place?"
     "Yeah, yeah.  There's field hospitals set up on the perimiter.  About
ten kilos thataway.  Looks like there's a mix of local emergency services,
SDF and US service personnel.  I overheard them saying they're diverting
planeloads of UN peacekeepers here to lend a hand.  And that's still not going
to be enough.  Bottom line is they're swamped as it is so there's not a
helluva lot of point in dropping Akemi off.  She's not critical and that's all
they're treating right now.  Even so they're losing people left and right
cause they don't have enough supplies or manpower.  They're  talking 50,000-
100,000 seriously injured alone.  Fatalities are something ridiculous.  Face
facts, if you want Akemi taken care off you're stuck with the job for the time
being.  What?
     "We have company!"  The two who were approaching weren't humans and
didn't seem to be demons.  So what were they?
     "She a manbeast?  Sorta looks like one of us ..."
     "I don't know but that guy looks like ..."
     "Yeah, he does.  Better not upset him right?"
     Amano nodded at the man.  "You don't have a younger sister by any
     "Matter of fact I'm looking for her."
     "You're a little late.  She vanished some time back.  I mean that
     Sounded like Ti had moved on to another world.  As soon as they had a
lock they'd follow.  "Was she all right?"
     "All right.  She was incredible!  I mean the way she took down the
Overfiend when nothing else could even scratch it.  Fantastic!"
     Amano waved a hand behind him.  "Yeah and the big guy here."
     "Wait a minute!"  Calcite felt his sense of reality slipping.  "She beat
that thing?"
     "Yeah.  First she blows his balls off ..."  Titanite?  "... punches
through his heart and then blasts his head to pulp!"  What the hell?
     "This girl you saw ... green hair?"
     "White and yellow costume looking a little like a schoolgirl uniform?"
     "Called herself Sailor Polaris?"
     "Uhh ... actually I never heard her say anything."
     That didn't sound like Ti but the rest of the description fit.  So how
the hell could she have beat that?  Margrave snuggled up close and whispered,
"Maybe your powers are more effective here.  Feel particularly godlike?"
     Quietly, "No."
     "Better not let them know!"  Margrave stayed draped around him.  In case
things went bad she hoped to be close enough to be behind Calcite's shield.
To Amano she asked, "So what is an Overfiend anyway."
     Several minutes of explanations later Calcite was asking, "So you thought
it was a good idea to wake up something called the Overfiend?"
     "Looking back the name should have tipped me off but hindsight's always
20/20.  It made sense at the time."  Calcite decided to drop the subject, he
wasn't looking to start a fight.  Something caught his attention. 
     "Has it been blistering like that all along?"
     "Huh?  Oh fuck!"  A discoloured oval about two meters long had formed on
the giant thigh about five metres up.  Something inside it moved.  Megumi
snarled and built power.  So did her brother.  A hand tore through the skin
followed by a human arm.  In quick succession a torso and head followed.
Amano's power field blinked off.  "No way ... it can't be."  The nude figure
ripped free and fell.  Amano surged upwards and caught it.  Megumi's jaw
dropped.  It couldn't be!
     Amano touched down.  "In the flesh.  How about that?  Hey Nagumo, how
you doing?"  No reply.  "Yeah, well ... look I'm sorry about getting you
turned into a monster so you knocked up Akemi then killed half the folks in
Tokyo but the Overfiend was messing with both of us so it's not really my
fault.  So let's just drop it okay?  'Less said, soonest mended', right?  Hey,
you want a beer?"  His mind and soul destroyed by the atrocities he'd both
witnessed and committed Nagumo didn't reply.
     Megumi slapped her brother with paranormal strength.  "What the fuck you
do that for?"
     "You swaggering asshole!  You never take responsibility for anything!"
     "Hey I was manipulated!"
     "Oh really?  If you'd never decided to chase that lousy legend none of
this would have happened!  Thanks to you our race is probably extinct, most of
Tokyo is rubble, I've wasted years helping you search, lost the man I loved,
been raped by demons ..."
     "You like that!"
     "Only occasionally!  And only if I get to vaporize the SOB afterwards."
     Margrave stared at the girl in amazement.  People thought her behaviour
was extreme?  She was beginning to feel very conservative.
     "So it's my fault you're a slut?"
     "You heard me!"
     "Take it back!"
     "Bite me!"
     Megumi's face shifted, becoming more animalike.  She flashed her fangs. 
"Don't tempt me!"
     "All talk, no action!"  His sister snarled.  Calcite and Margrave looked
at one another.  Then by unspoken agreement Calcite teleported them back to
the gatepoint.  No one noticed them leave. 
     The tracker had logged the new gate.  Calcite opened it and tossed the
probe through.  Margrave shook her head.  "I think it would be a good idea to
skip this world on the way back."
     "I agree with you.  But it'll be safer to run the circuit."  He glanced
over to the campsite.  Two powersources were building.  Looked like the verbal
battle was about to escalate. 
     "Dangerous kids."  
     "That's what I don't get.  They're manifesting power at about Kunzite's
level ... but Ti's nowhere near that strong and she took out a creature they
couldn't even scratch."
     "A definite mystery.  We'll have to ask her."
     "Let's hope she's still on the next world.  Speaking of which the probe
says we'll be fine."
     "Namely we can exist there without trouble.  But there might be giant
monsters or who knows what else on the other side."
     "Would you rather stay here?"  Two large translucent spheres had risen
from the campsite.  The figures inside began their battle.
     "No, let's go!"  As they stepped forward she added, "Wonder where we'll
end up this time?"
     Elsewhere, a few hours earlier:
     For a change Ranma and Akane were walking together quietly.  They were
neither squabbling nor ignoring each other.  There was no sign of Ranma's
other fiancees, Akane's wouldbe suitors, martial artists bent on challenging
Ranma due to something his father did/didn't do.  No one was trying to abduct
Akane or kill Ranma.  In short everything was peaceful and both were enjoying
the peace.  It wouldn't last but they intended to savour every moment of it.
Ranma was wondering about the fact that he was enjoying Akane's company and
not saying anything to set her off.  He was considering if he should take her
hand.  Akane was realizing she appreciated Ranma's company when he didn't act
like a jerk (a very rare occurance indeed).  She was wondering how to respond
if he tried to take her hand.  Ranma's hand twitched towards hers then stopped
dead.  Both Akane and Ranma screeched to a halt
     A girl had just appeared in front of them.  A girl wearing a somewhat
stained costume that Akane recognised as looking from something out of the
Sailor Moon TV Show.  Ranma also recognised the source, it was impossible to
avoid the merchandising.  Behind the mask her eyes seemed to glow blue but
this flickered out and was replaced by perfectly normal blue eyes.  She seemed
to become aware of her surroundings then stared at them as if thunderstruck. 
She started towards them.
     Akane sighed inwardly but with resignation rather than any really
surprise.  She should have known they'd never get through the day without
anything weird happening.

End of part 4

Next:  It's a normal day in Ranma Saotome's Nerima which means the usual
       comedy of errors

Part 5 : Much Ado About Everything    

Dark Kingdom Renegades : Titanite's Bogus Journey
by Mark Latus

Part 5 : Much Ado About Everything

    Titanite was in an unusual state of mind.  Mentally and physically
exhausted by the effort of controlling the Lord of Chaos she was on the verge
of collapse.  She was also riding on the last vestiges of her undermind's
ferocity which was keeping her going.  Add to this the euphoria of thinking
she'd achieved her quest and you have one very confused young lady. 
    Which was why, very uncharacteristically, she surged forward, grabbed
Ranma by his shirt and hauled him off the ground.  Ranma was, not that
surprisingly, rather startled.  The girl had appeared right in front of them,
her eyes briefly a solid glowing blue before becoming an ordinary pair of blue
eyes.  She'd shown a remarkable turn of speed in grabbing him and was now
holding him overhead at arms' length with one hand and no sign of strain.
     "You're Ranma Saotome, right?"  Ranma nodded automatically.  He was
beginning to suffer a recurrance of matrimoniphobia, an extremely rare
fear that any new girl you meet will turn out to have been engaged to you
during your mutual childhoods. 
     "Excuse me ..."  Akane tapped Titanite on the shoulder.  She was a bit
ticked off.  They'd actually been getting along for a change until this girl
had shown up.  Now it seemed Ranma had either acquired a new fiancee or a new
challenger.  The girl's gaze snapped in her direction.
     "You're Akane Tendo?  His fiancee?  The one who's not sure about him?"
     "Uhhh ... yes ... well our parents set the whole thing up without asking
us ..."  She nodded and turned back to Ranma.  He'd been trying unsuccessfully
to pull his shirt out of her grasp.  It wasn't budging.  He could tear himself
free but he'd rather not ruin his favorite shirt.  She hadn't done anything
to him except haul him around like a sack of potatoes so he didn't feel the
need to break her grip by violent means.  He didn't like hitting girls anyway.
Besides if she could haul him around this easily she had to be very strong.
Suppose he tried to break free in front of Akane and failed?  He'd look like a
weakling!  She was looking at him again.
     "You turn into a girl whenever you touch cold water and hot water changes
you back?"  How'd she know that?  Okay so it wasn't one of the best kept
secrets around he still thought he knew the identities of everyone who knew
about it.
     "Umm ..."  She began to shake him.
     "YES OR NO!"
     "Yes!"  The annoyed expression vanished to be replaced by a wide grin.
     "YES!  I made it!  Success!"  The grin faded abruptly as the adrenaline
wore off and exhaustion hit her.  "But now I need a little rest."  She toppled
over backwards maintaining her deathgrip on Ranma's shirt.  She hit the
ground backfirst dragging Ranma down with her.  Not wanting to crash on top of
her Ranma reacted instinctively.  His hands slammed into the pavement
absorbing the shock of impact.  Supported by his arms he hung over her face to
face.  She seemed to be unconscious and was looking a lot cuter than she had
while waving him around.  She looked a bit younger than he'd first thought,
14-15 somewhere in that range.  She didn't look familiar which was good as
that reduced the chances she was some childhood friend turned fiancee.  Unless
the old man had set something up while they were toddlers which was always a
possibility.  No, that was unlikely.  He was at least a year older than her
and all the other candidates were his own age. 
     "RANMA!"  Akane's voice banished his speculations, she sounded very
angry.  He turned to look and gulped.  Akane was surrounded by a glowing blue
aura, she was royally pissed.
     "Akane!  Why ... why are you looking so mad.  You saw her, she just
grabbed me ..."  Ranma's voice trailed off as a terrible realization struck.
His right hand was resting on the cold ground and the locked arm bearing all
his weight.  His left hand was simply lying on something warm and soft.  With
a sinking sensation he looked towards it.  Sure enough it was resting on
Titanite's chest.  He was sweating as he looked back at Akane, the glow was
intensifying.   "... It ... it was an accident ... her grip threw me off ...
I was aiming for the ground ... Akane! ... why ... why are you looking at me
like that ... WAIT!"  Akane had acquired a hammer and was raising it for the
     Ranma made a faint "eep" as it belatedly struck him that he should have
moved his hand before starting his explanation.  Then Akane struck him
     Having pummelled Ranma mercilessly Akane calmed down a bit.  Both Ranma
and the girl were out of action.  She'd fainted and he was severely concussed. 
She recognised the signs from past experience.  Perhaps she'd overreacted a
bit, it could have been an accident on his part.  After all he hadn't asked
the girl to grab him in the first place.  Who was she anyway, and why was she
dressed like someone out of "Sailor Moon"?  Akane knew the show was aimed at
preteens but watching it was a guilty pleasure.  Ranma had stopped making fun
of her for being a fan after she'd shoved the first ten volumes of the manga
down his throat.  She didn't recognise this particular costume (who wore a
yellow skirt?) but the resemblance ... was that blood on her gloves?  There
were a number of other weird stains on the outfit.  Come to think of it she
had seemed to appear out of nowhere.
     At any rate she should do something about them.  She couldn't just leave
them sprawled on the sidewalk.  She didn't know the girl was a threat.  In
fact knowing Mr. Saotome's habit of leaving a trail of broken promises and
bilked debtors across both Japan and China she could well have a legitimate
greivance.  Fortunately it wasn't far too Dr. Tofu's clinic.  But she couldn't
carry both of them.  Perhaps she should have had Ranma carry the girl to the
clinic before pounding him.  What to do?
     By a strange coincidence (of which there was never a shortage in Nerima)
she saw a familiar travelweary figure wandering past.  He didn't notice her,
just kept plodding along.
     "Ryoga!"  That got his attention.
     "Akane-san?!  What are you doing in Hokkaido?"
     "Uhhh ... this is Nerima, Ryoga-kun."  Poor guy, he had no sense of
direction.  But this was apparently inherited so it was hardly his fault.  As
he was a little sensitive about it she was careful not to make light of the
fact.  Not like that jerk Ranma, he didn't deserve a friend like Ryoga.
     "Oh ... are you sure?"
     "Yes but it's a simple mistake to make."
     "Yes ... they both look identical don't they?"  True assuming you'd been
blind from birth.  Ryoga gave an awkward laugh.  "What can I do for you
     "Actually I need some help."
     "Of course.  I'm always ready to help you."
     "Thank you, you're a good friend.  I wish Ranma was more like you." 
Akane missed seeing Ryoga's smile become a lot more brittle.  She indicated
the pair on the sidewalk and Ryoga noticed them for the first time.
     "Ranma and ... YET ANOTHER WOMAN!  Fear not Akane I will avenge your
honour ..."  She cut him off.
     "That's kind of you but it may be unnecessary.  I don't know who she is
yet.  She appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Ranma then collapsed."
     "Oh.  Then what happened to Ranma?"
     Akane blushed.  "Well ... I did.  I overreacted to him and the girl."
     "Perfectly understandable."
     "Thank you.  Anyway I thought I'd better have Dr. Tofu have a look at
them.  If I carry the girl can you bring Ranma?"
     "Certainly.  I'm always ready to help you Akane ..."  He trailed off and
as he often did looked like he had something to say but had become tonguetied.
Akane broke the awkwardness by stooping down and scooping up the girl.
     "Just follow me Ryoga-kun."  He nodded.  Now he was a nice guy, always a
gentleman.  Not like Ranma with his habit of walking in on her when she was
changing or having a bath. 
     Behind her back Ryoga grabbed the comatose Ranma's ankles and began
hauling him along the street.  When they were almost at the clinic he stopped
to pick Ranma up and toss him over his shoulder.  Pity the ground hadn't been
     After exchanging greetings with Dr. Tofu (during which she was careful
not to mention Kasumi's name) Akane put the girl on the examination room's
table and reentered the waiting room.  Ranma was sprawled over the couch and
Dr. Tofu was finishing his examination.
     "Well Akane, it looks like the usual head injuries.  Temporarily
incapacitating but otherwise not threatening.  Luckily your fiance has a very
thick skull.  Aside from them and a bald spot on the back of his head he's
     "Bald spot?" 
     "It looks like it was friction induced.  Know anything about it?"
     "No, it's a complete mystery to me."  Neither noticed Ryoga trying to
look innocent.
     "Well there could be a lot of explanations.  Ranma leads a fairly ...
adventurous life.  In the meantime I'd better examine our guest."  Dr. Tofu
stepped into the examining room and decided not to close the door.  Best to
have witnesses rather than be alone with an unconscious girl these days.
According to Akane she'd collapsed after hefting Ranma with one hand.  So
she'd fallen with their combined weights.  Her back had taken most of the
impact but her head had struck the ground.  He ran his fingers through the
hair to the skull.  First rate dye job, it was green down to the roots.  No
trace of any other color.  Minor abrasions on the skin.  Very minor.  No sign
of trauma.
     He carefully rolled her on her side and examined her back.  The leotard
like outfit she wore was intact.  Gentle probing encountered only minor
bruising.  No sign of dislocation or damage to the spine or other bones.  Her
pulse was strong, still he'd better listen to her heart.  Locating his
stethoscope he put it to her chest ... and heard nothing.  He grabbed her
wrist again, the pulse continued regularly.  So why didn't he hear her heart? 
He moved the stethoscope over her chest ... ah here it was.  Why was it over
there?  Some sort of congenital defect?  She certainly seemed healthy enough
and there was no sign of deformity.  Strange.   
     She seemed to be resting comfortably.  As a final thought he decided to
check her reflexes.  He poked a pressure point on her arm.
     Nothing happened.  Frowning he tried another.  Still no reaction.  What
was going on?  A little experimentation determined the girl had none of the
usual pressure points.  Or rather she had them but the locations were all a
bit off.  For all these abnormalities she seemed to be in very good shape.
It looked more like she was asleep rather than unconscious.  The bloodstains
on her gloves appeared to be from menstrual discharge rather than the result
of traumatic wounding.  So she probably hadn't been hurting anyone.
     Half an hour passed.  Akane stayed saying she'd wait until Ranma awoke
as she wanted an immediate explanation from him.  Ryoga stayed to keep Akane
company.  They talked to pass the time.  Or rather Akane talked, detailing
Ranma's many failings as a guest and a fiance.  Ryoga just made sympathetic
noises and glared at Ranma silently vowing to pay him back for all he'd done
to Akane.  The girl slept on undisturbed and Dr Tofu caught up on some
paperwork.  There was a groan and Ranma stirred.  "My aching head ..."
     Ryoga grabbed him by the throat and began shaking him back and forth. 
"Ranma you fiend!  How dare you betray Akane with another girl.  Especially
one so young!"  Ranma's reply was rather incoherent, this wasn't the best way
to wake up.  Akane put a hand on Ryoga's arm.
     "Ryoga, please wait.  Let's give him a chance to explain."  Ryoga flushed
and released Ranma.  It took his dizzy victim a few minutes to compose
himself.  Dr Tofu gave him a quick look over.
     "How are you feeling?"
     "Headache and shaken up, otherwise okay.  What happened to me anyway?
Oh right, I remember now.  That macho tomboy went berserk again."
     "Please Akane, no fighting in the clinic."
     "Sorry Tofu-sensei.  Okay Ranma what's the story on her?"  She jabbed a
thumb at the sleeping girl. 
     "How should I know.  She just showed up and grabbed me ..."
     Ryoga sneered, "We're supposed to believe that Ranma?"
     "That's what happened.  You'd know that if you'd been there P-chan!"
     "Please Ryoga."  Akane stepped between the two.  "Ranma stop picking on
Ryoga."  Ranma seemed to think it was funny to keep calling Ryoga her pet's
name which Ryoga took as a serious insult.  Why was Ranma so immature?  "Now
explain yourself, Ranma!"
     "Explain what?  I've never seen her before in my life!"
     "So she just happened to know who you are?"
     "Yeah!  Matter of fact she knew who you were too!"  Akane frowned, Ranma
was right, the girl had called her by name. 
     "Are you being honest?"
     "Akane I swear I've never met her before.  It's possible this is another
of Pop's old scams coming back to haunt the Saotomes but I don't know anything
about it."  He sounded sincere and he'd never actually lied to her.  Weaseled
out of telling her things and let her jump to conclusions but never told her a
deliberate untruth.  His sense of honour wouldn't allow that.
     "So I guess she's the only one who can explain what all this is about."
There was a yawn and they turned to see the girl sit up and stretch.  Her eyes
still closed she muttered, "It can't be time for school already."
     "Excuse me young lady ..."  She tensed and her eyes snapped open.  Then
her jaw dropped as she took in the group.
     "Ranma, Akane, Ryoga and Dr. Tofu!  Wow!"  She grinned like an idiot.
Before anyone could address her she said, "I made it.  Question is is this
the anime or the manga version?"  What the heck was she talking about?  She
seemed to realize something and suddenly glanced at herself pulling a lock of
her hair before her eyes.  "Ah! ... You're wondering about the clothes and
hair, right?"  As an afterthought she removed her mask.
     "Among other things!"  Akane's voice was dry.  "Mind telling us who you
are and how you know who we are when we know nothing about you?"
     "I know this stuff because I'm a fan but that doesn't really answer your
question, does it?"  She didn't wait for an answer.  "This is a little tricky
to explain ... does the name "Sailor Moon" mean anything to you?"
     Ranma snorted.  "Are you kidding?  Is there anywhere in Japan you can
avoid seeing that loathsome show?  OW!"  He glared at Akane.  "What'd you do
that for?"
     Titanite tried to think how to explain this.  "First I need to get my
bearings.  Excuse me Ryoga ... sorry I should call you Hibiki-san ..."  It
was simpler to address people when they only had a single name.  Full name
except with close friends and family when abbreviation was okay.  Had anyone
in the Dark Kingdom other than their little group done the latter?  Probably
not, who else would have been close enough.  Possibly Kunzite and Zoisite and
that was it.  Kunz and Zoi?  Yick.  She was getting sidetracked again, Ryoga
was waiting for her.  "Hibiki-san do you have a girlfriend named Akari?"
     Ryoga felt himself panic, she'd blown the secret of his feelings for
Akane!  Sure he wanted Akane to know how he felt but he wanted to be the one
who told her.  Now ... wait a second she hadn't said Akane!  "Who?"
     "Akari."  The girl looked a little unsure.  "At least I think I got the
name right.  You know the one who raises giant sumo wrestling pigs?"
     Everyone was staring at her now.  "Giant sumo wrestling pigs?!" 
     "Never heard of her, huh?  Guess this is the anime, not the manga
version.  Or it just hasn't happened yet."  She realized Akane had backed
away involuntarily.  "Uh ... I'm not crazy."  Akane looked unconvinced. 
"Look at it this way, is the idea any stranger than any of the other stuff
that's happened around here."
     Akane thought about it.  "Well no, not really."  At which point Dr. Tofu
handed Titanite a glass of water.
     "You sound a little hoarse and I suspect you have a lot to say."
     "Thank you sensei."  She took a sip then continued.  "How to explain this

... okay to you Sailor Moon's just a TV series right?"  Ranma and Akane
nodded, Ryoga didn't see much TV due to his constant wandering and looked
blank.  "Where I come from it's real.  There are real Sailor Senshi ..."  A
little white lie wouldn't hurt, "... and I'm one of them, Sailor Polaris!"
Nothing wrong with a little self promotion.  "There's also a popular anime
and manga series called Ranma 1/2.  It's a romantic comedy about the
misadventures of this guy who turns female everytime he gets wet and his
various fiancees.  A little while back I discovered that what's fictional in
one world could be real in another.  So I decided to have a look for this
world."  She paused to take another drink.  "From the way you're all looking
at me I'd say you don't believe a word I said."  She put down the glass.
     Dr. Tofu was wearing his professional smile.  "I believe that you believe
it.  I think I know some people who'd enjoy hearing your story ..."  His voice
trailed off as a sphere of energy formed between the girl's hands.
     "How's this for a start?"
     Ranma looked unimpressed.  "Big deal.  There's a lot of martial artists
can generate energy spheres by focusing their Ki.  Gonna take a lot more than 
that to convince me of a story this crazy!"  Ti shrugged and held her lefthand
palm up.  The sphere moved and hovered over it freeing her right to pick up
her glass.  After a quick drink she dashed the remainder in Ranma's face.  The
change was remarkable.  His body shifted almost instantaneously from male to
female.  This wasn't simply Ranma with female characteristics added.  He'd
lost height, mass, his frame was slighter and his facial features had shifted. 
Incredible.  She'd never seen such smooth shapeshifting before.
     "Sorry, just trying to make a point.  Which is crazier, another dimension
where Sailor Sehshi exist? Or here, where you can acquire a curse that makes
you shift gender every time you touch water?"  Ranma didn't seem to appreciate
her logic.
     Akane looked thoughtful.  "She's sort of got a point.  If I'd never met
you and somebody told me about your curse I'd never have believed it."
     "That's different!"
     Titanite swung her legs off the table and stood up.  Good no sign of
dizzyness.  Still holding the sphere she headed for the door.  "Guess I'll
have to offer a few more examples that I'm what I say I am."  No one tried to
block her, that sphere looked powerful.  They followed her outside.  Once
outside Ti looked for a good place to ditch the sphere.  An idea occurred to
her.  With a cry of "POLARIS MISSILE!" she launched the TK sphere upwards.
It tore upwards, it would keep going until it encountered sufficent mass or
expended its power.  By the time it reached the cloud it was weak enough to
react to the diffuse mass and flare in an impressive lightshow.  Now what to
do next?  She felt her strength to be about normal so ...
     The self proclaimed Sailor Polaris leapt without difficulty to the roof
of the clinic.  Ranma was about to call that he could do that easily when she
launched herself into the air.  Akane gasped as she soared past Ranma's
maximum height and kept rising.  At about three times Ranma's best she reached
apogee, performed a triple somersault then freefalled straight back to the
ground.  She landed easily halfway down the street, rose and gave a victory
sign.  Ranma glared.
     "Big deal.  So you've got strong legs.  Doesn't prove a thing!"
     "So how about this", she called back.  Ti had already picked the reentry
point and focused her energy.  To a layman it would look like she did this
without preparation.  She vanished and flickered into existence directly in
front of Akane.  "Hi!"  Her smile was a little forced as she fought to ignore
the warp sickness.  Which seemed less severe than usual.
     "Wow!"  Akane was converted.  "Sailor Teleport Power!"
     Huh?  "Um ... yeah."
     "A real live Senshi! ... How come I've never heard of Sailor Polaris?"
     "Well those animes aren't exact representations of our world.  I visited
this world similar to Bubblegum Crisis ..."
     "Never heard of it."
     "Oh.  Well anyway they had Sailor Moon anime but after the first season
it bore no resemblance to our world.  So some of what you've seen happened and
the rest was just the writer's imagination."
     "Wow.  Can I see your transformation wand?"
     "Umm ... I don't have a wand, I have this bracelet and it's sort of
broken.  It got damaged on the last world I visited."  Titanite supressed a
shiver.  She was still trying to work out what had happened ... actually she'd
been trying to ignore what had happened and this world made a great
distraction.  "Until I can get it fixed I'm stuck like this."
     "Oh.  Say are you here fighting evil?"  Ranma suddenly thought of
something.  If this somehow was a real live magical girl who went around
purging badguys maybe she could set her on Happosai.
     "No, just visiting."  Which sounded better than "I was considering
stealing your boyfriend."  Anyway so far Ranma wasn't impressing her.  Besides
just being here was fun.  It kept her mind off ... other things.
     Akane nodded.  "Great.  Listen I'd love to talk to you about you
adventures.  How about you join us at my place for a bit ..."
     "WHAT!  Are you nuts she's more dangerous than you are ..."
     "RANMA NO BAKA!  Sorry about that.  Anyway he's just a guest himself he
can't extend or refuse our hospitality.  I'd love to have you visit."
     "I'd be delighted to accept you invitation."  She could spare an hour or
two before ducking back to her own world. 
     "Wonderful!  Doctor do you have a coat you could spare.  Polaris-san's
outfit is a little conspicuous."  He nodded and headed back into the clinic.
He'd seemed completely unruffled by Sailor Polaris's demonstrations.  It
seemed the only thing that could truly phase him was Kasumi.
     "Polaris is just a title so just plain Polaris is fine.  Or you can call
me by my real name ..."  
     "But what about your secret identity?"
     "Different universe so it doesn't matter."
     "Anyway my name's ..."  Give her the fake ID?  No.  ".. Titanite.  Ti to
my friends."
     "Titanite?!  That sounds like ..."
     "There's a story behind that."
     "I'd love to hear it."
     "I wouldn't!"
     "Quiet Ranma!"  Dr. Tofu emerged with a long coat which Titanite thanked
him for.  He also gave Ranma a splash with hot water so he regained his
original form.  With Titanite sorting out her version of events Akane lead the
way to her home.  Pointing out all the local landmarks to the gawking
Titanite.  Ranma provided his own running commentary on places they were
passing concerning the various people fought there and why.  Titanite
considered suggesting they get some okonomiyaki as they passed Ukyou's
but decided Akane might take that the wrong way.  Ranma seemed to be more of a
blowhard than she'd anticipated.  Or was he feeling insecure because she'd
just shown she was stronger, faster and could pull a few stunts he couldn't?
That's ridiculous.  He can't possibly think I'm a rival for Akane!  Can he?
Perhaps he just resents my monopolizing her attention? 
     She was pondering, both Ranma and Akane were talking while Ryoga trudged
along silently.  So they were almost to the gates of Tendo hall when Akane
noticed and said, "Where's Ryoga?  I thought he was right behind us?"
     "The moron must have taken a wrong turn and got himself lost."  Things
were looking up for Ranma.  Now if he could just find out what this lunatic
in the sailor suit was up too.  He didn't buy her story for a second which
meant this was some sort of scheme.  But who was behind it?  Cologne?
Happosai?  Herb?  Kodachi?  Or any of a dozen others.  One thing he didn't
lack for was enemies.
     Nabiki was out on a date with Kuno.  Which probably meant she'd arrive
home counting a new wad of yen having sold him pictures of Akane and/or "the
pigtailed goddess".  Akane usually resented this but right now she was rather
grateful.  If she'd been around she'd have been frantically trying to
merchandise Akane's guest.  After greeting Kasumi, father and Saotome-san
(the last two had barely looked up from their gameboard) the trio settled
down.  Akane and Titanite talked while Ranma watched Sailor Polevault (or
whatever it was) suspiciously.
     Titanite was halfway through the slightly fictionalized story of how
she'd saved her brother and friends from the Dark kingdom and joined the
Sailor Senshi (okay the "based on a true story" tv movie version of the events
of her first adventure) when Kasumi entered.
     "I thought you might all like some tea."  They all thanked her and Ranma
grabbed one of the cookies on the tray.
     "I'm starving.  Good thing I've got your cookies to keep me going."
     Kasumi smiled.  "I'm glad you like my cookies but I can't take credit for
those.  Akane made these earlier."  Ranma's hand froze halfway to his mouth
and his jaw froze in instinctive self preservation.  He stared at the
contents of his hand as if he'd suddenly realized he was holding a poisonous
snake.  Actually he'd have preferred the snake.
     Akane glowered.  "What are you waiting for?  You said you were starving!"
Ranma didn't budge and she turned to Titanite in exasperation.  "Why does he
always put down my cooking?  I'm improving!"  Titanite eyed the plate
dubiously.  She didn't want to offend Akane but if the anime was accurate her
culinary efforts should be avoided at all costs.  Well her Renegade metabolism
could deal with toxins that would finish a human so she should be all right.
She reached over and took one.  Ranma watched her closely.
     Chewing it took more effort than she'd expected.  She turned slightly
green but as she'd hoped her hyperimmune system took care of the more
dangerous components of the alleged food.  However this did nothing to
improve the taste.
     Akane had been watching her hopefully.  "What did you think?"
     Titanite tried to think of something nice to say.  "It was ... unique."
     "Really?"  Thankfully she'd taken that as a compliment.
     "I can honestly say I've never tasted anything like it."  And considering
some of the stuff we ate in the Dark Kingdom that takes some doing.
     "Hah!  Hear that Ranma.  Ti-chan likes my cookies and you won't even try
     "She's some sort of spooky monster chick.  You think you can trust her
opinion?"  Nethertheless Ranma tried the cookie.  He bit down and winced. 
He took the cookie from between his teeth and examined it.  It was unmarked.
Experimentally he rapped it on the tabletop.  The table dented.  "Geez, this
is harder than rock!"
     "You're not giving it a fair try."
     "Come off it.  I wouldn't feed this to Kuno.  Why don't you give them to
your freaky little friend.  I guess she's used to chewing on steel."
     "RANMA NO BAKA!"  Akane had hauled a mallet out of somewhere and lunged
for Ranma.  He made a sudden retreat.  The two of them began a spirited chase
around the room.  Soun and Genma had disappeared when they'd heard Akane's
cookies were available which left Ti and Kasumi.  It seemed rude to ignore
her and watch the chase so Ti said, "This is very good tea."
     "Thank you.  I'm glad you like it."  There was a crash  "Oh my!"
     "Was that expensive?"
     "No, shortly after Ranma arrived Nabiki had all the valuable heirlooms
moved into storage.  She said it was the only way we'd have anything left to
     "It seemed a little disrespectful to father's friends but I have to admit
it was a good idea."
     Titanite nodded.  "So it seems."  They sipped their tea and watched the
chaos unfold.
     Sometime later Ryoga Hibiki was wandering the streets attempting to find
Akane's house.  Ranma must have deliberately ditched him so he could keep
Akane for himself.  The snake!  He couldn't be content with a wonderful girl
like Akane, instead he kept stringing along half the women in Nerima.  Oh
Ranma might claim he didn't like having dozens of fiancees but when Shampoo
lost interest in him thanks to the reversal jewel he bent heaven and earth
to get her back.  How dare he toy with Akane this way!  As soon as Ryoga found
the dojo he'd give Ranma the beating he so richly deserved.  He was so wrapped
up in his thoughts he almost walked into the couple ahead.
     Calcite studied his tracker, the readings were indisputable.  "No new
gates so it looks like she stopped in this world.  According to the signs
we're now in Nerima."
     "Well it certainly looks better than the last world.  Smells better too. 
So now what?  I can follow her scent but if she's been here for a few hours
she could have gone all over the place.  It'll take a while to trail ... Hey!
He's got traces of her scent!"  Margrave pointed at the teenager heading their
     The angry and depressed young man stopped just before walking into
Calcite.  He blinked in confusion then said, "Sorry, didn't see you."
     "Quite all right.  Excuse me a moment but I'm looking for my sister."
He produced the photo and thrust it into Ryoga's hand. Ryoga studied it, you
could practically hear the wheels turning in his head.
     "Sorry I don't ..."  The few braincells not occupied with considering the
world a dark and lonely place fired.  "... wait, she looks sort of familiar!
She kind of looks like that weird girl Akane met.  Except the hair's wrong!"
     "It should be green?"
     "Yeah!  Weird girl.  She was claiming to be Sailor Polemic, whatever that
is."  Calcite sighed.  Occasionally he wished he'd been an only child. 
     "Did she happen to mention where she was going?"
     "Akane invited her to Tendo hall and she accepted.  We were all heading
there when I ... got distracted.  It must have been Ranma's fault!"
     "Ranma?"  That name rang a bell for Margrave.  Where had she heard it
before?  One of Ti's animes?  Hopefully nothing to do with monsters or giant
     "Ranma Saotome, Akane's so called fiance.  Except he's engaged to two
other girls and he's stringing along dozens of others!"  Margrave nodded, that 
seemed to fit the minimal description she'd got from Ti concerning the boy
she was looking for.
     Ryoga was just hitting his stride concerning Ranma's many and varied
crimes when Calcite interrupted.  "Well it certainly sounds like I should get
my sister away from this boy.  Can you give us directions to the Tendos'
     Ryoga nodded after a moment's thought.  He was sure he knew the way there
from here.  Besides it is characteristic of guys to never admit to being lost
or to ask for directions.  Human guys anyway, being youma Calcite didn't have
any problem doing either.  
     "Sure let me draw you a map."  A little later the two of them waved
goodbye to Ryoga.  Had they known he was also planning to visit the Tendos
they'd have felt a lot less confident in his map as he was walking in the
opposite direction.
     "Okay let's go collect Ti before she gets herself in any more trouble."
     "Fine by Margrave, she sick of this dimension travelling nonsense!"
     Calcite looked at her suddenly, "Sorry?"
     "I said, 'Fine by me, I'm sick of this dimension travelling nonsense!'."
     "That's what you said?"
     "Of course.  What's wrong with you?"
     "For a moment you sounded ... well never mind let's get going."
     About half an hour later they were walking through a restaurant district
which didn't seem to be on their map.  Calcite was squinting at the map in
confusion.  "Is this thing blurring."
     Margrave took it and shrugged.  "Look fine to Margrave."
     "I was afraid of that.  My eyesight's going!"
     "That impossible!  Calcite Renegade.  All organic damage repairs fast!"
     "It does, but as soon as it's back to normal it starts to go again.  My
regeneration factor seems to be fighting against something in the
     "Margrave's eyes fine.  Why Calcite losing sight?"
     "I don't know".  He sounded frustrated.  "I also don't know why you're
talking broken Japanese and referring to yourself in the third person."
     "What Calcite talking about?  Margrave not talking third person ..."
She realized what she'd just said.  "Margrave is talking third person.  Why
she do that?"
     "I don't know.  The broken language could be caused by a translator
malfunction.  Except after using it this long you should have a good Japanese
vocabulary.  The third person speech pattern I can't explain."
     "Margrave ... I ... I ... am ... having ... trouble ... speaking ...
normally.  If I speak quickly Margrave come out with big mess words.  She not
know why."
     "I have the nasty feeling being in this dimension is changing us somehow.
The sooner we find Ti and get out of here the better."
     "Margrave over here.  Calcite talking to lamppost."
     "I knew that!  I was just ..."  He tried to think of something to change
the subject.  "Have you noticed all the senior citizens we're seen are under
two feet tall."
     "Margrave wonder about that.  Also no see any Japanese blondes either."
     "Anyway getting back to Ti ..."
     "Ti pass by here but hours back.  Only old scent."
     "I'm not getting any youma auras around here either.  Frankly I'm
wondering about this map."
     "What we do then?"
     "Ask for more directions.  Let's try that restaurant."
     "Hai."  They headed for the U-chan's.  With his vision temporarily
restored Calcite noticed Margrave's human guise looked a lot cuter than usual.
Was that significant?
     Uykyo sized up the couple as they entered.  A couple of bewildered
looking tourists.  The man seemed to have some eye problems as he was
squinting.  Perhaps he's lost his glasses.  "Can I get you folks some
okonomiyaki?"  She hoped they spoke Japanese, her English was almost
     "I'm afraid not.  I was hoping you could direct us to the Tendo training
hall.  Our map seems a little inaccurate."  Ukyou stared at the scrawl, it
looked familiar. 
     "This is the worst map I've ever seen.  Follow this and you'll end up on
the wrong side of town."
     "Boy trick us.  Margrave punish!"  Ukyou blinked.  The woman had suddenly
gone from barbie doll cute to GI Jane ferocious.
     "Mind if I ask who gave you this?"
     "A young man we ran into.  He looked like a traveller and was certain
about how to get there."
     "Large backpack, wearing yellow and black bandannas, small fangs and a
very depressed look?"
     "You know him?"
     "Let's just say he's the worst possible person in Nerima to ask for
directions.  Let's just correct this."  She grabbed a pencil.  "Okay you turn
right here ..."  
     After correcting the map it occurred to her to wonder what these people
wanted at the Tendos.  What if they were after Ran-chan?  Casually she asked,   
"Mind if I ask your business up there?"
     "I'm told my sister's there.  It's time for us to head home so we're
going to collect her."
     That sounded harmless enough.  Except ... "Why's she there?"  The woman
     "Margrave think it cause boy she like live there."  Both Calcite and
Ukyou looked at her.  "Ti tell Margrave she want see boy with many girlfriends
for herself.  Not say he not live local though.  Ranma boy fit bill."
     "You didn't mention that earlier."
     "Margrave not sure.  Ti no say she taking key.  Margrave think Ti mean
boy in school our world."
     "Not another fiancee!"  Ran-chan what's going on?  If your father's
been messing around again I'll pound him!  Again!  For real this time!
     "Not to worry.  My sister will be returning with us."  Margrave nodded.
     "Margrave no want stick round Nerima.  Not like!"  No, she didn't like
sounding like either an idiot or a slow talking geriatric.  Calcite wondered
if the chef had taken that the wrong way.
     "Margrave didn't mean any offense.  It's just we need to get home."
     "Uh sure.  Umm ... is she alright?"
     "Margrave?  Oh, well her Japanese isn't very good."
     "It's better than some I've heard.  But why is she talking about herself
in the third person."
     "Uhhh ... Blame that on her language instructor."  Ukyou nodded.  She
wondered if it had been the same person who taught Shampoo.
     The couple exited and Ukyou thought.  There were no customers right now
so perhaps ... She turned off the stove and flipped her sign to closed.  It
wouldn't hurt to go look in on Ran-chan.
     Meanwhile back at the dojo Ranma was picking himself off the floor and
trying not to wince.  Challenging Titanite to pit her "Polaris Missile"
against his "Mouko Takabishya" technique had not been the smartest thing
he'd ever done.  She dodged his attack, he'd dodged hers.  Except hers had
turned and chased him across the dojo before catching up.  The fact she'd
yelled "Polaris Homing Missile!(tm)" should have tipped him off.
     "Score another one for Ti-chan!"  Akane looked inordinantly pleased.
Stupid tomboy!  Just because he said her favorite show was cutesy junk.  Well 
it was!  Imagine a whole world full of dimwits like this Polaris!  Which
reminded him of something.
     "You claimed where you come from there's a manga based on me?"  Ti nodded
and Akane muttered something about who'd want to read about a battlecrazed
pervert.  "Okay then, who's my writer?"
     "Rumiko Takahashi."
     Ranma snorted.  "Come off it!  I've read her stuff.  She's always writing
about guys who get themselves in no end of romantic trouble by getting mixed
up with too many girls and then they go from one ridiculous adventure to
another with everybody always misunderstanding everyone else and leaping to
conclusions and it's always this big mess ..."  Ranma suddenly thought about
his life.  Somewhat reluctantly he said, "That almost makes sense." 
     Then he shook off the idea.  "No this is ridiculous.  I've got better
things to do than hang around with someone who thinks I'm one of those
indecisive manga idiots."  He stormed out of the dojo angrily.
     Akane called after him.  "You're just upset that Ti-chan kicked your
ass!"  Ranma growled but didn't turn.  He headed through the house, stormed 
by Kasumi and headed out into the night.
     Calcite and Margrave were almost to their destination when the glowering
Ranma flung the door open and stalked past.  Calcite's eyesight was fading
again so all he saw was a blur.  Margrave watched him go and inhaled deeply
then licked her lips.  A glance at Calcite showed him stumbling along, sure
she was following.  She glanced at Ranma in time to see him jump from the
street to a nearby rooftop.  He commenced vaulting from one house to another.
Well why not?  Margrave quietly left Calcite's side, leapt to the nearest
roof and began to follow him.
     Calcite knocked and waited for the door to open.  His eyesight was
improving again so he was able to make out a kindly (if blurred) face. 
     "Good evening sir."
     "Good evening.  We're told that my sister Ti, she may be calling herself
Sailor Polaris is visiting.  We'd like to see her."
     "We?"  She seemed puzzled.
     "Yes, Margrave and I ..."  He realized there was no one beside him.
"Where'd she go?"  Great, now he'd lost Margrave.  First things first.  "My
friend seems to have wandered off.  About my sister ..."
     "I believe Akane and her friend are in the dojo.  If you could wait a
moment?"  He nodded and she disappeared inside.  A minute later she
reappeared.  "Your sister is waiting in the dojo.  I think she wants to
introduce you to my sister Akane.  Titanite apologizes for your having to
come looking for her.  She completely lost track of time."
     "Good thing too or she'd have got back in time to destroy the note and
who knows how long this idiocy would have kept going?"  He didn't say this out
loud.  All he said was, "Thank you Tendo-san." 
     "Please call me Kasumi."
     "Very well, thank you Kasumi.  My name is ..."  Well why not?  "Calcite."
     She nodded.  "Your sister mentioned."  It figured.
     Leaving his shoes he followed Kasumi through the house to the training
hall.  She opened the door and motioned him inside then returned to her
     As soon as he stepped inside Calcite's battle instincts went into
overdrive.  He moved and a sphere tore through the space he had occupied.
It began to curve towards him.  He hit the ground, bounced and hit the sphere
with a shockwave.  It was flung away, struck the wall and detonated ripping
a large hole through to the outer wall and beyond.  Simultaneously he created
and threw a handful of blades.  His attackers yelped then found themselves
pinned to the wall by the knives through their clothing.  Calcite landed in
a crouch looking for other adversaries, ready to energise or detonate his
blades if necessary.  No one else, just the pair he'd trapped.  The righthand
blur cleared her throat.
     "Um ... Hi big brother."
     "Ti?"  It was her aura all right.  But why had she attacked him?
     "Look at the wall!  You said he'd block it with his forceshield!"
     "Uhm this is Akane.  I sorta promised her she'd get to see you in action
     "So you heaved one of your "Polaris Missiles at me?"
     "Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I mean I know your shield
can withstand them easy.  I thought you'd just shake it off."
     "Ti this was not a training exercise.  It's a very bad idea to rely on
your forceshield.  If it's not powerful enough to stop an attack you're 
either injured or dead.  I've told you that enough times!  You should know by
now that I wouldn't give you advice I don't follow myself.  As for your ambush
... If somebody attacks me without warning I assume it's for real.  You're
lucky you weren't hurt."
     "Speaking of which I'd like to get down.  NOW!"  Akane sounded angry.
Calcite shrugged and dissolved the blades.  The two stepped away from the
wall and examined their clothes.  Akane fingered the holes in her gi and
muttered angrily.  "Well I guess that is more effective than roses."
     "Ti you have overstayed your welcome ..."
     "Uh ... I'm over here, Cal."  He sighed.
     "My eyesight's getting worse.  Lucky I can still read auras or I'd have
had to counterattack blindly."  Which could have been very bad for your
     "Your eyesight?"
     "Something in the environment seems to be affect me.  The probe must
missed it.  I guess it's exclusive to Renegades as Margrave wasn't affected."
     Titanite frowned.  "My eyesights fine.  I collapsed after I got here but
that was just plain exhaustion."
     Exhaustion.  "Ti just what did happen in the last world?  The people ...
I don't know exactly what they were but they were neither human nor youma ...
whoever they were they said you'd beaten that thing they called the Overfiend
     "LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND!  That's the name of that piece of trash!"
     "Huh!"  Akane looked puzzled.
     "Try to stay focused sister."
     "Sorry Cal.  I ... I've been trying to avoid thinking about that.  At
least until I put all the pieces together.  I think ... I think something
tried to possess me.  It was horrible!  Like I was drowning in this freezing
cold oil!"  She shivered and Calcite rested an arm on her shoulder.  "I've
never felt anything like it.  It was pouring into my mind and pushing me under
and I couldn't do a thing to stop it!  Everything was black and cold and I
was so helpless and I couldn't even scream ..."  The memory was too much and
she began crying on her brother's shoulder.  He held her and waited for her
to calm down.  Akane watched them and felt very awkward.
     "Sorry.  Didn't mean to turn crybaby."
     "It's all right.  You've been through a lot."  This made a certain amount
of sense now.  "So something took control of you and used your body to destroy
the Overfiend?"
     "Well no.  I think I know what happened now.  I was helpless while this
thing poured into my brain.  Then something exploded in my mind.  It was like
this tremendous fury.  It grabbed the black stuff and held it.  After that it
was like a dream.  I was watching myself do all this incredible stuff which
was totally impossible.  I think ... I think it was that berserker thing I
saw you do in MegaTokyo.  And I think it was drawing power from the thing
that tried to control me.  I can't explain it but that's what happened. 
Towards the end I was waking up and the thing was struggling.  Last thing my
berserker self did before switching worlds was kick out my wouldbe possessor. 
Then I was here and I was feeling kinda messed up.  I saw Ranma so I grabbed
     "Ranma's the boy you were interested in?  The one you told Margrave
     "WHAT!"  Akane sounded angry.
     "CALCITE NO BAKA!"  WHAM!  "Where'd this hammer come from?"
     "TI! ..."  Akane looked unhappy.
     "Wait!  I thought I was interested in Ranma but that was just a stupid
crush.  Now that I've met him I can see why you think he's such a jerk."
Akane subsided a bit and Titanite breathed a sigh of relief.  "Uh ... are you
okay big brother?"  He was rubbing a bump on his head.
     "Just peachy!  Those things pack a wallop."
     "Sorry about that.  It was just sort of instinctive ..."  The mallet
began melting.  Akane frowned.
     "Mine never do that.  They just disappear instantly when I stop being
     Ti grinned.  "It's psychoplasm.  I made it!"
     "What?"  Calcite peered at the last vestiges of the mallet.  "You're
     "I forgot to tell you but on the last world I created psychoplasm
weapons twice!"  Her face fell.  "Except I don't know how.  It just sort of
     "That's more than you've managed until now.  Looks like you've finally
got some access to your abilities!  We'll have to step up the training when we
get back."
     "Yeah.  I can see it now, 'Polaris Nuclear Mallet Attack'!"
     "Uhh yes ... we'll have to discuss the most effective use of your
abilities once you can access them at will."
     "Okay!"  Something struck her.  "Hey big brother.  I'll bet I know why
your eyesight's going!  It's dimensional adaption.  I know that's just a
theory ..."
     "Not anymore.  We had some problems with it on the way here."
     "Oh.  Anyway it's simple.  You're becoming Mousse."
     "I don't think I'm growing antlers Ti."
     "Stop hitting me!"
     "Sorry.  My temper seems to be getting shorter all of a sudden."  She had
a sudden insight into who she might be synching into but decided Akane might
take offense.  "Anyway Mousse is the name of this martial artist who seems to
be able to pull weapons out of nowhere.  I guess you're the closest match to
him thanks to your powers.  Thing is he's got lousy eyesight." 
     Calcite nodded.  "Maybe.  In which case it's another reason to get out of
here fast.  I don't want to pit my regeneration factor against cosmic shaping
forces."  Something occurred to him.  "That's probably what's happened to
     Calcite nodded.  "She came with me but ran off shortly before we got 
here.  She'd been acting a bit strange.  Her Japanese was deteriorating and
she was referring to herself in the third person."
     "Sounds like Shampoo."
     Akane tried to break into the conversation.  "Hold it.  Are you saying
somebody is turning into another Shampoo?"
     "Great.  That's all I need!"
     "Who is this Shampoo?"
     "She's this Chinese martial artist ... from the same village as Mousse.
I forgot to mention that.  Anyway she's cute and bouncy some of the time, a
dangerous warrior the rest of the time.  Oh and she's got this curse that
changes her into a cat."
     Calcite sighed.  "Cute, lethal, feline ... remind you of anyone we know?"
     Titanite nodded.  "It fits Margrave perfectly."
     Akane signalled for their attention.  "You forgot one thing in your
description, Ti."
     "An obsession with Ranma."
     "Yeah well there doesn't seem to be a shortage of that.  No offense."
     "None taken.  Why should I care what that idiot does?"
     Something had just occurred to Calcite.  "This Ranma ... is he around?"
     "No he went off in a huff because Ti-chan beat him.  Just before you
arrived Calcite-san."
     Uh oh.  "So that was the guy who dashed by us when we were almost here?
It was about then that Margrave disappeared."  Titanite looked at her brother.
     "You think she went after him?"
     "It's possible."
     "Uh oh.  Poor Ranma."
     "I think we'd better go have a look."
     Akane frowned at the two of them.  "What's the big deal?  Ranma never
lets any girl push him around.  He always ducks out of it somehow."
     Titanite answered hesitantly, "He's never dealt with anyone quite like
Margrave before."
     Her brother nodded.  "She's not one to take no for an answer.  When she
wants to be she's very persuasive."  Calcite was looking very unhappy about
the idea.  Titanite suddenly remembered Mousse was fanatically jealous over
Shampoo's obsession with Ranma.  This could be more trouble than she'd
     "About which the less said the better."
     "Let's go."  Was he glowing slightly?  The trio headed outside.  "Now
how do we find them?  It'd be quickest to scan for Margrave's aura except her
glamour will throw that off."
     Titanite smiled.  "I've got a quicker method.  Just listen ..."  Lacking
alternatives Calcite followed her directions.  Faintly he could make out the
sounds of battle.  Ti nodded.
     "Whenever Ranma's around there's going to be trouble.  Just follow the
roar of combat."  They took to the rooftops, Ti carrying Akane piggyback.
     A little earlier Ranma had stopped his aimless run across the rooftops.
This wasn't solving anything but at least he'd burned off the worst of his
anger.  He'd lost!  Worse, he'd lost in front of Akane!  Not that he cared 
what that stupid tomboy thought but he really hated being shown up in front
of her.  Well no one beat him more than once.  He just needed to learn a
countermove.  But how?
     Cologne.  The old hag knew every martial arts technique in the world.
Problem was she'd want something in exchange.  Her ultimate goal was for him
to marry Shampoo but she was smart enough to know he'd never agree to that.
So she'd try something subtler like have him date Shampoo then hit him with
her latest love potion.  Well he'd always manage to dodge Shampoo's attempts
to drug him.  Almost always.  Anyway when he hadn't Shampoo had always screwed
up not being the brightest girl around.  Yeah, so he'd agree to date Shampoo
if Cologne told him how to counter Sailor Whatsit's move.  Brilliant.  He was
a genius.  Too bad Akane would freak over him dating Shampoo but that was her
tough luck.  It's not as if there was really anything between them.
     That was when someone glomped onto him.  Geez he'd left himself wide
open.  Well he knew who this must be so he turned to face her.  "Not now
Shampoo, I have to see ..."
     It wasn't Shampoo.  She was older and bigger ... taller!  He meant
taller!  She wasn't Chinese either, American or European with a mane of thick
white hair.  The look was different from the way most girls looked at him. 
More like Kodachi ... no, Kodachi's eyes were tinged with madness.  This woman
was giving him a far more primal look.  Her voice was a soft purr.
     "Hello handsome boy.  Margrave following last little while."
     Ranma made some incoherent noises and tried to wriggle free without luck.
     "What your name?"
     "Ra ... Ranma Saotome."
     "Ahh!"  She seemed to think something.  "Sorry Ti, Margrave always give
in to impulses."
     "Uhm ..."
     "Margrave see boy.  Margrave want boy!"
     "Wha ... but ... but you're older than me ... it's not right."
     "How old Ranma?"
     "16!"  Almost 17 but why complicate things.
     "Margrave 23 Earth terms.  Seven years not too many."
     "But ... but ... I've already got three fiancees!  And Kodachi!"
     "That okay.  Margrave not looking for long term."
     "Wha ..."
     "Margrave just visiting, have some fun.  She just wanting hot passionate
sex!"  Ranma turned scarlet.  Margrave grinned and began whispering in his
ear.  After a few moments Ranma demonstrated that Ryoga wasn't the only one
who could do mega-nosebleeds.  Two streams poured down and stained his shirt.
Then the lightheaded Ranma fainted.  Margrave was a little surprised.
     "That first time Margrave draw blood before start.  No worry.  Margrave
know good way wake boy up."  She lowered Ranma to the rooftiles and tried to
decide if she should find someplace warmer before getting going.  Then her
combat sense kicked in and she ducked her head aside.  The bonbori whipped
through the space it had occupied.  Margrave spun around in a fighter's
crouch to face her attacker. 
     The purple haired Chinese girl looked very surprised she'd dodged.  "Old
woman leave Shampoo's husband alone!"  Shampoo had been heading over to
surprise Ranma with a free dinner (laced with a few exotic herbs) when she'd
seen him crossing the rooftops pursued by this woman.
     "Shampoo?  Girl's name is Shampoo?"
     Shampoo nodded and Margrave broke out laughing.  "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA ..."
She regained her self control.  "That stupidest name Margrave hear since
Tuxedo Kamen."
     Shampoo glared.  "Old woman make fun of way Shampoo talk!"
     "Little girl go away not bother Margrave.  She in wrong mood mess with.
She been spooked by dead city, attacked by pervert, freaked out by giant
monster now she talking in third person all time and sound like total
damnfool.  Boy first good thing happen since start trip.  Margrave like Ranma
scent.  Margrave have fun with boy!  Little girl go away!"
     "Shampoo not go away!  Shampoo claim husband for own."  Shampoo charged
Margrave sure of her own speed and skill.  Margrave slid past the girl's
maces and whacked her on the back of the skull.  Shampoo crashed to the roof.
The folks below decided it was a good time to go catch a movie.
     "Girl fast.  Margrave faster."  Ignoring the unconscious girl she turned
back to Ranma.  "Now what Margrave thinking ... ah she remember!"  What she
didn't notice was Shampoo stirring.  Shampoo had a fairly thick skull
     Shampoo couldn't believe it.  She had lost in combat over Ranma.  There
was only one course for an amazon warrior.  The woman was bent over Ranma,
all her attention on him.  She had her opening.
     Margrave was muttering, "Zip stuck.  Margrave slash pants off", when
Shampoo leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.
     Margrave spun away from Shampoo and came to rest facing her.  "Pervert
girl not do that.  Margrave not that way.  She experiment when younger but
prefer males!"  Shampoo took a moment to interpret this then flushed bright
     "That not mean that!"  She took a moment to regain self control.  "That 
kiss of death.  Shampoo promise to kill you."
     Margrave didn't look intimidated.  "Pervert girl reconsider.  Margrave
not take challenge lightly!"  She slashed out at a nearby chimney.  For a
moment nothing seemed to happen.  Then it fell apart in four equal segments.
"Margrave say little girl go away before get hurt!" 
     "Amazon never back down from fight!"  This woman was fast, Shampoo had
to distract her somehow.  Perhaps ...  Shampoo dived off the roof.  Margrave  
     "Girl smarten up!"  Yet she didn't think so.  So she wasn't too
surprised when Shampoo landed on the roof again.  But why was she carrying a
bucket of water?
     "Shampoo take husband from old woman!"  The girl flung the bucket.  Yet
not at Margrave.  It sailed over Ranma and dumped its' contents.  Margrave 
looked to him momentarily ... then froze in astonishment.  While she was
amazed by the gender shift Shampoo charged in swinging.
      Margrave squalled and fell from the roof but twisted in midair and
landed on her feet.  Shampoo dropped down to face her.  Margrave rubbed the
bruise on her face.  "Pervert girl get good shot with trick.  Only one she
live to enjoy.  Before Margrave finish pervert girl tell Margrave how change
boy back."
     "Shampoo die first."
     "Okay Margrave figure out for self."  She hissed and charged. 
     The furious battle went back and forth through the alleyway.  Shampoo
quickly realized she was in a lot of trouble.  The older woman was stronger,
faster and seemed able to absorb all the damage Shampoo inflicted.  Worse she
seemed to be playing with her.  In their last face to face clash the woman had
hissed, "Pervert girl lucky this not old days or she dead already."
     Something slammed into Shampoo and she went crashing into the yard where
she'd filled the bucket.  She'd forgotten to turn the hose off and splashed
into a large puddle.  The change hit.
     Margrave landed in the yard.  "No more games.  Margrave pummel girl
senseless, get answer then go back for boy ... where pervert girl?"  The
girl was gone but not without a trace.  Her tightfitting red satin clothes
were lying in a puddle.  Empty.  "Another hentai teleporter? Or this decoy?" 
Margrave picked up the wet trousers and saw somethin fall out one leg.  "Girl
leave panties in pants?  Either very eager or disappear inside clothes."  She
looked around the yard.  A purple and white cat hissed at her then resumed
climbing to the roof.  No sign of a naked girl.  Not even a trace of her
scent.   "Weird.  Well fight over ... Margrave just ask boy ... girl how he
become boy again."  She nodded and headed for the roof.  To find company.
     The chef she'd met earlier was propping up the semiconscious Ranma.  He
was male again and there was a steaming thermos beside her.  The cat hissed
at her but she ignored it.
     "What chef doing here?"
     "Looking for Ran-chan.  I saw him go by followed by you and Shampoo so I
decided somebody had better look out for him.  The cat hissed at Ukyou again.
"Give it a rest Shampoo!"
     "Shampoo?"  It suddenly clicked for Margrave.  "Pervert girl became cat.
Shrank out of clothes!"  She broke out laughing.  It was this noise that
snapped Ranma out of his stupor.  He reflexively grabbed for the nearest thing
to him.  Which turned out to be Shampoo.  He began to shake.  Margrave smelled
heightened excitement from him.  Cats were a turnon for him?  Perfect.  "Boy 
like cats?  Margrave can make him very happy!"  She dropped her glamour.
Ukyou stared in amazement, Ranma began hysterical giggling then started to
     Had Margrave watched any of Ti's Ranma 1/2 tapes she might have known
that Ranma was severely ailurphobic.  A side effect of his father's illadvised
attempt to teach him the "Cat Fist" martial arts technique.  Being dumped into
a pit of hungry cats while wrapped in fish sausage had made quite an
impression on the six year old Ranma.  His father's subsequent attempts to
make him face his fear (by dumping him back in the pit while wearing a variety
of seafood) had only increased the trauma.  During extreme attack of his
phobia he would begin to act like a cat.  Frequent exposure enabled Ranma to
withstand Shampoo's cat form without suffering a total breakdown.  However the
sight of a giant woman shaped cat ... well that was another matter.
     Margrave was getting worried.  That didn't smell like lust, more absolute
terror and something she couldn't identify.  She was suddenly distracted by a
black rose embedding itself in the rooftile by her left foot.  She felt a
sudden burst of terror herself.   "It can't be!  It ... it girl in black
leotard?"  The newcomer gave a laugh that Queen Beryl would have been proud
of.  "Who you?"
     "The monster can speak?  I am Kodachi Kuno, the Black rose come to claim
my darling Ranma."
     "Wonderful.  New obstacle for Margrave ... what that?"  Ranma was on all
fours and hissing.  Ukyou and the Shampoo cat were backing off.  He charged
forward and playfully battered Margrave across three rooftops.  Then began
bouncing around the neighbourhood, shredding rooftiles like paper. 
     Margrave came to to see Ranma curled up a nearby rooftop.  Ukyou was
approaching cautiously when the Shampoo cat knocked over her discarded
thermos.  The nude Shampoo charged Ukyou from behind.  With a startled cry
Ukyou and Shampoo toppled off the roof.  "Margrave getting very confused."
She moved suddenly and the razor edged hoop Kodachi had thrown zipped by.
"Margrave starting to wonder if boy worth all trouble."
     At which point Shampoo reappeared wearing Ukyou's clothes.  "Shampoo
start fight again."  Margrave hissed then dodged again as knives rained down.
The chinese boy in the volumnous white robes landed next to Shampoo. 
     "I am ready to fight beside my beloved Shampoo!"  Shampoo whacked him
over the head.
     "Mousse go away.  This Shampoo's fight."
     Mousse got up minus his glasses.  "But Shampoo ..."  He grabbed her.  At
least he tried.  Kodachi whacked him over the head with a club.
     That was when Ukyou, clad only in her underwear and looking very unhappy,
vaulted onto the roof holding her giant spatula.   "You've finally pushed me
too far Shampoo!"
     Ranma looked at all the people surrounding him and hissed.  Suddenly
there was a burst of lightning and a young man with a sword was on the roof.
"The vegeance of heaven is slow but sure.  The Blue Thunder of Furinken High
has come to settle matters with the sorceror Saotome and free his loves from
the monster's foul grasp."
     The way things were going Margrave wasn't too surprised when the boy
who'd given them directions clambered into view and announced, "Ranma!  It is
past time for you to pay for your crimes against Akane."
     "Hold fast oaf.  My vengeance comes first."
     "Get out of my way Kuno."
     "You need a lesson in manners vagabond!"
     Ranma hissed and the free-for-all began.
     Calcite, Titanite and Akane arrived in time to take in the sight of this.
Akane groaned, "Not again", while Titanite watched in fascination.  Then she
realized Calcite had a bright glowing aura.  As he saw Shampoo and Mousse
ganging up on Margrave (while fighting off Ukyou and the playful Ranma) she
heard him speak quietly.  "I have had enough off this nonsense!"  Titanite
jumped down to streetlevel carrying Akane. 
     "What are you doing?"
     "Duck and cover.  I think big brother's going to freak!"
     The various combatants suddenly froze as they glimpsed the blinding glow.
Margrave immediately flung herself to the roof and tried to make herself
two dimensional. 
     "ULTIMATE GENERAL FINAL ATTACK!"  There was a massive flare and every
roof within ten blocks was stripped bare.  Margrave cautiously raised her 
head and looked around to the widely scattered groaning figures.  Calcite
scent was filling the air.  Very agressively masculine.  She liked it.  To
hell with whatshisname.  She slunk over.
     "Wonderful move.  But why Calcite yelling?"
     "I have absolutely no idea."
     "Margrave over here, you talking to chimney."
     Calcite sighed.  "Let's get the hell out of here before anything else
     "Margrave do anything Calcite say."
     "First time for everything."  They dropped down to ground level.  Akane
looked at them.  Actually she stared at Margrave until the catwoman restored
her glamour.  Akane regained her train of thought.
     "What just happened?"
     "I'm not sure but I think we'll be leaving before it happens again.
They're all fine, just a little dazed."  Which was something of a surprise
but why mention that?  "Ti, say goodbye.  We're leaving."
     "But ... but ... but there's so much we could learn like ... Like if they
know who Rumiko Takahashi is that means she exists in this world.  Since she
won't have done a Ranma 1/2 manga here she'll have done something else.  A
whole new Takahashi manga unknown in our world.  I've got to investigate ..."
She trailed off as she saw the way Calcite and Margrave were looking at her.
"Well maybe another time.  Bye Akane, it was great meeting you.  Good luck
with Ranma."
     "Good luck?  My luck's been bad since I met him.  It's been fun.  Good
luck fighting the Deathbusters."
     "Who?"  They all thought.  Titanite waved then the threesome vanished.
Akane climbed up to the nearest roof and shook her head.  She spotted Ranma
sprawled over an exposed roofbeam under Ryoga and Kuno.  She shifted them off
him, carefully in Ryoga's case while she dropped Kuno into the interior of the
house.  Akane checked Ranma didn't have any major injuries and wondered why
she bothered.
     "Baka."  It sounded almost tender.
     Meanwhile the threesome had rematerialized at the gatepoint.  Calcite
took out his key and squinted at the settings.  Titanite checked hers.  "So
do we just run the circuit again?"  She replaced the battery with one of
Calcite's spares.  With her bracelet toasted she'd better stay Sailor Polaris   
rather than reactivate her glamour and become Titania Hobbes dressed as a
Sailor Senshi.  She unfolded her mask and fitted it back in place.
     "That's the safest method.  This time we don't have to waste time
probing.  Let's go."  Ti nodded and reset her key.  The gate opened and they 
stepped though.
     Shift.  The smoldering city surrounded them.  By the corpse of the
Overfiend the blank eyed Nagumo and Akemi watched Megumi kick her brother's
body around.
     Shift.  Salarymen heading off to drink their frustrations away until the
next night saw the trio appear then disappear.  An optical illusion.  Nearby
gawkers stood outside the police lines against a bulletriddle cafe and traded
stories that were less fantastic than the truth of the evening's events.
     Shift.  The dead city.  Pitch black.  No sign of life.  At least none
they stayed to see. 
     The taller of the pair watched the place she'd been told idily.  What
does she expect me to see?  She felt an itch in her scalp and cursed.  Not
lice again!  She'd already cut her hair far shorter than she liked.  Well all
this rough living was bound to get to you.  She could remember when her
armour was white instead of grubby grey.  Then she saw the trio appear and her
jaw dropped.  They'd disappeared again before she'd managed to find her voice
and scream "WAIT!".  Gone.  Gone where?
     Her friend moved out of concealment clutching her computer.  "Zeus, the
readings just reappeared ..."
     "Readings hell!  There were people!  Three of them!"
     "I scanned three objects but the anomaly messed up the sensor readings.
All I got was size and mass.  They could have been human ..."
     "Forget could have been they were!  Listen to me!  I didn't get a good
look at the two in back but the one in the lead ... I swear she was dressed
like a Senshi!"
slap broke her rant.  She rubbed her cheek and glared at her leader.
     "Calm down.  We don't now who they were or where they came from.  I'm
going to study the readings.  When I've done that maybe I'll have some
answers.  In the meantime we'd better move on.  We've pushed our luck too much
already today."
     "Okay.  Sorry I got out of line."
     "Understandable under the circumstances.  Now let's move."
     Some time later and in another dimension Azurite and Pyrite were heading
home.  Or rather to Calcite and Titanite's home.  Another week and they'd be
moving into their own place.  No more Margrave complicating life daily.  No
more of Ti's cooking which was a shame.  Ah well, you have to take the rough
with the smooth.  They were both in a very good mood.
     They entered the house to find the others grouped in the living room.
Margrave was sporting several bandages and wincing, Calcite looked unhappy
and a bit disappointed while Titanite looked downcast.
     Azurite sighed.  "So who wants to tell me what's going on?"
     Everyone started talking at once.

End of part 5

Dark Kingdom Renegades : Titanite's Bogus Journey
by Mark Latus


     The world is a dark and lonely place. 
     Okay so I'm exaggerating again.  I still think he overreacted.  It's
not like my trip didn't do any good.  We now know that dimension adjustment
is a fact.  Travel to another world and you change to fit in.  So if we leave
this world who knows what we'll become?
     That's valuable information.  "Completely irresponsible" is a bit
extreme.  If you want my opinion Cal really overreacted.  We were all back to  
normal within about ten minutes of our return.  Cal teleported us all from the
park back home then told me what he thought of my borrowing the key.  He was
still doing it when Azure and Pyr finally got back.
     Anyway it would be best to clear my mind and concentrate on what I'm
doing.  I heard my door open but ignored it.  I concentrated all my attention
on trying to feel a softball in my hand. 
     I felt something firm in my grasp and opened my eyes.  The ball was
there!  Success!
     It looked real for five seconds then turned translucent and despite my
frantic efforts was gone before ten seconds passed.  Back to square one.  At
least that's better than square zero.
     "Titanite making progress, yes?"  Margrave beamed at me.
     "Well I can make small objects but they last ten seconds maximum."
     "Is start.  Better than nothing.  Ti work hard make progess Margrave
sure."  She was so bubbly I cheered up. 
     "You're right.  I'll bet big brother didn't start out doing those ornate
     "Margrave think that right attitude!"  After a moment she paused then
continued in her normal tone.  "So what do you think."
     "I like it.   It ... fits somehow"
     She nodded.  "That's what I think too."
     "You know you haven't explained why you're talking like that half the
     "Just experimenting.  I decided I've underestimated cute as a survival
     "Yes.  For example ..."  She extended her claws, flashed her fangs and
took a step towards me.  I backed away involuntarily.  Then the claws slid
away, her lips covered her fangs and she gave me this bigeyed innocent look.
"Margrave happy to meet Sailor Senshi."  She shook her head and was back to
normal.  "Now if you're Sailor Moon which one are you least likely to
     "That's a novel idea."
     "More of a last resort really.  I don't know how long I could keep it up
before freaking out."  She glanced around the bare walls.  "First time I've
been able to tell what color the paint in here is."
     I scowled.  Big brother cleared all my anime and manga stuff (including
my posters) out of here the day after my little trip.  It's in a burn box in
the basement.  Tamper with it and all the contents fry.  I get edgy whenever
anyone goes near it.
     "You think he overdid it?"
     "Absolutely!  I'm more powerful than when I set out so the whole thing
was a bonus."  We still don't know exactly what happened.  We think I had a
psychological block against using my full powers.  Maybe because I've always
subconsciously expected Cal to haul me out of trouble.  When I was trapped  
where there was no hope of him rescuing me the block broke.  Or maybe it was
just time for my powers to start working.  Who knows?  While I was thinking
this I kept talking.
     "None of us got hurt and all the bad stuff in those worlds was going to
happen anyway.  No harm done and everything worked out for the best."
     She sighed.  "If that's what you think then you're a fool."
     "Quiet and listen.  You're only alive because you lucked out on the
Overfiend world.  By your own account if that thing hadn't possessed you you'd
have died there.  Think about that!"
     "I ... I've been trying to forget that."
     "Don't.  Learn from your mistakes or you'll repeat them.  Getting a
second chance is a lot rarer than you think.  Your life's too precious to
squander.  Too precious to you and too precious to us ... if you ever tell
anyone I said that I'll hurt you badly!"
     "My lips are sealed."
     "Good.  That attitude will keep you healthy."  After a pause she said,
"You got off lightly.  You're lucky Calcite doesn't use Kingdom methods of
     I hadn't thought of that.  Cal, Margrave, Azure, Pyrite ... just how were
they punished when they were children?  "Margrave ..."
     "Just don't ask.  Some things are best left buried."
     We were silent for a minute then she grinned.  "Remember what he said.
Create anything that can last an hour and you get your junk back.  That's a
great incentive.  Besides don't you want to be able to create mallets at will
and whack the badguys?"
     I had to smile at the mental picture of taking out Queen Beryl with a
Megamallet.  "You're right.  That's something worth working for."
     She smiled but there was something wrong.  I didn't know if I should pry
but ... "Margrave, there's something on your mind."
     She looked surprised.  "You're sharper than I think.  Or I'm slipping
more than I think."  She smiled ruefully.  "It may be nothing ..."
     "That's okay.  Tell me anyway."
     After a pause she nodded.  "All right.  You know I've got limited
precognitive abilities?"
     "They're very limited.  I didn't know about your trip in advance.  Of
course that may be perfectly natural.  Perhaps you can only forsee things in
the world you're in.  Except ... you remember that dead Tokyo?"
     I shivered slightly.  "How could I forget anything that spooky."
     "Right, stupid question.  There was something about that place  ... I
don't know what but ... but I have the feeling we aren't finished with it
     "Unlikely.  Cal's put the keys in the safe.  Which'll only open for him. 
I won't be travelling dimensions again anytime soon."
     "True.  So perhaps it'll have to come to us."
     My throat went dry.  That was a very unpleasant thought.
     After a moment's silence Margrave brightened up.  "Anyway mind firing up
the computer?" 
     "Cal disconnected the modem.  Said there was too much anime on the
internet to make his ban effective if it stayed."
     "I know.  I want to work on a little project of mine."
     "My own personal Doom WAD."
     "You're kidding?"
     "Not at all."
     "Wow.  What is it?"
     "Sailor Arcturus/Azurite Doom!  I've finished work on the imps now I
need to redesign the cacodemons."
     I stared at her and she grinned.  "Hey without the real thing to pick on
I have to get rid of my tension somehow."
     We were both laughing as I booted up the computer.  I'll worry about the
future when it comes.  With the right friends and family I'll bet you can
handle anything.  I've got both.

The End

Brief Afterword

Credit where credit is due

Part 2-3 : Ryo Saeba/City Hunter created by Tsukasa Hojo
Part 3-4 : Legend of the Overfiend created by Toshio Maeda
Part 4-5 : Ranma 1/2 created by Rumiko Takahashi
Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen, Dark Kingdom etc created by Naoko Takeuchi
Titanite, Calcite, Margrave, Azurite & Pyrite created by yours truly
(yeah right like I can copyright minerals)
Ranma's remarks on Takahashi inspired by one of Sam Ashley's emails.
Almost forgot, the unknown anime world mentioned back in part 1 was that of
Yuzo Takada's Blue Seed.

Hopefully a few folks out there were intrigued by the Dark Interlude material.
It'll be explored in the next DKR story "Thy Kingdom Come."  This will feature
the second meeting of the Sailor Senshi and the DKR members.  It'll be
starting soon and run as a serial in  When completed
it'll be sent to r.a.a.c.

Comments, criticism, etc on this story should be sent to Mark.Latus@MSVU.CA

For a look at what the DKR will be doing later in life check out Andy Combs
"Crystal Renegades" currently appearing in and available
archived at Artemis & Luna's fanfic website

Time for a short break from writing.  Until next time

Mark Latus
Oct. 30 1996

TEXT to HTML conversion by Douglas Helm.