A Certain Distance

Author's preface:

I've noticed a quite few fanfics lately that are crossover stories between Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon. The thing is, they all seem a little "off" to me ...  The fact that Ranma joins up with the Sailor Team in almost all of these crossovers gnaws at my suspension of disbelief - Ranma's not the kind of person to join any long-term group, IMHO.

Rather than moan and complain, I decided to try my hand at writing one of these crossovers. Of course, I can't just do things the same way everyone else does - what would be the point? Thus, I added a third anime to the mix ...  Here's the result.

My thanks to Heather Monson and the ATU-ML for pre-reading, and to David Watson for his help with the story's title (which works so well on so many levels).

- Rob Kelk


Legal disclaimer:

Aah! Megami-sama (or Oh My Goddess!) was created by Fujishima Kosuke, and is licenced to Kodansha and AnimEigo.

Ranma ½ was created by Takahashi Rumiko, and is licenced to Shogakukan Inc., Kitty, Fuji TV, and Viz Communications Inc.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (or Sailor Moon) was created by Takeuchi Naoko, and is licenced to Koudansha, TV Asahi, Toei Douga, and DIC Entertainment, L.P.

No challenge is intended to any of these intellectual properties.


Prologue

Whatever it was, it was dark.

And malevolent.

And cold.

And on a course that would take it too close to the Solar System for comfort.

But the Outer Senshi were on guard, ready for just such an eventuality. At least, they thought they were ready ...


"Please observe this event, on the outskirts of the System."

"This does not bode well for the Earth."

"The Earth itself will survive, as will the humans. They will merely lose the capacity for war."

"Is that not as bad? There are many dangers the Humans will have to face as they expand into space, and some of them will require that they all be able to fight for their rights, or perhaps for their very survival."

"You speak wisely."

"What of my daughters?"

"You have the gift of foresight. You know they will remain on Earth for the foreseeable future."

"I know it is against our ways to interfere, but at least let them take part in the defence of the Earth!"

"Very well. Your youngest must be made ready. Do you have any objection to this plan?" With that question, information passed between the two at the speed of thought.

"Sir, I have no objections. I wish she did not need to be forced into her powers, though ..."

"There is no real alternative, is there?"


Whatever it was, it was dark.

And malevolent.

And cold.

And now, thanks to the attention paid it by the Outer Senshi, it was aware that there was life in the Solar System.

It changed course, heading straight for Earth.


Coming in Chapter One:
Most of the heroes are gathered together.

"They're both his fianceés?" Usagi was stunned.

"I can't believe it either." Ami was equally shocked.


Chapter One - A New School, and New to School

"The repair budget is completely drained." The auditor's announcement wasn't news to anyone on the school board - various Nerima construction crews were regular visitors to Furinkan High School.

"So what can we do about it?" The school's vice-principal (nobody trusted Principal Kuno enough to invite him to these meetings) held up a collection of photographs. "The problems started when the principal's son announced that anyone who wanted to date Tendo Akane had to defeat her in combat. The problems got worse when Tendo's fianceé, Saotome Ranma, started attending the school. And now that Saotome's self-proclaimed 'master' shows up on a regular basis, the school suffers damage almost continuously."

There was silence for a moment. One of the newer teachers finally asked, "Can't we just expel the problem students?"

"No," replied the vice-principal. "Tendo is a good student, and hasn't done anything deserving of explusion. She's just the focal point for the rest of them. Kuno is the principal's son, so we can't expel him. We've all seen how nasty Saotome can get when he's angry - do you want to tell him he's been expelled? And most of the other troublemakers aren't students here. The only one that is is that Kuonji girl, and she's nowhere near as bad as the others are."

"That comment about Saotome seems rather cowardly, sir."

"You're right. I would prefer to avoid a stay in the hospital, no matter how small the chance is that he'd become angry. Does anyone else have any ideas?"

The silence was longer this time.

Finally, the vice-principal's temporary secretary (his usual secretary being off sick) spoke up. "Couldn't we transfer some of the problem students to another school?"

"That's a great idea, Meiou-san!" The vice-principal smiled, then frowned. "But which school would we send them to?"

Meiou looked through the students' personal records. "It says here that Saotome's mother lives in Juuban. Can't we send him to one of the schools there?"

"Yes! Let's send them all there!"

The part-time secretary stared at her boss, who eventually wilted. "If we send them all to the same school, that simply moves the problem. However, if we keep the principal's son here, part of the problem is solved."

"You have a good point there. Please start the paperwork as soon as this meeting is finished."

Meiou Setsuna smiled. The Plan was proceeding on schedule.


Meanwhile, in Juuban, three young ladies were standing on the sidewalk across the street from the high school in question. The youngest, who looked to be barely old enough to attend the school, was smiling. The oldest, who might have been a college graduate, was scowling, and not just because of the youngest's attitude ...

"Wow! This is great! This is the right place, right?"

"Somebody please tell me we took a wrong turn somewhere. This place is ugly - no better than almost every other school in this city. And it's so far from home, too! Maybe we should find someplace else for you ..."

"You shut up - I like it here. Please tell me I get to go to this school, big sister!"

The third member of the group smiled. "Of course. This is the address that was included in the message we received, after all. Are you nervous?"

"Yeah, a bit, but it isn't my choice to make, is it? His message said I have to go to school to learn how people behave around here, so I have to go to school. But why this school, big sister?"

"I don't know ..."


A week later, two close friends were walking into the yard in front of that same school.

"Did you hear the news? We're getting four new students in class today!" Tsukino Usagi could barely keep her enthusiasm in check. "I hope they'll be friends with us!"

"I hope so too, Usagi. The alternative could be disquieting."

"Ami, sometimes I don't quite understand you. Do you think anyone who isn't a friend is an enemy?"

"No, I didn't mean that. It just seems sometimes that every new face hides a new enemy. Even the friendly newcomers are sometimes evil, like Ail and Ann."

"And sometimes they're not, like you and Makoto."

Mizuno Ami smiled. "I hope you're right, Usagi. I'm getting tired of fighting everyone who comes along." She looked at her watch. "We'd better hurry inside; class is about to start."

"Okay ..." And the two girls took their seats with half a minute to spare.

Once the teacher was finished calling the roll, she opened the door and looked down the hall, then came back into the classroom. "Some of you already know that there are some new students arriving today. Three of them are transfer students from Furinkan, in Nerima." She noticed the looks on some of the students' faces. "Yes, that school. Please try not to look too shocked at anything they might say. The other person is a foreign exchange student who placed well enough on her exams to pass a few grades ..."

Just then, there was a bone-jarring thud against the wall beside the classroom, followed by the phrase "What'd you do that for?"

The teacher stepped into the hallway and returned with three students in tow - two girls and one (slightly bruised) boy. "Here are three of your new classmates. Please introduce yourselves."

The boy stepped forward. "The name's Saotome Ranma. I'm a martial artist, and I don't see why I gotta put up with all this schoolwork."

"Wow! He's a hunk!" Usagi whispered to Ami.

"I thought you were in love with Mamoru," Ami whispered back.

"I can still look at other guys, can't I?"

Meanwhile, one of the girls had stepped forward. "My name is Tendo Akane. I'm pleased to meet you."

The other girl stepped forward. "I'm Kuonji Ukyo, Ranma-honey's cute fianceé."

"Fianceé?" gasped three-quarters of the females in the class.

"Hey! Don't go spreading wild rumours like that, Ukyo!"

"C'mon, Akane, we both know Ranma-honey's going to pick me, not an uncute fianceé like you."

"That's a lie!"

"They're both his fianceés?" Usagi was stunned.

"I can't believe it either." Ami was equally shocked.

The teacher finally got the two new students to settle down. "That's quite enough, you two. Ranma, please take the vacant seat beside Naru." The redhead waved at the mention of her name. "Akane, Ukyo, please take the seats on either side of Usagi. Maybe she'll be able to get you two to behave in the classroom."

The three transfer students took their places in silence. It was obvious that Akane was upset about losing her temper in front of her new classmates, so everyone left her alone. Well, almost everyone left her alone ...

"Hi! You're Akane, right? I'm Tsukino Usagi. Do you want to have lunch with me and my friends today?"

Akane smiled. Maybe things weren't as bad as she thought. "Thanks, Usagi, but I promised Ranma I'd have lunch with him," she whispered back.

"Oh, he can join us, too!"

"All right, then."

"Excuse me, sensei ..."

"Yes, Ami?"

"Didn't you say there were four new students joining us today?"

"That's right, I did. I don't know where the other student is." Just then, there was a knock at the door. "Perhaps that's her now." The teacher opened the door, then let the person waiting come in. "You're late."

The girl, a young gaijin with long black hair, looked like she was about to cry. "I'm sorry, ma'am. I missed the train, and had to wait for the next one. It won't happen again, I promise."

"All right," replied the teacher after a moment's thought. "I'll let it go this time. Please introduce yourself to the class."

The girl turned to face her classmates. "Hello! I'm really glad to be here! I've never attended a Japanese school before, so I hope you'll all help me avoid making any mistakes."

The students smiled at her enthusiasm, then realized she'd already made one mistake. Usagi raised her hand, then stood. "Ummmm ... what's your name?"

"Oops! Sorry about that! I'm Skuld Odinsdotter."


Coming in Chapter Two:
Secrets Are Learned.

Ami answered her question with a question. "Isn't it strange that four new students show up at the same time as a new threat does?"


Chapter Two - Getting to Know You

Usagi, Ami, Minako and Makoto were sharing their lunches with their four new classmates. Needless to say, there was a lot of conversation going on around the mouthfulls of food.

"Makoto, this stuff's good!"

"Thank you, Ranma." Usagi and Ami had already mentioned that both Akane and Ukyo were engaged to Ranma, so Makoto wasn't trying to get "close" to him. Even if he did remind her of her old sempai ...

"Hey, Usagi, you have to try this okonomiyaki! It's the best I've ever tasted!"

Ukyo smiled. "Thanks for the compliment, Minako. I've been making okonomiyaki all my life, so I'm pretty good at it." Ukyo was already planning to trade recipes with Makoto, but she didn't want to admit any culinary weakness in front of the others. She was a Martial Arts Chef, after all ...

"Aak! What is this???" That was said by both Akane and Usagi, when they tried each other's lunches.

The other two students had already finished their lunches, and were looking at each other's portable computers. "This is incredible! Where did you get a hand-held computer like this, Skuld?"

"I made it myself, Ami."

"I'm impressed! But where did you get a processor this powerful that wouldn't drain the battery quickly?"

"I made that myself, too. My big sister always says I'm ahead of my time." Skuld smiled, as if enjoying a private joke. "But you've got a pretty advanced computer too, Ami. Where did it come from?"

Ami gestured to her laptop computer. "That was the prize in a Tokyo-wide scholastic competition."

Skuld frowned. "Not this one. Your other computer - the one I saw you use in class when the teacher wasn't looking."

Usagi, Minako and Makoto immediately stopped eating and stared at Skuld. Was she asking about the Mercury Computer? She had to be! How was Ami going to get out of this problem?

Ami didn't hesitate. "Oh, that old thing. That was a gift. I don't know who made it." (This was true - the Mercury Computer was as old as the Silver Millenium, it was given to Ami by Luna, and Ami didn't know who originally made it.)

"Oh. Can I try it out? Pleeeease??? I'll let you borrow my computer!"

Just then, Ami's wristwatch started beeping. "Maybe some other time, Skuld. I have to go take care of something personal right now."

"Oh, okay. Hey, are you all leaving?"

Usagi and Makoto blushed as they realized they weren't being at all inconspicuous. Minako laughed. "We don't know what's going on, and you know what the English say: Mystery loves company!"

"I thought that was 'Misery loves company'," muttered Akane under her breath.

Minako went on, not having heard Akane's comment. "So we're all going to find out what Ami's little mystery is! 'Bye!"

The new students watched their classmates leave, then turned to each other. "Did that seem at all strange to you?" asked Skuld.

"Nah," replied Ranma. "Weirder stuff than that happenes all the time. Hey, pass me Makoto's lunch, will'ya?"

"Ranma! You just met that girl, and you're already eating her cooking!"

"Ranma-honey, I have to agree with Akane! Eat my okonoyaki, not her bento!"

"You stay out of this, Ukyo!"

Skuld didn't need to be the Goddess of the Future to see where this exchange was going (although that didn't hurt). She decided to leave while she could still move under her own power. Maybe she could find out what the others were doing ...


"Okay, Luna, we're all here, except for Rei, and nobody can hear us." Usagi was talking into her 'wristwatch'.

"Haruka and Michiru are in Mamoru's apartment. They've been in a fight."

"Haruka was in a fight? What else is new?" asked Minako.

"It would be more accurate to say Uranus and Neptune have been in a fight," Luna replied. "And they lost."

All four girls gasped. Ami quickly asked "Who were they fighting?"

"We don't know. They collapsed as soon as they teleported in."

"We can't make any plans if we don't know who the enemy is," Makoto said. "Any idea when they'll wake up?"

"No. You four had better stay alert. Luna out." And the girls' communicators went silent.

Usagi turned to Ami. "I hope you weren't right this morning."

"'Right'? Oh, yes. I hope so too - they're nice people."

"What are you two talking about?" asked Minako.

Ami answered her question with a question. "Isn't it strange that four new students show up at the same time as a new threat does?"

"You mean ...  You can't be serious!"

"It's happened before," Makoto interrupted. "And the Sailor Team has to be ready to defend the Moon Princess from any attack."

"Ami." Usagi was using her Serenity 'voice'. "Please learn as much as you can about all four of them."

"Of course, Usagi. I'll start tracing their computer records right after cram school tonight."


Skuld couldn't believe her ears. The Sailor Senshi were her classmates? She was glad that she had decided to add an audio pickup to the Skuld Comet, Mark IV, and point it at the schoolyard. (The matter of making an audio pickup that would work from a geosynchronous satellite was trivial to someone with Skuld's scientific expertise.) She definitely wanted to get a look at Ami's computer - it might contain technology lost when the Silver Millenium fell. (Urd was no help in getting technological secrets from the past, except for lost alchemical knowledge, which didn't interest Skuld in the least.)

Then she realized what else she had heard. There was some sort of new threat to the Earth? And they thought she might be one of the villians? She had to stop Ami's investigation before she learned about Skuld's true origin ...

Just then, her celphone rang. She muted her computer and answered the phone. "Hello? Skuld speaking."

"It is I."

"Kami-sama!" Skuld almost dropped her phone.

"Tell her everything. You have My permission to help her and her friends, until I say otherwise." And the line went dead.

"Tell her ...  everything?"


The afternoon classes were relatively quiet.

Akane and Ukyo were sitting quietly, hardly bruised at all after their lunchtime fight.

Ranma, who had decided to get between them in an attempt to stop the battle, looked worse than either of his fianceés. Instead of paying attention to the teachers, he was wondering why their arguement had come to blows.

Usagi was quite happily reading manga behind her textbooks.

Ami was paying attention, and taking notes during some of the more difficult courses. ("Difficult" being a relative term, of course.) She was surprised once, though, when she pulled a clean piece of paper from her desk, only to have words appear on it before her eyes:

"Meet me after school, where we had lunch. Bring hot water. Skuld"

The message was completely unexpected. The calligraphy was exceptionally good, too. I suppose I should go, she thought. I'll borrow Makoto's thermos flask, and get her to watch from a safe distance ...


The final class of the day was Phys. Ed., the only class Ranma cared anything about. The girls played softball, while the boys lined up for martial arts.

"I try to match students who are close in skill levels, Saotome." The boys' coach glared at him. "But I don't know what your skill level is. Where do you want to start?"

Ranma grinned. "At the top, of course. When it comes to martial arts, I'm the best."

"You think so, do you? Kintaro, see what you can do against this 'best' boy here." At that, a big, burly boy stepped forward and bowed to Ranma. Ranma bowed back, let him make the first move, then knocked him out with one blow.

"Okay, so you're better than Kintaro. Wait here a minute." The coach went over to the girls' coach, then came back with one of the students. "This is Kino Makoto, the school's best fighter. Let's see how well you do against her."

"Aw, man ...  I can't fight Makoto! She's too good a cook for me to get her angry at me!"

Makoto was surprised. "You won't fight me?"

"I won't fight Akane, I won't fight Ukyo, and I won't fight you, either. Real men don't fight girls!"

"Oh. All right." Makoto turned to walk away.

Wow, thought Ranma. She's just leaving? She doesn't insist we fight? That never happened before ...

Someone from the crowd yelled, "Saotome's a chicken!"

Makoto turned back to Ranma, who was sweating. Poor guy, she thought. He's too macho to fight a girl, but he's too macho to let someone call him "chicken". What's he going to do?

He did the last thing anyone expected - he grabbed the closest water bucket and poured its contents over his, now her, head. "But a girl can fight another girl! Here I come, Makoto!"

She didn't put up much of a fight - Ranma's obvious change of gender surprised her too much. The battle, if you want to call it that, was over almost as fast as Ranma's fight with Kintaro. As she lost consciousness, she heard Ranma say, "Can somebody get me some hot water, please?"


Coming in Chapter Three:
Ami learns a Secret, and Ranma meets another pretty woman. (And the main villain decides on a plan, but how important is that?)

Akane and Ukyo blushed. "I'm sorry I hit you, Ranma," said Akane. "But you shouldn't have interfered in a fight between women."


Chapter Three - The Enemy of My Enemy Had Better Be My Friend ...

Ami and Makoto were talking after class. "Are you sure that's what you saw, Makoto?"

"I saw Saotome change from a boy to a girl. I'm sure, Ami."

"Could he be a Starlight?"

"No; he wasn't wearing a fuku after the transformation. Besides, why would a Starlight be here, now? But that isn't important right now. What did you want me to do?"

"Skuld wants to speak with me. Would you mind watching from over here?"

"And come to your rescue if she's an enemy? Of course." Makoto pulled her henshin wand from her bag and sat down to watch.

"Thank you." Ami walked over to the spot where she expected to meet Skuld, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After five minutes, she remembered that Skuld's note had said "Bring hot water", got Makoto's thermos bottle from her bag, and opened the lid. Skuld appeared from the flask in a beam of pure light. "Hello, Ami! I was wondering when you were going to open that thing!"

"H-hello, Skuld. How did you do that?"

Skuld noticed the worried look on Ami's face, and decided not to tease her. "I just did it. Each Goddess has a special mode of transportation, Ami. Mine is the ability to move through hot water."

"'Goddess'?" Ami's expression had changed from suspicious to shocked.

"I'm afraid so. Can I still be your friend?" Skuld looked as if she was about to cry.

The tears in Skuld's eyes were almost enough to weaken Ami's resolve, but then she remembered deadly opponents who had played upon her emotions in the past. "If being friends means we try not to hurt each other, then we can always be friends, Skuld."

That got a smile. "Thank you, Ami. I hope 'not hurting each other' includes keeping each others' secrets. Nobody's supposed to know that I'm a Goddess - the only reason I told you is because Kami-sama said it was okay. And I think you don't want everyone to know that you're Sailor Mercury ..."

"What are you talking about?" Ami gasped.

Skuld looked straight at Ami, and spoke in the gravest voice she could manage. "All secrets become revealed in time, and I am the Goddess of the Future." Her tone lightened. "Besides, I can see the symbol on your forehead!"

"Oh."

Skuld passed her hand over her own face, and her Goddess Emblems became visible. "And now you can see mine!" She made another motion and they disappeared. "Ami, I have a confession to make. When you and the others left at lunch, I spied on you."

"You did?"

"Uh-huh." Skuld switched her computer on and showed Ami the recording of the call from Luna, and the Sailor Team's reaction to it. Skuld then asked Ami, "Are all of these people Sailors?"

Ami thought for a moment, then decided it would be pointless to try to lie to Skuld. "Yes, they are."

"Okay, they can know about me." An alert box popped up on the display, in a language Ami didn't recognize. Skuld read it, then turned toward where Makoto was hiding. "Hi!" she shouted as she waved.

Makoto jumped, then looked at Ami, who motioned for Makoto to join them. She walked over to the two girls. "How'd you spot me?"

"I didn't. The Skuld Comet, Mark IV, picked you up on its sensors."

"The what?"

"My current geosynchronous satellite."

Ami cleared her throat. "You have a satellite in orbit?"

"Yeah, I know - what does a Goddess need with a satellite?"

Makoto gasped. "'Goddess'?"

"Do I have to go through everything again?" moaned Skuld.

Ami put a hand on each of the other girls' shoulders. "Makoto, Skuld is the Goddess of the Future. She knows who we are. Skuld, Makoto is my teammate and one of my dearest friends, and she'll keep your secret."

The other two girls thought for a moment, then smiled and shook hands.


Meanwhile, three other students were having a serious discussion. At least, it was as serious as these three usually got ...

"Okay, you two - why are you fighting?"

"What do you mean, Ranma-honey?"

"These bruises on my face didn't just show up on their own, you know."

Akane and Ukyo blushed. "I'm sorry I hit you, Ranma," said Akane. "But you shouldn't have interfered in a fight between women."

"That sounds like my line, Akane. But it still doesn't answer my question: why are you two fighting?"

They thought for a moment. Finally, Ukyo said "I'm not sure. I guess it could be because it's something we know how to handle. Remember when I first showed up in Nerima?"

"That's right," added Akane. "You got into more than your share of fights until you got comfortable around us."

"It's nice that you two have found a way to cope with our changing schools, but it's gonna put me in the hospital if you're not more careful!"

"Sorry, Ranma-honey."

"Sorry, Ranma. I'll try to keep my fists to myself."

"So will I, Ranma-honey."

"Thanks."


Two Senshi were trying to puzzle out an apparent problem while waiting for the others to join them for their weekly meeting.

"Rei?"

"Yes, Usagi?"

"Didn't Sailor Pluto tell us that there wouldn't be any more enemies for us to fight?"

Hino Rei thought for a moment. "I think what she told us was that we wouldn't have to worry about any more enemies until the Earth was frozen."

"So, who were Uranus and Neptune fighting, then?"

Rei's response was cut off by the arrival of Mamoru. Usagi's attention immediately shifted to her boyfriend, leaving Rei to wonder about her friend's question ...


Whatever it was, it was dark.

And malevolent.

And cold.

And on a course that took it directly past Pluto.

It approved of Pluto - it found the ice on that planet aesthetically pleasing.

It decided to cover the other rockball planets in this star system with ice, as well. That would look pretty, and solve the problem on the third planet as well.

All that life was giving it the equivalent of a headache.


Not much later ...

"Ami, Makoto, why are we visiting a Shinto temple?"

"Our friend Rei lives here, Skuld," replied Ami. "I think you should meet her."

"Why?"

"Because she's a nice person," answered Makoto.

"That, and because she can sometimes see the future," added Ami.

"Really? She can do that?" Skuld was estatic. "Can she teach me?"

Ami and Makoto stopped walking.

"I thought you said you're the Goddess of the Future."

"Don't you already know what the future holds?"

Skuld blushed. "Well ...  I'm still learning how to use my powers. Neither of my sisters has the gift of foresight, so they can't teach me how to use my gift. But if your friend can help me, I'd be really really grateful ..."

"Help you with what?" asked a girl at the doorway to the shrine's living quarters. "Hello, Ami. Hello, Makoto," she added quickly.

"Hello, Rei. This is Skuld." Skuld bowed as Ami introduced her. "She has a favour to ask of you."

"Can it wait for a few hours? Usagi, Minako, and Mamoru are already here."

"I guess so ..." replied Skuld.

"No, it can't," interrupted Makoto. "All you need to do now is tell Skuld 'yes' or 'no', then we can start the meeting."

"Makoto!"

"Ami, there's no point in waiting." Makoto turned to Rei. "Skuld needs to learn how to control her visions of the future. Can you help her?"

Rei, Ami and Skuld were shocked at Makoto's bluntness. Skuld didn't expect anyone in Japan to behave that way, and the others didn't expect Makoto to behave that way in front of a new acquaintance.

"What? Rei, you already pointed out that we're short on time. Besides, if we aren't going to be able to keep secrets from Skuld, then she shouldn't be keeping secrets from us."

Rei looked Skuld straight in the eye. "What is Makoto saying about us not keeping secrets from you?"

Skuld didn't flinch. "I'm a Goddess." She looked at Rei's forehead. "Oh, you're Sailor Mars! Hello!"

Rei turned to Ami and Makoto, fire in her eyes. "Which one of you told her?"

Skuld waved her hand, and a bolt of light came from the sky and singed the grass at Rei's feet. (Skuld knew that a defence system would come in handy on the Skuld Comet, but she didn't think she'd ever use it like this. Now she'd have to be on the lookout for blasts from other people's particle beam satellites ...) She glared at Rei. "Stop that!"

Rei bowed deeply. "I'm sorry."

"Apology accepted." Skuld smiled, and the tension left her voice. "So, can you help me learn how to see the future, Rei?"

"I'll do my best."

"Yay!" cried Skuld with the enthusiasm she usually reserved for high-quality ice cream.

Ami and Makoto let out the breaths they had been holding. "Let's go in, and introduce you to Mamoru."

"Okay!"

Rei grabbed Ami's sleeve. "Is that really a good idea?"

"Usagi told me to find out as much as I could about Skuld. Why not let Skuld answer everyone's questions herself?"

"I guess that makes sense ..."

"Besides, do you want to tell a Goddess 'no, you can't come in'?"

"That's a good point, Ami." The four girls went to join the others.


Meanwhile, an attractive woman was walking around a corner, fully expecting to bump into someone special. She didn't like what she was about to do, but she had done many things she didn't like ...

"Ouch!"

"Oof! Hey, I'm sorry about that, miss."

"That's all right." His friends should speak up right about now ...

"Ranma! Why weren't you paying attention to where you were going?"

"Yeah, Ranma-honey - that was really clumsy of you."

Ranma turned to Akane and Ukyo. "I was distracted, okay?"

The woman affected a surprised expression. "Excuse me? Did they say your name is 'Ranma'?"

"Yeah, I'm Saotome Ranma."

She really hated what she was about to do, but it had to be done. "Ranma, I've finally found you! It's me, Meiou Setsuna, your fianceé!" And she jumped into his arms.

"Ranma!!!!!"

"It's not my fault, Akane! I've never met this woman before in my life!"

Akane and Ukyo looked at each other, then looked at Ranma. For once, they saw the look of helplessness on his face. They looked at each other again, and spat out one word in unison.

"Genma."

Meanwhile, Setsuna was smiling. Everything was going according to the Plan ...


Coming in Chapter Four:
The first Big Fight, the first Big Mistake, and the first Big Loss. And two of those are pointless.

Ranma's jaw was on the ground. "You're Sailor Moon?"

This puzzled the two girls. "Who else would I be?"

"Judging from your battle aura," replied Ranma, "you'd be my classmate, Usagi."