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DISCLAIMER: Relatively standard stuff. Existing characters are properties of the people who made them up. Mitsuki, and several other characters are mine, and so's the story, hence ownership and copyright of them belongs to me. Contact me at domino@linksnet.nu if you want permission to use anything I've written for whatnot purposes.

BAD LANGUAGE ALERT!

GRAPHIC VIOLENCE ALERT!

TRUTH

by

Raymond Cooper

Chapter 5

** Hello Kitty **

 

 

Screaming. Like from a little girl.

Strangely enough from the young man in the tuxedo, sitting on the table and doing a very rapid crab backwards, looking for a wall to press his back up against. "CAT!" Ranma howled.

Yeah, sure, everyone else was screaming - but Hotaru had seen Ranma in action against creatures that gave off much more strength than this - and he hadn't panicked this way then. Hotaru barely noticed Mitsuki had left the table also, but the older woman was moving more towards a series of potted plants that gave some cover from prying eyes. Hotaru grabbed Ranma, but instead of dragging him off as she planned, his hand clamped down on her arm and he dragged her back towards the wall. Damn. Even worse, she couldn't seem to break his grip!

She gave a quick look around. No one - everyone else had cleared out by this time. Ranma's hand was hurting her arm where it was gripping, and she couldn't break free. Oh well. He knew who she was, and surely if he saw and remembered anything, he'd be rather impressed with the young woman beside him. Well, it was one surefire way to see if there was any chance of anything. "Saturn planet power make up!"

Explosion of light. Noise. And a Cat. A tom Cat.

That was what Ranma knew. Then strong fingers pried his claws off something, something soft, something he vaguely recalled to be a cute plaything. No matter. There was a Cat here. A dirty tom, marking his territory. Ranma leaped forward, claws outstretched, for the Cat's eyes.

He didn't make it close. The Cat raised a hand, and an unearthly wind knocked him into a wall on the other side of the restaurant. Ranma slid down the wall, making a weird meowing sound followed by a groan.

Saturn blinked at the cat-like Ranma, watching him spring from her side and get slammed across the room. As he slid out of sight, she felt heat rise within her - anger, pure and simple. Her hate-filled eyes snapped back around to the creature throwing off Dark Kingdom energy, and she stepped forward.

The slavering beast raised a hand. "Halt, please, fair lady. It would do you no great service to engage me in a base melee brawl."

That stopped Saturn long enough for her to forget why she was angry. "What?"

"I was merely ruminating you might find me to be a stronger adversary than you suspect, child, and that a hasty engagement might be detrimental to your health."

"Do your kind *always* talk this much?" a very angry voice cut through the still air in the restaurant. Both the cat-beast and Saturn looked over towards the voice - and there was the black-suited senshi, looking very pissed off. That seemed to be about par for this woman, Saturn thought. And yes, some part of her mind noted, she appeared after Mitsuki had left. She *had* to be the new senshi.

What was even more interesting - and upsetting to Saturn - was seeing an injured Ranma curling around her feet, rubbing the sides of his face up along her boots and down to her toes. The senshi looked a bit unsettled at this action - and Saturn herself realised that Ranma was acting... yeah. Something had to be going on there. She'd have to remember to ask him later.

The cat-creature was surprised momentarily. "Another member of your erroneously oft-exagerrated clan? Most interesting. This incident is most fortuitous - for now I have gained the chance to truly test my mettle in battle!" He struck a pose.

The new Sailor gave a confused glance at Saturn. "Well?"

"Well what?"

"Do they always talk this much?"

Saturn stared.

"Nevermind." The new senshi turned, and raised her hands. "Nemesis arctic fire!" A blast of fire and ice sped across the room. In true cat fashion, though, the creature dodged, and the senshi found him sitting up on a table, preening himself and rubbing a paw behind his ears. He stopped, and looked at the older woman, surprised.

"Oh my apologies, my lady, was... I supposed to accept that gift in the manner you indicated?"

"You're mocking me," the woman growled through gritted teeth.

"And my dear," the cat purred, "you make it so easy."

The woman snapped, and leapt towards the cat. Her left foot snapped out in a kick to the cat's stomach, followed up by two powerful punches to his neck, a headbutt and a knee to the groin.

Or rather, that would have been the case if the cat hadn't dodged every single move the senshi made. After the second kick, her centre was open momentarily, and the cat flicked a paw upwards. Dark energies travelled with his hand, and the combined force smashed the woman into the ceiling, where she stayed a moment before crashing to the ground. Even then, she started to stand up. But the cat stepped forward, and turned around, dropped down onto his hands, and thrust both legs out into her side.

The wind went out of the senshi, and she smashed backwards out of control, slamming through a wall beside Saturn.

Ranma watched, unconcerned, licking his hands and preening behind his ears. But Saturn noticed... his eyes never seemed to leave the other senshi... nor did they leave her. He was waiting. But waiting for what?

Saturn didn't have time to think about that as the cat jumped at her, swiping with both paws. She used her glaive to parry the blows, then returned with a thrust, finally swinging the end around to try and smash the cat around the head. But it dodged the thrust and ducked the swing, and returned with a paw to the stomach. The blow lifted Saturn off her feet, and smashed her into the wall also. But the other senshi was up now, and moving. Strong, Saturn noted, likely stronger than her. But... also untrained. As if use of her powers and strength was something she wasn't used to. Strange, for one so powerful to have so little idea of what to do with it.

"You!" the woman yelled. "Yes, you!" she added, as the cat's head snapped around to face her. "You stupid cat," she snarled. "I'm stronger than that! I'm Sailor Nemesis! And I'm gonna wipe this floor with your ass before this is finished!"

"You will be most welcome to attempt to fulfill that prophecy, my lady," the cat sneered politely, "Yet you are not strong enough - nor fast enough - to defeat me."

"We'll see," Nemesis returned, before leaping at the cat. Again, she tried a snap-kick, then two punches, and the groin kick.

"Tsk tsk," the cat smirked. "You still left yourself open." He threw a punch at her opening.

But Nemesis had a smirk on her face herself, and the cat realised too late that she had indeed the opening blocked - she snapped her leg down on his arm, trapping him in place momentarily while she raised her hands. "Nemesis arctic fire!"

The blast hit the cat square in the face, and he shied away from the raw energy instinctively. Fur singed, and his eyelids shrivled, revealing dried white globes thrusting forward from his ruined face. The blast hit his shoulders in the main after he pulled away, and the flesh on one shoulder was melted down to toughened muscle and bone. But the arm, amazingly, wstill worked. The cat-thing pulled away from Nemesis, and growled, a deep tone in his throat. He was angry now, and in pain, and all pretence at niceness was stripped away, and all that was left was the raw anger and power that made this mutated cat a powerful killer.

He leapt at Nemesis, his paws flicking slightly and extending twenty centimetre claws, which he slashed once, twice, through Nemesis' torso. The senshi blinked in surprise, staring down at her stomach. Her fuku bulged where the claws passed, then tore, spilling her entrails on the floor. She followed, the look of surprise still on her eyes.

Ranma let out a low, quiet yowl that the cat didn't notice.

Saturn gaped, and spun her glaive. The wounds weren't fatal - not yet, not if she could get to the senshi. But she was hurt herself, and slow, and the cat was eyeing her up. It leapt -

- and Saturn suddenly saw a flash of black pass her eyes.

"Ranma?" she said, turning to follow the flight of the man throwing the cat-thing across the room, following after it. But she had no time to watch the battle, all that was important now was the senshi who was still unable to believe what had happened.

Nemesis looked up at Saturn with shock in her eyes, blood bubbling from her lips. Saturn pushed her down, and began her work of casting subtle magicks that would pull skin together and return things to where they were supposed to belong - this would be a stretch, a very taxing effort. But Nemesis tried to pull herself upright again. "How - what -?"

"Shhh," Saturn said, pushing Nemesis back down again. "Ranma's taking care of it."

There was a hiss, and Saturn was tempted to look over, but didn't. Nemesis, however, had the perfect view of the tuxedo-clad man fighting the cat creature.

Ranma was crouched several metres distant from the beast, yet each casual flick of his hand was opening up new wounds on the creature. Red lines criss-crossed the body of the thing, but he wasn't out of the fight yet. He threw a punch at Ranma - the punch missed, but the dark energy behind it didn't.

Ranma was thrown backwards, almost back to touch Saturn's feet. The cat sprang after him, but Neko-Ranma jumped straight back at the tom, meeting him halfway and tangling in a fight that led Ranma's jacket to be ripped to shreds, but also caused the tom to lose the use of an arm and a leg, a ripped artery in his throat, and a hole in his chest that whistled whenever he breathed. Ranma smirked - Nemesis swore he did. And then he delivered the coup de grace - both hands swinging up from low and rising upwards and outwards until his hands were high above his head.

The cat's guts spilled out everywhere, much as... oh god, much as her own had...

Nemesis passed out.

******

Saturn noticed Nemesis fall unconscious, and her change fell away from her - a sign of how injured the woman really was. Yes, indeed, Saturn was right. This was Mitsuki, the woman who had claimed she would be Ranma's date for the night. This gave Saturn pause - Ranma was hers. That had to be it. He was nice, he was cute, he paid attention to her! To *her*, not her skirt, not her chest, not her backside and not even her planet, but *her*. Hotaru Tomoe.

She had to admit, though, she was fairly young. Too young to seriously hope to capture Ranma's heart just yet. But hey, this was Japan, and weirder things had happened (and regularly did, as she well knew). Hadn't Minako had older boyfriends when she was younger? Of course she had! Why couldn't Hotaru?

But for now, that was a moot point. She had other things to concentrate on. She heard the sound behind her of a zip, and made to turn, but Mitsuki touched her hand lightly. "Don't."

"What?"

The voice had been filled with... tenderness. Sadness, too, that was directed at... herself? "Don't look."

"Why not?"

Mitsuki managed a small chuckle. "He just fought a tom cat. He's one himself. What do you think he's doing? Ranma's marking his territory."

Oh. Yeah. Saturn nodded. "Okay." She waited a moment, but couldn't hear anything more. Then she fell backwards, and somehow, Ranma was in her lap, purring, stretching. Her fuku and skirt didn't cover nearly enough for this to be considered decent, something Mitsuki was confirming with her smirk and laughter in her eyes, and so Saturn let her own change slip. Her dress was slightly tattered now, as her uniform had been, but it covered down over her knees at least. She began stroking Ranma's back, a little self-consciously, and blushed, embarrassed to be doing this. "Sempai..." she breathed, as she stroked. Somehow, she knew this was maybe as close as she would ever come to holding Ranma in her arms.

She really hoped this was one of those silly feelings brought on by the heat of the moment. She liked this feeling, and would love to try it again, in more comfortable surroundings, in more comfortable clothes. Like her big fleecy cotton pyjamas. And Ranma could be dressed like Tuxedo Kamen... her own special prince from the Silver Millennium.

Mitsuki leaned forward, sitting upright for the first time since passing out, and checked her stomach. Her dressed was ripped in four parallel lines across her stomach, but otherwise seemed to be okay. Even the blood had faded out. She reached out to give Ranma a scratch behind his ears for a job well done, but he hissed, and got his back up. When his nails dug into Hotaru's thigh, she backed off, and headed home. Hotaru and a somewhat confused Ranma followed minutes later, Ranma's hand behind his head, wondering what had just happened... and wondering why his fly was open.

And more to the point, why was Hotaru-chan grinning like an idiot, floating along on cloud nine, with a deep blush right across her face?

******

The next morning, Ranma woke before dawn, as usual. He stepped outside, in his normal training gi, and stood ready to do his morning training routine. He started one kata, then moved smoothly into another, not breaking stride even though his muscles felt tired, joints sore, and he had a number of small scratches and holes poked in him. He hadn't let Hotaru heal them since she looked so drained by the time they had reached the dorm the night before, but he surmised he'd entered the Nekoken at some point the night before... he suspected that would take some explaining.

Mitsuki had already been home when they got there, in the hot springs. Hotaru had joined her, to leave again minutes later and have a hot bath instead. Ranma had wondered about that, but was deadly tired himself.

He moved into another kata, and noticed a shadow behind him. He turned when he reached that moment of his routine - Rei. To be expected after he had trounced her so easily the day before. He had been considering offering to teach her, but seeing his father hadn't been quite the best teacher, he was worried to take on students himself. Rei knew how to handle herself, though, and was copying his movements a scant quarter second after he made them.

But there was a second shadow there. Mitsuki, he saw a moment later. She also was working on Ranma's routine. Not as good as Rei was, but still... she looked as if she had had some practise, some experience, within the art before. Her eyes her nervous, yet challenging at the same time. She dared him to say something, to make something of it.

Ranma completed his half-turn to face the front doors to the dorm before continuing this segment. Kick, punch, side block, punch - and the door opened.

Hotaru exited, shutting the door behind her. Dressed in tights, shorts and a t-shirt, with a sweatband tied around her head. She took up position on the other side of Rei from Mitsuki, and looked at Ranma expectantly. "Sempai?"

"Yes, Hotaru?" Ranma's voice was quiet, working this through himself. He had a school, apparently.

"Please don't be angry. I want to learn to be a better fighter. Like you."

Ranma started. This sounded more like her Saturn persona than the girl he had known. He glanced at Rei. Her eyes were hard... determined... but there was something in them, a fire that wasn't going to be put out unless he gave the word. And Mitsuki showed the same glare.

"Don't look at me," she shrugged. "My father was supposed to teach me, but... anyway, you can teach me now."

And that was it. The decision had been made, and not by him. Oh well... he could live with it, he guessed. Ranma continued to face his class, and began his first lesson.

 

 

 

SAILOR MOON SAYS:

A short part this time. This fic continues to surprise me... usually, I determine an end point, and work towards that. This time, I've merely said I want this to happen, but other than that, here's the characters, here's what they want, who they are. Play nicely in the sandpit now.

It's interesting. And I hope going towards a lot of interesting character pieces... I'm really liking this :)

/end ego trip

Next time: Love Hino. Need I say more?