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Chapter 5, Life Triumphant

After their latest raid on the mana melons, Sailor Sun carried a massive armload with her into the dry wastelands, which surrounded the city. When they reached their cave, she dumped the food. With what they had, they should be set for the next three weeks. Thank you, Pops, for teaching me the Shop, Grab and Run technique.

Ranko dropped the Sailor costume, and then raising her transformation stick in the air, she changed back into her Senshi uniform. The magic of the Sailor Senshi seemed to believe that all Sailors should be properly groomed and dressed for their battles against evil. Not only did it provide make up and jewelry, it also gave her a complete bath, cleaned and combed her hair, and fixed all the damage in her suit. Cleaned of all the demon blood, dirt and mess, Sailor Sun felt like a new woman.

When she wandered out of the cave and saw Akane, filthy from two weeks of action, she began to consider the options of getting a new woman. This one needed to be traded in.

Sitting down next to the dirty - and smelly - girl, Sailor Sun placed an arm around her shoulders. She had learned two days ago to try not to pat Akane's hair anymore. The hair was so matted with demon blood that even though it was short, it was tangled and clotted together.

Tears ran down Akane's cheek when she saw just how clean and beautiful her fiancé was. Silently Sun held Akane. There was nothing that could be said. They both knew that there was little they could do to escape, so until they were rescued, it was no baths, and living on highly nutritious cardboard. At least the mana melons had enough water content for them to survive. Akane had tried washing her hands once with the juice from the mana melons, but all that did was make them stickier.

Deep in the night, Sun woke up and looked at the ceiling. There was no movement. Even Akane was still for a change. Reaching out with her senses, she tried to find any youma: there were none. Lying back down, Sun tried to sleep, but when she was about to close her eyes, the idea that woke her resurfaced.

Slipping out of the cave, she grabbed an armful of the melons. A short distance away was another cave. It was smaller than theirs, and quite narrow. Placing the melons at the entrance, she walked several meters to the back. Yes, aside from some dirt, it was all rock. Blasting a hole in the ground, she collected the rocks and piled them near the entrance, blocking wind as much as possible.

Taking the first of the mana melons, she held it in her hands, and focused a small quantity of heat from the attack she usually used. Seconds later, the melon had split, and steam was rising off it. After ten seconds, it was a withered and dried husk. Tossing it away, she grabbed two more melons, one for each hand. Heating them again she continued the process.

By the time she had demolished the pile she brought, the cave was a sauna, and she could see drops forming on the stalactites. By the time she had gone through three quarters of their food supply, the floor had a sizable pool of water.

The next morning, Sun gave Akane her first bath for weeks, even if it was only lukewarm. Without soap, her hair was still a complete loss. Eventually - at her insistence - Sun gave her an even shorter hair cut. A haircut so short and spiky that even Principal Kuno would have approved.

They may have sacrificed their food, but they had reclaimed their pride.

Jadeite smiled.

His plan had worked perfectly. By smuggling almost eighty youma into the civilian population he had been able to draw the Sailor Senshi away from his main target. When Queen Beryl had attacked, she had insisted on using all forms of subtlety. Under her guidance, a youma would lay an elaborate and vulnerable network of energy absorption. This worked in theory, and gave yields almost as good as his humans in the harvesting crystals. The difference between theory and practice was that when the Senshi killed the youma, the energy was generally lost too.

So much effort, so little gain. His more direct approach had a better success rate since the energy was invariably saved, and the losses he suffered were expected and accounted for. Because he had not sent any youma in subversively, the stupid Senshi had conveniently forgotten he possessed the ability.

So even when they attempted to evacuate the city, all it did was add to the confusion. Three hours before his main army transited to Earth, his eighty hidden youma sprang forth. Struggling, the Senshi had managed to kill a number of these, but it kept them busy. By the time they could break off and respond, over one hundred youma were already through the beachhead. A rapidly expanding circle of demons kept all the civilians from escaping, and presented a unified front against the Senshi.

For the last week, his harvesters had been able to spare no energy for the creation of new youma. Not only was there a massive requirement for the portals, sending youma between the worlds; his main requirement was the casting of all of the Stasis Crystals. While his best-case plans had forecast almost this many captives, he had not expected that the best-case plans would come into effect. Now he already had thousands of the humans in his harvesters. With this much power, he could begin to create a second army, an army that would be able to take and hold Tokyo.

Yesterday Sailor Sun and Akane had killed off Jadeite's latest patrol that had come looking for them. Jadeite had tried a new plan, a design for even stronger youma. A youma which was supposed to be armored beyond anything, which a human could hope to damage and made specifically to deal with his little pest problem. A Senshi would have had a hard time defeating them and the six youma he had sent would have had an easy time defeating Sailor Sun.

Jadeite's plan had been a good one. He had created golems. A golem was a demon made entirely from rock. It was slower than a normal youma, but it had armor that was much stronger. Sailor Sun and Akane had found out just how much stronger when they charged in, kicking, punching and throwing ki attacks. All of these, the youma shrugged off. Sailor Sun had even been struck badly in the stomach while saving Akane.

The initial part of the battle had gone badly, and then the reason for the better armor had dawned on the pair. Composed completely of rock, the demons were susceptible to the Breaking Point technique. The training in the last month paid off instantly when, with six cries of "BAKUSAI TENKETSU!" the entire patrol was reduced to a pile of rubble.

Now they were relaxing after their meal, safely hidden in the hills. Part way through the conversation with Akane, Sailor Sun had dashed off behind some boulders. "Ranma? Ranma? Are you okay?"

A few minutes later, a rather pale Sailor Sun had returned. "Akane, I don't know how to say this, but I don't know if I'm going to be here much longer."

Akane gasped and the two of them fell to the ground in each other's arms. "What... What's the matter?"

"I'm not sure. This Sailor Suit protects me from most damage, and heals me really quick, but... but it doesn't seem to be working this time. After that attack yesterday... I seem to have some sort of internal damage. It started slowly, but I seem to be bleeding to death."

Akane stifled her cries and leaned on her fiancée. "I'll never be able to see what's wrong while you're wearing that. Can you change back to your normal body?"

"I can try, I'm just a bit worried that the Sailor Suit is all that's holding me together."

Concentrating hard, Sailor Sun dropped her costume. Fortunately, there was no change. She still felt the pain in her stomach; a certain sign of whatever wound it was that was killing her. Akane looked her over. She poked and prodded, and searched for bruises. Ranko was a little tender, but other than that, there was nothing wrong that she could find.

"Um... Ranma, how do you know you're bleeding?"

Ranko blushed and batted her big eyes. "It's err... kind of embarrassing. I seem to be bleeding from..."

Akane waited but Ranko did not continue. Usually Ranko had no feminine modesty. Perhaps being a girl for so long was having an effect on her morals. Then again, it had not affected her speech yet.

"Where? It's important. Have you got a wound I can't see?"

"Not exactly... It's... it's... it's somewhere personal."

"You don't mean..."

Her eyes darted downward. "Yes."

Akane sighed and leaned back. She has been a girl for almost a month. "I don't think there's anything I can do, Ranma. Let's say that you'll be better in a day or two. Let's just hope that we're gone from here before another month is up."

Ranko looked at his fiancée, fear in her eyes. "What's happening? What's wrong with me?"

"Nothing is actually wrong with you... I think that you really better spend some time talking to Dr. Tofu when we get back. This isn't the sort of thing I can explain to a boy."

Ryoga looked at the hitchhiker who was walking with him. He knew that he was in the wrong country, but hopefully Prefect-san would be able to help him find his way. They were currently stopped at a roadside diner on the middle of a long highway.

Ryoga was talking to some of the truck drivers, trying to get directions to the Tendo dojo. His directional sense was bad, but his sense of time was quite normal... unless he was traveling somewhere. Days just seemed to go missing. Since there was only a week and a half until Ranma and Akane were due back, Ryoga though he ought to try and be there to greet them.

Having received directions to a place called Texas - Ryoga was fairly sure it was one of the Wards around Tokyo - he waited. He was idly poking holes in the asphalt roadway spelling the word 'Akane' absentmindedly when Prefect-san came out of the diner. His friend handed him several packets of peanuts and some cans of beer. "Eat these. We're going for a little trip. I've managed to reach an old friend from Alpha Centauri, it'll give us a lift."

The hitchhiker looked around and poked the Japanese boy he was traveling with. "Ryoga, you do know where we are, don't you?"

"Sure, Prefect-san. Kansas."

He looked around at the way the hills grew to mountains in the east, and the way that the Pacific Ocean spread out like a blue tablecloth in the West. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto."

Ryoga smashed his fist into the ground. "I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque. Damn you, Ranma!"

The Senshi gathered around Ami. Sailor Mercury was the only one that was dressed in her Sailor suit, and the reason was painfully obvious. While most of the Senshi had been fighting for around ten hours a day, or until they dropped, Sailor Mercury had been working on developing a portal in excess of twenty hours a day.

Sailor Mercury seemed to be living largely by the strength of the magic that healed the Senshi. She had been skipping meals, and missing out on sleep for almost two months, and it was not something the human body was meant to be able to do. Already a small girl, she had lost at least ten kilos, and was very thin now. While the other Sailors had been fighting to the point of exhaustion, Sailor Mercury had been working beyond that to develop some form of dimensional gate.

Every day she would awaken and begin her study or research, as the night would begin, she would sometimes break for lunch, and then it was back to the research. Most days when progress had been either particularly good, or particularly bad, she would still be working when her friends or assistants woke in the morning. Like most of the residents of the inner Tokyo area, her house had been evacuated. Now she worked in a private lab. The funding was brought in by the Senshi, either by their own money, bequeaths from thankful people they rescued, or even some government funds which had been made available to the Senshi on a discretionary basis.

Now, after six weeks of inhuman effort, the brilliant girl had succeeded. In the middle of the room stood a hoop. It was precisely two meters in diameter, and looked like nothing more than some sort of cyborg donut. It was thick, silver and covered with piping. Naturally enough, there were also lots of bright flashing lights. The base of the donut was embedded in the raised floor, and ramps led up to each side. On each of the ramps there was a large red arrow, one pointing into the hoop, the other away from it.

Wearily, Sailor Mercury waved a hand at her invention. "Okay, this is it. I know that it's calibrated to the right universe, since I have sent through a couple of small cameras. We have a good image of Jadeite's base. Just before everyone got here, I also sent an energy scanner through: Sailor Sun is still alive."

There was some commotion at that. Surprise was certainly one of their main feelings. They knew Sun was good, but to be able to survive in Jadeite's realm must have taken amazing abilities. Usagi immediately jumped to her feet. "Then let's open the portal and bring back Sailor Sun and Akane. The sooner we have them back, the better."

Sailor Mercury shook her head sadly. "It's not that easy I'm afraid. One of the reasons I could find Jadeite's base so easily is I could track his portals. If I open a portal to send anything large through, he'll know exactly where we are. Not only that, but we lose any hope of surprise. Come on, Usagi, you know how he fights. If he could track us to this place, he would start sending demons through. As soon as he pinned us fighting them, he would open portals all around us and feed in his entire army. We're only going to have one shot at this."

The Senshi digested this and debated their tactics for a while. Eventually, Usagi made a pronouncement. "Ami, you're going to eat, then get to bed right now. Everyone else is the same. We can't mount a rescue or an attack while we're so tired. I want everyone to rest for the next two days. Then we'll signal Ranko. What was it she wanted, pink flares?"

Rei was not amused. "Red, Usagi, red."

"Tee Hee! Okay, red flares. Besides, we're going to have to make an exit for all the people that we rescue. If Jadeite has thousands of prisoners, they wouldn't be able to just walk out of the house, they need to be able to get clear as quick as possible."

The next problem they thought of was Sun's request to Mercury: 'I'll signal, then home on me'. Mercury said she could get the portal to open right next to Sailor Sun if she was still, the only problem was what her signal would be. There was nothing planned, and they had no way for Sailor Sun to communicate with them.

When asked about maintaining a constant watch over Sailor Sun, Mercury shook her head. "The power required for an open portal for that long would be too obvious. Ranko wanted two days. I say we get the army to watch all of Jadeite's portals. Maybe Ranko knows a way she could get a message to us."

Rei finished the meeting. "All right girls, we have a few things to do. Tomorrow, we open this wall, that's the easy part. Next, we have between two and four days to decide how to break thousands of stasis crystals, and kill Jadeite. After we send those flares, everyone has to be well rested and ready to go on a moment's notice. Sailor Sun might need us to bail her out pretty quick when she signals for us. For those who don't know, Luna and Artemis have figured out that if we're prepared and rested, we can store enough magical energy to last for an hour. So when we get there, we have one hour to kill Jadeite. Finally, remember, when the portal opens and Jadeite knows we're in his domain, every youma here will go all out attacking. Without us to oppose them, they should be able to cream the regular forces. Just having us around means they need to use cautious tactics. Jadeite's probably not expecting an attack on his home turf for this very reason."

Rei paused with the weight of her words, unintentionally adding dramatic impact. "We either win this battle, or Tokyo belongs to Jadeite."

Mr. Miyagi was quite sad. While he had been contacted by one of Ranma's friends in Tokyo and knew that the kids were safe, he had not seen them in almost two months. True, they had left Tokyo before the invasion started, but that just meant that for the last two months the pair had been wandering around unsupervised. Mr. Miyagi had no doubt that they could handle any sort of violence that they were likely to encounter; it was more the moral problems.

Ranma and Akane were fiancées, and he knew what that was like. Especially when they were normal, active, hormone drenched sixteen year olds. He could only hope that Ranma was as honorable as he seemed to be. It would be a terrible thing if he had to tell his old friends Soun and Genma that their children had been living together for two months without a chaperone.

After Daniel-san had fought in his competition - without the Kachuu Tenshin Amaguriken, which he could not master - Mr. Miyagi had returned to Japan to try to find his charges. There was little success. All of the other students that Ranma and Akane had introduced him to had been disbursed due to the evacuation, and could not be found. While the school may have known their whereabouts, it had been leveled one day in a demon attack. For some reason that school had seen more than its fair share of demon attacks, and this one had just been too much to defend.

The school year was just ending, and the government had distributed pamphlets on what to do with your school children. Many of the records had been lost, and most schools - like Juuban - had not been able to conduct their end of year tests. All of the students at Juuban would need to take their exams at other schools, or do make-up exams later.

Mr. Miyagi felt sorry for the kids. They really were sincere about the Art, and quite talented. His technique of misdirection had caused Ranma to become a skilled sensei. If he could not find them within a week, he would contact the Tendo's and apologize for his failure to look after the children.

Sun and Akane looked down at the demon city. This in itself was nothing unusual. They tended to spend most of their time looking at the city, hoping for a sign from the Senshi. Even if they were not watching for a sign, it was still what they would have spent their time doing. There was always a slim chance that they would spot an open portal, which was lightly defended, and be able to escape, or they might be able to stage a quick food raid.

Sailor Sun lay on her back and idly played with Akane's hair. It was still cut short, short enough that even the blood and slime from their frequent fights with demons could be washed out. Akane was on her stomach, looking down at the city through half closed eyes. Rolling over, Sailor Sun placed a kiss on the back of her neck, and then began to massage her shoulders.

"Oh, Ranma. That's so nice. You've really gotten good at that."

Sailor Sun giggled. "Well, considering the vast library that we have available, I need to spend my time doing something. Besides, we can only train for so many hours each day,"

Akane sighed even more deeply and closed her eyes. Sun had developed the amazing massage that Mr. Miyagi had taught her to astonishing new levels. She could feel Sun's light girl's body sitting on her lower back as she worked on Akane's shoulders. It really was nice.

Akane opened her eyes and smiled up at her fiancé. "Hmm, you know, when we get back, you could give up Martial Arts and become a professional Masseur. Hey, what's that? Is there something wrong at the portal?"

Sailor Sun immediately stopped her massage. If there was a fight at the portal, it might be the opening they needed to get back home. While Sun had no objections to fighting Jadeite, she wanted to be able to do it where and when they wanted. As far as she was concerned, it meant that they should be able to spend some time safe from youma patrols so she and her cute fiancée could get some time alone. Searching around she eventually saw what Akane had noticed: one of the portals was busily pouring red smoke all over the landscape.

Red Smoke?

A red flare???


Sun grabbed Akane and led her away from their viewing point. "Time for a rest, Akane. I could be wrong, but I think that's the signal that we've been waiting for. If it is, we have a day to rest and recuperate, then we're going in."

Akane smiled with grim anticipation. They had been working on this plan for the last two months, and they thought they had it down pat. If the Senshi had the ability to place a portal where they wanted, they should be able to join with the two of them, and then do some serious damage to Jadeite.

When they got back to their cave, they had a meal and sat down for a while. After eating, they talked of home, and then reviewed the plan. Both knew it back to front, but if they checked it again, the chance of anything going wrong was even less. That evening they slept deeply and comfortably held in each other's arms.

When the morning came, they rose and had a quick spar to loosen up their muscles. When they were finished, Sailor Sun heated most of their food and gave Akane a bath. If these were going to be their first guests in almost two months, then they ought to look their best.

They reached a spot almost a kilometer from one of the portals, and Sailor Sun looked at Akane. "Back in a moment."

Kissing the shorter girl, Akane waved her off and settled down to wait. They had no agreed upon way to signal the Senshi, and they had no way of knowing if their signal would be seen, or even if the Senshi would be able to produce a portal to come and get them. However, Sun had faith in them, and that was enough for her. She had trusted her with her life so many times in the last couple of months that to not trust her had become a foreign idea.

Sailor Moon was dozing in the military command center when a awed looking young Private came over and bowed to her, stuttering her name.

"S-Sailor Moon, Ma'am. We ... we have a report coming in from one of the helicopter patrols."

Moon struggled awake and tried to remember where she was and why she was there. After seeing everyone in the military uniforms she felt like crying. She had been having a great dream about eating ice cream with her friends after a perfectly normal school day. Now she was brought back to reality in a very harsh manner.

Pulling herself together, she looked at the young man. He was cute, but not a shadow on her beautiful Tuxedo Kamen. "Thank you, Private Onotashi. Lead the way."

Pointing to TV screen, she could see a number of demons milling around a portal. After a minute, they calmed down and began to head off. "Here, Ma'am, we have the event on a recording."

Pressing a button, the scene changed and she watched as the camera panned down to center on the portal. Except the portal was hard to see. Every couple of seconds, a billow of flame would jet out. She watched for a few moments and wished she could have been there in person. If she was, she could be sure. As it was.... there was a chance it was just some sort of malfunction from the portal. She didn't think so, but it was a chance.

But she was the beautiful soldier Sailor Moon, and that meant she was supposed to be the leader of the Sailor Senshi. Leaders make decisions.

Sailor Moon hated making decisions.

"Private, tell General Masaki that 'Revenge' is a go. Relay the same message to your CO, and await his orders."

Not even glancing to see if she was obeyed, Moon ran from the temporary command post and headed to where Sailor Mercury had created their portal. On the way there, she summoned all the other Senshi from where they were. No one was out fighting at present. They had been deliberately trying to avoid committing to any battles since they threw the flares through. Now they would find out if it paid off.

She was almost there when she dashed past the tall boy with the black hair, fangs and red umbrella. Normally she would try and give directions to someone who looked so lost, but this day was far from normal.

When she arrived she was surprised to see the portal was still closed. Sailor Mercury was sitting at the control panel, fiddling with all sorts of strange dials, and the other Senshi were queued up waiting to charge through. Sailor Neptune was going to lead their assault just in case they needed to force their way through some reluctant hosts. Mercury looked up at her friend and gave her a smile. "I hope it was the signal, because ever since your call, I've been trying to lock onto Sailor Sun. She just keeps moving."

Moon looked concerned. Even if it were not the signal, the Senshi would be going in now. They may not have given Sailor Sun the full two days she needed, but the plans she had set in motion with the military would be too hard to stop then restart later. Moon's lower lip was starting to tremble, as she feared that she had made a bad choice when Mercury screamed.

"She's stopped! Go, Neptune! Go!"

As soon as the black circle of the portal appeared, Sailor Neptune shot through. Instantly, the other Senshi began to run in after her. Moon and Mercury were the last two through, and then the portal shut itself down. Outside the room, soldiers and medical people began to form up. If things went well, lots of people should be pouring out of the portal any time now.

Sailor Sun stood in the melon field and smiled at Akane. "Now, we wait."

The words were hardly out of her mouth when Sailor Neptune ran out of thin air and straight into Sun's head, knocking the red head down. Neptune picked herself up and only just managed to avoid being jumped on by the next Senshi whose fall was softened by Sun's fallen body. In moments, all of the Senshi had crowded through, and were being helped to their feet by Akane. Sun got up in a daze. "Watch where you're stepping."

When everyone was gathered around, they took stock of each other. Generally most of them looked the same, but the girls from Juuban who knew Akane were stunned. Where Akane had been a fit girl with short hair, she looked almost feral. Her body was almost whipcord thin, except she still carried a lot of muscle. Looking at the girl, it would be hard to believe that she carried a gram of extra fat on her anywhere. It was an easy thing to judge too. Two months living rough and fighting regularly had not been kind to her clothes. The pants were little more than a shredded pair of shorts, and her shirt strained the bounds of decency... if you had very wide bounds of decency.

What probably gave some them the greatest shock was her face and hair. Gone was the baby fat, which had rounded out her face, and also gone was most of her hair. When everyone stared, Sailor Sun came up and put an arm around her. Running a hand through her short-cropped hair, Sailor Sun grinned. "Pretty cute, isn't it?"

Everyone nodded dumbly. Haruka had short hair, but even hers was twice that length. If she didn't have such a feminine face and musculature, Akane could easily pass as a boy.

"Enough with the reunion now. Mercury, how can we get the portal back?"

Sailor Mercury pulled herself back to earth. She was just so happy to see her friend still alive. "Portal... Right... Okay, I have a signal beacon. I can call the portal once to where I am. Then I need to go through and reset the mechanism."

Sun nodded. "Right. That means you're with Akane. Go with her now, she's in charge, do what she says, and everything should be okay. We'll see you back in the real world soon. As long as you can, try and use my magic, Mercury needed it before. Senshi, let's go!"

Before anyone had a chance to object, Sailor Sun and Akane headed in opposite directions. Looking to Moon and Mars for guidance, Mercury eventually headed after Akane when her leaders shrugged their shoulders. The Senshi had worked up their own battle plan, but if the girl on the spot - someone who had been studying the place for two months - had a suggestion they thought it would be worth trying.

Mercury caught up with Akane quickly. She was quick, but there was no doubt that she was not a Senshi. For Akane, it must have been close to a sprint; for Mercury it was a jog in the park. "All right, Akane. Can you tell me what we're doing?"

Akane looked across at the girl and talked between breaths, huffing and puffing in her hurry. "We're the... diversion... and the... rescue... party. When we... get there... you're my... shield."

That didn't explain a great deal to Sailor Mercury, but considering how hard it was for Akane to talk while she ran, she could wait. Eventually they arrived somewhere, Mercury did not know where, but Akane seemed satisfied. It was just another section of plain wall, but Akane stopped and regained her breath before facing the Senshi.

"Do you remember how Ranma got me out of the Stasis Crystal?"

Mercury shook her head. "Sorry, I was busy holding off the youma."

"It's a Martial Arts technique called the Breaking Point. Great technique, it can make any sort of rock explode by hitting the weak point it has. Only problem is that it is an explosion: bits of rock go everywhere. Now I know that I can stand around most of the day doing the Breaking Point, but we have two problems: one, as soon as we start, the youma are going to attack us. Two, I can't get hit by exploding rocks all day without being cut to shreds eventually."

"So you need me to protect you?"

"You got it. Youma should not be a big problem. We figure most will head to Earth to take advantage of your absence, and the rest should be tied up with Ranma. When I start work, I need you to stand in front of me. Sorry, this is going to hurt like hell - Ranma and I practiced this - but your magical healing should keep you safe. Okay, it's time."

Grabbing Sailor Mercury in a rather friendly hug, Akane leaned past her and poked the wall. Sailor Mercury screamed as she felt small knives rip into her all up and down her back. Before the pain subsided, Akane was past her and pulling her inside.

They took a few moments to look around, and then they headed for a nearby room. Mercury recognized it as a twin of the one she and Sun had seen so long ago. "Head for the middle of the room and open the portal, then we'll get started." When the portal was open, Akane again grabbed Mercury and used her as human shield. Moving sideways down the crystal prisons, Akane freed twenty people in rapid succession. The whole while, Mercury screamed. By the time she passed fifteen, she could begin to feel blood trickling down her back.

After twenty were free, Akane indicated that they should toss the twenty through. While they were moving the unconscious people through the portal, Akane saw Mercury's back. "Oh, my god! I'm so sorry! It never did that to Ranma! Damn, this isn't going to work!"

Sailor Mercury's back was almost healed by then. They were only shallow wounds, but if they kept this up for thousands of people, she knew that she would fall soon. "Akane, will you be safe here for a couple of minutes? I might be able to do something about this."

When Akane nodded her assent, Mercury dashed into the portal carrying the last two freed people. All alone, Akane began to work on the next chambers to be freed. The crystal shards did hurt, more than just rock, but her martial arts training gave her a tougher skin than Mercury. She might not heal as fast, but she knew she could take light damage like this for a bit longer. After a minute she had a different idea and began to strike the crystals while on the run. It was hard to keep her balance while getting hit, but she suffered fewer hits this way, having moved past most of the crystal shards.

There were forty-eight people on the floor when Sailor Mercury returned with a pair of soldiers. When Mercury pointed, the soldiers immediately began grabbing people and dragging them to the portal. She was just about to give Akane a bulletproof vest and riot shield helmet when a youma interrupted. Stepping past the soldiers, Akane launched a ki bolt at the monster, and then boggled as Sailor Mercury launched into the fray.

She had seen the Sailor Senshi on the news, but one up close was something to behold. She moved so quickly, and with such grace that even a trained Martial Artist like Akane had a hard time following her movements. Sure, she has seen Sailor Sun in action, but Sailor Mercury fought in a way that looked more like a dance than a fight. Akane watched her for a minute then realized two things: first, the girl was a lousy fighter. She might have great magical powers, but her hand-to-hand combat left much to be desired. As soon as they got back to Nerima, and the invasion was taken care of, Akane thought that she and Ranma should do a little something to increase the Senshi's effectiveness. The second thing that she noticed was that she was standing there doing nothing. Ignoring the fight she returned to her real work. Donning the protective gear that Sailor Mercury had provided, Akane returned to the major job of smashing crystals.

Jadeite snarled in anger. He had never seriously expected the Senshi to launch an attack against him. They knew what would happen to Tokyo as well as he. Tokyo was now his by default.

As soon as the detectors had indicated that the Senshi had entered his universe, he had sent an all out attack order to his youma on Earth. Without the fear of the Senshi, the youma could cover enormous ground, spreading themselves thinly knowing they were safe. While the human armed forces were present, they did not present a real threat. Tanks and soldiers could not compare to the shear power of a youma. Even if the expanding ring of youma trapped thousands of soldiers, soon they would exhaust their ammunition, and the youma would still be there.

Tokyo belonged to Jadeite, and it was time to let everyone know. Jadeite's joy was so great that his laughter could almost be heard all the way to Earth.

Calling up his reserves, he sent them racing to the harvesting chambers. If the Senshi wanted to fight him on his home ground, he would show them a fight they would remember for the rest of their lives... or about two hours if his estimate was right.

Two months allowed you to find out a lot about a building. In two months they had managed to isolate the function of much of Jadeite's city, and they knew almost exactly where he would not be. Having ruled out most of the city, it left a small, well defended area which needed to be checked to find Jadeite, and that was what they were there for. While she lead the way over the surface of the city, Sailor Sun filled the others in on her plan, and fitted in all of the updates and advice she could get from the Sailor Senshi.

It all boiled down to two things: magic was easy to detect, and by the time the magic resistant metal had been blasted through, a force of youma could easily arrive to defeat the Senshi. Given the expected situation with the Senshi, it made perfect sense. Unfortunately for Jadeite, he did not realize that one of the Senshi had trained in the secret techniques of the Chinese Amazons. Secret techniques such as the Breaking Point, which would be able to shatter the armored dome which protected Jadeite's control center without tripping any of the magic sensitive alarms.

While the Senshi dashed down the corridors, searching for their prey, Akane and Sailor Mercury had lured off most of the youma protecting the base. Akane and Ranma knew that there was no way that the two of them would be able to defeat the youma that would attack them. But if they could buy the main force of Senshi the time they needed to defeat Jadeite, there would be no need to face them en masse.

Sailor Sun had cautioned the girls to be quick and very careful while they searched for Jadeite. They would not have much time before the army of youma turned back to attack them, and the first time they used their magical attacks, the youma would come running. By the time they found the command center, the Senshi had destroyed five youma in viscous, messy and unpleasant hand-to-hand combat. When the team burst into the large amphitheater which Jadeite used to direct his invasion, Sailors Jupiter and Sun were covered in sticky body fluids, and Sailor Saturn's Silence Glaive was black for it's top third where she had pinned a beast until her friends could dispatch it.

The Senshi lined up and struck a pose. Across from them, Jadeite stopped calling his orders and looked at them with disdain. Shock evident on his face from their surprising arrival. "How in world did you get in my chamber?"

Sailor Moon stepped forward and leveled her Moon Scepter at him. "Jadeite, you send demons to Earth to enslave and kill people. You have no regard for human life. I name you an abomination and a thing of evil. In the name of the Moon, we, the beautiful Sailor Suited soldiers for love and justice, are here to destroy you."

With one voice, the Senshi called out a challenge and charged into battle. All around them, youma raced down the stairs of the amphitheater and the battle was joined.

Akane looked up from the destruction she was wrecking and saw six youma arrive in the door of the room. Sailor Mercury cast a Shine Aqua Illusion, but their attack could not be blunted for long. Passing the two soldiers who were carrying the people she rescued, Akane ordered them to run. "Get through the portal, we're leaving. Don't worry about these people. The youma want prisoners. They won't be hurt. If you're still here when we go through, you're staying. Move!"

Hearing that they would be abandoned, the soldiers took flight, carrying their burdens on their back as they ran through the portal. Akane ran up to where Sailor Mercury was fighting and joined the fray. One of the demons struck at her, so she leapt above it. Grabbing its head in mid air, she pivoted as she flew, doing a handstand. Contrary to the way Ranma would do while training, she kept a firm hold on the head as she moved. With a sickening crunch, the neck of the youma broke, and it fell like a rag doll to the ground. Summoning a ki bolt to her right hand, she lashed out and caught the youma she landed near.

The youma stepped back, stunned, but it bought her the time she needed. "Mercury, time to go!"

Akane stepped back and waited for Mercury to follow, but she didn't. "Akane, we can't leave these people!"

While Sailor Mercury lashed out another dazzling attack, Akane looked at the fight. Mercury was outnumbered seven to one, and refusing to give ground. At this rate, she would be surrounded and defeated in moments. Mercury was already weakening, and the youma pressed her even harder. Gathering her strength, Akane charged at the girl. With only millimeters to spare, she skidded to a halt adjacent to her. Poking the floor, she watched it erupt and knocked the youma back a step. Akane was expecting the effect, and latched onto Sailor Mercury with her off hand. Both went flying, but Akane had used the blast to move them in the right direction.

"Move, damn it! We can't rescue them if we're dead!"

Sailor Mercury struggled to her feet, then the pair raced for the portal. As soon as they entered, Mercury shut it down. Back on Earth, Sailor Mercury looked around. Soldiers, medics and wounded were everywhere. Not too far away came the sounds of heavy fighting. Relieved of the danger of the Senshi, the youma were making much better time advancing than any of the Senshi would have credited them for. "Everybody! Start to evacuate this area. I need army personnel to guard the portal and everything around it. Watch your targets, but don't let any youma in the area. Everyone else, move out!"

Looking back at Akane, she wondered if she should have the girl evacuated from the area too. One look in her eyes was enough to convince Sailor Mercury that nothing short of physical violence would move her, and Sailor Mercury was not sure that there was anyone strong enough to be able to move her when she refused.

"Hurry up, Sailor Mercury! Get this portal open. We're going back and Ranma needs my help. If you think I'm going to leave that pervert in a world with eight pretty soldiers in short skirts for company, you have another thing coming."

The nine Senshi and one well dressed man charged into battle and struck a wall of youma. All baring Sailor Sun had been preparing for this battle for two months, and moved into a carefully prepared attack. Only one Senshi truly possessed the power and capability of destroying Jadeite, and that was Sailor Moon. She was the mighty Moon Princess, and she was the focus of all the other Senshi.

The Outer Senshi had formed a brute squad and were methodically ganging up against individual youma, seeking to thin the numbers that were attacking them. At the best speed possible, Sailor Moon was leading an assault straight through the enemy line. She was diving directly for Jadeite; all else was secondary to being able to stop him. Meanwhile, the Inner Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen were running interference for her. They kept attacking any of the youma, which moved to block her path. When it came time for her to challenge Jadeite, they would ensure that the two of them had some time alone, and they would be there to provide their energy to Sailor Moon if she faltered.

Sailor Sun had been left out from their planning, so she was leaping and blasting anything she could. Given the incredible power of her plasma blasts, Sailor Sun had taken to jumping to roof height and throwing a fireball into the rear ranks of the youma. Whenever she spotted one that was wounded and trying to recover, she sent it onwards to the next world with a fiery farewell.

On one side of the vast room, Sailor Saturn and Sailor Pluto had teamed up and were trying to ruin the day for some ugly beasts, which seemed to be taken from an entomologist's worst nightmare. The youma bugs they were fighting were insectile and almost ten feet tall. Sailor Pluto was working the front of the crowd, flowing between one demon and the next, her arms and legs striking everything in reach. Although the demons were taking their toll on her, she was keeping them away from Sailor Saturn.

Several times in the course of a few minutes Pluto would be fighting, dodging under a claw, or avoiding a set of mandibles and she would hear Sailor Saturn yell 'Clear!'. A few moments later, Sailor Saturn would charge her Silence Glaive and level it at a line of youma. In one crushing blow, a line of demons would explode into pieces, gore and mess raining down on their mates as they filled the temporary gap.

Beside them, Sailors Uranus and Neptune were double teaming individual youma. As one would run up to them, Sailor Neptune would cast her Deep Submerge, hitting them with the assistance of Uranus' Space Sword Blaster. While they recovered from the discharge of the magic, they would wade into the battle and attempt to kill the grievously injured youma with their fists. It was a dangerous and messy business. It did not take too long before both of the girls were sporting nasty injuries. Outnumbered as they were, both Sailors often took hits in their quest to get a clean kill. None of their injuries were life threatening yet, and they both believed that it was worth the sacrifice if they could destroy some of the youma that would surely be trying to kill their Princess.

Sailor Moon had knocked aside another furry beast and ran past it, getting closer to Jadeite, where he hovered at the rear, directing his forces and calling for reinforcements. Catching sight of him, Sailor Moon stopped to throw a brief bolt of magic at him, but one of the youma jumped in its path, sacrificing itself to save its master. While Sailor Moon ran on, Mars and Jupiter took the time out to burn and electrify the creature until it died.

Sailor Venus was keeping up with Moon, running faster when she could, but spending more time attacking. Just ahead of her she saw Sailor Moon break past the last of the youma and brace herself in combat against Jadeite. A large youma made of crystal was about to grab her from behind when Venus spotted it. "VENUS LOVE ME CHAIN!"

Binding the youma, she pointed it out to her friends and the three girls delivered a combined attack that reduced it to shards on the floor, which began to smoke and vanish. Before Sailor Venus could move, she was thrown to the ground by a huge burning explosion. Rolling onto her back, she sat up and glared at Sailor Sun. "Damn it, Sun! Watch where you're shooting that stuff!"

The words were barely out of her mouth when a medium rare blob of youma landed on her face, knocking her to the floor. Sitting up, she realized that there was a blasted corpse next to her. If that had been alive for another five seconds, it would have clawed her spine out while she was watching over Moon. This time she tried to thank Sun, but she had already moved on, hurrying to guard the diminutive Sailor Saturn now that Pluto had been temporarily brought low by the heavy combat.

Gathering her powers, Moon called forth her energy and hurled it at Jadeite, once a General of the forces of the Dark Kingdom; now a leader of the mightiest army of youma in thousands of years. While lights flashed around her, Sailor Moon cupped her hands and summoned the sacred Silver Crystal from within herself and called forth her attack. "MOON PRINCESS HALATION!"

The line of silver magic launched out and was struck by Jadeite's counter blast. Magic fought magic, and the room was bathed in intense flaring energy. As she threw more and more power into the attack, Moon could feel herself weakening. Back on Earth, she would have been able to sustain the power for much longer, able to call forth from the well of life energy, which existed there. Here, it was Jadeite, which held the cards the Senshi usually had. He was the one on his home turf. He was the one with the regenerating power supply, thanks to his largely intact harvesting operations. He was the one that could feel victory coming to him.

"Wah! Sailor Senshi, help me!" Suddenly Sailor Moon could feel Tuxedo Kamen's hand on her shoulder and he fed his power into her. Drinking it up like a refugee in a desert, Sailor Moon brought out what she could, and fed it into her attack. Moments after his efforts, she felt the streams of power as three girls near her called 'Venus Star Power!' 'Mars Star Power!' and 'Jupiter Star Power!'

Jadeite took a step backwards as the power intensified. His shield was holding, but his attack was making no progress against Moon. Around him, the backlash from the massive quantities of magic was destroying any youma that attempted to attack Sailor Moon. He had commanded the few remaining to attack the Outer Senshi and prevent them from joining, but Sailor Sun was doing all in her power to protect them. After twenty seconds of intense magic pounding, Jadeite had to drop his attack completely. The Outer Senshi had offered Moon their power, and she was using it too.

Keeping his magical protection this strong was requiring an almost ridiculous level of energy. Even as he was forced to retreat another step by the arrival of Sailor Mercury, he knew he had won. The Senshi would be almost exhausted. If he could resist for just another minute or two, victory would be his. Senshi without their magic would be so much food for his army, and his army was running to this room, even as they fought.

Sailor Sun looked at Akane as the two of them fought to keep the three remaining youma from attacking the vulnerable Senshi. The pair of them kicked and struck, blasting youma with their ki or magic, and tried to keep them at bay. Fearing the worst from the dazzling, stalemated battle, Sailor Sun jumped up and backwards. Trust was the key. "Akane, guard us! You can do it!"

Akane spared a glance as her fiancé joined the ring of human statues around Sailor Moon, offering her power to the battle. Not wasting any time on distractions, Akane returned to fighting. She was fast and strong, but it was nothing compared to the youma. She was tired and her ki attacks - the only thing really effective against the youma - reflected it. Jumping around the three injured youma, she kept them busy and off balance. Constantly attacking was the only way to distract them from her vulnerable friends, and that meant she needed to get within striking distance. Akane was soon black and blue all over, and close to collapse. Human-youma combat was never designed to be fair, even for the strongest of humans, and Akane was out numbered three to one. A prolonged fight could have only one outcome.

All the Senshi could feel it when Sailor Sun entered. It was a burst of life, a feeling of strength, of freshness. Everyone was tired, but for the last half-hour Sailor Sun had been the only one capable of recharging her powers. All of the Senshi had been throwing magic around at the youma, and now they had been draining themselves against Jadeite.

The magic of a Senshi is like the water in a bathtub: each time she launched an attack; it was like throwing a bucket of water at the target. Normally the bathtub would have been refilling all the time, but here in Jadeite's universe, the bathtub only emptied. Sailor Sun on the other hand reflected the magnitude of her power source, the sun: where the other Senshi had a bathtub of power, she had a swimming pool. Sailor Sun could normally only throw buckets of water like the other Senshi, but her Solar flare attack let her drain the pool in one big attack.

Joined into the network of Senshi under Sailor Moon, Sailor Sun did just that; she emptied everyone's reserves. In one massive hit, Sailor Sun released all of the power that each of the Senshi had left. Passing it all to Sailor Moon, she prayed that she would not kill the girl.

Moon felt a slight increase in power when Sun arrived and hoped it would be sufficient. Then a flood of energy almost knocked her off her feet. She had never felt so much power before, and she could feel it beginning to burn her up. Her hair crackled and stood on end as static electricity burst around her. Lifting off the ground, Moon began to glow with a blinding white light. All over, she could feel her body begin to heat; she was burning up, despite the amount of energy she was throwing out of her staff. Throwing her head back and screaming in agony, Moon gave herself to the pain. Even as she lost consciousness, she finally broke her inner barriers and unleashed the power flooding into her.

It took under a second from when Jadeite first saw Sailor Moon begin to glow and float to when she finally released the attack. When her final attack struck, Jadeite did not even have time to wince. Sailor Moon's pencil thin beam of magic flared for a second into a column over a foot thick. A second was all that was needed: With a blast like a bomb, Jadeite's shield was shattered, and he developed a foot wide hole in his torso. Having blasted through his belly, the beam also went through over two meters of the magic resistant metals that his city was built from. Jadeite only stood there, dreams shattered, and then he slid to the ground.

The Senshi hardly had time to gasp before they fell to their knees. Sailors Moon, Saturn, and Sun were unconscious, unable to take the stress of so much power. The others... the others were completely drained, denied all their Sailor powers from lack of magical power.

Sailor Mars was the first to recover. She saw Akane still battling three youma, and it looked like she was losing. Most of the Senshi were kneeling or lying on the ground like her. On one side of the room, she could see Mercury's portal, and directly ahead she could see a devastated and most definitely dead Jadeite, and a completely burnt, smoking Sailor Moon. "Noooo!"

Mars grabbed the smaller girl in her arms and held her gently. Moon was breathing, but it was weak and shallow. Her skin was covered in burns, and her Sailor Suit was almost completely destroyed. "Neptune! Uranus! Get those two! AKANE, WE ARE LEAVING!"

She barely heard Akane's response as she ran for the portal, her precious burden cradled in her arms. Sailor Mars could not count the number of times she had teased the leader of the Sailor Senshi. She regretted every one, because once again, Sailor Moon had shown that when she was really needed, she had the courage to do what no one else could do. She did not even notice as the distraught Tuxedo Kamen kept pace with her and panicked for his love.

When Akane had seen all of the Senshi other than Sailor Mercury go through the portal, she tried to follow. The youma she was fighting did not like that idea, and it took an inhuman effort to avoid them and get closer. As she dived through, she saw the beginning of the youma reinforcements arrive. Sailor Mercury was right on her heels, and as soon as she entered, the portal closed, sealing the link between the worlds.

Throughout Tokyo, the instant that they felt their lord and master die, most of the youma fled. Vanishing into drains, or slipping into other dimensions, over ninety percent of the youma disappeared. Around the city, soldiers began to push the invaders back.

Over the next three days, the Sailor Senshi cleaned up the last of the active youma. Then they returned to Jadeite's world.

This time, they rescued all of the captives.

Nodoka Saotome heard a knock on her door. As with every other time she heard a knock, she hoped after all this time, Genma and Ranma had returned. Trying not to get her hopes up, she opened the door and looked out in surprise. Lined up outside the house were ten young girls wearing very short skirts. Even though she was from Nerima, she recognized the Senshi, after their publicity for the last few months, who would not?

The girl in the center, with long blonde hair held up in two very long ponytails; stepped forward. Her tiny blue skirt fluttered in the light spring breeze, and her voice rang with authority. "Nodoka Saotome, I am the beautiful sailor suited soldier, Sailor Moon, and these are the Sailor Senshi. We are the defenders of love and justice, and we have come to you to repay a debt that we owe your son.

"Through various ways, we have come to know Ranma Saotome and know of his promise to you: that he will commit seppuku if he is not a man.

"I am Sailor Moon, and I say that there is no man that has done more to fight for love and justice than your son. I am proud to count him as my friend."

The girl in the pale blue skirt, with the big blue bow on her chest stepped up next to her leader. "I am Sailor Mercury. I have known Ranma, and I testify to his knowledge and wisdom. He has the wisdom of a man, and the humility to know when to ask for help and advice. I am proud to count him as my friend."

On Moon's other side, the girl in orange moved up. "I am Sailor Venus. While I have known your son, he has risked his life countless times to save the fiancée he loves. I am proud to count him as my friend."

"I am Sailor Mars. Ranma has shown himself to be a warrior beyond compare. Ranma is an ally of mine I would trust, and I would welcome in any battle. No finer man exists."

"I am Sailor Jupiter. For a long time, I was proud to call myself a Martial Artist of the highest caliber. Ranma Saotome has shown me what that really is, and I am honored to be able to call him my sensei, and a Master of the Art."

"I am Sailor Saturn. Not only can Ranma fight, he is also a man that can help and heal. While I have known him, he has helped, saved and rescued many people. I cannot count the people which own him their life, and I am counted within that number."

"I am Sailor Neptune. I am a skilled musician and teach others this art. Ranma has dedicated his life to an Art, and his devotion and skill are worthy of anyone's admiration. I am proud to count him as my friend."

"I am Sailor Uranus. Because of my lifestyle and appearance, I have sometimes been mistaken for a man. No matter what his appearance, Ranma Saotome is a man in all aspects, and comports himself as such. I am proud to count him as my friend."

"I am Sailor Pluto, the Guardian of Time. Without your son's help, Jadeite would have succeeded in his conquest of the Earth, and the time stream would have been irreparably damaged. We all owe him our thanks."

The girl at the end of the line stepped forward and walked up adjacent to, and just slightly in front of Sailor Moon. As she walked, She glowed brightly, eventually revealing a girl in Chinese clothing when her Sailor Suit vanished. "I am Sailor Sun..."

Nodoka gasped, "Ranko?"

Sailor Neptune provided a small quantity of hot water. "I am also your son."

For a long moment Nodoka just stood there in silence. "My son is a girl? You've been lying to me all this time? You are one of the Sailor Senshi? Not only that, but you are Sailor Sun? The Senshi that ran as soon as the war began, only to return when the Senshi were victorious without you! Coward!"

Nodoka spat at his feet. Ranma began to stumble out a reply. "No... No... It's not like that..."

"Silence! You're a disgrace to your family and your name! For that alone you should be willing to die."

Ranma hung his head. Before he turned and walked off, he spoke his last words. "I have found something more important than honor: love. If I were to die, Akane would surely die too. My honor is worth more to me than life itself, but nothing is worth more than Akane. We will be married in one month. If you ever wish to see me again, you may attend. Don't ask me to choose between Akane and my honor. You won't like the answer."

With that, he was gone. Nodoka started after him, still fuming, only to be body checked by the smaller Sailor Mars. Sailor Mars looked like she was ready to do justice to the god, which her planet was named after. Mars was the god of war, and though she had spent the last two weeks fighting, she was ready for another one. "Mrs. Saotome, you insult your son, and you insult all the Sailor Senshi. You spoke in ignorance and your words would be enough for most people to call for a blood feud."

"Your son is honored to be a Senshi, and we a privileged to have him. While the Senshi fought in Tokyo, Ranma went to the demon's own dimension. There he battled their entire army to save his fiancée and the Earth. Every day he showed more courage, and honor than you will ever know!"

"You have insulted him, you have insulted me, and you have insulted us. Your behavior is an abomination, and a disgrace upon your family. Pray that our paths never cross again."

With that, Sailor Mars turned on her heel and strode off. In silence, Sailor Moon and the other Senshi turned and left her. Not one of them spared her a word or a second glance.

Nodoka fell to her knees and cried.

Akane met Ranma a few blocks from his mother's home. She could tell by his face that things had not gone well. They held each other for a few moments before he stepped back. "One last thing to do before we go home. I'm going to explain things to Ucchan. I figure it will take me a while to explain why I have to end my engagement to her. Do you want to go see Shampoo and, err... explain... things to her?"

Akane grinned. After Ranma's training, she was reasonably confident of being able to beat the Amazon. "Are you sure you don't want to come and watch over me? Shampoo's pretty good, you know."

Ranma laughed and headed off. "Feh! If she manages to hurt you seriously, I'm going back to Jadeite's dimension to look for the real Akane."

Puzzling on that, Akane walked to the Cat Cafe. Fighting the Amazon was something that really scared her. Akane actually wished that Ranma were there to back her up. Shampoo, Mousse and Cologne were all there serving customers when she walked in. When they saw her, Shampoo burst out laughing. "Ha Ha ha! Violent tomboy girl go all way! She cut off hair and become boy! Violent tomboy give up on Shampoo husband?"

Akane snarled. "I don't have to take that anymore. Come on out her and face me. I challenge you for Ranma's hand. The winner will be his wife."

Cologne raised an eyebrow in contemplation. Something had happened to the young Tendo and it didn't bode well. Akane would never have challenged Shampoo, ever. "Great-Granddaughter, do not underestimate her."

Shampoo just laughed and grabbed her bonbori. With Cologne and Mousse watching... not to mention all the customers, she would finally have the fight she wanted. With husband away, he would not be able to stop her from finally removing the obstacle to their marriage. Grinning she spun her bonbori, and then leapt into the attack expecting an easy win.

Akane watched as Shampoo thrust at her time and again with her balls on sticks. Hopping, she wondered why Shampoo was playing with her. "Come on, Shampoo! Fight seriously! Don't just play with me!"

Shampoo snarled. Tomboy thought she was playing? "Try this, great grandmother teach Shampoo. KACHUU TENSHIN AMAGURIKEN!"

In a blur, hundreds of strikes with her bonbori struck at Akane. Akane stood there and blocked them all, her own Chestnut Fist fast enough to stop each and every one them. By the time Shampoo stopped, Akane was actually starting to breath hard, with a slight sweat starting to rise. Watching the way that Shampoo's chest was heaving as she gulped in air, Akane decided to end the fight quickly. Before Shampoo could move them, Akane struck out at the weapons. "BAKUSAI TENKETSU!"

In the blink of eye, Shampoo was holding two short pieces of wood. "Do you yield?"

"Shampoo never yield!" Throwing the garbage to the ground, Shampoo continued to attack. Dodging around her attacks, Akane finally threw her own punch. Immediately Shampoo was knocked clear across the street, moaning and holding her stomach. Akane watched as she slowly struggled to regain her feet. "Shampoo never let Akane have husband!"

Placing her hands together in front of her, Akane summoned a ball of blue ki. "THUNDER HAMMER STRIKE!"

A burnt and unconscious Shampoo slumped to the ground. Mousse immediately ran to her aid, and Cologne looked at Akane in amazement. Akane looked back with clear determination. "Shampoo lost the challenge, Cologne. Ranma is mine. You stay away from him!"

No one said anything as Akane walked off. Four months ago, Shampoo would have wiped the floor with her. Now she could not even land a blow. Akane had known for months that she had Ranma's love. Now she finally realized that by refusing to watch over her fight with Shampoo, she had the only thing he had ever really denied her.


End of story

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