The Return

A Ranma Sailor Moon fic thingy.

By Sunshine Temple

 

Naturally, I own neither Sailor Moon nor Ranma. So here's the disclaimer

 

Ranma 1/2 and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.

 

Previous chapters and other works can be found at my fanfiction website.

http://jtemple.florestica.com/

 

Temporary Backup Site.

http://www.fukufics.com/fic/

 

 

Other website Temple of Ranma's Senshi Seifuku

http://fukufics.com

 

C&C is appreciated.

 

Book 2:  Betrayed Consequences

Chapter 3:  Legitimate Developments

Formerly:  Retrograde and Remade Part 1(i)

 


            Ranma gingerly bit into her plum. Waves from the great lake rolled onto the concrete of the jetty. She absently stared out into the water. As the wind freshened, she was thankful that she used a hair-clip to hold her tresses back. A pair of bangs and a ponytail were more manageable than a full and spiked mane. The suit-skirt she wore was a bit thin though. A leather jacket would have given a bit more warmth.


            She smiled and took another bite. It was for her daughters, of course. She wanted to look responsible for the meeting with the school today. It was not like there would be a problem with her family returning to school. The meeting at Furinkan was nothing, it was for the other school that Ranma wanted to make a good impression, an impression that included convincing others think that she was at least fifteen years older than she really was.


            Using her free hand she pulled out the brochure to Saint Helena's Elementary School. Ranma smirked. She remembered the principal's surprise. No doubt Mrs. Susan Dietrich thought Miss Ranma Saotome was scandalously young to have a fourteen year old daughter, not to mention being unmarried. The Drake's vouching for her morality was a nice gesture, though Dietrich seemed weary and wary of her colleague.


            Ranma had toyed with the idea of passing herself off as Nabiki's older sister and guardian, but dismissed it at the start. Some things would have been easier; there would be no awkward questions about her age, but for Ranma being a mother was more important than appearances of impropriety .


            The demoness wondered how Dietrich would react to learning just how scandalously young she really was, or that Nabiki Saotome was the youngest of five daughters. Ranma fingered the brochure. There was nothing new on it. The school was on the opposite end of the next block from Furinkan, and security would be taken care of.


            The decision was Nabiki's to make. The tour gave her a taste of what that school would be like. The choice was essentially grade eight or grade nine. At either school she would stand out as bright and developed for her age. One would have her as moved ahead a couple years to be a freshmen the other would place her at the end of elementary school.


            Ranma sighed. It was amazing. The last time she had been at this pier... she was still human, and his life was simple. Needing a cure to a curse was nothing compared to raising a brood. At least, she had all her girls back and they were stabilized and happy.


            She was never one for introspection. Living in the moment served her well as both a human and a demon. Ranma popped the plum into her mouth and sucked on the pit. She looked down at her nicely tailored clothes. Her body was hers. She had embraced her nature.


            Ranma remembered being male, being human. It was a fair body, certainly better than the human girl's body she had had. Even so, it was limited. Her nostalgia was short lived. She had tried to live in both worlds, tried to be both a guy and a demon mommy.


            Alexia put an end to that.  But Ranma suspected that even without her monstrous cousin's attacks , her days trying to live with one foot in each world would have been numbered.


            She spit out the pit and scowled at the splash it made. She had plenty of regrets, but none about the person she had become. The cost of staying male would have made her a true monster.


            The brood mother smiled. Things were looking up. Sure, she was in a shadowy war with unknown numbers of persons and creatures trying to kill her, her family, and her friends.


            But that meant that she had friends and family. Something worth fighting for. Something she did not have in her previous life. There were still plenty of enemies, which solved any food problems for her brood.


            The redhead paused. Her past reminiscing was the only reason that thought stuck out. Ranma then grinned widely. She pulled another plum out of her purse. After taking a bite she looked down at the small leather bag. After swallowing she snorted. It amused her. The mighty Ranma Saotome carried a purse full of snacks, pictures of her daughters,  and even a bit of makeup (Misako had rubbed off on her the tiniest bit) and it was all natural to her.


            Though she was prudent enough to keep anything truly valuable, difficult-to-replace and sensitive secreted on her person.  That was only prudent.


            That she was stronger and more skilled than he ever was ameliorated things greatly. What Ranma put into the Art as a human paled before the efforts and accomplishments she made as a "overly affectionate demon mommy." Back then the Art was just for Ranma's use, now it was a family affair. It was integral to the brood's continued survival.


            As Ranma bit into her second plum, she felt some kinship with her father. She could understand his emphasis on the art as a family legacy, and the use of joining the schools.


            Despite ensuring the next generation was well versed in Anything Goes, updating the style, adding in practitioners of other styles, and even having a Tendo mated to a Saotome, Genma was still unmoved.


            Ranma frowned. Her father was the least of her worries. He did not even seem to grasp the situation. Alexia was dead, but there were still enemies. The Assembly had been quiet recently, which meant that they were planning... something. Murdock seemed to have gone to ground and had gotten harder to contact.


            Even the Senshi had problems. That cult, pathetic losers that they were, still shocked them. Ranma's eyes flickered at remembering Usagi's horrified and blood-splattered expression.   She supposed there was a lesson in that a group did not need much in the way of power to cause psychological damage.


            The brood mother smiled as a slight blush formed. There was... potential in Usagi. Ranma sniffed the air. "What's the word?" she asked as her fiancee slid up next to her.


            "The music box and earrings have passed inspection," Kasumi put an arm around the redhead's waist and drew her a bit closer.


            Ranma leaned onto the officer and bit into her plum. She accepted the need to make sure her grandmother's gifts were safe, but it still felt strange. BlackSky was family. "And the books?"


             Kasumi frowned. "They're being run through a full battery of scans but we're also making our own reference copies."


            "Yeah, figured you guys would do that." Ranma pulled out another plum and handed it to Kasumi.


            The brunette nodded and bit into the fruit.


            "I don't really care." Ranma laughed. "Heck, I'd appreciate the help if you had anyone that actually spoke that crazy language."


            "I'll look into it," Kasumi assured. "The major's having an interesting time analyzing that metal." She took another bite.


            "Yah, that's the kind of puzzle Mom'll really enjoy," Ranma nodded and leaned her head onto the larger woman.


            Kasumi swallowed some plum. "Is Nabiki going to junior high?"


            "She's thinking about it. Seeing kids 'her own age' really shocked her though." Ranma remarked.


            "Yeah, it'd be like you dealing with normal sixteen year olds," Kasumi said with a ghost of a smirk.


            "That's not so bad."


            "You spent the day easily pretending you were a mature woman in her thirties."


            "Not my fault I look good this way," Ranma pouted. "And what about Sam and Naoko? They're normal."


            "They don't think twice about hanging out with the  school's gothic lesbians of questionable virtue. I doubt they're very normal."


            "Whatever," Ranma shrugged.


            "Oh yeah, your kids are done shopping." Kasumi led Ranma away from the railing.


            The redhead smiled and kept her head leaning on Kasumi. "Gonna give me any hints?"


            "Oh no, I'm letting them keep the surprise."


            "Not even if I offer something fun for later?" Ranma saucily offered. She still had that negligee.


            "Like you'd hold out on me tonight," Kasumi smirked, as she pulled the succubus closer, who then started to purr.


           

***************

 


            An old man leaned back on his seat. He smiled briefly at the cute stewardess and motioned for another drink. The master figured his time for pleasure could be limited. According to that briefing, his two students had become corrupt and lax.


            A lesser man would consider what they did a betrayal to the master himself and everything he taught his young charges. The master knew better than his more exuberant... colleagues. Crude punishment and revenge was beneath him. Something more precise and thoughtful was required.


            The master had his suspicions. The dossier given to him by that priest seemed complete. The photographs were evidence enough to the corruption of those two youths, but there had to be more.


            The old man shrugged. He would find out the truth once he arrived in the city. He wanted to know the truth behind that grey-eyed priest, and why that smiling man had information on his students and the.. girls they associated with. That tidbit of information made his trip even more enticing.


            The master was slightly cross; he knew where his students were already, and had a fair guess as to what was going on. The glut of information dropped in his lap was almost insulting, but he knew that earnest priest was trying to help, in his own eccentric way.

 

***************

 


            "Are you sure?" Janet hesitantly asked. She and her companion sat in a secluded booth in the back of the club. Both had to dress up a bit to get in, but once inside they could get down to business.


            "Not entirely, but only a fool would think that she has planned for everything," Ami sighed.


            Janet blushed and played with the straw in her glass. "It's just... what will Usagi think? Especially about the lies and secrets."


            Ami took her partner's hand in hers and smiled coldly. "I'm not worried about the Princess. She understands; it's in her nature. It's the others I'm worried about. They may not be so open minded." Her expression then thawed.


            "What about Rei? She would understand us, what we're trying to do," Janet protested.


            "I don't think so," Ami said with a pitying expression, as she caressed Janet's cheek. "I know her; I know how she'd react to the truth."


            Janet looked down and muttered, "I think I have an idea how they'd react too."


            Ami's eye lit up. "Of course you would," she then reached out and pulled the auburn haired girl closer. "That's what I like about you. You can actually use your brain."


            Instead of protesting the rough treatment, Janet simply blushed and kept her lowered gaze.


            "What? You wanted me to be more assertive," Ami teased.


            "Everyone wanted you to be less shy and mousy." Janet admitted.


            "Well they'll get that." Ami licked her lips. The other Senshi also joked about Ami's lack of romantic luck. Not that any of the others had any success. The princess did, but her prince was gone now.


            "And Usagi? What about her?"


            "Oh, she's our primary concern," Ami said coyly. "We have to help her, make sure she's strong enough to handle with what's coming."


            "And if the others won't accept us? I mean... we're different from them."


            "They don't matter." Ami kissed Janet and lingered for a few seconds. "The Princess is everything.  Where she goes they follow. She trusts me, after all I'm the smart one. You know what it was like for her at the start."


            Janet nodded and smiled as Ami roughly ran a hand across her body. "She was alone, and desperate for someone to help her, to confide in her." Jealousy played across Janet's features. "You were her first."


            Ami squeezed her hand over a tender area, eliciting a pained cry from Janet. "Yes, I was the first of the Princess' Senshi, but you will always have a special spot in her heart. I figure everything out and you..."


            "I'm like an old and dear friend," Janet said dryly.


            "We will be getting more help," Ami said as she looked at her watch.


            Janet nodded. She had concerns about getting outside help, but Ami made a good point. Janet herself was a new Senshi, and they were only keeping things secret to protect Usagi.


            "Something on your mind?" Ami asked as she idly checked the bun she put her hair up into. It was small but over time it would grow, much like other things. It was nearing the time for the late bloomers to bloom.


            "I'm thinking about the new girl. At least her hair color fits," Janet smiled weakly.


            The blue-haired girl raised an eyebrow. She wondered if her partner was being sarcastic or just trying to make conversation. "I always did like smart girls," Ami said while pulling Janet in close.


            "Well, that's a lie," Janet laughed.


            "It just took the right girl to make me realize it," Ami smirked.

 

***************

 


            Ranma wandered down the hallway with a spring in her step. Her tail swished happily behind her and she hummed lightly. The demon stopped at the door to her room. She considered turning around and going back.


            The demon licked her fangs at the flash of sensations. She understood now. It was one thing to have a hunger, it was another to satisfy it... well mostly satisfy it. She pulled her hand back from the knob; the spirit was more than willing.


            The flesh however.... that was tired and drained. There were limits to what she could do, and Ranma did feel satiated. In her satisfied haze, she opened the door. The darkened room suddenly illuminated and the occupants gave a shout. A quickly made banner hung on a far wall.


            "Congratulations?" Ranma read the letters, blinking.


            "For finally having sex, mom!" Akane handed the startled demon some cookies.


            "Well, with someone else," Misako muttered.


            "I should have known you girls would know," Ranma wearily said as she slumped onto the bed.


            "Mom, you were a bit... loud," Nariko said delicately.


            "That's an understatement." Ukyou closed the bedroom door.


            "How much stamina does all that Company training give her?" Misako lewdly asked. "I lost count after the first ninety minutes."


            Ukyou shook her head. Sometimes it was hard to connect the bashful and bumbling Assemblyman with the saucy succubus.


            "Yeah... she's good," Ranma shrugged. "Was a pain though."


            "What?" Akane asked.


            "She's a human. It was very tempting to drain her... er more than... you know."


            "You used the right type of sex, right?" Nabiki asked.


            "I think so." Ranma shrugged before stretching out her back. "It... wasn't the same. She didn't get as tired and I was still a little bit hungry."


            "You do know we've got half a dozen types of intercourse right?"


            "Yes Honey, Mommy figured out that sex demons have many ways to screw someone." Ranma took a bite out of the offered cookie.


            "That draining one is just that. It's what we do when feeding on a human. Then you probably went to informal mating, which is below practice mating, actual mating, and impregnation sex."


            "No worries about getting pregnant," Akane joked.


            "Duh, Kasumi's human. There's no chance." Misako rolled her eyes.


            "And even if she was a demon there'd be no chance. Without the mating ritual there's no egg release." Nabiki explained.


            "You decoded some of grandma's diary?" Ranma asked.


            "Nope," Nabiki went to the small bookshelf and pulled out one of the recently cleared books. She flipped to a page that showed Silva Succubus in various sexual positions.


            Ranma studied the pictures. She had only learned a tiny bit of demonic Latin. Her mother was gently encouraging her to learn as much as possible. "So, that's why I let you girls have all that sex."


            "It would be mean to have you be a grandma and still a virgin," Misako teased.


            "Yah, can't call me that anymore Misa-chan," Ranma reminded.


            "How was it Mom?" Akane asked as she sat down next to her mother. "I always figured big sis for the dominating type."


            "She does have half a foot on me," Ranma nodded. "Though once her stamina ran out..." She then licked her fangs.


            "What about your horns? How rough was she with those?" Nariko noticed that Mother had her horns and tail out but not her wings.


            Ranma pouted. "Timid. She didn't like touching those or my tail. Well, I guess she warmed up to them a bit."


            "You mean after the time you made her scream out?" Misako smirked.


            "Yeah, she didn't expect me to do that," Ranma's expression mirrored her daughter's, as she waved her tail. "She was real embarrassed after that though."


            "Was that the end of the kinky fun?" Misako asked


            "Give her time, she's human," Ukyou cautioned.


            "She was more comfortable with the vanilla  lesbian stuff." Ranma pondered for a bit. "Akane, Nabiki, were there any rumors about Kasumi experimenting with girls?"


            "Uh Mom, I think she was a bit young for that," Akane reminded.


            "Maybe she did something during her training," Nabiki proposed as she flipped through the reading primer.


            "Yeah! Some fun after lights out in an all girl's barracks!" Misako exclaimed


            Ranma blinked. "Young? Wasn't she a freshman or something before she went to WIC?"


            "What made her finally let you storm her gates?" Misako asked.


            "We've been getting closer and instead of jumping her in a negligee I took it slowly," Ranma said as she massaged her wrists. She was stronger than Kasumi, but it still hurt to be pinned there.


            "So you let your hot body seduce the cold officer? Impressive." Ukyou nodded approvingly.


            "And the best part is that it was all recorded," Nariko reminded.


            "Let's watch the tape!" Misako then dove for her phone.


            "You can't just pull that stuff up off the network, silly" Ukyou chastised.


            Ranma paled the slight amount that she could as her shoulders sagged.


            "You forgot about the surveillance didn't you," Nabiki smirked.

 

            "It's okay Mom. They've watched me and Akane mate plenty of times," Nariko reassured.


            "I guess Kasumi'd be more embarrassed than me."


            "Don't bet on it Mom. Kasumi's an agent. She knew full well her entire sex romp would be recorded," Nariko said.


            "Wonder what that'll do to her standing in the Company," Misako pondered as she dialed her phone.


            "She took on a sex demon at what we do best and just got a bit tired," Nabiki reminded. "Heck, I'd bet she's sitting in her bed sipping coffee and doing paperwork."

 

***************

 


            "Morning Pops!" Ranma gave a salute with her mug after her father entered the kitchen.


            "Yeah, yeah," the older martial artist mumbled. That his daughter was using a mug that proclaimed her motherhood was not noticed. She always used that mug.


            "Oh, I'm sorry. Did me and my fiancee keep you up?" Ranma leaned back in her chair. "That should make you happy. Houses are well on their way to being joined... at least by your definition."


            "I should be happy about that - if things were different I'd be pushing you to get married." Genma said as he walked over to the stove. Pouring some hot water into a teacup he paused. "No, that's not right."


            "But they're already joined?" Ranma guessed.


            Genma snorted as he put a teabag in his cup. "Well... As things are... Kasumi's the only human left."


            "You're still not countin' my kids?" Ranma glared


            "It's not what we planned," Genma replied, evenly.


            "Yah, well things don't always go the way they plan." The redhead then took a sip. Ranma was actually a bit impressed. Her father managed to meet her gaze. Though his calm state did concern her.


            "And what about your fiancee?" Genma asked. "She has plans. You think she's ready to become your mate? After a simple role in the hay?"


            "What? You just said you'd be pushing us to get married if I was human."


            Genma sipped his tea to check it's flavor. "Foolish boy. What do you think Kasumi wants?"


            "We're just having fun."


            Genma smirked "You sure? First thing you said was that the houses are being joined. That's more than just having some girl for the fun of it." Genma sipped his tea. "No, it sounds like you're thinking like the girly girl that you've become."


            Ranma stared. She was not a girly girl per say, but she was proud of being a mother. "I don't need relationship advice from you."


            "Oh? It's a relationship, now." Genma shook his head. "Well don't say I didn't warn you."


            Ranma thought for a couple seconds. "You're getting better."


            Genma smiled thinly. "You know our secret technique, daughter."


            "So you retreated and drank until you finally figured out that I'm a succubus mom?" Ranma shook her head. "Took you long enough."


            "Stubbornness is a family trait. Something my granddaughters seem to have too." Genma said as he walked out of the room. "Oh, remember what I told you about Kasumi."


            "He called them his granddaughters," Ranma smiled warmly. It was a start.

 

***************

 


            "Okay, the metal has passed the proofing tests and the plan has met with General Anderson's approval," Jacob explained after entering Major Saotome's lab.


            "Good to hear, Sir," Nodoka nodded as she put a clipboard down on her desk.


            "What about your end?" Jacob walked over to the sealed crate containing the metal pieces, and the original box they were given in.


            "I'm still performing tests. Processing will have to be done under special conditions. The good news is that we have two and a half kilograms of material to work with."


            "Interesting. You'd also have to consider what to make out of it," Jacob nodded. The outlay of new machinery could be expensive, though much of it could likely be fabricated at Willard's armaments section.


            "That is the most important factor," Nodoka smiled broadly. "What of my other request, Sir?"


            "It's an enticing proposal. There is some risk mind you." Jacob offered. Major Saotome had given only some preliminary specifications.


            "Even if they don't join; their use of such devices would benefit us," Nodoka countered and pulled up some designs on her computer.


            Jacob's eyes widened slightly at viewing the designs. "I think, that this may be quite helpful in recruiting Miss Saotome's girls."


            "My grandkids will have the best I can give them," Nodoka promised.


            "Minimal modification on this one," Jacob pointed to the larger of the two gun designs. "Really just making a crew-served weapon into an individual one. Recoil will be an issue," he added.


            "I've worked out the numbers, but I do need a broodling to test it. That design I can have built within a day. Provided I have the stock weapon signed over to me so it can be modified," Nodoka explained.


            Jacob nodded. On the face of it that weapon was absurd, but that was with human standards. Succubae were stronger, but more than just raw strength was needed to compensate.


            "My other proposed weapon is more elaborate. ," Nodoka explained. "Fortunately, I found an existing cartridge that made the design work simpler."


            "Point Five-hundred Smith and Wesson? That's only in revolvers. Making a semi-auto version will be challenging," Jacob then read more of the design. "I see, basing off of that Point Four-fifty-four design our friends across the pond use."


            "Oh yes, their documentation was most helpful. The Casull is an impressive cartridge, but it's over fifty years old. This S&W magnum has over eight hundred joules more energy than the Casull."


            Jacob smiled at the scientist's excitement. "Though building a weapon to handle such a cartridge will be a challenge."


            "Semi-automatics that use Fifty Action Express, have been produced for years. Israel Military Industries is one of our vendors, and the pressure and temperature combustion performance of the Five-hundred S&W is well known." Nodoka explained.


            He looked at the design. The gun was relatively unassuming. After-all both cartridges were fifty caliber, one was simply longer than the other. It looked like the doctor had plans for two designs, one based on the Israeli operating system, and the other based on the British.

 

            He sighed. On paper the weapon looked effective, especially in the right hands, but a good scientist could make anything look good.  There were capacity issues.   Company issue 10mm pistols were formidable in their own right, and could have a larger magazine than the weapons Major Saotome was proposing.

 

            "I'll talk with Commander Stillwater, but I don't see any issues with this."


            "Thank you sir." Nodoka grinned slightly.


            "Unlike the HOG, you have more flexibility with frame weight," Jacob noted as he pulled up a chair. "Though that's no excuse.  Still, you will need a sturdy design."


            "Yes, it has to withstand a lot of shock and abuse. There's also a hell of a lot more moving parts in this design," Nodoka said as she took notes. It was good to get input, especially someone with Jacob's experience.


            "Revolvers are romantically simple weapons. Though reloading them right is an art," Jacob said with a hint of wistfulness. "I assume you've planned to order some revolvers chambered in five-hundred to do your own testing."


            "Of course, Sir." Nodoka pulled out some more data-sheets to show. "I am surprised at how well you're taking to these. I'll admit, that these designs are pretty ludicrous."


            "We live in a world where fifty caliber semi-automatic handguns are mass produced. Our organization already uses weapons that push the limits of human use. Are side arms use a caliber the FBI abandoned for being overpowered. When you remove some of those limits...." Jacob shrugged. Some of what Miss Saotome and her girls could do was enviable.

 

***************

 


            "The situation is grim, Oslo," Karol Adams stated to his superior. "The mercenaries are organized. The targets are never without an escort."


            Father Oslo sighed and looked out the window of the hotel room the meeting was taking place in. "And while removing a few guards would be trivial, that would be enough to alert them all. "


            "Has the Bishop committed enough men for us to fight that?" Wendell Holmes asked. The short man's hands went to the pockets of his coat.


            "He feels that a war between human organizations would be counterproductive," Oslo sighed. The troop allotment for this mission had already been expanded twice.


            "Awfully restrained of that man," Karol noted. Though this mission was more complicated. It was not something for a pair of half-baked acolytes. Fresh faced youths with more ability to quote nonsense than actual combat proficiency.


            "What of the surveillance?" Randy Pinktree asked, wiping his glasses. "If we move forward we won't know what WIC wants with this brood."


            "Have we gotten anywhere?" Oslo asked flatly.


            "No. Our contacts in the government and police are, of course, in the dark. Even that mercenary we had feeding us information was clueless." Randy shrugged. "It makes sense. They're going to keep the reason for this brood a secret."


            "Whatever reason it is, it can't be good."


            Karol nodded. Like all higher Assemblymen he knew that the religious trappings were just that. It was a front to cover the real purpose of their organization. In a way they were like those mercenaries. Though WIC used a for-profit corporation to cover a small army for hire.


            The Assembly's rhetoric covered something simpler. Demons, abominations, and any traitorous humans that consorted with them were to be eliminated. Karol knew that was the failing of the Path of the Will. Their means were not questionable, only their goals. In the service of saving the world nothing was unacceptable. Of course Karol still used the traditional imagery to lead his troops. That was how things were done.


            "The Bishop decided to just kill the entire brood?" Randy asked.


            Oslo nodded.


            "This would not be the first time someone tried to breed a force of unholy monsters," Karol stated as he fingered one of his blessed weapons.


            "There's already six of them," Randy reminded. "We have a man advantage over them, but just the demons."


            Karol kept his face neutral. Each of them had a team of acolytes. Karol could vouch for his dozen men but was not sure about the other squads. They were the overly eager better-trained-than rabble that made up the bulk of the Assembly's combat assets.


            "You're worried? Worried that over forty Assembly Acolytes led by four fully ordained Assemblymen won't hold up against half a dozen demons." Oslo cracked a smile.


            Karol stared at his boss. It was vaguely insulting to get this kind of bolster but Oslo was a fan for dramatics. He frowned. "We all agree to the dangers involved, but proceeding incautiously is not wise."


            Oslo looked out at the window again. "You're right Karol." His face gave the impression that it warmed. "Our goal is to avenge those two acolytes that we lost, but there is more. We cannot allow these mercenaries to practice this blasphemy."


            Karol held his tongue, and simply nodded. The Assembly's pride had been wounded by losing the acolytes but whatever the Company was doing with these demons it could not be good.


            "What of other groups?" Randy asked. "Even the small fry are crawling out of the woodwork."


            "Let the small fry come," Wendell smirked. "They are nothing more than stumbling buffoons who happen to steal the odd tome."


            Leaning back, Karol suppressed another sigh. Wendell was average in how much he talked. He just happened to punctuate his silent periods with rants.


            Wendell continued. "Even the 'greater organizations' are accounted for. Those papist whores are a joke, and the Soviet group is a unit without a nation."


            It was too much for Karol. "That's not true. After the KGB dissolved they became the Seventh Directorate in the FSB."


            Oslo cleared his throat. "That is enough. The plan will be set with minimal interference. Our goal is not to have an open conflict with those mercenaries."


            Yet, Karol mentally added. He was doubtful that WIC would let them wipe out this brood without retaliation. Even if they failed there would be reprisals. That was how the Company worked.


            He internally shrugged. There was nothing he could do now. Once he spent a few more years mouthing the company line and rituals promotion to an influential position would be in his grasp. Actual information and strategic plans would be his.


            He just had to continue being a "faithful brother". That's what everyone else did. Having this mission under his belt would help too. The Bishop had given special attention to exacting revenge on this group of demons.

 

***************

 


            In her full Sailor DarkStar regalia, Ranma paced in front of her daughters. The demons were assembled in the dojo and were silently watching their mother. The redhead stopped and carefully inspected her brood. They looked fine, and the scent was... it was a good start. "I guess this is good enough."


            "We're wearing the uniforms," Nariko said as she fluffed a bow.


            "They're just costumes," Nabiki said with a little smirk. Looking cute was influencing and scary was intimidating, but a combination of the two worked even better.


            "Mom wants to show up those magical girls," Misako laughed. "We already fight better than them, why not out do their uniforms and powers too?"


            "Can't we just fight in normal clothes?" Ukyou asked.


            "Oh no, I have to deal with a stupid miniskirt and bikini top. It's time you girls did too."

 

            "Maybe you should find a way to change your uniform," Ukyou murmured.


            "We just have the uniforms; we don't have any of the powers." Akane said, then upon reflection added "Yet."


            Nabiki, who had been helping mother and grandmother translate some passages in great-grandmother's diary, coughed.


            Ranma smiled sinisterly, which, given her species, was remarkably easy. "Oh, I've got a plan around that. After nursing on me you girls have got a good base."


            Ukyou raised an eyebrow. "You're not just going to tap into this planet's... well whatever it is that gives you your Senshi powers, and dump it onto us?"


            "It sounds safer than the stuff the Assembly did to us," Misako shrugged.


            "If this succeeds, it is going to make Setsuna very upset, Mother." Nariko said with a bit too much innocence in her voice.


            "Imagine that," Ranma said flatly.  Then she concentrated for a moment her eyes blooming violet light and the various obsidian gems she wore hummed with the discharge of stored energy. "Form around me," the redhead ordered. The broodlings moved into a circular formation with their mother at the center.


            As per their instructions the surveillance agents activated secondary recording devices and readied their backup scanners, just in case anything overloaded.


            BlackSky's advice specifically addressed the forced empowering of broodlings by a mother. The details of Pattern Silver energy were not part of it, but that was the type of energy Ranma had been absorbing and processing for months, most of which was sent right to her spawn during their nightly nursing.


            Ranma consciously tapped into that flow and did what came naturally to her. Shadows erupted from her body and wavered around the room. They were edged in violet and silver but when they hit one of the other demons their coloration... shifted.


            Like their mother, the primary color matched their eyes: Nariko red, Misako green, Ukyou orange, Nabiki sky blue, and Akane, being the exception, had dark blue instead of brown.


            As the silver edging strengthened the shadows became less mother's and more attached to each broodling. The flow of energy continued and each shuddered as their bodies acted as conduits. From Mother to daughter to ground and back to mother again.


            The circuit broke when the illumination from Ranma's eyes guttered out and she slumped down to her knees. The demon groaned and rubbed her forehead. A splitting headache had formed from the root of one horn and shot straight to the other.


            "Mommy!" Nariko cried as she knelt down. The rest of the brood followed .


            "I'm fine; I'm fine." Ranma said as she clutched her head. "Just have a splitting headache."


            "Sounds like you blew a fuse," Misako surmised.


            "Very funny," Ranma groaned. "Do you feel any different?" she asked, pulling herself back up.


            "Other than being quite full, nothing much," Ukyou shrugged.


            "What did you expect: flashy transformation sequences?" Akane asked before looking at her fingerless gloves. The leather did look a bit nicer. "It's not like Mom does that."

 

            "I dunno, this was pretty flashy," Nabiki corrected.

 

            "Nomrally, I just shift into my new uniform," Ranma shook her head and inhaled to clear her senses. She then paused to sniff the air.


            "No, you've got flames, and purple, black, and red ribbons in there, very scary and cute," Misako corrected. "Remember that first real fight of ours."


            Ranma drooped. "I'd hoped you didn't remember that." She then resumed trying to figure out what she was sensing. "Well, I'm sure the agents with their gizmos will confirm it-"


            "If you haven't fried them all," Nabiki reminded.


            "Yes, yes, but I can smell a lot more Pattern Silver in you girls."


            "We're at risk of making lame speeches and having silly trigger phrases like Aurora Demonic Power Makeup?" Misako froze and waited for the inevitable sparkly flash.


            "You're already in Senshi form," Ukyou sighed.


            Akane continued looking at her hands. It was true that Mother did not have an activation phrase but there was something that she did have... The blue-haired succubus concentrated and felt the words enter her mind.  She had been wading through the pyromancy book grandmother had given her, and one particular passage struck out.  She was not sure if she had translated it properly but the spell did intrigue her.

 

"Solar Eclipse Ignite!" Her shouting was accompanied by a forward flick of the wrist. The motion elongated the shadows of her fingers unnaturally... right towards the shadow of the wall in front of her which then flashed brightly before exploding into irregular splinters.


            "Oh.... that's neat." Akane smiled at her hand.


            "What was that?" Ranma asked. "That wasn't what I thought it was?"


            "Moving shadows?" Ukyou asked. "Yeah, that was it."


            "And immediately just before the wall exploded. Though, she was pointing at the wall too," Misako looked down at her own claws contemplatively.


            "That is handy," Ranma nodded. "Not much fire or explosion, but a good start."


            "Call in Grandma! I want her to see it," Akane begged.


            "She can hear you," Ranma reminded.


            "Have my girls found some fun things?" Nodoka asked. She had stepped away from the dojo during the process. They had no idea what energies like that would do to a human.


            Ranma nodded with a little smile. She knew training and natural ability would pay off, but this was faster than she had expected.


            "See!" Akane then proudly said her attack phrase and flicked out a shadow. It curved and stopped in the middle of the floor, where it exploded weakly, igniting the mat.


            "It's okay honey," Ranma said hugging Akane. "You just need more practice. It took me months to get the DarkStar Burst."


            Akane nodded and leaned onto her mother.


            "I think I've got one," Nabiki focused and a bead of sweat formed on her forehead. She whispered "Icicle Parade" as a handful of very small crystals formed in her cupped hands. The crystals then shot off and embedded themselves into a beam. The holes they made were only noticeable by the trace of frost that formed. A split second after there was a loud creak followed by an intense and compact explosion around the beam.


            "Now that has potential," Ranma noted with a raised eyebrow.

 

            Nariko tilted her head. "Perhaps we should be mindful of repairs."


            Nabiki smiled. Her attack might have a stupid name, but she could whisper it. Mother also proved that an attack with a stupid name could be devastating.


            "Yeah, how accurate can you get that? Could it go through a shield or armor?" Ukyou asked.


            "I don't know," Nabiki blushed.


            "Can you show us again?" Nodoka asked.


            Nabiki nodded and then repeated the incantation.


            Nodoka watched the impalement and explosion. "It's definitely cryogenic, and then rapidly sublimates and expands, looks highly flammable so it blows up."


            "But what is it?" Nabiki asked.


             "Well, it is ice. Most of the alkanes have a solid form if you get them cold enough. They also need compression, but it looks like a crystal too. It definitely warrants examination."


            "Do you think it's like the napalm we make?"


            "Possibly, though it has to be made at a radically different temperature and pressure. It does count as a red four on the NFPA 704." Nodoka noticed the blank looks. "That's a measure of how dangerous a chemical is. It's a diamond with a red, blue, and yellow sections. A four for the red means it will rapidly or completely vaporize at normal atmospheric pressure and temperature, or is readily dispersed in air and will burn readily. Also has a flashpoint below 23°C. Probably has a high reactivity, yellow, value too."


            "It'll ignite at room temperature?" Nabiki paused. "Couldn't it just be oxygen? That's very flammable," the short succubus noted.


            "You're a species that can make orbs of complex hydrocarbons at will," Nodoka shrugged. "This is not too unusual."


            "It is tiring though," Nabiki pouted


            "It takes a lot of energy to compress and freeze." Nodoka paused. "It's kind of like a thermobaric weapon. The sublimation and decompression causes a rapid vaporization which is then ignited. We'll need more tests of course."


            "A thermobaric, really?" Misako asked. Her training at the Assembly had been thorough on armaments.


            "It's got real potential," Ranma repeated. She made a note to start Nabiki on speed training. All that time to cup her hands and form the ice was a huge liability in the fast pace of succubus combat. Ranma turned to her other daughters.


            "I got nothin'," Ukyou shrugged. She frowned; she could feel the excitement in her sisters but that did not translate into her own neat ways of making stuff explode.


            "I was thinking of one of the techniques in the book grandma gave me and the words just came to my head.," Akane explained.


            "What about you, Misako?" Nabiki asked. Maybe "Alexia's spawn" had a leg up on it.


            Nariko smiled to herself and watched the conversation. She gave her finger a discrete little snap and her eyes twinkled at the little sparks that formed.


            "Well, I guess... I don't feel anything new," Misako looked at Ukyou and shrugged. She blinked and warily flared her aura.


            "That's not new," Ukyou said eyeing the green flames that danced around her mate's form.


            "Yeah, I always was good at this," Misako flexed her aura. She could now feel something new, something hungry. She ran up and pounced at her Mother.


            Activating her own aura, Ranma  dodged her daughter's attack Her gaze narrowed when she felt a sucking sensation at the point where the auras contacted. "Oh, I though you girls said you were full." Ranma smirked. "Well if you want more you just had to ask, dear."


            Misako's eyes widened at the burst in power and was shoved down. "Hey!" She sprung back up and found that her aura was still trying to consume her mother's.


            "I don't think this is going to work on me, Misa-chan." Ranma noted. "Cute attack though."


            "Oh?" Misako pouted.


            "We're built to drain mother. That whole ceremony took advantage of that." Nabiki noted.


            "What about you Nari-chan?" Ranma asked eyeing her eldest.


            "I... I think we'll have to go outside," Nariko coughed.


            "It's nice to see one of you girls realized that smashing up the dojo wasn't the best idea," Ranma remarked as the brood walked outside after Nariko.


            "I just know the phrase for it," Nariko said as she shook her arms. "I don't know what it'll do." Nariko closed her eyes and shouted "Lighting Devastation!" while pointing with her left hand. An arc of lightning appeared to spring from her hand and slam into a tree at the edge of the woods.  The wood splintered and burned nearly to the center and almost knocked the tree over.


            "Lightning Devastation? Hmm," Nabiki commented.


            "Yeah, it's almost as bad as Icicle Parade," Ukyou smirked.


            Nabiki glared cutely.


            "It's no worse than Mom's attack phrase," Misako shrugged.


            Ranma nodded. "Very nice Nari-chan."


            Nariko blushed and dusted off her hands. "Thanks, it's not too controlled. I think I need... maybe more focus."


            "It doesn't act like normal lightning," Nodoka commented. "But a conductor could help. We'll perform some tests at base."


            Ranma saw Ukyou hanging back near the door to the dojo. Noticing the blonde's face she slipped next to her. "Still not feeling anything?" Ranma asked putting an arm around Ukyou.


            "Nope," Ukyou sighed. She looked to see Mother's compassionate and insufferably understanding face. "I'm sorry I didn't get magically get powers like the rest. I'm the dud and I'm sorry."


            "Huh?" Ranma blinked.


            "It doesn't mater what I'd do, you'll always love me and you won't get mad at me. You can't." Ukyou glared.


            Ranma put a hand onto Ukyou's head. "That's not quite true. I'd be mad if you did use your powers."


            Ukyou blinked and looked into her mother's violet eyes. "You knew. You knew exactly what we'd get."


            "Did I? How observant of you." Ranma laughed.


            "What the heck is my power, then?"


            "One that you can't use here."


            "Oh, so what is it? And how did you know all this?" Ukyou asked.


            Ranma shrugged. "You'll figure that out."


            Ukyou glared at her teasing mother. "If anyone knew it would be you. You did give us a huge jolt of Silver energy. What do you mean I can't use it now?"


            Ranma smiled.


            "I can't just blow up a tree or a rock? What do I need to use it on someone? So... I'd need a mind to affect. Some kinda psychic power?"


            "You know we're not psychic. Though we can affect people, make them uncomfortable."


            "Uncomfortable? Like how you made that traitor feel?" Ukyou smirked.


            "Something like that." Ranma hugged Ukyou. "You'll have a pain practicing it, but I think you'll like it."


            "As long as there's more to it than just that." Ukyou returned the embrace. "Wait... these aren't just normal succubus powers? I mean auras, shadows, making stuff explode, and messing with people's heads."


            "I'm sure grandma could do all that stuff. She's no Senshi," Ranma shrugged.


            "She's older than dirt."


            "So you girls got a shortcut to it. Though I don't think BlackSky's used lightning as an attack since the Silver Millennium." Ranma reminded herself to read more of grandma's diary.


            "I'm sure it'll come up during story time... eventually."


            "You're going to insist that I read you guys a chapter a night aren't you," Ranma sighed. Her Demonic was nowhere near that good, and Silva's pronunciation guide was a real pain.


            "I'll just have Nariko and Nabiki help me bug you." Ukyou smirked.


            "Yeah, yeah," Ranma relented. She would have to talk to her mother again.

 

***************

 


            "When do you think the Saotome girl and her gang will be back?" Rod Ferris asked.


            Hikaru Gosunkugi sighed at his acquaintance's titter. "It is odd that they're all out sick. Also rumors that Akane's sister has transferred out."


            "Oh?" Rod asked sounding apathetic.


            Hikaru remained neutral. Rod had a habit of pretending to have a short attention span. It was irritating, but less so than the reaction calling him on it produced. "So, got any other book recommendations?"


            "You finished Elegant Universe already?" Rod laughed, though his eyes carried a different sort of amusement. He looked at his handsome reflection in his locker's mirror.


            "Oh, so nothing more exotic?" Gosunkugi needled further. The rules were simple. The details of their hobby were not to be discussed at school. After the attack on the school, the cameras were even more prevalent and undoubtedly coupled with microphones.


            Rod laughed as he combed his hair. "Well, maybe I have something to give you. I know you like macabre history."


            "Oh, well that's good." Gosunkugi felt a weight fall onto his chest. His hobby required him to work with all types of unsavory people. The paranoid lunatics were the easiest. All you had to do with them was agree with their delusions, which was easy for Hikaru.


            He knew just about how right such men could be. The militant cultists were best avoided. Dying or killing for the glory of some intergalactic, insane, and disinterested cuttlefish did not sound like a good plan.


            The last group was what Hikaru belonged to. The academics, the explorers, the researchers, the archeologists, the linguists, they all read the grimoires, studied the artifacts, and searched ancient temples for the most simple of reasons. They were there.


            On the other hand, at least the madmen and cultists were honest, Hikaru found the "hobbyist" type the most suspicious. It was a rare person that actually studied pre-human tomes just to get a handle on earth's real history. The "hobbyists" all had something to hide.


            "Despite her absence Red has inspired other girls," Rod amiably babbled.


            "I suppose so," Gosunkugi tried to shrug. He liked the gothic look, of course Sunshine and her friends wore it in a way that was actually scary. Unlike most other girls that dressed that way to be shocking and have an effect... it was natural for Sunshine. Having deathly pale skin naturally, instead of resorting to white pancake makeup, was a sure sign.


            After reflection Hikaru supposed that Rod was talking about more than just the normal gothic poseurs. "Did some other girls change their skin tone?"


            "Oh nothing as dramatic as Akane's change, well... there is a hair change." Rod allowed.


            "Who dyed their hair?" Gosunkugi asked just to keep the conversation moving.


            Rod laughed. "I said there wasn't anything dramatic. It's just that the Mizuno girl's started to grow her hair out, her friend Janet too."


            "What's the big deal with that? Isn't it normal for girls to change their hairstyles?"


            "That's what everyone assumes," Rod idly remarked.


            Hikaru shrugged. "That's girls for you."


            "Yeah it is," Rod laughed. "Well I've got some recommendations, perhaps your book club will like them too."


            "They normally do," Hikaru admitted. A "hobbyist" had to network and most found small groups that had some degree of association.


            "Just be careful. We've recently seen how the wrong book can tear apart a club." Rod inappropriately laughed before walking off.
           

 

***************

 


            "I have some bad news," Setsuna told the assembled Senshi. They were in the apartment that the inners lived in.


            "You found another branch of that cult?" Usagi hesitantly asked.


            "No, I think that group is done for." Setsuna noticed her princess' reaction and wished she could have phrased it better.


            "Then what?" Rei asked. Getting regular briefings from Pluto had made her a bit less mysterious and controlling.


            "DarkStar's spawn are now Sailor Senshi," Setsuna rubbed the bridge of her nose with her fingers.


            "That's not possible. Right?" Makoto asked. "I mean what planets would they all be?"


            "Why exactly is that bad?" Minako asked.  She could have sworn there was a tinge of jealousy in Setsuna's voice.


            "I'm not a planet," Janet said, from her place on the couch


            "And what planet is Usagi's daughter... or Usagi?" Ami asked rhetorically.


            "Wait... if Usagi's kid can be a Senshi then Sunshine's can be too? Is it that simple?" Rei asked.

            "I can see why you wanted to tell us this," Ami nodded as she activated her computer. It was not bad and not unexpected, but it was useful to know.


            "What's the big deal?" Makoto asked. "They were already a team of girls with magical powers."


            "They're gonna have to wear uniforms like ours," Minako said as she walked to the kitchen. "Well... probably not; look at how Sunny dresses."


            Ami sighed. They were just teenagers; that explained it, but it did not justify it. They were Senshi, warriors. They needed to keep improving. "Yeah, they were already organized and dedicated. How many years did it take us to start working as a well-running team?"


            "We're not just soldiers. We can't be like WIC and do this all the time." Minako replied after sipping her water.


            "Why not?" Janet asked.


            "Ranma and her kids still attend school, and they train every day. Not just in their dojo, they do everything. The Company is more than happy to give them grounds and equipment to train on. Look at how close those groups are, and it's not just the officers, the enlisted men are chummy with the brood," Ami said.


            "Makes sense that macho soldiers would like aggressive and sexy women," Rei muttered.


            Ami nodded. "Exactly. Doesn't it strike you as odd that an organization like WIC has put so much effort in courting demons that only just now became Senshi... instead of the human team? The team that's got more experience at saving the world."


            Janet looked around; she knew the answer to that question. Ami had to too. Setsuna obviously knew the answer.  She was the one keeping the Company at arm's length.


            "They got more response from the brood. Ranma's mom does work for them," Makoto shrugged.


            "And she's sleeping with an agent too," Minako wistfully added. "While we're just sitting in this apartment."


            "Oh-kay, ignoring Mina's desire to have a buzz-cut secret agent do her, we still have issues." Setsuna smirked at the blushes her statement caused.


            Ami smiled. Later on, Setsuna's perceptiveness might be a problem, but for now it was a breath of fresh air. "Yes, DarkStar is building alliances and accepting help. Do you girls know what her mother does?"


            "Advanced materials, but mostly works in armor," Setsuna recalled.


            "How much armor do her girls need?" Ami asked.


            Minako paused and switched her glass between hands. "Well our uniforms protect well enough, and if they're Senshi too now..."


            "Let's just say I don't think all her effort will be going into demon armor." Ami hung her head.


            "What's wrong?" Usagi asked. "We like Ranma and her girls. They're on our side."


            "They spend every day honing their edge. They train their bodies, they practice working as a team, and I bet they're getting equipment specially built for them." Ami gave a little laugh. "Yes, we've been at this longer and we have more magical power than they do.  A lot more, but their rate of advancement is worrying.  We can't stand buy."


            "Our magical attacks are a lot stronger," Rei corrected.


            "A sharpshooter can knock out a mortar crew," Janet asserted.


            "Raw magical powers is only useful if you can hit your enemy." Ami clarified, while holding back her exasperation. Janet could get this, why not the others? "That's another thing. WIC works by finding ways to defeat more powerful opponents."


            "The potential synergy is beautiful and terrifying," Janet agreed.


            "Now that's just melodramatic," Setsuna sighed.


            "I'm glad they're on our side. I really am." Ami shook her head. Things could get really troubling.


            Usagi watched the argument silently.


            "Then why are you worried about all their training and stuff?" Minako asked.


            "They're preparing. They don't want to get caught off guard by some stupid cult with an old magic book and a few guns," Ami glared.


            "We still won."


            "Only because the Princess could still fight even after her powers were blocked." Ami rubbed the bridge of her nose again. "There could easily be more copies of this book, and what if someone competent used the information inside it?"


            "Ami's right, we can't rely on being lucky and hope that our enemies no matter how powerful they are, will always be stupid," Setsuna said.


            "What do you want us to do?" Minako asked.


            "Train." Ami stated.


            "Even more practice would be good," Usagi reluctantly admitted. It had been... hard to practice, especially wearing that uniform. It looked and smelled clean, but she swore she could still feel the blood.


            "We should ask to work with the brood," Ami proposed.


            "But you just lectured us about how scary they are that they might leapfrog us," Minako nearly spilled her glass.


          "Exactly, what better way to make sure they can't eclipse us." Ami glared at the reluctant and incepting faces. "What?


            "We've been training," Rei corrected. "Ever since that hostage thing."


            "I wouldn't call that training," Ami coolly countered. "We just shoot off some attacks and call it done."


            "What do you propose?" Setsuna asked. The ragged look about Ami was concerning her.


            "We get serious; we train like the Senshi of old. Serenity didn't take over the solar system by having part time warriors."


            Setsuna raised an eyebrow.


            "You want us to be like DarkStar and her brood?" Minako was not sure what to think of that. It seemed like too much work. They were not trained like the brood was.


            Usagi frowned.


            "Not exactly I hope. They're not exactly good guys," Rei sighed.


            "I don't think it's wise to compare the things they've done versus what we've done," Ami sighed.


            "I just don't think we should emulate a group that's new to being magical girls, heck they're new at being demons." Rei's glare softened. It was time for the olive branch. "Yes, let's get better at our powers. We're due for another transformation upgrade anyway. We should train, but we'll do it our way."


            Ami refrained form rubbing the bridge of her nose. They were willing to die for their Princess. That was as easy as being defeated in battle one single sacrifice, but the effort and constant daily sacrifice that was required now...


            She smiled at the comforting hand Janet put on her leg. Such displays were risky, but Ami would rather have Janet's support. Leaning back, Ami collected herself. She would keep her cool; she could win this argument, intelligence was on her side after all.


            "Maybe you've been spending too much time with that book?" Makoto asked, noticing Janet's hand. "You've been up and out late a lot."


            "Someone has to figure out what was done to Usagi and how to keep it from happening again."


            "When did you become such a hawk?" Minako asked. "You're not this... aggressive."


            "I'm not." Ami narrowed here eyes. "I've just been piecing things together. This is not what we're used to. Look at Setsuna; she's got some idea what's going on, and it terrifies her. She just doesn't know how to break it all to us."


            Rei turned to Setsuna and for a brief moment caught fear in the older woman's eyes. "What are you holding back?"


            Setsuna looked past Rei to Ami. "Nothing. I've told Usagi everything."


            "Really, now?" Rei's voice was highly skeptical.


            "Huh?" Usagi asked. "You didn't tell me much."


            "I told you everything I found out about that cult," Setsuna corrected.


            "Not that, the actual point to all this. What's going on here? And don't just blame Murdock." Rei added.


            Ami looked to the phone, and waited for it to ring. She smirked, it probably was stupid to assume Murdock would call, the timing would be too good, too dramatic, too... narrative, even for him.


            "We should train more," Usagi allowed.


            "And concentrate in what will give us the most improvement. We've got more magical power than the demons. I mean they're new. We can use that, right?" Minako asked.


            "That is true. They don't have much in the way of Senshi powers," Setsuna reluctantly admitted.


            "We concentrate on our magic. We'll build up our advantage," Minako offered.


            Ami forced herself to not groan. "Well... that might not be the best focus," she said diplomatically. "As we've got a lot of heavy attacks. We need to learn how to use what we've already got."


            "I think increasing the tempo of our training is good, and some of Ami's ideas should be used," Setsuna said while giving Ami a supportive look.


            "That makes sense," Usagi allowed, once she saw some approving nods.


            Ami's brow furrowed. This was not even a bad decision; it was indecision wrapped up in a consensus. "No! That's not enough. Don't you realize we're running out of time? You think if we screw up this time the world'll reset or we'll get resurrected?"


            "Please calm down," Janet said putting her left on Ami's shoulder. She found she had to actually keep her blue-haired partner from rising.


            "Ami... please," Usagi tried to sooth.


            "I'm sorry princess, but I'm afraid we're going to fail you... again" Ami stopped trying to stand up and closed her eyes. "I can't let that happen."


            "We're all dedicated to the Princess, Ami." Minako reminded.


            "Dedication is not enough," Ami said flatly.


            Janet felt a chill creep up her left arm. She had to act now. "Weren't you going to help me with my homework?" she asked, knowing full well that it was an obvious excuse. She hoped that someone else would figure that out too.


            After a moment, Rei spoke up. "Yeah, I said I would be calling my grandfather," she said with a knowing smile.


            "Yeah, I'll help you," Ami's voice was stiff as she stood up and left the room under Janet's escort.


            Makoto waited until half a minute after the door had closed. "I think that book is getting to her."


            "That's not all," Rei dryly remarked.


            "Don't say that, Janet's been really helpful, and it's good that Ami has a friend she can relate too."


            "Yeah, like peas in a pod," Minako chuckled. "Always going out looking for guys."


            Setsuna blinked. Sometimes it was very hard to get a read on Minako. The blonde was either incredibly clueless or being dryly humorous.


            "I'm worried about her," Makoto confessed as she stood up.


            "Her getting aggressive?" Minako shrugged. Ami being more assertive seemed to be a good thing. She was being more social and independent. Ami's romantic history was almost as bad as Makoto's and she deserved someone who could make her happy.


            Makoto looked out the apartment window. She scanned the vehicles in the parking lots below. Even counting only trucks and vans there were still dozens. "She's not being aggressive. No, she's being... cold, logical. Overreacting yes, but in her own way."


            "Exuberantly pragmatic?" Setsuna offered.


            "I'm going to talk with Ranma. At least we can get closer to those allies," Usagi rubbed her forehead and turned to Rei. "Have you been getting any visions or dreams?"


            "Nothing... nothing substantial," Rei coughed.


            Usagi nodded, then turned to Setsuna. "Find a shrine. Work out the details with Rei. And I want you to check Ami's findings with your own on that group. I'll ask Ranma what the Company found out about them too." Usagi raised an eyebrow at the startled Senshi. "What? I've been thinking about this for a while."


            "Yeah, no problem," Setsuna promised.


            "Good." Usagi then started thinking on the best way to approach Ranma.

 

End Chapter 3

Revision Notes:  And here we have events moving forward with people pushing and planning.  Notably the increased training and developments for both magical girl teams.