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 6:  Intense Testing.

Formerly:  Retrograde and Remade Part 2(ii)

           


            "These are great," Sam remarked as she adjusted the black blouse to her new uniform. She smiled at her reflection.


            "I think the fishnets may be a bit much," Naoko said, looking at herself in the mirror.


            Ranma left the stall and took a sink next to her friends.


            "Thanks for the uniforms, Red," Sam complimented.


            "Yeah, it's great that you could make them so quick," Naoko added.


            "It was nothing, the others helped." Ranma looked up as she washed her hands. It did feel nice to be back in this uniform.


            "Did Nabiki help?" Sam playfully asked.


            Ranma blinked. After her second day at Saint Helena Nabiki had made up her mind. The redhead smiled at her friends. "Nabiki Saotome, Misako's little sister or Nabiki Tendo, Akane's big sister?"


            Naoko laughed. "I don't see Nabiki Tendo ever helping sew some skirts."


            "Now little Yuki-chan. She'd do it." Sam evaluated.


            "It's also great to see a brainiac that's not some meek eager to please pushover."


            "Definite improvement in Nabikis," Naoko remarked. "She's half Tendo's size, and half the smirking con artist."


            "Though the pink is a bit much," Sam considered.


            "I think it works for her. She is fourteen."


            "You don't find her odd?" Ranma asked. Nabiki seemed certain no one normal would be willing to think Nabiki Tendo had become Nabiki Saotome.


            "Oh, she's strange, but so what? Normal people are boring." Sam pulled out a compact and touched up her makeup.


            "Shame Tendo already left, we never got to see how she would react to 'Yuki-chan'." Naoko smiled. Misako's pet name for her little sister was cute. Though the circle that could use it was even smaller than the people who could call Sunshine Sunny. So far only Sunshine or Misako had called her Yuki, but it was only the first day.


            Sam rolled her eyes. "Like Tendo would care about some cute and smart girl with the same first name as her. She didn't care about Nabiki Sato."


            "What do you think, Red?" Naoko closed her compact.


            "Of course I like Nabiki. She's family."


            "Yes you do dote over your cousins." Naoko smiled.


            "Heck, you dote over all your friends." Sam put on some lipstick. "You're like a mom to all of us."


            Ranma blushed. "Thanks guys."


            "So you looking forward to going out tonight?" Sam asked as they left the bathroom.


            "Of course," Ranma smiled.


            "We should get back to class," Naoko reminded.

            "We've got time. It's still lunch period." Sam smiled at the shocked looks at their uniforms. That was still a blast.


            "Wanna go back to the table?" Naoko asked.


            "Sure, eight girls dressed like this at one table's bound to make quite the scene"


            "Yes," Ranma stuck her tongue out. "We found that out just a few minutes ago. People were whispering all around us."


            Sam smiled toothily. "Well, let's give them an encore."


           

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


            "This is nice," Naoko said from a corner booth to the Red Turtle. She sipped her beer. She was pleased to find that she was not the only one nursing their drink. At every other party she went to the kids would drink themselves stupid.


            "But what happened to the music?" Sam asked.


            "Ukyou's asking the bartender," Ranma said as she looked at her beer. Part of her wanted a Scotch but she did not want to tempt the others with hard liquor.


            "Good dresses, you two," Misako complimented.


            "Thanks, Red picked them out for us," Sam blushed. Leather did feel a bit odd but the black dress did look good on her.


            "She has good fashion sense," Nabiki smirked.


            "And you look much older," Naoko tried to compliment.


            Nabiki sipped her pop. "It's easy when you normally go for the cute and pink look."


            "There's still pink trim on that cheongsam," Sam pointed out.


           "I think removing her hair ribbons does more to make her look older," Akane remarked as she snuggled onto Nariko.


            "Yeah, she could even pass for sixteen, maybe seventeen." Sam then looked down to her beer in thought.


            "Oh no, I'm not that old," Nabiki blushed. "Sunny was the one to get me in."


            "Yeah, she just talked to those coworkers of Kasumi's," Naoko said.


            "How's things going with Kasumi?" Sam asked the girl she knew as Sunshine.


            "Great," Ranma said a bit dreamily. "She's very strong, decisive, and really good in bed."


            "Heh, of course you'd think of that," Sam said. Under her gruff exterior, Sunshine really was a soft and sensitive girl.


            "So yeah there's no band tonight," Ukyou sighed as she slid back into the booth. "The drummer found out that the bass player was sleeping with his girlfriend, the lead singer."


            "Isn't tonight's band the Discount Auto Parts?" Sam asked.


            "Yeah."


            "Well the bass player's a girl too."


            "So?" Misako asked.


            Sam chuckled. "Right, forgot that you're all lesbians."


            "You don't know that I'm one," Nabiki pouted.


            "Well the rest your family..." Naoko countered.


            Nabiki laughed. "I guess that's a requirement of wearing the special uniform."


            Naoko looked to Sam and blushed.


            "So there's no music?" Sam sighed.


            "Red could sing," Nariko offered.


            Ranma's eyes widened. "Well, I'm not that good." She hesitated; it did move the subject away from her family.


            "Yes you are; you sing all the time," Ukyou teased. "Ever since Auntie Saotome got you that book and then those tapes."


            "They've got a karaoke machine." Misako added. "So it'll be easy."


            "Yeah, do it!" Akane added.


            Ranma's face valiantly tried to pale.


            "You know you want to," Misako smirked.


            "I'm not gonna get out of this?" Ranma looked to see that even the off-duty agents in the bar were, subtly of course, watching.

            As one the girls smirked.


            "Fine," Ranma sighed and motioned for the girls to let her out of the booth.

 

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


            Inspector Rebus sat at his desk. It was late but he had switched shifts with Rawlings. He looked up from the papers and photographs to see his partner standing above him.


            "Something wrong, Rich?" Inspector Henderson asked. "Last night's case?"


            "Yeah, It's that convenience store... fight," Rebus shrugged.


            "Damn strange. There was ice and blood. We know at least two women had been hurt, but there wasn't enough for a mortal injury."


            "And the clerk said there was a mess of girls in funny skirts and bows attacking some other girls. 'Course he was stoned out of his mind and passed out," Rebus grumbled as he got up and walked to the coffee machine.


            "The security tapes were fried, but nothing was stolen." Henderson followed. "And some of the items were burnt."


            "Don't forget that dent in the floor. Looks like something was bashed with a hammer. We're checking to see if any women went missing yesterday, but I'm not holding my breath." Rebus cringed at the poor quality coffee, at least it had caffeine.


            "What? You think this is related to those rumors of skirted vigilante-girls?"


            Rebus laughed. "I thought that stuff was misdirection. Maybe I still do." He sipped some more of the awful, warm beverage. "But the police weren't the first ones on scene."


           "Those... consulting guys? They arrived with forensics." Despite his better judgment Henderson poured himself a cup.


            "Sure. Still it's odd that an anti-terrorism consultant group helping our department's Emergency Task Force would be at a nominally simple convenience store robbery."


            "I thought Willard International Consulting was helping the RMCP's Emergency Response Team."


            "My mistake." Inspector Rebus put down his mug. "You have to admit. Something's odd about that fight. All that ice, passed out clerk, nonsense about girls in corsets and ice, blood, fire damage, and nosey company."


            "Things are getting strange," Henderson agreed.


            Rebus nodded. "We'll keep at it. Someone had to have seen something, or someone will show up missing. We've got blood samples to match."

 

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

 


            Setsuna opened the door to the bar and immediately heard a seductive siren's call. Unconsciously smiling, she entered. An agent by the door nodded as she walked past. It was then that Setsuna caught full view of the singer.


            From the tiny raised stage, the leather-clad redhead gave a saucy wink to the visitor. Setsuna stared at the singing succubus. "Wow, she can really hit the low notes."


            "She's a natural," Maya Iverson remarked from the bar, next to Setsuna.


            Setsuna raised an eyebrow at the agent and turned back to the stage. The smile grew and she could almost feel the sounds vibrating in her chest. For such a small woman, the redhead really knew how to project her voice.


            Ranma finished her song and bowed to the applauding bar. She blushed at the calls for an encore, which did not entirely come from the her friends' table. "I'll be back for another song in a few minutes," she said into her microphone. She sauntered off the table and went straight to Setsuna.


            "You like what you heard?" Ranma smiled suggestively.


            "Should have known you'd have been able to sing like that," Setsuna shook her head.


            Ranma smirked. "What do you want? I wanna get back to my friends."


            "Have you seen Ami or any of her minions?" Setsuna asked after ordering a martini.


            "Not since the day Ami freaked out. I did hear about the convenience store thing." Ranma winced. "They really got stomped. Mostly because of those 'minions' as you call them."


            "Yes, Mercury is good at leveraging her resources and knowledge."


            "Of course, Shampoo's probably a better marital artist than all of you combined tenacious too. Then there's Janet, bright girl."


            "Troubling." Setsuna gulped down nearly half of her drink.


            "That's an understatement, from what Usagi told me they would switch off. Janet would do the magical deflection while Shampoo would be the muscle."


            Setsuna nodded.


            "Are you digging for info or looking for some teamwork?" Ranma asked.


            Setsuna glared and finished off her drink. "Look, if Ami approaches you, don't help her. Call us."


            "Oh, you actually got a plan for her?" Ranma asked, nodding approvingly.


            "Oddly enough, she was obeying Usagi's orders at the end. Maybe we can use that." Setsuna then ordered another drink. It was what kept Ami from taking Minako.


            "Yeah, Ami hasn't found a way to work around that," Ranma shook her head. "Careful, Usagi sounded pretty tempted by her offer."


            Setsuna glared. "I have hope for our Princess."


            "She was the only one that got a hit in." Ranma nodded. "But that's not enough Ami knows too much about how you guys operate. You know that."


            "Yes." Setsuna sipped her refilled glass. "In a way I'm glad Mercury did this to them. Now they'll take it seriously."


            Ranma blinked. "That's blunt."


            "We're beyond banal pleasantries," Setsuna put her glass down and left her tip.


            "Good luck, I guess," Ranma looked to the stage again.


            "Oh? You don't want Ami to win?"


            "Usagi'll make the right choice." Ranma smirked. "Or not."


            Setsuna shook her head and walked out of the bar.


            "That was your old girlfriend, right? What was that about?" Sam asked after easing up next to her friend.


            Ranma shrugged. "She was just asking me about Ami."


            "She knows Ami too? Strange."


            "Nah, she's in charge of the exchange group."


            "Okay," Sam was impressed that excuse might even be real, not that it mattered "So gonna go back to your singing?"


           Ranma looked at the expectant friends and agents. "Yeah, I guess so." She then sauntered her way back to the stage.


            "So what do you think of her ass?" Naoko asked when Sam returned to the booth.


            "Shhh, Red's started." Sam then smiled and watched her friend begin to sing. "And it's quite nice, she's a lucky girl, Kasumi too."

 

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

 


            During the walk through the corridors, Kodachi steeled herself. She then exited the building and walked across the grass to the range. She grumbled at the sight. It was somehow wrong, for non-agents to get such latitude.


            She knew the Company would employ NH contractors but this seemed to be taking things too far. She caught herself. Colonel Edwards and Commander Stillwater were overseeing this project. They knew what they were doing.


            "Yes, Cadet?" Major Saotome asked when Kodachi got close enough. The officer then handed what had to be a custom handgun to one of the broodlings.


            "I just want to speak with my sister, Ma'am." Kodachi automatically saluted and waited for Nodoka to return.


            "That's fine." Nodoka saluted back and resumed talking with Ukyou.


            Nariko walked to Kodachi. "Yes, sister?"


            Kodachi frowned at the harshness in the last word. "I'm sorry about that. I shouldn't have been like that with you."


            "No you shouldn't," Nariko replied flatly.


            Kodachi shifted her feet. "How are things with you?"


            "Fine, Grandma's been making some very interesting things," Nariko looked over her shoulder.


            Kodachi was distracted by seeing Misako fire what should be a crew-served weapon at her shoulder.


            "Sister?" Nariko coughed over the noise.


            "Uh, yes, well I wanted to tell you that I'm going back to my training."


            "That should help make you into a proper agent," Nariko wryly remarked.


            Kodachi glared.


            "Good then," Nariko laughed.


            "So that's it?" Kodachi asked.


            "Not quite," Nariko smirked and pounced.


            Kodachi stepped back but was still caught in a strong hug.


            "When you can stop flinching like this, we'll be better," Nariko whispered into Kodachi's ear.


            Kodachi nodded and with considerable concentration wrapped her arms around her sister. "You haven't really changed. You're still the type of person to toss severed heads at frightened people."


            "This time they're not just from fish," Nariko smirked. She had already apologized to Akane for doing that, and it was really funny.

            Kodachi sniffed and broke out of the hug. "I suppose that's it."


            Nariko smiled a bit, her red eyes glowing. "You're trying to be more pleasant, for you this is great, Sister."


            Blushing, Kodachi looked over to see Captain Jarvis stride over to Ranma. The two conversed briefly.

 

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

 

            "Really? So what are they doing?" Ranma asked.


            "We don't know. So far we've only picked up one pattern spike," Jarvis shrugged.


            "And they're too far out of range to get more info?" Ranma bit her lip.


            "The Assembly either screwed up or they're trying to get our attention."


            "You're just giving me a heads up?"


            Jarvis smirked. "The Commander's sending a helicopter to investigate."


            "And I bet there'll be room." Ranma turned to Nodoka. "Hey Mom, what do you say to a field test of your guns?"


            "Can we?" Misako enthusiastically asked as she cradled her gun. She relished the chance to show it off to her former comrades.


            "You're asking to be sent off to fight an unknown amount of Assemblymen?" Nodoka asked as she inspected the gun that Ukyou had just fired.


            "It's recon. We'll see what's going on before doing anything," Ranma suggested.


            "I'll inform the Commander," Jarvis pulled out a phone. "You take your girls and get ready by the warming helicopter." He said before talking to Stillwater.


            "I guess these are ready to go." Nodoka opened a second storage case and handed a holster, some magazines, and a set of belts to Ukyou.


            "Oooo... Leather nice," Ukyou appraised as she shifted into her Senshi uniform and slipped on the gun belt. At least she had some edge, especially since she had no idea what her Senshi powers were.


            "What about me?" Misako pouted.


            Nodoka smiled and handed a pair of ammunition boxes over.


            "You don't go halfway," Kodachi noted with a tinge of jealousy.


            "Accessories are easy," Nodoka shrugged.


            "You can go," Jarvis said as he closed his phone.


            "Right, let's go girls," Ranma ordered.


            Kodachi watched the demons run off to the helicopter. She looked to the two officers and sighed. She walked back to the building. She had thirty minutes before the flight back to the Operations Centre.


           

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

 

            "Starting to see something," Ensign Lindemann said from the co-pilot's seat of the helicopter. "Yes, display's showing a smattering of Pattern A, about five klicks out ."


            Ranma nodded to the sound coming into her headset.


            "Slowing down approach," Lieutenant Hilbert, the pilot, stated.


            "We're getting more of them, looks like a couple squads. Levels are murky." Lindemann paused. "We've got a bloom! It's two klicks out."


            Hilbert's eyes widened. "Shit!" he swore as a small smoke trail shot up from the forest below. He jerked on the cyclic and pitched the helicopter up.


            "Releasing countermeasures." Lindemann released flares and chaff. "Base we're under attack by AOM forces." The missile was evaded but then a bright yellow beam came up from the ground.


            The source of the beam moved to try to connect with the helicopter. It was then joined by a second beam that reached up and just missed the cockpit. Another pair of missiles shot up as well. The helicopter twisted to evade but was hit in the transmission case. The titanium armor quickly burned through. The two missiles hit chaff and exploded, but a bit too close to the helicopter.


            "Can you get us down safe?" Ranma shouted.


            Hilbert worked at the controls. "Transmission's shot Ma'am. It's not good. I think I can get this thing down with no power, though." Within the right domain of velocity and altitude a helicopter can glide and land with some survivability. The decent turns the unpowered rotor blades which generate enough lift to slow the fall to what can be safe levels. The turning of the main rotor also turns the tail rotor which maintains stability. The line bounding this domain was affectionately known as the "Curve of Death".


            "We're sitting ducks," Lindemann said as the attacks continued. The ability to evade dramatically fell with the helicopter.


            "It's time for that thing we trained for!" Ranma shouted.


            Hilbert shuddered. There was not even a clearing below; it was all forest. He sighed and unhooked his harness. Lindemann followed.


            Ranma grabbed the door gunner next to her. "Nariko take the pilot. Misako take the co-pilot. Akane other gunner."


            The sextet of succubae jumped out of the helicopter. Initially, their wings were folded back, allowing them to fall faster than the rotor-gliding helicopter. Once they had fallen enough the succubae extended their wings and pulled out and away.


            Ranma gritted her teeth as she rolled away from a yellow beam and increased the rate of her descent. The brood had practiced this maneuver before, but not under live fire. She hit the ground and maintained enough balance to not drop Morrison. The agent gasped and landed on the HOG that he had been clutching to his chest.


            Ranma could feel all her spawn but her thoughts were interrupted by hearing the helicopter lumbering down to the ground. She hit the ground over Morrison and felt the impact in the distance.


            The agent and the succubus rose. Ranma tapped his shoulder and pointed to the right. The two crept through the forest. Shortly, the redhead looked over to see Nabiki and Ukyou silently move towards her. Ranma's expression turned predatory when she heard gunfire and explosions to the east.

 

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

 


            Sailor Aurora smiled happily as she depressed the trigger on her Individual Grenade Machine Gun. A MK 19 crew served weapon modified to be shoulder fired, the weapon was too ungainly for a human to use, but Misako did not have that problem.


            A series of 40mm high explosive dual purpose grenades made short work of the flanking group of acolytes.


            "Shit," Lindemann whispered as he held his sidearm. He managed to shoot the first Assemblyman in the head but the rest.... He gasped as he put some weight on his broken ankle.


            Misako slapped him on the back before getting up. "Sorry about the landing," she blushed. Mother was going to yell at her for being sloppy.


            Lindemann nodded.


            "Thanks for ruining our surprise," Nariko hissed from what seemed like Misako's ear.


            "You see anyone?" Misako asked.


            "Some dumb kid," Nariko frowned. "Pulled a gun on Hilbert." She shrugged.


            Hilbert paused as he took position to the rear of the group and looked to the South. As soon as the acolyte started to raise his weapon, Nariko was on him. It was gruesome but efficient. "I see Akane and Stevenson!" he said quietly.


            He crouched down and ran over to the limping pair. Misako had followed, holding up her monstrous weapon.


            Akane frowned and handed the nearly unconscious Stevenson over to the officer. She growled as pain shot up her damaged foot.


            "Bad landing?" Misako asked.


            Akane nodded. She avoided the missile well enough, nearly hit a tree, and then went into the ground. "His arm's bad, I dunno about the rest."


            "I should have guessed you were this easy to find," Ranma smirked. She did a headcount and was relieved with the result. "Anyone raise base?"


            "I did," Lindemann whispered. "I'll tell them we got everyone."


            Ranma nodded as she looked at Akane's leg. "It's okay dear," she said before yanking her foot straight. There was a loud crack followed by a flood of Ranma's energy that was readily absorbed.


            "We've seen some scouts. It's gonna get worse," Hilbert shook his head. It was insane, but the training worked. He could smell the burning wreckage.


            "Misako, stay with these guys, give them some cover," Ranma ordered.


            Frowning, Misako nodded.


            Hilbert boggled at the covering fire that offered. "We'll make sure no one gets in behind you," he promised.


            "I getting better," Stevenson groggily said He winced when Morrison looked at his arm.


            "Try to go around them, a bit to the North-west," Hilbert advised.


            Ranma smiled. More distance between them would be better. She motioned to the rest of her spawn and they slid into the forest gloom. "That's good, we'll have to fan out and do a full sweep anyway."


            "Lucky guys," Misako smirked as she extended her senses and began to unfold her aura.


           

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

 

            Wendell Holmes held his dagger-like blades out but he hesitated; a tiny demon in a pastel uniform of some kind stepped out into his vision. His hesitation came not out of any reluctance to kill something that looked like a young girl, but from caution that came with experience.


            He looked her over, checked with his senses, and concluded that she was no great threat. A blue aurora formed over him as he ran to attack her. His men would hold back, until the other demons that were certainly out there attacked.


            Nabiki smirked and snapped her hands together. The mocking look on the Assemblyman's face was worth waiting for. "Icicle Parade."


            Wendell laughed and put his right arm up to block the ice barrage. He screamed when some of the shards punctured through his aura. The number penetrating grew tremendously after the first shards exploded. His right arm hung uselessly at his side, nothing more than a broken, bleeding mass of meat. Aura flaring even brighter, he pushed forward with the blade in his remaining hand.


            Nabiki dodged back and parried the blow with her claws. Getting inside the weapon, she pushed it aside and slammed the her other hand into his neck.


            Wendell's head snapped back and he tried to slash with his short sword again. The tiny demon's attacks railed uselessly against his shield. He stepped forward and found his footing taken away.


            He was then flipped over and hit the ground. Glaring at the succubus standing over him, he stabbed forward with his sword. It solidly stabbed somewhere in the demon and he felt assured of his victory.


            Wendell's acolytes' attentions were drawn by a series of fireballs. The men hesitated. Wendell's face reddened. "I can handle this little girl! Go after them!" he shouted to the men as they turned and started shooting at the other demon.


            Thanks to their cover the fireballs from the demon failed to hit them and the sustained fire from their guns kept her from getting too close. They were missing her but it was enough to keep her from nearing. Most of the demon's attacks were close range.


            Hearing his men engage the demon trying to flank them, Wendell hastened to end this fight. He made a stab for what he knew to be a vital area. Swearing as the blade hit her, Nabiki sidestepped and managed to keep the wound from getting deep. Wendell smiled, but his satisfaction was short lived as she repeated those stupid words.


            "Icicle Parade!" A blast of frozen flammables shot forward. Few of the shards actually made it though his shield, and into his head, but not many were needed.


            Nabiki arched her back and her eyes flared as she dodged a handful of shots. Some of the Acolytes had noticed what had happened to their leader, and were starting to fire on her. She slid out her claws and leapt toward the acolytes who were still engaged in a firefight. The three within ten feet of where she landed were doomed.


            The rest of the squad were further out and until now had focused their attention on the other demon, but now there was another threat.... One took a shot and hit a teammate who was being eviscerated. He swore at the interference and tried to shoot the heavy gun again but a blue and white fireball ended his efforts.


            His partner was a bit more clearheaded and took careful aim. Unfortunately, that caused him to miss a group of shadows slide up and make contact with the one cast by his gun. However he did not miss it when the weapon exploded in his hands.


            Akane glared and adjusted her shadows to the next target.


            Aura flaring, Nabiki stepped back and dodged under a burst of gunfire. She concentrated and launched a pair of fireballs. She shook her head and slit the throats of the writhing flame-consumed bodies.


            "You shouldn't have gone out like that," Akane admonished after impaling the last acolyte with her tail.


            "Yeah," Nabiki agreed as she cracked open Holmes' chest. She then sliced out his heart and tossed half of it to Akane.


            Akane thoughtfully chewed the organ as she sniffed the air. "Not bad. Shame we don't have time to sample more." At least their uniforms worked well enough in combat, even if the leather mini-skirts were too girly.


            "I'm guessing this fool was the one that sent those scouts out." Nabiki shrugged. She then spoke into her headset. "Nabiki here, got one of the Priests, and a smattering of goons. Pretty good eating."

 

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

 

 

            "We're ready," Ukyou quietly groused.


            Nariko shrugged. They had to wait for everyone to be in position. Simultaneous attacks would minimize the potential for reinforcements. She could sense something ahead but was not sure. They eased their way further and stopped. She smiled thinly at the group of acolytes.


            "Mortars," Ukyou whispered as she pointed. She radioed in her ready status, and thankfully only had to wait a bit before getting the order. She then moved her finger to a man that wore better armor than the others.


            Nariko shook her head at the stupidity. It was not just the armor, but the choice of heavy weapons. The terrain was all wrong, and seemed ineffective at fast, highly mobile targets. Maybe it could would work better against a swarm of minion-grade demons. Shrugging, she circled around and kept an eye on the formation. She sniffed and approached an idle sentry. Before his lifeless and heartless body could hit the ground, she concentrated and shouted: "Lightning Devastation". Several electric arcs came from her hands and hit the closer of the two mortar crews.


            Multiple rounds exploded, which further mangled the corpses that were once the crew. The other mortar group was far enough to escape the explosion. They changed the position of the small tube and started firing. The ammunition-handler from that crew started to raise his shotgun...


            Ukyou drew her weapon, and took careful aim with the enlarged semi-automatic. It was a bit clunky, but Grandma was not taking any chances with the .500 Smith and Wesson round. The blonde easily and messily killed the two men at the mortar.


            Ukyou moved her aim to their leader but as soon as Nariko attacked he had dived down behind a hillock. There was a brief pause and she then looked to see a squad of acolytes approach her while running between trees and trying to use cover. She smirked; it looked like he had called in some backup.


            Her smirk died when she saw a yellow beam fire from behind the hillock. She spotted the priest using some kind of staff as covering fire. Heartened, the acolytes carefully went forward. Father Holmes could not hit the demoness, but his fire kept her from coming out into the open.


            Ukyou swore, the bastard was too concealed and too far away to hit. Besides she had more immediate targets. Trying to flank her, the acolytes moved in; their assault weapons were raised. She could smell the fear and hatred in them... she then realized that there was more. She could smell more of their minds. She could touch them.


            The squad shuddered and hesitated in their advance. It was enough. From their varied positions, they shot at her but they were far too low and off their mark. Ukyou's firing was precise and devastating; she gasped, panicking that many people was exhausting.


            She then advanced on the two remaining personnel. Idly reloading, she looked at the shivering acolyte. The man gasped and as he looked at the approaching demon and reached for one of his grenades. Immediately reacting, Ukyou pulled iron and shot him between the eyes.


            "Foul monster!" the man shouted wondering what had happened to the father's covering fire. The other one used the opportunity to take a shot. He hit Ukyou just under her left shoulder and then got shot in the neck and stomach. Screaming in pain, the blonde dug into her shoulder to pull out the bullet. While not as caustic as the special rounds Assembly snipers used, the bullet was not something she wanted to leave in even for an extra second. She growled as the wound painfully and slowly began to close.  After that she lunged onto him and began to feed. 


            She stood back up and smiled at the sight of Nariko gleefully frying her assemblymen. Ukyou frowned and looked at the two bodies as she released the empty magazine and reloaded. At least Franklin died quickly, he was not too bad of a guy. Hamilton on the other hand... She felt she should have shot him in the crotch first.


            Ukyou mumbled something about pinching jerks that did not know the meaning of 'not interested' when she spotted the priest. Father Karol Adams had emerged from the hillock


            "Hello, Ukyou," the short and solid man greeted her with a forcefully calm face. He cradled a wooden staff in his arms. He had called for more support and Oslo promised it, he just needed to stall her. More men would come.


            Ukyou smirked and spit out some blood and gristle so she could talk. "Still being Oslo's whipping boy I see."


            Karol sighed as he looked at the corpses. "You had such promise: clever enough to realize the truth yet smart enough to keep your mouth shut about it."


            "I defected as a human," Ukyou reminded him as her grip strengthened on her gun. Father Adams was one of the less fanatical and more approachable.


            "Exactly," Karol shrugged. That was his entire point. It was a shame, the Assembly needed more people like Ukyou, not faithful dolts like Wendell. Karol flipped his staff over and the prongs at the end began to glow. A thick yellow beam burst from the tip and he tried to steer it towards the blonde.


            Concentrating her fearsome aura, Ukyou dropped to the ground to dodge under the beam. She aimed. Karol reacted and turned the staff so the large bullet hit the middle when it was shot. After it smashed through the weapon, there was a blue flash of the slowed bullet impacting with his shield.


            "Not so sure about your aura?" Ukyou taunted.


            "What about yours? I'm no weak fearful acolyte," Karol dropped the lower half of the staff and fired again from the prongs, it was thinner and not as bright.


            Ukyou tried to dodge but the yellow beam hit her side; fortunately, it ricocheted off of her flaming aura. Aside from knocking her down, the only damage was that the left side of her back bow had been torn.


            "Lightning Devastation!" Nariko shouted. Bolts of electricity scattered over the Assemblyman's shield and she pounced.


            Karol turned and fired a shot from his staff. It hit the center of her body, sending the succubus tumbling. "Looks like my men actually slowed you down," he commented noticing the handful bullet holes and slices in her uniform. It was amazing that she was still standing. There was a lot of blood too, but he had no idea how much of it was hers.


            There was a pair of shots and Karol felt his back get torn open. Even as his wounds started to heal, he spun around. He had a feeling about her gun, and since it had penetrated his shield and his armor...


            Nariko immediately popped back up and launched a fireball. It burst harmlessly on his shield, but her attention was on the ragged wounds on his back.


            Ukyou grimaced and aimed at the prongs at the end of the truncated staff. The wood and metal weapon exploded nicely, but as she fired again he had closed the range.


            Karol dropped the broken pieces and flicked his wrists drawing out a pair of short blades from his sleeves. The edges glowed and he jabbed forward. His right blade was blocked by Ukyou's claws while his left was parried by the edge of her gun.


            As the blade started to cut into the slide of the gun, Karol pushed forward. He twisted his right arm and tried to jab his other blade into the succubus. A tail tried to cut his legs out but bounced off his aura.


            "Lightning Devastation!" Nariko shouted. Karol's aura flickered and she fired a pair of eyebeams into wounds that had been healing rapidly.


            Karol tried to twist out and get to the side to avoid being flanked between a pair of demons. He lifted his left hand off the gun and jabbed the dagger forward. Ukyou rotated ninety decrees and rammed the gun forward. It met resistance on the blue aura just over his head, until she depressed the trigger.


            "Regenerate from that," Ukyou said as she pushed the headless corpse to the ground. "Thanks, Nari-chan," she gasped kneeling down over the body.


            "Just save me some liver," Nariko said, a smile gracing her bloodied face.


           

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

 


            Ranma eased forward. She could sense an assemblyman and could smell the rest of his goons. She looked forward and saw a small foxhole with a pair manning a machine-gun. There were two more similar positions that made a rough perimeter. She guessed that this was some kind of redoubt: a place for the Assembly to retreat to. The redhead checked and told her girls that she was in place and that they could start their attacks.


            She concentrated and silently released a pair of DarkStar bursts at the two far foxholes. The gunner manning the center one had his heart cut out by a pair of eyebeams. As the spheres killed the other two crews Ranma flew in and slaughtered the gunner's partner.


            Before she could get up and move forward she saw a pair of men with tubes rise slightly and fire. A pair of rockets shot out and raced towards Ranma. She concentrated and the unexploded DarkStar bursts raced in and intercepted the rockets.


            Once the explosion died down Ranma looked to see another pair of rockets launch at her. She flicked her hands out and hoped that they were cheap munitions. With beyond split second precision and taking care to not touch the nosecones, she grabbed the rockets at their midsection and knocked them aside.


            One of the rockets spiraled about and flopped onto the ground, exploding. The other, despite Ranma's efforts, detonated a few feet away from her. More shrapnel went towards her enemies, but her aura still spiked as some of it hit.


            The closer pair had already reloaded their rockets but the demoness was too close. Ranma grabbed one of the men by his neck and launch tube. Only twenty feet away, his partner swiveled his aim and shot at them.


            As the rocket launched, Ranma manhandled the bleeding acolyte so his body was between her and his partner. She threw him right into the rocket's trajectory as her aura bloomed in violet shadows.


            The acolyte had dropped his launch tube and taken a few paces back. Four men ran up to him confused and fearful. Streamers of intestine and gore littered the trees and ground.


             As they fired at the demon she released a pair of orbs before running to the side. Some of the squad went to the ground, two others scattered. Both of the pair that ran were followed by the orbs, which rapidly closed the distance.


            Ranma smiled at the pleasure the energy the kills gave her and rushed into the three men who had held their ground. She kept her aura and shadows up. Men with automatic weapons were more of a threat to her than rockets. She could take out a handful of attacks, but a concentrated and sustained volley of fire would be troubling.


            "Shoot it!" A lanky man shouted from the distance as he ran to the battle. Father Oslo was dismayed at how fast the demon worked. In the few short minutes it took to relieve himself, the slaughter of his men had begun. It was sad what a full bladder cost.


            The demon pounced while they fired. The missile-man, who was still hugging the ground, was easily taken with her tail. The closer of the two who remained was unceremoniously gutted while the other was fried with a more conventional fireball.


            "Damn," Ranma swore as she felt her aura perforate and the ribs on her left side shatter. She growled as the healing began. Lung wounds were not fun. She pulled herself back up, only to drop right back to the ground to dodge a yellow energy beam.


            Oslo groaned. His men had ample chances to fire on the monster, especially when she was distracted by slaughtering the outermost barriers. "At least they managed to do some damage," he hissed.


            "Treat your men like bait and that's all they'll be," Ranma said as she fired a DarkStar Burst at the man while retreating behind a tree.


            Oslo took aim with his staff and swore when the black and violet orb bobbed down and avoided the beam. Concentrating on the sphere, he did not see the pair of violet beams that glanced off of the pronged end of his staff, which then blew apart weakly and died down in intensity. He stole a glance and realized that all his men were dead. He radioed his other teams for reinforcements, and the reliable Pinktree said he was coming. The longer the fight lasted the better his odds got; he was the one getting reinforcements.


            The priest tossed the inert staff to the ground and immediately grabbed a pair of long blades that were slung under his coat. He held the blades up at ninety degrees with each other, vertical and horizontal, and intercepted the DarkStar burst. The shards failed to slice though the shield generated between the two blades


            Oslo shifted to the side and stabbed forward against the attacking demon. Ranma dodged under the blades and closed in. She growled when he stepped back and parried her claws.


                  He leaned forward and slashed at her while Ranma went down and grabbed him by his the knee and yanked him over. While Oslo tumbled backwards he tried to slash at her waist but was parried by her tail, which was nicked on its left fin.


            As Ranma sidestepped the tumbling man, she grabbed his left wrist, breaking it, and flicked his sword away. Oslo stabbed forward with his other hand. Ranma freed up both her hands. The end of the blade was caught between her claws, which sliced the sword apart when it was yanked form her grip.


            Oslo dropped the handle and shot a blade out from within his sleeve. Before he could throw the knife it was plucked from his hand and tossed aside. Ranma sighed and blocked a punch sloppily thrown from his broken left hand.


            Pulling himself up, Oslo kicked high and found his leg captured by her claws. The aura prevented him from being sliced apart, but not from having his knee broken. Trying to step back, Oslo pulled out a grenade which was shot out of his hand by a pair of eyebeams.


            "Already seen that trick," Ranma remarked. Flipping out another set of blades, Oslo charged forward and was easily dodged. She frowned, he was nimble, but not enough.


            When he started an incantation, Ranma readied herself. Reaching into his coat, Oslo smirked and produced an array of blades, one held between each finger. They were then flicked out and jabbed into the succubus. Ranma twisted and was shocked to find that all the flying blades adjusted their trajectory and had still hit her. She groaned and slumped back.


            Oslo chuckled as the succubus coughed up blood, and curled up. He smirked, his aim was still good. "You got me worried for a bit there, but there's now two blessed blades where your heart should be. Not to mention the others piercing the rest of your body," he said as he pulled out another set of longer blades. After depleting most of his aura in that move, he was relieved to see that the chemicals coating the surface of the blades was retarding her regeneration.


            To his surprise, the succubus jerkily rose and ripped the blades out of her body. She darkly smiled as blood oozed out of the numerous wounds. It was clear that there was little pressure in her major arteries. Oslo reacted and launched another barrage that was then blocked by the blades she held.

 

            "Don't group me with those other weak succubae you kill," she gasped as the shadows around her grew. She then trusted the blades she held and tried to stab them into Oslo's body.


            Dodging the attack so that only two of the blades hit him, Oslo stared as black and violet fluid started to pulsate within her chest cavity. The demoness gasped and ran in and slashed at him. Her hair bounced up and seemed to hang before slowly falling back down. The aura gave a bit of brief resistance but was easily overcome. Oslo tried to stab forward but found his wrist grabbed and broken for a second time. Ranma sighed and extended her claws and crushed through his aura. She felt her body grow distant, but focused on the battle. Already her circulatory system was trying to repair itself.


            Screaming, Oslo drew his sliced up right hand back. When his aura flickered, Ranma smiled. She reached out and nearly touching his body, fired a DarkStar Burst. The orb shattered onto his aura which blanked out. Shards sliced through his armor and exploded in his abdomen.


            Oslo lurched forward and stabbed with a blade held in his good hand. The clumsy effort was blocked and ripped away. Ranma was disappointed: he was not even pulling out the blades.


            Gasping, Oslo stepped back. He could still heal, and she was damaged too. He concentrated and gave his shield one last push. Careful to protect his left arm, he made a grab for another grenade. The demon attacked but his body and shield blocked her. After pulling the pin, he tossed the grenade and was dismayed to find it kicked away in midair. The split second he spent watching it sail across the forests was enough, and he soon found his left arm sliced off at the elbow. Oslo extended his neck and bit the grip of one of the blades stuck high in his chest. Straining, he pulled it out and charged at Ranma.


            "Oh please," Ranma sighed as she grabbed his head with one hand, his shoulder with the other and twisted. Ranma chuckled darkly. His heartbeat was still strong. She pushed the body down and began to feed. As her body cooled down she almost slumped. Her chest was in dire need of healing, fortunately she had plenty of energy and food.


            The shadows in the forest grew long as she chewed and drained.

 

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

 

            Father Randy Pinktree ran through the forest. He sensed his comrade's fates and knew what he had to do. But then before he could get to Oslo, that man was killed.

 

             After feeling that, he took his men and looped around the forest. Getting themout was more important. He could catch hell from the Bishop, but he did not care. He did not even care about the likelihood that he'd have to deal with the Inquisitorial branch.

 

            Avoiding the three groups of demons, he then switched direction to head south. Surrender did not even enter his mind; his men would never accept it, and neither would he.


            It was all a mess. Oslo had assured them that these demons were too young and too small in number to be a risk. Especially, when they were outnumbered ten to one. Their plan was simple, taking out the helicopter was the hard part. Mopping up the demons was supposed to be easy. The problems started when the spotters started being picked off. It got worse when the fighting started.

 

            His thoughts were interrupted by an explosion that blew apart the men on his right flank. Pinktree ducked down and motioned for his rocket crew to the front. As that happened he eased back and made for his blades.


            A steady stream of explosions pounded the ground, this time it was more towards the center of his men, who, in the panic of their flight, had made the mistake of bunching up. One of his rocket teams was cut down in the barrage. His men scrambled back.


            "There's a whole Company platoon there," one of the acolytes at the front shouted as he tried to drag back a wounded man. There was a large hole in his chest.


            Pinktree swore, he had hoped to wheel around the company reinforcements. His eyes widened when he noticed a dull green aura shoot out and envelope the two scouts. They screamed and slumped over. Unlike Oslo, he did not intend to use his men as bait.


            Randy turned away from the shriveling bodies to see a shadowy and winged figure raise an enormous gun. "Percy take her out!" he shouted to his remaining missile-man.


            Before Acolyte Percival Blank could fire, he was shot in the head by a tight grouping of 7.62 mm bullets. Randy shouted for his men to get down as another volley came at them.


            Ordering his remaining men forward, Randy glowered at how things had gone. Things were supposed to be easy. The enemy was not supposed to counterattack, not right away.


            Misako stepped back and fired at the still distant men. She smirked, the fools just kept getting closer. She knew the Assembly, they hardly ever fought... professionals, so they felt the need to think like them.


            The remaining acolytes did make good use of cover and advanced in a pretty good leapfrog maneuver, but they completely missed the slight concavity in the wooded hill they were climbing up.


            Only two of the WIC agents had HOGs but combined with Misako's beast the sum of heavy weapons fire was a fine hammer for the kill zone. After a couple bursts from the men on her flanks, the firing stopped and Misako advanced. She unfolded her aura and the green tendrils spread, seeking those that were still alive.


            Randy's men screamed even louder before gurgling and finally falling silent. Gazing at the crumbled and desiccated bodies, he flared his shield and retreated. He pulled back and found some cover. He considered his options: fight or retreat.


            The Bishop had to know. The demons were much stronger than expected. Randy sighed and listened for the approaching monster. Retreating could be tricky, the bishop would likely punish him for his failure.


            "Come out!" Misako taunted as she fired off a few more grenades.

            Randy threw a grenade, but its range was nothing compared to those the demon was using


            Misako caught a glimpse of him and laughed. "Hey Father Pinktree! I've got a question," she bellowed. "There are two types of Assemblyman. Those that believe the stupid shit and the cynical bastards just do it to advance."


            "There's also the poor fools that go into the Inquisition branch!"  Pinktree shouted back.


            "Don't tell me Porter got his promotion?"  Misako snickered. "He always was a special kind of useful idiot."


            Despite himself Randy darkly laughed." I always took you for a true believer, Hibiki!"


            Misako chuckled. "I got better. What about you?"


            Randy got up and ran to a different bit of cover. He knew Misako was playing with him, but he could use it.


            "Come on, I've got a bet with Ukyou." Misako eased forward. "She's more of the cynical type, but she has a point. It's not like you guys would be dumb enough to actually believe that stuff right?"

 

            Randy shivered. She had a point. The Assembly had all the theological expertise of a delicatessen.


           Misako knew this was getting tiresome, and mother did stress the importance of minimizing banter with your enemy... even if the enemy was an old teacher. She took aim and fired a barrage at him and immediately rushed.


            Disappointingly, Randy had a huge gash in his left leg. There were wounds on his face and torso but they were not affecting his mobility. He hopped up and brandished a blade.


            "Want me to wait for you to regenerate that?" Misako sincerely asked.


            Randy looked back and then down at his leg. He threw a few long knifes, which surprisingly almost hit. "No, it might as well end now." He defiantly glared and was subsequently shot. Misako widened her eyes at the jump Pinktree made; he evaded enough of the blast radius to live.


            "You're getting cocky, you always did," Randy gasped, now that both his legs were hideously damaged.


            "Yes sir," Misako nodded solemnly as her aura unfolded. "Thanks for the last lesson." The green waves shot out and started to envelop him. Weakened legs failed and the body was sucked dry. The orange haired succubus stood over the desiccated body and set it ablaze. After it was reduced to ash, she returned back to the agents.

 

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

 


            "Hi Mom!" Akane beamed when she sensed her mother striding forward. She then blinked. "Wow... new look?"


            "I like it," Nabiki complimented. She watched the redheaded demoness stride out of the shadows, or try to. The shadows seemed to drape over her, especially around her hair. The succubus' tresses were rich and deep shade of red and fell to her butt in a very full bodied and almost animated wave. They seemed to move to conflicting eddies of wind and force.


            "Huh?" Ranma asked.


            "It looks like you were at the salon," Nabiki dryly said. There was a lot of blood on Mother, but that was expected.


            Ranma pulled back some of her hair and was surprised at the length and shine. "Well, that's almost worth the damage," she said as she fluffed her hair.


            Nabiki smiled. "I called the other groups. And they're done. It's now cleanup," she said wiping some blood off her chin.


            "Looks like you girls are done here." The proud mother looked over the cleaned bodies. "Let's get Ukyou and Nariko." The trio carefully walked through the forest until they found a dead body that was surprisingly whole.


            "Don't," Ukyou said to Akane who was eyeing the corpse. "Franklin was okay," she sighed an pointed to another body. "You can eat him. He was a prick."


            Nariko looked at Akane and frowned. "Where're your manners?"


            Akane blinked.


            "We're not savage monsters," Nariko waggled a finger disapprovingly. "We have more class than that."


            Ukyou rolled her eyes. "Yes, she insisted that we eat neatly." After pausing to look at her mother's hair, she shrugged- she had come to expect stuff like that from Mother.


            "I like your hair," Nariko said as they walked back to where the brood left Misako and the agents.


            'Thanks," Ranma smiled.


            "Cute powerup."


            "Yes I see that," Ukyou smirked. "So her powerup was better hair?"


            Ranma laughed as they walked. "Girls, I'm not a video game character."


            "Least, I'll have plenty of meat for those recipes, right Mom?" Ukyou asked. Many of the recipes in BlackSky's cookbook required... exotic ingredients.

 

            "Uh, sure. We'll just have to make sure Dr. Tofu doesn't want any specimens of his own.," Ranma shrugged.


            "Nice," Akane smiled.


            "Mom!" Misako said as she bounded over, her gun slung across her back.


            "Well, you're happy," Ranma said as she hugged her.


            Misako happily nuzzled her. She thought about Pinktree and frowned briefly.


            Ranma laughed at her girls' energy and waved to the group of agents that had congregated.


            "Good to see you girls," Lieutenant Hilbert said as he sipped some water. He shook his head at the gore that covered the girls.


            "Impressive work," Captain Jarvis said as he came up a hill that Misako had used for an ambush.  Something approaching warmth colored the German's blue eyes.


            "How's the perimeter?" Ranma asked as she sipped from an offered canteen.


            "A couple of acolytes may have escaped before we came, but it's secure now," Jarvis assured, bowing his head to Ranma succubus style, as if he had horns of his own.


            Ranma shrugged. "How's Stevenson?"


            "He's resting in an APC. Medic thinks he'll be okay." Jarvis shook his head. The results were impressive, but he had come to expect this level of performance.


            "Any other AOM on the Scanners?" Ranma tried to dust some of the blood from her chest.


            Jarvis smirked and deliberately looked past Ranma. "Nope. They could have planned something, but our reinforcements only took out a handful people trying to flee. We tried to capture some, but those few we got close to killed themselves instead. Guess they were afraid we'd feed them to you."


            "Yeah, you'd have thought they would have helped their own men." Ranma smirked sarcastically. She had seen first hand the kind of teamwork the Assembly had.

 

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

 


            "What did you do?" Kasumi asked as she hosed off her fiance. Both were behind the house. The brood had been driven straight back home. She let the others go in and shower inside the house, but the redheaded mom was far too messy.


            "Some guy exploded right next to me," Ranma said as she scrubbed down her nude body.


            "You should have cleaned up at base, instead of coming over here first." Kasumi admonished.


            Ranma shrugged.


            "You also got hit in the heart," Nodoka noted from the deck. She was examining Ukyou's gun. The damage to the slide was a pain, but that part could be replaced. Right now she was more interested in the prototype's overall performance and wear.


            "Yeah, yeah," Ranma sighed and turned so her hair could be washed. "Hope the guys on cleanup are gonna be okay."


            "You helped get most of the bodies," Kasumi stated. She was off duty and by the time she had gotten to deploy, there was just mop up.


            "I meant the helicopter. It'll be a pain to get the wreckage," Ranma shivered at the chill.


            "Expensive too," Nodoka put down Ukyou's gun and then slid Misako's monster closer. "The Assembly made a huge mistake."

 

            She smiled at the large case on the deck. A very exuberant batch of broodlings had given it to her. There were more at base. Nodoka would normally get all the captured weapons from a fight like this, but the personal touch was really nice. And those staffs the Assembly used should be fascinating.


            Ranma laughed. "Losing fifty-one men will do that." The count was impressive, not just in her girl's proficiency, but how scattered the Assembly was. Looking down she shrugged. It was a shame, but those idiots attacked her family and friends.


            "There's another thing," Kasumi smirked. "They just gave the Company a reason."


            "Good," Ranma smiled darkly and took the offered towel. She then brushed a few snarls out of her hair.


            Nodoka smiled her daughter's new style was quite lovely. "You two going to have fun?"


            Kasumi nodded as Ranma nuzzled the taller teen.


            "Have a good time you two," Nodoka smiled. She called the agents in the APC to help her load the weapons. Her daughter would not be the only one with a busy night.

 

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

 


            Ranma draped herself over Kasumi's chest and purred while her tail happily swished back and forth. Kasumi wiped some sweat off of her forehead and then massaged the succubus. "You split up and attacked at once?" She asked the redhead


            Not wanting to talk, the demoness simply nodded.


            "You divided your forces, but you hampered their ability to reinforce and counter attack." Kasumi pondered as she held the demon.


            Ranma nuzzled Kasumi's chest. "That's about right."


            "Misako worked well with the guys. I'm surprised." Kasumi then kissed the succubus.


            Purring Ranma continued and then broke off. "They fought well. She likes them, especially Morrison."


            Kasumi blinked. "Because he killed that minion with his knife."


            Ranma nodded. "That and he signed up for the D program."


            "Oh?" Kasumi asked, flatly. Establishing a procedure like that was logical but disturbing.


            Ranma laughed. "Yeah, Misako thinks he'd make a great succubus."


            "So do you," Kasumi noted. No longer stroking Ranma.


            "Yeah, I respect him, that's why I let him in." Ranma's voice was distant.


            "He's a good guy," Kasumi allowed.


            "Have you made your decision?" Ranma asked, pulling her head off Kasumi's chest.


            Kasumi looked to the ceiling for a long moment, and the demon began to fidget during the awkward silence. "No."


            "Well..."


            "Going to go back to your kids?" Kasumi asked with deliberate casualness.


            Ranma eased out of Kasumi's bed. "Yeah I should," she leaned over and kissed her fiancee. With a perplexed glance she slipped out of the room.

 

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

 


            Genma noticed Ranma enter the kitchen. His child seemed distant. "Did things go alright last night?"


            "You know what we did," Ranma grumped as she poured some juice in her "World's Greatest Mother" mug.


            "You seemed happy enough after the... fight," Genma shuddered. The master was training him, but he saw the happy succubae arrive home.


            "Hmm?" Ranma asked.


            The older martial artist's eyes flickered around the room. Happosai's return had heightened his danger sense. He could almost see the irritation roll off of the redhead. "It happened after you and your fiance..."


            "Had wild sex? What of it? She's my mate." Ranma glared at her father. She carefully lowered her mug to the table, and started looking in the cabinet for some breakfast.


            Genma sighed and steeled himself. She was just like her mother. She was at her maddest when she was controlled and calm. "Daughter... please, just don't... Don't make the same mistake I did."


            Ranma spun around and stared at her father. "Daughter?" she asked with confusion.


            Genma stepped back, eyeing the door. "I'm sorry."


            "What got you?" she asked, picking up her mug again.


            Genma looked around, and then quietly whispered. "The Master."


            Ranma raised an eyebrow. "Old man Happosai?"


            "Don't say his name!" Genma's eyes widened and he looked about to bolt to the door.


            "Good morning!" Happosai said as he bounded into the room and landed on Ranma's chest.


            "Says you," Ranma sighed and sipped her drink.


            "Now this is a student," Happosai said as he fondled her breasts. He then allowed himself to be swatted aside.


            "Yah had your fun," Ranma half heartedly grumbled.


            "Aww, but I just want to see how my lovely gifts fit on you," the diminutive old man's eyes started to tear up and his lip quivered.


            "The bra and panties fit great," Ranma rolled her eyes. "And Kasumi really liked the black negligee you got me."


            "Yes I heard," Happosai gave a saucy grin. "Though are you always so morose at the end?"


            "It's none of your business," Ranma sniffed. "We're just having fun."


            "Yeah, casual sex should be easy for a succubus," Happosai lit his pipe. "But is it casual?"


            "Yeah, the Master's right." Genma blinked.


           "See? Even this bumbling oaf figured it out. And his marriage fell apart." Happosai knowingly puffed on the long pipe.


           "Things are fine, we're still casual enough," Ranma shook her head and left out the back door and headed to the dojo.


            "There might be hope for you yet," Happosai said to Genma.


            Genma tried to ease his way out of the room.


            Happosai seemed to not notice. "Well, your daughter and her spawn are going to have the dojo. Guess I'll have to teach you the old fashioned way." He slapped Genma on the back. "Come on! It's half an hour past sunrise! The day's a wasting."

 

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

 


            Without a pause in her singing, Ranma caught the motion Morrison made. The agent was sitting at the bar with a phone in his ear. He subtly gestured to someone by the door.

 

            Ranma smirked.

 

            Like most everyone else in the bar, the new woman did not look away from the singing seductress. The redhead flashed a sultry smile at the visitor and added in a saucy wink. Almost ruining the song, she suppressed laughter at the newcomer's uncomfortable fidgeting.


            After finishing her set, Ranma slid off of the tiny stage and eased up to the wayward Senshi. "You've got a lot of guts waltzing in here." Ranma then ordered a drink. "Your mistress give you the night off?" she mockingly asked while sipping.


            Mercury narrowed her eyes and tried to keep from blushing.


            "Oh, lighten up. You had to know you'd have been watched."


            "Yes, you actually keep competent security," Mercury stated. She knew how exposed she was. It was a public place, but it was controlled by Ranma and her Company allies.


            "So... why are you here?" Ranma purred as she motioned for Mercury to sit in a secluded corner booth.


            "I heard about this great redheaded singer who was dominating karaoke night," Mercury idly stated.


            "The Red Turtle doesn't do karaoke on Friday, you should know that, Akumi," Ranma sipped at her scotch and ordered one for the blue-haired girl.


            Mercury watched the waitress leave. "Akumi? Cute." Shoving Aku into her name was not quite the impression she wanted to give, but it was a lot better than Dark Mercury.


            "It fits... and you're dressed adorably," Ranma smiled at Mercury's glare.

 

            "Figures you'd find this cute." Mercury looked down at her black, with blue accents, evening dress; she thought it looked commanding. "And is my hair cute too?"


            "It's no pigtails, but there's something to be said for the elegance of a nice bun." Ranma ran a hand through her own teased, fluffed, and spiked mane.


            "We can't all look like eighties hair band members," Mercury dryly remarked. She looked at the liquor placed before her. She was fairly sure that the succubus' hair was longer and fuller than she remembered, but that was not too unexpected.


            "I'm not the one in a nice corset." Ranma smirked. "Don't be a pansy, drink up. You sneak into a bar looking classy; you gotta do something with it."


            "And you're a mother," Mercury shook her head


            "And you're supposed to be some evil and dread Mistress to a powerful queen." Ranma sighed. "Now, what do you want?"


            Mercury sniffed her Scotch. She coughed after trying to drink some of it down.


            Ranma smiled thinly. "Warm isn't it?"


            Mercury nodded. "I'm asking about your plans for... Usagi," she said as she played with her glass.


            Ranma sipped her drink and studied Mercury's face. It was clear and controlled but fear still radiated from her. "Oh, I dunno." Ranma smiled warmly at the memory of Usagi's bloody visage. The princess had potential. That hug was really good too.


            Mercury glared.


            "Well, what do you plan to do with her?" Ranma asked as she put her glass down. "You're a bit too cold to be a consort," she teased. The redhead grinned at the other girl's narrowed eyes. "You're taking this far too seriously."


            Blinking, Mercury took another sip. "I serve the Princess. We need to be worthy of her."


            Ranma sniffed her drink. It was not as good as what Stillwater had, but it did the job. "And that you had the perfect little honey-pot to encourage your... blooming was just a happy coincidence?"


            "Yes, that was helpful." Mercury smirked. "To repeat myself, what are your plans for her?"


            Ranma scratched her neck. "Nothing much. It's not like I have some despicable agenda in all this."


            "Right," Mercury chuckled. There was no way Ranma could have just fallen into the network of alliances that she had.


            "Where's your minions? Didn't want to bring them to such a risque show?" Ranma teased.


            "They're training," Mercury said flatly. "Virgo is a useful asset but..."


            "You need to keep her on a short leash." Ranma offered.


            "She's still learning what it means to be a Senshi, one of my Senshi," Mercury emphasized.


            "Don't have that problem with Orion," Ranma took another sip. "No; she taught you."


            "Well, having a lover that understands you completely is good, don't you agree?" Mercury pointedly asked.


            "Yeah," Ranma absently noted. "So you're already dressing darkly and doing the new makeup and such, standard teenage rebellion. What next? Tattoos?


            Despite herself, Mercury blushed ever so slightly.


            "Ah ha! What did you get? Mark your territory? Or maybe a more even exchange."


            "It's personal," Mercury said, demurely.


            Ranma laughed. "I didn't see anything on your battle uniform, but I would expect you to be discrete and elegant."


            "That a compliment?"


            "Sure, why not?" Ranma shrugged.


            Mercury frowned.


            "What? Were you expecting more cloak and dagger? We are in a dark bar with plenty of armed men and demons about."


            "And we are discussing massive conspiracies over drinks," Mercury added with a ghost of a smile.


            "That's the spirit!" Ranma stretched her shoulders. "I mean what's the point of having it and not have fun with it?"


            Mercury paused. "You're encouraging me?"


            "You look like you've got potential," Ranma smirked.

 

            Behind her slight smile, Mercury's mind raced. DarkStar was really quite cunning; she exuded a casual, almost bumbling, guise. Mercury could see why so many could make the mistake of underestimating her.

 
            "Attempting to discern my nefarious machinations regarding you, are we?" Ranma asked, recalling some of the words her youngest daughter used.


            "Not at all." Mercury said carefully.


            "This is exactly what I mean. You're starting to get there, but anyone with training can read your emotions plain as day." Ranma leaned closer to Ami. "You're still green. Some experience will help you."


            Mercury stared into the demon's violet eyes. She pulled herself back.


            Ranma sniffed at the slight spike in fear. "Oh come on. If I really thought you were a threat I wouldn't be chatting with you. You know that."


            "You don't play with your food." Mercury flatly stated.


            Ranma ran a finger over the rim of her glass


            "I heard what happened two nights ago." Mercury said, in almost a whisper.


            The redhead cocked her head; there was something else in her voice. "You're jealous?"


            "Shouldn't I be? You're the real deal, got the full dark aura, squad of dedicated and trained Senshi, connections, and plenty of experience. You took out an army of trained demon hunters."


            "It was more like a reinforced platoon and they were prepared to fight minion grade demons."


            Mercury gritted her teeth. The humility was the annoying part.

 

             "Temper." Ranma noted. "You're not the first brooding, dark-power-using teenage girl I've seen."


            "You don't think I've been brainwashed and manipulated?" Mercury flatly asked.


            "I've dealt with that too," Ranma shrugged. "No big deal."


            "Too mellow," Mercury muttered.


            "No one respects a jittery and anxious dark mistress." Ranma patted her on the hand before leaning back and sipping her drink. "From what I hear, you kept yourself together in that little fight of yours."


            "They were less incompetent than I feared."


            "I suppose that's good," Ranma allowed.


            "You're suggesting that I keep my cool? Like that time? That would match with me being the proactive one. I'm the one determining the tempo of events."


            "Of course, that means you have to make the first move every time." Ranma's purple irises glowed slightly.


            Staring into those eyes, Mercury froze. She suddenly imagined the demon sweeping across the booth with her claws out. Mercury knew she could parry the first blow, but was not so sure on the next move.  The demon had a variety of attacks,  and she was not alone.


            "Something wrong?" Ranma idly asked as she flicked a bit of lint off of her dress.


            "No," Mercury stated, as she managed to keep from shivering.


            "It worked?" Ranma's face brightened. "How was it?" the succubus excitedly asked.


            Mercury's face blanked. "You..."


            "Yeah, demons can put out fear. Now Ucchan's got a great knack for it, but... it's easier to make someone already frightened of you scared-shitless."


            "You're toying with me." Mercury grumbled.

 

            "Aww,"  Ranma gave her a smile.

 

            Mercury frowned it was not quite a patronizing look, but she got the feeling that the demon found her even more adorable. "No, you're training."


            "Everything is training," Ranma stated. "You hid it pretty well. Didn't panic or pull a weapon."


            Mercury smiled thinly and raised her glass. "You would never warn someone just before attacking. It'd be sudden, brutal, and vicious."


            "Bright girl," Ranma laughed.


            "One has to watch for the slightest sign." Mercury surmised.


            "Pretty much."


            The blue-haired girl's eyes scanned about the bar. "And how's things been going with your lesbian lover?"


            "She's not a lesbian." Ranma stated.


            "Right," Mercury smirked. "Me neither."


            "You used to be straight."


            "I guess it is different with succubae, with being all female, but you do seem to have that effect on other women."


            "Like the Princess?" Ranma mirthfully asked.


            Once again, Mercury attempted to forestall a blush.

            "Has she always had an eye for the ladies?"


            "You've already got a fiancee," Mercury pointed before taking another drink.


            Ranma frowned slightly. "Just teasing. It's not like she'd be interested anyway."


            "Yes, she's still waiting for her prince to return," Mercury said with frustration.


            "You feel better?" Ranma asked. "I'll tell you. It took some guts."


            "To walk into a bar and chat with a lounge singer?" Mercury asked. "Look, I don't want there to be any bad blood between us."


            "You mean you don't want me to interfere with your plans for the Senshi." Ranma mirthfully surmised.


            Mercury finished her drink. "You haven't so far. You were right there at the start. You let me go; you could have ended it then and there,."

 

            "Could I?" Ranma asked as she finished her own drink.


            "You have your own plans, and I'm a part of them."


            Ranma laughed. "I'm just a single mom doing her best."


            Mercury stood up. "It was pleasant talking with you. Thanks for the drink."


            "My pleasure," Ranma nodded. "Oh, don't do anything too rash, kid. I don't think you want to push Usagi to the edge."


            "Don't worry I know exactly what I'm doing," Mercury laughed gently and turned around. She walked out of the bar and passed an orange-haired demon who simply glared amusingly at her.


            "Are you sure you don't want me to take care of her?" Misako asked as she slid into the booth with her Mother.


            Ranma smiled. Misako's concern for her was cute. "Nah, we'll let the Company track her." the redhead crunched an ice cube.


            "She's arrogant, Mother. It'll be her downfall," Misako evaluated.


            "Maybe, but I think she's trying to overcome that."

 

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

 


            "What's wrong?" Ranma calmly asked when she entered Kasumi's room. There was nothing obvious, but the atmosphere felt dampened emotionally. Something was amiss.


            Kasumi inhaled slightly raggedly and stood up.


            The redhead noticed the object on the night-stand and eased over to Kasumi. "Did you have a bad day at work?" she asked hugging the officer.


           Kasumi hesitated but put her hands on the demon's shoulders, and gently pushed her away so they were face to face.


            Furrowing her brow, Ranma paused; something was definitely up. Kasumi only took her gun off when they were about to have sex, and she did not look like she was anywhere near the mood for that. "What happened?"


            "I didn't have work tonight." Kasumi looked at her fiance briefly.


            "Then why did you lie?" Ranma pulled her arms away and stared more closely at Kasumi's face. "You could have told me that you didn't want to listen to me sing."


            "This is too much," Kasumi closed her eyes.


            "What?" Ranma's tone was confused.


            "We're not seeing eye to eye on this."


            "Yeah, you keep looking away from me, and not explaining things. This isn't how mates are supposed to talk," Ranma grumbled.


            "There! That's what I mean," Kasumi bitterly laughed.


            "What? We're engaged."


            Kasumi backed to the nightstand and looked at her sidearm, and focused her mind. "I don't know how to say this."


            "What?" Ranma asked; the shadows around her starting to frantically shift.


            Kasumi kept her back to the redhead. "This isn't working out. You want more than I can give."


            At those words, Ranma's heart froze for a moment before it resumed beating. She swallowed hard. "Go on."


            "You want a mate, someone to help raise your daughters."


            "They're your sisters, too."


            Kasumi's shoulders sagged and she turned and sat on the edge of her bed. "Exactly. I can't become their mother. It's..." She stared at the wall. She felt selfish, but that was the truth. She was all that was left, her father was ineffectual and could not face the reality of events. The Company brass did not care either way. She had no guide.


            Ranma froze. "So...."


            Kasumi turned to face Ranma. "I didn't mean to... Well, I meant to have sex with you. We had fun as a couple, but I can't be the mate you want. I'm sorry." Her voice had the careful modulation and pace of a practiced delivery.


            "We'll try to be casual again, I can-" Ranma's tone carried an undertone of desperation.


            Kasumi cut her off. "No, you can't. You're a sappy demon Mommy. You don't do casual."


            Ranma stared; she could not think of anything to say that would refute that.


            Staring at her hands Kasumi collected herself. "I know you'd try. You'd keep it just physical." She smiled. "But it would just hurt you. Your heart would break every time we had sex, everytime you wanted to connect to me, but couldn't out of fear of losing what little relationship you had."


            "How, nice of you," Ranma half-cried; she paused to keep her emotions under control. "I guess... it's good that you don't want to string me along."


            "I'm sorry." Kasumi kept staring at her hands. "I should have ended this earlier."


            "Yes, you should have," Ranma stepped back and looked at the door.


            "Sorry," Kasumi repeated.


            Staring at Kasumi, Ranma stepped out of the room. Once in the hallway she looked at her, and the brood's, bedroom and then at the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs she looked into the living room to find her father sitting alone. He was drinking from a glass and was not surprised to see her emotional state.


            Genma looked up. "I'm sorry, daughter."


            Ranma controlled her hurt and forced a smile. "You warned me, Pops. You tried."


            "Go back to your girls. They'll cheer you up," Genma advised.


            Ranma looked up from her own sorrow and saw her father for who he truly was: a misguided, greedy, and lazy man, but he was not a monster. He was a sad man. "I..."


            "Or maybe you need to talk to your mother." Genma sighed. That was a chasm he could never cross. He wanted to help her, but he had no idea how to comfort her or express it, but he knew someone who did.


            "Thanks," Ranma smiled weakly. "If my girls wake up, tell them I just went to see Mom."

 

            Genma nodded and looked back to his bottle.


            "Good luck with the Master," Ranma pulled out a phone and called up an escort. She was in no mood to fly.


            Shortly, a group of Company vans arrived Ranma eased into one. Thankfully, the agent sitting next to her did not try to make small talk. Ranma supposed they already knew. She forgot that her shadowy glower made her even more unapproachable.


            The van pulled into the underground garage above the WIC base and Ranma stepped out. She silently walked through the security checkpoints and made her way to the elevators.


            Ranma leaned on the back of the elevator and closed her eye as it descended into the earth. The doors opened and she meandered through the corridors. She followed the route without thought.


            The door to the lab was open and Nodoka looked up from the monitor as soon as she heard footsteps. While superfluous, it was positive that Genma had called himself. The scientist got up and before she could cross the room was embraced by her daughter.


            "Kasumi?" Nodoka gently asked the sobbing redhead.


            Ranma nodded and leaned into her mother's embrace.


            "It'll be okay," Nodoka said as she eased the succubus back to a couch on the side of the lab. They sat down and Ranma immediately rested her head on Nodoka. She held the succubus and gently rocked her. Nodoka hugged her daughter tighter. Looking at a brush on the table, she ran a hand through Ranma's deep and luscious hair.


            After hearing her daughter's crying lessen, Nodoka picked up the brush and went to work. She was surprised to find the hair... responding to the contact. Almost expectantly, it moved into the brushing. Nodoka smiled and resumed the strokes.

 

 

End chapter 6

 

I'd like to thank my pre-readers. They're the ones that made sure this story was readable. Trimatter, DGC, Questara, Solara, Kevin Hammel, J St C Patrick, Pale Wolf, Wray, and Jerry Starfire.

 

Special thank Tri for his tenacity in improving the fight scenes (the man was like a bulldog and did not let me be complacent or "phone in" sub par scenes) and to J St C Patrick for giving this his full attention even though he was very, very busy at work.

 

DGC(PyroRaven) deserves special attention too.  He's always been there and the time he puts into my work and tweaking dialog and giving ideas cannot be understated.

 

Thanks to all of you for putting in the time and effort in this for me. I'm humbled by the effort leveled towards a hobby of mine.

 

Its wonderful to have a group like you guys.  You've been helping me fix my work for years and I want to repeat how much that means to me.  Means a lot to have that level of trust with my ideas and the time you put into helping them.

 

To my main readers thank you guys for your reviewing. I've always preferred quality over quantity and your comments simply are the best. It's a great gauge for how the story is going and finding mistakes.  

 

Revision Notes:  Those comments still stand.  I've really been fortunate to have a steady group of people to help go over these stories and readers with interest over the years.