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.
Temporary Backup Site.
Other website Temple of Ranma's Senshi Seifuku
C&C is appreciated.
Book 1: Brooding Responsibilities
Chapter 8: Family Concern
Formerly: Recreation and Retribution
"I have news," Setsuna said after her princess sat down in the passenger seat of her car.
"Good or bad?" Usagi asked after buckling into the green 1974 Dodge Charger.
"Complicated," the green-haired woman said as she engaged a forward gear.
"Orion?" the blonde asked, referring to the newest Sailor Senshi.
The older woman looked contemplative for a moment. "Not yet. It's about the other new Senshi, the one going to school under an assumed identity," she stated as she drove them through an avenue.
"Ranma?" Usagi asked. She was finding it somewhat hard to even think of that redheaded demoness as being male.
"Perhaps more DarkStar than Ranma," Setsuna sighed. She then concentrated on merging into the highway traffic.
Usagi recalled that dream of hers, the one with Queen DarkStar and her... entourage. "What happened? What did she do?" she asked, fearing the response.
"She converted two humans. They are now demons in her brood."
"What?" Usagi gasped as the color drained from her face.
"It's not that bad. They were both dying. It was the only way she could save them," Setsuna explained as she shifted into the left lane.
"When a person is turned into a demon, their body is dramatically altered, transformed into their new form. Healing is a side effect of the conversion process," Setsuna explained.
"So in order to save their lives, she had to turn them," Usagi noted with hollowness in her voice. The story made sense but there was something off about it.
"Who did she turn?"
"Akane Tendo and Tatewaki Kuno."
"Kuno?" Usagi asked to herself. That name was familiar to her. "Oh god, Nariko. So that's how Ranma saved her."
"Yes. It happened when those youma attacked the school."
"I see," Usagi said. "Wait. Wasn't Kuno a guy before?" the blonde asked. She distinctly remembered that Tatewaki was a guy.
"Ranma changes into a certain readhead.," Pluto reminded.
"Oh yeah," Usagi replied in a distant voice. Another part of that dream had come true. She had to make sure that the rest of it never did.
The redhead gazed happily at the two young demonesses. After she had gotten up to go to the bathroom, the two girls had moved closer to each other, filling the spot where their mother had lain. They then entwined each other in a tight embrace.
After summoning her leather dress and boots, she walked over to the medical bed where her two daughters were sleeping. She knew what she had to do, but she was still unsure of how to do it. As Ranma watched the two sleep, a plan formed in her mind. The demoness would need some help with it, but she knew who would be willing to help her.
She looked at a clock mounted on the wall and decided it was time to get her children up. Gently pushing the girls, she woke them up.
Akane's eyes fluttered open. She smiled at the sight of her mother's face. Noticing who she was lying next to, she kissed her mate as the red-eyed demoness woke up.
"Get dressed you two," Ranma said softly.
"Do I have to?" Akane pouted. She found clothing to be to constrictive....
"Yes, we're guests here and our hosts would rather we stay dressed," the girl's mother explained.
"Yes, meatbags don't like being naked," Nariko said casually. She had spent a fair bit of time around humans.
A small growl escaped the redhead's mouth as her eyes flared violet. "Never say that!" the demoness chastised her older child. "Not only is it insulting to every human, but also to your whole family. Your grandmother's human. I'm part human. You and your mate were human. I will not stand for such language," Ranma explained, her voice stern and commanding.
"I'm sorry Mommy," Nariko whimpered. Mommy's mad at me. The girl recoiled, pulled her knees up to her chest, and tried to hide within her wings. She found that they were being held back. One was being held by her mate, another by her mother.
Akane's glance alternated between at the two women. She comforted Nariko, but she knew that Mother was right. Their humanity was important.
"I didn't want to yell at you, but it's important that you understand," Ranma said as she sat down on the edge of the bed and held the girl.
"About humans?" Nariko asked, her mood brightening.
"Yes, now get dressed. We can get some breakfast," Ranma said.
Nariko nodded and summoned a dark red leather dress. Strapless and hanging at just above her chest, the dress was short and went her mid-thigh with slits on either side. She was also wearing a pair of calf-high red leather boots that were a bit more feminine than her mother's despite having a slightly lower heel. Nariko's version had more pointed toes, a narrower heel, and some fringe decorations.
Akane shrugged and tried to generate some clothing. She was soon wearing a pair of little dark blue leather shorts and a light blue leather top that exposed her midriff. It had a simple collar that transitioned to a plunging neckline. Instead of shoulder straps, the top wrapped around the back of her neck before coming down her back and connecting back to her top. Akane was wearing a set of simple, unadorned ankle-high, blue-black leather wedge-heeled boots.
Ranma ruefully smiled at Akane's skills. She was proud that Akane was willing to wear clothing for her mother, and that she figured out how to generate clothing. Something that she herself still had trouble with.
The trio of demonesses then left the medical room. As they walked down the corridor, the agent positioned at the door called his commanding officer.
Because she was a recent transfer and permanent housing had not been assigned for her, Major Saotome was sleeping on a cot in one of the barracks rooms in WIC Toronto-A. A subordinate agent from Operations Section woke her.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" a somewhat bleary-eyed Nodoka asked. The first thing she did was ascertain the rank of the person waking her up.
"They're up, Ma'am," Kasumi stated.
The older woman nodded and got up. "Early," she noted. It was before five in the morning.
"They did go to sleep very early," Kasumi noted.
Nodoka nodded. She then got out of her cot and put on a fresh uniform with the dark green trim of Science and Technology Section. If she were in the US military she would have pinned a set of gold oak leaves to her collar.
However, she was a major in Willard International Consulting, and therefore used a set of paired silver bars to indicate her rank. As a separate organization with its own history and traditions, the Company's rank and symbol system was unique.
Her lab coat then went over the gray uniform. The officer checked to make sure her gun was loaded and secured.
"I'll take you to them," Kasumi said.
The two agents then walked through two hallways and entered the commissary. Nodoka smiled slightly upon seeing the three demonesses. "Major, Lieutenant," a voice from one of the corners of the room said.
The two officers turned to see the Commander and the Colonel sitting at a wall-mounted table. Behind the table was an aerial photograph of a half constructed WIC Operations Centre Two, located near Stuttgart, Germany.
"Yes Sirs," both Nodoka and Kasumi responded saluting.
"At ease," Stillwater said after returning the salute. The commanding officer of WIC operations in Toronto looked at his executive officer before continuing. "Given the personal nature of yesterday's events and their relevance to the Company, both of you have leave to spend time with your family," Stillwater stated in a guarded voice.
"We feel that your presence would greatly benefit Miss Ranma and her children," Jacob added before he took a sip of coffee.
"Thank you Sir," Major Saotome replied.
"Same goes for your sister."
Kasumi nodded respectfully. Last night after her sister had fallen asleep, she and the Colonel had gone over that day's events. Command had determined that the lieutenant's actions were correct, given the circumstances.
"Dismissed," Stillwater then said. As he watched the two agents head towards their family, Stillwater reflected on the path the Company had to take. He wished he could have Jacob's sense of optimism when it came to this demonic brood, but he was a more cautious man.
"What was that about?" Ranma asked as the two older women sat down across from her and her children.
"We were just given permission to spend more time with you," Nodoka said with a smile.
"That's good," Ranma said before gently scolding Akane for eating too fast. She turned to see that Nariko had learned from yesterday's table manners lesson and was conducting herself appropriately.
"I'm sure she's very hungry," Nodoka observed.
"Yes. I'm just thankful we can eat normal food," Ranma said.
"Your species is omnivorous," the Major observed. "You shouldn't have any problem with eating any type of food..." There would be certain other things they would require... in time.
"It would certainly be a pain if we needed something more... exotic," Ranma said hesitantly. She then remembering when she had killed those youma and absorbed their energy. While being nice and filling, she felt that it was not terribly necessary.... yet.
"Well... you were probably feeding them as you slept last night," Nodoka explained, recalling what she knew of demonic biology.
The redheaded-demoness recalled cuddling with her children. There was a sense of warmth and security; there was also a gentle draining, a feeling that she was nourishing them with sustenance that she had gathered, stored, and converted to a more easily absorbed form.
"It's like I was breastfeeding them," she said with more wonderment and much, much less horror than she had expected.
"So, Auntie Kasumi, you're a secret agent? That's cool," Akane observed as she ate some bacon.
"Something like that," Kasumi said as she forced herself to smile. To the untrained eye, it looked like Akane had simply gotten extensions for her canines and dyed her hair a light blue. However, Kasumi's eyes were trained; she could tell that there was something off about Akane even without the girl manifesting attributes that were unique to demons.
The agent justified what she made Nariko do the same way she justified failing to immediately put two rounds through that demon's head. Kasumi could not let her sister die. Now, Akane had a chance.
"I'm sorry, but Akane was asking what this place was and what you do," Ranma said, smiling at her daughters.
"It's good that she's... inquisitive," Kasumi said with greater relief than she let on.
"Yes," the redhead said. She then turned to her mother. "Sorry for getting distracted but I'd be honored to have your help." Ranma then turned back to her fiancee. "Both of you."
"What are you planning for today?" Nodoka asked.
"Oh, I've got a few things in mind," Ranma said. "But first I have to go to the bathroom," the redhead said with some annoyance. She had gone after getting up in the middle of the night, but she needed to go again. Sometimes her new biology irritated her.
"I'll go too," Kasumi said, standing up after her fiance. The two girls then left the room.
"How are you two doing?" Nodoka asked her two granddaughters.
"Okay," Akane said, looking out the door Mother had left through. That her mate and grandmother were still here helped her, but she hoped Mother would be back soon.
"We're going after Alexia," Kasumi stated to her fiancee as the two young women walked the short distance that separated the commissary from the nearest bathroom.
"Of course," Ranma replied. Her eyes flared with anger at the thought of Alexia. That demoness had no respect for life, neither human nor demon.
For Alexia, her children were nothing more than minions she could easily control. Disposable minions at that. She had sent Eclipse out on a suicide mission immediately after Akane had been hastily, and poorly, converted.
"I thought so. The Company is putting its weight on this mission. Someone knew enough about you and me to put together this plan."
"You think it was Murdock?" Ranma asked as she opened the bathroom door.
"It could have been him. Or it could have been someone else. We'll find out," Kasumi promised as she followed the redhead into the bathroom. The two young women then went into a pair of adjacent stalls.
As Ranma washed her hands, she gazed at her reflection. There was that beautiful woman with crimson hair, pale skin, and blue and violet eyes. On an impulse she increased the heat of the water being poured onto her hands.
The person's form shifted to that of a male teenaged human. Ranma looked down at his pants and sighed in relief. He was glad that he was wearing something when he last activated his demon form.
Ranma then smiled at his reflection. His eyes were still blue, he was still human. His smile then faded. Something was wrong... something was missing. He could no longer feel his children. That was another thought that confused him. In demon form, the thought of having Akane and Nariko as kids seemed perfectly natural. Now, it felt strange and alien.
Kasumi looked quizzically at Ranma. His emotional state seemed to be confused and muddled.
Ranma sighed and put his hand under the sink while decreasing the water temperature. The demoness looked at her reflection and sighed again. Kasumi was not able to tell whether it was in fear or relief.
"You okay?" the agent then asked.
"They need a mother, not a father," Ranma said, staring at her reflection. "I can't help them as a human," she said in a very quiet voice.
"Let's go back to them, then," Kasumi said after washing her hands.
The demoness nodded and followed the agent out of the bathroom.
"I'm amazed that you haven't been overwhelmed," Kasumi stated as they walked down the hallway.
"Who's to say that I haven't?" Ranma asked in a darkly humorous voice. "Ever since I admitted to Nariko that I was her mother, I've been going with my instincts."
"And since you've been in a demoness' body..." Kasumi proposed.
"Exactly," the mother sighed as she ran a hand through her hair.
"What's wrong?" Nodoka asked her two granddaughters. Both of the young demons' eyes had gone wide with fright.
"Mommy's gone!" Akane exclaimed.
Nariko nodded. She could no longer feel mother's presence. Unlike the other times it had happened where their link had faded with increasing distance, now was a sudden cut.
"Ranma was going to the bathroom," Nodoka said, trying to comfort the two. She was about to inform the Commander when the two girls gave a confused, but happy, pair of sighs.
"Is she back?" Major Saotome asked.
Instead of responding to their grandmother, the two girls leapt over the table and ran towards the commissary's entrance. They went straight to the redheaded woman that had just entered the room. Both leapt into the air and clutched onto their mother; Akane on the left and Nariko on the right.
Kasumi blinked as the two bounding demons ran past her. She shook her head and made it back to the table where her breakfast was. Her fiancee was going to have an interesting time raising those kids.
Agents of Willard International Consulting had been trained to accept and combat the unusual. However, the sight of a demonic brood mother comforting two of her spawn, right in a Company commissary, was something new and strange.
"This used to be a professional organization," Commander Marvin Stillwater stated with a carefully neutral face.
"They're just kids happy to see their mom," Jacob chuckled in reply.
The senior officer paused to stroke his goatee as if he were in deep contemplation. "So, it would seem," Marvin Stillwater finally answered before resuming his breakfast.
Jacob smiled slightly. It's a good sign Marv has a sense of humor about this, he thought. If thing go... well if things go this might not be such an uncommon sight here.
Ranma's attention was divided between her two children. "Yes?" she asked the demonesses that were still clinging to her.
"You turned into a human didn't you?" Nariko asked, worry on her face.
"We couldn't feel you," Akane added.
Ranma sighed and hugged her daughters. "It's okay; I shouldn't have worried you like that."
"Please don't go back to that icky form, Mommy," Nariko pleaded, her crimson eyes large and scared. She had just gotten her mother back; she did not want to lose her again.
"That wasn't the first time you couldn't feel me," Ranma countered, still holding her daughters close and soothing them.
"Yes Mommy," Nariko said, sighing in remembrance. Those first days had been so hard for her. In a new body with new needs, she was confused and alone. It was only mother's presence that kept her from breaking down completely. But mother had not been there all the time, and had not been "Mother".
Akane untangled herself from her mother and went to her mate. She wrapped her arm around the taller girl. "It's not so much that we couldn't feel you. It's just that it was so quick. We thought.... we..." the blue-haired girl uttered, unable to complete the thought.
"It's okay," Ranma said as she moved her kids back to the table where they were eating breakfast. "I'll be more careful next time," the demoness promised as she considered the implications of the event.
"Next time?" Nariko asked in a worried voice.
"I'm still part human, dear. That's who I am. Don't worry. I'll do it in front of you. If it gets too scary, I can change right back," Ranma explained, hoping that she would be able to avoid spending all of her time in demon form.
Nariko whimpered slightly.
"It wouldn't be so bad if we could still feel you," Akane suggested.
"I'll see what we can do," Ranma promised.
Nodoka smiled as she watched her child control the situation. It looked like Ranma was handling herself well. The major finally noticed the leather shorts her granddaughter was wearing. She knew of underwear that was less revealing than the garment the blue-haired girl had on. They looked painted on and barely were long enough to actually have leg sections. She shook her head and made a note to talk to her daughter about Akane's tastes.
"Sorry about that," Ranma apologized after she and her children had sat back down.
"That's okay," Nodoka reassured. "So what are you planning for today?" the agent asked her daughter.
A pair of grey Company sedans stopped in front of a gate complex. After traveling twenty miles on a roughly northern heading, the two vehicles had left the city and were now in forested lands. The gatehouse straddled a tall length of razor-wire topped fencing. Looking out from one of the sedans, Ranma was not surprised to find that there was another fence several hundred feet within the second.
"Let me guess, WIC Toronto-B?" the redhead asked as their car was inspected by a group of agents in nondescript grey work clothing.
"Yes," Kasumi replied while she kept her hands on the steering wheel. "This is where we store and service our helicopters, maintain training facilities, and have backup services."
"How private is it?" Ranma asked after they were waved through the first checkpoint.
"It's private enough where we can do most of our helicopter maneuvers and execute small simulations," Kasumi said as she pulled up to the second checkpoint and turned off the car. "Notice there's trees around most of the property," the lieutenant then said, pointing at the trees on the inside of the fence.
"Good. I don't want to attract too much attention. I'd do this at home, but the neighbors are too close," Ranma noted.
Kasumi nodded and after a brief conversation with the agents guarding the gate, restarted the car's engine, and drove through and headed down the wooded path.
Despite containing only human Company officers, the second car went through a similar series of inspections. This vehicle was being driven by Agent First Class Aram Kowalski. Major Nodoka Saotome sat next to him. Colonel Jacob Edwards sat in the back.
"Wow, this place is actually... nice," Ranma commented as she looked at the collection of buildings that made up the Company facility. Unlike the other WIC bases she had been in, this one was made up of several tastefully designed buildings instead of ugly blocks of concrete, glass, and steel. The demoness and her fiancee were standing on a large flagstone patio that connected two of the buildings.
"Yes, it was an unoccupied business park that the Company bought. I believe it used to be the test site for a company that produced aviation engine controls," Kasumi explained as she parked the car. "The Drake got us a rather good deal on it," the agent added before she unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the door.
As Ranma got up, she thought back to what she knew of the Drake. The unbalanced educator was more than a principal. He was also a trader in land and property. It was a land deal that had gotten him and the Tendos into Toronto, and the walls of his office were covered with photographs of properties he had bought and sold. "I guess he's an important part of the Company," Ranma observed.
Kasumi's eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. "Yes, he has done much for WIC. Why here? Why train them now?" Kasumi asked.
"You know what happened yesterday. I'm a target. So are the rest of you guys. So are my kids," the redhead added.
"Yes, Eclipse was ordered to kill all of us," Kasumi stated, her voice emphasizing the name. She then looked to see Akane and her mate exit the vehicle.
"And Alexia's not the only one after us. The Assembly also wants kill us. Not to mention whatever other enemies are out here," Ranma sighed.
"Like that group of Pattern V's Lieutenant Patterson and the Senshi killed last week."
The redhead nodded. "I have to make sure they're able to defend themselves," the redhead said as she looked at her children.
"You're going to train us, Mommy?" Akane asked.
"Yes, Dear," Ranma smiled. She might have to be some kind of demon mommy, but teaching martial arts? Well, that was something Ranma Saotome could do.
"Ohh, neat," Akane replied happily. Mother was a powerful demon; she had to be knowledgeable and experienced.
Nariko smiled. It had taken Mommy some time to realize what she was. Now Mommy was taking care of the two of them. She idly ran her tongue on one of her fangs and reached for Akane's hand. The other demon accepted the contact and returned the grip.
"Come on," Kasumi said as she escorted the three demons further into the WIC facility. "I'll show you some of our training areas, but I suppose you're more interested in aerial work," Lt. Tendo stated as they walked down one of the paths that ran between the buildings.
"Yes, first off is making sure they can fly. Then we can move into more complicated moves."
"We can fly?" Akane asked somewhat rhetorically. She remembered having wings, but that was only after she had been first turned and when she was trying to... kill Kasumi. The blue-haired demoness shuddered at the memories, and tightened the hold she had on her mate's hand.
"Yes, we can," Ranma replied. She then sensed that something was off. "What is it?"
"I'm sorry Mommy, Auntie, Nari-chan. I didn't... I didn't mean to," Akane choked out. She remembered the delight she felt at the prospect of murdering her family. The demon closed her eyes and whimpered. "It wasn't me. I didn't mean to-" Her speech was cut off by a tight embrace.
"You're absolutely right," Ranma said as she hugged the smaller girl. "You were just a puppet of that bitch Alexia.
"You're free of her now," Kasumi said as she put a hand on her sister's shoulder. The agent looked into brown eyes that were familiar yet alien.
"I know, I've got Mommy and you to protect me," Akane said, her spirits lifting somewhat.
"Yes," Kasumi said as she got the demons walking forward again. "Now remember to keep fairly low. If you get too high there's a chance someone outside of the base could spot you," Kasumi warned.
"I should go talk to my son," Major Saotome said as she watched the agent and three demonesses walk away.
"After this meeting if you will," Jacob stated.
"Of course, Sir," Nodoka replied. "May I ask what it is?"
"Recently, we came into possession of an interesting artifact. You might be able to help us analyze its composition," the older man said.
"Why is it here, and not in the A base?" the scientist asked. She suspected that the artifact was too large to be studied in the main base.
"There is some risk in its use. We have it powered down so it should be safe, but to be cautious we have it out here," Jacob replied. He thought that it was a bad idea to be experimenting with such an object, but Command was adamant. They wanted Inter-Dim technology. It was one thing to be able to jam its use, but quite another to be able to use it. And given what was coming the more they learned the better their chances were.
"I see," Nodoka replied as she was lead to the warehouse where the captured gate was being analyzed.
Ranma looked around the field. She could see a forest, a cluster of buildings, and several agents. The closest group was a squad of armored troops lounging around a helicopter. Kasumi had told her that the Company maintained at least one team near a helicopter for fast response at all times. They were close enough that the redhead could hear their hushed conversation. Undoubtedly, they suspected that she had superior hearing; their conversation was fairly clean.
"Now, these girls know how to dress," Specialist Agent Morrison joked as he watched the demonesses stretch.
"Careful there Rich, those girls bite," Agent First Class Alfred Stevenson replied as he looked them over.
"At least they're not wearing demented school-girl uniforms like the others," Richard Morrison responded. His dusky features concealing his slightly embarrassed blush.
Ranma gave a toothy grin to that. That was one advantage she had. Her uniform might make her look like a bimbo, but it could have been worse.
"That's true," Alfred replied. "Hey, Lieutenant what do you think?"
Lieutenant Patterson had been watching the trio of demons with a neutral expression. "This is not the first time we have had non-humans working with us, and Command seems to think that we need the Pattern Silvers," the officer carefully said.
Ranma pulled her attention from the agents and went back to her kids. "Okay, I really can't explain much of flying to you girls. I'm still puzzling out what works and doesn't myself. Fortunately, your instincts should be a big help. So bring out your wings."
Nariko stretched and summoned her red horns, black and violet wings, and black tail with violet fins. Her strapless dress had lowed its back to accommodate her wings and had gained a small hole to allow for her tail. Consisting of a flap and a clasp, the hole could be opened up to allow for her tail, and its fins, to be pulled though.
Akane had also summoned her demonic extras. Her top went around her neck and back in such a way that it did not need to be modified for her blue and white wings. Similarly her tail with white with blue fins was able to form above the top of her tiny shorts.
"I wonder," Ranma said as she closed her eyes. She knew that she could make her wings and tail appear without going into DarkStar form. Hiding and showing such demonic physiology was a basic power of her species. Both of her children were capable of that minutes after they were converted.
Her leather dress changed, becoming backless and gaining a hole at the base of her spine. The redhead's body then changed. Small black horns grew into place on her head, her canines lengthened slightly, her crimson and dark violet wings appeared, and her three-foot long tail with violet spade-shaped fins formed into place.
"Mommy's pretty," Akane said as she looked at her Mother's true form for the first time.
"Umm thanks, Honey," Ranma said as she swished her tail back and forth nervously. At least this time the compliment on her physical form was not sexual in nature.
"No, you really are beautiful, Mommy. You shouldn't be embarrassed about it," Akane said.
"I know," Ranma admitted. "Okay, you're going to want to start by extending your wings," the redhead said as she began to instruct her children.
From his seat on a flagstone patio that connected to nearby buildings, Jacob watched the three demons flying through the air. It was clear that Ranma was the most skilled, but her children were quick to learn. Initially, they had been unsteadily ascending and diving, but after some acclimation had learned to properly use their wings and tails.
The old agent smiled. Their maneuvers reminded him of his childhood. Only Stillwater knew that in his youth Jacob had been interested in falconry. He had even gone so far as to take an apprenticeship for two years in order to obtain his license. Jacob had considered following in his father's footsteps and becoming a professional falconer.
There had been something to raising and hunting with a powerful raptor. Jacob remembered the lecture his father had given him before he had been given his hawk, a beautiful Redtail named Rebecca.
"Always remember that she is not your pet, boy. She'll tear off a chunk of your flesh if you're not careful. You can't tame her and if she doesn't like you, you can't train her, but if you work hard you can teach and hunt with her," the elder Edwards recited in the WIC officer's memory.
Jacob grinned slightly as he traced a faint scar on the back of his right hand. His father was right. It did not take long for him to slip up and end up with Rebecca digging one of her talons into him.
His attention returned to the brood of demons. They really were magnificent. Like the raptors of his youth these were beautiful hunters, but with much greater potential. Unlike his hawk, they did not just have their instincts; there was intelligence to their actions. They were also much more lethal and powerful than a simple bird of prey.
Jacob knew from experience that this particular species of demon made for a dangerous opponent, but he could also see how they would make for an extremely useful ally, especially one that was a Pattern Silver as well.
The agent knew that he had to tread carefully with Ranma. Her reaction to "taming" would be worse than any raptor's. The destruction was not something Jacob wished to consider. Especially if one of her children were threatened. Already, Ranma had become quite protective of her brood. It would also be unwise to treat Ranma or her children as animals. They might be inhuman, but that did not mean that they were subhuman.
Fortunately, his agents were following their orders and conducting themselves properly around the brood. His main concern was the higher ups in Command, but having the demon be a Pattern Silver went a long way with them. That Ranma was also the son of a high-ranking WIC officer also helped.
Honestly, Jacob thought of Ranma as a demoness first and a human second, if at all. He had started using male pronouns when referring to Ranma out of deference to Ranma's preference, but as time passed and Jacob saw more of the demon than the human, his views on Ranma shifted. That Ranma was now the brood mother to a pair of young demons reinforced this greatly.
The agent even harbored theories that Ranma's human form was really just a very, very good illusion, but the Pattern Scanners said that form was human, as did Ranma and Major Saotome. The Major had not seen her child in years, and Jacob did not want to cross her on that issue.
For the Colonel it was a moot point. Ranma had shown herself to posses acceptable values and ethics, and that was enough for him. It was Ranma's character that had gotten her to fight these monsters, and it was her morals that had made her a mother.
Jacob also had to remind himself that while he was providing support for them and hunting with them, he was not controlling them. Unlike Rebecca, Ranma was a thinking creature and Jacob was not her handler.
The agent thoughts shifted away from those things and returned to simply watching the demons fly. He chuckled to himself as he watched the Drake's child swoop down and tag Lt. Tendo's sister.
From his position, the agent could just barely see the blue-haired demoness' eyes flare as she corkscrewed around and tried to catch her mate. Their mother then swooped in a bit closer and shouted some advice to the pursuing demon.
Shortly after this the three demons landed. The younger demonesses were not quite as graceful as their elder, but they managed to touch the ground without tripping or falling. The Operations Section colonel smiled as he watched the demons walk over to a waiting Lt. Tendo.
The agent sighed with relief. Despite the strangeness, things still looked like things could go according to plan.
"Yes, what do you want?" the mullet-wearing educator asked the person that stood next to him. His tone was pleasant but strained.
The girl the man had given the name Sunshine to looked at the grass and the trees that lay beyond the porch rail they were leaning on before continuing. WIC Toronto-B was much nicer than that underground warren that served as their A base. She knew that a pair of fences surrounded this facility; they were on the other side of the trees and were out of sight.
"It's about Nariko," she said after checking to make sure her daughter was out of sight. She and Akane were being watched by Nodoka elsewhere on the base.
"Our child?" Drake chuckled, darkly.
"Actually, that's exactly it," the redhead sighed. "You took care of her. You took care of her even when I thought she was an annoying monster. So far, you've been a better father to her than I've been a mother."
"A lot of good that did. When she asked if she could change her name, I simply called up Jacob and asked him if he could have the Company do it. Nariko's not my son," the Drake admitted, while maintaining most of his composure.
Ranma put her hand on his shoulder. "No, she's your daughter, and you kept her from doing anything... unacceptable. If you hadn't been there for her, she would have lost all of her humanity and turned wild."
"What are you getting at?" the Drake asked his voice gaining an edge.
"I'm thanking you for keeping my daughter out of trouble. You saved her life," Ranma said before moving her hand back to the railing. The redhead knew full well what the Company would do to Nariko if she had not behaved herself.
"I see," the principal stated. "Your daughter? So you're accepting what she is to you?"
"I tried denying my relation to her and look what that did," Ranma sighed.
"She needs you. She needs to be with you. She needs your love," Drake noted.
"Yes. You seem to be taking this well."
"Only out of concern for my child," the Drake said narrowing his eyes. "You abandoned her. You ran from your responsibilities, and doing so ruined a person. That she still needs you is the only reason I'm going along with this. I just hope you won't betray her again."
"I know, and I won't," Ranma affirmed, her eyes glowing slightly. "You're still her father; she still needs you."
"However?" the Drake asked, eyeing the demoness.
"I think she should live with me. She'll spend time with you, likely even overnight, but most of the time she'd be with me."
"Physically, that would be best for her," the Drake admitted not quite spitting out the words.
"You talked to Dr. Tofu about what had happened last night?" Ranma asked. It made sense. The Drake would be curious about his child's new mate.
"Yes," the Drake said looking over the redhead. "I also talked to him about Akane and her chances for recovery," the man accused.
Ranma looked down and sighed. She had discussed things with the pathologist as well. "Then you know she can recover, but that Nariko can't," the redhead said. Nariko had been abandoned during those first formative days and her old personality was essentially lost, but Akane had a chance.
"You saved my son's life, but then you killed him," the educator said in a cold voice that matched with the anger in his eyes. "If you hadn't been so selfish he could have recovered. Granted he still would have been a demoness, but it would have been him in that girl. Instead, Tatewaki died alone and scared."
"I am sorry. But come on! I saved someone's life, and suddenly I'm their mother! I didn't see that one coming!" Ranma defended.
"That's not good enough!" Drake shouted, his eyes staring down the demoness. "I hope you were simply ignorant about one of your children needing you so much! Otherwise that would make you a negligent, horrible mother."
Ranma's expression hardened at the accusation. "At the time, I didn't know she was my daughter! I'm new at this! I even tried to cure her. I brought her to Jusenkyou, but that didn't work!" the redhead countered, part of her wanting to silence him for his arrogance.
"I lost my only son. I had to watch you change him. And I tried to love the girl she had become, but it wasn't enough. She needed her mother. A mother who could barely tolerate her!" Drake angrily lectured.
Ranma looked off into the distance, and tried to control herself. The words hurt, and she wanted to reciprocate. The redhead noticed that her claws were starting to flicker in and out of existence.
"No, you simply turned him and dropped a creature I was wholly incapable of raising in my lap," the man continued.
Ranma inhaled. She had to control herself. Her daughter would be unhappy if she killed Nariko's father. Mom would also be disappointed in her. She paused to regain control and check her emotions.
"First off, you have no idea how close you were to becoming a burnt smear. I am the wrong person to lecture. Not today and certainly not about my daughter!" the redhead growled.
"You know why it took me so long to realize that Nariko was my kid?" Ranma asked as her eyes glowing in anger. "First off, I'm a child myself who has no idea about raising kids. I'm only sixteen, and a guy. And don't get me started about my parents. I hadn't seen my mother in years, and my father's an incompetent oaf and a thief. So, I'm sorry if I'm a bit shaky at this!
"As for your son, I hated Tatewaki! He was a total jerk who kept hitting on me. So again, I'm sorry that I thought the girl who kept trying to be with me was just the female version of the guy who had done the same. I didn't know that I was her mother. Hell, did you? " Ranma ranted.
"Misinterpretation?" Drake asked. "Was it all that simple?" he inquired mostly to himself. He was still angry at the demoness, but he was also aware of how precarious his position really was.
"Yes. A very, very bad one. I couldn't understand what I was feeling around her, and she couldn't articulate it," Ranma glared at the man.
Drake nodded in thought. Ranma was remorseful, and was racked with guilt about what had happened. She also wanted Nariko to succeed, grow and be happy very badly. He could not ask for anything else that was obtainable, but he still felt angry and cheated. "I guess it's not your fault. Besides if it wasn't for you he would be dead," the man admitted, reluctantly.
"Yes," Ranma nodded. "But with all of our help, we can do a lot to help Nariko. And I can do with or without you," she added, sternly.
"Especially now that's she's got both her Ray of Sunshine and her Noble Akane," Drake chuckled despite himself.
"At least she was able to get that much," Ranma offered as she gave a slight smile.
"True," Principal Kuno admitted. His options were limited and he had to do what was best for Nariko. "She can stay with you, but I'm still going to be in her life."
"Thank you. Nariko needs both her mother and her father," Ranma replied. She then turned to see a Company agent approach them.
"There you are," Jacob said as he walked to the two parents. His hands were clasped behind his back and his stance was loose. The WIC officer almost looked relaxed.
"Yes?" the Drake asked the other man.
"I'm just here to tell Ranma that we have found the necessary videos. When do you want to brief her family?" Jacob asked the demoness.
"Today if possible," Ranma said.
"You're going to tell Akane's family?" the Drake asked.
"Yes, Soun and Nabiki are going to know something's different with Akane. They should know the truth. Akane will need her father too," Ranma nodded.
"I can make it this afternoon," Jacob offered.
"You don't have to come," Ranma suggested. Despite being more approachable than most of the WIC officers she had met, Colonel Edwards was still creepy.
"Yes, I do. I was the one that convinced Soun to let Kasumi to join WIC. It's my responsibility."
"Fair enough," Ranma nodded.
"Good," Jacob said as he smiled slightly at the partially cloudy sky. "Your mother and daughters are waiting for you in the break room," he informed, pointing his finger to a nearby building.
The agent waited until the demoness had walked out of earshot. "Try to be accepting with her. She is trying her hardest at this," Jacob advised the other man.
The Drake eyed the agent. In the years they had worked together, the Drake finding likely recruits and Jacob getting them to join WIC, the two men had gotten something of a friendship. Jacob knew everything about Principal Drake Kuno, but he knew nothing about Jacob's personal life. Most of the time, he doubted if the man even had one.
There were rumors. The most popular formula being that Jacob was a young SWAT policeman, FBI agent, or Army Special Forces Officer that had lost his wife and young child, pregnant fiancee, or parents to cultists, vampires, or demons, and in order to get retribution swore revenge and joined the Company. The Drake had his doubts, and they were not just because Jacob never wore a wedding or engagement ring.
The Drake did know that Jacob was absolutely committed to the Company and was willing to do anything for it. Despite this, Drake said what he was thinking. "I know why you're siding with her. God forbid you lose your pet Pattern Silver. You know she's going to need a lot of help to raise those kids, and the Company's going to be right there to foot the bill. And I know you're just praying that her kids become Pattern Silvers too, or at least have enough Silver in them to work for your ultimate plan. That is why you're here isn't it?"
"You are still on thin ice Drake," Jacob warned while suppressing a smile. Whoever the Drake was getting his information from had an amusing sense of humor. There was also the issue of Drake's blackmailer, but that would be resolved rather soon. It was just a matter of making sure the extortionist did not have anything unpleasant that would be released if anything happened to him. For good reasons, WIC has always been wary of journalists.
"The worst you can do is kill me," Drake countered. "You won't harm either of my daughters, not with one training to be an agent and the other being protected by 'Sunshine'," the principal laughed darkly.
"I'm not threatening you." Jacob sighed. "I'm just giving you a suggestion. We have to work together if we want to survive this."
Ranma entered the room. She smiled when she saw her family sitting around the coffee table in the Company break room. Her daughters were sitting next to each other on the couch. They grinned and separated to make a place for their mother.
The redhead sat in the offered spot and wrapped her arms around Nariko and Akane. "You girls have fun with Grandma?" the redhead asked, having her girls lean on her helped her calm down.
"Yes, she's got lots of interesting stories," Akane smiled.
"I'm sure she does," Ranma sighed as she held her girls tighter. Their presence helped sooth her.
"What's wrong, Mommy?" Nariko asked, looking at her mother's face.
"Oh nothing," Ranma assured.
"Is the Drake still here?" Nodoka inquired.
"Yes, he's talking with Jacob."
"Nariko, why don't you show your father your new mate?" Nodoka suggested.
"Okay," the demoness said as she and Akane got up and nearly scampered out of the room.
Major Saotome stood up and sat back down next to Ranma. "Things didn't go well with Drake?"
"I'm not a bad mother; I'm not," the redhead uttered as she leaned her head on the older woman's chest. "I shouldn't even be a mother!"
"It's okay. He's just grieving," Nodoka said as she wrapped her arms around her daughter.
The girl smiled at her mother's touch. "I won't fail them ever again," she promised, her tone hardening. Concern for her children's welfare gave her demonic body a purpose and made the situation tolerable. "I don't have the luxury of whining and fighting this. I can't be that selfish. I have to be strong for them, I have to help them become strong."
Nodoka looked into the demon's eyes. Despite being a different shade and shape, they were still very familiar; they were still her son's. "Is this what you want?" Nodoka asked, now stroking her child's hair.
"I'd be lying if I said that it didn't feel good and right," Ranma said smiling slightly in remembrance of the previous night. "But that's not relevant. I have to be their mother. They need me. I accept that. Even if it means being... this."
Nodoka nodded. "That's a very adult thing to do. I'm very proud of you. You've shown immense character and strength," she said with genuine admiration in her voice. Despite all the trials her child had gone though, he had won.
Ranma smiled and closed her eyes. She now understood why her children loved to be in her presence. Being held, being protected by Mother was an amazing experience. The demoness and the WIC officer stayed like that for a couple minutes.
The two were interrupted by the return of Akane and Nariko. With a mischievous smile on her face, Ranma told her spawn what to do, and Nodoka soon found herself being almost dog-piled by a trio of young demonesses.
The agent observed how the effect Nariko and Akane had on their mother's sprits, and she became quite sure that her daughter would be able to handle this.
"Oh, hello Jacob," Soun said to the man standing on the front porch. "What's going on?" Beyond the suited Company man Soun could see a pair of silver sedans and a large van parked in the driveway. His eldest daughter was talking with her coworkers between the vehicles.
"It's about your daughters," the agent said.
"What about them? I got the message from Kasumi, but it wasn't too clear. All she said was that Akane was hurt," Soun stated his voice a bit hollow. The last time one of his daughters had gotten hurt and Jacob had appeared at his doorstep, he had lost Kasumi for months and the girl that came back was... different.
"I think we should talk inside," Jacob said. He then motioned for some of the waiting agents to follow him in.
"Oh, okay," Soun replied with some confusion as he watched Kasumi and a couple other WIC personnel enter the house.
"Can you please call Nabiki and Genma here as well?" Jacob politely, asked. From their surveillance they knew that both people were still in the house.
Soun nodded and called his daughter and old friend into the living room.
Jacob used this opportunity to make sure that the Communications and Cryptography agent had connected her laptop to the TV in the room.
"What's going on?" Nabiki asked as she entered the room. She looked to see her father, Ranma's father, Kasumi, a man who appeared to be her boss, and a few other corporate drones in the room.
"Apparently, something happened to Akane yesterday," Soun said.
"Yes, but fortunately she got medical attention quickly and is stable. The problem is that Akane's condition is... well, complicated. I think this short video will best prepare you for it," Jacob explained.
Kasumi wished she could roll her eyes, but her training and respect for the Colonel prevented that. The civilian briefing videos that WIC used were notoriously dated. The only reason they were not updated was because they were used so infrequently.
The communications agent activated the recording stored on her computer. As the television screen switched to a crew-cut tall man wearing a grey suit with a thin black tie, Kasumi allowed a small smirk to appear on her face. At least this one's in color, Lt. Tendo thought to herself. As the recording played, the three civilians watched with some confusion as the Company agent from Public Relations Section began to explain things.
The video itself was essentially a brief history of the Company, its goals, WIC's activities, and some of the things that the organization had done. It was a basic primer used to get people familiar to what Willard International Consulting was.
Given it documented the actual purpose of the Company's Investigative Division, and not the organization's public front as a defense consulting contractor and think tank, the entire presentation was highly classified.
Jacob watched the reactions the uninitiated were giving off. They were all confused but Soun seemed to be especially befuddled. It was as if he was incapable of, or was refusing to connect the dots. The other two were faring better. Genma's face looked bored, but his eyes were contemplative.
The agent had believed that Genma knew something was off with his son. After all, Ranma's cursed form had supposedly changed and he had spent some time locked in demoness form. That Genma did not know anything specific about what Ranma had become was found out during the martial artist's 'interview'.
The girl seemed to be the fastest at putting things together. Nabiki's face was in a mix of shock and contemplation. Nabiki waited until the short film had finished and Kasumi had explained some of her past before she spoke.
"Am I to believe that my older sister has spent the last five years working for a secretive organization dedicated to fighting demons and other supernatural invaders? If it wasn't for Ranma's curse I'd assume this was all an elaborate hoax," Nabiki said in a tone that indicated she had yet to be fully convinced.
"If you find that hard to believe, you should hear the rest of it." Kasumi's laugh was bitter.
"I'll assume it has something to do with Akane and Ranma. They've both been missing since yesterday."
"I think it's time for them to be told the rest of it," Jacob observed. He then turned to the communications agent that had set up the video. "Agent Iverson, please get Miss Ranma and her girls."
"Dad, Nabiki, when you see Akane, please remember that she's still Akane," Kasumi advised as Iverson returned with what appeared to be three girls.
"Why because she got a dye job and started wearing trashy clothes?" Nabiki asked when she saw Akane. "Is she sick? Her skin's pretty pale," she noted after a second glance.
Kasumi looked at her fiance and her children before responding. "You don't know the full extent of Ranma's curse. Ranma does not simply turn into a girl," Kasumi said as she began to explain what Ranma was and how Nariko and Akane had been turned. Her explanation only omitted the Pattern Silvers and that Ranma was one of them.
"Okay girls, show them," the redhead said.
As she watched her little sister turn into a demon, the middle Tendo mumbled something, likely containing the word God and maybe an expletive or two.
Soun's befuddlement at the video had transposed into simple denial at Kasumi's story. However, seeing Akane in her true form was too much for him and the man passed out.
"Boy! What's going on here?" Genma demanded after he had checked to make sure that Soun was all right.
"I got tricked and ended up with my girl-form turning demonic. I had to turn Akane and Nariko," Ranma explained as she idly swished her tail.
"And now you're their mother," Nabiki reasoned as she tried to figure out the insanity before her.
"I'm so embarrassed," Genma moaned. "My poor son. His mind's been twisted by this new body, and he thinks he's a weak, silly girl. If only he were strong enough to resist."
"Don't you dare say that!" Ranma's eyes flared blue-ish violet in anger. "I had to turn them. I was asked to save them; I couldn't just let them die."
"So, you saved them. That's not so bad. But you still abandoned your masculinity. I guess you're weak after all," Genma smugly replied.
"I'm more than strong enough to fight these urges! I did that with my first kid for a while, and you know what? It ruined her! I won't do that again." Ranma growled as her fangs lengthened slightly.
"Obviously, you don't know how to be a competent parent."
"Just shut up!" the redheaded demon exclaimed, her eyes flaring again. "I'm not going to be lectured by you about parenting. Stop this crap or I will hurt you. And don't think that these Company goons would stop me. They were going to let Mom kill you."
Jacob remained silent, neither conforming nor denying, but he did allow the right corner of his mouth to form a slight smirk.
Genma gazed into Ranma's eyes and his will faltered.
"So Akane, you're a demon now?" Nabiki asked
Akane nodded happily as she nuzzled her mate.
"What did you do to her? What happened to her?" Nabiki demanded from the strangers and people she thought she knew.
"It was either this or death," Kasumi repeated. "She was already a demon. I made the decision to save her."
Nabiki's response was interrupted by her father. "I had the worst nightmare," Soun said as he regained consciousness. "My baby girl had turned into a-" His eyes then widened with realization.
"Hi Daddy!" Akane cheerfully greeted. "This is my mate Nariko and you already know my Mommy."
"Mommy?" Soun asked.
"Yeah, that's me," Ranma sighed. "Look, Akane is a demon now, but with everyone's help we can bring her back. It will take time and effort but she will recover," the redhead suggested in a pleading tone.
"You're saying this lesbian leather-fetish bimbo can be my sister again?"
"But Nabiki, I am your sister," Akane whined.
"I don't know. Akane would never willingly touch Kuno." Nabiki said. The resemblance between Nariko and her cousin Tatewaki aside, Nariko had shown up days after Tatewaki had left.
"But... Nariko's pretty and nice," Akane said.
"Nabiki, that's enough!" Ranma growled.
"Yes, daughter. Don't pester your sister," Soun stated his focus still on his winged child.
"You can clearly see that there's a problem with Akane!"
"Just because Akane's a bit... different doesn't mean that she's still not a part of this family," Soun said in a distant voice.
"Wow, that's remarkably lucid Dad. I'm impressed," Kasumi remarked.
"I have to be, if Akane is to overcome her disability."
"I see," Lt. Tendo replied. She should have expected him to do something like this. Denial was his main coping mechanism. Father had yet to broach the subject of her own job.
"Kasumi, I'm surprised at you. If you're some kind of demon hunter, how could you do this to Akane?"
The operations agent narrowed her eyes. "Are you asking me why I didn't kill Akane? Why I didn't shoot her in the head?" Kasumi asked, her voice strangely casual. It had taken a lot of effort on her part to avoid doing just that, but Nariko's presence gave Kasumi an alternative.
"I didn't want to die," Akane cried. Her eyes locked onto the younger of her two sisters. "I already was a demon. This way I'm still myself, not some puppet," the blue-haired girl said as one of her wings was scratched by her mate.
"And what kind of demons are you anyway?" Nabiki inquired, trying to shift the subject.
Ranma sighed. This was something she really did not want to admit, let alone think about. But denying who she was had hurt her eldest daughter. "Succubae."
Nabiki looked at the brood of demons. They were extremely good looking. It went beyond their physical appearance, which was only slightly marred by their extra, non-human appendages. "Hmm, you are cute demon girls. Yeah, I can see that, Saotome."
"Awww, you think I'm cute," Ranma smiled. "Think you could handle me though?" the redhead teased as she licked one of her fangs.
"No thanks," Nabiki sighed. "I don't swing that way. And I thought that your kind was into guys."
"You have seen your sister and her mate?" Ranma asked dryly. "No, human males are nothing more than a food source."
Nabiki raised her eyebrow.
"No, not like that!" Ranma said in disgust. "Actually... it is just like that," the demoness corrected herself. "Thankfully there's other ways we can feed, and we don't need too much energy."
"So what do you do instead of seducing guys?"
"Actually it's guys and girls. It's just that with our forms it's easier to go after guys. But from a nutritional standpoint it's the same," Ranma explained, recalling some of what had been taught to her about this body.
"My youngest daughter's now a soul draining monster!" Soun wailed.
"Well, that got him to respond," Kasumi remarked.
"What do you do for food?" Nabiki asked.
"We eat meat, and sometimes we kill things and drain them as they die," Ranma said, simply.
"You're no vegetarian; you eat the flesh of animals. We just take something else from them," Ranma explained.
"You sure you're a succubus? I thought they had to drain humans," Nabiki asked. Her sister and Nariko seemed amorous enough
"Well Nabiki, you haven't had much experience with demons and other non-humans. Surprisingly, they don't exactly match the description that's in your Monster Manual."
Nabiki blinked. She should have known that Kasumi would remember that. Nabiki had only played it casually and she had quit Dungeons and Dragons years ago,
"Heh, you played that game? Man, what a dork," Ranma laughed.
"Keep it up and I'm sure some comic book geeks will 'just happen' to get some photos of you and your kids."
"Brilliant plan sis, threaten the hormonal, gender-confused, demon mother's children. And besides if you do expose this secret, it will be a race between her and me to see who can silence you first."
"You wouldn't," Nabiki responded before she had time to consider her statement. She then looked at Kasumi, who had a slight smile on her face. Of course Kasumi would be willing to do it; Akane was living proof of that. Nabiki might not be killed but her life could be made very unpleasant. The middle daughter was just now starting to grasp how out of her depth she was.
"Hey! I'm not gender confused. I'm a guy! I just have kids," Ranma said before adding in a much sterner voice. "Yes, Nabiki don't even think about threatening my girls. I'll take out anyone, anyone who's a threat to them. Isn't that right Pops?"
Genma froze when he looked at his currently demonic and female, son. He had always been afraid of those purple and blue eyes, but now they were much worse.
As Ranma walked down a series of dull grey corridors, the martial artist's mind was pondering... Memories was the word that fit best. Pluto's procedure had done more than just turn Ranma's cursed form into a demonic Sailor Senshi.
There was something else. There were things that the occasional demon was starting to recall. The species of demon Ranma's girl-form was among them. Murdock had explained some demonic biology to Ranma, but there were some things that only certain people knew that the martial artist was now aware of.
Ranma's thoughts stopped. The destination was in sight. The distance to the door was closed and it was opened. Ranma stepped through. The drab room was quite familiar to the teen.
Ranma turned to see a demoness nearly identical to herself. If Ranma were to activate her Sailor DarkStar form then two demons would be identical. The new demoness walked over to the others and sat down on the armrest of one of the chairs in the room.
"Howdy partner," the other demoness greeted.
"Who are you?" Ranma asked.
The other redhead tilted her head. "DarkStar. The first one."
"Oh, well... this is just great. My dream self-image is that of a succubus," Ranma said, wishing that she had shown up as a guy.
"That's because you're sleeping in between your children," DarkStar said with a smile. She never got to have kids during her life and was happy that some part of her managed to get them.
"Oh, makes sense," Ranma said. She would have preferred to sleep as a human male, but her brood's needs were more important.
"For what it's worth, I am sorry." DarkStar apologized to the other redhead. "But you know that, you're me."
Ranma exhaled. But didn't object.
"Turning into a demon is never easy. Well... it can be but then you're just a slave of the person that turned you. On the plus side. This is a dream. So just change your form," DarkStar added.
Ranma shrugged and shifted into her birth form. "Nice," he said while looking at his hands. "This didn't actually turn my body male did it?" the pigtailed martial artist asked. "I don't want to freak out my kids."
DarkStar smiled again. "No, your form didn't really change. Your girls are still sleeping soundly against their mother."
Ranma nodded. The girls would definitely have woken up if their connection to her had been severed.
"I don't want to be brainwashed. But what about using Usagi's powerful crystal to turn us human?" Ranma asked. If her kids could be returned to human form, that might work.
"Sorry Ranma. I knew the Queen Serenity of that day, when I was alive. She tried that exact same thing on me."
"It didn't work?" Ranma asked.
"Nope. I wasn't evil so there was no darkness to exorcise out. Sure it purified me, but I was still a demon. It did relieve Serenity greatly that I had passed that test though. Contrary to the rumors around her, she wouldn't let just anyone work with her, especially a demon."
"The Ginzuishou could turn a demon into a human through brute force. Problem is that that much energy rewriting and altering would essentially destroy the demon's mind. That's why I was never changed."
Ranma shook his head. "I'm not doing that to my kids. I'd hate to say it, but you're right. I don't see a way to cure myself and my kids... without ruining our minds. Jusenkyou certainly didn't work. I've had enough of that. Something might come along, but right now I have to raise them. That's more important."
"Good for you," DarkStar agreed.
"I'm surprised you're not some sex-crazed bimbo," Ranma noted.
"Do you really think so poorly of your past self?" DarkStar asked.
"Well... you're a, you know." Ranma gestured at the redhead.
"This is our body, doofus. You're me, you're just as much a succubus and I know you're still a virgin."
Flicking some hair behind an ear, Ranma coughed as her form shifted back.
"Hey! I'm not that bad. Though, it would be nice to have a mate, for once," DarkStar sighed. Her life had been fairly lonely. Her brood mother had loved her, and her grandmother doted on her, perhaps too much.
Grandmother did not take DarkStar's death well. But before that the Sailor Senshi had learned to trust her, but DarkStar had still died without taking a mate.
"What's this all about?" Ranma asked crossing her legs.
"Nothing much. You've just started to unlock our old memories," DarkStar grinned, showing a fang.
"Our? What do you mean? You're just the demon I was modeled after." Ranma frowned. "Wait... our body... "
Ranma looked at her reflection in the changing room. Her eyes seemed to contain the same amount of violet as they did four days ago. She smiled, glad that training her children in how to fly and fight and spending nearly all of her time in demonic form had not accelerated the change.
"How's the dress, Mommy?" Nariko asked from the other side of the door that separated the changing cubicle.
"I'm still taking off my clothing, and be more careful with that name, dear," the redhead warned as she took off her modified Furinkan uniform. She could have made it vanish, but someone might wonder where it went if they noticed it missing.
"I'm sorry... um... Sunny," Nariko said as she thought of something else to call her Mother. It sounded like Mommy and was close to the alias her Mother used for school.
"I guess that works." Ranma said begrudgingly. She did not care for the name that the Drake had invented for her and the diminutive form "Sunny" was even worse. However, Ranma did not want to correct her daughter; Nariko was trying her best, and she did come up with a name that was not Mommy.
The redhead would have preferred to be called Ranma, but she knew from experience that neither of her children was comfortable with calling her by that name. Down to her underwear, she looked at the garments that her children had picked out for her. She sighed as she put on Akane's selection. At least it was not a skirt, but that was small consolation.
As she slipped on the shorts and the top, the redhead concentrated. When she had first been turned into a demon, Ranma had only been able to wear that one leather dress. Everything else she tried to wear would simply turn into it. Later she managed to put on a school uniform that only modified itself. It seemed that now she was able to put on clothing and not worry about it changing. Though she had only tried certain leather and Lycra items.
The redhead smiled. This was at least one problem solved. She was no longer forced into wearing that leather dress or her school uniform. After stepping back into her boots and adjusting the tiny black shorts and scoop necked tank-top, Ranma stepped out of the dressing room.
"It looks really good on you," Akane said with a smile. As much fun as it was to pick out clothing for herself and her mate, it was another matter to find stuff for their mother. The blue-haired succubus found her mother's modesty endearing.
"It shows off your legs really well," Nariko complimented.
"That's because there's nothing covering her legs," Kasumi stated. She was neutral on most of the store's clothing selection. Although there was a leather jacket that she found interesting.
"It's quite revealing," Nodoka said. She should have known that this store would be where her grandchildren would want to shop. At least now they were looking at the clothing section. The scientist was not sure how to handle it if they went to the video or toy sections.
"But Mo- Sunny should show off her body," Akane said, remembering to use the name Nariko had come up with.
"It's nice but a bit much for being in public," Ranma added. "Even you're wearing more."
Akane nodded. At Mommy's insistence, her shorts now went to mid-thigh.
"Though it is a pretty nice outfit. I like how the top buckles in the front," Ranma said trying to please her daughter. Honestly, she did not find the shorts too bad.
"Thanks Sunny!" Akane gushed.
"Here try on this one." Nariko offered as she handed a folded garment to Ranma. "Grandma and I picked it out."
Ranma gave a questioning glance to her mother.
"It's strange for me too, but Nari-chan was insistent," Nodoka explained. It had been a trial to find something tasteful in the store. She was curious to see how her daughter (definitely daughter in this case) looked in the dress.
Ranma took the leather garment and shrugged. She then turned and went back into the dressing room. The redhead slipped out of Akane's offering and donned the article of clothing. After making sure that it was on straight the demoness exited the dressing cubicle.
Dark red, the succubus' leather dress ended within a couple inches of her knees. It was zippered in the front, and the interlocking teeth ran from the waist to the neck. The dress was designed to be worn either fully zipped up or partially zipped.
The redhead found it a bit constricting around her neck when it was zipped up all the way. Therefore zipper's pull tab currently rested just above the redhead's breasts. This formed a sharp V of visible flesh that went from Ranma's neck to her chest.
The dress had a dark violet, almost black, collar that was wide in the front and thinned in the back. Full-length sleeves with simple cuffs came out of its shoulders. Unlike the previous garment, the dress did not cling like a second skin. Granted it still hugged the girl's curves, but it was much less brazen than her other leather dress.
"See, Grandma and I could make a compromise," Nariko grinned.
"Sunny does look good," Akane agreed.
Nodoka smiled. It was good to see her child was wearing something a bit more modest, but more importantly, more mature. "What do you think of it, dear?"
Ranma looked at the dress she was wearing. "It is better than my old dress. It's much more comfortable. It's simple, not too flashy or girly," the succubus appraised.
Kasumi raised an eyebrow, but remained silent. She supposed that such a dress could be described as not girly. A piece of clothing could be feminine without being girly.
The redhead tapped one of her boots on the floor as studied her reflection in a full-length three segmented mirror. "Even the color's right. Yeah, I actually like it. Thanks Mom, Nariko," Ranma said before hugging her daughter and Mother.
"What about my choice?" Akane asked in a concerned voice.
"It was nice, but it's not quite for everyday use. Maybe for training and around the house," Ranma reassured.
"Come on Akane, let's find something Sunny will like," Kasumi offered as she took Akane's hand. The blue-haired girl nodded. Lt. Tendo then flashed a small smirk at her fiance.
How bad could it be? Ranma thought with a shrug. She had already tried out something that was one step from being naked. The demoness shook her head. The things she did for her kids.
"Thanks for paying Mom, but I could have handled it," Ranma as the trio of demons and pair of agents entered the restaurant. Her bank account could have just paid for the two outfits each that she and her two girls had purchased.
"I could have paid too," Nariko pouted as she followed her mother in her new leather tube dress. Shoulderless, it went from the top of her breasts to mid-thigh. It was a vivid purple with slits on either side of the skirt hem.
"I wanted to reward you girls for what you've done these last few days," Nodoka explained.
"Nariko, you and Akane should go with Kasumi and make sure the hostess gets a good corner booth for us," Ranma suggested before giving a questioning glance at her mother.
"Akane seems to be doing better with people," Nodoka observed as she watched the pale, blue-haired girl chat with the hostess.
"They have done well in their training," Ranma said with genuine pride. It was such a pleasure to see her children not only develop their powers and skills, but also to see them interact normally with people.
"I want to help you with this. I may have missed out on your childhood, but I'll be with you for Akane's and Nariko's," Nodoka reassured. If only she had been able to stop Ranma from leaving... her son might have been human; Ranma might have been safe. Nodoka cut off that line of reasoning. It was pointless to try and think of what could have been. Her child needed her now.
"Thanks, I didn't know how expensive this could get. Even with Mr. Tendo's and the Drake's help. I still think I should get a job."
"Don't, you've already got two. I've been saving my money while I've been working for the Company. It'll be enough."
"Right, two," Ranma mussed. The martial artist did have her responsibilities as both a mother and a Sailor Senshi to worry about. At least school was not a major concern. Officially Ranma was out sick, but she was really on maternity leave, until she had gotten things straightened out with Akane and Nariko, who were also "out sick."
"Akane also seems to be improving in her taste in clothing," Nodoka remarked as she walked with Ranma to the table where the others were seated.
"That's just because I've been suggesting that she wear something that's street legal."
"Unlike the other outfit you bought," Nodoka remarked.
"Yeah, I can't believe she found something more revealing than a bikini," the redhead agreed, referring to a Lyra garment that was both see through and miniscule. "But I did get that dress that you and Nariko picked out," Ranma sighed, indicating her own dress.
"At least it was shorts, and not another skirt, that Akane picked out for you," Nodoka noted with a little smile.
"Thanks for remembering what I really am."
"I know it's just that you have to do this for your kids. Come on they're waiting," Nodoka said before the mother and daughter went to their table.
"What do you mean it's impossible, Janet?" Usagi asked with some confusion on her face. She then took another bite of her Sundae.
"Look, you can't make a dress like that. You can't have a full length dress be tight down the entire length of the legs. It would be impossible to walk in, or sit for that matter." The newest member of the Sailor Senshi counted before spooning the last of her ice-cream into her mouth.
"That doesn't mean it's impossible to make or even wear," Ami countered.
"Yeah and it flares out around the ankles," Usagi added.
"Oh yeah, forgot about that," Janet dryly remarked. "Well, I'm getting another scoop of strawberry. Either of you want anything?" the auburn-haired girl asked. After getting negative responses from the blonde and blue-haired teens, she shrugged and walked up to the counter.
"I'm glad I let her in. I think she'll work out fine," Usagi said. With Janet, she got that sense of familiarity that she normally only had with other Senshi, or Naru. The blonde kicked herself for not looking up her old friend. Already reduced with her becoming Sailor Moon, contact between them had all but disappeared when Naru's mother moved her shop to Kobe.
"Yeah, I really like her too," Ami said, her gaze shifting over to Janet before returning to Usagi.
"It must be nice to have a friend you can talk about smart stuff with," Usagi offered.
Ami laughed nervously.
"Don't be bashful, I know you sometimes get lonely with us small brains," the blonde joked.
"She did handle herself well at that convenience store," Ami admitted.
"It is a bit odd that she's an American. Even Ranma's from Japan."
Aim shook her head "Ethnically, I'm all but certain Janet's mostly Japanese. Her family probably just moved to the states a couple generations back. They either changed their name when they immigrated or she has a paternal ancestor named Fraiser."
"Okay, makes sense," Usagi agreed. She then looked over to see Janet walking back to their table.
"Well, a gown like that would look very good on you," Janet admitted, carrying a fresh bowl. "Though you'd only be good as a statue," Janet smiled, her greenish grey eyes twinkling.
On an approach from the North-west, a Company helicopter was within five minutes of its destination of WIC Toronto-B. Like nearly all Company vehicles, the black flying-machine carried an Ostar series Pattern scanner. Bulky and heavy, the Ostar series had a much larger range and finer ability to resolve Pattern Registering Entities than the man-portable NordStar series. Either vastly outperformed the compact little SulStar scanners.
The Pattern scanner was being manned by Specialist Agent Richard Morrison. This meant that the agent kept an eye on the display and waited for anything significant to show up. Morrison wondered if he would be able to detect the D-Silver brood. Like the last time he had flown in to Toronto-B.
It was somewhat unnerving to see two moderate and one very strong Pattern D show up over a Company base. The nineteen year old operations agent found seeing the demons in flight just as unsettling.
The agent then noticed that a blip of the static on the edge of the scanner's range was unusually cyclic in how it fluxed on and off the screen. Curious, the agent increased the power on the system. He was rewarded with a slightly steadier signal.
"Lieutenant Patterson, sir? I've may have something on the scanner. It hasn't resolved into a coherent pattern yet, but I'd guess it's either D, E, or V," Richard said as he continued to adjust the scanner.
"How big? How many?" Agent Morrison's commanding officer asked.
"I can't tell at this range, but it's either a dozen low to mid class or a couple higher ups," Richard evaluated as he analyzed the displayed pattern further. "Hmmm, I'm leaning more towards D for the pattern," he said, feeling it was more likely demonic in origin, as opposed to elemental or vampiric.
"Where is it Rich?" Lt. Patterson asked as he leaned over to see the display.
"West of here in Vaughan, near highway 400," Richard read from the map that was overlaid onto the scanner's readings.
"Simmons, call base and tell them we're taking a detour. We might have found something," the lieutenant instructed the helicopter's pilot.
Kasumi's dinner was interrupted by the ringing of her cell phone. She answered it and exchanged a few sentences.
"Who is it?" Nodoka asked.
"The Colonel, Ma'am. They've found a nest of demons. They're getting ready to go in. They've analyzed the sensors and they are the same sub-Pattern as Akane was."
"Get the check. Now," Ranma ordered her ears perking up.
"Sir, we're on our way. ETA ten minutes." Kasumi said into the phone before hanging up
"It's her isn't it, Auntie?" Akane asked.
"It might be," Kasumi confirmed as she got their waitress' attention and asked for the bill.
"Good," Ranma said as she looked at her children.
The bill arrived, Kasumi paid for it, and the quintet of women left the restaurant. "The Pattern D's are in a group of buildings in a suburb to the North of here. Command just learned about them; we're still getting people in position," Kasumi explained as they quickly walked to her car.
The drive to the staging area was mostly silent. Ranma, sitting in the back flanked by her kids, furrowed her brow in thought.
"What's wrong, dear?" Nodoka asked.
"I've got a question for you two," Ranma proposed, her eyes darting to Nariko. It was something she had to know. "Let's say you're wounded in battle, unconscious, and –well- dying. Would you want me to... to...?" Ranma's question trailed off.
"What?" Kasumi asked. She had a fair idea what Ranma was trying to ask. It was then confirmed when Ranma pointed to the black and violet-haired demon.
"Oh." Nodoka blinked. That was an interesting question. Death or life as a demon.
"It's okay if you don't want to do it. I understand. I want to know, just in case," Ranma explained.
"Sorry, I appreciate the offer, but no thanks," Lt. Tendo stated, her eyes lingering on the reflection of her sister in the rearview mirror.
"How come it's death for you but demon for Akane?" the redhead asked.
"It was never Akane's choice. And it was between dying as a demon and living as one," Kasumi answered.
"I don't know, Ranma. It's a big change," Nodoka said. "I'm not sure I could handle it," she admitted after a short pause.
"It's okay. I had to ask," Ranma explained in a distant voice. That confirmed it. If her mother or her fiancee was wounded beyond medical treatment, she had to watch them die.
"Mommy? You okay?" Nariko asked as she leaned on the taller succubus.
"Not really," Ranma admitted as she gazed at the tips of her fingers. "There's going to be fighting. And we're probably going to have to kill some demons. It'll be unpleasant but it's something we have to do." Though the succubus was actually afraid it would be pleasant, both for her and her kids, and what that would mean.
"It's okay Mommy; they're evil. They're monsters," Nariko reassured.
"I know. I'm still concerned. It's one thing for me to go in and kill them. I've crossed that bridge already, but you girls haven't."
"There are worse fates than death and there are worse things than killing. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing," Kasumi quoted.
"I know that!" Ranma said indignantly. "I'd have no problem ripping apart anyone who came after any of you!" the demoness declared with more force than she intended.
Kasumi blinked at her inclusion yet did not comment on it.
The redhead continued. "That's not an issue! Same with you two," Ranma turned to her daughters. "I have been training you on how to use your bodies to defend yourselves. If someone came after you... that's it. Some things you have to do, no matter how bad they are, because the alternatives are worse.
"My problem is that I feel like today's another day of training. Only now I've set up live targets for you to go after. I don't like that I'm sending you off to kill. If it was us defending ourselves that's one thing, but us going in and taking them by surprise."
The redhead noticed that that Kasumi was about to speak and cut her off. "Yes I know that it makes sense to take them by surprise. They'd do the same... well, worse to us. This way we can be the ones prepared and ready. That way we might not get hurt. I understand why; I wouldn't be here and I certainly wouldn't have brought my kids if I didn't."
"But?" Kasumi asked.
"I don't want to be a killer, and I certainly don't want them to be," Ranma said, feeling the connection to her children. Physical contact helped with that. "But I can't just stand aside and do nothing." Ranma closed her eyes, knowing that some of her did want her kids to be just that. She wanted them to be their best, and sometimes she found herself imagining what her children would be like as hunters.
"I understand," Nodoka said.
"I'm not sure if you're ready girls," Ranma said as she put a hand on each of her daughter's legs. "And if I think it's too hot in there, I won't let you fight. Are you two sure you want to go with me?" Ranma asked, part of her hoping that they would decline, another wanting to see her children perform.
"Yes. Alexia needs to be punished for what she did to me and you," Akane confirmed her own eyes flaring slightly.
"It's the right thing to do. And I can't abandon my mate and Mommy," Nariko said hesitantly. She was afraid, but she was also eager.
"We're almost there," Kasumi announced. The Company sedan was only a couple of miles from the staging area.
Ranma nodded. She looked out the window to see the post dusk twilight. At least she did not worry about that approaching darkness.
Kasumi parked her car in a supermarket parking lot. Nearby was a group of WIC Humvees and a pair of trucks. One of which was the modified tractor-trailer that served as a mobile command center. Kasumi went to the trunk of her car and pulled out her combat gear and armor. The two agents and three demons cleared the plain-clothes agents guarding the vehicle and entered.
The tall, somewhat thin, agent in charge looked up from a holographic display of a group of small industrial buildings to see an older woman approach. "Major Saotome," Adam Jarvis saluted once he recognized her. Jarvis was a taller man with short blonde hair and blue eyes.
"At ease, Captain," Nodoka said as she returned the salute. "What's the situation?"
"As you can see, we've detected Pattern D's here, here, and here," the Captain indicated on the translucent display. "Their power levels are somewhat low. It was rather fortunate that Agent Morrison was even able to detect them at this range. Our current location is just a couple miles from theirs. When we're ready we'll go in. I intend to take Patterson's team and Tendo's team in at these points," Jarvis said before going into further detail of his plan.
"Good, I trust your ability to execute this plan." While Major Saotome was the ranking agent present, it was still Jarvis' operation. Nodoka would let him run the operation, provided that she agreed with his decisions. Situations like this were one reason why all WIC agents regardless of Section receive combat training and go on field rotations.
"And I won't have to remind you that we have three Pattern D's working with us," Nodoka added.
"I've already notified the strike teams Ma'am. They won't rely on only their Pattern scanners."
"They'd better not. I won't stand for one of us hurting my son or my grandkids. Understood?" Nodoka inquired.
"Yes, Ma'am," Jarvis agreed, wisely not making a statement about the gender of the Major's son or about the descendants of a Company officer being demonic.
Ranma looked at the display and shook her head. It looked like she could bring her kids in on the fight. She still felt reluctance at it, but they had to start sometime. "Mom, I'd like you to change the battle plans a bit," she requested. Her own fears for what the fight would do to her humanity, her kid's humanity, had to be pushed aside.
"Of course, dear. Captain, we're modifying things a bit," Major Saotome said.
"Yes, Ma'am," Jarvis replied. He kept his face neutral. At least the other NH's working for the Company were actually part of WIC. The redhead and her spawn were not. The captain worried that there were insufficient safeguards around this brood, but it was not his place to complain.
Sailor DarkStar flew above the town of Vaughan. She spotted the building visually slightly after she sensed the energy being given off by its occupants. On her left and right sides, Akane and Nariko followed her. Changing her approach, the redheaded demon angled her wings and twisted into a steep controlled fall. Akane and Nariko replicated this maneuver with relative ease.
Ranma gently landed on the roof of the smallish beige building, which was originally designed as a machine shop and office. The other two demons landed shortly, only making a bit more noise than their mother.
The redhead looked over the two girls. Both had changed their clothing to more practical leather boots, simple shorts that were a bit longer than Akane would prefer, and backless tops. The demonic Sailor Senshi smiled despite herself. Akane and Nariko looked as ready as they were going to be.
The sound of approaching truck engines was then followed by gunfire. She was relieved that the WIC agents were on time. Ripping off a roof-access hatch, DarkStar jumped into the room she sensed to be clear.
The three demons quickly exited the cramped storage room and entered a short hallway. Ranma's eyes widened and she generated a violet orb wreathed in white flames in her left hand.
A door across the hall, to the left and marked "Women" opened. A demoness with white hair launched herself through the threshold. The snarling demon's eyes were glowing and her claws were extended.
Ranma released the orb. The adhesive fluid within it doused the enemy succubus' neck and left shoulder before igniting. Ignoring her burning flesh, the servant of Alexia continued to close in.
Ranma blocked her arms with one hand and grabbed her by the neck and squeezed with the other. Ranma did not extend her partially-opaque crimson claws. There was no need for blood. She simply crushed the demon's neck. As she died, the redheaded demon looked into the still angry eyes and smiled slightly. True demonic energy was much better tasting than youma knock-off.
"Mommy!" Nariko screamed as she released a dark purple orb similar to her mother's at a demon that had just come around a corner in the hallway. The approaching succubus dodged the magical napalm, summoned an orb of her own and was about to toss it.
Both Ranma and Akane turned and fired at the new target. The redhead's orb hit her in the chest and Akane's blue one engulfed her head. The demon went down as everything above her chest burned. Nariko looked down at the writhing demon and shuddered in revulsion.
A series of filaments then extended out her black tail's violet fins. With a whimper Nariko plunged the end of her tail into the dying demon's chest. The poor thing at least deserved a quick death. Nariko shuddered again. This time not in revulsion. The energy was nowhere near as good as what she got from Mommy, but it was still quite nice.
Ranma looked on with her eyes tearing slightly, both out of pride and sadness. Her daughter had made her first kill. Her thoughts on this were interrupted by Akane.
"Mommy! I think I hear something coming," Akane said quietly, now facing the opposite end of the hallway from where Nariko's kill had come from.
Ranma nodded. That was where the larger rooms of the building were and that was where she had sensed more demons. "Nariko, watch our backs," the redhead ordered as the trio went forward.
The brood of succubae exited the hallway and found themselves in an unusually well-decorated room. The tile flooring had given way to thick carpeting, and the furniture was large and comfortable. More importantly were the half-dozen demonic residents of the room. They seemed to have been waiting for Ranma's brood.
"Where's Alexia?" Ranma demanded, her eyes flaring an angry violet.
"You will not get the Mistress," the lead demon, a tall woman with strawberry blonde hair, replied. She then turned to Akane. "Hello Eclipse. Don't worry, we'll soon have you back," Laura smiled, showing her fangs. It was a shame she had lost two of her mistress' minions, but the intruders were now outnumbered.
"Die!" Akane growled, as she launched a pair of blue orbs wreathed in white flames at the blonde. She then lunged at Laura, claws and tail filaments extended.
"Nariko, right!" Sailor DarkStar shouted as she fired on the demons on the left side and leapt in between the leftmost pair...
Meanwhile, Akane had Laura's charred, but still lively, form pinned on the ground. The blonde tried to rake her talons over the other the traitorous spawn, but found her hands caught. The blue-haired succubus attempted to use her tail but found that her prey had wrapped her own around it.
Growling in frustration, Ranma's daughter forced herself closer to the prone demon. When she was in range she opened her jaws and closed her mouth over Laura's neck. Like a child eating an apple, she tried to bite off as much as she could. Her sharp teeth easily cut through the demon's flesh. As her face was sprayed with arterial blood, Akane instinctively chewed and swallowed what was in her mouth.
Ranma looked up from disemboweling a demon to see her younger daughter licking her blood-soaked lips. The redhead simultaneously cringed and rejoiced at Akane's accomplishment. The brood mother was happy that when instead of taking another bite, Akane got up and dispatched another demon, this one only grazed by one of Nariko's fireballs.
Nariko stood over a pile of burnt and dismembered parts. They clearly belonged to a pair of succubae. However, telling which torso went with which head or arm would be a bit more difficult. The smell of freshly cut meat and hot blood was very appetizing to her.
Her dinner had been interrupted; she was still hungry. The black tressed girl found herself kneeling down and reaching towards the pile. Their energy was nourishing and delicious. She wondered what their meat would be like.
"Come on!" Nariko's mother shouted. "There could still be others out there."
"Are you sure Mommy?" Akane asked as she used her hand to wipe some of the blood of her face. "I don't feel any," she stated, idly licking her bloodied palm.
"Neither do I. But we're still going to search the place. Alexia could still be here and she might be able to conceal herself," Ranma said. She was extremely glad that she still wanted to get her kids out of the room, away from the bodies, though she could see the benefit to letting them stay and allowing them to feed.
In a neighboring building, Lt. Tendo increased the pressure on her weapon's trigger. The weapon released a burst of 7.62mm WIC-custom rounds. The agent smiled slightly as the demon's head disappeared in a cloud of blood, bone, and hair.
Before the demon's corpse had a chance to fall, Agent First Class Kowalski had lobbed a grenade around the corner she had come from. After the explosion, Kasumi pointed to Specialist Agents Gabriel Smith and Sophie Addison, and made the hand motion for them to go round the corner low and fast.
The two agents nodded and went forward. They found the splattered remains of one demon and the mangled form of another. She was a small succubus with light green hair. The demon growled and tried to lift herself up, but the shrapnel wounds in her body were severe.
"Don't," Kasumi ordered. This opportunity might be useful "Unless she can get at you." She then talked into her headset. "Captain, we may have a prisoner. Understood sir." The lieutenant then turned to her team. "Aram, you're with me. We'll secure the rest of this corridor. Gabriel, Sophie watch the demon. Patterson's team and the Captain will be here shortly."
Murdock looked at the woman sitting across from him with very well-concealed contempt. While the mage found her to be an insufferable harpy, there was no reason that she should be made aware of his feelings. After all, she might still prove useful to him.
The rather tall woman across from Murdock gave a very cold smile as she brushed back some of her curly blonde hair. "I can't believe you're still worried about that redheaded traitor."
"She did easily subvert your first attempt," Murdock smirked slightly. He found the impudence was worth seeing her tanned face contort into rage. Tweaking the vain always amused the rumpled suit-wearing man, and the woman sitting across from him was vain even compared to her kind. That she even bothered to keep her skin tanned spoke volumes.
"The impudence!" Alexia's eyes would have flared but she was in a restaurant and did not want to attract attention. "To steal my own creation. She will pay for that! That little bitch took her from me on purpose!"
Murdock admired his ability to keep a straight face during the demoness' little rant. This creature was only jealous because DarkStar had decided to make "Eclipse" into more than a use and discard minion.
"It is a shame what happened to her. But we do have business to attend to," Murdock stated as he tapped the briefcase that he had brought with him. Personally, he found this method of exchange a bit melodramatic, but he was acting under orders. The needless micromanaging really got on his nerves; fortunately, the fringe benefits made up for a lot of it.
"I am aware of that, and I am pleased that your associates were able to supply the requested information so quickly. As I trust you will be pleased with what I will give-" the demoness was interrupted by a ringing coming from within her purse.
Murdock suppressed a sigh as the woman answered her cell phone.
"Helen, what's wrong?" Alexia asked. Her dark green eyes hardened in rage at her minion's response. "Kill them all then! Damn that redhead! What do you mean; they're coming in too fast? There's over twenty of you there! Organize and hunt them down! Hello? Helen answer me!" The blonde slammed her phone onto the table in frustration.
"What's going on?" Murdock asked in a concerned voice as his hand reached for the briefcase. He had a fair idea what had happened.
"My brood is being killed off by the traitor and her human lackeys," Alexia snarled.
"And one of them called you here?" the grey-eyed man asked in exasperation. She really was a stupid creature. "I'm sorry I have to go," he said as he stood and put on his wide-brimmed hat.
"Why are you leaving? We're not done here."
"Yes, we are. If you're lucky, WIC was not monitoring mobile transmissions in that sector. If you're unlucky, they've traced the phone call and found out your current location," the mage explained as he grabbed the briefcase and held it at his side.
"We had a deal!" Alexia's control started to slip and her eyes began to flare.
Murdock nodded solemnly. "Yes we had one. I'll be informing my associates of your failure tonight. It was my fault for assuming you would be competent, or at least be able to conceal your base."
"You're going to pay for this!" Alexia cried. She wanted to tear him apart for his insolence, but the demoness knew that the mage would not be taken down that easily.
"Undoubtedly," Murdock admitted honestly. He could not believe he had failed to expect that something like this would happen. The plan was starting to depend more and more on his backup plan succeeding. "Goodnight," Murdock said, tipping his hat to the demoness. Turning so that his coat billowed out behind him, he walked out of the restaurant.
"How'd we do, Mommy?" Nariko asked as the trio of demons left the building they had cleared.
"Hello Ranma," Kasumi said from outside. Her team's stance was more relaxed and her weapon was pointed at the ground.
The redhead raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"You show up as a Pattern D and a Pattern Silver," Kasumi explained, her eyes twinkling in amusement. Not that anyone could see them behind her goggles.
"Any wounded?" Kasumi asked. The brood looked okay.
"None, thankfully. You?"
"Nope. You find Alexia or anyone in charge?" the agent inquired.
"We fought someone who seemed to be in charge, but she wasn't Alexia."
Kasumi nodded. "No one else spotted a demon matching her description. At least we've destroyed this base of hers."
The redheaded demon was about to comment when she heard a young woman scream. "What the Hell's that?"
"Do you really want to know?" Lt. Tendo inquired, in a flat tone. In the darkness her eyes were obscured behind her night vision goggles.
Ranma's glare was answer enough.
"Okay, but I think your kids should stay here," Kasumi warned.
The redhead nodded, her sinking suspicion as to what the scream meant seemed to be more correct. "Girls, go with Kasumi's men and find a place to wash up," Ranma said before she followed her fiancee to another building.
The agent and the demon entered and walked down a battle-scarred hallway. Sailor DarkStar stepped over the demonic fluids and body parts. The demoness could sense a group of humans and a single succubus ahead. Her heart sank at the surety of what she was about to see. They soon reached the warehouse's storage room. Unlike the other rooms in the building, the lights were on.
The agents had set themselves up in a large open space towards the center of the room. Three WIC soldiers had positioned themselves near the edges of the room, while another pair was much closer in and had their weapons directly trained on their target.
Standing near that pair of agents was the officer that Ranma's mother had talked to. Captain Jarvis had pulled his goggles up onto his helmet and Ranma could see that the agent's dark-blue eyes were fixed on readying a syringe. "I should apologize. While our methods are not as elegant as your mistress', they're all we have," Jarvis explained.
Sailor DarkStar's attention was on the person Jarvis was talking to. She was a fairly young succubus, not too much older than Nariko and a bit less powerful. The demoness' wings, arms, legs, and tail were bound using shackles of an unusually strong and resilient alloy. Her long, bright green hair was matted with her own blood, as was her sparse leather dress.
Ranma noted several large tears in the membranes of the captive's wings, numerous wounds in her chest and arms that were healing with agonizing slowness, and that one of her horns had nearly been sheared off. The redhead shuddered at that. She knew how sensitive her horns were and could not imagine what having one almost torn off would feel like.
It took the green-haired succubus a bit longer to notice the visitors. At first her large forest-green eyes looked at the other demon pleadingly and she made a weak mewling noise. Then she noticed who it was standing before her.
It was the traitor; the redheaded bitch who had lead these humans against her own kind. No doubt, she was here to gloat, torture and to eventually turn her. The demoness' snarled as she tried to break out of her bonds.
Ranma cringed at the pitiful sight before her. The succubus was too weak to even make her eyes glow uniformly. All that she could generate was an uneven green flicker. "What the hell? I can't believe you ruthless bastards!" Ranma exclaimed.
"She may have information as to where Alexia went off to," Jarvis said as he cautiously injected the demoness. She tried to struggle away but the bonds were too strong and she was too weak.
"So you decide it's just okay to torture her?" The redhead and her brood had slaughtered the enemy, but at least those deaths were fairly quick.
"Not physically," Jarvis counted. He then noted Ranma's skepticism. "The demon got wounded during battle. That's how we were able to capture her. Besides, right here, right now drugs are more effective than physical pain for information gathering."
Ranma looked at the dying demoness. It was probably for the best that her brood did not get the chance to take prisoners. "It's still wrong," the redhead said as she considered what she should do.
"There is a way she would tell us everything rather quickly," Jarvis proposed.
"No, I'm not going to turn anyone unless they ask for it," Ranma said as she looked at the green-haired girl.
Ranma ached inside and felt a part of her grow cold. She wanted to find Alexia and make her pay. She had already helped kill plenty of little succubae already. Ranma had plenty of excuses.
"Just make it quick," the redhead said as she stood by to watch Jarvis get to work.
Ranma watched the short procedure carefully. If the agent went too far she'd kill the demon herself, and maybe even the agent too, but she did want to know where Alexia was. It turned out to be mercifully short. The young succubus did not know anything and was put down.
Sailor DarkStar carried the body out of the warehouse and gingerly put it with the others of Alexia's brood. The redhead took comfort in the pain she had for the fallen.
Assembly of Man Acolyte Ryoga Hibiki's partner observed the operation from a concealed position near a bridge abutment on the highway that ran next to the light industrial park. She pushed back a lock of brown hair that had fallen in front of her starlight scope.
Her partner's powers were a double-edged sword. While they gave him increased strength and endurance, rapid healing, a protective aura, and an ability to track demons, they also made him show up on WIC scanners. There was another drawback, one that only she thought of as one.
Everyone else seemed to think that the increased loyalty, dedication, and obedience to the Assembly was a good thing, that the blind fanaticism her partner showed were signs of a promising young acolyte, not of those of someone being corrupted.
At first the Assembly seemed like a godsend. They would give her new powers and skills and all they asked for was that she would destroy evil. The Assembly even promised to look into finding the people who dishonored her. However, as time passed she started to doubt the morals and goals of her organization, and regret ever joining.
It had taken several embarrassing mission failures for the Assembly to realize that their more powerful operatives could be detected by that rival organization. This was why the young Assemblywoman had to observe their target alone. It seemed that the redhead was closely linked to the Company.
The observer considered abandoning her post, walking over to an agent, and... Surrendering. The Company had its faults, but at least they were not a cult. She could be valuable to WIC. She had codes. She had names. She had locations. She had information.
She had a responsibility to her partner.
Ukyou Kuonji sighed. Her defection could wait. She still harbored a secret hope that she could get her partner to go with her, and that the Company might even be able to help him. At the very least she wanted to settle things with that redhead, and figure out exactly what had happened to the childhood friend who had betrayed her.
"Where's my little sister?" Nabiki asked the redheaded demon slumped on the living room couch. The past few days had been most odd for her. Seeing her sister as a nudist-lesbian-bimbo was very distracting. Annoyingly, she was not allowed to tell anyone anything about this. She knew that tempting her older sister or her younger sister's... mother was not a good idea.
"Akane and her mate are up in her room putting away clothing," Ranma said as she stretched her neck.
"No doubt having some sort of weird demon sex."
"Good for them, shows they're in love and healthy," Ranma replied.
"Uhhh... right... healthy" Nabiki shuddered at the image of Akane and what used to be Tatewaki all claws, wings, and tails rolling around doing unspeakable acts. God knew she had heard them doing it often enough.
"Normally, I'd be willing to tell you all about how our bodies work, but I'm not in the mood for it right now," Ranma sighed as she replayed the day's events in her head. She hoped that her kids would do something to unwind. The redhead knew her body could benefit from some relaxation.
Both girls turned their heads upward in response to the sound of a door being opened and someone running down the upstairs hallway. The person then rushed down the stairs in just a handful of steps.
The redhead's eyes widened when she saw who was coming at her. Nariko leapt up onto her mother and hugged the slightly taller woman in fright.
"Nari-chan, what's wrong?" Ranma asked as she comforted the girl.
"Akane was putting away her new clothes, but she had to make room for her closet for the new outfits. We started talking about her old clothes and she started to get mad." The younger succubus spoke in a scared, halting tone.
"Then what happened?"
"She yelled at me! She told me to get out! Mommy, what's wrong with her?" Nariko asked.
A naked blue-haired demon sat on the floor crying softly. She did not want to scare her mate away. She loved the crimson-eyed succubus and wished she was here. She had manifested her true form including her claws. The girl looked through her long, transparent blue talons and her sobs increased.
She had killed and drained today, and worse, she had fed. The taste of... of Laura was still in her mouth. She was a cannibal. A gentle knocking on the door got her attention. "Go away," she said in-between sobs.
"Akane, it's me... Mommy," Ranma said.
"Mommy," Akane muttered. She felt herself starting to feel better in her mother's presence. Akane then noticed the end of her tail. "No! You're not my Mommy! She's dead. You're just some... thing!"
Ranma leaned on the door, amazed at how much those words hurt. "Let me in, we can talk about this," the redhead pleaded. "I really don't want to force you to do this."
Akane looked at the doorway. Every part of her being was urging her to open the door, to let Mommy in. She stood and shambled to the door. Opening it she nearly fell onto her mother and renewed her sobbing.
Holding onto her daughter, Ranma looked into the girl's eyes. With a free hand she went to Akane's left horn and gently stroked it. The blue-haired demon's eyes dilated and her crying stopped. A small smile even formed on her lips and a purr-like rumble started to form within her.
Continuing the stimulation, Ranma lead Akane to her bed. The redhead then had her sit down next to her. The brood mother stopped the rubbing and started to wait.
"What, what was that?" Akane asked as she pulled out of the bliss filled haze. "I knew these were sensitive, but that...."
"I'm your mother," Ranma said in explanation. "Sorry I had to do that, but I didn't know what else to do."
"Another inhuman thing I do," Akane sighed. She wanted to cry but she found it hard to while leaning on mother.
"Yes. Is that what's wrong?" the redhead asked. "You're upset that you're no longer human."
"Not just that. That until now I haven't seen anything wrong about what I am!"
"But you are now. That's good," Ranma said as she put an arm around Akane. "You're recovering. You're turning back to yourself."
"No I'm not! I'm still a winged-freak. I'm still a killer. I'm even stuck with that feeble-minded girl."
Ranma raised an eyebrow.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that about Nari-chan. I shouldn't have yelled at her. She's the sweetest, nicest, most beautiful person I've ever met," Akane apologized, ashamed at what she had said about her mate.
"See, some good came out of your change," Ranma reassured.
"That's not so bad. What's bad is what Nariko and I were going to do. We were about to have sex, in celebration of today. What kind of monster does that after killing and eating their own kind?"
"It's part of our nature," Ranma sadly said. "And we can't fight our nature, not completely. Look at me. I'm a guy, but I'm also your mother. I'm a demon. So are you. We don't have to be evil, but we do have to do some things."
"I'm afraid... afraid of liking- No I already like it, even love it a bit. Sinking my teeth in her neck and then licking the blood off my hands," the blue-haired demon cried.
"You're afraid that it will control you. That you'll turn into an unthinking beast that simply hunts."
"The Akane of yesterday didn't care about killing. She didn't care about her humanity. But you're not that Akane, are you?"
"But I'm still... I'm still..."
Ranma squeezed her daughter again. "Yes, you're still a demon. But you're not a monster."
"Thanks, Mother," Akane said. "What's wrong?" she asked, seeing the strange expression on the redhead's face.
Ranma smiled as ran her hand through her daughter's hair. "I'm so proud of you," she said before kissing her daughter lightly on the cheek.
"Mother, what's this for?" Akane asked.
"Say my name again," the redhead beamed.
"You're my mother, so?"
"It used to be Mommy didn't it?" Ranma asked.
"Well, I'm not some little kid; I'm sixteen years old," Akane said before pausing in realization. "Oh, I was a little kid. Wasn't I?"
Akane's mother nodded.
"Poor Nariko." Akane could now understand what had happened to her mate and how bad it was. Nariko would never have a break-through like this. To her Ranma will always be Mommy.
"We'll do our best to help her," Ranma reassured. "Having a mate like you really helps."
"And you're doing a wonderful job as our mother," Akane smiled.
"Now, I've got a favor to ask you," Ranma stated as she looked at her reflection in a mirror on the wall. The fight and the discussion with her daughter had both increased the number of violet flecks in her eyes. They were now a third of the area of her irises.
"Could you help me –well- learn how to be... or at least pretend to be... a girl," the redhead blurted out. "Sure I know how to be a sexy demoness-"
"Well, that's easy," Akane laughed.
"Yes it is," Ranma laughed. "Sometimes TOO easy."
"I'm honored, but why Mother?" Akane asked. She was a bit nervous about the prospect of having to teach Mother, but she was in awe of the responsibility.
"I'm a Mother. I should know something. Also, it'll help you too," Ranma explained. "Now go and get dressed."
Akane looked down to see her nude form. "I'm sorry, Mother," she apologized, her pale skin blushing just a hint. She then got up, made her wings, horns, and tail vanish, and went to her closet.
"Its okay, Honey," Ranma laughed. She had no problems seeing her children in the nude.
"How's this? Akane asked after she had gotten dressed. She was wearing a yellow floral print mini-skirt and a spaghetti strap top with a bare midriff. On her feet was a pair of leather boots.
"It's very nice," the redhead said, smiling. It was more clothing than her daughter had been willing to wear since she'd been turned. It might not be as much as she wore when she was human, but it was a start. "Come on, let's go downstairs and make up with Nariko."
"Can we go out and get some dinner?" Akane asked.
"Sure, ours was interrupted," Ranma replied, happy at the day's progress.
End Chapter 8
Prereaders for this chapter have been. Kevin D Hammel, Rebecca Heineman, Black Dragon, Jerry Jordan, Wray Lofin, Mike Koos, and Joe Fenton.
Very heartfelt thanks goes to Rebecca Heineman for all of his help on this project. Unfortunately, I can't tell you exactly what he's done. That would contain innumerable spoilers.
Revision Notes: This had some sprucing up, especially in the dream. Another dense chapter but one that's more "a day in the life" showing the new situation emerging in the wake of ch7's decisions.