Strained Harmony [R.5][SM] Ch3 New First Scene

For submitting and talking about story ideas, individual scenes that need doctoring, outlines, or other detail work that isn't quite ready for the C&C thread.

Idea submissions must be at least five paragraphs long, and include plot points, summaries of which characters are involved, and, for fanfiction, how it differs from canon. Both original and fanfiction ideas welcome. Though original works should have more development. Replying posts must give actual commentary, no "GREAT IDEA" or "THIS SUCKS".

Re: Strained Harmony [R.5][SM] Ch3 New First Scene

Postby Sunshine Temple » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:10 pm

Dumbledork wrote:The link to Trimatter's homepage doesn't work.

I have a question about Florestica. Do the authors still update their stories or is the page pretty much dead?

Sad that his page is down. Florestica is basically on hold with regards to putting up new chapters, yes.
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Re: Strained Harmony [R.5][SM] Ch3 New First Scene

Postby Phoenix » Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:44 pm

hi. so first of all i would just like to say that im glad you're continuing this. its sad trimattar couldnt join in but if it cant be done then so be it. your talents mixed very well but im sure you can do this fic justice by yourself.

I have some trouble giving criticism since it feels like im stomping on somebody else s hard work but there were a couple of things in this scene which stood out to me which i would like to at least bring to light.

1. in the first half ranma gives hotaru a lot of hugs. while ranma is very fond of hotaru this felt stiff to me. i dont know, it was like ranma was throwing out hugs for the littlest of things and sometimes felt unnecessary. for example:

Setsuna coughed. "There was some debate on who would adopt Hotaru."
"Oh?" Ranma hugged Hotaru."

"It's great, it's shaped like a heart and has the cutest ruffles that match her hat," Hotaru smugly said.
"It's not really a hat." The redhead frowned and hugged Hotaru again."

im not saying that ranma shouldnt hug hotaru but perhaps reduce it or describe ranmas feelings so the reader can make the connection better. I dont write myself so its difficult for me to say how to do it better but hopefully ive atleast made my point. To sum up what bothered me i guess you could say that _I_ didnt feel like hugging hotaru, which subsequently made me feel more detached to ranmas character.

2. In this scene ranma calls setsuna "puu" at various places. This is inconsistent with previous chapters. i re-read the earlier chapter's the other day and i cant recall her ever calling setsuna by that nickname nor it ever being used in her presence. it was always either setsuna or miss meiu (spelling?).

2b also both usagi and michiru uses the nickname. Now this might be consistent with canon, i dont know because i havent actually watched sailor moon since i was a child. My impression was that only chibi usa used this nick and the others just called her setsuna (edit: and hotaru uses setsuna-mama?). i might be wrong about that though.

"Taking a moment to relish the compliment, the redhead then studied the Princess... her princess.
"You're still getting used to this whole royalty thing aren't-ya?" Ranma's eyes widened.. "I mean, you're
new to this?"

This bit gave me a bit of pause, i wasnt sure of who was speaking. More precisely "Ranma's eyes widened.." made me unsure, what made ranmas eyes widen?

These are just my thoughts and opinion's but perhaps they can be of some help -Your source for onna ranma fics.
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Re: Strained Harmony [R.5][SM] Ch3 New First Scene

Postby Sunshine Temple » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:25 am

Thanks for commenting! I think you're right about watering down the hugs and I'll have to check the nicknames and I'll clear up that last bit of dialog.

Sorry for the breif response. I fell asleep yesterday night after a long day and I've got errands today to work through.
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Re: Strained Harmony [R.5][SM] Ch3 New First Scene

Postby Phoenix » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:59 am

Sunshine wrote:Sorry for the breif response. I fell asleep yesterday night after a long day and I've got errands today to work through.

that's alright, ty for replying =) -Your source for onna ranma fics.
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Re: Strained Harmony [R.5][SM] Ch3 New First Scene

Postby Sunshine Temple » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:07 pm

Thanks for the comments.

I corrected your points. I hope this makes things clearer.

Scene repost:

Ranma rubbed her fingers on the sides of her face just below her temples. She looked to the sliding door and slowly let her hands fall back to the table where she lifted up her cup of tea.

With subdued lighting, soft chairs, and understated paintings, the private room in Green Mountain was normally a calming influence. The sounds from the rest of the restaurant were muted, distant. The redhead closed her eyes and her heartbeat quickened with every half heard sound. There was a gentle pressure on her hand and the nanny's eyes snapped open.

Setsuna's hand was over Ranma's. "It'll be okay," she assured as she patted the back of Ranma's hand. "We're just going to have a nice dinner with some friends."

The redhead gave a weak smile. "One who's a magical princess. Your boss."

"Usagi'll love you," Hotaru assured, hugging Ranma. She was wearing a periwinkle blouse over a dark violet skirt.

Ranma leaned back, some of the tension going out of her spine. She rolled her shoulders then tried to adjust the bows of red silk ribbon tie knotted under her collar. Her stomach was tying itself into a similar knot just thinking about magical girls, princesses, ancient kingdoms on the moon. It seemed all perfect. She wondered when the other shoe would drop.

The green-haired woman eyed the nanny. She reached up and started adjusting her tie.

"Thanks... I... I never really got into ties," the redhead blushed.

"They're more of a boy thing," Hotaru said.

Ranma looked down at the shiny big bows and lace edges of her tie and had to laugh. "Good thing Sesuna's here to help us."

"Setsuna-Mama does like her suits," Hotaru happily agreed.

After making sure that the bows were equal length, Setsuna caught the curly-redhead's eye. "We don't have to tell the Princess everything. At least not tonight."

"About those mean people that think they can take Ranma from us?" Hotaru angrily asked.

"Yes," Setsuna agreed locking her gaze with Ranma. "There are some things we can wait on."

Straightening her shoulders, Ranma nodded. Hearing footsteps, her head swiveled around to face the door. It slid open and a kimono-clad hostess bowed before stepping back and bowing to the two people she had been escorting.

The redhead's heartbeat spiked for a moment but immediately settled down when she saw the couple. They were fairly tall. One was blonde, but had very short hair and was definitely not Usagi. Leading an aqua haired woman in a pale rose dress into the room, the blonde, in dark grey slacks, a loose collared shirt, and a green sport coat, thanked the hostess.

"Thank you dear." Setsuna nodded to the hostess. "Could you give us some time? That is unless our final guest shows up, then you can see her in."

The hostess nodded placed two menus in front of the couple, and then closed the door behind her.

Still smiling, Setsuna pulled a small silver key out of her coat pocket. Its top was heart-shaped and held a spherical red gem. She glanced at it like it was a pocket watch, an impression which was enhanced by the fine silver chain that ran from it, before returning it to her inside coat pocket.

The woman with long blue-green hair appraised the trio as her partner pulled out a chair for her. Her attention settled onto Ranma. "Lovely glasses? Are they new?"

The redhead idly pushed up the thin framed-lenses. "Uh yeah. Turns out I need a bit more than just some reading glasses."

"Eyestrain is cumulative, it's good that you're managing your astigmatism sooner rather than later."

Ranma rolled her eyes a bit. Another part of her disguise had become real, though she did have to admit her eyes did feel a lot less fatigued after a long day.

"You should have gotten darker tinting," Haruka suggested.

"Oh my yes." Michiru clapped her hands. "All three of you. Some sunglasses, and black ties and Serenity's Spooks would be just ready."

"You are talking to the Mistress of Time and the Bringer of Silence." After sitting down Haruka leaned over the table and took Ranma's hand. "Now what does that make you?"

"That's a good question," Setsuna admitted. "She's a healer."

"Like Mamoru?" Michiru asked.

"More like Hotaru."

Ranma blushed and pulled her hand back. She then brushed her hands off each other and adjusted her glasses. "Someone who was pretty shocked to find out you were a girl."

Haruka coughed. "Well yes..."

"That said, I wouldn't mind seeing you in a skirt."

"She does have lovely legs," Michiru added with a sigh. "You should show them off more."

Haruka crossed her arms. "Come on, it's not like I'm trying to fool people."

"The first couple times we had you two over, Ranma thought you were a guy," Setsuna said, clearly amused.

"And I've known quite a few cross dressers in my day." Ranma took a sip of her tea, then raised it in salute to the blonde. "And you're a natural."

"She does make a lovely 'pretty boy'," Michiru agreed.

Setsuna laughed. "Feeling better?" she asked the redhead.

Nodding, Ranma gently put the cup down. She then dabbed her napkin against her lips. "So... what's this about the Silence?"

"Well... there's two types of Sailor Senshi." Haruka said.

"Right, there's the Guardian Senshi that protect the Princess. Usagi and her clique make it pretty obvious. And the Outer Senshi that protect the Solar System from whatever horrors from beyond. We're the Outer Senshi," Ranma said with a touch of pride as she hugged Hotaru.

Haruka caught Setsuna's eye. The green-haired woman nodded. "Yeah, so... we've got different goals and methods than the other Senshi. It's caused some... friction."

Setsuna laughed.

Michiru looked down. "We... uh..."

"They suggested that Usagi abdicate." Setsuna picked up her cup and sniffed the warm sake before taking a sip. "Naturally, a fight broke out."

Haruka sighed. "Afterwards we apologized and made up for it."

"Yes, after she beat you two down and only when you were on bended knee did she accept your apology," Setsuna smirked.

The redhead blinked. "No Ranma, don't be worried about meeting the Princess. She's very nice," Ranma said in an overly sarcastic tone. "Don't be being paranoid Ranma. Everything will go fine."

"She's really very nice," Michiru assured.

"Yeah, we did attack her first."

"Why? And what does this have to do with the Silence?"

Setsuna downed the rest of her sake cup.

Hotaru made a nervous, embarrassed, whimper-like noise and clutched onto Ranma's arm. She looked down and whispered. "I didn't mean to swallow their souls..."

The redhead tilted her head. "What?"

"You know how Hotaru's special?"

Hugging Hotaru, Ranma nodded.

"Her father knew that. He was a scientist and...." Setsuna looked off into the distance, past the walls of the room.

With her free hand, Ranma reached over and refilled Setsuna's sake cup.

Setsuna bowed her head in thanks. She picked up the cup. "Well, let's say things went bad. Hotaru was chosen to be the host of an eldritch horror, Mistress Nine."

"Mistress Nine would herald the arrival of her master," Hotaru whispered.

"We disagreed with the Princess on how to stop this. To stop Nine and her master Pharaoh 90"

Hugging Hotaru, Ranma noticed her sad, embarrassed and shame filled face. She then saw the similar looks that Haruka and Michiru had. The redhead exhaled and tried to steady her voice. "You tried to kill her? To stop Nine? To stop the Silence?"

Neither Haruka nor Michiru could meet Ranma's eye.

"What's wrong with you two?" Ranma demanded. "She's just a kid."

"She... Mistress Nine... killed people, ripped the souls of the Guardian Senshi out of their bodies, Pharaoh 90 came! He would have smothered the planet," Haruka said, her voice becoming quiet at the end.

"And what happened? Clearly you didn't kill her. Did the Princess save you?"

"No." Setsuna patted the redhead on the shoulder. "Hotaru did it. She rose up. An ageless spirit from Beyond had taken over. She had been broken, twisted, possessed. And still Hotaru rose up and broke Mistress Nine. Sailor Saturn stood and dropped the Silence Glaive.

"Imagine a black orb the size of a moon. Imagine writhing tentacles as wide across as a city. Imagine this horror, this blasphemy pushing into our world. Imagine something that its very presence assaults your mind and corrodes your soul. Now imagine Hotaru standing up to this being, entering it, sacrificing herself to stop it."

"Oh, wow." Ranma ran her hand through Hotaru's hair. She wanted to doubt them, to claim that what they were saying was insane but... she could turn into a magical maid, and the utter conviction that they spoke with was chilling. "That's... that's something else squirt."

Hotaru nodded.

"Wait... sacrificed?" Ranma asked.

"The Princess. She wasn't going to leave someone behind. At the last moment, she crossed over. Withstanding both Pharaoh 90 and Saturn's destructive powers, she got Hotaru."

Hotaru flushed with embarrassment.

"So this princess of yours went into the maw of an elder demon... as it was being banished, to recover Hotaru?"

"More vaporized than banished, but yes," Setsuna nodded.

Ranma eyed Michiru and Haruka. "And you two wanted to kill her?"

"Only after Mistress Nine took over!

The redhead sighed at the blonde.

"It's okay, they were trying to save the world. Mistress Nine... yes... she needed to be stopped. But...." Hotaru shook her head and closed her eyes.

"So the Silence... destruction. I thought you had healing powers, squirt?"

Hotaru nodded.

Setsuna reached behind Ranma and patted her adoptive daughter on the back.

The slight girl brightened a bit.

"I'm guessing she's not a healer. At least not as her primary power."

"You'd be correct. The Outers... we're troubleshooters. We deal with invasions from Beyond."

"Right, you're the spook. You know things and manipulate people." Ranma blushed. "Uh... I didn't mean it like that."

"No..." Setsuna sighed. "That's basically what I told you about my powers."

"Right, well if you can look back in time you can spy on pretty much anyone."

Michiru scoffed. "Like a magic window to spy on someone?" she asked with a slight smile.

"Think about it, look back in time a second ago. That's basically a live feed on anyone anywhere. You wanna find out more? Dial it a bit back."

Setsuna pulled her arm back and drank some more sake. "It's not quite that simple."

Ranma noted that was not a full denial. "And that leaves you two who... " she rubbed her chin. "Combat magic? You thought you could take the Princess in a fight and kill some eldritch horror."

Haruka nodded. "Sailor Uranus. Sky-related powers. Yeah... sure I'll get the same type of dreams that the others get-"

Ranma thought to the nightmares that Hotaru would have, and when she would sleepwalk and talk with her reflection.

The blonde continued. "I'll also get the occasional ill omen, but it's mostly combat stuff. I've got a magic sword and World Shaking which is both an air and an earthquake attack."

"Handy," Ranma said, noting the information. She wondered what training with them would be like.

Michiru smiled. "Sailor Neptune. You can guess what my powers are."

"Water?" Ranma asked. "Water can be very effective. It's flowing but powerful. Heavy but fluid. There's a lot you could do with control over water."

Blushing, Michiru shook her head. "It's not water itself. It's more... drawing energy from the deepness of the ocean. My Deep Submerge is more about the pressure than getting someone wet."

"No, that's what your magic mirror is for," Haruka corrected.

"Magic mirror?" Ranma asked.

"Don't worry, this one doesn't make clones," Setsuna assured.

"Or travel through time?

"No, there was only one Nanban Mirror and you took care of it." Setsuna smiled.

Michiru blinked. Wait... Red's already dealt with time traveling magical artifacts? That explains a few things, she thought to herself. "Well... it helps with my precognition and astral projection."

"A hah!" Ranma accused. "So you do have a magic window to spy on people.'

"It's not quite that simple," Michiru said echoing Setsuna.

"Right...." Ranma shook her head. "Okay, so of the Outers there's two with combat and some spying. One with more spying and some combat. And one...."

"Doomsday weapon," Hotaru whispered. "I'm the last line," she raised her head. "When nothing else can stop the enemy," her voice grew cold. "I will."

Ranma saw the determination and will on her ward's face. The redhead closed her eyes. Her stomach twisted and... unclenched. Here was the "other shoe". She was not dealing with perfect, eternal magical girls. Infighting, betrayals, corrupting transformations... these were things that Ranma understood. The redhead gave a confident little smile.

Hotaru looked up. "Nanny?"

"Come here kiddo," Ranma said as she scooped Hotaru up, sat her on her lap, and hugged her.

"Adorable. Too adorable," Haruka stated.

"Yay!" Hotaru cheered.

"I told you, you were strong. I knew you were special," Ranma assured.

After pulling Ranma's chair a bit closer, Setsuna took her hand in hers. "This is why you were so important. Why your job was so vital. "

Smiling, Ranma nodded.

"You've been doing a great job with her," Michiru said.

"Yeah, we're almost a little jealous," Haruka added.

"Jealous?" Ranma blinked and looked to Setsuna, who still had her hand.

Setsuna coughed. "There was some debate on who would adopt Hotaru."

"Oh?" Ranma asked putting an arm on Hotaru's shoulder.

Haruka and Michiru looked to each other. "Yeah... well she is one of us," Michiru said.

"I think you made the right choice," Ranma squeezed Setsuna's hand. "Though I'm a bit confused that this was even a debate."

"Hey!" Haruka glared.

"Now, now. Haruka and Michiru are a key part of Hotaru's life," Setsuna said.

"And I forgave them," Hotaru assured.

"It's not that. I mean, maybe I'm biased, but I think Setsuna's a better choice."

"Yes, I'd think you would be," Haruka teased.

Ranma blushed.

Watching the three across from them, Michiru smiled "If this keeps up, I fear the Outers will develop a reputation."

"What reputation?" Ranma asked. "I mean she's not-"

There was a gentle knock at the door, and the redhead stopped her question. She frowned, she had not heard anyone approach. She felt Hotaru go tense as the door slid open.

A lone hostess stood just outside the door. She bowed. "Apologies for the interruption, but I just got word that the final member of your party just got off the train. Would you like any refreshments while you wait?" Keiko asked.

Haruka twisted in her chair. "She called you?"

Keiko hesitated... "She called the Green Mountain, yes."

"And not one of us?" Haruka looked to Setsuna who simply nodded at the hostess.

Keiko exhaled; she was well aware of who kept a monthly account at this table. "Miss Tsukino also asked for directions. She decided to take a.... different route here."

Michiru laughed. "She got off at the wrong stop, didn't she?"

Setsuna gave a contained little smile.

"I would not presume," Keiko said, giving a somewhat amused smile. "Can I offer you any drinks? Perhaps some light sorbet?"

"We'll take some more of the house tea and another bottle of whatever she's drinking." Haruka pointed to Setsuna's sake.

"Very good," Keiko bowed, then looked straight at Ranma. "The patissier has been trying some new recipes."

"Oh? So early?" Ranma asked.

Keiko gave a neat little smile. "But of course. One is rather light and dainty: Sfogliatella Riccia. It's tiny morsels of soft, flaky dough stuffed with a filling of ricotta, seminola, cinnamon, eggs candied citrus, and confectioner's sugar. "

"Sounds delightful," Ranma said, the anxiety of the night momentarily forgotten.

Setsuna "Yes, perhaps have it arrive with Miss Tsukino. I believe she'd appreciate a small repast as well."

"Excellent, I'll make sure it's ready." Keiko bowed and withdrew, closing the door behind her.

"Special meals? My, my," Haruka smirked.

Michiru laughed and gently elbowed the blonde's side. "Uh Dear? Any restaurant worth its salt will offer the occasional special dish to its regulars. It's part of how the chef ensures they stay regulars."

"Yes, yes." Haruka smiled though clenched teeth. "So, Ranma, you know a bit about our powers, what're yours?"

"Healing." Ranma said with a little blush.

"No attacks yet?" Michiru asked.

The redhead shook her head.

"We haven't had too much time to explore her powers. We're still unsure of exactly how she got them." Setsuna admitted and gave an embarrassed cough. " I've actually called Ami and she'll be examining Ranma with her computer."

"Outside help? My," Michiru noted.

Haruka leaned forward, and Ranma blushed a bit. "Interesting. But you're a martial artist." She rubbed her chin. "You could work with Makoto."

"The tall brunette on the other team?" Ranma asked.

Haruka nodded. "She's a martial artist too. She actually knows how to fight, unlike the other Guardian Senshi."

"Miss Kino is not at Ranma's level, and while training with her will undoubtedly be of benefit, I will be handling Ranma's initial training," Setsuna sternly said "Though... she probably would have an affinity with Jupiter."

Sensing jealousy in the older woman's voice, Michiru frowned. Something else did not sit right with her. "You don't know why Ranma's a Senshi? How? We're bonded to heavenly bodies."

"We think Ranma's connected to Saturn."

Ranma hugged Hotaru a bit tighter while Hotaru gave an almost smug smile.

"Is she a Moon?"

"Sort of..." For a brief moment Setsuna looked unsure. "Hestia was the name of one of Jupiter's moons."

"Hestia? Pretty name," Haruka said as she looked down through the table, as if she was distracted.

"Well, you used to be a planet," Michiru teased.

"That's different." Setsuna patted Ranma's shoulder. "That's why I want Ami to check her out, but I also need more time seeing Ranma's powers up close."

"So she gets personal training?" Haruka crossed her arms. "We haven't gotten personal training."

"Ranma's a special case." Setsuna stated. "She doesn't even have an attack yet."

"Hardly the first Senshi to have that problem," Haruka muttered.

The redhead looked to Setsuna, who had simply continued her train of thought. "She's still having problems transforming."

"I'm getting better." The redhead pouted. "But she's right, Setsuna. We should practice together. We're a team, we should act like one."

"Damn straight!" Haruka agreed.

"I fear she's going to make us have a group hug," Michiru said to Haruka.

"Nah, that'll happen when the Princess arrives."

"And that means not killing each other. Just because a cute little girl is possessed by a demon that wants to destroy the world is no reason to try and hurt her," Ranma stated in a full deadpan.

Michiru blinked.

"You're kidding... right?" Haruka

"Of course not. I think we're all pretty scary here..." The redhead shivered. She closed her eyes and fought down a growing redness in her earlobes "And no, being a cute, homicidal, couple doesn't get you off."

"She thinks we're cute at least," Haruka grinned.

"I believe she's talking about me. Ranma did think you were a guy," Michiru reminded.

"You're still both plenty cute. Fine." Ranma rolled her eyes. "One's cute and handsome. And the other's cute and elegant."

Haruka leaned forward. "Flatterer."

"Err... well..." Ranma shifted Hotaru to a different knee. "I try my best."

"Ranma's the best nanny! She's beautiful and cute and strong!" Hotaru gushed.

Seeing Haruka's smile, Michiru once again nudged the blonde on the side.

Setsuna chuckled. "And I was worried I'd have to make you take some sake."

"Now who's being suggestive?" Haruka teased.

"I'm just glad that Ranma's getting over her anxiety. I was worried that we'd have to loosen her up."

The blonde laughed while the redhead blushed.

"I think we'll be fine," Haruka smirked.

"Are they going to hold off on my tea?" Michiru asked as she twisted back to look at the door to their private room.

Setsuna exhaled through her teeth. She slipped out a phone. "I don't think I made that clear to Keiko."

"You're not calling her are you?" Ranma asked, brushing against Setsuna's blouse as she leaned over to get a view of the phone's screen. Reading the screen, the redhead laughed then smugly pulled back and resumed hugging Hotaru.

"No... she's not. She isn't?" Haruka asked disbelieving. "I can just get up. See easy," the blonde stood. "Not everyone's got a lap full of Nanny and Doomsday Girl."

In a moment of exasperation, Setsuna rolled her eyes. Looking far, far younger she waited for the phone to connect. "Oh, hi Usagi. Yes, it is- No it's not that late. I was wondering...." She paused. "Really? Well, I won't keep you." Setsuna closed her phone.

"She's right outside the room isn't she?"

"Nope." Ranma shook her head. "We'd hear her."

"Really? That waitress moves pretty silently," Michiru said.

"This is the Princess we're talking about." Haruka eyed Setsuna's sake cup. "I'm guessing she's just entering the restaurant."

"Close, she's by the park just down the street." Setsuna glanced at her phone to check the time. "I guess Keiko told her to cut across and come in by the front entrance."

"It is the most recognizable, the back gate's hardly got any sign at all," Hotaru said.

"You'll do great," Setsuna leaned down to whisper into Ranma's ear.

Ranma smiled and nodded.

"I don't see why you're worried. I mean she forgave us," Haruka shrugged.

"I suppose the bar is pretty low then." The redhead forced a chuckle.

"What she means-" Michiru paused to glare at Haruka. "Is that the Princess is very understanding... maybe too understanding. Hotaru loves you, and you're a Senshi."

Ranma looked down, then caught sight of her tea cup and picked it up. "Yeah... I'm just..."

"You're not a fraud," Setsuna said, a bit sharply. She blushed and hugged both her and her daughter again. "Don't you ever think that."

There were footsteps in the hallway and the door clicked open. Keiko swept into the room carrying a platter. The round silver tray gently descended, and she smoothly unpacked a selection of tea, a carrier of small ceramic sake bottles with matching cups, a ring of delicate little bowls forming a sorbet rainbow, and a plate covered in delicate little dumpling-like pastries. Lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar, each was no bigger than a piece of candy and would be difficult to eat in more than one bite.

For a moment everyone in the room gazed at the collection. Though Haruka's attention was split when Keiko poured both her and Michiru drinks. Then they noticed that Keiko had not arrived alone.

A young woman with bright blonde hair done up in twin, long ponytails, gazed at the plate and bowls as if she could devour the sweet appetizers by sight alone. She wore a white dress with matching heels. Simple and rather understated, the dress had a bit of pleating the bottom hem around her knees, which helped draw attention to long, shapely legs. The top of the dress, around her shoulders was embroidered with a line or roses with a complementing rose cluster wrapping around her right hip.

For a second, the young woman in the white dress seemed just as oblivious of the Outer Senshi as they were of her. Then the moment broke and she looked up. Her eyes immediately locked onto the trio sitting at the far end of the table in matching blouses and skirts.

Feeling the Princess' joy as a nearly tangible force, Ranma found herself smiling. Then she looked up, and to the redhead's amazement the blonde's eyes somehow got even larger and more hungry with excitement.

"So cute!" Usagi said as she stepped around the table. "I should have known you'd be a Senshi. I mean with hair that pretty how couldn't you be? Who's your stylist, I know Ami and Rei go to a place in the mall right by our school but I think it's a bit too slow."

"Uh... " Ranma absently patted her curls as her confidence grew. The Princess had a bouncy energy that made her bunny-like hairstyle quite appropriate.

"I go to a little salon. Actually... it's right by here." The redhead lifted her arm and was about to point, but then blushed, and realizing she was inside, lowered her hand.

Usagi took her seat and ordered a soda from Keiko.

The hostess put down a menu for Usagi, politely nodded, and excused herself from the room.

"You're a Sailor Senshi then?" Usagi rhetorically asked as she picked up a pastry and popped it into her mouth. She had seen the redhead around at school, and she was the only one in the room that Usagi did not know already was a Senshi.

Ranma nodded and Hotaru handed her a pastry and a bowl of plum sorbet.

"Use a plate and utensils," Setsuna gently chided.

"At least she waited for the door to close," Michiru said.

"Right like, Puu's magic secret field needs that to work." Usagi said as she took a little bowl of cherry sorbet.

"The warding does work best with the door closed, and doesn't work on anyone inside the room," Setsuna stressed.

"I know, that's why I waited!" Usagi pouted. "Oh this stuff's great!"

"It should be Alfons is quite skilled," Setsuna said as she picked up one of the Sfogliatella Riccia. She eyed a tiny bowl of mango sorbet.

Haruka sipped her sake while Michiru pulled an orange sorbet for her and a strawberry for herself. Hotaru had taken a pale green fresh mint one that Ranma could smell.

"So what Senshi are you? What color's your uniform? I bet it's something with pink, that'd go great with your hair! What made you transform? How'd you find out you had powers? I bet it was defending Hotaru. What do you think about my dress? I tried for something elegant but I didn't want to be too formal you know. It's just too much. What shampoo do you use? I’m thinking of switching brands." Usagi asked in a gushing torrent.

"Calm down," Setsuna advised. "Have some sweets and relax."

Usagi exhaled and started eating.

"Well..." Ranma had to laugh. This was the woman she had been so nervous about. She had assumed that the bubbly Usagi from school was a façade, an act, that behind her peppy exterior was, well, a Queen. Or at least a Princess, someone a woman like Setsuna would see fit to serve.

Usagi's blue eyes seemed momentarily sated as she swapped between eating the tiny flake pastries and eating her sorbet. She was already on her second bowl; deep reddish-black raspberry.

Ranma paused to enjoy her own refreshment. "You're mostly right." She then licked her spoon clean and placed the now empty bowl on the table. "I'm Sailor Hestia... apparently. It was Hotaru that brought out my powers. They're healing."

"And the pink?" Usagi eagerly asked.

"My uniform's mostly black and white." Ranma flushed with embarrassment.


"Yes, yes I've got some pink trim. Near the top edging the dress and my collar."

"And around your apron!" Hotaru helpfully added as she handed a fresh bowl to Ranma.

"Adorable!" Usagi cheered. "You've gotta show me the uniform."

"You wear a miniskirt and an apron?" Haruka asked disbelieving.

Ranma's flush tried to grow but she fought it back. Having some lemon sorbet helped. "Actually no. My skirt goes to a bit under mid thigh."

"Huh. That's uh... not bad," Haruka nodded.

"She didn't deny the apron," Michiru reminded.

"It's great, it's shaped like a heart and has the cutest ruffles that match her hat," Hotaru smugly said.

"It's not really a hat." The redhead frowned.

"What is it?" Haruka asked.

Michiru put her hand onto Haruka's and shook her head.

"What's wrong?"

Setsuna patted Ranma. "Ranma's got some difficulties transforming. And worse... her uniform's a bit, well, cute."

"At least she can fill out the damn thing," Haruka grumbled. "Us tall girls don't have such luck."

Ranma shrugged. "Setsuna wears hers just fine."

"Red, I'm taller than her by a couple inches. Makoto too. And they both... wear it better."

The redhead then winced in understanding. Haruka was a tall woman with long limbs and a thin but powerful frame. As the redhead tried to imagine how a Sailor Senshi uniform would fit on her, a bit of bitterness welled within. "I'm sure you look very... handsome."

"Gee, thanks." Haruka narrowed her eyes, then sighed.

Usagi looked as if Haruka had punched her in the stomach. "You... you don't like the uniform?" she asked in a wounded voice.

"It's fine enough, it's just not the most flattering thing."

"It makes your legs look good," Michiru assured.

"Anything would," the tall blonde noted with pride. "Though those shoes do help."

Ranma shook her head, "We'll have to compare uniforms."

"Sure, we can do it when we train together," Haruka caught Setsuna's eye.

"Yes, that sounds like a lovely idea," Setsuna allowed. She poked at her sorbet.

"You guys train together? Wow that's great! It's really cool how close you all are, like you're a family," Usagi happily chirped.

Ranma and Haruka's expressions softened a bit. The redhead studied the Princess. The ponytailed blonde seemed to completely innocent in her statement. And Ranma could see that Haruka was not suspicious. "Yeah... it is," Ranma admitted as Hotaru moved back to her own chair after giving her a hug.

"Awwww" Usagi smiled. "You must be the best nanny! No wonder you're a Sailor Senshi. I guess the threads of your destiny were pulled in the right direction."

Frowning, Ranma pulled herself up from the hug. Again she studied the princess. Again, the blonde face was open and happy, and her big blue eyes seemed completely devoid of guile. Also there were the puns. For a Princess of the Moon to have the name like Usagi Tsukino and to have rabbit themed hair... The redhead frowned and idly tugged at one of her curls.

It would be easier if she could simply assume this Princess had some plot to make her into a nanny and a magical girl but she seemed too... nice. Ranma looked to Setsuna and raised an eyebrow.

The green-haired woman shook her head and then motioned towards Usagi with her hand, as if to say: Go on, you can trust her.

The nanny blinked and raised an eyebrow.

Setsuna shrugged. "Look, if she's playing you, she's playing me too, and is like unto a god at it, because I haven't noticed it."

The twin-ponytailed blonde looked at the two women. "Hey!" Usagi then said indignantly.

Ranma nodded and cleared her throat. "Well... what do you mean?"

Usagi laughed. "Of course, someone Setsuna hired would end up a Senshi. Isn't that how it goes?"

The redhead stared.

"I mean, that's how I meet the Inners... the Guardian Senshi."

"You... hired them?"

"No silly. Though I guess I could have had Ami as a tutor." Usagi laughed to herself. "But no, what I mean is that with my friends, my Senshi. All of us had a special connection before we ever met. Just as I know you've got a special connection with the people you love." Usagi leaned over and hugged Ranma. "Welcome aboard."

Ranma blushed but returned the embrace. She felt a warmth and a flowing empathy that reminded her of Hotaru's almost unconditional love and adoration." You're... You're very trusting," the redhead admitted after the hug broke.

Usagi nodded, and snatched a single-scoop of peach sorbet, dragging the tiny bowl away from the rapidly depleting multi-colored ring. "I'm a pretty good judge of character. And when I'm not. Well... Rei burnt him to a cinder."

Ranma blinked. She saw Michiru give a somewhat glassy smile while Haruka nodded approvingly. "Oh."

Usagi blissfully continued. "But you've got Hotaru and Setsuna on your side and that's pretty convincing to me. The Pharaoh 90 thing proved to me that you can totally trust little girls powerful enough to fight off demonic possession." The blonde finished the bowl and ate a couple pastries.

"An interesting metric. To say the least," Setsuna admitted. "Shall we consider ordering?"

Usagi looked down at the pile of empty bowls, half of which were on her menu, and gave an awkward laugh.

"I suppose we should think about what we want to order," Michiru said as she picked up her menu.

"Oh..." Usagi pushed the bowls off and picked up her menu. She noted that it was a heavy leather bound folio with several pages of elegantly written descriptions. The blonde took a moment to pause and ponder if the calligraphy was actually hand-drawn before bothering to actually read the descriptions.

She was through the seafood section before she noticed two things: first that there were no prices listed, and second that Ranma was the only one not reading from a menu. "Are you feeling okay?" Usagi asked the redhead.

"Fine... why?" Ranma asked, before eating a tiny pastry.

Usagi glanced down at the menu in front of Ranma. "Aren't you going to order something?"

Glancing between Usagi and Setsuna the redhead blushed. "Oh well..."

Setsuna lowered her menu. "This is a big night for Ranma. I'll be ordering for her. And might I recommend the yellow-tail. It would seem that they got a particularly good catch today."

"Oh? I could go for a grilled fillet of that," Michiru noted.

"Are you giving our specials today?" Haruka smirked. "What happened to our waitress?"

"I can call Keiko back if you wish."

Haruka nodded. "Please do," she then added politely.

"Uh..." Usagi's eyes darted across the menu.

"Would you like something fresher?" Setsuna folded her hands. "While sashimi is not the chef's specialty, they are more than adequate. Or would a nice broth suit you? We can always go for something richer."

"Well... the prices," Usagi looked around from what she had seen Green Mountain's handful of private rooms amounted to more floor space than most restaurants in Tokyo, and this place seemed to just keep on going.

Setsuna smiled softly. "That's not a concern. Consider tonight a gift," she stood and smiled, warmly, at the assembled Senshi. "If you'll excuse me, I'll be back presently with our server."

"Oh... okay," Usagi flipped to another page.

"Look over your menu. If, when I get back, you're still unsure I'll order for you."

Usagi blinked.

"Just ask Ranma about my judgment in such things."

"She's very good at this high class stuff," Ranma agreed.

Reading the beef section, Usagi absently nodded. The steaks sounded fascinating.

Setsuna gave the redhead a coy smile and left the table.

Giving an approving nod, Haruka watched the green-haired woman slip out of the room. When the door closed she turned back to see Ranma looking at her. The redhead blushed slightly and went back to her sorbet.

The tall blonde chuckled. "She does know all the high-class tricks. I mean she can even make going to the bathroom sound dignified."

"Really, Haruka?" Michiru asked.

"Why do you think Puu's leaving the table herself?"

"Fine," Michiru sighed. "Anyway, I think I will be going for the yellowtail. Maybe grilled What about you?"

"If it's Fatty Yellowtail they've got. I...." Haruka agonized over the menu. "I might go for the miso soup with yellowtail. I'm not sure if it's the right season."

"They'll make an exception," Ranma helpfully added.

"And the Dashi soup stock? What brand?"

Ranma laughed. "They make their own. It's just dried kelp and skipjack tuna."

"They do?" Haruka had made up her mind. "What's their katsuobushi supplier? Same place they get their fresh fish?"

The redhead tilted her head. "I told you, they made their own."

"They... dry, ferment, and smoke their own fish here?" Haruka shook her head. Few made their own Dashi anymore. And hardly anyone make their own katsuobushi. The smoking process could take over a month, which required multiple sessions with rest periods in between. Then came the sun drying which was even more labor intensive and required exact humidity and climate control.

The redhead leaned over and flipped Haruka's menu a couple pages forward. "There's a whole section of smoked meats."

"What, do they have their own smokehouse?"

"There's like three, right in back up on the roof," Hotaru helpfully added.

"Wow, this is someplace," Usagi said with a nervous smile.

"Yeah, they've even got a nice garden with a good size pond." Looking over the Princess, Ranma found herself becoming less apprehensive. Seeing the blonde ill at ease did help to humanize her, make her more approachable.

"Oh? Sounds cool," Usagi glanced at the door, then looked at the menu.

Michiru and Haruka sat a bit straighter, subtly pulling back from the table.

"I can show it to you if you'd like," Ranma offered as she pushed her chair back.

"If it's no trouble."

"No, no I should," Ranma paused. "Powder my nose. Sorry, that just sounds silly." The redhead laughed.

Haruka joined in. As did Usagi, who smiled as she stood.

"And if Puu gets back before you two?" Michiru asked.

Usagi glanced at the menu she had left atop the table. "I'll have what Haruka's having. And that smoked trout appetizer."

"Good choice, trout's a delightful fish," Ranma said as she pulled the door open. She then helped Usagi put on her shoes, a pair of white pumps, and Usagi returned the favor.

The blonde and the redhead passed down the hushed corridor. It contained a handful of doors, each going to a small private room like the one Setsuna had reserved. They then went into one of the main dining rooms. Hushed and low-lit, it was easy for the pair to cross between the widely spaced tables.

The far side of the room presented a view of an interior courtyard complete with a garden containing a sprawling pond. Movable blinds and screens adjusted the light coming into the room and divided the view between painted landscapes and the garden itself.

"Oh wow," Usagi's pace quickened, her heels sounding off of the wood of the dining area.

Smiling, Ranma followed.

The sound changed and became more hollow when Usagi crossed through an open pair of doors and onto a long-porch that ran the length of the dining room. It was raised a bit above the ground and made even more of a hollow thunk.

Usagi leaned against the railing and watched fish slide past. Ranma came up alongside her.

"It's great that you've joined up!" Usagi cheered. "I can tell Hotaru really loves you, the others too." Her smile pulled back and she looked back out and looked between the rounded stones and precisely trimmed trees. "I know you'll make a great Senshi."

Taking a moment to relish the compliment, the redhead then studied the Princess... her princess. "Wait, you're still getting used to this whole royalty thing?" Ranma's eyes then widened. "You're new to this stuff too?"

Usagi nodded, then shook her head. She sighed. "It's been years since I found Luna, but I'm... I'm still getting used to it. I never..."

"Finding out there's more than you expected to your life?" Ranma leaned onto the railing, and ran a nail across the polished wood.

"I mean, I dreamed about being A princess. What girl didn't?"

Ranma chuckled.

"But the actual experience..." Usagi looked back to the slowly circling fish. "It's scary."

"I know," Ranma whispered.

"Maybe." Usagi gave a little laugh. "It doesn't normally get me down. The weight of it all, but sometimes..."

"Sometimes you realize how much responsibility is on your shoulders. And you wonder if you can handle it?"

Usagi nodded. "You wonder if you're too young."

"Or in over your head."

"Or not smart enough."

"Or not strong enough," Ranma flexed her fingers before grabbing onto the side of the railing. "I just learned that my... boss' two closest friends, people that are basically family... that they tried to kill her daughter, kill my Hotaru." The wood creaked under the pressure.

"They made a mistake. They thought they were doing the right thing..." Usagi put her hand over Ranma's and the redhead relaxed. "It's easy to get caught up when you think you're the good guy."

"You stopped them, you beat them up," Ranma pointed out. She looked around. They were alone, but still the redhead felt guilty Setsuna had a device to shield them. Then again she had taken it with her to the bathroom. Ranma smiled.

"I am on the side of Love and Justice," Usagi brightened monetarily. "But that had consequences too...." Usagi turned around and looked into the restaurant and watched the wait staff glide between the tables. "Hotaru saved them, saved everyone."

"And she gets teased at school for it."

Usagi returned her gaze to Ranma. The blonde looked sad and hurt. There was also some determination bubbling behind her eyes: a steel resolve and will.

"Things are much better though, she's been able to stand up for herself."

The blonde nodded. "I've heard you've been a wonderful teacher." She returned to the water. "One day things will be better. People won't be tormented for being different or special. One day I'll make sure of it."

Her curls flying every which way, Ranma recoiled and would have stepped back... if not for the grip her hands had on the railing. There was a force behind the blonde's words. It was not said with arrogance or pride. If anything it was said with trepidation.

The redhead swallowed. She recalled that Hotaru, an apparent doomsday device, had a fraction of the power of the Princess. She unconsciously spread her legs a bit to get a firmer stance on the ground, it felt like the whole of the decking would give way beneath her.

"But that's later, that's in the future," Usagi said as her mood tried to brighten.

"They'll still be Senshi. Even then you'll need them... need us."

Usagi's mood sunk. "Yes."

"That's why you're nervous."

Usagi nodded. "It's great that you're on the team. I can tell the Outers really like you but..."

"But I'm at as much risk of possession as they are?"

Usagi gave a sad little nod. "And worse," she admitted.

Ranma gave a bitter laugh, released her grip, and ran her hands through her crimson coils. "And I was worried that I wouldn't be up to snuff. That I wasn't a real gi- that you wouldn't see me as a real magical girl."

Usagi shook her head and took Ranma's hands. "I know what it's like to doubt who you are. I didn't know I was the Princess. I never dreamed I was the Princess. We were all looking for the Princess and even when we did find out that it... that it was me, not everyone believed me."

"Haruka and Michiru?"

"Not just them," Usagi softly said.

"The others... the Guardian Senshi?" Ranma asked as she straightened herself up. She was almost certain that the blonde had also doubted herself.

Usagi nodded.

"But you proved them wrong."

Still leaning against the railing, the Princess smiled ruefully. "Sometimes I wish I didn't. Sometimes I wish that I was just a normal girl. Or even just a normal magical girl."

"It's okay." Ranma leaned over and hugged Usagi. "Setsuna and Hotaru trust you, and I trust them."

Usagi smiled and leaned into the embrace.

The redhead cradled the blonde and patted her shoulder.

"I can see why Setsuna hired you," Usagi dreamily said.

Ranma hesitated and gave Usagi a final hug and lifting the blonde's shoulders so she stood up straight. "Oh?"

"You must be wonderful for Hotaru." Usagi idly straightened her dress. "She's had so much pain in her life. It's great that she has someone special to be there for her."

Ranma blushed and turned away.

Usagi followed the redhead's gaze out to the pond. "You've got some problems in your past too."

"My family..." Ranma blinked her eyes.

Reaching out, Usagi stepped forward. "You're not alone. Us Senshi...." Her hand froze. "There's another way I'm special. Both my parents are alive and I live with them. Minako's the only other Senshi that can claim that"

Lifting her glasses, Ranma quickly wiped her eyes. "Wait? All of the others?"

"Hotaru's situation is a bit extreme but... she's not the only orphan. My Mamoru, my fiance, and Makoto both lost their parents at a young age. And the others... Rei lives with her grandfather and can't stand the sight of her father and Ami hasn't seen her father in... well..." Usagi shook her head and this time she reached out and put her arm around Ranma's torso.

"I guess I do fit in then?" Ranma asked, retuning the gesture by putting her arm around Usagi.

"Of course. You're one of us," Usagi said, steel in her voice.

Ranma felt the Princess's grip tighten as a sense of warmth flowed to her. Her stomach lurched as her own powers began to hum. The blonde met Ranma's gaze and then looked up slightly. Ranma felt her hands tingle as her healing powers flared and both she and Usagi gasped.

The blonde released her arm and slipped out of Ranma's slack grasp with a little spin that would have been graceful... if she had not twirled into the glass wall.

Trying not to smile, Ranma helped steady Usagi as the blonde checked out her shoulder then her feet.

Looking at Ranma's forehead, Usagi giggled "I told you that you were one of us."

Ranma raised her hand but could not feel anything.

"Don't worry, it faded," Usagi said, almost disappointed to see the mark go. It had been the most complex one she had ever seen.

"What faded?" The redhead recalling the glowing symbols that had appeared on Hotaru and Setsuna when they had transformed. "My Senshi mark? You make it appear? In public?" Ranma angrily asked, lowering her voice. "What did it look like?" she added.

"Really cool! It was all in green, and had Hotaru's symbol at the center surrounded by a snake biting its tail. And then there were wings on either side of that. I wonder if your powers are related to Mercury too."

"Healing actually." Ranma smiled. "My scepter's got the same stuff on it."

"Neat. I wonder why you've got such a big one. The rest of us just have our planets."

"It's because she's not a planetary Senshi," Setsuna said, stepping onto the decking. She pulled her silver and garnet key out of her coat pocket and gave a little sigh. "And this is really not the place to play with magic."

Ranma blushed.

However, Setsuna focused her ire on the blonde. "What if she had transformed? I told you she's still adjusting and learning about her powers."

Usagi looked down and shuffled her feet. "I just... we were having a moment." The Princess looked up. "I'm sorry for putting you at risk Ranma." She gave a somewhat awkward bow.

"You didn't know what you were doing."

"But I did! I have enemies. People will want to destroy me... destroy us. I shouldn't be sloppy. Knowing me puts you at enough risk."

Blinking, Ranma turned to Setsuna. "It's not just me?"

Setsuna took Ranma's hand and led the pair back inside. "You're not the only person with secrets that'd put people at risk."

The redhead blushed and tightened her grip. "I..." She then fell silent as they crossed the hushed dining room.

Watching the pair, Usagi held a pleased and somewhat confused expression. While she was happy, it was blatantly obvious that Ranma was Outer Senshi material. She had the same awkward, nervous secrecy about her.

"What did you order for me?" Ranma asked as they crossed into the small corridor.

"Oh, it’s a surprise," Setsuna said as she opened the door to their private room. The heady smell of savory soup, grilled, smoked, and fresh fish wafted out of the room. The green-haired woman sighed. "Well, that was short-lived."

"Ranma your meal came !" Hotaru looked up from the little fillet she was nibbling.

"Oh wow," Usagi looked between her meal, a steaming bowl of soup surrounded by a selection of smoked fish and the vast combination platter that was Ranma's meal.

Gasping, the redhead let herself be led to her seat as she looked over the platter. Vaguely fish shaped, the meal was a blend of different styles of preparing fish. Towards the tail was a mix of sashimi and sushi. The head was a contoured bowl of soup and in between was a mix of grilled tuna, swordfish, and yellow tail steaks.

"Oh my," Both Usagi and Ranma echoed.

"Took you two long enough," Haruka said before sipping her soup. "Where'd you find them?"

"Just by the koi pond."

"How appropriate," Michiru remaked.

Ranma sat down and got hugged by Hotaru.

Taking her sat, Usagi gave a tiny frown. "I just ordered the smoked trout right?"

"Yes, but I embellished it a bit," Setsuna smiled as she folded her hands under her chin. "Please enjoy."


"We're home!" Ranma and Hotaru said as they entered the apartment.

Setsuna stepped in from the kitchen and nodded. "Good. We've got training."

Closing the door, Ranma put her books down. "Man..."

"You're getting better," Hotaru helpfully added.

Ranma went to the living room. "Yeah, yeah. Just get the antacids ready."

"This is working." Setsuna put her hand on Ranma's left shoulder.

The redhead smiled and leaned into woman's gentle and confident touch.

Hotaru made a thoughtful noise and for a moment looked into the distance. She then stepped over and hugged her nanny's right side.

"Yes, if it wasn't I wouldn't be doing this." The redhead adjusted her glasses. She inhaled and enjoyed the feeling of bonding and trust. Reluctantly she stepped forward and broke the hug. "Hestia Power makeup!"

A wave of energy built within Ranma and with it came a wash of nausea and fever over her body. For a split second Ranma felt herself burn and twist as the power slammed over her, through her.

Then it was gone.

Gasping, she rose to her full height. She blandly eyed the ruffled maid-like uniform. After two weeks of almost daily transformations the clothing's stigma had worn off. She could accept the heart-shaped apron, the smoke colored stockings, even the black dress and shoes were surprisingly sensible, but it was the ruffled maid's cap that really galled her. But it was not the worst part of the transformation.

"How do you feel?" Hotaru asked; having transformed herself. She held her nanny's hand with one hand. The other held her glaive.

"Here," Setsuna handed a glass of water to the redhead.

Putting down the gold scepter with its entwined snakes and spread white wings, Ranma took a sip and found her stomach quieting down... a bit. "Man... how do you guys do this?"

Hotaru looked down, but squeezed Ranma's hand.

"They were reincarnated this way." Setsuna frowned. "You seem to be more... adopted. Or more..." The Senshi of Time got her own faraway look.

"What?" Ranma asked.

"I'm recalling when I first got my powers."

"You said they reincarnated with their powers, no sickness."

"When I first got my powers." Setsuna emphasized. "I haven't reincarnated. I'm still on my original body."

Studying the green-haired woman's profile, the redhead swallowed. It was easy to forget just how... alien, she could be.

"The training and bonding..." She turned back to Ranma.

"You felt sick?"

Setsuna shook her head. "Headaches. But they passed."

"Oh... being a Senshi comes with some problems doesn't it?"

Setsuna gave a bittersweet smile. "Yes."

"You don't mind?" Hotaru softly, almost guiltily, asked her nanny.

Ranma squeezed back. "I love sharing this part of your life... I just wish it wasn't so... queasy. It still feels like I'm not quite right for it."

"We'll make sure it works for you," Hotaru promised.

Setsuna nodded. "It's like being on a boat. At first you'll get seasick but eventually you'll get your sea legs and not notice the waves."

Ranma gave a weak smile. "Don't say waves."

Setsuna snickered. "Hotaru, go get the barbell and a single forty kilogram weight from the set you got Ranma last week."

Hotaru nodded and ran off.

"Just one?" Ranma asked, adjusting the green glasses that came with her uniform.

"We're not doing lifting, but staff training."

Ranma blinked. "With a weight on one end?"

Setsuna smirked. "So, are you ready?"

Ranma looked around the apartment. "Here? What about the walls?"

Setsuna chuckled. "Don't worry, I have a place, but... are you ready?"

"Just a bit," Ranma took another sip. "Yeah..." She flexed her arm. "At least there's one upside, I feel stronger like this. We should see how much. The weights are a good idea."

The green-haired woman nodded. "Strength is only part of it. There's your other powers," Setsuna looked to the scepter Ranma had rested on the table.

Hotaru had returned with the barbell and weight. She placed them down and grabbed her glaive. Her frown returned and she looked at the weapon's blade.

Ranma picked up the gold rod and felt a slight jolt as her black glove touched the golden material. "Yeah...." she said absently.

Setsuna's smile slipped away as she looked off into the distance.

"What's wrong?" Ranma asked.

"One moment," Setsuna exhaled. "Pluto Planet Power, Make Up."

Sailor Hestia watched the transformation with a awe and a bit of jealousy. Between Setsuna's tall elegant frame, the black and dark reds of her uniform, and the raw almost sinister energy emanating from her jewel-topped staff, Sailor Pluto looked the part of a cryptic and wise knower of secrets and a fearsome and powerful leader of warriors.

Hestia bit her lip and tugged at her apron. She looked over to Hotaru, to Sailor Saturn. Her glaive resting on one shoulder, Hotaru stared off again. Then she turned to Setsuna and raised an eyebrow. There was concern on her face, and a bit of fear, but it was not overwhelming her.

Ranma gave a smile. While she only had a slight idea as to what Hotaru could do, she found the dark purples and reds to be reassuring and confidence building. She could see her lessons and Hotaru's drive and hard work paying off. She now moved with more confidence and purpose, though part of Hestia did wonder how much was her training and how much was due to Hotaru's Senshi magic.

Hestia did have to laugh as Hotaru tapped on a sparkly watch and used it as a communicator. Despite the seriousness on her ward's visage, the whole thing looked adorable, especially when relief blossomed on Saturn's face.

Despite feeling in over her head, Ranma held onto her smile. She knew that she looked more like Sailor Maid, but she trusted her team mates. At least they made their uniforms look respectable.

Setsuna peered into the Garnet Orb topping her silver key-styled staff. Her lips moved.

"Well? What's wrong?" Ranma asked.

Sailor Pluto glared at the spherical crystal for a couple seconds. "I don't know."

"Are Michiru or Haruka in trouble?" Ranma asked.

Hotaru shook her head. "Just called them."

"What about the... princess?" Ranma found her grin refusing to leave. Here they were all dolled up in ribboned and bowed uniforms, with magical artifacts and communicator watches, and she was asking about the safety of some princess.

Hotaru shook her head. "Chibi-Usa says they're out on patrol... but it's been pretty dull."

Setsuna sighed. "Tell them to be careful."

"Right, I'll pass on your cryptic and vague warning. They'll love that, Setsuna-Mama," Hotaru laughed. She then spoke into her watch, where Ranma could just hear Chibi-Usa make almost the exact same observation.

Pluto grumbled.

"Your job? It's not easy is it?" Ranma asked as she spun her scepter.

"No, it's not." Pluto exhaled.

"Are we still on for training?" Ranma asked.

"Yes. If something does come up..." Setsuna shifted and leaned on her staff. "We'll at least be ready for it."
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Re: Strained Harmony [R.5][SM] Ch3 New First Scene

Postby Moridin » Wed May 22, 2013 11:32 pm

there appears to still be some random hugs for no apparent reason in there, not that i mind always find it hard to edit my own work.
Had not read the little pre-training session before, seems alright but a reason for pluto's worry might be nice, unless it is meant to appear later.
"No one here is exactly as they appear" G'Kar, Babylon 5.
"While your out there you can memorize the Babylon 5 mantra. Ivanova is always right, I will listen to Ivonava, I will do what Ivanova says, Ivanova is god." Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5
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Re: Strained Harmony [R.5][SM] Ch3 New First Scene

Postby Sunshine Temple » Thu May 23, 2013 6:12 am

Her worry does appear later (if I'm remembering right).

Well, hugs seem to be a theme in a lot of my stories. At least I got that better done.

Thanks for commenting!

I hope to put up some more Strained Harmony shortly.
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