From A Different Viewpoint Chapter 35

All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications. Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Taeuchi.

                                       A Different Viewpoint pt 35

    A couple of blocks from the Hiakawa Shrine, Johnathon told Sasuke to stop the car.  "I'll get out here. Akane, Ranma, take everyone to the mall.  I'll meet you there when it's time."

    They nodded.  "Right John-kun."  Akane answered him as he got out of the limousine.

    It drove off and Johnathon walked the rest of the way to the shrine.  He reached the top of the steps uneventfully, and looked around.  A short girl with white hair was waiting for him.

    "Hello Artemis."  He greeted her politely,  "Where are the others?"

    Artemis stood there with only slight awkwardness, and gave a little bow.  "Hello Johnathon-san. The girls are all in Rei's room, studying and eating."  The white haired girl smirked.  "And in Usagi's case, probably goofing off."

    Johnathon chuckled.  "Alright, take me to them."  Artemis nodded and escorted Johnathon into the house.

    Rei's grandfather greeted them,  "Ah, Artemis-chan! So nice to see you again!  Who is this?"

    Artemis bowed to the old man and nodded to Johnathon.  "Hello Grandfather Hino.  This is Johnathon Dwire, a friend of mine."  The old man nodded.  "Ah, what a polite girl.  Nice to meet you Mr. Dwire, you two make a cute couple."

    Johnathon nodded.  "Um, thank you sir, it's a pleasure to meet you as well."  The two then headed for Rei's room.  Artemis blushed and Johnathon chuckled, "You've gotten very good at being a girl Artemis."

    Artemis shrugged.  "Mina's been coaching me a lot."  Artemis looked away to hide the blush as she remembered the other things Minako had been coaching her in.

    It was a bit crowded in Rei's room.  Six teenaged girls sat or lounged around.  There was a chorus of greetings and Johnathon smiled around at everyone.  "Hello girls, any changes in the plan?"

    Minako shook her head   "At 10:37 tonight we teleport through to the negaverse, find the source of the weakening of the dimensional barrier, blow it into little pieces, then get the heck back here."

    Johnathon nodded.  "And the Youma that get through the barrier when you leave, my group handles."  He nodded.  "OK, sounds like a plan. Hmm, counting myself, we have six of the best martial artists in Japan.  I figure we can handle it."  He paused.  "Make that eight actually.  Two more are supposed to meet us at the mall."  He shrugged then.  "To tell the truth, I can't see any way we'll lose.  Heck, from what I've seen of them, Ranma and Ryoga could probably handle five Youma by themselves.  " Cologne, Mousse, and Shampoo could probably handle five more at least. Akane, Kuno, Ukyo and I can handle three or four.  Tell me, what kind of opposition do you think you'll run across in the Negaverse?"

    The seven girls looked very nervous.  They glanced around at each other uncertainly, after several seconds they all looked at Usagi.   She seemed to change under their gaze, and when she looked at Johnathon, her eyes seemed very old, and there was a sort of majesty about her.  "We will be fine Johnathon-san.  We've done this before, and we'll do it again."  Something seemed to pass from her then and she shrugged, much more herself.  "It's our responsibility."  She looked away then.  The other four Senshi looked at her and nodded firmly.

    Johnathon frowned.  < Something's wrong, I can smell it, but they don't want to tell me.>  He decided to press the point.  "I know that it's your responsibility, but the group I brought is more then we need to handle five Youma.  Some of us could go with you."

    The girls failed to completely hide their nervousness at that. Makoto answered for them.  "Well, we can't really teleport other people very well."

    Johnathon blinked at that.  "Oh really? I thought you guy's suggested teleporting Happosai to the South Pole?"

    Ami broke in.  "Well we can teleport one person safely, but it's draining."

    Johnathon pressed for details.  "Oh? Is it a mass problem?"

    Ami nodded, happy to be on a solid footing in her argument for once.  "Oh, yes, a small person like Happosai wouldn't be too much, but larger masses would be difficult."

    Johnathon nodded.  "Well then, you could take a cat, a baby pig, and a duck, right?"

    Ami bit her lip in consternation.  "Um…"

    Johnathon frowned again.  "What is it?  What haven't you told me?"

    There was a long painful silence.  The girls looked at each other uncomfortably.   Johnathon could feel the tension in the room.  < It's almost like they don't expect to come back… but they've done it once already, right?>  He said nothing, but waited with increasing worry for an answer.

    Finally Makoto sighed, and looked away.  "Johnathon, the last time… the last time we went to the Negaverse, we died.  We all died."

    Johnathon opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. < Makoto wouldn't lie about that, but how…?>

    She looked at Usagi sadly.  "The silver Crystal brought us all back, resurrected us, but without any memories of what had happened."

    Johnathon looked from face to face.  They were all subdued, but Ami and Luna nodded at him, confirming Makoto's words.

    Luna sighed, then spoke,  "Artemis and I survived.  The girls were all back, and it was as if nothing had happened.  Only the two of us remembered.  We would have left things like that, but the attacks started again.  We had to awaken the Senshi once more."

    Johnathon was finding it hard to stand.  He leaned heavily against the wall.  "I don't, I… this all happened before I met you?  I never knew, I never would have believed."  His voice was quiet.  "You don't want anyone else to come, because you think you may die again, if you go."

    Rei spoke up.  "We have to go Johnathon, it's our duty, but no one else should have to…"

    Johnathon shook his head.  "No. Why is it your responsibility alone?  It's everyone's world."

    Usagi looked at him pleadingly.  "Johnathon-san, I, I couldn't take it, if anyone else had to die…"  She broke off, sobbing.

    Rei went to her side and held her.  Minako turned to Johnathon and said,  "One way or another Johnathon, we'll live.  We've seen the future, and were in it, but there's no guarantee anyone that comes with us will live."

    Johnathon was struggling to accept everything that they had said. < This is too big.  It's too much for me to handle.  I can't ask the others to go to their deaths, and, and I can't go myself, Ami wasn't lying about the problem they have with mass.>  He sighed.  "Is the future set?  Are we destined to win?  Or is that just one possibility?" He shook his head.  "How can I stand by and let you risk your lives for all of us?"

    Luna sadly sighed, as she tried to catch his eyes.  When she did, she said,  "Sometimes that's all you can do."

    Johnathon looked bleak, but nodded in understanding.  < What is there to say to that?>

    Later at the mall, Ranma and company waited for the others to arrive.  The mall was deserted, temporarily closed for renovation, as if someone had known it would be the scene of a battle.  They had left the limo a block away and snuck in, not wanting to attract attention.

    Ranma and Akane had spent some time describing the Youma they had fought earlier, and answered any questions they could without revealing the Sailor Senshi's identities.  Now they just waited.  Kuno and Sasuke sat quietly.  Ranma and Akane stood close to each other, but not too close, inhibited by the presence of the others.  Ryoga and Ukyo talked quietly.  Ukyo was slowly going over dates from their history class with Ryoga, though she needed it more than he did.

    From just out of sight around the corner was the sound of voices approaching.  There was a sudden flash of light.  Everyone turned to look, and saw the Sailor Senshi coming around the corner with Johnathon, Artemis and Luna, who were in their human forms.

    Ukyo whistled appreciatively.  "Wow, it really is them."  She looked curiously at the two girls in normal clothing, one with striking white hair.  "Who are you two?  Are you Senshi too?"

    Luna and Artemis paused before answering.  Artemis glanced nervously at Shampoo and Luna shook her head.  "We are not Senshi."

    Ukyo blinked at the brief answer and was about to press for more Johnathon stepped in.  "We're all friends here, the rest doesn't matter."

    An old voice cackled.  "Does that include me?"  Cologne and Mousse jumped down from their hiding places on the roof top to land amidst the group.  They received glares from all around, mostly directed at Cologne.

    Johnathon frowned as well, but moved to prevent trouble starting. "We're all here for the same reason Cologne.  Right now, that's all that matters."  He checked his watch.  "Ten minutes to show time."  He looked around.  "Does anyone have any questions?"

    Kuno stepped forward.  "As I understand it, we are to guard the gate, while the Sailor Senshi are to be the sally force?"

    Johnathon blinked.  < Kuno just made sense?>  "That's correct Kuno."

    Cologne looked at Johnathon, then at the five Sailors.  "So these five are to go to the other dimension while the rest of us stay here?" She frowned.  "I see."

    "As do I", came a strong female voice.  Everyone looked up to see four more girls in Sailor fukus standing of the roof of the mall.  They leaped down as one.  A tall bishonen blond with short hair, and a leggy girl with long green hair, appearing to be around Kuno's age, standing on either side of a girl who looked like she was about twelve or so. She was carrying a huge vicious looking glaive.  The woman who had spoken looked outwardly to be around Johnathon's age, but somehow seemed much older than that.

    She carried a long ornate staff and stepped forward to speak. "Sailor Moon, the course you follow leads to the destruction of the world.  You cannot succeed alone."

    Upon seeing her, Cologne had turned white.  "You."  The old woman gripped her staff tightly.  "So it is time."

    Sailor Pluto turned to the Amazon elder.  "Ah, Cologne-chan, it has been a long time."

    Cologne cackled.  "A hundred and fifty years!  You age well, Pluto."

    Pluto nodded.  "Thank you. You are, of course, correct.  It is the time for you to pay me back, as you promised."

    Cologne nodded.  "Of course, I will honor my debt to you, gladly."

    Sailor Pluto nodded again and turned back to the rest of the group. They were all in various states of disbelief and indignation.

    "What do you mean by  'The destruction of the world?'"  Ranma angrily demanded.  "How do you know?"

    Pluto looked dispassionately at him.  "I know."

    Sailor Moon stepped forward.  "What, what must we do?"

    Pluto shook her head.  "You already know."  She glanced at Johnathon, then back at Sailor Moon. "Do what must be done." Pluto blinked, then looked back in Johnathon's direction at Luna and Artemis.  "Wha...?" She stared at the two transformed cats for several seconds. "Hmmm, now that I didn't see coming...."  She shrugged, then looked at Sailor Moon again.

    Sailor Moon looked away.  "I... I can't."

    Johnathon had been staring at Pluto.  He turned to Mercury. "Mercury, is she telling the truth?"

    Slowly, Mercury nodded.  "I'm afraid so.  Pluto does know... what may happen."

    Johnathon sighed.  "I see."  He closed his eyes.  < Give me the strength to do what must be done.>  When he opened his eyes, they were cold and emotionless.  < Ranma and the others don't know the truth of the situation, but they trust me to tell them.  So I must do so.>  "The Senshi can't save the world alone.  Some of us have to go with them to the Negaverse."  He paused.  "It's likely to be a suicide mission. Anyone who goes is risking death."  Johnathon paused again.  Everyone was looking at him with various expressions ranging from fearful to expectant.

    Ranma shrugged.  "I'm going.  If we lose, the demons will just keep coming till the world is overrun.  So we just have to win."

    Akane, Ryoga and Kuno stepped forward in an instant.  "I'm in." "Right."   "It is my duty as a Kuno to protect the weak, of course I will go."

    Ukyo, Mousse and Shampoo stepped up an instant later.  "We're in." Ukyo said for them all.

    Cologne stepped forward as well.  "Someone will have to stay behind to protect this side of the gate, but it won't be me.  I must go."

    Johnathon looked around at his friends, all of them ready to risk their lives.  Ranma was looking anxiously at Akane.  Johnathon knew exactly what he was thinking.

    The tall English teacher cleared his throat.  "The Senshi can only take a few."  He glanced at Mercury for confirmation.

    Mercury nodded.  "We can only handle one person at a time.  Two if they're small."  She hesitated.  "We could bring several there, as the barrier will be weak.  Coming back, however, one or two maximum."

    Sailor Neptune spoke up.  "We can handle one or two ourselves."

    Ranma nodded.  "Then you can take me and Cologne.  We're the strongest."

    Johnathon looked at Ranma.  "I believe I have a better idea...."  He glanced around.  "The problem with the teleport is mass.  Some of you don't weigh much, with a little cold water."  He closed his eyes.  "The Senshi could carry Ryoga, Mousse and Shampoo easily, in their cursed forms.  They can change any of you instantly with their powers." Johnathon opened his eyes and looked toward the three he had named. They all nodded in confirmation.  "Ranma, you're lighter than the rest of us except Cologne when you're in your girl form.  Cologne certainly doesn't weigh much."  He glance around once again.  "That leaves me, Akane, Ukyo, Kuno and Sasuke to hold this end.  That's five of us and probably five Youma coming.  We can handle that many, I think."

    Everyone was quiet, slowly they all looked around at each other. Nothing was said as the group slowly absorbed the reality of what Johnathon had suggested.  A tall form jumped down abruptly from the rooftops.  Everyone turned to see Tuxedo Kamen.

    The masked man nodded to Johnathon.  "I heard."  He looked at Sailor Moon.  "If everyone's agreed, Sailor Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and I will take Ryoga, Shampoo and Mousse.  I believe the outward trip will be easy enough.  It will be best to be prepared for a fight when we arrive so they should remain human till we're ready to go back."  Tuxedo Kamen glanced over at Sailor Pluto.  "The outer Senshi can bring Ranma and Cologne."

    Pluto nodded.  "A good plan."  She looked around for disagreement and found none.  "Then that is how it shall be."

    Johnathon checked his watch.  "Five minutes.  We had better get ready."

    Akane went to Ranma's side.  "Ranma, you had better come back to me."

    Ranma grinned.  "I will, I promise.  Hey, it's me, Ranma, remember?"  He looked at Akane seriously.  "You be careful.  You'll be facing those Youma one on one.  Don't get killed."

    Akane nodded.  "I promise, Ranma.  I'll be waiting for you when you get back."

    Ranma smiled.  "I'll count on it."

    Akane looked up at him.  She wanted to say something that would convey how she felt at that moment, but she couldn't think of the words.

    Ranma gazed back at her, many different emotions mixed on his face. "Akane, I..."

    Akane shook her head.  "There's nothing more to say, is there?"

    Ranma shook his head in response.  "Just one thing."  He smiled. < Just weeks ago, this would be nearly impossible, but now, it's like breathing.>  "Akane, I love you... mmph!"  Akane had interrupted by kissing him passionately.  She grabbed on to his head and tried to show Ranma exactly what she was feeling.  After a second, Ranma returned the kiss.  The two of them tuned out the rest of the world intent only on that one kiss.

    To one side Luna stood in front of Sailor Moon.  "Be careful.  Come back in one piece, OK?"  Sailor Moon nodded and impulsively hugged her tightly.

    Sailor Venus looked at Artemis fondly.  "Don't say it Artemis.  I'll be fine.  I'll bring everyone back, OK?"

    The white haired girl nodded.  "I know you will."  Venus smiled and grabbed her for a hug.

    Artemis held tight to her, and Venus looked her transformed cat in the eyes.  "Oh what the heck."  She grabbed the back of Artemis's head and kissed her on the lips passionately.  Jupiter and Mars noticed this and looked on with a mixture of surprise and embarrassment.  Mercury had flipped down her visor to keep track of the dimension barrier's energy level and missed it.

    Ukyo was looking at Ryoga.  "Don't get killed, sugar.  I've put too much work into tutoring you.  It would be a waste if you didn't pass your classes after all this."

    Ryoga nodded.  "Sure, I'll come back.  You... you be careful too."

    Johnathon walked over to the Amazon trio.  "Shampoo, Cologne.  You both have to get back safe, or I'll never get Kasumi cured."  He glanced at Shampoo.  "Debt of honor, right?"

    Shampoo nodded.  "For Kasumi, I come back."

    Cologne gazed at Johnathon calmly.  "I haven't lived for as long as I have to die today.  You'll be seeing me again."

    Johnathon nodded.  "We'll talk when you get back."  He looked over at Mousse.  "Take care of them, eh Mousse?"

    The Chinese bow nodded calmly.  "Shampoo will live, or I will not."

    Johnathon grinned.  "You live too, alright?"

    Mousse smiled back.  "I'll at least outlive the old ghoul."  Cologne just snorted.  Johnathon smiled before walking off toward Mercury.

    Johnathon blinked upon seeing Venus and Artemis, then shrugged. "Mercury."  He spoke quietly.  "Take care of yourself.  Ranma and the others will need you around if they're going to get back."

    Mercury nodded.  "Take care of yourself, Whisper."  They both smiled at the pleasant memories brought back by that name.

    "I will."  Johnathon said confidently.  He turned to Sailor Jupiter.  "Remember to aim for the weak spots."

    Jupiter grinned.  "I won't forget.  Don't forget to dodge this time."  Johnathon laughed, and she giggled, remembering how they had first met.

    Johnathon looked at Sailor Mars.  "Good luck."  He said simply.

    She smiled.  "You too."

    Johnathon nodded firmly to them and turned to go to Kuno.  He walked up to the Kendoist, who was standing calmly with his ninja, Sasuke. "Kuno, what do you know about the curses of Jusenkyo, really?"

    Kuno blinked.  "As you know, recently, I have learned much of the cursed springs.  Many of our companions in this venture have been affected by their horrors."

    Johnathon nodded.  "Yes, perhaps more than you know.  Kuno, were you aware that the curses from the springs of Jusenkyo mix?  That one spring does not eliminate the effects of the first, but adds to it?"

    Kuno blinked.  "Oh?  That would explain the creature Pantyhose Tarou."

    Johnathon nodded.  "He's a good example.  I'm surprised you figured that out so quickly.  It also would explain something else.  Say, if someone was cursed by, say, the spring of drowned cat, then they jumped into the spring ot drowned man in an attempt at a cure."

    Kuno blinked again.  "If your theory is correct, that individual would become half cat, half man, when splashed with cold water."

    Johnathon nodded again.  "Do you remember any such creatures?"

    Kuno nodded, then blinked.  "That was you?"  He drew his sword. "You have much to answer for sir."

    Johnathon took a step back.  "That night, in the alley.  The old letch, Happosai, attacked us.  He splashed Ranma and I with cold water and tore the girls dresses.  Akane ended up booting him away, then you showed up.  Your assumptions were logical, if incorrect."  Johnathon nodded in Akane's direction.  "You may ask Akane if I speak the truth. As for Kasumi, you should know that I recently married her.  Would that happen if I had acted less than honorably?"

    Kuno seemed to consider Johnathon's words.  Slowly he sheathed his sword.  "I will inquire, of course... but I think I will believe you... for now."

    Johnathon nodded.  "I'm glad to hear that.  You've become quite a discerning individual recently, Kuno, in a short time."

    Kuno nodded back.  "I have seen the folly of jumping recklessly to conclusions."  He pulled his kantana again and pointed it Johnathon.

    Johnathon's eyes went wide.  "Whoa, wait a sec..."

    Kuno pointed the blade just slightly to Johnathon's left.  "As I have said, I have seen the folly of jumping to conclusions.  Of any kind."  He nodded at the blade.  "The Kuno honor blade is rumored to have the ability to identify demons.  If you can touch it and remain unharmed, I will find it much easier to believe your story."

    Johnathon blinked.  "Interesting..  Very well, I accept."  He reached out and put his hand on the blade.  Johnathon paused.  "Hmmm, let's test it fully."  He pulled off his backpack and pulled out a thermos.  "Cold water."  He explained, opening the top.  Kuno nodded. Johnathon closed his eyes and poured a good amount over his head.  He heard Kuno grunt in reaction and opened his eyes.  Kuno held the blade in the same position.  Slowly, Johnathon raised his palm and put it against the point.  With a tiny push he punctured his palm on the tip, then slowly pulled his hand away.  "Ouch."  He said quietly.

    Kuno raised an eyebrow at the alteration in Johnathon's voice.  "I see."  He sheathed his blade after wiping the small drop of blood from the tip.  "The powers of the Kuno family blade are only legend, of course.  But your willingness to touch it is telling."

    Johnathon raised his own eyebrow in response.  "Well, the final test is coming.  You'll get a chance to try your blade on real demons."

    Kuno nodded.  "I'll reserve judgment until then."

    Johnathon licked the small wound at the center of his palm.  "Wise."

    Sailor Mercury called out.  "Thirty seconds left!"

    Sailor Moon nodded.  "OK, everyone circle up!"  She turned to Tuxedo Kamen.  "A kiss for luck?"

    He nodded back, smiling.  "Gladly."  He bent over to her and they exchanged a tender kiss.

    Ranma and Akane finally broke apart.  The pig tailed martial artist and Cologne walked over to the outer Senshi, who circled around them, joining hands.

    Ranma glanced at Sailor Saturn.  "Hey, aren't you a little young to be a super hero?"

    Saturn shrugged slightly.  "Not everything is like it seems."

    Ranma laughed.  "Ain't that the truth!"

    Cologne smiled at her.  "Nice glaive."

    Ryoga, Mousse and Shampoo got in a small circle and the inner Senshi circled around them.  Tuxedo Kamen took his place between Sailors Moon and Mars, and they all joined hands.

    "Ten seconds."  Mercury said with authority.  "Nine, eight, seven..."

    A she counted down, Johnathon waved Akane, Ukyo, Kuno and Sasuke over.  "Circle up.  Back to back until the Youma come.  Then we separate.  Help each other and watch your backs."

    Mercury's voice was quiet, but everyone heard her.  "Two, one..."

    The Senshi all spoke as one.  "Sailor Teleport!"  There were a pair of bright flashes.  When the light faded, four dark shapes replaced those of the Senshi and company.

    "Four."  Johnathon frowned.  "Where's the fifth?"  Johnathon's cat eyes were the first to adjust to the renewed darkness.  He got a good look at their opponents.  Johnathon blinked, then started to quietly swear in English.

    The four demonic entities sat on black demonic steeds, their hooves aflame.  The first rider was covered in heavy plate armor, and was carrying numerous evil looking weapons.  The second was concealed by a heavy black robe, its face hidden except for its glowing red eyes.  Its hands were skeletal and it held a vicious scythe.  The third was cadaverous.  Tall and thin to an inhuman state, its eyes and stomach bulged unnaturally.  The fourth was a sickly green, scabby and hideous. It was surrounded by a smelly green cloud that reeked of evil.

    Johnathon cursed in his native language for a little longer, (Akane and Ukyo were trying to remember a few choice phrases to use later in class.)  Then he switched back to Japanese.  "I really hate to say it, but those are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse."  He pointed at each creature in turn.  They were just starting to move toward the five martial artists menacingly.  "Ukyo, you've got Pestilence.  Kuno, Sasuke, take Famine.  Don't touch either one of them!"  Johnathon glanced at Akane.  "I don't think my claws will do much good against War's armor, so... I've got Death."

    Akane looked incredulous.  "You want me to take on that?!?" Johnathon started to circle to the right as the horsemen approached. Kuno, Sasuke and Ukyo went right.

    Johnathon shot Akane a glance.  "I told you how I helped beat the black knight, right?"

    Akane was backing away from the approaching horsemen.  "Oh yeah. Use his weapons against him."  She cracked her knuckles in anticipation.  "I can do this."


    Far away, in another place, a beautiful, although evil, demoness sat in the branches of a tall, black tree, watching the unfolding battle through a hole in space.  "Oh no, my dear.  You won't find it quite so easy.  War is stronger that any mortal can be.  You won't wrest his weapons from his hands."  The demoness Mara laughed.  "That cat creature is interesting, and amusing.  I'm so glad he recognized my creations.  I hate it when my work is unappreciated."  She laughed again, long and hard.


    Somewhere else, three sisters winced at the sound.  In a room in a temple, somewhere in Tokyo, the three sisters sat before their various scrying devices and concentrated on the demoness.

    The youngest sister, sitting before a still pool of water, grimaced.  "I hate that laugh."  She said crossly.

    The middle sister peered into a large mirror.  Outwardly serene, she worried about the fate of the city, if Mara had her way.  "Mara still has all access to the Negaverse cut off.  At least for us, I'm afraid."

    The oldest sister scowled.  "It's just like her, too.  Not that I'd want to go there anyway, but it's just like her."  Urd continued to rant loudly.  "Why that Mara!  I oughta...!"

    A familiar voice cried out from behind the sisters.  "Mara!?  What is she up to now?"

    Urd gulped and guiltily shut off the television she had been using. All three sisters turned to face the source of the voice.

    "Keiichi."  Belldandy said softly.  "Please don't worry yourself. Everything is under control."

    Keiichi Morisato looked around the bathroom questioningly. "Really?"

    Skuld stood next to the tub, which was full.  Urd had smuggled in the good TV set.  It was behind her, next to the sink.  Belldandy stood in the middle, her back to the bathroom mirror.

    Keiichi scratched the back of his head.  "Well, if you say so, Belldandy, but is Mara causing trouble again?"

    Belldandy couldn't lie to her beloved.  "Yes, Keiichi, I'm afraid so. Mara has gone into a neighboring dimension and sealed it to keep us from interfering with her."

    Keiichi looked worried.  "What is she up to?  Not summoning up the Lord of Terror again?"  Urd winced at the memory of that near disaster.

    Belldandy shook her head.  "No, Keiichi, not that."

    Skuld piped in helpfully.  "She's just opening a gateway to earth for a hoard of demons!"

    Keiichi started to sigh in relief at the news that the Lord of Terror wasn't involved, then Skuld's words hit him.  "She's what?!?"

    Belldandy sighed.  "I'm afraid so.  Although the creatures of that dimension are not technically demons, it doesn't make much difference in the long run.  We hoped to be able to stop her directly, but she has made herself inaccessible to us.  Others are trying to stop her, but do not know what they face."

    Keiichi looked horrified.  "What... what can we do?"

    Belldandy lowered her head.  "We must wait, and trust in fate to provide us with an opportunity to act."

    Keiichi looked dubious, but nodded.  < If Belldandy says it, it must be so.>  "Is there... anything I can do?"  He asked quietly.

    Belldandy smiled at him sweetly, warming his heart with her gaze. "That is very kind, Keiichi.  Yes, could you please bring the tanuka statue in from outside?  I believe we might find a use for it."

    Keiichi blinked.  "Um, OK!"  He hurried out to the front of the house.

    Urd looked over at Belldandy, slightly puzzled.  "What good is that supposed to do?  We can't get it to Mara anyway!"

    Belldandy smiled sweetly.  "Trust in fate.  Things are not as dark as they appear."

    Urd snapped the television back on and focused on Mara.  The demoness was not amused any longer.


    "What?!"  Mara screamed at a black, mostly humanoid creature. "Intruders?  Where?"  The Youma said something Urd couldn't quite make out, but Mara responded quickly.  "Heading here, eh?  I don't think so!"  Mara waved the creature away.  "Call out the army, stop them, I don't care how."


    Ranma jogged along behind Sailor Moon, keeping an eye out for trouble.  < I can't believe I was worried.>  He thought to himself cheerfully.  < A dozen of those Youma things at the entrance, no sweat. This is gonna be easy.>  Ranma looked again at their destination, a lone black tree in the distance.  < Mercury said that tree is the problem.  It's pretty big, but me and Ryoga should be able to knock it down in a minute or two.  What did Pluto call it?  A perverted seedling of Ygg-what-do-you-call-it, some sort of mythical tree.  I think I heard about it in school.>  Ranma shrugged.  < Still, there are probably more of those Youma things there, but there is no way they can stop us.  We took out that first bunch in what, three, four seconds? This will be easy....>

    Ranma braked his train of thought.  He noticed movement up ahead, lots of movement.  Youma, hundreds of them, were gathering between them and the tree.

    Ranma swallowed.  < Oh second thought, this might be tougher than I thought.>  Ranma prepared himself for the fight ahead.  < I hope Akane's OK.>

                                                End pt 35

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