From A Different Viewpoint Chapter 36

Ranma is a creation of Rumiko Takahashi, Sailor Moon is by Naoko Takuchi. Please don't sue me, I'm poor.

    Akane was worrying about Ranma. < If we're having this much trouble with four, how is Ranma faring?>  The blood from the shallow cuts on her palms had stopped, although she could still feel a slight trickle from the cut near her throat.  Akane hefted her captured mace and waited for War to reach her, recalling what had occurred before.

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    Akane waited for War to approach. Johnathon had run forward, speeding past Death, striking at its steed as he went by, causing Death to wheel about to chase him.  Sasuke's shuriken and Ukyo's mini spatulas had drawn Famine and Pestilence away, leaving War heading for Akane alone.

    Akane clenched her fists. < One on one against a demon called War, wonderful.>  War rode up almost casually and brought his sword down at Akane in a great arc.  Akane waited until the last moment and stopped the blade by catching it between her open palms. < It's holding the sword one-handed, I should be able to tear it loose.>  She grunted with the effort of stopping the blade, but had to put every bit of strength into keeping it from plunging into her chest.  < Uh oh, it's stronger than I thought.>

    War stared down at Akane and began exerting greater pressure. Akane strained with every ounce of her strength to hold back the sword. It wasn't quite enough. The sword came down inexorably. Akane's effort to keep it away was causing the sword to cut slightly into her palms, and blood was starting to drip from the tip as it touched her throat. With a cry, Akane threw herself backwards, letting go of the sword. The weapon flashed down with incredible speed cutting her throat, slicing open the front of her gi top and just catching the knot of her belt as she felt back. Akane rolled completely over and threw herself to her side as War struck again, barely missing her.

    Akane started running and War turned its steed to follow. Akane could hear War gaining but she couldn't stop running in fear. Just before War caught up and cut her down, Johnathon attacked War's mount from the rear, hamstringing it and leaping away. Akane spun around at the tremendous clatter of War hitting the ground as his steed fell out from under him. Akane steeled herself against the unnatural fear she had been feeling and her battle aura flared in anger.

    Akane grimaced at the failure of her previous tactic. < He's too strong to beat that way. I'll have to use speed.>  War rose from his stricken steed and decapitated it with his sword in anger.  The demonic horse disintegrated and War's eyes began to glow bright red. < Death feeds it.>  Akane realized, then prepared herself for a second attack. There was a flashing blue light from her right, but Akane ignored it.

    War headed for her quickly, pulling a large shield off its back. The shield's edge was serrated and looked sharp. Akane let War come to her then, dodging its first swing and moving inside its guard, quickly attacking.

    "Chestnut Fist!" Akane shouted as she struck multiple times, going for one of the weapons on its belt. Before she could free anything, War brought its shield into play, blocking her. Akane was forced to leap back as it swung at her, again and again, faster, and faster. < It's copying the Chestnut Fist? Oh &%$!> Backpedaling, Akane thought rapidly. < I need a distraction, just for a second. Her gi top flapping open in front of her caught her eye. < OK.> Akane pulled her gi top off.  Her tee shirt underneath was intact, except for a cut in the neck and the slowly spreading bloodstain.

    Akane leaped over War, dropping the gi top on his head. War's sword cut her top to ribbons but Akane was able to use the moment to grab a large mace off of War's belt and jump away, just as War swung at her again. Akane backed off, taking the time to wonder about Ranma and the fate of her other friends. She glanced around to see how everyone else fared as War approached.

    Akane spotted Johnathon going toe to toe with Death. The skeletal scythe carrier seemed to be losing. Its robes were tattered and Johnathon looked unhurt. Johnathon dodged a scythe swing, and darted in again. Johnathon tore more strips out of Death as he passed it, before getting out of range again.

   Akane focused back on her own fight, as War was about to reach her. < But where are Kuno, Sasuke and Ukyo?>

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    At the beginning of the fight, Kuno had been confident of success. As the demons appeared, the Kuno honor blade had glowed a faint blue. Sasuke's stars had attracted Famine's attention nicely.  Kuno had stood patiently waiting for the demon to come to its death.  Famine charged and Kuno slashed its mount, stepping to the side in a flawless evasion. The Kuno honor blade flared a brilliant blue as it bit into Famine's demonic steed. There was a crash behind him as Kuno held his pose for the necessary second to achieve true elegance of style, then turned to face his foe.

    Famine had already risen to its feet, its mount having disintegrated messily even as it had hit the ground. Kuno began his classic multistrike, his sword flashing brightly as he attacked. Famine faded backwards with alacrity, avoiding his blade much as Saotome had in their first duel. Kuno wasn't about to begin worrying, but the possibility that this foe might prove a true threat after all did occur to him.

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    Ukyo's attack against Pestilence had started out well. Her mini spatulas had gotten its attention and Pestilence had charged at her. Ukyo moved backwards, deciding to take out its steed first so Pestilence wouldn't have the speed to close with her. A volley of mini spatulas wounded the nightmarish horse. Ukyo charged in as it faltered, throwing a flour bomb then jumping high. The flour bomb providing a handy smoke screen, Ukyo came down with her giant spatula on the head of Pestilence's mount. The steed fell with a crash and Ukyo leapt away to survey the situation.

    The flour cleared and Pestilence stood over its fallen mount. Ukyo grinned in triumph, until Pestilence put its hand upon its steed. The demon horse started to fester and turn green.

    Ukyo frowned. < What's it doing?>  Seconds later she found out as the stricken horse turned entirely green and exploded.  Ukyo flinched back as gore splattered the landscape for a dozen feet on all sides. < That's disgusting!>  Ukyo shuddered in revulsion.  < There is no way I'm going to let that thing touch me.>  Ukyo began readying a brace of mini spatulas while studying the Youma. < Why did it kill its own steed?  Why show off its ability unless...> Ukyo's eyes narrowed. Pestilence's grotesque form seemed larger.  As it approached she was sure. < It's eight feet tall now! On the back of its horse it was smaller. Killing makes it grow.>

    Ukyo threw five mini spatulas in quick succession.  < And its touch kills.>  Pestilence was struck by three of the five projectiles as it quickly came for Ukyo.  The mini spatulas bit into the monster, momentarily slowing it and ripping small holes in three places. Ukyo nodded grimly. < It's vulnerable to my weapons. I can beat this monster for sure.>  Pestilence started coming at Ukyo once more, bleeding thick black blood from three wounds. Ukyo prepared more spatulas to throw, then noticed something off about the creature.  < Its blood... moves... that's not blood, it's bleeding... insects, it's BLEEDING INSECTS!> Horrified, Ukyo stared and confirmed it.  Venomous insects crawled from Pestilence's wounds, some crawled, and some flew, adding to the noxious green cloud around the monster.

    Ukyo fought back her bile. < Those bugs can't be good. Time to bring out the big guns.>  Ukyo reached into her shirt and brought out what looked like another flour bomb.  She threw it and it burst over Pestilence and the bugs in a cloud. Ukyo followed the bomb with a single spatula, angled at the pavement to throw a spark into the cloud. An instant later Ukyo's gunpowder bomb ignited in a series of tiny explosions. Pestilence was blackened, it's wounds cauterized, but it was still moving. < Damn. If I cut it, it bleeds insects, and I only have one more gunpowder bomb. How can I stop that thing?>

    Ukyo backed away from Pestilence. The creature was gaining speed as it came for her. Ukyo backpedaled faster, trying to think of a way to win.

    As Johnathon continued fighting with Death he became more and more convinced his present tactics weren't sufficient to defeat his opponent. He was faster than the skeletal monster, but his claws did little to its bony form other than tearing its robe and scratching its bones.

    Johnathon backed off momentarily, breathing hard.  < I'm getting tired too, and it's not slowing at all.  I need to hurt it decisively.>

    Johnathon changed his martial arts form to compensate. He had been using his speed and claws to rake the creature in a very cat-like style. Johnathon had developed it as a variation of several different cat based kung fu styles he had picked up in China, as well as with some inspiration from Ranma's Cat-fist.  It was fast and effective, but lacked the strength necessary to damage Death's bones. Johnathon went to a kickboxing style, drawing energy from the earth to power his kicks. Death came in swinging its scythe, but Johnathon didn't dodge as he had before. He stepped into the swing, blocking the shaft with both forearms, then grabbing hold of the weapon as he began to lash out with a series of kicks.

    Johnathon kicked through Death's rib cage and slammed his foot into the skeletal monster's chin with great force. Death tried to pull its scythe free but Johnathon held on grimly with both hands. Using Death's strength against it, Johnathon timed a drop kick when Death was pulling back. Smashing both feet into the unearthly skull and knocking Death off its feet.  Johnathon followed Death down, crushing Death's skull into the pavement with both feet as it hit. The skeleton crumbled as its skull shattered, and the scythe came free in Johnathon's hands. He stepped back, Death's scythe in his hands, triumphant.

    Johnathon blinked. "Well, that was easier than I thought..."

    As he did so, an evil voice filled his head. < One who destroys death, becomes death.>  Johnathon's eyes started to glow red as his consciousness faded.

    Off in the distance, Akane raised her captured mace and charged her opponent with a yell of rage. Her aura burning bright red, Akane leapt into the air and came down swinging upon the armored monster. War blocked her strike with its shield, only to have its protection knocked away with incredible force. Akane hammered into the monster with inhuman strength, crashing through its defenses and smashing into its head and body again and again. The Youma feebly tried to parry with its sword and Akane's mace, glowing with the red of her battle aura, shattered its weapon, smashing into War's helmet.  With a final blow, Akane blew the demonic warrior clean off its feet, sending it sailing into the air.

    Akane collapsed to one knee, her aura faded, her strength spent in her assault. Wearily, Akane propped herself up with her now dented and dinged weapon. War hit the ground seconds later in a tremendous crash, then disintegrated. Akane noted her victory, then fell onto her side, too tired to move.

    Tatiwaki Kuno slumped to one knee as Famine grabbed him by the throat. It had finally slipped past his defenses and gotten hold of him. Kuno could feel his strength draining from him in waves and knew he had only seconds to act. With sheer strength of will he plunged the Kuno honor blade into the belly of his foe and began drawing it upward. The blade flared a brilliant blue and flame crackled along its length.  Even as consciousness faded Kuno forced the blade up to Famine's neck. Kuno lost consciousness, his flaming sword still stuck into his foe. Famine screamed in rage and disintegrated moments later. The Kuno honor blade clattered to the ground, even as Kuno himself collapsed backwards.

    Sasuke caught his master before Kuno hit the ground. He had been unable to assist at the incredible speeds his master and the creature had been fighting.  All he could do was carry his Master Kuno to safety.

    Ukyo was rapidly running out of room to run. Pestilence had chased her into a dead end and she still couldn't think of how to attack it without things just getting worse. Then, behind the monster came two girls, one with long white hair, one with black. They each carried a couple of large bottles, which they started throwing at the monster from behind. The first two bottles hit Pestilence in the back and broke, soaking the monster. It turned and the second two bottles hit it, soaking its front as they broke upon it. Ukyo recognized the two girls from before. They had come with the Senshi, although they didn't seem to have any powers.

    The white haired girl yelled to Ukyo as Pestilence approached her. "It's soaked with sake! All you have to do is light it!"

    Ukyo blinked, then pulled out her giant battle spatula. < Sake, four bottles, eh? OK, I know what I have to do.>  Ukyo leapt at the creature coming down on its head with a downward cut. It started to turn back toward her too late and she struck it with every ounce of her strength. The battle spatula practically bisected the monster and Ukyo leapt away as insects began pouring out. Ukyo tossed her last gunpowder bomb and every last mini spatula she had left as she landed and started backing away. The bomb exploded from a spark struck off one mini spatula and the monster and its bugs began burning brightly as the sake all caught fire at once.

    Ukyo kept throwing mini spats at Pestilence, aiming for its arms and legs. She managed to cut off both arms and one leg at the knee before running out of spatulas.

    < Not enough.>  Ukyo thought grimly as she looked at the burning monster.  Ukyo hefted her battle spatula and ran in, then began chopping at the flaming Youma. She could barely stand the heat, but persisted until she had reduced it into small chunks, then leapt away once more. Ukyo dropped her battle spatula and blew on her hands. "Ow, ow ow, that smarts!" The two girls that had helped her walked up cautiously.

    The white haired girl spoke up. "Why did you attack it while it was burning? It was already beaten, right?"

    Ukyo shook her head. "Nope. Four bottles of sake weren't enough to cook that whole thing. I know, I'm a chef. It had to be reduced to smaller pieces for the whole thing to burn up." She waved at the burning mass.  As they watched, the flames began to die. "You see?  The sake's already burned up. If I hadn't cut it up it would have only burnt on the outside. Since it was filled with... bugs, I figured that wouldn't have been enough."

    The black haired girl nodded. "Very nicely done, Ms..."

    Ukyo held out her hand. "Ukyo. Thanks for the assist...."

    "You can call me Diana." The girl said with a smile. "We should see if the others need help."

    Ukyo nodded. "Right." She picked up her battle spatula and headed for the sounds of fighting. Ukyo was in time to see War collapse and disintegrate. "Alright! Looks like we won!" Sasuke was dragging Kuno toward the limo. Akane was kneeling over by War. Ukyo headed for Akane as she collapsed. She waved at Johnathon, who was standing quietly holding Death's scythe. "Hey Johnathon! Come help me with Akane!" The tall, black furred, half-cat turned toward her, his eyes glowing red. He raised the scythe and charged.  "Oh @#$%!" Ukyo swore, then brought her battle spatula to the ready. "This is not good."

    Ukyo parried Johnathon's downward swipe with her giant spatula. "Johnathon! Snap out of it! What's wrong with you?" She parried frantically, dodging backwards as she did so. The half-cat was fast, faster than she was, and it was only her greater skill with her weapon that kept her alive. Johnathon wasn't responding at all to her cries. His glowing red eyes and reliance on using the scythe told her why, even as 'Diana' shouted.

    "He's been possessed by a Youma!" Diana informed her anxiously.

    Ukyo kept her defenses. "I can tell! But how do we unpossess him?"

    "It must be the scythe!" Diana shouted again.  "Disarm him!"

    Ukyo nodded grimly and started attempting to do so.  Johnathon held the weapon with both hands and Ukyo wasn't able to knock it free using conventional tactics. Ukyo threw tactics out the window, and threw her spatula at Johnathon. As the cat creature parried it she stepped in and grabbed his wrists. There was an intense struggle, then Ukyo managed to rip Johnathon's hands apart and off the scythe. The scythe dropped to the ground and Ukyo kicked it away. Johnathon continued to struggle to get loose, the red glow in his eyes not diminishing.

    Ukyo held him off with her slightly greater strength and yelled. "It didn't work! Now what?"

    Diana yelled back. "Knock him out!"

    Before Ukyo could attempt to do so the black furred half-cat kicked her in the chest, tearing his arms free and knocking Ukyo to the ground. Ukyo started to roll to her feet but was knocked back to the ground as Johnathon pounced on her. His claws raked down her chest and only the extra padding of her breast binding kept her from being seriously cut. Ukyo re-established her hold on Johnathon's wrists and gathered her legs under him. She kicked him away before he could rake her again and swiftly rolled to her feet. The half cat landed on all fours and quickly pounced back at her even as Ukyo stood. Ukyo jumped to the side, barely dodging his attack, and dived for her battle spatula.

    Johnathon came for her again and Ukyo turned to defend herself, this time with her spatula in hand.  Ukyo parried his claws away and brought her spatula down towards Johnathon's head. He dodged away and Ukyo gripped her weapon tightly, preparing for his next attack He charged in with great speed. Ukyo brought her spatula across in a counter attack and knocked him sprawling. Before he could get to his feet Ukyo jumped in and smashed his head into the ground with her spatula.

    Ukyo stepped back, surveying her opponent. He seemed quite unconscious, and she breathed a sigh of relief, just then noticing the ease of doing so. Ukyo looked down, noticing her chest was no longer constricted, and her shirt was hanging open. Ukyo tried to sheath her battle spatula, then noticed her bandoleer was laying in two pieces a dozen feet away, next to her breast bindings. Ukyo looked down, noting with relief that she wasn't badly cut, just a few nicks near her throat that weren't bleeding much at all. Ukyo pulled the front of her shirt closed with one hand, holding her giant spatula with the other.

    The two girls that had helped her walked up. "Great job!" The white haired girl said with a smile.

    'Diana' knelt to check Johnathon. "The evil in him is gone. We've won!" She looked up with a grin. "You won, Ukyo, well done."

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    Ranma grimaced, dodging around, hemmed in by increasing numbers of Youma. "Whose good idea was this?" Of course, it had been his idea. It had all begun well enough....

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    Hundreds of black bodied Youma were gathering between them and their target. They had approached and everyone had started unleashing their long-range attacks.  Youma had fallen by the dozen. Sailor Moon's power had been very effective, destroying every Youma it touched. Tuxedo Kamen was busy keeping the more enthusiastic Youma away from her. The inner Senshi worked together well, but lacked power. They each could handle about a single Youma at a time. The Outer Senshi were very powerful. Their attacks weren't quite as affective as Sailor Moon's, but nearly so. Sailor Saturn was obviously holding back, but from the other Senshi's reactions, Ranma figured there was a reason for that.

    The Nerima martial artists held back at first, not wanting to exhaust their Chi so early. As the Youma closed, Mousse started throwing knives, chains, and assorted other objects at them. Sailor Moon decided on a plan. "We have to fight our way to the tree. Then we take it out."

    It had seemed simple enough earlier. Ranma watched the others firing their attacks into the Youma and came up with a great idea. He ran up to Mars and Mercury.  "Hey, can you two make a spiral? Heading towards the tree?""

    Mars shot off a flame sniper and glanced at him.  "What? Why?"

    Mercury nodded. "I think I understand, Mars follow my lead."

    Sailor Mercury created a spiral of cold water, facing the incoming Youma. Sailor Mars only hesitated a moment before firing a flaming spiral following Mercury's out.

    "Perfect!" Ranma grinned in anticipation and jumped into the center of the spiral.

    "What's he doing?" Mars asked, confused.

    "Watch." Mercury said, holding the spiral steady.

    "Hiro-Shoten-Ha!" Thrusting both arms forward Ranma started the hurricane. The powerful wind, laced with alternating streaks of fire and ice, shot into the middle of the army of Youma with devastating results.

    As impressive as the attack was, there didn't seem to be any let up in the number of Youma. For a few more moments the combined powers of the Senshi held back the wave of Youma, but soon it appeared they would be overrun again. Cologne let off her own whirlwind to hold the right side, while Ryoga let off a medium powerful Shi-Hi-Hokodan. Shampoo and Mousse stood ready. It wouldn't be much longer before they were needed.

    It wasn't. The Youma kept coming, and the Sailors weren't getting much closer to the tree. As it seemed they would be overrun, Shampoo, Mousse, Ryoga and Ranma kicked into high gear. Youma flew everywhere and they began making progress again.

    Shampoo danced from opponent to opponent with almost supernatural grace, bonbori in one hand, crushing skulls and breaking limbs. Her sword was in her other hand, and where it passed, things died.

    Mousse never seemed to run out of weapons. He was fighting with a pair of scimitars one moment, then paused to fling various missiles where they were needed.

    Ryoga, on the other hand, had stopped throwing his bandannas a while back. Now he was laying waste to the Youma near him with his umbrella, his incredible strength, and numerous breaking point explosions.

    Ranma was a blur of motion, punches and kicks coming at Chestnut-fist speed. Cologne had joined him, and the two seemed to be everywhere at once, and wherever they were, Youma fell.

    Fighting better then they could remember, the Nerima Martial artists for once worked as a team, keeping the Youma away from the 9 Senshi, which allowed them to get a much needed break.

    Sailor Jupiter caught her breath. "Man, why have we been doing this? Those guys ought to be the ones to save the world!"

    Sailor Moon's eyes were wide as she watched. "Wow, did you see that?"

    Mars grabbed her shoulder to shake her a bit (as well as to get a rest, though she wouldn't admit she needed one). "Don't get too impressed Meatball-head, we still gotta get out there again and fight, we're not there yet."

    Tuxedo Kamen rested heavily on his cane, his job of protecting Sailor Moon being one of the most difficult.  "We needed the break. Is everyone alright?" There were nods all around.

    Sailor Mercury had taken the break to scan their surroundings more completely with her visor. "I'm afraid Sailor Mars is right, there are many more Youma approaching this region, we must hurry."

    Pluto nodded. "Now is the time to strike, use this moment well."

    The Sailor Senshi rejoined the battle, using the cover provided to set up their most devastating attacks. They pressed forward rapidly at first, but too soon Youma began attacking them from the sides, then coming up from the rear. As they had to defend from all sides, their progress across the uneven ground fell to a crawl.

    Ryoga beat off a number of winged youma trying to carry off Sailor Moon, and shouted, "It's no use! We're not going to make it! There are too many!" He blew several away with a spontaneous chi blast.

    < Leave it to Ryoga to state the obvious,>  Ranma thought, frustrated.  < Still he's right, we'll be overwhelmed sooner or later. I've gotta come up with a plan.>  As he fought, an idea began to come to him.  < These things don't want to let us get to that tree, right? So if one of us were to get a lot closer, they'd concentrate on that person.> He yelled to Cologne, "Take care of things here, huh, you old ghoul?" He then rushed back to the inner senshi, who had grouped together tightly for support.

    Cologne watched him say something to Sailors Mars and Mercury. < Is that fool going to do what I think he is?>

    Mars started the spiral this time, closely followed by Mercury. They aimed it directly at the Tree. No one questioned what Ranma was doing, but instead Ryoga and Shampoo stepped in to guard the two Sailors, and everyone else stepped up their attacks to compensate.

    Ranma jumped into the spiral and shouted, "When the Youma come after me, make a break for the tree!" He focused his chi, and shouted the words again, "Hiryo-Shoten-HA!" The whirlwind formed, blasting away the Youma in its path, and Ranma leapt forward into the spiral. He was hurled at the tree faster then he could run. As he was flung forward Ranma's lip curled into a confident smirk. The wind was dying out, and a wall of Youma had formed in his path. His hands came together, and the energy of his will and confidence formed there.  "Roaring Lion Bullet!" he roared as the attack blasted the wall apart and struck the base of the tree. Ranma staggered and hit the ground rolling as his impromptu flight ended. The Youma came from everywhere to stop him. He rolled to his feet and began dodging with all his remaining speed. Half a minute later he performed another Hiro-Shoten-Ha, in its typical vertical form, to give himself some breathing room. He then cursed to himself. "They're still coming?!"  He started his spiral dance once again. "Whose bright idea was this anyway?" he asked, knowing the answer. < I just hope it's working, I don't know how long I can keep this up.>  Already his body was showing several minor cuts from close calls.  < I've got to keep drawing their attention.>

    Cologne shook her head in a wistful manner as she generated an explosive ground wave  (based on the breaking point) to clear out a path. She gazed occasionally at Ranma's last seen position.        < The boy's plan seems to be working, but for how long, and at what price?>

    The Youma had indeed thinned in their area, drawing back a bit upon Ranma's explosive departure, and splitting their forces to prevent him from getting to the giant tree. The lessened pressure allowed the Senshi to press forward, ever closer to their objective. Cologne broke yet another wave of Youma before noticing a twister ahead and to the right. < So the boy still lives. I wonder for how much longer?>

    Cologne heard Sestuna call to the girl with the glaive. < She's calling herself Sailor Pluto now.> Cologne reminded herself.

    "Saturn, now is the moment." Pluto said softly, yet everyone could hear her above the tumult.

    The Youngest Sailor nodded grimly and started to rise into the air. She wielded the glave as if it were made of pure lightning, her attacks coming faster and faster, steadily increasing in strength. Youma fell by the dozens, blown apart by Saturn's attacks. She struck to every side with power beyond anything Cologne had seen in all her years.  < Even Saffron the Phoenix King did not wield such power!>  Cologne watched with something approaching awe as their path to the giant tree was cleared, and every Youma near was blasted to atoms.  As swiftly as Saturn had begun, she ended, falling senseless to the ground.

    Sailor Moon gasped, "Is she--?"

    Pluto shook her head. "Saturn stopped before using her life energy. She will survive." Pluto looked hard at Sailor Moon. "Now it's up to you, Sailor Moon. You shall do what you must."

    Sailor Moon nodded, and with a flash of radiant light, transformed once more. She stood now, taller somehow, in a flowing white dress. The Senshi followed her as she walked quickly towards the tree. Sailor Moon, now Serenity, called forth the power of the Silver Crystal and blasted the tree with every bit of her power.

    Off to the right, a few moments back, Ranma had just ended his fourth Hiro-Shoten-Ha in a row. The Youma were eagerly generating most of the needed energy, but it was still exhausting. < One, maybe two more, then I'm done,>  Ranma thought wearily.  He began the spiral again, when a searing light tore into the Youma from the left. Ranma summoned his chi like a shield, and resisted the attack. When the light faded, most of the Youma around him had fallen, and the remaining ones were ignoring him and headed away in that direction. Ranma blinked in astonishment, then headed after them.         < What the heck was that? Not that I'm complaining.>

    A little less then half a minute later a tremendous beam of white light shot out from the spot the Youma were heading for and struck the giant tree. Ranma picked up speed, heading for the source of light, bouncing from Youma to Youma as he fought his way forward. < Heh, looks like my plan worked, the stupid tree's going down for the count.>

    Elsewhere, Mara swore in frustration. < The Youma just aren't doing the job anymore.> She had been holding herself back because the sensor readings told her that two of the blasted Senshi had sufficient power to destroy even her, a First Class Demon (Unlimited),  One was unconscious now, but the other was obliterating her tree, and there weren't enough Youma left in the area to stop her.   < I can't block the power either. It would overwhelm my most powerful force field in seconds.>

    Mara scanned the power output carefully. < Ah, there's a weakness!> She smiled evilly and teleported.  Mara reappeared behind the Senshi, about fifty yards off. The remaining Senshi and four of those accursed martial artists were holding off the remaining Youma while their leader poured energy into her tree. It was a seedling of Yggdrassil, corrupted but still incredibly powerful. Even so, it wouldn't last much longer.

    Mara concentrated her energy. Sailor Moon was focusing on offense, counting on her friends to protect her. She was vulnerable to attack. Mara called down a powerful bolt of lightning on the girl's head. Sailor Moon dropped like a rock. Mara summoned a shield around herself and moved forward. None of those who remained were a threat. Her enhanced powers on this plane could resist any lesser assault.

    Mara laughed as she stalked forward. < I'll take that power source from that foolish Sailor Moon, and then nothing will stop me!> Mara tore into the Senshi, tossing force bolts right and left. The martial artists fell to directed lightning strikes. The Senshi fell soon after. Her foes were vanquished. Mara gloated and moved in to retrieve the silver crystal.

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    Ranma was startled to see the light cut off from ahead. The tree was still standing. Before Ranma could figure out what was happening he noticed a faint glow coming from just before him. It came from a standing pool of water, left over from one of Mercury's blasts, heated and melted by the attack that had destroyed most of the Youma. The light came from it. Then, the forms of three women, holding hands, rose from the water.

    The women called to him. "Ranma, you must listen."

    Ranma paused. "What? Who are you?"

    The woman on the right, tall, bronze skinned with blonde hair, spoke first.  "We are the fates."

    The woman in the middle, more of a girl really, with long black hair and a light if healthy complexion, grinned. "And we're here to help."

    A beautiful young woman with long brown hair smiled kindly at his obvious confusion. "Trust us, all is not yet lost."

    Ranma found he believed her, though he couldn't later say why. He stepped up to them and noticed that they were slightly translucent as if they weren't completely there. The girl in the middle reached back into the pool of water and pulled something out from under its surface, though Ranma was sure it couldn't be more than a few inches deep. He blinked at it as it came into view. < A Tanuki statue?>

    The lovely brown haired young woman smiled gently at him again. "We cannot come fully into this plane, but this statue will serve you."

    The girl in the middle nodded enthusiastically.  "Hurry and take it! You'll see!"

    The bronze skinned woman on the right nodded as she pointed to the statue. "That's right kiddo, hit Mara with it. It'll work, you have my guarantee!"

    The three women vanished, leaving behind the statue.

    Ranma grabbed it. "What the heck?" He shrugged and ran on, heading for the noise of battle from up ahead.  Ranma heard the sound die away and he cleared the last few Youma to see a strange but beautiful woman standing over the bodies of his friends. She was bending over to grab something from Sailor Moon.  Ranma coughed to get her attention. "Ahem, excuse me." The woman looked up, startled. Ranma spoke politely. "Is your name Mara?"

    The woman blinked. "How did you know?"

    Ranma smiled. "Thanks, that's a yes." He hefted the statue and hurled it at her  < This better work.> Even as that thought passed through his head, the Tanuka statue crashed into Mara, sending her flying. The horde of Youma remaining started to wander about mindlessly.  Ranma looked about bemusedly. "Well, now that was anti-climatic..."

    Sailor Moon, dressed in the long white dress of the Moon Princess, slowly sat up. "What happened?"

    Ranma shrugged. "I think maybe we won?"

    Pluto arose, and shook her head to clear it.  "Ranma Saotome, again your timing is impeccable."

    Ranma looked at her confused. < Again? We've never met before, have we?>

    Serenity concentrated on letting the silver crystal heal her then focused on the tree. "Not quite. There's still one thing to do." She gathered the crystal's power and let it go, right at the tree....

    A minute or so later, Mara slowly forced herself to her feet. "Where in the nine hells did he get that good luck charm?" She growled angrily. Mara shook the cobwebs from her head and glanced around. "My tree!  It's gone!" Mara looked over toward the culprit. She had changed back to her  Sailor Moon guise and her friends were all awake and gathering around. "@#$%! I'll kill every one of them!" Mara swore angrily and started marching over toward them. Suddenly she was caught in a force field. "What?!?"

    Three forms materialized around her. "It's us!"  Urd announced happily. "And you are SO toast!"

    Skuld grinned. "With the doom tree gone, we can teleport here again."

    Belldandy shook her head sadly at the trapped demoness. "Time for us to go, Mara. You've done enough damage for today." With an audible 'pop', the three goddesses and the demoness vanished.

    Several dozen yards away the Sailor Senshi and the Nerima martial artists, partially revived by the silver crystal, gathered their wits. They looked nervously around at the mass of Youma around them. The Youma were still milling about aimlessly but there was no telling how long that would last.

    Sailor Moon glanced around at her friends. "Is everyone ready for a Sailor Teleport?" The Senshi nodded tiredly.

    Mercury summoned up a geyser of cold water.  "Everybody in!" Mousse, Shampoo, Ryoga and Ranma all dived through the spray and came out transformed, and much smaller.

    Jupiter glanced around at the Youma, they were still milling around, but were starting to show signs of greater animation. "We're out of time, they're about to wake up!" The Senshi gathered in a circle.

    Tuxedo Kamen shouted. "Teleport!" With a flash of light, they left the wakening Youma behind. The puzzled creatures kicked around a wet pile of clothing and weapons.
 

End of Chapter 36.

 

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