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Part Three
By Coutuva

 

As promised, here's Part Three. I'll be releasing
the last part likely sometime tomorrow, so if you
happen to miss one, let me know and I'll mail it
direct. A lot happens in this series, so you need to
see it all. This is, as with the previous Series, based
heavily on events and situations from the preceeding
stories, which are available on my Web Site:

http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Bay/9295

As always, C&C is anticipated, accepted, and appreciated.
All original Ranma1/2 Characters and Backstory Copyright
Rumiko Takahashi, and are used without permission.

Please Enjoy.
Coutuva.





The Death of a Dream - Part 3
----------------------------------------------------------------



It was cold and dreary in the streets of Nerima, the
morning atmosphere matching closely the state of Hitomi's heart.
Before her were the gates to the Tendou Dojo, and beyond them the
first steps to the 'new future' Joy had spoken of before she
disappeared.
She looked at the doors sadly, knowing that she had to
open them to begin the journey preordained for her, but something
kept her from moving. Something deep inside her soul; an emptiness
the likes of which she had never experienced before.
After returning to the remains of her house to check on
Shampoo, and then finding the Amazon and most all of her personal
effects missing, she had become even more depressed than she had
already been. Suddenly, she faced the prospect of life without
both the woman she loved and her best friend, which left her feeling
lost, sad, and terribly, painfully alone.
Joy had sent her on ahead, stating that she needed to
consult with higher-ups about some details, and had instructed her
to meet up with Ranma and wait for her return.
Looking at the doors once more, she tried to raise her arm
to pull them open, but found she just didn't have the will.
With a frustrated sigh, she spun her back to the wall and
slumped to a toe crouch, not caring that she was still wearing her
'dress Mini' from the ill-fated supper. Covering her face with her
hands, she melted into a soft weep, her anguish and uncertainty
finally overpowering her.
Down the street a distance, a tall, attractive, dignified
woman walked happily, humming softly to herself until she saw the
crouched form in the distance. Instantly, her humming stopped as
she tried to confirm what her soft cinnamon eyes were telling her.
Noticing the figure's obvious distess, she quickened her pace
slightly in order to see if she could help.
As the woman approached, Hitomi picked up her presence but
didn't raise her head, hoping that whoever it was would leave her
alone. She sensed the woman stop a few feet from her and gasp
quietly, then heard the rustle of fabric and plastic bags as she
raised her hand to her mouth.
"Oh, My..." Kasumi breathed, scarcely able to believe her
eyes.
Hitomi looked up at her abruptly, about to issue a suitable
epithet. As soon as she made eye contact however, a strange feeling
swept over her. It felt almost like being wrapped in a big, comfy
blanket, bringing with it a great sense of peace and contentment.
The sensation seemed to literally emanate from the woman before her,
drawing her like a moth to a flame.
Her lower lip starting to tremble, she rose slowly and
stepped right up to the shocked Kasumi, then looked up at her with
reddened, shimmering eyes. "Okaasan... " she breathed in a soft,
wavering voice, then wrapped her arms around Kasumi snugly.
Nestling her face into Kasumi's chest, she dissolved once more in
tears.



"You're kidding me... destroyed? When? Hmm... Well, keep
it under surveillance anyway. I want to be sure - Kuso...
wait a minute," Nabiki cursed, lifting the cell away from her ear
and stabbing the send button. "Hai. What?!? Where is she now?
Masaka...! Get some more bodies and keep that place buttoned down!
If someone so much as changes their mind, I want to know about it!
Great work Tanaka-san... you just bought yourself a raise. Ja,"
she smiled, closing the phone with a wicked giggle.
Just as she put it down to look up another number, it
trilled insistantly, reminding her of her other call. Snatching it
from the desk, she flipped it open sheepishly. "Gomen... I just
found out that she's here in Tokyo, so stay with that place for
about another week, and see if the girlfriend or the Amazon show up
again. If nothing happens, cut back to occasional checkups. Yeah,
that's it. Ja," she stated, again closing the phone quickly.
Digging out her little black electronic organizer, she
scanned through it to find a number she hadn't used in over a year,
and then wasted no time in punching it into her phone.
She could barely contain her excitement as she waited for
the call to go through, hardly able to believe how things were
falling into place. When the other end picked up, her face
darkened momentarily as she listened to the greeting.
"Yeah, Yeah... save the sales pitch, koneko... I need to
talk to 'her majesty' pronto. Tell her it's Kuno-san," she
droned, then rolled her eyes as the hold music came on.
Fortunately for her sanity, she didn't have to wait long.
"Ahh... Konnichiwa. I have a matter... oh, that figures.
How soon? Good, I'll be here. Ja," she smirked, hanging up the
phone. Shaking her head bemusedly, she pushed a button on her desk
console and waited for a response.
"You summoned me, Ma'am?" a thin, weasly voice asked over
the intercom.
"Hai. I'm expecting an important guest this morning, and
I do not wish to be disturbed, Sasuke. Can you arrange that
without any great difficulty?" she asked, knowing the answer
already.
"Yes, mistress. I can amuse your husband, and mistress
Kodachi is away today. You will not be disturbed," he replied
emphatically, anxious to keep the only member of the household
that treated him like a person happy.
"Arigato, Sasuke. Your assistance is invaluable," she
noted, smiling.
"I can only hope, mistress Nabiki. Thank you very kindly,"
he stated, the tone of his voice bespeaking the truth of his words.
Nabiki secretly felt sorry for the hapless ninja, and made it a
point to reward his work for her well, but discreetly. She knew
it would only make his life more miserable if either of the Kuno
siblings had a clue about that practice.
Putting such thoughts aside for the moment, she rose from
her desk and walked to a filing cabinet a few feet away, there to
take down a framed picture of herself and her sisters from days
gone by. Touching her younger sister's face with her finger, her
face darkened a bit as she thought about her next move.
"I promise you imotouchan... you'll have him back," she
whispered, evenly.



"Something's wrong... she should have been here half an
hour ago," Joy frowned, looking over at Ranma.
"Well, there's been no sign of her... I didn't even feel
her presence, and I would have if she'd been here," he noted,
shrugging.
"Kasumi's late too... and that's not like her," Akane
interjected, looking out the window toward the gates.
"Maaa... I don't like this... They've made one attempt on
her already, and in her current state she'd be an easy target,"
Joy warned, drawing stares from both Akane and Ranma.
"So that's why I had that 'episode' last night... what
happened?" Ranma asked, walking up to Joy and looking her in the
eyes.
"An assassin tried for her yesterday... it missed her,
but got Kikyo and their baby. Kikyo's in a regenerative cell right
now, and Shampoo left, probably figuring they were both dead,"
Joy explained, then her eyes suddenly widened. "Masaka... Hitomi
has nobody to 'regulate' her... If she runs into the wrong person,
it could be catastrophic...!"
"Then why would you leave her alone?" Ranma abruptly
snapped, startling both Joy and Akane.
Joy shrank under Ranma's outburst, but still managed a
reply. "I... misjudged how upset she'd be... I thought she'd
follow my instructions and come here while I spoke with the Fates.
Had she done that, everything would have been fine," she stammered,
unable to fathom making such a greivous error in judgement.
"Chikusho... we'd better go looking for her. After what I
saw from her over Elysse, she must be totally devastated. Kikyo
and that child were her entire world..." Ranma cursed, shaking his
head. "Let me see if I can pick up anything..." he abruptly
grumbled, glaring at the Spirit-Child.
"I'll try too..." Joy replied, closing her eyes. "Ha! Got
her.. She's not far away... and she's amazingly calm. We better go
get her *now*," she emphasized, opening her eyes and looking at
Ranma expectantly.
"Hai. Akane-chan, I'll be right back. I have to go get
her," he explained, then kissed her forehead and vanished from
sight.
"Gomen..." Joy bowed quickly, then vanished herself.
Akane simply stood in the empty room for a moment, then
sighed resignedly. She then turned and walked toward the kitchen,
figuring she would have to make a fancy breakfast now that they
had all this company. Abruptly, she stopped in her tracks and
shook her head.
"Masaka... I'm turning into my older sister..." she
groaned, frowning.



"You poor dear... I can't imagine going through that,"
Kasumi responded wide-eyed, looking across the table at the
downcast redhead.
Hitomi raised her gaze from her coffee cup and flashed
a small smile. "From what Joy-sama tells me, that was nothing,"
she remarked, sadly.
Kasumi shook her head slowly, her heart going out to the
anguished girl. "Don't worry... nothing is ever as bad as it
seems, no matter how bleak it looks at first," she assured gently,
displaying her trademark smile. Hitomi looked back at her and
smiled as well, no longer able to feel sorry for herself around
this amazing woman.
"Thank you, Kasumi-sama... I didn't mean to dump all my
problems on you... but I'm awfully glad you let me," she stated
sheepishly, reaching out and taking Kasumi's hand in hers. "And
I'll wash that blouse for you," she added, flushing slightly.
"No need to trouble yourself, Seirei-san," Kasumi
deflected with a grin, squeezing Hitomi's hand. "And I was glad
to help. One thing troubles me though... do I really look like
a 'mother' to you?" she asked, worriedly.
Hitomi flushed slightly. "No... It's... kinda hard to
explain. That's just... what I felt when I looked up at you." she
indicated, softly.
Kasumi, much to her surprise, flushed at the compliment.
Before she could respond further however, a voice from beside them
interrupted the moment.
"So here you two are... no wonder you're both late," Ranma
admonished half-seriously, walking up to their table and striking
a pose of disapproval.
"Gomen... It's my fault, Saotome-sama... I kinda attacked
your sister-in-law." Hitomi admitted quickly, not wanting to get
Kasumi in any trouble.
"Attacked...?" he gasped, flashing a worried look at
Kasumi.
"No, no, Ranma... she just... hugged me. She was very
upset and lonely, and I happened to be there when she needed
someone," Kasumi explained, carefully.
"Hmm... " he responded, looking at Hitomi thoughtfully
for a moment. Deciding not to make an issue of it in front of
Kasumi, he opted to change the subject. "Well, I'm just glad that
of all people, you ran into Kasumi, Hitomi-chan. Do you feel any
better?"
"Hai. She's wonderful... I almost feel like myself again,"
the redhead smiled, looking back at Kasumi appreciatively. "I
don't know what I would have done if she hadn't come along," she
added seriously, patting Kasumi's hand.
"Glad to hear it." Ranma smiled, winking at Kasumi.
"Ready to go? We have some pretty important things to talk about,"
he noted, eyeing Hitomi proddingly.
"Hai. Might as well..." the redhead agreed somewhat
grudgingly, then turned to Kasumi and flashed a smile. "Want a
lift?"
Kasumi didn't quite know how to react, especially since she
didn't see any means of getting the 'lift' in question. "Lift?
Whatever do you mean, Seirei-san?" she finally blinked, only to be
further confused by Hitomi's knowing smirk.
"This!" the redhead exclaimed, and grabbed both of Kasumi's
hands.
"Oh my..."



Akane smiled happily at her presentation, duly proud of the
job she had done on short notice. Her table was laid out to
perfection, with all of the little touches that she didn't usually
bother with for her crew. Just as she set the last holder in place,
she was startled to see her sister and a certain red-haired girl
appear in the middle of her family room.
Once fully materialized, Kasumi let go of Hitomi's hands,
stepped back and made a face, fluttering her hands before her.
"I... I'm not entirely sure I like that, Seirei-san..." she
stammered, much to Hitomi's unconcealed amusement.
"Gomen, Kasumi-sama... I just didn't want to leave you
there alone." Hitomi smiled, bowing. As she rose from her bow,
her face dropped as she caught sight of Akane standing a few feet
away. "Kawaii...." she breathed, unable to take her eyes off of
Akane's trim, shapely form.
She could feel her cheeks flush as her heart rate rose,
especially once she met Akane's powerful brown eyes.
At that moment, Ranma reappeared beside Akane, and
immediately noticed the look on the redhead's face. Before he
could help himself, he burst out laughing. The act snapped the
two women out of their eye-lock, and instantly incurred the wrath
of Akane.
"What's so funny?!?" she demanded, getting up in Ranma's
face.
"Ano... Kasumi-sama...! Who is that?" Hitomi whispered
urgently, clasping Kasumi's arm tightly and pulling the woman down
toward her.
"Why... that's Ranma's wife, Akane." Kasumi responded,
suprised at Hitomi's reaction to her.
"Masaka..." Hitomi replied quietly, slumping into a
nearby chair.
Meantime, Ranma had ushered his fuming wife into the
kitchen, and finally managed to stop giggling.
"Okay, Saotome... explain yourself," she growled, setting
her hands on her hips. "Why was she looking at me like that, and
why are you laughing?" she repeated, evenly.
"Baka ne... Remember how she was created? From my body
and essence? It's obvious, especially when you look at her face...
she loves you," he sniggered, losing the battle to stifle his
amusement. "She loves you exactly the same way I do," he added,
taking her shoulders and trying to look her in the eye with some
semblance of seriousness.
"Oh, Gad..." Akane whispered, her face both falling and
flushing as she remembered where she had seen the look on the
redhead's face before.
Ranma lost it.




Nabiki leaned back in her chair, toying bemusedly with the
pen in her hand. A wicked smile still parted her face as she
considered the words of her guest.
"Are you *sure* it's that easy? According to my sources,
she's supposed to be some kind of goddess or something..." she
inquired, regarding her guest levelly.
"Hai, Kuno-san. It is. The difficulty lies in creating
the circumstance. Both of them are well aware of this, and neither
of them will permit it to occur," the hooded woman responded, her
sloe-eyed gaze downcast slightly.
"Let me worry about that. And what else was it you said
you found out... something about a 'plan'?"
"Hai. In my session this morning, I picked up some
rumblings about her being part of a master plan, one concieved by
the Fates to battle a threat from a faction tied to the Dark Realm.
Interference in this plan will not be looked upon lightly. I feel
I must advise you against any such action... for your own safety."
"MY safety doesn't matter," Nabiki abruptly snapped,
startling her guest slightly. "Sorry... I get a little excited
when I think about all this. Anyway, thanks for the assist,
Miyo-san. I do appreciate it, and I believe this should cover it.
Oh, and as always, we never had this conversation," she continued,
sliding an envelope toward Miyo.
"Arigato, Kuno-san. I wish you luck; fortunately, the cards
are with you," Miyo smiled under her dark hood, and then rose to
take her leave. "Be warned... you seek to alter a course set by
the Fates - there will be a price."
Nabiki simply smirked wryly. "I can afford it," she
intoned, resting her elbows on the table and entwining her fingers
under her chin.
As Miyo closed the door behind her, Nabiki reached for her
phone and punched up a familiar number, still grinning as it rang
through.
"It's me. Yeah. I have a job for some of your friends...
someone is going to have an accident," she indicated, her grin
fading quickly.



After breakfast, Hitomi slipped away from the family and
headed for the bath, feeling uptight and somewhat grungy after her
experiences. Since Joy had still not returned, she felt she had
plenty of time to indulge herself.
Walking into the room, she broke out in a wide grin at the
sight of a real Japanese bathroom, and wasted no time in peeling
off her Mini and tossing it aside. Starting the shower and the
bath, she grabbed the cloth and soap and scrubbed herself from head
to toe, happily anticipating a good, warm soak.
Rinsing off, she stepped into the tub and settled into the
seat, groaning as the heat worked it's way into his weary bones.
Closing his eyes and smiling, he decided he could get used to this.
A few minutes later, he could hear someone moving in the
outer room, and before he could say anything, the door slid aside
to reveal Akane, standing before him completely nude, except for
the towel she had draped over her arm.
"Aha! You fink... you decided to take me up on it anyway,
ne?" Akane smirked, shaking her head. "Just a minute... I'll be
right in." she purred, putting down her towel and turning on the
shower.
Hitomi didn't know what to do. One side of him wanted to
speak up and tell Akane who he really was, but another, more
powerful side wouldn't let his mouth do anything more than gape
open soundlessly. Slowly but surely, urges he couldn't control
began to rise as he watched the woman moving under the water
stream, alternately soaping, washing and rinsing her trim, athletic
body. Making matters worse was Akane's habit of flashing him a
sultry look when she would be turned toward him. He honestly
thought he was going to have heart failure.
Suddenly, Akane turned off the shower and turned to face
him with a wanton smile, her powerful eyes smouldering as she
stepped into the bath. Hitomi swallowed hard.
Sliding herself over beside Hitomi, Akane immediately leaned
in and kissed him full on the lips, sending skyrockets through
his already overstressed brain. Too far gone to stop himself,
he took Akane in his arms and returned the kiss so passionately
that Akane began to moan into it.
"Masaka.... what's gotten into you...?" she breathed
huskily, having to break the kiss to catch her breath.
"You..." Hitomi replied, his voice low and quiet.
"Mmmm... then we'd better not waste the opportunity, ne?"
Akane responded, grinning letcherously as she swung astride Hitomi's
legs.



"So everything turned out okay?" Joy asked, puffing out a
sigh of relief.
"Hai. I found her exactly where you said she'd be, having
a coffee with Kasumi. Turns out that she's sort of 'attached'
herself to Kasumi... Hitomi's barely left her side since they met,"
Ranma indicated, winking.
"Oy... thank the Fates. I was worried she might fall
apart, or worse yet run into someone or something 'unscrupulous',"
Joy noted, her eyes widening slightly as she considered the
possibilities.
"Well, she's fine... luckily." Ranma replied, levelling
a look at Joy. Her only response was a sheepish shrug.
"Ranma... have you seen Akane? She's not in the kitchen,
and Miyabi is asking for her." Kasumi asked as she walked up to
the pair.
"Hai... she went to the bath about 20 minutes ago... she
didn't get a chance to before breakfast." he indicated, tipping
his head in the direction of the bath.
"Oh... okay then. I'll tell Mi-chan to wait," she smiled
politely, then returned to the kitchen.
Joy watched her go intently, then turned to Ranma nodding
her approval. "She's perfect... just the kind of calming influence
Hitomi really needs." she remarked, happily.
"I know... she's always been like that," Ranma seconded,
thoughtfully. Turning his gaze back toward Joy for a moment, he
caught a look in her eye that he hadn't noticed earlier. "Something
wrong, Joy-sama?" he asked, concerned.
"Ya... just thinking about some things." Joy replied,
appearing to Ranma to be slightly caught by his question.
"Hm." he nodded, not quite convinced by the reply.



A few minutes later, Akane wandered into the kitchen wearing
a kimono and a dreamy smile, which was immediately noticed by Kasumi.
"That bath seems to have done you wonders, Akane... I can't
remember seeing you looking so relaxed," she commented, happily.
Akane flashed a knowing grin over her coffee cup. "It was
*wonderful*..." she said, turning and walking out the door.
As she stepped into the hallway, she heard a movement from
the vicinity of the bath and turned toward it with a big smile,
expecting to see Ranma stepping out. She froze in her tracks as
she saw *Hitomi* step out and then flush embarrassedly back at her.
Stunned, all Akane could do was stare gape-mouthed at the redhead.
Hitomi finally broke her trance by closing the bathroom door,
anxious to get the inevitable over with.
Face contorting in anger, Akane abruptly stormed down the
hall toward Hitomi, who set herself and stood her ground.
Stopping mere inches from the unflinching redhead, Akane
glared angrily into her sapphire blues. "Don't you *dare* tell
anyone about that... ever!" she hissed, her gaze saying what her
words did not. Hitomi glared back at her for a split second, then
her expression abruptly changed to one of profound sadness.
"We need to talk, Akane-chan." she indicated quietly, then
reached out and took Akane's hands in hers. Before Akane could
react, the two of them vanished from the hall.



"Why are we out here?!?" Akane blurted, quickly tightening
her obi and dropping to a sit.
"We need to talk about some things, Akane-chan... and this
felt like the best place." Hitomi replied, looking about the roof.
Drawing a long breath, she turned her gaze to Akane and looked deep
into her still slightly wide eyes. "I love you, Akane-chan... even
though I've never met you. I assume it's because a lot of who I am
came from your husband, and since he loves you so deeply..." she
trailed off, a small frown crossing her face.
Akane didn't respond, still considering Hitomi's words.
The entire concept of a woman being in love with her still didn't
sit well, especially since that woman was Hitomi.
Hitomi took Akane's thoughtful silence as a cue to continue,
and settled back into an all-too-familiar pose to speak.
"Akane-chan, I haven't told anyone this, not even your sister...
but I feel somehow that I can confide in you," she began, drawing
another breath. "I'm angry... angry, depressed and confused.
Since all this happened, I'm suddenly feeling like I'm being pulled
in a hundred different directions... and none of them are where *I*
want to go." she explained, a hint of bitterness in her voice.
"All I want... all I ever wanted... is a nice, quiet life...
living with Kiko-chan and raising our child; working with my kids
at the Centre. I don't want to go chasing mamuno all over the
Spirit World, or whatever the Fates have in mind for me," she
continued, dropping her chin to her knees. "What happened in
there... happened because I couldn't resist what I was feeling for
you. I don't *want* to be in love with you... I didn't *want* to
make love to you... but this body... this soul thatI have... just took over and loved you for all it
was worth," she
indicated, her voice starting to waver slightly. Closing her eyes
tightly for a moment, she sniffed once and cleared her throat.
"It feels awful to have that little control over who and what you
are, Akane-chan. Especially when it hurts innocent people...
like Kiko-chan, our baby... and you," she sniffed, starting to
lose the battle to retain her composure. "I've tried to accept
the fact that I'm little more than your husband's girl-side come
to life, but I can't. Something inside me keeps shouting that
there *must* be more... I live... I love... I have children...
Dammit, I have a *life*!" she almost yelled, clenching her fists
and jamming her eyes closed. "Yet... when things like that
episode in the bath happen... I realize that I'm just kidding
myself. I'm *not* a person... just some convenient collection
of used parts. Hell, I can't even be sure I've ever had an
independant thought!" she sobbed bitterly, finally breaking
down in tears.
"G-Gomen nasai, Hitomi-chan..." Akane breathed, after
swallowing her heart. "I never meant..." she began, but Hitomi
silenced her with a tearful look.
"Don't apologise... *you* did nothing wrong. Truth be
known, it was incredible." she rebutted, flashing a wry grin
through her tears. "I should have... spoken up." she sobbed,
wiping her face on her kimono sleeve. "L-Like I said... It's my
fault." she sniffed, brokenly. Suddenly, she burst out in a
tear-soaked, humourless laugh. "Kuso... Saotome-sama was right
all along... this body *is* a damned curse..!" she blurted, flashing
Akane a look she couldn't fathom.
After turning her face away and staring out at the yard
for a moment, Hitomi lowered her head and covered her face in her
hands. "I... I'm sorry, Akane-chan." she whispered, raising her
face to the sky and sniffing. "I must sound baka..." she continued,
wiping her eyes.
Akane bit her lip and touched Hitomi's shoulder, unable to
think of anything to say. Hitomi turned looked into her eyes,
noting her sympathy - and her consternation.
A smirk crossed Hitomi's face as she huffed resignedly.
"Thanks for trying, Akane-chan... " she stated, flashing a quick,
sad smile.
"Hitomi-chan... I..." Akane began, but the words wouldn't
come. She felt sorry for Hitomi, but at the same time she realized
that a deeper part of her was actually happy - happy to see the one
who took her husband's body so miserable. She tried chiding herself
for being so vengeful and heartless, but it didn't work. After all
she had been through, she *liked* seeing Hitomi suffer.
Hitomi, after waiting a moment for Akane to speak, turned
her face away and closed her eyes. Based on what she had just seen
in Akane's eyes, she had the sinking feeling that her 'makeup' had
just betrayed her. Sighing, she raised her hand and held it in
the air for a moment.
"Go back to your family... I'll be there soon." she stated
flatly, and waved Akane away.
Now alone on the roof, she raised her shimmering sapphire
blues to the sky and sniffed once more, then allowed her heart to
speak for itself. "Kiko-chan... I miss you..." she breathed, sadly.
Closing her eyes once more, she was about to zap herself off
of the roof when she heard a familiar, pleasant sound coming from
the yard below. Leaning forward for a closer look, she broke out
in a tender smile.



"What?" Ranma asked, regarding his wife questioningly.
She looked back at him from her seat in the middle of the family
room floor and nodded emphatically.
"She did... we were on the roof talking, and she just...
sent me in here," she repeated, earnestly.
Joy's face darkened slightly. "I don't like the sound of
this..." she remarked, and faded from sight. Reappearing on the
roof, she frowned when she discovered Hitomi wasn't there. She
could still feel the redhead's presence, which relaxed her a little,
but the fact that Hitomi was acting so odd concerned her deeply.
Reappearing in the family room, she looked at Ranma
worriedly. "She's not up there... she's still around, but she's
not on the roof," she explained, in response to Ranma's questioning
look.
"Oh... I know where she is... " Kasumi chimed, walking to
the side door and sliding it open. Out in the yard, Hitomi sat
with Miyabi and Masao, looking like she was telling them a story.
"I should have guessed..." Joy grinned, shaking her head.


Finally, everyone had managed to gather in the family room,
and Joy paced back and forth before them gathering her thoughts.
"I had this nice little speech prepared to fill all of you in, but
the plans have been changed. It's made things a lot more cut and
dried, but it's also made them a lot tougher," she began, her face
taking a serious set.
Ranma and Akane both shifted in their seats, while Hitomi,
in the midst of getting her hair braided by Kasumi, simply huffed.
Joy, noting the tense responses, sighed quickly. "Well,
here goes. As you know, Mu Lin was to put a stop to a conflict that
threatened to escalate into a war. While she accomplished her goal,
those responsible for the escalation in the first place haven't
given up. They've started a new campaign to gain control of the
Triumvirate Realms for themselves, using very similar tactics,"
she explained, resuming her pacing. "One thing we have in our
favor is that they don't have the direct support of the Dark any
more, since they got booted out after their failure. That means
that if we strike now, before they can stir up more support, we can
mop it up fairly quick," she indicated, stopping and facing
everyone with her pixie-grin firmly in place.
Ranma and Akane looked at each other wordlessly, but before
either of them could speak, Hitomi took control of the floor.
"So what are you saying, Joy-sama? What *exactly* do they
want us to do?" she asked pointedly, her eyes slightly narrowed.
"Cliff notes version, they want us to take them out... for
good. The attack on you reinforced the Fates' notion that 'they'
won't take a hint, so there's no other way to ensure the balance
of power," Joy replied, looking her in the eye.
"Hai... if that gets disrupted, then the whole thing
collapses on itself," Ranma noted, solemnly.
"For lack of a better explanation, that's it in a nutshell.
Okay, now comes the complicated part. Hitomi here came about as a
way to keep your body around until Mu Lin gained enough strength to
take it over. It was then that the Fates decided she would remain
as a separate being after Mu Lin did her thing, just in case they
needed her for something. Since she's primarily a creature of
the Spirit World, they knew they could activate her at any time,
and also take advantage of her presence on the Mortal plane," she
expanded, alternating her gaze between Hitomi and Ranma.
"You mean like a marionette..." Hitomi sneered, drawing a
look from Joy.
"No... that was never the intention. I think 'Secret
Weapon' would be more like it," Joy shot back, concerned by the
vibes she was getting from Hitomi.
"Secret Weapon...?" the redhead echoed, her face falling.
"Hai. When that 'Anita' kidnapped Kikyo-san, you made a
wish, remember...? Well, that sort of accelerated the unlocking
of your capability. You also had a bit of an awakening in here,
didn't you?" she noted, pointing to her own forehead. "You just
'knew' how to use your powers... and that you were destined to
protect the world you lived in. That, Hitomi-chan, was your
'activation'," Joy indictated, nodding for emphasis. Noting
Hitomi's blank stare, she walked up to the redhead and looked
her in the eyes directly. "Anita basically gave you cause to
hand the Fates an excuse to bring you up to full power early,
so you'd be ready when the stuff hit the fan," she reiterated,
breathlessly. "Get it?"
"I guess..." Hitomi responded, thoughtfully.
"Good. The 'Secret Weapon' part was that you have all
these powers, and were supposedly unknown to the faction that's
raising all the 'you know what'. That's pretty much out the window
now, though. They know you're around, and won't stop attacking you
until either they get you, or you get them. You have the power to
take them out all by yourself, which is why they want you out of
the picture."
Hitomi's eyes narrowed slightly as she looked back at the
Spirit-Child. "Let me guess... Their desire to get me is at all
costs, right?" she asked, darkly.
Joy, sensing where Hitomi was going with her remark,
replied hesitantly. "H-Hai. They don't care what it takes... they
want you out of the way," she agreed, watching the redhead's eyes
carefully.
Hitomi's expression didn't change. "Hm," she grunted, then
settled back slightly.
Ranma, noticing the same thing as Joy, decided to attempt
a redirect. "Then where do I fit in?" he asked, drawing a quiet
gasp from Akane.
"You... you're the other third of the team. Hitomi is like
the 'raw power', you're the 'aiming control', and I'm the 'mission
coordinator' so to speak. Your battle experience, tactical
expertise and your 'connection' with Hitomi-chan will make you two
unstoppable. In fact, you should be able to literally function as
one," Joy explained almost happily, thankful for the change of
subject.
"That explains a lot..." Hitomi abruptly droned, sighing.
"I guess it does..." Akane noted thoughtfully, surprising
everyone by speaking.
"Hai... well, that's the story, such as it is... all we do
now is wait for the word, then we go. And in case you're wondering,
this is a one-shot deal. When it's over, it's over. If we don't
strike fast and get the job done, then other methods will have to
be used... they'll be too powerful for just us to stop," Joy
added, seriously.
"That means an escalation, doesn't it...?" Ranma noted,
rolling his eyes.
"Hai... they'll use our failure as ammunition in their plot."
Joy agreed, levelly.
"Masaka... no pressure, ne?" he quipped, sighing.
"We'll do it... with you and Hitomi-chan together, they
don't stand a chance. We'll wipe the ether with them." Joy grinned,
confidently.
"I hope so..." Ranma replied, shaking his head. After a
moment of thoughtful silence, he abruptly raised a serious gaze at
Joy. "Joy-sama... I have to ask you a few things... will you guys
excuse us for a minute?" he stated, flashing a different look at
the Spirit-Child.
"Sure... " Hitomi responded absently, followed by a nod
from Akane and a wave from Kasumi, who was still working on Hitomi's
hair.
"We'll be right back." he stated, then curled a finger at
Joy before fading from sight. Joy simply shrugged questioningly
to the others and followed suit.
Rematerializing in the middle of a large feild, Ranma's face
darkened as he awaited Joy's arrival. Thankfully, he didn't have
to wait long.
"Okay... what did you want to ask me..?" Joy inquired
nervously as she faded in.
"Everything you just told us was bullshit, wasn't it?" he
snapped, eyeing Joy levelly.
The Spirit-Child's face promptly fell. "What..?" she
stammered, stunned.
Ranma huffed knowingly, then glared down at Joy. "Let me
put it this way... Hitomi is the one with all the power, and I'm
supposed to be the strategist. I take it there was a *need* to
separate those functions, instead of just giving me the powers?"
he asked, his voice almost accusatory.
Joy's face sobered. Drawing a deep breath, she lowered
her eyes and answered in a subdued voice. "Hai. A very definite
one. First, you didn't even figure into this until after you came
back. Second, 'Spirits' can't use this power because it's nature
requires a body... for a 'conductor'. And third, the amount of
power needed to do this 'job' is massive... if any normal human,
as in one without any regenerative ability, were to be given it,
it would literally fry them the first time they used it," she
explained, slowly.
Ranma's eyes narrowed. "Hitomi has a normal body... it's
only her being that's 'supernatural'. Does that mean what I think
it means?" he growled, clenching his fists.
Joy sighed heavily, then raised her gaze to Ranma. He was
only slightly surprised to see the tears that had gathered in her
eyes. "Hai..." she replied, sadly. "That's what I found out when
I was called away to talk to the Fates. When they told me about
the 'one-shot' mission, I got to thinking. Then, I went back and
asked what was to become of Hitomi if it failed... I was sure they
wouldn't want to let someone with that kind of power just wander
around," she began, her voice wavering slightly. "Well, I was
right. They told me that this operation is the only reason Hitomi
exists. The Fates knew from the beginning that even if Mu Lin
succeeded, the 'bad guys' wouldn't just give up." she continued,
her voice choking off.
Ranma continued to stare at Joy for a few moments, torn
between offering her a hug and lighting into her. Suddenly, he
wished he hadn't asked.




====================================================================
END - The Death of a Dream Part Three A Ranma1/2 Fanfic By Coutuva


Comments Welcomed, Flames Extinguished!
coutuva@vecdev.com

 

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