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A Ranma ˝ / Sailor Moon crossover story
by jimra

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.

Chapter Two: Battles Under the Evening Star

Part Two: Ranma – Fading Light

Sunrise is a beautiful thing, especially to one who has seen so few in recent millennia.  The slight lightening of the eastern horizon into a gentle almost-white blue played vanguard to an amazing array of colors.  Orange shot through the sky and mingled with the clouds in a brilliant display of the wonder of Sol.  Through all of this, Nephrite watched in childlike awe, his face showing not but joy at the wonder of Terra's sunrise.  Thought and worry fled before the absolute brilliance of the shining light.  So engrossed with nature's light show was he that the dark general failed to notice his student's arrival.  Ranma sat quietly beside his sensei and watched the sunrise, his face showing an almost equal amount of joy and awe at the dawning of a new day.

Until the star's apparent position cleared the horizon, and the shining ball of superheated gas that Earth called its sun was displayed in the sky in all its glory, neither student nor teacher moved from their respective positions.  Finally, as the orange, red, and yellows of sunrise gave way to the normal light of day and the familiar blue of the sky, the two warriors returned to the mundane existence of single entities living on a beautiful, living world.

"I've truly missed that sight," Nephrite remarked, his voice still consumed with the awe of the daily show of nature's frivolous beauty.  "Twenty thousand years in a place of darkness can really make you appreciate a sight like that."

Ranma nodded slowly in reply, and Nephrite finally returned his mind to the matter that had originally awakened him upon the day's dawning.  The dark thoughts of Ranma's final negawarrior test loomed in his mind, casting the shadows of worry over his lightened countenance, and the dark general turned to his protégé with a solemn expression.

"Ranma," he said gravely.  "Today you may take the final test.  There is no turning back if you choose to pursue this goal: you will either return triumphant or you will die.  There is no middle ground in this endeavor.  I, as your teacher, do judge you ready to face this final test, but if you wish to train more before undertaking this challenge, there is no dishonor in it.  I would never fault you if you did not have absolute and supreme confidence in your ability to win in this most important of battles."

Ranma was silent for a moment as his sensei's speech came to an end, his face showing a conflict of emotion.  Nephrite could see in the younger man's face some small amount of worry over the severity of failure, but predominate among Ranma's emotions was the complete confidence in his skills that the young warrior had always displayed before the negawarrior.  Finally, both to Nephrite's pride and fear, the confidence won out, and Ranma replied, "I can do it.  I want to do it now, today."

Not second guessing his pupil, Nephrite nodded once and motioned for Ranma to follow him.  Without looking back, Nephrite began to walk away from their camp, and the dark general's senses and knowledge of his student assured him that Ranma was following close behind.

To Nephrite, nature's beauty was muted by the severity of the coming battle, the colors dulled as he concentrated on his next task.  The birds' singing drown out by the voices of doubt and worry assailing his mind, and the two warriors' steps, silent to all ears but their own, made a solemn procession through the forest.

After nearly half an hour of walking in silence, the two warriors finally came upon a clearing, the center predominated by a jagged spire of obsidian.  The spike of volcanic glass, almost obelisk-like in shape, glinted dully in the morning light, its surface showing a distorted reflection of the surrounding area.  Nephrite stood before the spire gazing quietly into its depths until Ranma joined him in contemplation.  After a few more minutes of silence, Nephrite spoke.  "Ranma, does something seem strange about this spire?"

The younger man lifted his hand to his chin in concentration as he tried to discern what his sensei could find odd.  "This rock can't be natural," he said after a moment of thought.  "The mountains here weren't formed by volcanic activity, so why would there be a piece of obsidian so large in a place like this?"

The dark general smiled a bit at his student's understanding of mundane science, especially considering the other man's upbringing and lack of schooling.  However, he replied, "While that is true, that isn't what I was referring to.  Look into the spire and tell me what is missing."

Ranma once again fell silent as he studied his own reflection in the natural mirror, distorted as it was.  After a moment, his eyes widened, and he turned to the older man at his side.  "Hey!" he almost shouted.  "Where the heck is your reflection?!"

Nephrite grinned more and replied, "It no longer exists.  I destroyed it in my final test to become a negawarrior, and so must you if you would join me."

Ranma blinked owlishly at this statement, and Nephrite could almost hear the next question before the younger warrior asked it.  "How…" Ranma trailed off.

"This is the final test for which you've been training," said Nephrite in a quiet voice.  "To access the negaforce you must have a conduit, and between you and the Negaverse stands your reflection.  All mirrors are portals into the Negaverse and conduits to the power of negaforce, but access through these most mundane of portals is blocked by the simplest of things, a safeguard against the uncontrolled mixing of lifeforce and negaforce as old as time itself.  A reflection to block the transference of energy."

Ranma looked at the older man with an expression somewhere between fear and awe, and Nephrite spoke once more.  "After being exposed to negaforce for so long I'm no longer totally human.  Over the ages of our imprisonment in the Negaverse I've slowly been becoming less human and more…something else…"

Ranma took a deep breath as his sensei sank a bit into a slight melancholy, and as Nephrite watched, the young warrior's face relaxed, the worry and fear he'd seen there draining away as though it were water from a sieve.  Finally, as the dark general saw Ranma regain his control, the younger man spoke, his voice solemn and grave.  "Very well then; how do we begin?"

Nephrite nodded to his student and formed the construct in his mind.  The construct, made to create the arena for the final test, actually took effort to form, and the older man shut his eyes in concentration even as he felt a slight sheen of sweat form on his brow.  This was one of the most complex constructs ever devised by the negawarriors of the Silver Millennium, and Nephrite could feel its strain on his rusted skills.

Finally, as the construct became fully formed in his mind, Nephrite drew negaforce through his mirror and combined it with lifeforce from his reserves.  He channeled the power produced from the annihilation of lifeforce and negaforce into the formed construct, and to his mind's eye, the lines began to glow.

The dark general forced more and more energy into the lines that made up the construct until it veritably sang with power, and finally he projected the lines of power into the spire of obsidian before him.

"You must go through that portal," he said in a voice filled with strain from his efforts, "and face what you meet on the other side."

Ranma watched as Nephrite closed his eyes, his mind spinning with the implications of destroying one's own reflection.  'Obviously,' the negawarrior-in-training thought as the older man did what ever it was he needed to do, "if you remove the natural safeguard, you must have to withstand negaforce yourself or it'll destroy you…'

Ranma's thoughts would have continued but for something he saw in the distorted mirror that was the obsidian spire.  As though the surface was liquid and someone threw a stone into it, the volcanic glass rippled.  A few seconds later, it rippled again, and Ranma saw the function of these waves.  Each time a wave passed over the glass, some of the distortion of the strangely warped obsidian was smoothed away.  By the time twelve ripples had passed over the sheet of glass, the surface was a smooth, perfect mirror.

Ranma gazed in wonder at the dark mirror before him, and he reached out as though to touch the surface.  However, his own gasp stopped his hand bare millimeters from the glass, and his eyes widened as not the mirror but only his reflection rippled, the reaction between his movement and that of his reflection gaining a slight delay.  Another ripple flowed through his reflection with a corresponding tingle through Ranma's body, and the delay between his movement and that of his reflection became more pronounced.

Again and again, the ripples passed through Ranma's reflection, and with each came the same results: a slight tingle through the young warrior's body and a greater delay between his action and the mimicking of his reflection.  Finally, when the twelfth ripple passed through his reflection, the image ceased to move as he did and instead fell into a ready stance.  A bare instant later the sheet of perfect glass became true black, sharper and deeper than a deep cave or the darkest pitch, and Ranma found himself shivering slightly at the sight.

Nephrite's voice startled him from behind.  "You must go through that portal and face what you meet on the other side."

Ranma glanced back at his teacher for a moment and took in the man's face, the strain of sustaining the portal evident.  With that last glance, Ranma plunged into the portal and was swallowed by darkness.

An ancient woman on the far side of Jusenkyo from the Joketsuzoku village of Nieucheizu felt a shudder run down her spine, and she turned toward her distant village.  The wrinkled creature's face turned down in an even greater frown that the one that permanently graced it, and she muttered under her breath, "I have a bad feeling about the village…"

The old woman sighed; since that daemon attacked the war party chasing those two Jusenkyo cursed outsiders, the entire village was abuzz with preparations.  According to the histories of the Joketsuzoku, the last such daemon to attack the village killed nine tenths of the population and scattered the Joketsuzoku for nearly one hundred years, and the ancient elder of that very tribe was determined to avert such an event during her stewardship of the amazons.

A brief check of the large canvas sack she carried revealed about half of the ingredients for a circle of binding, one so powerful as to trap any daemon short of a full out Lord.  Once she'd gathered the rest of the components, her fellow warriors would lure the beast to her trap, and she would banish the fiend back to what ever hell from whence it spawned.

After a moment more of staring back in the direction of the village, the elder put her uneasiness regarding the rest of her people aside.  'Only with the power of the circle can we hope to defeat such a daemon,' she thought, 'but the warriors can hold it off should it attack before I return tomorrow morning.'

Even though she resolved to continue her quest rather than heed the fear she had for her people, Cologne, current Matriarch of the Nyuucheizu Joketsuzoku, wondered if her thoughts were correct.


All Ranma could see was Darkness.  Not the mundane darkness of night or a deep cave, but true Darkness.  Darkness so absolute and perfect that he could feel it moving like oiled silk across his skin, smell it as a cloying scent, taste its claustrophobic flavor on the air.  However, the young, black haired warrior didn't allow such a thing as a little dark, even this true form of Darkness, to deter him in his mission, and after what seemed an eternity of moving through the Darkness, the veil was lifted from his eyes.

The floor was almost indistinguishable from the surrounding Darkness, but a dome-shaped bubble conspicuous only for its lack of Darkness was before him.  The fact that Ranma could see he attributed more to the lack of Darkness than to any real light in the dome, and the ground below was smooth and almost shiny, seeming to be made of the same obsidian as the portal through which he'd passed to reach this unlikely place.  Other than these, the area was completely unremarkable.

Ranma's danger sense sang at every aspect of the strange place, its very existence speaking of lethal intent.  The young warrior's mind filled with an instinctive terror at this, a place no living person was ever meant to visit, and that the place had will of its own, a will that did not wish him to leave alive.  However, Ranma shored up his courage, and though nature itself seemed to find his presence here an aberration, he stepped confidently into the dome-like area.

As he stepped forward, another person walked into the dome opposite him, and after a moment, Ranma could identify that person as himself.  The same red tang and black pants combination that he now favored clothed the other Ranma, and their steps toward the center of what he now understood to be their arena were in complete unison.  Even facial expressions were mimicked on the other warrior's face, and the calm, confident look was one that Ranma knew well as it graced his own face often, and even now he wore that very expression.

Finally, the two identical figures met in the center of the arena, both dropping into a calm ready stance, and Ranma found himself a bit confused.  'Just what am I supposed to do?' he thought, a bit perplexed.  'If this is my reflection, then I won't really be able to hit it, will I?'

Suddenly, the reflection struck with a powerful right cross to Ranma's jaw, the move so surprising the former martial artist that he never moved to block.  The reflection raced forward after Ranma as he flew through the air, and Ranma readied himself to land and counterattack when he got his second surprise: he slammed into the Darkness at the edge of the arena with enough force to knock the wind from his lungs!  The Darkness through which he'd passed to reach this unlikely arena was now more solid than stone, not giving at all as he struck.  Still surprised, he fell back before the reflection's vicious assault once more, and for the first time since arriving, Ranma began to question the intelligence of his decision to perform the final test today…

Letting out his breath in a heavy sigh, Nephrite released the portal construct.  The dark general opened his eyes just in time to see the portal ripple and collapse, the obsidian spire returning to its original form.  Nephrite sighed again; Ranma was on his own, now.  There was nothing the negawarrior could do for his student now but wait and hope for his safe return to Terra.

Turning away from the spire, now unimportant since it had served its purpose, Nephrite walked back to camp at a sedate pace.  His thoughts were many and confused, each of them suffused with worry.  'Should I have told him to wait?  Was he truly ready?  Could I have done anything more to prepare him for the final challenge?'

In the end, Nephrite decided that he'd done everything he could, and that his student was indeed ready.  However, that did very little to assuage his worry, and by the time he'd returned to camp, the dark general was already preparing a construct that would notify him of Ranma's return.  This test could take anywhere from an hour to three days to complete, and Nephrite remembered from his own testing that the candidate would reappear in the universe at random within about forty kilometers of their point of entry.  The construct, a location and warning matrix, would notify a negawarrior of an occurrence, such as the appearance of a person, within a specified area.  The other part of the matrix, the locator, would lead him to the source of the occurrence.  As he finished the construct and empowered it with the energy of annihilation, Nephrite also built a reservoir sub-construct within the warning and locator matrix and filled it with lifeforce.  The construct would last for five days without the dark general's energy, and if Ranma had not returned in that time, Nephrite would know that he had failed.

The dark general sat down on a log next to the now extinguished fire and tried to meditate, but every few moments he would look up, regardless of the knowledge that the construct he'd set would notify him if Ranma returned.  Each time, Nephrite would mentally kick himself and return to his meditations only to look up again after another few minutes.

Finally, disgusted with himself, Nephrite gave up his attempts at meditation and set himself to the more active task of rebuilding the fire within the small ring of stones central to his and Ranma's campsite.

'Maybe a cup of tea will calm my nerves,' he reasoned as he placed the sticks in a cone and filled the center with kindling.  Once the fire setting was complete, Nephrite used a very simple construct to produce the spark necessary to ignite the wood, and after a moment, he had a decent fire burning and sparking in the ring of stones.

While he waited for the fire to reach a point where cooking would be possible, Nephrite thought about the past several weeks with Ranma.  'That kid is the best student I've ever had.  He's got a lot of natural talent, and his skill in the martial arts is second to no one I've ever met.'  His mind drifted over the many sparring matches and outright battles, the training sessions where he'd instructed Ranma in what he'd need to know as a negawarrior, even the history lessons on the Negaverse and the Dark Kingdom.  Ranma'd expressed some disagreement with Beryl's ethics, but while Nephrite silently agreed with his pupil, the dark general had cautioned Ranma not to voice those concerns when they went to the Queen's court.

The Dark Kingdom was not just the largest nation of the Negaverse, as it was during the latter part of the Silver Millennium, but now dominated that dimension in its entirety.  Twenty thousand years locked away from the universe gave Beryl plenty of time to subjugate the rest of the Negaverse, and if transporting to Terra took much less lifeforce that it did, Terra would have fallen the day the mystic barriers had failed.  The legions of youma and scores of negalytes would have overrun the relatively pathetic human resistance on Terra in a matter of hours.  Though the human technology was powerful, and Nephrite had no doubt that given time, the humans would have created weapons that would harm or even kill the soldiers of the Dark Kingdom, the annihilation-powered constructs of the negalytes and the sheer antipathic nature of the youma, the native denizens of the Negaverse, would not have given them the time.  And now with Ranma joining the ranks of the remaining four negawarriors…

The dark general sat in silent contemplation of the fire for a short time, but after a few minutes he sighed again, even thinking of home led back to his young student.  He noticed that the fire was to a point that cooking was possible, and he placed the tea pot, already filled with cold water from where he'd intended to make tea with breakfast, on the edge of the hot coals.  Sliding to the ground and leaning back against the log, Nephrite settled himself to wait for his student to complete the final test.

Ranma finally managed to begin blocking the furious assaults of his reflection, but his surprise and lack of readiness had already cost him.  A swollen, black bruise surrounded his left eye, and his jaw was still aching from the reflection's first attack.  Also, the right side of his chest burned with the fire of cracked ribs, each move sending sharp pain through his ribcage.

This opponent was just as good as he was, and it was a struggle to keep up just from the beginning as the reflection seemed to know all the rules of this place.  Ranma, on the other hand, was at a disadvantage in initiative and knowledge, and he knew that he had been fighting this battle uphill from the very first punch.

The reflection came in again with another lightning-quick combination of punches, open handed strikes, and kicks, and Ranma equaled the reflection's speed, dodging two of the punches and one of the kicks and blocking the rest.  However, his injuries slowed him, and the follow up knee caught the pigtailed warrior in the stomach, doubling him over.  The finishing blow, a double fist to the back of the head laid Ranma out on the ground, and the young man barely managed to force down the pain enough to roll away before a stomp could break his neck.

Wide eyed, Ranma regained his feet as a revelation finally reached his brain past all the layers of martial code he'd built up over the years he'd trained with his father: this opponent wasn't going to stop until Ranma was dead.  This was no match with a martial artist; the reflection was just as good as he was and would stop at nothing to kill him.  Unless Ranma let go of all his 'honorable' martial code notions and fought all out, fought with intent to kill, then he was going to die here.

During Ranma's moment of thought, his reflection wasn't idle, and when Ranma came back to himself, his mirror image was already coming in for another attack.  Gritting his teeth, Ranma charged forward against his reflection and met it head on, fighting full out.

Nephrite looked into the sky and saw that the sun was falling steadily; night would soon be here, and Ranma was not yet back.  Sighing, the negawarrior checked his locator and warning construct for what seemed like the millionth time, but again, there was nothing wrong with the power matrix or the slowly depleting reservoir.  Finally, Nephrite decided to go ahead and make dinner for himself alone, his hopes that Ranma would be back in time failing.

During their weeks of training, Nephrite had had to go to several small Chinese villages for supplies.  In fact, that was where Ranma'd acquired the red tang and black pants he generally wore.  Seeing his pupil's gi quickly shredded by the intensity of their training sessions, Nephrite decided to buy some clothes for his student, preferably ones that didn't show off her assets every time he became female.  After a bit of shopping around, the dark general came across the perfect garments; indeed, it seemed as though they were made for Ranma, as evidenced by the first time he'd worn them.

Such thoughts brought a smile to Nephrite's face as he reached for the pack of supplies, but that smile didn't last long as the current situation reasserted itself.  Ranma was risking his life in a highly dangerous and winner-takes-all trial, and the dark general didn't feel much like smiling at such a time.

Deciding to bury his mind in his tasks to alleviate his worry, as before, he reached into the supply pack and pulled out a can of fish steaks and a plastic container holding a portion of their uncooked rice.  Camp fare was hardly a good meal, but it would do for tonight.  Indeed, it had been the only source of food Ranma had known for nearly a year prior to their meeting.

Gritting his teeth as he walked to the stream with the rice, Nephrite angrily forced thoughts of Ranma from his mind.  His apprentice would either win or he wouldn't, and either way, the negawarrior could do nothing to help him.

Reaching the stream, Nephrite set about the work of washing the rice, and with that done, he filled the pot with water and poured in the rice, careful to drain off the extra water.

Finally, with rice pot in hand, Nephrite made his way back to the camp.  Placing the rice over the fire, he set about preparing the other portion of his meal.

In his previous life on Terra, Nephrite wouldn't have touched such fare, but now he was perfectly happy (well maybe not happy, but content) with what Ranma termed 'poor man's sashimi.'  Basically, place the fish steaks on a plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds, cover with a mixture of su and soy, and serve with gari and wasabi.  Certainly not the way sashimi was traditionally served, but it was about the best one could do when over five hundred miles from the ocean.

Just as the rice finished cooking Nephrite walked back with a plate of 'poor man's sashimi.'  After dishing up a portion of rice, belatedly noticing that he'd, out of habit, prepared enough for two, he dug in to his meal.  However, Nephrite's mind wasn't on the food.  'Ranma, please win.  I'd hate to lose you to this.'

Ranma was breathing hard in the brief, unspoken mutual truce, his hand darting across his brow to wipe away the accumulated sweat and blood.  The battle had become far fiercer since he'd stopped holding back, and both combatants were bleeding heavily, both a mass of bruises and cuts.  Ranma could feel his cracked ribs aching on his right side from all his strenuous movement, and the cut above his left eye, accentuating the bruise, burned with the sweat that ran down his forehead.  The pigtailed warrior was certain that his left arm was broken, and his right knee shot lines of pain up his side and down to his foot from where his opponent had dislocated it.  However, Ranma knew that since he'd stopped holding back from lethal intent that he'd given as good as he got.  His opponent was visibly limping from a hard strike Ranma had delivered to his hip, and the dark haired youth well remembered the cracking sound when he'd slammed his fist into his reflection's sternum, almost certainly cracking most of the other boy's ribs.  Two black eyes and an assortment of cuts rounded out his opponent's condition, and they eyed each other in the arena of Darkness.

Finally, at some mutual but unknowable signal, the two combatants rushed forward, and the battle was joined once more.  Ranma led off with a series of hard punches to his opponent's abdomen, determined to gain and keep the initiative in this exchange.  The reflection blocked most of them, but three made it through with telling affect.  However, Ranma paid for his success as mirror-Ranma slammed a hammer fist into the side of his head, throwing the real Saotome heir to the side.

Ranma rolled with the blow and flipped over his shoulder and back to his feet, the pain of the nearly dislocated joint sending a multitude of pain signals to his brain.  He landed in a crouch and, so as not to give his opponent time to recover, launched himself into a flying side kick at his opponent's head.

It seemed that mirror-Ranma had anticipated the move as, just before the real pigtailed warrior struck, his reflection sidestepped the attack and used a finger to push Ranma off course, adding a hard punch to the boy's kidney for good measure.

Ranma winced at the hard strike on his back, but he refused to lose momentum, launching himself again at his reflection with a low kick meant to hyperextend the right knee.  Mirror-Ranma leapt into the air to avoid the painful hyperextension, but Ranma had other plans.  Thrusting his undamaged right hand to the ground, the dark haired warrior redirected his kick upward into his reflection's groin.  While this would normally give Ranma pause, he was completely consumed with winning this battle, and so did not allow the male sympathetic pseudo-pain to affect him as he hammered his reflection into the ground from mid air with a vicious downward elbow strike.

Mirror-Ranma bounced twice, holding his crotch.  Obviously, the mirror image responded like a regular human when it came to such strikes.  Nevertheless, Ranma rushed forward, intent on ending the match, a fierce, angry mask replacing his normal expression.

The reflection of the young warrior must have noticed Ranma's advance because just as the pigtailed warrior came within striking range, the reflection used an arm over his shoulder to reverse his momentum and flip up to his feet.  Upon landing, mirror-Ranma threw a reverse crescent kick and connected with the real pigtailed warriors face, spinning him around.  Ranma moved with his new momentum and slammed a hammer fist into the left side of the other boy's chest, a satisfying crunch responding to his efforts.

The reflection's eyes widened in pain, and he began to collapse.  However, Ranma saw the ruse as mirror-Ranma used a leopard's paw to strike the young warrior in the sensitive nerve cluster at the joining point of pelvis and hip.  Ranma screamed in pain, but even as he did, the pigtailed warrior threw a five finger spear hand with all his might at his opponent's throat.

The world seemed to slow as the spear hand came within five centimeters of the reflection's exposed weak point, and Ranma knew, should he allow the attack to strike home, he would be a killer once more.  This time, however, it would be a conscious act, his choice to end another being's life.

In the brief fraction of a second he had to decide whether or not to avert the blow to a less lethal spot, Ranma's life seemed to flash before his eyes.  All his training with his father and the training with Nephrite subsequent to his father's death all passed through the pigtailed warrior's mind, and one solitary statement, spoken by his newest sensei, stood out.

Nephrite had said, "It's never easy to kill, especially the first time, and it never should become easy.  A long time ago, a man who helped train me told me something about killing.  He said, 'Never like it, but never shy away from it when it needs to be done.'  I've taken those words to heart; they embody what it is to be a soldier and a warrior.  Maybe you aren't a martial artist anymore, but you are still a man.  And now, you can claim the title of warrior as well."

With those words in mind, Ranma threw his entire being behind the spear hand, and even though he gained no pleasure from the feel of skin, muscle, and vital tissue ripping apart around his ki-enhanced hand, he felt the satisfaction of having killed when it needed to be done.

Ranma stood frozen in his position, the reflection falling slowly to the ground, its throat torn apart by the pigtailed warrior's strike.  He took a deep breath, retracting his hand from striking position, and time returned to normal as the body of his opponent fell to the ground, dead.  A few tears still leaked from Ranma's eyes as he looked down at his reflection, the corpse slowly sinking into the shiny floor, but for the first time since the fight began, Ranma found some small amount of peace in his mind.

The peace did not last, however, and just as his opponent's body sank fully into the ground, the arena collapsed, Darkness rushing to engulf Ranma from every side.  The crushing weight bore down on him, and a power, once locked away from the pigtailed negawarrior, finally found its way to Ranma's mind.

And he screamed.


To be continued.

Author's notes: Finally, an update.  Sorry it took so long, but between changing jobs and the development of a new casino, I've been a bit busy.  Also, I had to make another trip to the east coast for my grandfather's funeral (and I got to be there for Hurricane Frances, oh happy day…).  In any case, I hope you all like the story so far.  I'm going to try a new tactic in updating my fics more regularly and in the ever-present battle against writer's block: I'm going to work on only one fic at a time until I just can't write on it any more or it's done.  This way I hope to write a more unified and frequently updated fic.  If you guessed that it's Negawarrior that I chose to be my focus for the time being, give yourself a gold star.

The recipe for 'poor man's sashimi' given in one of the Nephrite sections is a real thing; in fact, I ate that as part of my dinner tonight.  As for translations: su is rice vinegar, soy is soy sauce, gari is pickled ginger, and wasabi is Japanese horseradish sauce (spicy).  In any case, this is one of my normal foods.  Heck, it's not like I make enough money to buy the fresh fish necessary to make real sashimi!  Oh well.  Ja ne, minnasan.

PS: I apologize in advance for the next few parts' disclaimers… You'll understand when you read them…

Chapter 2bi2
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