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"I did not think you would make it here alive. I am impressed."

"Heh. Your little mountain wasn't nothing to me and Herb."

"Are you prepared?"

"Yes," he whispered, as the two combatants faced one another atop the arena that capped Phoenix Mountain.

"So it begins," the other said in amusement, rustling his wings as he faced down the red-robed figure.

A Ranma / Tenchi Muyo! crossover story
By Brian Randall

Disclaimer: Ranma belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and Viz Communications.  Tenchi Muyo! belongs to Hitoshi Okuda and Pioneer LDC.  Among others…

Notes: This is not in continuity. But pretend it's on a much more expensive screen than the rest of the series. Happy New Year!

Saffron spread his wings, grinning, as the nascent red aura about him thickened, vacillating like a candle in a stiff wind, but building up higher with each second.

Ranma stood opposite him in a relaxed stance, wearing an easy smirk. "Let's do this," he said, jerking his head at Saffron in a nod.

Saffron returned the nod, leaning forward, and shooting across the field of battle nearly too quickly for Herb's eyes to follow. Massive gouts and waves of fire trailed after Saffron, crimson spears of power making waves of heat that caused Kiima to flinch back, at Herb's side.

Leading his charge, Saffron extended a fist towards Ranma, which Ranma sidestepped casually, seemingly able to ignore the heat of the fires. Saffron wheeled about, his winds sweeping forward before him, and spreading even more of the red streaks of fire towards Ranma.

The boy merely grinned, and vanished, to reappear behind the emperor of the Phoenix people. "Not bad," he commented.

Growling, Saffron turned about, just in time to catch a vicious punch into his stomach, launching him back ten meters to tumble across the ground, twitching and stunned. Ranma lit back on the cooling earth, and shook his head. "That all you got?" he taunted.

Saffron climbed to his feet, smiling. "Hardly," he retorted.

Ranma's smile vanished, and he carefully asked, "You seem to be losing, and yet, you are still smiling. Why is that?"

"Because I know something that you do not," Saffron explained, crossing his arms over his chest.

"And what is that?"

"Unlike you, I've used only a fraction of my true power!"

Ranma's smile returned again, and he laughed quietly. "Is that all?"

"Yes. You see—"

Ranma woke from the dream the same way he always did, but for one significant difference.

This time, breathing hard, drenched with sweat, and staring upward with unseeing eyes, he remembered them. Every aspect — what had once been hidden, suddenly made clear. And it made perfect sense, too.

He sat up, casting about with his eyes and slowly becoming more aware of his surroundings. Shoji wall panels. Thick blanket kicked off in his sleep, pooling at his feet, the futon beneath him beaten and worn from fights long past. "What?" he mumbled, climbing out of the bed in the otherwise empty room and glancing around in belated confusion.

"What's going on?" he mumbled, scratching his head. Something felt… different. His link with Ran-oh-ki was gone. "Rat?" he asked tremulously, unable to feel the link, and when he glanced, the gem in his wrist was missing. The scratching fingers across his head froze, as they encountered something he was completely unused to feeling.

A pigtail.

"What the hell?" he mumbled, the rising panic in his chest slowly fading, as he tried to make sense of the situation.

Experimentally slapping himself yielded minimal pain, but enough to let him know that this wasn't a dream. And if this wasn't a dream, then….

"It was all a dream," he murmured, finally realizing the truth of the matter. "No more manga after eating Akane's cooking for me," he declared, grinning, and running out of the room.

With him gone, an errant breeze swept through the open window, and the door he had not sealed, rustling a small pile of the manga — Tenchi Muyo and Sailor Moon lying half-beneath the blanket he had tossed aside, with the latest issue of Dragonball Z atop them.


Author's notes: It was this, or 50-meter tall naked Tsunami clones and solid-white Juraian-issue reavers attacking the Geofront.

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