Sailor Moon Fan Fiction / Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction / Mahou Sensei Negima! Fan Fiction ❯ In the Shadow of the Moon ❯ Chapter 41 - Teamwork ( Chapter 41 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
I would like to thank everyone for reading, and I hope you enjoy this chapter as well.

let's see, for this chapter I would recommend a soundtrack by KISS. Starting with "Deuce", followed by "Into the Void", then "Hotter Than Hell", and finishing with "Calling Dr. Love".

single quotes (' ') denote thoughts or telepathy
forward slashes (/ /) denote translated speech

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the series mentioned in this story. This story is created solely for entertainment and no intention of profit.

Chapter 41 - Teamwork

The dawn breaks over an idilic winter forest. The golden light picking out sparkles of individual snowflakes in the pristine snow. Only a few small animal sounds disturb this tranquil scene. All of nature awakens slowly to greet this fairy tale vision.

Overhead two streaks of light converge. Their meeting is announced by a spreading corona of light. The massive shock waves smash through the forest gathering snow, leaves, and even trees along in their wake. The roar of sound drives all the animals before it in mortal terror.

The two figures resolve from the glow, apparently human men glowing like titans. They come together again in a clash. Blades extending from their arms lock together, neither giving ground.

Ranma grins at Happosai. "So what do you call this training again?"

"Training does not always need to have a name." The master grins back. "You did so well learning to manifest an aura of pure Ki in just a few hours, we will worry about attacks later. This is just for fun." The man winks and the boy is caught off guard as he flips in midair knocking the student up and away with his feet.

"Just you wait....." Ranma's line of thought is completely cut off as the giant firecracker Happosai had skewered on his arm blade went off, leaving him a bit singed. "Come back here you old letch." He screamed as he flew after the madly cackling man.

--------------

Kazumi used flash move to dodge around and between glowing orbs that exploded on impact with any thing the least bit solid. 'Why does this technique make everything look washed out?' This moment of inattention almost allowed a glowing kunai, that changed direction in midair, to put a new hole in her jacket, and possibly her. 'Damn how did she do that?'

The next volley of kunai were quickly dodged only to find herself caught between Kaede's giant shuriken and more of the explosive comets. Left with no airspace to dodge, Kazumi curled her arms and legs in close to her body and activated her shield, and waited for the explosions to clear. Panting, Kazumi looked out from the golden translucent construct around her to find Kaede waving.

"I believe that is enough for now degozaru" The kunoichi said with a grin.
With a sigh of relief Kazumi dropped the "Tank Spirit" technique and floated gently back over to the platform. Sinking to the ground her clothes shifted back to normal, and she gratefully allowed Kitsune to heal her injuries while Sayo hovered around them nervously.

The other student for this training cringed when the kunoichi spoke again. "Shall we see what your angel can do Nabiki-dono?"

"Now remember Tomoyo-san said the transformation can only last ten minutes." Nabiki sighed when the ninja girl nodded in agreement. "Reveal the power of the third Armitage. The angel henshin." After the glow faded Nabiki was replaced by a slightly shorter girl wearing a black bodysuit with red boots, gloves and vest. Black membrane like wings unfolded from her back and she rose into the air on streams of energy coming from the small pods the wings attached to on her shoulders.

"So you do not have shields, but you have armaments that can be used to deflect or set off projectiles?" Kazumi asked while summoning more "swallow flier" orbs in front of her.

"Yes" Armitage answered simply.

Without further preamble Kaede began her offensive. Nabiki's angel turned out to be very fast and agile in the air. The three high energy lasers in each arm also proved quite effective for knocking out the orbs before they could come close to impact.

"It appears Kaede is going easy on her." Kazumi would have jumped, had she not been so exhausted, when she heard Kari's voice behind her. "Do you believe you have enough energy to use Occulus Corvinus and Kurator to record this? Tomoyo-sensei was wanting as much information on the angel's battle abilities as she could get."

Kazumi looked back to see Kari, Akiri, and Haruna standing on the platform behind her. "I think I should be able to." She replied while Kitsune helped her to stand. Kazumi took ahold of her pactio card again and summoned five of her spy satellites. Sayo looked at her questioningly. "Go ahead and have fun." The ghost disappeared back into her doll like focus and rode off on her special satellite with a cheer.

Kazumi hesitantly bowed to the older girl. "Please forgive me for making use of the gift you gave Kaede." She nearly fell to the ground when she heard Kari with begin to laugh with heartfelt mirth.

"Yes I gave a powerful young woman tools that had she been selfish and mastered them both herself would make her a goddess of war in her own right." Kazumi felt hands gently touch her shoulders and help her straighten up. "I should be terribly upset that she chose instead to use them to find a better way to keep her promise to serve and protect her Magister."

Kari gently hugged the shorter girl and whispered in her ear. "Just promise me that if you are serious about caring for Ranma that you will do your best to be there for him. My sister cried for hours after asking me to look after him. She felt he would resent her if she tried to suddenly become a doting mother after being absent for so long."

Kazumi nodded as the enchantress pulled back, a few unshed tears sparkling in the corners of Kari's eyes. "Do take care of Kurator as well though, I think he will be quite happy to work with you."

"So how do you think you did?" Kari asks lightly as she sits down next to where Paru is holding Akiri in her lap.

Kazumi shrugs noncommittally. "I think I could survive against some opponents if I had to, but I want to practice with Omni Occulus until I can manage to use up to four satellites."

"Having better information about the surroundings than your opponent would allow for a very good defense." Kari agrees with a grin.

Kazumi decides to change the flow of the conversation. "What are you up to Kari-san?"

"The three of us were going to practice with Akiri in ship form, with my flying golems as the attacking force." Paru announces. "We can wait for your practice to finish though."

"Don't cha think you have rested enough Kazu-chan?" The reporter shivers as she turns to look at Kitsune's grin as she said this. "Remember we're supposed to be sparring."

"Just remember, Kaede said I need to focus on footwork" Kazumi grew worried at her partner's tone of voice.

"Right lots of leg sweeps then." The taller cabbit girl grinned like her namesake. "Just think, before too long we can get to where that cute bum of yours is not hitting the ground so often."

Haruna blinks in surprise as her classmate is taken off to the side and cajoled into taking a basic stance. "Okay that cabbit definitely does not bother to act innocent."

"Why should she?" Kari asks from beside her with a secretive grin. "It is not like either of her partners really fit that mold."

Contemplating the girl in her lap Paru nods. "I suppose your right, but what is the deal with the cabbits really."

"Well I will tell you a secret." Kari reaches over and ruffles the smiling Akiri's hair. "Akiri-chan is very close to being my child in truth. The other cabbits are made by creating sentient life from organic crystals that Obaa-san made from her own body. She told me it was a step she took to discover how to have children like a normal woman would. When she made Akiri she replaced them with crystals she replicated from my body."

Kari chuckles softly. "I know they are not telling me everything about what it takes for an enchantress to have children, but I can't really blame them. Before Akiri came in to my life, I was more than a little obsessed with not being able to have a child. I think they are afraid if I knew the whole story I would run of to try having a child of my own."

"So your saying the cabbits are a type of enchantress." Haruna says with wide eyes.

"That would be a good description really." Kari takes Akiri into her own lap and hugs her tightly. "Obaa-san changed their shape shifting talents and made it so they draw energy from a specific partner, but other than that yes."

Paru nods and watches the two groups of people practicing quietly for a while. Armitage flies back to the platform and lands on the ground just before ten minutes are up. Breathing a sigh of relief she closes her eyes, only to open them again when nothing changes.

"Okay what is going on here?" The gynoid asks, while an equally curious Kaede lands nearby.

"Oh, but the time was ten minutes right?" Kari asks with an innocent smile. "That would be ten minutes time outside the resort, you still have three hours 48 minutes to go here."

"What about running out of power?" The angel asks quietly.

"I designed the power circuitry for the gynoids, and the ambient magic here is more than enough to keep it charged." Kari says with a knowing smile.
Armitage's expression turns a little nervous "Why could I not change back when I tried then?"

Kari's smile turns a little sinister. "Oh it has only been about thirty seconds real time. Sensei thought that switching back that quickly would be a risk of neural shock."

Now definitely nervous, Nabiki's angel tries another question. "What about if this form becomes too damaged to function?"

"Sensei thought of that when I told her you had asked for combat training with Kaede-chan." Kari's smile definitely has a hard edge now. "She thought since you were so eager to get a henshin bracelet that it would only be appropriate that you help stress test the angels and the transformation system. So anytime your angel's body is too damaged to function properly it will be switched out for a new one taking the same form."

"Even that has to have limits." Nabiki asks quietly through the angel. Kitsune and Kazumi now draw closer to hear what is said.

Kari just waves dismissively. "Oh she has three hundred blanks lined up and has no trouble transforming them to match your angel on the fly. Meaning with the three hours and forty five minutes left Kaede could pulverize one every forty five seconds and there would be more left."

"Um, what about the additions we were talking about for my angel's arsenal." Haruna was certain if it were possible, Armitage would be sweating while asking this question.

"Well since they would be lost when the angel is replaced." Kari said with a very frosty grin. "I suggest you learn to dodge effectively very quickly.
Armitage turns to look at the kunoichi, who presently is wearing a smile that would make a Mazoku shiver in dread. "You are not really angry about what Inhoshi told you about my dealings with Ranma are you?"

"Oh don't worry, I would not want to do anything permanent to Nabiki-dono." The kunoichi says quietly as the silver orb on her right bracer flashes, a katar appears and is consumed by flowing silver flames that snake out from it like a whip.

Armitage had already blasted off and away from the group, not needing any reminder that the deuce would suffer no permeant damage regardless of what happened to the angel. Kazumi shivered as the kunoichi quickly and silently followed after. "Might I ask what brought this on?" The girl asked after she was able to find her voice.

"Sensei told me that Nabiki was less than polite when asking for a transformation bracelet." Kari said mildly. "For anyone else that would mean that Nabiki all but tried to strong arm and blackmail her for it. Sensei felt it was best for Nabiki to gently learn the dangers of trying that before she ran into someone less forgiving then herself."

Kazumi turned to look where Kaede seemed to be quite efficiently dissecting the angel trying to get away from her. "If this is your sensei's idea of a gentle lesson I never want to see her angry."

-------------

Tomoyo turned from watching Setsuna and Mikaro practice when an alert appeared on a floating holoscreen next to her. Smiling she typed a quick command on the accompanying keyboard screen to monitor power consumption and overall efficiency on the use of the twenty active subspace gate generators.

"What are you looking at Tomoyo-hime?" Said her blond haired companion.

"Just running a series of stress tests on the support systems for the angels. It is nothing to worry about Mitoto-san." Looking back at the taller woman she sighs. "While I really do appreciate you being willing to teach me about the royal court of Jurai, I don't suppose you can hold off on calling me princess for a while yet."

"While I could, it would not help you with getting used to being called that. Since your Raiju is a first generation tree, you will most definitely be considered a princess." The woman's blue eyes sparkle with mirth. "On the other hand, I might be moved to give it a rest for a while if you could explain how Setsuna-chan has a master key when her tree is a second generation."

"That is one I can say I don't know the full answer to myself." The enchantress says with an innocent smile.

Both women pause to take a cup of tea from from the tray a young woman, wearing a white dress shirt with suspenders running down to a black miniskirt, offered to them. "Arigato Melfina-chan." Tomoyo says to the girl, who blushes in response.

As the girl walks away, Mitoto looks over to where Ku Fei is practicing with her mother. "So you say my daughter-in-law has had something of an obsession with science fiction and space ever since she found out my son came from another planet."

"From what your son tells me, she started in with it after she was banished from her tribe for wanting to leave with him." Tomoyo says with a sad smile. "I know she has gotten a lot better about it since Ku Fei was born."
"Yes her expression was beautiful when Ku Fei told her the elder forgave her and gave her permission to teach their style to the girl." Mitoto winks at Tomoyo. "Almost as priceless as seeing Mikaro's face when the two of us arrived with you and your girls." Both of the women laugh. "So Melfina and Suzuka are cabbits that Noriko-san made look like characters from an anime at Ku Ri's request, and work together to control the navigation system of the new ship?"

Tomoyo nods and watches as the others notice the flashes of light coming from the gate generators. A tall woman dressed in a kimono walks over to investigate and boggles at the number of smashed gynoids appearing in a growing stack of hexagon ended cases.

Ku Ri walks over sensing her cabbit's distress. "Oh my, it is like the destruction of all the clones in that dual matrix movie."

Tomoyo walks over and pats the woman on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it, they never had more then a combat program loaded. I could not discover the ways they could break to be able to reinforce them without breaking them first."

"So you have someone controlling these?" Suzuka asks quietly. Still mesmerized by the growing number of cases.

Tomoyo nods. "I have faith that this deuce has the mental agility to cope."

-------------

Nabiki stared through her current angel's eyes and dodged wildly to avoid the flaming weapons of death Kaede was sending at her. 'Come on think, damn it. Tomoyo said the angels could do almost anything their deuce could imagine.' Nabiki tried strafing Kaede with her arm lasers, but the beams were easily deflected by the curling silver flames.

Nabiki felt raising panic setting in as the flames wrapped around Kaede's left arm and formed into a bow, and a spear for an arrow as she pulled her right arm back. 'Okay Kari said these attacks are the expression of energy given form by almost program like constructs.' The angel shuddered as the spear flew at her. 'I hope this works.' As the spear closed with her she brought her hands in front of her. "Disruption." A glowing seal appeared in front of her hands, and as the spear touches, it dissolves into silver fire that splashes harmlessly around the shield.

Armitage smirks and flies straight at her tormenter. The shear number of attacks Kaede throws spells the end for quite a few more copies that are replaced by the blue glow, but eventually the angel closes to hand to hand range and grins as she is able to deflect the snake-like weapon. Only to find that Kaede's hand to hand skills are still far greater than her own as she is sent crashing into the ground.

"It seems she is doing better." Kazumi observes while taking a break from her own sparring with Kitsune.

"I think all it takes is the proper motivation." Kari shrugs, and reaches into one of her coat pockets. "Have you ever heard about what she used to do to Ranma-kun and Ranko-chan?"

"I understand she used to run betting pools on their fights as well as taking pictures of them. I can't really say to much about that since I have been know to take pictures of my friends for fun." Kazumi stares as Kari hands her a handful of glossy photographs. Kazumi blinks in confusion finding them to be of a black haired boy and girl with their hair in a pigtail in various states of undress. While she had herself taken some photos that were a little racier of her semi-willing friends, the more racy poses for the girl appeared to be while she was asleep. "I have taken some worse than these."

"Did you do so with the intention of selling them?" Kari asks with a mischievous grin. "Would you sell them to people you know those in the photo would not want to have them?"

Kazumi shakes her head. "No the ones it took generally never left my scrapbook, and if it really bothered people I got rid of them after a bit of teasing."

"Those pictures are of Ranma and Ranko before Obaa-san transformed them." Kari says while looking out where Armitage is begining to make headway against a slightly tiring Kaede. "Not only did she sell those to their enemies, she sold them internationally. Those are ones I confiscated from students here at the university. I destroyed the racier ones, but I kept those because I had no other pictures of them. I don't need them anymore so do what you like with them."

Kari held in a grin as she watched Kazumi's expression slowly change to outrage as the girl processed that if these were the cleaner pictures then there had to be much worse ones out there. Kari carefully kept her expression neutral as golden fire pooled in the girl's hands to incinerate the pictures. Kari noticed the girl's eyes had turned to a glowing golden color as she looked up.

"I think I will go help with the practice." Kazumi said quietly as she bowed stiffly and turned on her heal, her knight's armor forming as she did. The girl seemed to nearly teleport as she flew towards the others.
Haruna stared as for a moment as a specter of a man sized golden wolf with dragon wings overlaid where Kazumi stood. When the ground erupted in glowing crystal spikes impaling Nabiki's angel, she looked at Kari quizzically.

Kari smiled as a howl that seemed to shake the very ground beneath them washed over their position. "Like I said all it takes is the proper motivation."

--------------

Inhoshi danced around the practice field, easily juggling four spinning batons. The fact that the teacher had asked her to demonstrate her skills, and treated her as being a separate individual from Ranko delighted the cabbit girl more than she could express. Noticing a slight blush from her black haired sempai when she did a high kick was just a bonus.

Li-sensei called the girls to attention one last time before dismissing them from practice. Inhoshi practically danced back to the dorms and was a little surprised to find Madoka had followed her to the club room.

"Could I talk with you for a minute?" The girl asked hesitantly.

Inhoshi just smiled and looked at the other girl expectantly. "Do you know how Ranko-chan feels about girls?" The other girl blushed and sweat dropped. "Ah sorry, I forgot you can't talk much." Inhoshi just waved for her to continue. "I mean I know Ranma-kun is a boy and likes girls, but I mean how comfortable is Ranko-chan with other girls?"

Inhoshi points at the bracelet the shorter girl is wearing. "You want to look at this?" Inhoshi nods and Madoka holds up her right arm with the spirit bracelet. The cabbit girl's eyes seem to glow behind the blue contacts as she examines the bracelet.

Inhoshi reaches behind her and pulls out a pad of paper and pen. she quickly writes out, "I know a way we could talk if you like."

Madoka nods, Inhoshi grins and leads the girl into the retreat by the hand. Quickly checking the area and finding they are currently alone, Inhoshi reaches out and gently puts her hands on both sides of Madoka's face just under the jaw. The girl's eyes go completely wide with shock as Inhoshi kisses her, she hardly notices the slight warmth from the glowing bracelet.
Inhoshi leans back and grins at the girl. 'Testing testing.' Seeing her blink in surprise the cabbit girl laughs. 'Akiri told me about the bracelet Kari-chan made, now we can talk anywhere and anytime since the bracelet absorbed part of my power.'

Madoka concentrates and narrows her eyes. 'Was the kiss necessary?'

'Not completely, but it can only absorb power from defeated foes or willing allies.' Inhoshi grins. 'I did not think fighting would be fun, and while there are other ways to show willingness a blood pact is messy.'

Conceding the point Madoka sighs. 'So did you in general give me energy or something specific?'

'Come on and I will teach you to fly.' As they float up from the entrance to the modified shrine grounds, Inhoshi decides to answer the original question. 'My partner is getting more comfortable with the idea of girls in general.' Inhoshi grins at her companion's rising blush. 'In the meantime you really ought to consider giving boys a chance. I have it on good authority from Kaede that Ranma is a better kisser than I am.' Inhoshi laughs at the near ignition point blush Madoka sports as she pulls them both through the air.

------------

Ranma finally tired of chasing the annoying prankster around. It was hard to stay mad when the old firecrackers had little more effect on him then a smoke bomb. Besides catching the old pervert, and his firecrackers, in his flying variant of the dragon's ascension was cathartic, even if he just phased through the ground at the end.

"Ah that was fun Ranma my boy." Happosai wheezed out between laughs. "Shall we see about getting cleaned up and finding out what troubles the others are getting into?"

Ranma stretches a few kinks out while checking his clothes for powder burns. "Sounds good old man, but what is your rush?"

"Ah foolish youth" Happosai sighs dramatically. "I will have you know boy, that Shizuna invited me for dinner this evening. I could hardly claim to set a good example of being a gentleman if I keep a a lady waiting."

Ranma roles his eyes as he leads the way back to the transport pad to return them to Kari's retreat.

-----------

Nabiki waves goodbye nervously to the younger girls as they head back from the training session. Turning to Kari, she asks quietly. "Why did you set me up?"

"Would you prefer they find out later and take other actions?" Kari cajoles with a raised eyebrow. "Besides I think they have it all out of their systems now, and it was good training. Your angel actually survived against both of them for the last twenty minutes there."

"How would you like to watch your life flash before your eyes several hundred times?" Nabiki ask icily.

Kari smirks at Nabiki with cold eyes. "Now it was only two hundred fifty seven times, and you lived to tell about it. Call it polite compared to what I wanted to do to you when I first learned about all the stunts you pulled in Nerima."

Nabiki gulps and is suddenly reminded of just how much power the woman before her could wield. "I am sorry Kari-sensei."

"I will take you at your word that you have turned over a new leaf Nabiki-chan." Kari says softly. "Just take this as a reminder of what could happen if you don't learn from past mistakes." Kari smiles. "Why don't you tell me about your ideas for improvements to your angel while we practice."

Nabiki nods quietly as they are all pulled into Akiri's ship form.

-----------

Ukyo paused in sparring with Noriko when the older woman called a halt. She could not help but grin a bit when the sensei walked over to correct something Nodoka had done when practicing with Kasumi.

Ukyo turned away to stretch, and yelped when a shinai connected none too gently with her rump. "It is hardly proper for one begining student to feel superior to another, even if she has more experience in a different style" Noriko admonished the girl glaring daggers at her. "If you had not turned your back you would not have been caught by surprise so easily."

"That is not to say you have not done well in a style you virtually trained yourself in." Noriko smiled at the girl trying to look stoic and keep from rubbing at the sore spot. "In my dojo though, I expect all students to treat each other with respect."

"On another topic." Noriko pointed at Ukyo's spatula leaned up against the wall. "If you are training in both Shinmei and Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu shouldn't we get you a proper weapon for it?"

"I kind of have a lot of memories tied up in it Noriko-san." Ukyo sighed at seeing her guardian's unmoved expression. "Maybe I should look into having something else to carry as well."

Noriko clapped her hands to bring the others to attention. When they had all come together Noriko grinned and handed them each a nondescript black forearm guard that had what looked like a black fabric wrapped sword handle long enough for two hands attached to the inside edge.

Noriko silently munched on an apple she had pulled from somewhere while waiting on the girls to put on her gifts. She did not have to wait long, tossing the apple into the air, she demonstrated taking the sword from her left arm and with two quick movements the apple was in four pieces on the ground and Noriko held the energy nodachi in a ready stance, the only sound having been a soft sizzle as the blade passed through the apple.

Returning the sword to the bracer on her left arm, Noriko bowed to her stunned students. "Think you all will find this weapon quite useful."

----------------

Ranma happily washed up in the baths in Kari's retreat. Even the surprise of having a slender pair of arms wrap around him did not bother him too much, he had long since become used to Inhoshi not being reserved in her affection for him. 'Can I wash your back for you?' He felt her ask with a mental giggle.

He turned to find Madoka was with her preparing to get cleaned up with a slight blush. When the door opened admitting Kaede, Kazumi, and the slightly older looking girl Ranma assumed was their cabbit, he simply sighed in defeat.

"Far be it from me to stand in the way of my student's adventures with the fairer form." Happosai barely contained his laughter as he quickly finished cleaning up and left the bathing area with a towel around his waist. Ranma lightly heard the man finish as the door to the changing room closed. "I would really rather not have Shizuna kill me."

Ranma quickly discarded the idea of turning into a girl. 'I get to spend little enough time as a guy as it is.' Finding his options reduced to allowing Inhoshi to wash his back or waiting for the grinning Kaede to offer, he chose the most expedient course to allow him to get into the bath to soak. Inhoshi definitely seemed to enjoy the task.

Trying to act nonchalant, Ranma still moved fairly quickly into the water and closed his eyes. The attempt at not thinking about all the lovely girls with him was thwarted first by Inhoshi mentally going on about all their better features, and finally by Kaede settling in next to him in the bath.
He was a little surprised when instead of Inhoshi settling in on his other side it was a slightly blushing Kazumi. 'Damn expanding senses' The boy cursed mentally while trying to control his now definitely awakened hormones.

Across the baths Inhoshi settled in with a tray of carrots next to Madoka and Kitsune. 'They seem to be doing well' Inhoshi sent with a smirk to her new sister. 'I still think that I can get Ranma to take Madoka as a ministra before Kazumi.'

The silver haired cabbit girl's grin turned predatory. 'Shall we make a bet on that?'

Ranma had settled on the fact that the girls were not going to let him get away any time soon. "Would anyone else like something to drink" He asked quietly as he stood up from the water. The disappointment that he had materialized a pair of swim trunks while in the water was almost palpable. He grinned slightly when both girls asked for sake.

Walking into the kitchen he almost laughed when he found the massive basket full of carrots Saki and Kurumi were preparing. "I take it the girls mentioned they worked up an appetite." Seeing the two girl's smiles had a slightly hungry looking edge as they looked at him, made him quickly ask for some bottles of saki and serving dishes and make a hasty retreat back to the baths. Finding Sayo free from her focus and playing in the mists rising from the baths did help him relax a little.

'Target one in position' Kitsune thought with a mental chuckle. 'Target two in motion, optimal position will be reached in 3..2..1.' The tall cabbit girl kept her eyes closed as she stretched her arms back while holding a half eaten carrot. When her arms became tangled with Ranma's legs, she let out a appropriate squeal of surprise and dropped her carrot. When she opened her eyes as she seemingly instinctively tried to pull her arms back, she also studiously hid any trace of a grin.

Ranma normally could keep his balance on a rolling boulder, but the addition of Kitsune tugging on his legs to keep her arms safe nearly did him in. He would have recovered until his foot went down on something that rolled and he found himself helplessly falling forward to crash into Sayo knocking them both into the water.

He came up sputtering and moved to quickly help Sayo out of the water. The blushing ghost quickly moved to try and shake off the water clinging to her skirt....'Water!!!!' The ghost felt the water moving around her legs, and tentatively reached out to touch Ranma's bare chest in front of her.
Ranma for his part could only stare at the fact he could not see through her anymore. Kaede walked across the pool from where she had managed to catch the falling tray and drinks Ranma had brought. Kazumi recovered only moments later.

'Are you both alright?' Kazumi asked and Ranma nodded slightly. Not hearing a response Kazumi gently tried touching her ghost friend's shoulder.
Sayo turned to her with bright tear filled eyes. "I can touch things again." She squealed as she jumped to hug Kazumi. The squeal turned to sobs as moments later she became insubstantial again and passed through the other girl.

Ranma reached over to touch the ghost again and was fascinated as she solidified again with his touch. 'It would appear being in contact with you is enough to solidify Sayo-chan's form.' Kaede observed wryly.

Ranma gently took Sayo's hand and stepped back to the limit their reaches would allow. Almost as soon as he broke contact she became insubstantial again. Even stepping back to a closer distance did not help. "Well this stinks. Sayo-chan and I can't walk around holding hands all the time." Seeing the ghost look like she was about to start crying he quickly amended his statement. "Well we could, but it would look weird."

"Perhaps having a spiritual link would have the same affect?" Kitsune helpfully offered from just behind Ranma. "A pactio could just do the trick."

"After being my friend and everything she has done for me I could not do that." Sayo shook her head sadly. "Not when she wants to be Ranma's Ministra." Eyes going wide, Sayo covers her mouth with both hands and sinks beneath the water in embarrassment.

Ranma looks to the equally embarrassed Kazumi. "Is that the truth Kazumi-chan?"

Her work done Kitsune walks back over to where Madoka and Inhoshi were still sitting, the former looking on in pure shock while the later glowered up at her. 'I will leave you to perform the actual ceremony, but think I win our bet.'

'Fine the basket of carrots is all yours.' Inhoshi sends with a slight huff as she sinks down to her nose in the water. Inhoshi followed with her eyes as her younger sister happily turned back into cabbit form and bounced of to enjoy her prize. Looking back at the group in the middle of the pool, she was glad the water now hid her grin. 'No way Ranma can think I was behind this one now.' She giggled mentally.

---------

The next morning the class was in for a surprise. While the spiritually sensitive among them had grown used to having Sayo with them, thanks to the focus Kazumi kept with her, they were all amazed to find a seemingly fully corporeal albino girl bowing to them as Negi formerly introduced her to the class, stating that she just returned from an extended absence for health reasons.

Sayo for her part seemed to be enjoying the attention, almost as much as wearing her first change of clothes in half a century. "I am happy to be able to be able to attend school with all of you. Please take care of me."

notes:

Mazoku - name of race of demons from Slayers anime/manga of which Xellos is a member.

Armitage - A.K.A Armitage the Third - the title character of a four episode OVA series by the same name. A movie version of the OVA called Poly Matrix and a follow up movie called Dual Matrix were also made. She is a highly advanced organic gynoid prototype, originally designed as an assassin, but having near human biological functions including self repair and reproduction.

nodachi - large two handed curved japanese sword.

Chapter 40
Chapter 42
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