I don't own any of these characters or situations. They belong to someone else. Also this is done purely for fun, not profit. Any resemblance to persons living, dead, yet to be born, or visiting from other dimensions is purely coincidental. I'm doing this for fun.

Constructive criticism is always welcome.

I would like to thank the following people from Fukuficsdotcom for looking this over and giving me their feedback, comments, and checking my spelling/grammar: WarGiver, Stratagemini, Gate, Musouka, Shadow Wolf, Alathon, and J. St.C. Patrick.

Special thanks to: J. St. C. Patrick and Nicholas Leifker who pre-read what I had the first time and for giving me their thoughts, comments, and input.

If I missed anyone or misspelled their name, I apologize.

Boldly going where others had gone before and meekly going where few have been.

Forward note: This is my new "anti-writer's block story" that I been dabbling with. I don't even know for sure if it is going to be a cross over or not. First, I toyed with making this a Full Metal Panic cross, then (with a little rewriting) a EVA cross. Now I'm sure this will be a Full Metal Panic cross.

Pretty sure...

... I think.

Okay... that's subject to change.

whistles while looking at the ceiling

Anyway... the cross won't happen until chapter four or five - if all goes well.

Out of Time

- Prologue -

Ranma trudged through the woods. The three of them had taken a train as far as Nikko and made their way into the forested region northeast of the Ogurayama Forest Park. Somewhere around Mount Ogru, Ryoga got separated from Ranma and his guide. Ranma made a promise to himself if a cure for the curse was to be found here, he would take it back and share it with Ryoga if possible.

"It makes sense that a hidden shrine would be located in this area," Ranma thought. "With all the other shrines in the area, one might have been forgotten."

Ranma continued to lead the way through the dense trees that covered the steep hill, with his guide trailing him. Every now and then, Ranma would ask a clarifying question to the boy behind him, but otherwise the hike was silent. The sun was so bright that, even in the shade of the slender pine trees that they walked under, the undergrowth was well lit. The smell of nature filled Ranma's nostrils, triggering many memories and filling him with nostalgia of life on the road. Ranma felt very much at home in the wild. So much of his life was spent camping in places like this, that the outdoors felt more like home to him than living at the Tendos.

"The Tendos," Ranma smiled at that thought. It gave him a warm feeling inside knowing that Akane would be waiting for him when he returned. With the exception of the Kunos, which was a lost cause, all the problems that had been plaguing Ranma were resolved after he forced his father to take responsibility for the things he did. What Ranma had done was to throw the gauntlet down and stated clearly that if Genma didn't own up to what he did, then Ranma would declare himself ronin and to hell with everyone. It was a gamble, but it paid off. With so much of the future riding on Ranma, Soun and Nodoka decided that it was time for Genma to face the music.

"Stupid panda," Ranma thought with a sad smile. "At least he'll get out in two years."

When the news of Genma being jailed for numerous counts fraud and of theft circulated, Ranma's various and unwanted suitors had to be, for public appearances, satisfied. Many more suitors and debt collectors that Genma had in Ranma's name remained silent. The embarrassment of being taken by such an obviously dishonorable man on top of any attempt in trying to make a minor child held accountable for an adult's actions would reflect poorly on the people that Genma stole from. Ukyo's father being one of them.

"I wonder how Ukyo is doing now she's back home," Ranma thought idly. "I'll write her when I get back."

The Amazons had backed off after the wedding disaster of almost a year ago. When news of Mount Phoenix became common knowledge within the martial arts community, many of the Amazon elders decided that making Ranma an unwilling member of the tribe would be too dangerous. They felt that it wouldn't do to have the most powerful member of a female dominated society be a male, even a half male like Ranma. There was also the fear that Ranma would give the other males in the tribe ideas - dangerous ideas. Ones that could spell the end of the Amazons. This still didn't stop Shampoo from staying and trying to lure Ranma in, but she gave up using any potions or other underhanded forms of persuasion.

Then there was Akane. Thinking of her made Ranma's smile broadened on his face. When the dust settled from the last upheaval in their lives, their relationship improved dramatically. If anything, the life and death experiences that they shared together solidified their relationship and the idea of marrying "his tomboy" was growing on Ranma with each passing day.

"Even her cooking is improving," Ranma thought happily as he climbed the hillside. "Everything between us is improving."

Ranma was broken out of his memories when noticed that the incline of the hill was growing steadily steeper. "Are you sure this is the right way?" He asked over his shoulder at his guide as he continued up the hill. "This doesn't seem to lead anywhere."

"From what I read, this is the right way," Ranma's guide said reassuredly. "It should be at the top of this hill."

"I hope so," Ranma said, soundly a little irritable. "I want to get rid of this stupid curs-"

The unexpected pain wasn't that great as the blade penetrated the back of his shoulder, but it was enough to make him gasp loudly. He spun on his heel and prepared to defend himself against his attacker and was surprised to see it was the last person he would suspect. Rather, the last person he would suspect of succeeding at really hurting him.

Not that this person never tried to get rid of Ranma, but all his past attempts were rather weak and lame, so Ranma didn't feel the need to be on his guard against him. Ranma never really considered him much of a threat. After all, he did give up on Akane and moved on with his life. Reaching back to pull the blade out, a sudden wave of weakness flowed over Ranma and he staggered.

"What the hell?" He thought as lights danced before his eyes. The gleeful laugh of his attacker ringed in his ears as his world got progressively darker. He tried to move, but his limbs started to feel heavier until they were like lead. Ranma had the vague sensation of falling and hitting the ground face first.

Ranma was distantly aware of being dragged roughly across the uneven ground, his assailant having to pause several times during the trip. Unable to move, he heard more than felt as his guide moved earth around, again taking several breaks to regain his strength. After what seemed like a very long time, Ranma was felt himself being rolled into a shallow depression. Finally and much to his horror, Ranma felt dirt being spread over his immobile body.

All during the time he was being buried, Ranma tried to move, summon his ki, and last but not least, he tried to scream, but discovered that he couldn't. He was a prisoner in his own body.

"Akane will be mine," Ranma heard the distance, insane voice speak as a cold, numbing, and dreadful dark silence consumed him.

The rain was relentless.

Heavy drops of water beat down mercilessly in great sheets as they beat against the leaves creating a loud, constant sizzling sound. The tops of the trees swayed dramatically in the wind, as the rain continued heavier than before. Suddenly a row of trees started to move on their own accord, sliding down against the slope of a small, steep hill. The trees and the ground that they were planted on deposited themselves onto a road that wound between the hills. A few decent sized boulders joined the mud and trees and rolled unchecked onto the roadway.

Mixed in with the mud, rocks and trees was a body.

A body that slowly stirred.

The figure dragged itself through the unforgiving downpour. Trying to pull itself onto its feet, the lone figure didn't even make it to a sitting position before falling backward, sprawling onto the rain soaked ground. Caked with mud the figure lay there, breathing heavily, looking into the sky and blinking as the rain pelted down. Trying to gather strength, all the person managed to do was fumble about with one hand and raise a short bladed knife up to its face and examine it.

"Luckily it didn't kill me," a hoarse voice said unevenly.

The figure weakly rested the other hand across its chest as it dropped the hand with the knife to its side. Breasts. She had breasts. "Figures with the rain and all...," she thought tiredly. "God, I feel so weak."

The girl cocked her head very slightly, but as much as she could, and looked at where she crawled from. The rain caused part of the side of the hill to slide into the small valley. Uncovering, dislodging and carrying her body down from the hillside where she was buried.

Buried - in a shallow grave.

"Damn him!" The figure ranted silently to herself. "Tryin' to kill me. When I catch up to him, he is so dead."

The girl coughed dryly despite the downpour, which was enough to drown anyone.

"That'll teach me for being so damn cocky," she thought bitterly. "I should have never let my guard down."

The girl coughed dryly again before falling silent. "Why am I so weak?" she pondered. "Did the knife hurt me that much? It only got my shoulder... and even then it wasn't that deep."

Her consciousness began to fade. "I don't know how long I was out. I must have lost more blood than I thought. Funny how life goes... taken out by the likes of him. It's always the quiet ones..."

The rain was like a roar in to her ears. In that roar, she faintly was able to hear the sound of voices. Voices that were coming nearer, but getting fainter as consciousness fled her.

"Over here! I think I see something!" Called one.

"Where?" Called another, fainter one.

"Over here," the first voice called back. "It looks like someone got caught in the landslide."

Later, she would vaguely recall someone yelling and shaking her, but by that point she was already well past being able to respond.

The ceiling was unfamiliar.

She blinked. The ceiling was still there. She blinked again. The same unfamiliar ceiling greeted her. The next thing Ranma noticed was the smell. Iodine and other antiseptic odors assaulted her nose. Shaking her head while blinking her eyes a few more times, Ranma managed to pull herself together enough to try and take in her surroundings. With strength she lacked before she succumbed, she turned her head and looked around.

"A hospital," she concluded. Moving her limbs slowly, she tested her body to see if anything was amiss. She stopped when she felt the pulling of the intravenous line against her arm. "A hospital, but where?"

Raising her head slightly, she looked down upon herself to see that she was in a neat, clean hospital bed. Various evil looking machinery and bags of fluid crowded around her bed with tubes and wires leading from them and onto her. Looking further down, she spotted something that looked like a overgrown television remote attached to a thick wire next to where her hand was resting. The largest button on the remote looking thing had "call" in bold. With ease of movement that she lacked before, she pushed the button and waited.

After a short wait, a nurse dressed in white uniform appropriate to her profession entered the room, crossed over and smiled down on the prone girl. "You're awake," she said softly in a musical voice. "I alerted the doctor and he'll be with you shortly. How are you feeling?"

"Better," Ranma manage to croak out. she then cleared her throat and asked more firmly. "Where am I?"

"You're in Tokan Hospital," the nurse gently answered as she check the equipment that was hooked to the girl. "You were brought here from the landslide. What is your name?"

"Ranma," she answered. "How long have I been here?"

"Not long," the nurse replied while checking the IV. "You been asleep for about a day and a half. You were extremely dehydrated when you got here, but I think you'll be alright."

Before Ranma could ask another question, the door swung open and a tall bushy haired man walked in. He eyed the redhead and addressed the nurse. "When did she wake?"

"Just now. Her name is Ranma."

"Ranma? What an unusual name for such a pretty girl," the doctor said while turning his attention to his patient. "I'm Dr. Itazuki. How are you feeling?"

Ranma stared at the doctor for a brief moment before answering. "Fine - I guess. When can I get out of here?"

"Well, I would like to keep you here under observation for at least one more night before releasing you," the doctor explained has he poked and prodded on Ranma's body. "But before we can do that though, we have to contact your family."

"Um, sure. Great," Ranma said as she suffered the poking from the doctor.

"Can you tell us how to contact your relatives? You didn't have any identification on you when you were found," the doctor said. "All that you had was this," the doctor removed from one of his pockets a short bladed knife with a tag attached to it, "and nothing else."

Ranma stared at the blade for a moment as a spike of fear coursed through her. She quickly gathered her wits together though and offered the required information.

A telephone rang...

... and rang...

... and rang again.

A sigh was heard before a women made her way into the hallway and picked up the receiver.

"Hello?" She said into the mouthpiece.

"Is this the Tendo Dojo?" the voice on the line asked.

"Yes it it. This is Kasumi speaking. May I ask who is calling?"

"This is Mr. Mayoigo. I'm with the Office of Patient Services at the Tokan Hospital in Nikko. Is a Mr. Saotome there?"

"No. No he isn't. He is out with father, but he'll be here in about twenty minutes," Kasumi replied. "May I take a message?"

"Yes. Can you please have him contact me at this number," the doctor paused as he read out the Hospital's number. "Tell him that it concerns his daughter."

"His daughter?" Kasumi said in a puzzled voice. "I'm afraid that there has been some kind of mistake. I don't believe Mr. Saotome has a daughter."

"How strange," Mr. Mayoigo said. "She was specific that her father was Genma Saotome and her resided at the Tendo Dojo, Nerima, Tokyo."

"How strange... Mr. Saotome hasn't lived here since...," Kasumi paused as she held on the phone and thought for a heartbeat as she bit her lip. "Can you describe her for me?"

"Yes. She's about five foot, blue eyes, red hair-"

"Ranma," the woman interrupted the doctor on the line. "Is her name Ranma?"

"Yes that was the name she gave," Mr. Mayoigo answered. "Apparently she was caught in a landslide. She is alright now, but we need to release her into the custody of her parents or guardian."

After a brief and puzzled pause, Kasumi asked, "Why is that?"

There was a silence on the other side on the phone that lasted a few heartbeats. "Ms. Tendo, Ranma is obviously a minor. We can't just let children out of the hospital on their own, we need a parent or guardian to pick them up."

"I... see," Kasumi answered hesitantly with a hint of confusion. She was so rattled that she didn't bother to correct the man on the other end of the line for using her maiden name. "I'll be sure to give him the message."

"Thank you," then the line fell silent.

"Ranma," Kasumi whispered softly as she leaned back into the wall. Kasumi's eyes went vacant as she was lost in thought for a few moments, she quickly lifted the phone again, dialed a well remembered number, and waited. "Hello, Dr. Hiyowai please," Kasumi said into the mouthpiece. "It's his wife... yes, it is important. I'll hold." Pause. "Hello darling? I'm fine dear... no, I'm not. Is Dr. Tofu with you? I need his help."

After much complaining, the doctor agreed to unhook Ranma from the IV's but insisted that Ranma limit herself to her room and the immediate area. He also insisted that Ranma get as much rest as possible. When she was alone, Ranma moved into the small bathroom and turned on the hot water. After a short wait, the water steamed from the spigot and Ranma place her hand under the flow. She felt the familiar tingling sensation that signaled the transformation stop before it barely began. Still with her hand under the steaming water Ranma watched herself in the mirror as her hair turned a slightly darker shade of red, before reverting back into it's usual bright color...

... and nothing else.

"What in the hell is it now?" she bitched loudly. "Great, just great," she seethed to herself. "Whatever knife he used screwed up my curse as well. I'm so going to pound him."

Stalking out of the small bath after shutting the spigot off, Ranma flopped on the bed.

"Nothing to do but wait," Ranma thought. She then cocked her head to one side. "Oh what the hell."

Getting up, she moved the bed she was in to one side of the room, giving her a little more room to move about. Once satisfied that she had as much room as she could get, Ranma started in on a kata.

Ranma heaved as she breathed after, what would be to a normal martial artist, an exhausting set of katas. Ranma rearranged everything in her room back to its original positions and entered the small bathroom. A quick, hot shower, which resulted in Ranma still being a she, Ranma decided to pass the time by peering out her hospital room window.

That's when the weirdness of her environment slowly worked its way into her consciousness. Ranma continued to stare out the window and watched as cars and people made their ways on whatever street was down there.

"Something's not right here," Ranma thought as the weirdness of what she was seeing set faint alarm bells off in her head. "But what?"

She studied the scene below her, watching for anything outstanding, a clue, a hint to what could be the matter. But nothing jumped out to her. Ranma furrowed her brow in frustration.

"Something is definitely not right here," she thought as she continued to look out her window, watching the people, cars and the buildings of this alien city. "I mean, this is something that I've seen everyday back in Tokyo. Why does it seem so... off?"

Ranma sighed in frustration and moved away from the window. Looking around for something else to do, she spied a television mounted to the wall.

"Why do they have that way up there?" she wondered. "If you're sick and in bed, you can't reach-" Her train of thought was stopped by the realization that the television was remotely operated. "Heh, that's what I get for not thinking."

Digging around the messy sheets of her bed Ranma quickly found the remote with the call button on it ands studied the layout. There were so many buttons that it confused her. Noticing one button marked 'on', Ranma was about to press it when a soft knock came from her door.

The nurse from earlier entered the room, carrying a tray. "How are you feeling?" she asked brightly.

"Great," Ranma answered. "Any word on when I can get out of here?"

The nurse smiled at her patient. "Yes, as a matter of fact after looking at your test results, the doctor doesn't feel that there is any need to keep you here for observation. Your family has been informed and is on their way to pick you up. They should be here within the hour."

Ranma smiled.

"I have something here for you to eat," the nurse continued as she set the tray down on a rolling table. "The food here isn't too bad, but it should hold you until you are discharged."

Ranma nodded as her empty stomach made itself known. "Man. I've been so busy tryin' to figure out what's weird, I'd forgotten how hungry I was," she thought. "Thanks," Ranma said as she discarded the remote and dug into her meal.

Ranma was pacing around the room like a caged animal. She had been pacing around since the end of mealtime and was eager to get out, but they wouldn't release her until her family arrived. That wasn't the foremost thing on the redhead's mind though.

"Why can't I change back?" she thought as she stalked around the confines of her room. "I took a hot shower and nothing. I bet that bastard did something, or maybe that knife had more to it than meets the eye."

She sighed heavily and plopped down on her bed. "This is getting me nowhere," she concluded. "I'll beat the answer outta him and if he doesn't know, I'll go see the ghoul."

Ranma rose and began a kata to clear her mind - one that would max out the available space that was in the room. "Stupid jerk. I wish I could do more than just wait. Dammit! I'm so bored."

Anymore thoughts or actions were driven away by a gentle knock on Ranma's door and soon a plump, middle aged women entered the room. Her eyes widened widened slightly at the sight of Ranma. Ranma wasn't too alarmed by this, for it was something that she had used to when someone saw her practice her martial arts for the first time. The newcomer swallowed visibly and spoke in a gentle way. "Ranma?" she asked.

Ranma stopped in her practice and blinked at the woman. "There's something about her... we've met," she thought. "That's me," Ranma answered while flicking her pigtail over her shoulder. "Is there something I can do for you?"

The woman continued to study the redhead as if she were making sure of something. After a few moments the middle aged woman brought a hand up to her mouth as if stunned by the sight of Ranma. "Ranma?" the woman repeated pensively. Ranma nodded in response, slightly puzzled as to why this stranger seemed so familiar and why she was behaving the way she was.

The woman was taller than Ranma, which was no surprise because most people were taller than her girl form. She looked to be in her early forties, plump all over with shoulder length brown hair with hints of gray at the temples. The lines around the woman's brown eyes were clearly defined as she obviously studied Ranma. She wore a pretty, but nondescript dress with what looked like fancy tennis shoes on her feet.

After several uncomfortable moments in which Ranma and the newcomer stared at each other, Ranma cleared her throat. "Er, are you lookin' for someone... or something I can do for you?"

The woman smiled a gentle smile that reminded Ranma so much of someone, but Ranma couldn't place who. She entered and shut the door behind her, crossed the small room and sat on the edge of the bed. Ranma continued to stare at her and tried to figure out where they had met. The woman looked at Ranma in the eyes again and patted a spot next to her. Ranma found herself sitting next to her visitor.

"Yes Ranma, you can," The woman said gently in an eerily familiar way. "Can you tell me what happened? How you ended up here?"

Ranma blink-blinked at the older woman, still trying to figure out why she looked so familiar. Ranma was drawn out of her thoughts by the woman repeating the question. "Ranma, can you tell me what happened?"

Ranma cleared her thoughts and resolved to ask the woman who she was and where they had met before this was all over with. She used the pause to recall what she had told the authorities before and replied with a rehearsed answer. "I was hiking along and got caught in a landslide."

The woman regarded Ranma with half-lidded eyes for a moment. "The truth please," she said in a gentle, yet commanding way. "What really happened to you."

Ranma stared at the woman sitting beside her. She spoke in a way that brooked no argument. Ranma considered her options and decided to tell some of the truth. She also decided to keep her curse a secret and went over the events of the last few days and mentally edited any reference to it. "I'll... I'll tell you. Okay?"

The woman nodded for Ranma to go on.

"Me, Ryoga, an Goz, I mean, Gosunkugi went looking for... a forgotten shrine," Ranma said. "Goz found this old map that was suppose to lead to a forgotten shrine where all ills and curses can get cured. Ryoga, that's the other guy that was with us, got separated and lost from Goz and me about two days into the trip."

Ranma paused in her story to study the woman. "Man. She looks so familiar, but who is she?" she asked herself.

"And?" the older woman prompted.

Ranma blinked. "Er, yeah. Well anyway, there was no shrine. It was a trap. Goz stabbed me in the shoulder with some type of knife. I couldn't move and he buried me in the woods somewhere. Then everything went black."

The older woman blinked at Ranma's revelations before nodding for Ranma to go on.

"The next thing I know, I'm weak, muddy, and cold," Ranma continued. "Then I woke up here."

The older woman stared at the redhead for a few heartbeats. She bit her lip as she visibly thought. "Ranma, I want you to stay here for a few moments. I'll be right back, I promise."

The woman rose from her place and quickly made her way to the door.

"Wait a minute," Ranma called after her. the woman stopped and turned to face Ranma just as she reached the door. "What is your name?" Ranma asked. "You look so familiar, but I can't place where we've meet."

The woman gave Ranma a rather sad smile. "I'll tell you when I get back," she said in a heavy voice. With that, the woman exited the room, leaving a very confused boy turned girl in her wake.

Out in the hall, a knot of people were gathered around a tall man wearing glasses. His brown hair was streaked with white and his focus was set on the object in his hands. He pursed his lips as he nodded his head.

"The Blade of the Sleeping Death," Dr. Tofu proclaimed as he finished his examination of the knife that was found with Ranma. "From what I understand, those who are stabbed by this blade are doom to sleep for an eternity, or at least as long as the blade is still in them."

"Wouldn't someone die after so long?" asked a short haired woman in her early forties. "I mean without food or water..."

Dr. Tofu shook his head. "I can't really say Nabiki, so much about the history and magic behind the knife has been lost over the centuries. I only know about it from the books that Cologne left behind for me. I think it would be safe to say that a state of suspended animation could have been achieved with this."

Ranma's visitor walked up to the group. A much older woman, with hair almost completely gray, looked tiredly at the newcomer. "Well, is he Ranma?"

The woman that just visited Ranma nodded. "I have no doubts, it's Ranma." She sighed sadly. "He didn't even recognize me."

"What happened to him? Why did he disappear?"

Now the focus of all the attention, the woman sighed before answering. "Ranma said that Gosunkugi stabbed him with that," the plump woman pointed at the dagger in Dr. Tofu's hands, "buried him in a shallow grave, and the next thing he knows he found himself, and I quote: Weak, muddy and cold."

The group of people that were gathered looked at one another. Dr. Tofu nodded in understanding. "He hasn't a clue about how long he has been gone, does he?"

The woman shook her head.

"What I don't understand is why he is still in his girl form. Surely they cleaned him up using warm water," the older, reddish-gray haired woman pointed out.

"That would have something to do with this knife, Mrs. Saotome," Dr. Tofu explained. "Once the residual magic wears away, Ranma should be able to change forms again."

"How long will that take?" asked a portly, bald headed man who was leaning on a cane.

Dr. Tofu frowned as he thought deeply on it. "Well Mr. Saotome, that would be impossible for me to say without examining Ranma first. My best guess from what I know about the knife, would be one to two weeks."

There was a collective sigh from the group as they all realized one crisis had been averted. Now it was time to tackle to the next one.

"What am I going to tell him?" Ranma's visitor asked.

"Maybe I should be the one to tell-," the older woman began, only to be stopped by the upraised hand of the short haired woman.

"We've been through all that," Nabiki said, perhaps a little more forcefully than she wanted. "We all agreed that my sister would be the best person that Ranma meets first."

The group nodded in agreement and the older woman deflated.

Ranma's visitor sighed. "I'll break it to him - I'll have to be direct though. If I remember right, Ranma was rather... thick then it came to subtleties."

Ranma's visitor reentered Ranma's room as quietly as she had came the first time. "I'm back," she announced softly and unnecessarily.

Ranma studied the woman before realizing that she was staring. "I'm sorry," Ranma said nervously. "You look so familiar, but I just can't place you."

"Why don't we have a seat," the woman said somewhat brightly as she motioned at the bed's edge. "Then we can talk."

The two sat on the bed, side by side, but angled in a way that they were both facing one another. The older of the two sighed heavily, looked at the younger one in the eyes. "Ranma, it's me - Kasumi."

The silence that followed lasted many heartbeats.

"Kasumi!" Ranma's mind roared. "No way!" Ranma leaned forward slightly and studied the women even closer now. Recognition dawned like a thunderbolt. This person, this woman, was definitely Kasumi. She was rounder, sorta plump all over, and a hint of gray around the temples, but it was most definitely Kasumi. An older Kasumi.

"K-Kasumi!" Ranma exclaimed in a surprised voice. "W-what happened to you?"

Kasumi sighed, bit her lip and stared at Ranma for a few heartbeats before speaking. "Nothing happened to me, Ranma," she answered quietly. "Nothing that doesn't happen to everyone - eventually," Kasumi said patiently as her mind raced to think of a way to break this to Ranma as gently as possible.

"What do you mean nothing happened! Look at you!"

"Ranma please calm down," Kasumi said rather forcibly, but still in her usual gentle manner. "If you will calm down I'll try to explain."

"Calm down hell," Ranma thought. "K-kasumi," she said. "Everything seems weird since I woke up. What's going on?"

Ranma fought down the strange, almost overpowering urge to panic. What kept her from doing so was the disoriented feeling she had from the revelation that this woman was someone she knew so well. This only added to the sickening feeling that something was most definitely wrong that lingered and sat at the pit of her stomach and weighed her soul down. Ranma swallowed hard and maintained her brave face and marveled at Kasumi's placid attitude.

"Ranma, when you left with Ryoga and Gosunkugi on your search for a cure, only Ryoga and Gosunkugi returned," Kasumi said. "When Ryoga returned, he said that he got lost as usual and didn't know anything. Gosunkugi showed up about three days later, he claimed that you and him got separated and didn't know where you were."

Ranma snorted at that. "Yeah, he probably forgot after he stabbed and buried me. But that doesn't explain what happened to you."

Kasumi nodded in understanding. "Anyway after you disappeared, everybody looked for you. Ryoga was the hardest hit by your disappearance because he was under such a cloud of suspicion. So many people heard him threaten to kill you so often, that many people believed that he did kill you and disposed of your body somewhere, or he... did something sordid to you to make you want to stay away." Kasumi sighed heavily. "Poor Ryoga, he searched for you for years before finally giving up," the last said mostly to herself and not Ranma.

Ranma stared at the middle aged woman seated next to her on the hospital bed. Her mind reeled as it latched onto one word. "Y-years? Kasumi what are you talking about?" Ranma stuttered out. The sensation at the pit of her stomach was starting to feel very heavy now, so heavy it felt like it was going through the floor. Whatever was going on wasn't good. "I-it's only been days, maybe three at the most."

Kasumi bit her lip and turned more toward the smaller, redheaded girl sitting next to her and placed her hands firmly on Ranma's shoulders. "Ranma," Kasumi said in a very clear and precise voice. Kasumi wanted to be sure that she had Ranma's full attention and would understand the scope of what she was about to say. "You disappeared twenty-two years ago."

- End Prologue -

This prologue was originally posted on my website back on Aug 2005 and I have had several requests to post it here. People were afraid that it would disappear with my website if I go missing.

So here it is.

Even though I haven't updated this in a while, it is still an active story and I am working on it. It's just moving on it at a snails pace. It will be updated at some point.

Thanks for reading.

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