Future Perfect
			Act One: Past Tense
			Part One


	"A crisis in the past."

	The girl stared at her older brother for a moment before
breaking into sudden gales of laughter.  He watched, nonplussed, until
she finally ran out of breath.  Between gasps of air, she remarked,
"Come -on-, Hiroshi.  A crisis in the past?"

	The third person sitting at the table was not so amused.
"What's so funny about that, sis?" the young boy asked.

	"How can there be a crisis in the past?  It's past.  Gone.
History.  Of course bad things have happened, but they don't really
affect us."

	"Mirai," her older brother objected.  "The present is
completely dependant on the events of the past.  If things had turned
out differently along the line, then... err, things wouldn't have
turned out the way they did," he finished lamely.  For some reason,
his explanations just never worked out.  The younger boy snickered
quietly at him.

	"Okay," she answered, "But so what?  It's not like we're able
to do anything about the past.  If it happened, it happened."

	"But suppose someone could change the past.  What would

	"Then I guess they'd be able... to change... the present.
Okay, I see your point."  She rested her chin in the palm of her hand,
leaning forward against the table.  "So, are you saying it's not
impossible, or what?"

	"People once thought the laws of nature were impossible to
change, but the Mol unit proves them wrong."

	"That's not the same thing!"

	"Why not?" the younger boy asked.  He drummed his fingers on
the table as he thought aloud.  "The Mol unit crosses dimensions.
Time can be seen as a dimension.  The unit wasn't built for that, but
it should be possible to go back in time using it.  After a few
modifications, that is."

	"All right, Nozomu.  But who would risk playing with the
past?"  Uncertainly, she asked, "Not Machinegal again?  That sort of
thing doesn't seem like his style."

	"I don't know," drawled Hiroshi.  "But there's something else.
Nozomu is right about the Mol unit and time.  I haven't worked out all
the calculations for travel yet, but I've been able to scan the

	Nozomu's eyes widened, and he leaned forward in interest, but
it was again Mirai who responded.  "So you know what this 'crisis'

	Hiroshi shook his head.  "No.  That's the important thing."

	"Uh... what?"

	"You see," he explained, "Within the last several centuries, I
was able to scan every period except one.  Some sort of disturbance is
blocking that one period.  Now, if someone is playing with the
timeline, and they've discovered this disturbance..."

	"Or created it," Nozomu interrupted.

	"Yes, I hadn't considered that.  Either way, it would be the
perfect time to implement their plan."

	Nodding thoughtfully, Mirai said, "I can see that.  What are
we going to do about it?"

	"And when's the disturbance?" her little brother added.

	"The disturbance is approximately seventy years ago, covering
about a 40-month period.  As to what we'll do... we have to find out
more.  I've been working on a transmitter of sorts, to send a

	"Why not just go ourselves?  Moldiver can take care of the

	"Because if we did, we might not be able to get back to our

	Nozomu chuckled.  "Imagine Mirai being stuck in the primitive
past.  I'd give her... oh, maybe two days."

	Hiroshi laughed; Nozomu nimbly dodged as his sister lunged at
him.  "Nozomu!" she screeched.

	"Anyway," continued Hiroshi, "I've almost finished."  The
other two stopped squabbling at his pronouncement.  "There are some
problems to work out, of course, but I think it's safe to say we'll be
able to broadcast in a month."

	"A -month-?"  Mirai gaped.  "That's way too late!"

	"The past isn't going anywhere, Mirai," he pointed out with a
confident grin.  She only sighed.


	That night, Nozomu crept out of his room.  Carrying a box of
tools beneath one arm, he stalked quietly into the room where Hiroshi
had begun to assemble his device.  Focusing a flashlight on the
contraption, Nozomu smiled.  "Not bad.  This'll be easier than I

	The self-proclaimed greatest technologist in the world set to
work.  The night quickly passed while he was absorbed in construction.
Finally, just after dawn, he made the last connection.  Giggling
delightedly, he pressed the power switch.  He was rewarded by a loud
thrum and a flash as the machine came to life.

	"Nozomu!"  Hiroshi burst into the room a moment later.  "What
are you doing?"  A sleepy Mirai followed, rubbing her eyes.

	The boy's reply was matter-of-fact.  "I finished your machine.
It's sending the warning now.  Don't worry, the signal will easily
reach 70 years; it could probably go twice that far.  I boosted its
signal a little."

	"But, Nozomu," Hiroshi groaned, "People in the past don't have
the technology to receive that kind of transmission.  That's what I
was waiting to work on..."

	Nozomu slapped his forehead.  "I forgot about that?  I don't
believe it..."

	"Uh, guys?" asked Mirai, all appearances of tiredness gone.
"Is it supposed to do that?"

	Alarmed, the two men turned toward the machine.  Clouds of
sparks were intermittently expelled from a vent near its base.  As if
on cue, a rough grinding noise began, somewhere inside the invention.

	"Uh oh."

	"Just how much did you 'boost' it?"

	"About four times."

	"I was afraid of that.  Run!"  Hiroshi was out of the room in
a flash.

	Nozomu began to follow, but his foot caught on a loose cord,
and he tripped.  Mirai, who was almost out of the room, turned as she
heard him cry out.  The device was loudly protesting, now; showers of
sparks seemed to leap off of its surface.  There was only one thing to

	Gritting her teeth, she activated the palm-sized recorder-like
device she now habitually carried.  She felt, rather than saw, her
clothing shred as the dimensional energy she'd named Metamorforce
engulfed her, and sighed.  Another outfit ruined -- well, at least it
wasn't a new one, this time.

	The transformation took only a moment to complete.  Then Mirai
-- Moldiver -- half flew, half ran at incredible speed to Nozomu's side.
She easily lifted him, turned...

	And the machine exploded.  The initial shock seemed to pass
Mirai harmlessly; this wasn't unusual, considering Moldiver's
theoretically-limitless capabilities.  What was unusual was that, a
moment later, she found herself thrown through the air, Nozomu still
in her arms.

	Mirai lost consciousness, having become intimately acquainted
with the wall.


	"Is she going to be all right?" Nozomu asked.  Mirai lay in
bed, unmoving, barely seeming to breathe.

	Hiroshi shifted uncomfortably.  "I hope so.  I don't think
she's hurt too badly, but there could be internal injuries."  He
frowned.  "What I'd like to know is, what happened to the Mol unit?
One minute it was working, then, right after she was caught in the

	"Could the power have run out?"

	"It shouldn't have.  That unit was fully charged, or close to

	"Say, where is the unit now?  I haven't seen it since before
she transformed."

	"That's odd."  Hiroshi's fingers threaded together as he
thought -- a nervous habit he'd never been able to break.  "It should
have reappeared when the transformation was reversed, so I suppose it
must have been destroyed in the explosion."

	"Oh."  Nozomu sighed.  "Sorry about all this...  It's all my

	"Don't worry.  Mirai will be fine, and we have another Mol
unit."  Hiroshi grinned.  "And you did speed my machine up quite a

	"But will we be able to build another communicator in time to
warn the past?"  Nozomu blushed.

	Hiroshi smiled reassuringly.  "I guess we'll have to work
together."  He winked.  "And remember, the past isn't going anywhere."
Nozomu smiled.

	"It's too bad nobody will be able to get the first warning,


	A boy of seventeen knelt in the darkness.  Ahead of him,
illuminated by some unseen source, stood a dark-haired girl.  She
stared accusingly at him.  He tried to speak, to explain, but his
voice betrayed him; he could only murmur incoherent noises of protest.
Tossing her hair back with one hand, she turned angrily and began to
walk forward.  He struggled to stand, fell, and slowly rose to his
hands and knees.  All the while, the girl walked further from him.

	He reached out, as if to pull her back, and a smaller hand
grasped his, helping him pull himself to his feet.  He started to
thank his rescuer and froze.  The boy was perhaps half his age, and he
glowed with a ghostly light.  His mouth moved; the sound that followed
was delayed just long enough to lend the apparition an unnerving sense
of disconnection.  "Danger," said the boy.  His voice was deathly
quiet.  It was all the teenager could do to make out the occasional
word.  "Past... Unforeseen... Prevent... Key.  Find... Future

	"What?" asked the teen, now able to speak.  "I don't
understand..."  The boy flickered and began to fade away.  "No,
don't go!  You have to tell me... tell... me..."  It was no use.  The
boy had vanished, like a phantom.

	He chose a direction at random and ran.  Surely, there must be
somebody nearby.  Somebody...

	Yes!  There, just to one side, a familiar figure appeared out
of the shadows.  "Akane!" he called desperately.  What had the boy
said?  "Future perfect!"  She stared at him, puzzled.  Before she
could form a question, he had run past her, leaving her to be lost in
the darkness.  If Akane was here, then maybe...

	He ran on, tirelessly, searching for any landmark that might
tell him where he was.  He, too, was lost, and the blackness that
permeated this place didn't help.  How far had he gone?  Was he
travelling in circles?  There was no way to tell.  Should he have
stayed with Akane?

	Overwhelmed by frustration, he stopped.  Clenching his fists,
he yelled into the darkness.  "Where am I?"

	Only the distorted echo of his own voice answered.  "Where am

	"Lost," he muttered, disgusted.  It was crucially important,
and he was lost in this dark place.  Where his sense of urgency had
come from, he didn't know.  But he was as certain of it as of his

	Feminine laughter rang out ahead and to his right.  It took
him a moment to realize that it wasn't the shadows mocking him.  He
knew that laugh.  He was walking in that direction even before he knew
it.  With each step, his speed increased, until he was travelling at a
dead run.  Strangely, he didn't feel the slightest bit tired.  Perhaps
his endurance was better than he thought?

	There, ahead.  Light.  And in the light, a woman.

	It was the same woman, the one with long, dark hair.  No
longer angry, she walked forward cautiously.  One hand was raised in
front of her; the other was at her side.  She scowled, reacting to
something he couldn't see.

	He wanted to call to her, but he was too late.  Even as he
watched, a streak of silver -- a knife? -- flashed out of the
darkness, embedding itself in her throat.  She stared in dull
surprise, the expression of one who suddenly realizes Death has come
to call, and time hung still for a moment.  Then she was lost in a
fountain of blood, a cloud of red mist.

	He sank to his knees and screamed.


	"Oniichan!"  Someone was shaking him.  "Oniichan!  Wake up."

	Slowly, he opened one eye.  "...Uh?"  The other eye opened,
and he blinked, focusing on his new, lit surroundings.  He was lying
in bed, and a girl with glasses was standing above him, shaking him by
the shoulders...  "Manami?"

	"That must have been some dream, oniichan."

	"Yeah," another girl's voice added.  "You were really
screaming!  You woke everyone up."

	He chuckled, embarrassed.  "Sorry, Kurumi, Manami.  It
was..."  He stopped, horrified, and nearly leapt out of bed.  "Oh no!
Could that have been a premonition dream?  No..."

	His twin sisters exchanged glances.  "A premonition dream?"
Manami asked.  "What was it about?"

	"I'm not sure at all, but... let me tell you what happened.
Then I've got to find Ayukawa..."


	"[Why is Great-grandmother pacing like that?  What is
troubling her?]" she murmured.  Speaking only to herself, she indulged
in the luxury of using her native tongue.

	The blind boy overheard, of course.  She constantly forgot how
keen his other senses were.  "You should speak Japanese, Shampoo," he
remarked.  "You need the practice."

	She halfheartedly threw a vase of flowers at him.  It
shattered against the back of his head.  "No talk to Shampoo that way,
stupid Mousse.  You work."

	Mousse smiled blissfully.  She had listened to him.

	Shampoo scowled and glanced about for something heavier to
throw.  It was at that point that Cologne fortuitously chose to
intervene.  "Mousse!  I have an errand for you.  You must go and bring
Ranma here at once.  And no fighting.  I need that boy to listen, and
that's difficult enough to manage without needless distractions."

	Mousse's good mood shattered at the mention of his rival's
name.  "Ranma?  Why should I bring him here?"

	"Shampoo gladly bring airen, Great-grandmother!"

	"No, Shampoo, I need you to do something else.  And as for
you..."  She turned to face Mousse, and her eyes narrowed.  Her
voice softened ever-so-slightly as she asked, "Don't question me,

	Mousse was almost suicidally fearless where Shampoo was
concerned, but he recognized that tone of voice.  There were things
worse than death.  Cologne knew every one of them, and that tone of
voice was the one she used when she was promising to show you each of
them, simultaneously.  This once, perhaps, it would be best to listen.
"I won't help you with any of your schemes," he called from the
doorway.  "Shampoo will be mine!"  Pride satisfied by the show of
defiance, he set out for the Tendou Dojo.

	"Silly boy," Cologne sighed.

	Shampoo had already lost interest.  "What Great-grandmother
want Shampoo do?" she asked curiously.

	"I want you to deliver a letter..."


	The girl yawned and staggered to the door.  "Who could that
be?" she mumbled aloud.  "So early, too."  Throwing open the door, she
blinked, uncomprehending, at the purple-haired girl who stood there.

	"Nihao.  Shampoo bring letter from Great-grandmother to devil
hunter woman.  You take, yes?"  She shoved a meticulously-inscribed
envelope into the girl's hands, waved jauntily, and walked away.

	The girl watched blankly, uncomprehending.  "What on

	"Who was it, Yohko?"

	"Some girl with purple hair."

	"Purple hair?"

	"Yeah."  She glanced at the letter in her hands.  The
impeccably-calligraphed characters on its front read simply, 'Madoka
Mano.'  She frowned slightly and added, "She brought a letter for

	"Oh?"  Yohko's grandmother bounded into the room with the
energy of a woman a third her age.  "Let's see it, then."

	Wordlessly, Yohko handed her grandmother the envelope.  The
old woman studied the calligraphy and nodded to herself before
carefully opening the letter.  Unfolding it, she began to read,
silently and extremely slowly, as though she was imprinting each
character into her memory.  As she did so, she would nod, or shake her
head, or loose an intrigued "Oh..." or "Hmm."

	Finally, Yohko was unable to stand the suspense.  "Well?  What
is it?"

	Madoka Mano answered without taking her eyes from the paper.
"It's from an old acquaintance of mine.  An invitation to lunch."

	"LUNCH?!"  She'd waited twenty minutes while her grandmother
had read an invitation to -lunch-?  Shaking her head, she sighed, "You
could have told me that sooner."  She turned to leave, intending to
return to her sleep.  Or, failing that, to breakfast.

	Her grandmother's voice stopped her.  "You're going to come
with me."

	"Business?"  Yohko was more than a little surprised.  The city
had been relatively quiet for almost a year -- well, as far as
supernatural activity went, anyway.

	Figures the demons would show up on a Sunday.  If they'd
waited one day, she could at least have had an excuse to miss history

	"Maybe," Madoka slowly replied.  "I'm not exactly certain.
But she did send for me..."

	Regretfully, Yohko capitulated.  "Okay.  Say, which restaurant
are we going to?"  She might at least get a good meal out of all this.

	"The Nekohanten."


	Meanwhile, in the darkness of space, another being was
examining the strange mechanism that had appeared, seemingly from
nowhere, and awakened him by falling on his face.  He hadn't seen the
like before.  The technology, while not exactly primitive, wasn't as
advanced as that which went into his spaceship.  But the readings he
was getting indicated a power greater than any he'd ever seen.  Or any
but one...

	If it had been a vehicle, it would have been a Roman chariot
powered by a matter/antimatter drive.  It was very puzzling.  In the
whole universe, he knew of only four or five who might have built such
a device, himself among them.  He certainly hadn't, and he thought
none of the others would use such low technology.  And how had it
gotten into his cabin?

	Still, no matter how backwards it looked, anything with that
much power behind it must have a special function.  Light gleamed off
his glasses -- he'd put them on after his rude awakening -- as he
considered the possibilities.  No, it certainly wasn't anything as
simple as a recorder.  He'd have to be cautious, lest he trigger
whatever security the device might have.

	Kagato, Destroyer of Artifacts, smiled.  It had been so long
since he'd had a challenge.