Future Perfect
			Book One: Past Tense
			Part Two


	Mirai poked her head into Hiroshi's room.  As usual, it was a
mess; clothes, circuitry, and paper were scattered across the floor,
desk, bed, and every other horizontal surface.  She suspected that it
would look even worse, were it lit by more than the single light by
which her brother habitually worked.  "What'cha working on?" she asked
without preamble.

	Hiroshi didn't even turn to acknowledge her presence.  He only
answered, "Building something to take care of the timestream flux."

	"Okay.  And in the language of real people, that means...?"

	"We're dealing with interference in history.  If something
changed in the past, we'd change, probably without even being aware of
it.  Maybe even vanish, if something happens to our parents, or their
parents, or..."

	"Gotcha.  So whatever you're building will do that."

	"It looks that way."

	She winced.  "Looks that way?  Don't you -know-?"

	Hiroshi actually paused in his work while he considered her
question -- a rare occurrence.  "No," he said finally.  "In fact, I
don't even remember working on this.  But it's in my computer, so I
guess I must have.  All I have to do is build one of these for each of

	She nodded and started to withdraw.  But one last doubt
remained, demanding to be addressed.  "Isn't the warning more

	"Nozomu's working on the translator.  He's pretty good, you

	She shrugged.  "I guess.  Say, wouldn't Moldiver be able to
resist the change?"

	"In theory, until the time limit ran out, it could.  Of
course, you'd have to have already activated the Mol unit."  He paused
again and craned his head to look at her.  "That reminds me, did you
find the other unit yet?  I won't be able to build a third one for
some time."

	Her gaze dropped.  "Sorry.  There's no trace of it anywhere."

	"Atomized."  Hiroshi sighed deeply.  "Well, there's nothing we
can do about it now.  Strange, though," he added thoughtfully, "The
power source at least should have survived.  That's the important
part, too..."

	"At least we still have one.  Hey, don't forget to come out
for dinner in an hour or so, okay?  You missed lunch."

	"Is it that late already?"  Shrugging, he returned to his


	The man frowned as he regarded the empty space where his
partner -- or benefactor -- had stood, moments before.  This, it
seemed, would require some action.  Pity; he had become used to his
current situation.  Perhaps he could return, when this was over.

	He donned his coat, picked up his hat, walked to the door, and
paused.  In the hallway, he heard another door close.  Footsteps
approached.  With painstaking care, he counted slowly to seven...
then abruptly slammed the door open.

	He was rewarded, not with a sound thump, but with an
incoherent exclamation.  Followed by an angry cry, "Yotsuya-san!"

	Not bad, he decided.  Affecting an expression of surprise, he
turned to greet his neighbor.  "Why, Godai-kun.  Were you going out as

	The day was looking up.


	It was, all in all, a fairly ordinary day at the Tendou dojo.

	Ranma and Genma had already finished their morning sparring
session.  Result:  One wet panda.

	Akane had made breakfast.  In a manner of speaking, that is.
"Made" doesn't quite do justice to the activities Akane energeticaly
pursued in the kitchen.  Come to that, "breakfast" wasn't the right
word for the results of those activities.  Result:  One suspiciously
non-hungry family.

	Ranma had objected with his accustomed subtlety when he
discovered that Akane had made breakfast.  Result:  One wet

	Ranma, Akane, and Nabiki had not yet left for school.  But
that doesn't count as abnormal, since it was Sunday, and there was no
school.  Result:  One happy Ranma, one thoughtful Akane, and one
Nabiki slightly disappointed by but resigned to the once-weekly
potential loss of income.

	Mousse had appeared, literally leaping into the room where
Ranma, Genma, and the Tendous had been finishing breakfast.  Or trying
to escape before breakfast finished them, as the case may be.  Result:
One relieved family.  Now they had a clear excuse to leave the table.

	That was when things began to deviate from the norm.  To wit,
Mousse didn't do any of the following:  Rant, challenge Ranma, attack,
kidnap Akane, or laugh megalomaniacally.  Not that he didn't want to
do one or more of these things, but he remembered Cologne's warning
very well.  Therefore, instead, he calmly and politely began to talk.


	"He's over there," Nabiki drawled, pointing.

	Ranma sighed.  "Aw, man... all right, already, c'mon

	"I'm not here to fight you, Saotome.  Not this time."

	Ranma paused.  "Huh?"

	"Then why...?" Nabiki began to ask.  This was unusual, and
there was usually profit to be found in the unusual, in Nabiki's
experience.  Then again, in Nabiki's experience, there was profit to
be found in the usual as well.

	"Cologne sent me.  She wants you to come to the Nekohanten."

	"Yeah, right.  Why should I do anything the ghoul wants?  It's
gotta be another trick to set me up with Shampoo."  The temperature in
the room immediately dropped twenty degrees.  Ranma, of course, failed
to notice.

	"Saotome..." Mousse grated.  With an effort, he held the
impulse to throttle at bay.  After several deep breaths, he continued.
"Do you think I'd allow such a thing, much less take part in it?
You're not worthy of my darling Shampoo!"

	"What?  Hey, I could beat you any day!"

	"Ranma!  How dare you chase Shampoo when you are engaged to
Akane!" Genma proclaimed.  Soun, meanwhile, sobbed in the corner;
Kasumi tried to comfort him.  Nabiki rolled her eyes and edged a
little further away from Ranma and Akane.

	It was, all in all, a fairly ordinary day at the Tendou dojo.


	"Kasuga-kun!"  Madoka Ayukawa's voice registered a wealth of
emotions.  Surprise, happiness, the slightest distancing as she
subconsciously checked to see whether Hikaru was near.  "What's

	Only the presence of a lamppost upon which to lean was
preventing Kyousuke from collapsing to the ground.  True to his word,
he had been searching for Ayukawa for the entire morning.  He had not,
obviously, found her at her home, nor was she at the ABCB, in the
park, or at any of the usual places.  He'd almost given up when he'd
caught a brief glimpse of her, long hair flowing behind her in the
breeze, and had run after her.  And now that he'd found her, he could
barely gather the breath to gasp out, "Dream..."

	She frowned slightly in bewilderment.  "A dream?"

	He had planned an impassioned speech while he'd searched, a
speech designed to warn Ayukawa and, coincidentally, leave a favorable
impression of himself.  At her comment, and its accompanying
expression, he realized how ridiculous he would seem.  In that moment,
all semblance of poise left him.  "Ah... that is, I..."  He coughed.

	"Catch your breath first, Kasuga-kun," she said with a faint
smile.  "We have plenty of time."

	He nodded, falling into step beside her as she continued
walking.  He wondered where they were going; this section of the city
wasn't very familiar to him.

	They walked in silence for several minutes.  Kyousuke was
frantically trying to think of a way to warn her without coming across
as an utter fool.  His chances didn't look good.  What she was
thinking, he had no idea; her face was fixed into that distant,
emotionless stare of hers.  He hadn't seen that expression for the
last few weeks; it belonged to Madoka the Pick, not the gentler
Ayukawa.  Something must be troubling her.

	With that in mind, he decided to save face by changing the
subject.  With luck, she wouldn't notice.  "Where are we going?" he
asked finally, trying to sound as nonchalant as he could.

	She replied without looking at him.  "I need to pick up a few
things."  A brief pause, and then:  "I'm going away on a trip for a
little while."

	"Eh?"  Ayukawa was... leaving...?  "O-over break?"  He
silently cursed himself for being unable to say more.

	She nodded.  "I'm going to be visiting a distant relative.  I
haven't seen him since we were children..."  Her voice trailed off,
and Kyousuke suffered a brief pang of irrational jealousy.

	"I see."  A few moments later, he added, "That will be nice, I
guess..."  He remembered the last time he'd gone into the country; it
had been with her, and Hikaru-chan, and Yusaku as well.  There had
been a torrential storm, and the group had sheltered at his
grandparents' home.

	It seemed that Ayukawa remembered, too, because she shot a
sidelong glance at him and said, "I still need to repay you for the
last time, Kasuga-kun.  You might find it boring, but... would you
like to come along?"

	His surprise turned rapidly to exhilaration.  "Really?  It
wouldn't be too much trouble?"

	"I don't think so.  My cousin is practically alone.  He'll
probably be glad to have the company."

	"Well, if you're sure..."  He couldn't believe his luck.  To
be alone (well, practically) with Ayukawa for the entire break... "I'd
be glad to."  He'd give his left arm to.

	She smiled at him.  "You'd better hurry and pack, then.  We
leave tomorrow night."

	He arched an eyebrow; that -was- early.  "Before the break
starts?  Well, okay."  It wouldn't hurt him much to miss a little
school.  Not if it meant a chance to be with Ayukawa.  "How hard could
it be to pack, anyway?"

	"We'll probably be staying for a month or so."

	"So long?"  He circumspectly studied her, trying to determine
whether she was joking.  She had a devilish sense of humor at times.

	She solemnly nodded, explaining, "I was surprised by the
invitation.  But since I haven't seen him in ten years..."

	He nodded, too.  It looked like he'd better hurry up and pack.


	Miki Koishikawa walked along the street, absorbed in her own
cares.  Beside her, her best friend Meiko Akizuki talked about Miki's
upcoming tennis match.  Miki knew that Meiko was trying to distract
her, and she appreciated the thought, but it wasn't working.  The
problem of Yuu loomed large in her mind.

	If anyone had told Miki that the world faced a crisis, that
the very fabric of space and time was in danger of shredding into so
many tattered rags... Miki would have smiled nervously, nodded, and
slowly backed away.  These were not things that Miki considered
possible, much less thought about.  In fact, despite how strange
Miki's life was, it was downright ordinary.  There was no place in it
for magic, super-science, or universal catastrophe.

	If anyone had asked Miki, she would have confirmed that she
definitely preferred it that way.


	Yusaku Godai also walked slowly along a street, lost in
thought.  He, unlike Miki, was alone; but otherwise, the two had a
great deal in common.  He, too, was not a believer in cosmic powers;
he, too, had no greater troubles than school and love; he, too, would
have greatly preferred that things remain that way.


	The universe doesn't care what people prefer.


	"Here," Hiroshi said, handing a small device to Mirai.  "Make
sure you wear this at all times."

	She made a face.  "It's not very fashionable."

	Hiroshi groaned.  "Just wear it, okay?  It should shield us
somewhat from the effects of temporal changes.  At the very least,
we'll be able to remember what's happened to us before."

	Mirai suddenly became very interested in the small bundle of
electronics.  "Will it keep us from fading out?"

	"If we don't exist in the new timeframe, you mean?"  Mirai
nodded, and he continued, "Yes.  At least, it should."

	"That's not very reassuring..."

	"Well, it's not the sort of thing you can test..."

	"All right, there's no need to get so defensive about it.  You
know, I suppose I could make this into a brooch, then it wouldn't look
-too- bad..."

	Hiroshi shook his head.  Sometimes it seemed Mirai had a
one-track mind.  "Here."  He handed her an identical device.  "Give
this one to Nozomu, and tell him what I told you."

	"Okay," she agreed, shrugging.  "Are you going somewhere?"

	He nodded.  "We're going to need some more parts to
reconstruct the signal.  I should be back soon."


	That had been a rather strange dream, Akane Kasuga decided.
Any dream in which her cousin featured was out of the ordinary, of
course, but this one was... different.  It disturbed her enough that
she couldn't properly enjoy her usual morning ritual -- contemplation
of the large photograph of Madoka Ayukawa that she'd attached to her
ceiling, above her bed.

	What was it the dream-Kyousuke had yelled to her?  "Future
perfect."  What was that supposed to mean?

	She snorted.  Typical Kyousuke.  Even his dream-image couldn't
make any sense.  He didn't stick around to answer her questions,

	Well, it was probably nothing.  It wasn't as if dreams had any
real meaning, after all.  Right?

	Still, maybe she should visit the real Kyousuke.

	Akane looked upward at the picture and smiled.  It had been a
long time since she'd seen Madoka.  A visit to her cousin was the
perfect excuse.  The timing was good, too; break was coming up.  It
would be nice to see Kurumi and Manami again, too.  Kyousuke probably
wouldn't be too happy, but who cared about him?

	She laughed out loud.  This could be fun.  Things were looking