The Return of the Videocassette

     Welcome.  We're glad you've decided to stay around this long.  As
you probably already know, this is the third and (for now) final story
in the Ran Wars trilogy.  This will resolve many-but not all-of the
story threads presented in the first two episodes.  We hope you find
it entertaining, if maybe a trifle more serious than the last two.
     Okay, let's get ready.  Strap yourself in, grab the popcorn, boil
some water and feed the pig.   "May the Force equal gravity x mass."

(The scene opens with space, as we watch the RAN WARS logo fly onto
the screen in the usual way.  It fades into the distance, and is
replaced by text which scrolls diagonally up into the screen)

                             Episode -8/0
                     Return of the Videocassette

It is a mere seven months since the disastrous Battle of Hoth.  And
the rebels...have all DIED!  Ohohohohoho!  Huh?  No! Get away!
(sounds of combat) Sorry about that.  Kodachi grabbed the
teleprompter. *ahem* ...and the rebels have fled to the far corners of
the galaxy.  After the death of the Dark Jedi Kunou, the Imperial
civil war seems to be drawing to a close, with Kodachi's forces on the
run.  Now, with relative stability in the Empire, a second version of
the dreaded Happoudaikarin is being built near the moon of Endor.
Meanwhile, Ranma Skywalker, having discovered that the gangster known
only as Hutt is living on his homeworld of Tokyo, has journeyed
there...with some "persuasion" from save Ryouga Solo...

(The words disappear and the scene pans to the right.  We see a lush
green moon, orbiting around a large, unremarkable planet.  Several
arrowhead-shaped Star Destroyers skim across the atmosphere and slowly
fly into the sunrise.  The beautiful golden-red colour of the
magnificent space dawn glints off the dull grey metal of the Imperial
juggernauts.  The glare from the sun dies out, and another object
comes into view.  It is a gigantic sphere, nearly a sixth as big as
the moonlet it orbits.  The sphere is only covered by a dark brown
hull across one quarter of its upper portion.  The rest is a
nightmarish collection of skeletal superstructure interspersed with
multi-coloured flares and flashes of light.  Squatish tugs haul
various large objects and containers around while dark, predatory TIE
fighters and interceptors swoop around in careful orbits.  The scene
changes to a tri-winged, fish-like shuttle flying into a docking bay.
The ship lands on a hangar floor, at the head of a gigantic guard of
Imperial stormtroopers.  The troopers halt and form ranks to either
side of a red carpet that extends from a set of pneumatic doors to the
edge of the slowly descending ramp.  A lone figure in a crisp and
proper admiral's uniform strides forward.  As soon as he reaches the
end of the carpet, he snaps to attention and watches as a large
creature shambles down the ramp.  It is a panda, in bits and pieces of
black armour, with a mask over its mouth which connects to a large
screen positioned above and behind his head.)

Harkov: Welcome, Lord Saotome, welcome to the second Happoudaikarin.

Saotome(printout on screen): {Dispense with the formalities, my
friend.} (clears screen) {How goes the construction?}

Harkov: Ahead of schedule.  And what about the Emperor's...presence?

Saotome: (growls/chuckles) {The first shipment of our dear
Emperor's...treasures will arrive today.} (clears screen) {All
successive shipments will also be to here.}

Harkov: _That_ should bring him running.  (smiles)

Saotome: {Hai.} (clears screen) {Now that that's over with, I have an
important question.}

Harkov: Oh?

Saotome: {What do we have to _eat_ on this junk pile?}
(Switch scenes to a seemingly endless expanse of parched yellow
desert.  Two figures trudge slowly across the landscape.  One is a man
in a long white robe and blue pants, with long black hair and
pop-bottle glasses.  His companion is a droid, built to resemble an
attractive human female in a metallic version of a okonomiyaki chef's
outfit.  One arm has a large spatula housed on it which extends to
just beyond her fist.  She has a bored look on her face, while he
looks disgruntled.)

Mousse(to a large rock): I don't remember it being this _hot_ last
time we were here, Ukyou.

Ukyou: I'm over here, Mousse.  (he turns to face her) That's because
you were a droid last time we were here, Mousse, and droids don't feel

Mousse: Oh yeah, I forgot.
(Ukyou shakes her head as they round a large outcropping.   A large,
domed building situated at the top of a high black cliff comes into
view.  The red sun of Tokyo lies behind it, silhouetting the structure
and its three conical towers.  Each tower is topped by a large,
tri-barrelled turbolaser turret, and a sensor dish is perched on the
apex of the central dome.  Ukyou smiles.)

Ukyou: Well, we're almost there so you can stop complaining.

Mousse: Huh?  How can you tell?

Ukyou: (points at the structure) Hutt's palace is right there.  
(Mousse turns in surprise to look at right angles to the building,
giving him an excellent view of...nothing.)

Mousse: Where?  Uh...Ukyou, there's nothing there.
(She grabs him by the head and turns him to face the building, then
touches his glasses.  They turn several different shades of colour
before settling back on white.)

Mousse: Oh...I can see it now.  Why is it a giant turtle?

Ukyou: (sighs) Because Hutt's weird.  Remember to adjust your focusers
every now and then, Mousse.

Mousse: (as they walk to the cliff face)   Hai, I know where it is.
(pauses) Do you remember the plan?

Ukyou: Of course.  It is _my_ plan, after all.

Mousse: (nods) Good...could you remind me again?
(Cut to the two of them standing at the bottom of the high, steep
cliff.  Ukyou and Mousse are staring up at it, shielding their eyes
(or equivalents) with their hands.)

Ukyou: (whistles) Hard climb.

Mousse(sneers): Do not worry.  (jumps back into a dramatic stance) No
mere cliff is a match for Mousse!

Ukyou: Huh?  (turns to him) No...wait, I...

Mousse: I will scale this obstacle to help my friend!  
(He leaps into the air, tossing a grappling hook from the sleeves of
his robe.)

Ukyou: Mousse!  Wait, I saw...
(The hook clamps into the side of the cliff, about a dozen feet up.)

Mousse: Watch as I easily traverse this obstacle!
(He pulls himself to the cliff and begins the vigourous climb.)

Ukyou: No, there's a...Mousse!
(Mousse either doesn't hear or ignores her as he scrambles wildly up
the cliff.  Ukyou sighs.)

Ukyou: Never mind.
(She walks four feet or so to where a door is positioned in the rock
face.  Pushing a button, she waits for the door to open and then steps
into the turbolift.  Cut to the top as Mousse pulls himself over the
side of the cliff with a groan.  He lays down, staring up at the sky
while breathing in harsh gasps.)

Ukyou: (standing over him) What took you so long?

Mousse: Huh?  (gasps) Ukyou?  How'd you get up here so quickly?  (sits
up) I didn't see you pass me on the way up.

Ukyou: Let's just say...I followed my instincts.

Mousse: Oh...I understand.  Your droid body is superior to my human
(A look of pain crosses Ukyou's face.)

Ukyou(softly): In some ways... (pulls him up) C'mon, let's go.

Mousse: Hai.
(They walk over to the large domed structure, stopping at a giant door
built of rust-covered metal.  Hanging on it is a crudely lettered

Sign: No trespassers on any grounds.
(Ukyou pushes Mousse forward.)

Ukyou(hisses): Remember the plan.
(Mousse nods and strides boldly to the door.  He raps sharply on the
metal and stands back.  After a moment, a hole opens in the door and
an orb on a metal stalk pops out.  It scrutinizes them for a second,
then begins to jabber in an incomprehensible language.)

Mousse: Huh?
(The orb blathers in a different incomprehensible language.)

Mousse: Do you speak Basic?

Orb(pauses; reluctantly): Yeeessss...but I would prefer a nice,
incomprehensible language.  Do you know any?

Mousse: (shakes head) None that I can comprehend.

Orb: (sighs) Fine.  What do you want?

Mousse: (puffs himself up proudly) I come with a message of gravest
import for the almighty Hutt!

Orb: Who?

Mousse: (blinks) Hutt, the master of this palace.

Orb: This isn't Hutt's palace, this is Yamamoto's desert retreat.
Hutt's palace is about thirty kilometres west of here, at the edge of
the dune sea.

Mousse(obviously confused): It is?

Orb: (nods) Just head west.  You can't miss it.
(It is now night.  Ukyou and Mousse are walking through a valley of
loosely piled rocks and boulders.  Before them we see an elaborate,
pagoda-style structure at the edge of a seemingly endless expanse of
sand which glitters under the light of the two moons.  Ukyou is

Ukyou: FOUR!  Four palaces so far!  For a deserted desert planet, this
place sure has a lot of people on it.

Mousse: I just hope this is it.  I'm getting sick of saying "I am here
with a message of gravest import for the almighty Hutt" and being told
politely that he isn't there.

Ukyou: It had better be.
(They come to the door, a much more delicate-looking-if no less
massive-structure than the first one.  On it is another sign, this one
easily readable.)

Sign: No money, no goods, no entrance.
(Mousse walks up to the door and pounds on it noisily.  After a
moment, a nasal, high-pitched voice emanates from it.)

Voice: Do ya have to be so loud?

Mousse: (clears throat) I have a message of gravest import for the
almighty Hutt!

Voice: So?  The Hutt's a very busy person, and doesn't have time for
messages of only "gravest import".

Mousse: mean Hutt's here?

Voice: Of course.  Where else would Hutt be?

Ukyou: Tell Hutt we bear a gift.

Voice: A gift?  Well why didn't you say so!  Come on in!
(The massive gate opens, and a hallway is revealed to be on the other
side.  Ukyou walks inside, then glances back at Mousse, who is tapping
his foot.)

Mousse: I'm waiting.  Are you going to let us in or not?
(Ukyou shakes her head, reaches out, and drags Mousse into the tunnel.
Mousse "oh's" and they look around.  No one is there, and having
nothing better to do, they start down the hall.  Soon they come to a
set of shallow stairs.  At the bottom is a room where a karaoke stage
is set up.  In the back, several aliens play musical accompaniment as
a human man warbles out the lyrics to "Little Date".  Along the left
hand wall is a series of steps, platforms and chairs where a variety
of beings-reptilian, avian, droid, Ithorian, Gamorrean, Lum, and even
some arachnids-sit.  The centre of the room is almost completely
cleared, except for three extremely shallow circular blue pits in
which three women in metal bikinis dance.  One is a blue-haired woman
with cat-like fur, another has feathers for hair, and the third is a
medium-statured girl with short brown hair.  The latter dancer turns
and stares intently at the two newcomers.  Finally the view is drawn
to the right hand wall, which is shorter than the other one.  In the
centre of it a large, slug-like creature with stubby arms.  Arrayed
around it are about a dozen bounty hunters.  Most wear complex armour,
with small arsenals strapped to their bodies.  We centre in on one in
particular, a female with a helmet like a Chinese straw hat which has
a demonic visor.  Brownish hair, with a bow in it, falls out behind
the helmet.  Across from this one is another female, this one with an
uncovered face and long, luxurious purple hair.  The three dancers
clear the floor, the brown-haired one going to a position near the
slug and the other two sitting yoga-style on the stage.  The man stops
warbling after a Gamorrean gives him some "persuasion" with the flat
of its axe, and the room falls silent.  Mousse and Ukyou walk to stand
before the slug.  It blathers, and one of the bounty hunters-a large,
skeletal droid-steps forward and translates in a halting, emotionless
tone.  The brown-haired dancer leans back and watches with interest.)

Slug(translated by droid): I am the Hutt.  What do you want?
(Mousse steps forward to answer, then notices the purple-haired bounty
hunter.  His eyes widen, and an expression of bliss crosses his face.
Ukyou groans.)

Mousse: SHAMPOO!  (he runs up and glomps...the droid, who looks
surprised) My darling Shampoo!  I've finally found you again!

Droid: Excuse me...
(Shampoo looks shocked.  Hutt blathers.)

Hutt(droid translates): What is the meaning of this?

Mousse: (steps back) You're not Shampoo!  Where is she?  What have you
done to her?!?

Shampoo(confused): M-Mousse?

Mousse: Shampoo?  (looks at her and adjusts his glasses) It _is_ you!

Shampoo: AIYA!  Get off Shampoo!
(She slams him to the ground.  The brown-haired dancer blinks; Ukyou
mutters something impolite under her breath.  Mousse starts to get

Mousse: Shampoo, it's me!  Your darling Mousse!

Shampoo: But you droid, but you man now, but you droid  fore, and man
fore, and... (clutches her skull) Shampoo's head hurt...

Hutt(translated): What is the meaning of this, Shampoo?

Shampoo: Shampoo no know!  She confused...

Mousse: No that I am human again, I can comfort you in this hour of
need!  (glomp again)

Shampoo: You go too far!  Shampoo save self for Ranma!
(As she reduces him to a pile of putty, Ukyou steps forward.)

Ukyou: I can deliver the message.
(The brown-haired dancer's eyes narrow, and she nods almost

Hutt(translated): Speak.

Ukyou: The message is holographic.

Hutt(translated): Then play it.
(Ukyou nods, and her eyes go distant for a moment.  Then they light up
and a holographic image forms a few feet in front of her.  It is a
life size, blue-tinged image of a boy in his late teens.  He is
wearing a red tunic and dark pants, and has black hair tied back in a
bobbed ponytail.  He has a handsome face, and a small cylinder is
belted to his waist.  Shampoo stops in mid-blow with a cry of

Shampoo: Is Ranma!  Husband send Shampoo boss messa