Chapter 1: Meetings
A Ranma ½ / Dragonball story
by Adrian D. Moten
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Dragonball is owned by Akira Toriyama and Toei Animation.
"Yeah, yeah, Oyaji. It's not my fault you dragged me off on that stupid training trip to China and got cursed to be a panda. At least I got the better deal out of it."
"Think you're good enough to beat me?"
"Heh, thought not. And it's all thanks to you, Oyaji. So, where are we going?"
[We're going to meet an old friend of mine in Nerima. Tendo Soun.]
"Hey, how'd you do that?!"
[…It's a secret technique, heh heh heh.]
"Oh. Thought you pulled a sign out your ass or something and scribbled on it."
"Well, I guess we'd better hurry up and get out of this rain, huh?"
"He's coming from China? Ooh, how exotic!"
"So he's been to China. Big deal. That doesn't make him good."
"So what is he like?"
The middle-aged man known as Tendo Soun smiled broadly, then became very subdued. "I don't know."
All three girls stared at their father at this. The girl in the kimono gave her father a flat expression. "You don't know?"
"I've never met him before." He chuckled a little nervously.
"So let me get this right, Daddy. You engaged up to your friend's son, and you haven't even met him?" Tendo Nabiki, Soun's second oldest daughter, deadpanned.
"Oh, Father." The oldest daughter, Kasumi, spoke in a neutral tone.
"Figures." Soun's youngest daughter, Akane, snorted, flipping her long hair over her shoulder in a dismissive gesture. "For all we know, he just engaged us to a pervert."
"That must be them now," Soun said, getting up.
"I got it!" Nabiki lunged towards the door as well. The two disappeared around the corner of the wall. A moment later, the girl tore back to the safety of the room, screaming. Soun wasn't too far behind, backpedaling.
Kasumi and Akane looked on, wondering what had them scared like that. In response to the unspoken question, a giant, wet panda walked into view. Shaking its fur a little, it looked around the room, and then let loose a "Growrf?"
"What interesting friends you have, Father," Kasumi said, standing up fully.
Soun whipped his long black hair back and forth violently in reply.
"Well, do something, Daddy! You're the master here!"
Akane looked at it warily. "If only I had enough time to get a weapon…."
"Oooyajiiii…." a new voice singsonged. The panda looked down the hallway where the voice was coming from. "You could've just waited for me, you know."
"Growrf gworf ruh."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Hot water." The owner of the voice was coming into view rapidly. "Jeez, you're so impatient."
A man came into view. He was tall, about six feet, with a very toned body. His red shirt, which was Chinese-style with wooden ties and all, stretched over his body and adhered to his skin as if it were painted on. His black hair was tied up in a pigtail, the bangs puffing out very full for a male, and in spite of the rain. Leather bracers were wrapped around his forearms, and one end of an umber sash dangled behind him, almost touching the floor.
The three daughters studied the newcomer. Nabiki was bouncing up and down, trying to contain her own excitement. "Handsome. Very, very handsome," she breathed.
Kasumi observed him with a look that was both blank and knowing, distracted and alert. Her eyes widened and her brows lifted. Slightly. "…My, he certainly looks… interesting," she whispered to herself.
Akane looked him over, her expression softening a little. "Well, he is kind of cute…."
"Excuse me, but who are you, and why are you in my home?" Soun asked, breaking the quiet spell the outsider had upon his daughters.
He looked at Soun dumbly for a brief moment. "Oh! Sorry, um, Tendo-san, ne?"
He nodded. "Yes, that's correct." He looked him over a little longer. "Are you…?"
"Saotome Ranma. Sorry about this." He calmly thumbed the panda. "Could someone get him some hot water?"
Overjoyed, Soun grabbed Ranma up in a sudden fierce bearhug, which squashed the air out of his lungs. "Oh, happy day! Oh, happy day! Oh, happy—URK!" The patriarch soon found himself crashing into the floor very violently.
"Hey, you bastard!" Akane jumped over to her dazed father's side. She wrenched his hand out of Ranma's grip. "Why the hell did you do that to him?!"
"He attacked me," he said with a shrug. "I just defended against it."
Her eyes narrowed. "Why, you…." Slowly, she drew herself up, then began advancing upon him.
He smirked. "I take it you'd like to challenge me?"
Behind him, the panda was waving its arms furiously, shaking its head vigorously. A moment later, it produced a sign, [Don't do it! You won't live to see tomorrow!]
Akane blinked at the spectacle. For a moment, she considered backing down. Then she thought about the arranged marriage to this… boy, who just threw her father down when he was just giving him a hug, and her resolved hardened. "Yes, that's right. As the heir to the Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial Arts, I challenge you, and I will defeat you, you bastard!"
She sighed. "Sorry, Kasumi."
"It's all right. Try to refrain next time."
He smirked even wider, the brown sash flickering from side to side. "Let's do it then, cutie."
Normally, Akane would have taken the compliment of being cute very well. Right now, it only served to enrage her further. "Don't mock me, or my skills."
"Hah. I'll make a bet with you. Twenty thousand yen says I'll beat you in five seconds."
Nabiki, who was watching the entire scene with a sense of detachment, got herself together quickly upon hearing the magic word, 'yen'. "Is that an official bet, Ranma?"
"A sucker bet, most likely. I'm padding the time for her."
Nabiki stared at the youth in disbelief. Akane glowered. Kasumi was coming from the kitchen with a kettle in hand. "Saotome-san?"
Ranma broke away from the two girls' focus of attention, gliding over to the eldest daughter. "Yeah?"
She held up the steaming kettle to him. "Here is the hot water you have asked for."
"Thanks," he said, taking the proffered object.
Smiling to her, he turned around. The sash brushed against her leg as he did so. She gave it a puzzled look. "Hmm…"
"Here you go, Oyaji." The kettle zipped towards the panda. It barely caught it, then spilled the hot liquid over its head. The daughters were awestricken as they observed a huge panda shrink down into a fat, middle-aged man wearing an off-white gi, and a white kerchief over his apparently bald head. "Saotome Genma, Ranma's father," he introduced himself. Suddenly, he streaked towards Akane. She blinked, and the man had thrown his arms around her legs. "Don't fight him! He will kill you all too easily! He's too strong, too fast for you, and we need you alive for the marriage!"
Ranma blinked. "Marriage?"
Soun came to, and quickly stood up. "Yes, Ranma, my boy. Meet my three daughters: Kasumi, age nineteen—" He pointed to the woman who had just given him the kettle. "—Nabiki, age seventeen—" He pointed to the girl who made the bet inquiry. "—and Akane, age sixteen." He pointed to the girl in a dingy gi who was issuing a challenge to him. "Choose any one you like. She will become your wife."
He looked at the Tendo patriarch blankly, then turned to face the panda-turned man. "That true, Oyaji?"
He was instantly standing with his arms crossed over his chest, a solemn expression on his face. "Yes, my son. Long ago, before any of you were born, Tendo and I made an agreement to combine both the Tendo and Saotome Schools of Anything Goes Martial Arts. To do that, we made an arrangement to marry our children together."
"So go ahead and choose your fiancée, my son."
Ranma pursed his lips, his eyes flitting from one girl to the next girl and the last girl. His eyes settled back on Genma. "You know," he began, "I don't know whether I should kill you or thank you." He smirked, watching him gulp. "I know. Let's tell them all about China."
Genma visibly relaxed. "Yes, let's do that. For a moment, I thought you were going to do something rash."
"Who said I wouldn't?"
"Wha—GAH!!" Genma was flung out of the house and into the backyard. Shortly, he splashed down into the koi pond. Up came the panda from earlier, now even soggier and more miserable looking than that morning. Silence fell over the Tendos as they tried taking in what they had just seen.
Nabiki broke the silence. "So tell me, just how did you do that? I don't see any mirrors, and Daddy's not competent enough to help you two carry out such a complex trick."
"No trick, Nabiki. It's a curse, courtesy of Jusenkyo."
"Jusenkyo?" Kasumi echoed. Ranma nodded in response. "Well, should I get you some more hot water?"
He looked mildly surprised. "Observant, aren't you?" Nabiki and Akane were more surprised. Giving the dripping panda a look as it dragged itself out of the pond, he nodded. "Yeah, get the furball some hot water. I'd really hate for him to ruin the place."
She nodded, then disappeared into the kitchen. A few moments later, she came out with a cup of hot water and handed it to the soaked animal. It took it with both paws, and splashed itself with the contents. A wet Genma handed it back to her, saying his thanks.
"Saotome, tell us, how did this happen?" Soun inquired, ushering in his family and visitors.
"Well, it all began when we swam to China…"
Akane blinked. "You… swam? All the way to the mainland from Japan? Please, do you really expect us to believe that?"
"Easier to swallow than a curse that changes Oyaji into an panda, cutie."
She glared at Ranma, balling up her fist. "Don't call me that!"
He gave her a sidelong glance. "Which reminds me, I owe you a challenge. As heir to the Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial Arts, ne?"
She cracked her knuckles. "You're damn right you do!"
"Sorry, Kasumi." She turned back to Ranma. "When?"
"The dojo. Let's go." She got up and left the room. Ranma followed after her, with Genma hot on his heels. Soun, Nabiki, and Kasumi followed suit.
"So, how do you want this to go? First one to ten, sudden death, or until you can't continue on anymore?" A growl was his response. "Your call, cutie."
"Don't call me that!" She took up an offensive stance.
"Really, now?" He placed his hands behind his back.
She didn't reply. Instead, she launched a punch at him. He simply swayed to one side, his feet never even leaving their placement. She took another swing, netting the same results. Akane grounded her teeth together. "No more pulling punches here! I'm for real this time!"
"You mean to tell me you weren't for real earlier?" He smirked. "This should be interesting… cutie."
"Shut… up!" She launched into a series of jabs, roundhouses, cross-punches, snap kicks, backhands, and spin kicks. Ranma swayed out of every strike's path, never countering her attacks. Akane grew even more furious and frustrated. "Will you take me seriously?!"
"If you want to get hurt really badly, I will," he said calmly.
"Are you crazy, child?! He'll kill you in his cursed form!"
"Cursed form?" the spectators asked simultaneously.
Genma coughed into his hand. "Yes, I wasn't the only one to get a curse from the cursed springs of Jusenkyo. Ranma has one, too. You're looking at it right now, in fact."
"So, you're saying your son is really a girl in a man's body?" Nabiki asked.
"No! Don't even suggest such a thing!"
"Then what spring did he fall into, Saotome-san?" Kasumi asked.
"Iseijinnichuan. Spring of drowned alien."
Nabiki pretended to examine Ranma closely and he continued to dance around Akane. "Funny. He doesn't look green with huge bugeyes."
"He's different, though. Ranma never—"
"I said fight me!!"
"Damn, and I was beginning to like you, too."
Soun wailed. "He's going to kill his fiancée!"
"I never said she would be the one, Tendo-san."
Turning back to Akane, Ranma calmly caught the haymaker she launched at him. Her eyes widened. "B-b-but how—"
"You're way off-balance." Tightening his grip, he yanked back to prove his point, and she pitched forward, only to find his knee imbedded in her stomach. The wind was knocked out of her violently, but she had no time to gasp as she was flung back. Instinctively, she rolled with the fall, making it up to her feet, if not shakily. Her jaw exploded in pain as a fist found its mark. Her feet was already leaving the floor when the heel of a foot also struck her in the jaw, followed by a blow to her side, slamming her into the ground. She bounced off the ground once and did not move.
Soun and Nabiki surged forward. "AKANE!"
"I'll draw up a hot bath for her with a few salts added," Kasumi said, turning to leave for the main house.
Genma stared at the eldest daughter as if she were crazy. Soun and Nabiki blinked. Ranma cocked his head to one side, a perplexed look on his face, the sash swaying from side to side.
"Um, your little sis could be dead right now, and you're talking about making bathwater for her?"
Kasumi paused at the door, and turned around to face him. Her face read only a relaxed calm. "Well, yes. She still breathes, but is unconscious. She may not wake up with a concussion, but Akane is going to hurt all over when she does, so making a bath for her to soak in will keep her from suffering too long."
There was a collective blink.
She continued. "Also, you do not mean us any true harm, so I trust that you would not use more force than necessary."
"Um… And what if you're wrong, and I was out to do some serious damage to her, what then?"
Kasumi put her fingertip to her lips in thought. "I… don't know for certain, but I think I would have to defend her from you."
He smirked. "That's something I gotta see. You certainly don't look like a fighter."
"Well… I haven't practiced in a long time, but if my family is in trouble, well, I would have to defend them as best as I can."
"All right. Show me what you got." He took a step forward.
Soun wailed, tears streaming down his face. "Kasumi!"
Genma panicked. Nabiki dragged the unconscious Akane over. "You're going to owe me for this, little sister."
"Well, okay. Here goes." Hesitantly, she threw a punch. It was curtly blocked with two fingers.
"No, no, no. Your form's all wrong, and you're not confident about it. When you throw a punch, you gotta have confidence behind it; otherwise you're only gonna annoy someone and get hurt. Badly. Here, let me show you." He spun beside her, sash swishing around him. "Now, stand like this…."
While Ranma was showing Kasumi how to stand, Nabiki turned to her father. "Daddy, I think we better get Akane into the house."
He continued to blubber. "But, Kasumi…."
"Oh, Daddy, really. If you haven't noticed by now, he's not going to hurt Kasumi. So, I think it's better we take Akane into the house and throw her into a hot tub."
"She does have a valid point, Tendo. I don't think my son will hurt your daughter."
"Mm-hmm. Come along, Daddy, Saotome-san. Get Akane and let's go in."
Tears still streamed down his cheeks, but Soun gathered up his still-unconscious youngest daughter in his arms, and the four disappeared out of the dojo, leaving the apparently oblivious pair to their own devices.
An hour later, Ranma walked into the living room, Kasumi coming up behind him. She looked a little tired, but she held a smile on her face.
"You know, you're not bad for someone out of practice."
"Thank you, Ranma-kun."
"No, really. You got some great potential there."
"Yep. Why'd you stop practicing to begin with?"
He looked at her. "Um, sore spot? S-sorry about that…."
"No, it's all right. It's something I haven't really talked about in a long time."
"Well, you don't have to—"
"Kasumi!" Soun bounded down the stairs joyfully. He embraced his oldest daughter. "You're safe and sound!"
"Oh, Father—" Something occurred to her suddenly. "Oh my, I forgot about dinner! Excuse me, Father, Ranma-kun." She went into the kitchen quickly.
Ranma watched her turn the corner and disappear from sight. "So, how's cutie?"
Soun beamed. "Does this mean you accept Akane as your fiancée?"
He regarded him indifferently. "No, Tendo-san. I haven't chosen yet."
"I don't understand. Why—"
"—do I call her cutie? It annoys her, and she loses focus so easily. You really should've trained her a lot better than that."
He looked rather sheepish. "Ah… So, what happened at China? Do you really have a curse, too?"
"Yeah, what about it?"
"How is it activated? How do you return to normal? What do you turn into? How did you get it?
"Oyaji didn't say?" Soun shook his head. "Hmm. Well, I guess we should wait till everyone's together, then tell 'em all at once."
"Yes, that would be a good idea."
"So, tell me more about this agreement you and Oyaji made."
Soun guided Ranma to the backyard, talking. "Oh, it was several years ago, when we were still with the Master…"
After dinner (the Tendos were amazed with Genma's eating habits, but everyone was stunned at the speed Ranma used to put away all of his meal, half of Genma's, and parts of Nabiki's as she was seated beside him), and a few moments of helping Akane sit down in the living room, the Saotomes began to tell their tale.
"Here we are, boy. Jusenkyo, the legendary training grounds."
Ranma looked around. "Doesn't seem like anything special."
The Jusenkyo Guide came out of his hut, adjusting his hat. "Oh, sirs, welcome to Jusenkyo, the Pools of Sorrow."
"Coming, boy?" Genma said, hopping atop of a pole and assuming a crane stance.
"Right behind you!" He landed on another pole, assuming his own stance.
The Guide gasped. "No, sirs! You know not what you do! Springs cursed!"
The Saotomes paid him no heed as they leapt into the air, exchanging volleys of blows back and forth. Things quickly changed as Ranma sneaked a kick through his father's defenses, and jetted him straight down into the cold waters below. He landed on his father's pole in a victorious pose. The Guide was waving his arms frantically, shouting something in Chinese.
"Hah, got you, Oyaji! That the best you got?"
Air bubbles broke the surface of the spring. A moment later, an enraged panda exploded forth, startling Ranma. "W-w-what's that?!"
"He fall into Shonmaoniichuan, Spring of Drowned Panda. Very tragic tale of panda who drown in spring two thousand year ago. Whoever fall into spring take on body of panda."
"N-now, hold on here! This wasn't suppose to happen!" The Guide started to answer, but Ranma wasn't paying attention, mainly because he was trying to defend himself against the panda's attacks. It was a futile effort as it swatted Ranma off the pole, sending him towards a spring.
"No!" he cried out as he saw where he was going. Fearfully, he clawed for anything to keep him from falling into a spring. Just as he neared the liquid surface, his hand wrapped around something. He clutched onto the object, and his descent was cut short of the pool. Ranma realized why; he managed to grab hold of one of the reed poles. Wasting no time, he scampered up it.
His relief was short as the panda was upon him quickly, whacking him over the springs. Ranma tumbled through the air, rapidly falling towards what appeared to be a wooden floor. "This is gonna hurt…." He crashed through the boards, water splashing up from below.
The Guide gasped. "No! Not forbidden spring! Anything but forbidden spring!"
Genma-panda was just coming to grips with his transformation when he heard this. "Growf?"
"Sir, sir fall into Iseijinnichuan, Spring of Drowned Alien. Tragic story of alien from space drown in pool three thousand year ago. Whoever fall into spring take on body of alien. But spring is forbidden! People who fall into spring change into monster at night with full moon. Local tribe seal up spring to prevent horror from happening."
The panda hopped down to solid ground. The Guide disappeared into the hut, but came running back a second later with two kettles of water. He poured the hot water of one over the panda's head, change it back to Genma. "Cold water trigger curse, hot water reverse it until next time. Must find sir and change him back before—"
The two men turned around to face the deep voice. Standing before them was Ranma, taller and stronger-looking than he had been a few seconds ago. He was dripping wet, but his hair stood firmly. Something like a brown sash hung from behind him.
"Ranma, my boy?"
He cracked his knuckles. "About earlier, Oyaji…."
"That's about how it happened," Ranma said, looking around the room.
"So you're really an alien right now?" Nabiki said skeptically. "I find that hard to believe. You look way too good to be a Martian."
"Not Martian. Something that starts with 'S'. Sairien, Soiyonee…"
"Saiyajin, I believe."
"And just how can you prove this claim?" Nabiki continued.
"I could pour hot water over my head and change."
"You would look the same if your story is true. I want something a little more concrete."
Her eyebrow perked up. "Excuse me?"
"I said grab it." He pointed down to the brown sash.
"What's that going to prove?"
"Just… do it. You want proof, you'll get proof."
She shrugged. "All right, but don't disappoint me." She got up from her kneeling position and padded over to his side. Sitting down, she reach out to grab up the slender object… and squealed as the sash came to life, wrapping itself around her wrist and tightening. "What is this?!"
"It's my tail." It uncurled from around her wrist.
Kasumi, who was nursing Akane during the story, was facing him. "So that's what looked so different about you."
"Yeah. It's kinda hard to control it sometimes, like it has a mind of its own." He regarded Nabiki. "That good enough for you?"
"Yes, yes, it is." Nabiki backed away to her place between her sisters.
"Well, your problem isn't so bad after all."
"Never thought of it as being bad in the first place. I'm a lot stronger, faster, and more powerful in this form. My skill in the Art has gone up at least ten times overnight. Never felt better before in all my life. Of course, I can't see a full moon in this form, but it's a small price to pay."
"Whad, d'oo durnin dooah werewoofer somedin'?" Akane mumbled. Her jaw still hurt too much to talk properly.
"Dunno. Don't wanna find out, neither. The way that guide went on, you'd think I'd become an abomination or something."
Soun stood up and clapped his hands together. "Now that's out of the way, it's time for you to choose your fiancée."
Ranma sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "How'd they feel about this sorta thing, Tendo-san?"
Genma was a little surprised. "My, Ranma, I would have thought you'd end up resisting an arranged marriage. You're actually thinking about this, though."
"I'm tired, Oyaji, and it's been a long day. Sooner this is over, the quicker I can get in some sleep. Sides, they're the one who's gonna have to live with me, so, you know…."
"Sounds fair. Kasumi?"
"Well, Father, he isn't like other boys. He actually cares about what we think, and he is very helpful and energetic."
"Good, good. Nabiki?"
She crossed her arms over her chest. "Honestly, he's a bit of a brute. Incredibly sexy, though. If he were rich, I'd take him in a heartbeat. As you can see though, he just came off the road looking for a place to stay."
"Gee, is money all you can think about, Nabiki?"
She smiled a predator's smile. "Pretty much. Money is power, you know."
Ranma did not reply.
"Well, Akane, how about you?"
She looked down at her sock-covered feet. "No."
Her father blinked. "No?"
"No." Her eyes were still averted to her socks.
"Ah, don't worry about it, Tendo-san. Can't force her to be with me, you know." He stood up then. "Well, Kasumi, I guess this means we're engaged."
She blinked. "We are?"
"Yep, you're the only one who hasn't condemned me yet." He gave her a slight smile. "So, know of a place we can hole up for the night? I'm tired."
"Well, you can sleep in the upstairs guest room."
"Good." He kissed her on the forehead suddenly, surprising even himself as he did. "Um, 'night, Kasumi…."
"Good night… Ranma-kun."
To be continued.
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