Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
The extra Amazons…well, I'll lay tentative claim to them for now. ^_^
"Man, I hate it when it rains."
"No kidding, Hiroshi. It's pouring buckets out there. I think I'll wait here at your place until it stops."
"All right, Daisuke. I'll just tell mom that— huh?"
"What is it?"
The curly haired youth cocked his head to one side. "Man, it sounded like… singing."
Daisuke looked at his friend. "Out in that weather? It's not even fit for dogs, let alone— what?" He stopped in mid-comment, straining his hearing as far as he could.
"You hear it, too?"
"Yeah. It does sound like singing." Daisuke's eyes widened. "Look out there!"
"What is it?" Hiroshi scanned the area. "I don't see anything."
"Are you saying you don't see all those lovely babes in the rain with umbrellas riding on the back of a panda?"
"Where?! Where?! Where?!" Drooling with lust, the other boy eagerly looked every which way until his eyes locked onto the sight his companion described. "Sweeeet!!" he said, letting the word drag out after he stuffed his lolling tongue back into his mouth. "Six sexy babes with scrumptious bods, and— oh yeah! no pants! Oh, man, I'm in love!!" Hiroshi declared dramatically.
The black-haired boy nodded vigorously. "I bet they're pretty—"
"More than pretty; they're hot!"
He conceded that point, then continued. "Betcha it's cold out there, though."
"Yeah, yeah, it's cold," Hiroshi absently said, not tearing away his lecherous gaze.
"I bet they're getting cold out there since they don't have pants…"
"You know, we could invite them in so they can get… warmed up…"
"Yeah, ye—" Hiroshi blinked out of his trance, then looked at his buddy. Daisuke looked back in kind, then they both grinned lecherously.
"Oh, girls…" they said simultaneously, throwing on their rain jackets and shoes.
Six young women with similar odango hairstyles were indeed sitting atop of a large panda that lumbered down the streets of Nerima. Before the bear and the umbrella-carrying girls were two people, of which one came up to the knee of the considerably taller one and carried a gnarled, wooden staff. They were dressed in heavy yellow slickers with oversized hoods and galoshes, and they seemed to be the ones in charge of the girls.
Nearly all the people that they passed had stopped to stare at the scene unfolding before them. Surprisingly, most stopped not for the bizarreness of the situation, nor for the intense beauty of the young women. Indeed, what had captured their attention the most was that the Chinese sextuplet, an observation made from the style of their clothing, were harmoniously singing a song in English with all of their hearts.
"I love him! I love him! I love him!
Just about everyone listened to them intensely, despite that those were the only words of the song they sang, possibly because that was all of the song they knew. Nonetheless, it sounded quite good.
The entourage paused at the insistent shouting. All heads simultaneously swiveled around to face the owner of the voice. They found themselves looking upon two youths wearing raincoats and holding umbrellas along with hungry grins.
"Wow, what a pretty song you all sing. Uh, you chicks want to come over to our house and…" the copper-haired boy seemed to drool a bit in his pause, "…get warmed up?"
"Nah, we're almost wherever we're suppose to be going to," the tall person wearing the heavy slicker spoke up.
"Oh, come on," the other guy pleaded. "Can't you lovely ladies spare us just a few minutes? We know all sorts of things to get you all… warm…" Daisuke edged in a little closer, fingers tensing.
A girl with silverish hair slipped off the panda easily. Raising a hand, her lips moved, speaking something softly. The two guys were too entranced with her figure to notice how the rains began to swirl about both her and themselves. Suddenly, a hard blast of wind flung them back nearly thirty feet before they plummeted into a nearby open Dumpster.
"That was a bit much, Frost," the tall slicker-wearer said.
The young woman frowned, finding her soft-soled gray shoes very interesting at the moment.
"I'm not mad or anything. Just be careful, okay? Not everyone is a rugged fighter, you know."
Frost looked back up, smiling a bit.
The person smiled back. "That's better. Come on, let's go."
Nodding, the platinum-haired girl slid back upon the panda. Once seated, the troupe set off again.
"Ow…" Daisuke groaned, crawling out of the Dumpster. "That hurt… that hurt a lot…" He painstakingly helped Hiroshi get out as well.
"Daisuke…" the boy's friend said, lying on the rain-soaked ground.
"I think she likes me…"
The thought of facefaulting hurt too much, so the black-haired boy settled for thumping his buddy on the head.
"So, Daddy, what is this Ranma person like?"
A man around his late thirties to early forties wearing a burgundy gi beamed for a moment before frowning to himself. "I have no idea."
The brunette with the sharply cut hairstyle and blue kimono lost the smile she had moments ago and adopted a disproving frown. "You don't know?"
"I never met him before."
"Great," a younger-looking girl with long, black hair and a sweaty, yellow gi fumed in disgust. "For all we know, Dad just engaged us to a pervert!"
"Really, Father," the oldest of the three girls said, shaking her head as she idly straightened out her dress and apron.
"Ooh, that must be him now!" The girl wearing the kimono hopped up and quickly made her way to the front door. Her father followed suit. Seconds later, she came tearing back to the room where the family meeting was being held, her eyes wide with panic. The elder man was backpedaling in shock.
"Dad, Nabiki! What's going on?" The youngest of the three daughters rose up, taking a defensive position.
"Th-there's a panda at the door!" Nabiki nearly shrieked.
"With six girls riding on it!" her father added.
As if to give proof to her claim, a huge, miserable-looking panda lumbered into view with the six girls still sitting on the beast's back. Behind them came the two people, slickers donned with their faces hidden by the shadows of the hoods.
"Friends of yours, Father?" the oldest daughter asked.
He shook his head violently, long, raven black hair swishing back and forth through the air.
The diminutive slicker-clad figure stepped forward and doffed its hood, revealing an incredibly old woman with snowy white hair. She resembled something of an evil gnome from a western fairy tale. With what appeared to pass for a smile, she addressed the man of the household. "Greetings. Tendo-san, correct?"
"Er, yes, that is me, Soun Tendo." Soun straightened out to address the visitor properly. "Who are you, may I ask? And all of these girls?"
"You may. My name is Cologne, matriarch of the Joketsuzoku tribe in China. These girls—" she waved a hand behind her to the girls as they all dismounted the panda, "—are six of our best warriors. Come forth."
The sextuplet did as beckoned, lining up one side of the little old woman like well-trained soldiers— well, all of them except for the blonde one, who nearly fell on her face due to tripping over the panda's foot. Cologne did not react in the slightest, though the other girls groaned in embarrassment. Meanwhile, the panda disappeared, leaving the other person hidden within the heavy confines of the slicker.
First, Cologne began the introductions with her own great-granddaughter Shampoo. The addressed girl was in a ruby red qipao, also known as a banner dress used in festivals, and had indigo locks of hair. She was touted to be the best fighter in her age bracket in the village, a fact that caught Akane's attention.
Next she pointed to Perfume, the pink-haired girl in a charcoal-colored qipao with red trim. Her hazel eyes were highlighted by a faint old scar that started dangerously close to the corner of her right one, and drew down her cheek towards the bottom of her jaw. She herself was referred to as being Shampoo's equal, though her chance to prove so was once denied by a zealous Amazon sister.
Then came Lotion, the Amazon with the sky blue mane of hair. She was wearing an orange banner dress with azure trim and was presented as a healer-in-training and Perfume's cousin. The girl smiled politely and folded her hands before her as the elder introduced her.
After her was Satin, the shamrock child, as Nabiki idly commented because of her love for green. Her attire, similar to the others, her eyes, even her hair was some shade of emerald. She stood in place, rifling through several bills before putting them away somewhere on her person, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Nabiki.
Next came Sash, a happy-looking blonde with a blue variant of the festival dress and a red sash around her waist. She was bit of a klutz, as she revealed earlier, but Cologne had commented that she was the best swordswoman in the tribe. The claim was dubious at best in the eyes of Akane, considering the clumsiness she had seen.
Finally was the quiet Frost, whose complexion was notably paler than the others. The platinum blonde wearing a white qipao and gray trim appeared to be little more than a frightened bunny when singled out. When Cologne introduced her as being one of the few practitioners in the mystical arts, she gave the Tendos a shy smile and shimmer of ice blue eyes.
"That's all well and good," Soun began, holding his chin. "But I had just received a postcard from my old friend Genma, saying that he and his son Ranma would be arriving today. It made no mention of you, Cologne-san, or your group of warriors."
At the mention of Ranma, six pairs of eyes shone brightly. "Ranma…" the young amazons whispered as one, clasping their hands together as if in reverent worship.
"Eh?" Soun was amazed by the sudden change of the house's new occupants. Before, they were like stoic warriors for the most part; now, they seemed more like idol-worshipping fangirls.
Cologne sighed a bit. "Well, at least they're getting better control of themselves."
"What do you mean by that?" Nabiki couldn't help but ask.
The forgotten person that came in along with the others slipped out to the front. "What she meant," the being, mostly likely male going by the voice. "Was this." Slowly, he drew back the hood, revealing his face to the Tendos. Three voices caught in their collective throats; standing before them was the most handsome male the Tendo daughters had ever laid eyes upon. Tall, and sporting a pigtail that more than looked good on him, he gave Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane a winsome smile.
"Oh, my…" Kasumi breathed, a blush slowly growing on her cheeks.
"…Wow," Akane said under her breath, completely stunned by the boy— no, man!
"I am Ranma Saotome," the almost ethereal vision said.
"He's mine!!" Nabiki lunged forward, eager to attain her new fiancé…
..and nearly skewered herself upon a wall of drawn, sharpened weapons and simmering Amazons.
"Back away! He our airen!" the foreign girls cried out simultaneously.
Slowly, but surely, the middle Tendo daughter inched her nose away from the deadly weapons that unwaveringly held her at a distance. Once out of immediate danger, and weapons were put away, she dashed behind her incoherent, babbling father, then disappeared up the stairway towards her room.
Akane managed to rip her gaze away from Ranma to pay attention to the events unfolding rapidly before her. "What are you doing with my fiancé?" she demanded of the Chinese girls, arms akimbo.
"Fiancé?" Ranma asked, confused. "I think you're mistaken, miss."
"I agree, Akane," Kasumi said, trying to hide her blush. "He is our fiancé until he decides on me." Catching her own error, she quickly tried to cover her slip-of-tongue, "On one of us, I mean."
Akane briefly paused to look at Kasumi, whose cheeks were a light pink. She began to ask her something, but then closed her mouth. "Must have imagined it," she said under her breath.
Cologne was balancing herself on her knobby staff. Addressing Kasumi, she said, "Child, I'm afraid that simply cannot be possible. You see, Ranma is already—"
"HUSBAND?!" came a shriek upstairs. Everyone blinked in surprise as Nabiki charged down the stairs with a Chinese/Japanese dictionary in hand. She gave a befuddled Soun an irritated glare. "Daddy, did you neglect to tell us something important, like he's already married?!"
His eyes flew wide. "WHAT?! That can't be! Genma and I were supposed to unite our schools! He wouldn't allow his son to get married!"
"Um, Tendo-san," Ranma said. "I am married. To all six of these girls, in fact." Immediately, said girls snuggled up with Ranma, one around each leg, one on each arm, and two from behind him. The pigtailed boy looked a little embarrassed by their displays of affection. "Sorry about this."
The Tendo patriarch gaped in naked shock at his confession.
"H-H-How… how could… Gen… ma…" His eyes rolled up into his head, and he fainted dead away. His body thumped off the floor, and his daughters surrounded him in concern.
Just then, a stocky man in a dingy white gi with a kerchief of the same color rushed out of the bathroom. He stopped cold upon seeing Soun lying down on the floor; one of his daughters trying to revive him. He took off his wiry glasses, cleaned them, and then looked again at the scene. Swiveling his head just to one side, he found Ranma swamped by the lovely group of Amazons. One more look identified Cologne pogoing across the room to him.
"Genma," she said as she came within three feet of him. "Explanations are in order about these people and their fiancée claim." It wasn't a request.
Genma sighed, holding his head against one hand. "I think a headache is forming…"
"Ooh, my head…" Soun groaned as he came to. The first sight he saw was Kasumi removing a washcloth from his forehead. "Kasumi, forgive your father; I must have frightened you all passing out like that."
"It's all right, Father," she said, smiling.
"I must have gotten too excited about Genma and Ranma coming."
He chuckled. "I had the most terrible dream that they had arrived, but the boy was already married to six Amazons!" He laughed out loud.
"How ridiculous!" Soun began to roll on the floor, laughing all the way.
"What so funny about marry six strong Amazon?!"
Soun froze completely. "No…" he murmured under his breath. "It can't be…" Fearfully, his head craned towards the source of the overly cute voice. Eyes lighted upon a mop of purple and reddish irises with a look of indignation.
"Shampoo wait for answer."
The Tendo patriarch blinked dumbly for a few silent moments then scanned the entire room. Five more girls were nearby, along with a very handsome boy with a pigtail and a shrunken old woman holding a knotty, wooden staff. He screamed then. "It wasn't a dream?! How?! Why?! Saotome-kun!! How could you do this to our solemn vow?!"
"It wasn't my fault, Tendo-kun!"
His head swiveled to the new voice so fast, his neck nearly snapped. "Saotome-kun? Is that you?"
"Yes, it is, Tendo-kun."
"Oh, Saotome-kun!! What's happening?! Why are all these women claiming to be your son's wives?!"
"It's… a long story." Genma took off his wiry glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"We have time," Soun said, firm and resolute in a heartbeat. "Begin."
The stocky martial artist nodded and began his tale.
He and Ranma had arrived in China and set out to the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyou. Upon arrival, they were greeted by the Jusenkyou Guide, a bulky man wearing an old green Chinese army uniform. He spoke in broken Japanese, introducing them to the training grounds, then tried to warn them of the dangers the pools held. However, the pair paid him no heed, instead taking to the bamboo poles sticking out of each pool. Then, they fought.
A few passes into the fight, Ranma snaked a foot past the older man's guard, sending him spiraling into the pool below. Landing on a pole a little unsteadily, he mocked his defeated father who was still under water. Suddenly, up came a furious panda in a torn gi and glasses hanging from one ear. The sight so shocked the younger martial artist, he nearly fell off the bamboo pole he was perched on. Ranma didn't have enough time to regain his balance, as the raging animal swatted him down. The boy tumbled through the air at a downward angle and splashed into a pool not very far away from when his father had fell.
"Oh, Honored Sir!" the Guide started before pausing. "Oh, no need worry. Only fall into Nannichuan, Spring of Drowned Boy. No harm done."
Ranma broke through the surface, feeling disoriented. "What happened?" he asked, crawling out of the spring. Something didn't feel right; he felt… different. He couldn't place what was odd or why he felt so strange, so he shrugged it off as being nothing important.
Instead, he looked around, seeing only the giant panda that had knocked him into the spring and the Guide who was inspecting said soggy animal. "Um, where's Oyaji?"
"Come with me, Honored Sirs. Much to explain."
After explanations (and hot water for Genma) were made, the Jusenkyou Guide allowed the Saotomes spend the night in the hut. The next day, he began to escort father and son out of Jusenkyou when a little girl came up the path bearing wrapped box tied with a piece of coarse twine.
"<Father,>" the girl said in the native dialect. "<I brought you some lunch and—>" He eyes strolled from the Guide to Genma, then landed on Ranma. She stopped walking suddenly, entranced with what she saw. A small blush began to blossom on her cheeks.
"<Plum? What's wrong?>" the Guide asked, concerned that his daughter was staring off for no reason.
"<I… I…>" She dropped the little package and lunged at the pigtailed boy, succeeding in latching onto his leg with the strength of a starfish opening the shell of a clam. "<I love you!>"
Ranma blinked in overwhelming shock as the child unexpectedly tried to become one with his calf and shin. Genma had the same bewildered expression he wore upon realizing that he had just become a panda. The Guide fell over, stunned.
The younger martial artist tried to pry her little hands off his leg, but Plum's grasp was like steel. He tried to shake her off, push her off, even going so far as to try to kick her off repeatedly, but she still clung on with her tenacious death-grip. "Jeez, Oyaji, mind giving me a hand here?"
Shaking himself out of his daze, Genma hurried to pull the ten-year-old girl off his son. Their efforts amounted to dragging Ranma a good thirty feet on one foot. She held on steadfast, refusing to let go.
"<Plum!>" the Jusenkyou guide shouted, catching the attention of all three. "<Let go of the youth now.>"
"<No! I won't! I love him!>"
"<Love? You just saw him a few seconds ago!>"
"<It's love at first sight! And I'm keeping him forever and ever!>"
"<Plum, what's wrong with you? Just the other day, you were talking about how boys were icky.>"
"<He's not a boy. He's…>" Plum made a fawning sigh. "<He's a god in human form…>"
Ranma spared a glance from his encumbered leg to his father. Genma glanced back to his son.
"Think we're missing something here, Oyaji?"
"I believe so, boy." Then he adjusted his glasses, squinting. "By the way, are you getting taller?"
"I sorry about my daughter behavior, Honored Sir. Please, forgive me."
"It's all right, I guess," Ranma said, massaging blood back into his Plum-free leg. "What happened back there, anyway? And why did she just let go of me like that?"
"I not know. After she hit me with bamboo pole for try to make leave, you make run for it and hop on pole. She try follow, and you save her jump into spring, then you and she tumble into hut and knock over kettle for morning tea, and she just go, peaceful and embarrass. Is very strange, indeed."
"Hmm…" The boy scratched his chin in deep thought. "Up till now, I had felt a little funny since I climbed out of that spring yesterday."
"But you fall in Nannichuan, Spring of Drown Boy. Should no have effect."
"I don't know about that," Genma commented, scratching his chin idly. "The boy did seem a bit different earlier when I got a good look at him just before he had gotten free of your daughter. Right now, he looks just the same as the day we came here."
"Come to think of it, I did get splashed with some of that kettle water trying to pry her off," the youth said to the Guide.
The stocky man scratched his bald head in puzzlement. "Not familiar with such problem. No record of uncurse victim falling into spring same as victim here. Maybe elder of Joketsuzoku village know something."
"Well, when can we go?" Genma asked.
"Now, if in hurry."
"Now will be just fine."
Thanks to an encounter with a waterfall spraying a cold mist, a damp boy, an even damper panda, and the Jusenkyou guide arrived at the Joketsuzoku village in the late afternoon just as a great tournament being held there was winding down. While the Guide went in search of the head elder, Ranma and Genma-panda found their attention drawn to a huge banquet sitting unguarded on a table. Haven't eaten anything in a day and a half, they helped themselves.
Shampoo had just dusted off her last opponent on the Challenge Log when she saw a boy and a panda eating her victory feast. Naturally, she was very angry at their audacity and made her displeasure public knowledge by shouting it throughout the village. In hindsight, it was a bad idea, at least for her.
Perfume, having her bruises looked and fussed over by her loveable, though slightly annoying at times, cousin Lotion at that moment, glanced up to the huge table. So did her cousin.
Satin, collecting on a few bets made among her figurative tribal sisters, heard Shampoo's shout of two people making pigs of themselves with her victory feast. Curious as to who was ballsy enough for such a bold move, she turned to look at the table's occupants.
In looking at the offenders of the victory feast, Sash stepped on the end of a long sash she had tied around her waist and fell over, which had caused a chain reaction that knocked down three other Amazons as well.
Frost, who was bored that day and came out to watch the tournament for a change of pace, did likewise, if it would relieve her sense of boredom.
Six pairs of eyes locked onto the face of Ranma Saotome. In that instant, six hearts turned into a gooey puddle. Six minds, acting as one decided privately that this one is the one for them.
Shampoo was the first one down to face the new boy, though the others weren't very far off in the crowd. "<Why do you eat my food? Do you want to fight about it?>" Silently, she hoped so; gaining a husband would be the perfect way to end the day.
Ranma looked confused. "Did you understand a word of what she said, Oyaji?"
The panda shook his head.
Upon hearing the foreigners speak, an emerald-haired beauty made herself known. "Well, Satin translate," she said. She learned the Japanese language fairly well, though prepositions gave her a headache. "Shampoo upset that victory prize for winning tournament be eaten. Boy must fight to repay for prize. Or take panda as substitute." She added the last part in for incentive to get the boy willing to fight.
He looked a little skeptical at Satin, but he sighed and said, "All right. Tell her I'll fight whoever."
"Okay." She turned to face the purple-tressed Amazon. "<He says he'll take on two Amazons, me and you. You go first.>"
Shampoo was a bit taken back. "<What? Are you sure, and not trying to pull a fast one on me?>"
"<Would I really do such a thing to my own tribal sister?>"
"<Yes,>" Shampoo and another voice deadpanned. Perfume, followed by Lotion, appeared behind Satin. "<You're not being entirely truthful, are you, Satin?>"
Satin fluttered her eyelashes innocently. "<Why, whatever do you mean, Perfume?>"
"<You neglected to say that he can take four of us on. Lotion and I will fight him as well.>"
Lotion blinked. "<We will?>"
Perfume secretly winked at her cousin, and understanding dawned on the azure-haired girl. It was rare for the two to ever do anything separate; sharing a husband would not have been that unexpected of them.
The murmurs of the crowd that went unnoticed earlier intensified with that announcement.
"<Four Amazons? Why that's suicide!>"
"<Awfully sure of himself, isn't he?>"
"<And he's such a good-looking boy, too. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be young again!>"
"<Mother, you're sixty-five and still married to Father.>"
"<Oh, let an old woman have her dreams, would you?>"
Just then, Sash took that moment to crash into the backs of Perfume and Lotion, knocking them all down. "<Stupid sash! Stay tied, okay?>" The blonde sighed, tying the long, flowing end of her silky red sash around her waist again.
"<Sash, you klutz! Get off my back!>" Perfume growled, her pinkish hair almost bristling. "<Can't you see we're trying to ready for a fight here?>"
"<Oh, yeah. I hear he said that he's so good, he'll beat up five Amazons all by himself! I just can't let that slide, so here I am to help fight for our honor!>" The blonde struck a heroic pose as she made her proclamation. The effect, however was ruined by the broken ties on her qipao slipping away, revealing a fair amount of cleavage. She looked down and squeaked very loudly as she struggled to fasten her dress back up. The other four Amazons involved in the conflict sweatdropped in embarrassment.
"<Actually, he said six and no more.>" The voice was so soft, a few people swore that it was just the wind whispering through the village.
"<Who said that?>" Perfume asked, looking around. Satin gave the area a once over as well.
An albino girl stepped out of the crowd, holding both hands in front of her. "<I did,>" she replied.
"<Frost! What are you doing out here?>" Shampoo asked in puzzlement. "<I thought you hated hand-to-hand combat.>"
"<Now wait just a second here—!>" Satin and Perfume started to cast their votes of disapproval, but one look from the albino's ice blue eyes brought them up short. Mouthing the words, "Refuse, and I'll tell Shampoo what he really said," helped her out, too.
The news was made official, and the crowd was buzzing with fervor.
"<Six Amazons! That's impossible!>"
"<A shame to waste all that virility…>"
"<He could have made so many wonderful children, too.>"
"<I suppose this means we'll have to ready the stretcher and toss him into the river like all the other males that fail to win.>"
"<Oh, that poor boy. Why throw your life away, when you could have me instead!>"
"<Hush, Dearie, and let me dream.>"
Ranma only pretended to understand what was going on. Genma-panda followed the method as well, keeping out of the eye of most of his Amazon public while he was thinking about it. Neither knew just how much trouble they were getting into.
"So, tell me, what brings you to the Joketsuzoku village, Guide?" Cologne asked of the rotund man in the green Chinese army uniform. Both she and he were situated inside of a hut a ways off from the tournament scene so that they may converse in peace. The Jusenkyou Guide did say that it may have been a case of emergency, and since the two Japanese men were not around, she freely conversed in the village's native dialect.
"I don't understand it myself, but there may be a problem concerning a Jusenkyou curse, Head Elder." He fidgeted a little.
"Oh? What kind of problem?"
"Well… is there any history of what happens to individuals that fall into a cursed spring that matches that individual?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, for example, an uncursed tiger falls into spring of the drowned tiger, or a boy falls into spring of the drowned boy."
Cologne took a puff of her pipe and pondered. "Honestly, I don't believe we do. However, it's my belief that nothing would happen, other than the individual would just get wet."
"That's what I believed, too, at first…"
"Yes. However, recently, something… strange happened."
"Oh? Do tell."
The Jusenkyou guide related the tale of his daughter's sudden burst of affection and the quick ending of it. When he finished, the elder wore a pensive look. "Tell me, did she ever act like that before?"
"No. Just a few days ago, she was telling me just how boys were so icky and such."
"Hmm…" Cologne thoughtfully tapped her pipe against her palm lightly. "Where is the boy now?"
Just before he could say, the hut shuddered violently, as if a hundred trains had rolled by at high speeds. It continued to rattle and vibrate even as the elder took up her staff, and peeked outside to see what exactly was going on. The Guide could only hear the shriveled, old woman say, "Oh, my…"
"Elder?" He took a risk and stuck his head outside as well. Involuntarily, the rotund man gasped and flung himself backwards. "E-elder, that's—!"
"Yes, I know. A tornado in the middle of the village. I can see it plainly."
Cologne put a tiny hand to her forehead and sighed. "When will Frost learn not to lose her temper…?"
"It's nothing. Come along with me. I have a feeling the boy we were discussing is involved with this."
An hour after the event, a young Amazon warrior with hair the same shade as summer violets laid on a cot inside of a hut designated for the local healer. Five other cots surrounded her, all recently vacated. On the wall before the cots were two shelves stocked with innumerable sealed or corked jars containing various mixtures or handpicked samples of vegetation. Beside those was another shelf, this one hosting ancient herbal lore alongside modern medical textbooks and encyclopedias. On the far side of the room was a moderate-sized desk and chair with an old, shrunken woman poring over the pages of an aging tome.
"So you're finally awake, Great-granddaughter," Cologne said in the native tongue.
Through the haze of dull pain and herbal mixtures, Shampoo recognized that voice immediately. "Great-grandmother…"
The ancient woman turned away from the thick book to face her great-granddaughter still lying down on the cot. She took hold of her gnarled staff and hopped onto it, pogoing over to the recovering girl. "Yes, Shampoo?"
The indigo-haired girl groggily opened her eyes tried her best to focus in the direction of the voice. "Who won?"
"The boy named Ranma did."
She smiled weakly. "Good. So, we'll get married, right?"
"Yes, you will. All six of you girls will be married to Ranma."
"Great. All six of us…" she mumbled, drifting off to sleep.
Cologne blinked, staring at Shampoo. "My, she seems to be taking that well. I thought she wasn't into same sex relationships."
At that moment, the young woman's eyes flared wide open in abject horror. "All six?!" She sprang off of the cot, landing on her knees in front of the old woman in less than the blink of an eye. "Grandmother, you can't be serious!"
"I'm afraid so."
"B-but what about the law? When two or more Amazons are challenged to hand-to-hand combat, the last one defeated is given the chance to give the Kiss of Marriage!"
"After the tornado dissipated and Lotion's mother Medicine came to attend to you all, I asked the witnesses about what happened. From their accounts, you challenged Ranma to a duel. He in turn challenged you and at least five others, correct?"
Shampoo frowned. "I think so. They were talking in Japanese, so I couldn't follow it at all, but Frost gave us the final translation in the end."
"I see…" Cologne thought on that new fact for a second before filing it away for future reference. "Then, after some dispute, all of you girls decided to attack the boy as one, correct?"
Shampoo slowly nodded, a sense of dread settling in the pit of her stomach.
"Apparently, someone pushed Frost to the ground in the middle of the fight. A bad choice, considering how much she dislikes others exerting their physical superiority over her. In anger, she used her magical abilities to create a tornado, which swallowed everyone involved in the fight, including herself. After a moment, the spell abruptly ended, presumably when Frost was knocked unconscious. As best as they can tell, he beat all of you at the same time. Since there is no subclause pertaining to instances such as these," she continued on. "It's been decided that he is to be considered married to all of you, as it will be unlikely he will issue another challenge in the present time."
"That can't be right! There has the be some other solution!"
"Well, I could declare Frost as the legal wife of Ranma—" the younger Amazon started at this, "—or, since this matter is ambiguous, I could have the entire event made null and void."
Fear flashed in Shampoo's eyes. "No, those can't be options!"
Cologne studied her great-granddaughter's face briefly. "Then I'm afraid that the original decision stands as is."
The indigo-haired girl wavered, then wilted, groaning and covering her face with her hands. "This can't be happening…"
The elder watched her for a few moments. "So you've really fallen for him," she said under her breath, "just like the other five have… This is serious indeed."
"Yes, Honored Sir?"
"Just what exactly is going on?"
"What do you mean, Honored Sir?"
"Please, just call me Saotome-san."
"Yes, Honored Sir."
"Something wrong, Honored Sir?"
"Nothing to be concerned about. Please, answer my earlier question."
"Oh, I not sure how you mean."
"I mean, why are all these people putting up decorations and cooking and the like?"
"Oh, that! They prepare for ceremony. Once in lifetime. No one ever marry six Amazon all once before. Too, too fortunate groom!"
"Ah, I see. Well, I suppose we shall stay around until after the reception."
"Well, Honored Sir, there little choice in matter of staying."
"Eh? Why's that?"
"Other Honored Sir is groom. Would do no good to leave own wedding."
"Well, we can't have that now, can w—?! What did you say?!"
"Calm down, Honored Sir! Would think you be very proud of other Honored Sir. Very lucky to marry such strong women indeed!"
"The hell you say! We're leaving right now!"
"Wait Honored Sir! Where you go?"
"To get my son, that's where!"
"Oh, they no like that…"
Cologne remained in the healer's hut long after Shampoo had left to prepare for the polygamous wedding, still reading the huge, ancient tome opened up before her. Her finger slowly roved up and down the columns of Chinese characters inscribed on the yellowed pages, aiding her in her quest for an answer to a nagging question; just what spring did the Japanese boy (and future son-in-law) Ranma fall into? The guide had claimed the young Saotome boy fell into Nannichuan, but the elderly woman knew better than to take his word for law; he had been known to lose track of which spring was which in the past, and those times had almost led up to disaster.
There were one hundred and thirteen known cursed springs out of one hundred and forty-one springs total at Jusenkyou as of current times. At least seventy-two cursed those unfortunate to fall into their waters into different animals such as Shomaoniichuan (Spring of Drowned Panda), Heituenniichuan (Spring of Drowned Pig), and Lungniichuan (Spring of Drowned Dragon). She was thankful that neither the Ranma youth nor his father had fallen into the latter; the destruction they would have accidentally caused trying to adjust to that form would have been much more than what the entire country of China could have had handled even with its one-point-one-billion-plus population ratio. The other forty-one springs had varying effects, mainly those which affected the mind and sometimes the body as well. At least seventeen of those springs cursed the subjects to become or to remain human, but the personalities were, to be polite, greatly altered. One spring could cause one to become two, though the personalities would sometimes conflict. Another spring could change even the most raging, violent psychopath onto the pinnacle of sainthood. There was even some old rumor such as the "spring of drowned perfect husband" and "spring of drowned love god." Cologne chuckled to herself; if those springs really existed, no doubt there would be a six-mile-long line of married women with their husbands waiting at Jusenkyou's front gate.
The ancient woman let the humorous thought pass, and focused on more serious matters. A spring that could make one immensely attractive to the opposite sex…
Movement caught the corner of eagle-sharp gray eyes. Reflexively, she looked towards the open window of the hut and saw a furtive passing of a grimy white figure. Curious, Cologne let the unanswered questions slip into a pocket of her mind as she took up her staff, then crept outside. Before her was the back of a bulky man in an old gi with a bandanna tied about his head. Genma, she realized immediately. What was he doing around here, sneaking through the village like a thief? With a small smile curling at the corners of her mouth, she went to find out.
"Let me guess," Nabiki said suddenly. "You caught Genma trying to sneak out with Ranma."
"My, you are a perceptive child. At any rate, you are correct. I subdued him and had him placed under guard until the ceremony."
Soun leaned over to Genma's ear. "You, a master of Anything Goes, allowed an old woman like her to best you in unarmed combat?" he whispered, shame evident in his tones.
"She said the Master's name. She knows the Master!" the stocky martial artist replied in the same whispering tone.
Soun turned to stone on the spot. In an instant, he prostrated himself before the now-bewildered Cologne. "I'm sorry, Cologne-san. I did not realize you knew… him."
She quickly regained her composure. "Who, Happousai?"
Genma's handkerchief flew off of his bald head, while Soun's hair stood up on end. "Shh! Please don't say it out loud, or he'll return!" they said simultaneously.
"Return?" A wiry, white eyebrow perked up slightly. "Where has he gone to?"
An uncomfortable silence sat heavily in the room. "I see… Understandable, considering whom it is. Well, I won't press the issue much farther."
"Cologne-san?" Kasumi asked.
"I apologize. I do not believe we have been properly introduced earlier."
"That's all right. My name is Kasumi Tendo. These are my sisters, Nabiki—" She indicated the brunette on her right, "—and Akane." She pointed to the girl in a gi occasionally stealing looks towards Ranma, as he looked somewhat embarrassed with all the attention he was receiving from his six lovely Chinese wives. He had long since discarded the slicker, and the Amazons nuzzled up with him as close as possible.
"Thank you. Now, did you wish to ask me something?"
Nabiki quickly cut it. "Yeah, I was curious. What brings you all here to begin with, since Ranma seems to be having more fun with six girls over there?"
"Um, we're looking for Mom," the pigtailed boy spoke up from his sitting position. "Oyaji had the idea that we should get her approval before I became officially married."
Soun immediately whirled to face him. "What?"
The girls realized too late what was going on and quickly tried to make move to silence their shared husband. However, he said, "Right now, we're symbolically married, but Mom has to have final say in it."
At that moment, Soun and Genma exchanged knowing looks. His three daughters hid smiles among themselves. The six Amazon girls silently groaned as the cat escaped the bag with supple celerity. Cologne gave Ranma an unreadable look before making an almost imperceptible nod of her head. Ranma simply blinked. "What?"
"Oh, nothing," everyone in the room spoke as if one.
The Saotome heir blinked twice. "That… that was a little unnerving…"
Years from now, Ranma would most likely regret letting the status of his polygamous marriage become public knowledge. That is assuming he were to live through the trip Fate so lovingly prepared for him in advance, that is…
To Be Continued…
Author's notes: This started out as a wacky idea I came up with on the spur of the moment when the Muse went South on me months ago. I tried thinking up the most unique opening for a Ranma Altaverse fic to help ease my mind on other matters, and on that point, I think I've succeeded for the most part (hey, when you get "It's certainly an unique opening" from people like D.B. Sommer, you can't go wrong, right?) although I did get an extra idea or two from various readers like Rai and Hans. The more I wrote, the more I liked, even to the point of actually making it a regular story. The people have spoken, and One Man, Many Wives will continue on.
Some interesting points: As I'm pretty sure most people who read Ranma fics, or understand the Chinese language know, airen does not actually translate into husband (it means beloved, or lover). I only wrote it as such for a mass simplification (that and I don't know just what do Chinese women refer to their husbands as). Thanks to Edmund Chui for that little reminder.
Okay, that'll be a wrap. Any comments, questions, or monetary donations will be graciously accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Flames and such will be unceremoniously delivered to email@example.com
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Adrian D. Moten
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