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Act 1, Scene 6: Weighty Matters

A Ranma ½ / Avengers (the superhero group) fusion
by DB Sommer

You can contact me at: sommer@3rdm.net. All C+C is craved for

Disclaimer: Hell, no. I don't own any of the characters. Marvel and whomever Takahashi sold the rights to do.

"Too slow, Pop. Maybe you should just call it quits!"

"Never, boy! I may have taught you everything you know, but I haven't taught you everything I know. I still have a few tricks up my sleeve."

"Get real, Old Man. If we were really fighting, you'd probably end up breaking one of your bones, then osteoporosis would set in and it might never heal."

"I am not THAT old!"

Nabiki spared a glance towards the fight in the backyard. The Saotomes' duel was closer to an aerial ballet than an act of war, though it featured the largest ballerina the world had even seen. The older man's agility surprised Nabiki as she watched him try to level a leap kick at his son in response to the jibes against his fighting ability. Nabiki noted it was a pretty good effort, one she would have had problems dodging, but Ranma made it look easy as he danced to the left and evaded the attack.

Not was not as if Nabiki really cared who won, though if she were running a betting pool, she wouldn't give Genma better than fifteen-to-one odds, if that. The older Saotome might have been good, but Ranma was in a class all of his own. She had to remind herself that it wasn't as if she really cared about a guy who was little more than a large side of beefcake, like most of the other girls at school would. There had already been a few questions directed towards her about Ranma's status by the female population of Furinkan. Nabiki had been intentionally vague about him. Odds were he would end up with either Akane or Kasumi, but she was reluctant to be proven wrong if he went for one instead of the other.

Convinced the Saotomes were too deeply involved in their morning workout to notice anything else, Nabiki quietly made her way through the house and towards her goal. Making certain no one else saw her, she went to the room that had been converted for the Saotomes' use. Quietly she opened it, revealing all that was within.

The object of her search was there, out in the open, lying against Ranma's backpack as if recently handled. All the more proof that Ranma had been full of it.

"Lucky hubcap my foot," Nabiki mumbled. What sort of gullible twit did Ranma take her for? A story like that might have fooled her father or even her sisters, but Nabiki Tendou was made of sharper stuff. Something was up, and her inquisitive nature nagged at her to discover what the mystery was, and how she could take advantage of it.

Since Ranma was being so secretive about his 'hubcap,' it would not do to leave obvious clues that she had uncovered the truth. There was no telling how he would react to the revelation, especially since she didn't know what really was hidden behind the folded paper. Moving quickly, but efficiently, she unwrapped the brown paper from around the object carefully, making certain she unveiled it without tearing the wrap or any of the tape that bound it. After only moments, she uncovered the item, bringing it fully into view.

Nabiki's eyes widened, her mouth agape as she stared at the circular object before her. Of all the guesses she had made concerning the item, from the logical to the absurd, this was truly the last thing on earth she had believed it would be. But there it was, before her eyes, the evidence undeniable. It took almost a full minute for her to recover her wits and choose the next course of action. Part of her was tempted to leave it in the open and show Ranma that she had indeed learned the truth of the matter and was not pleased about it; but common sense overruled her instincts, and she carefully refolded the paper exactly the same way she had found it. Satisfied all was the same as it was before she entered the room, she departed with one last glance of disbelief at the circular object.

It really was unbelievable.

"Ha! Told ya' you didn't stand a chance, old man," Ranma taunted at his father as the man rested on top of his head, driven into the bottom of the empty koi pond like a rotund javelin.

The sound of a truck moving up to the rear of the dojo caught Ranma's attention. He was going to see what the disturbance was about when Kasumi emerged from the kitchen and onto the back porch.

"Excuse me, Mr. Saotome. Would it be too much of a bother to ask if you could take a nap somewhere other than the pond? We've finally decided to have the cement in the bottom repaired so that we can fill it up with water again. It should be fixed and as good as new by the end of the day."

Ranma helped pry his father from out of the empty pond, examining the size of it for the first time. "Gee, it's not really that small," he commented to his father.

Genma considered the potential body of water as well. "I suppose we could always resort to using the dojo to train instead. It is sort of what it's there for."

"I thought you always said, 'it's best to fight in a variety of different surroundings because they more accurately reflected potential fields of combat you'll likely find yourself in, rather than the staid conditions of an ordinary dojo'," Ranma quoted.

Genma weighed that, then looked at the empty pond. "I suppose we could try fighting next to a sizable body of water. What are the odds of us ending up in it, after all?"

Ranma nodded his head approvingly. "The dojo it is."

The pair decided to call an end to their morning training session and made their way to the bathroom to clean themselves off. After a quick scrub down and a relaxing soak in the furo, the duo returned to their shared room to change for breakfast.

As Ranma tried deciding which set of red shirt and black pants to wear, he sensed more than noticed something out of place about the wrapped disk next to his pack. He bent down and picked up the object, examining it closely. Squinting his eyes, he saw the clue that told him all he needed to know.

"Looks like someone couldn't keep their hands to themselves," Ranma said in smug satisfaction.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Genma asked, genuinely confused.

"Look at this." Ranma held the object out for his father to see. "I thought someone might want to look at my 'lucky hubcap' a little more closely. I wanted to know if anyone would get too nosy for their own good, so I taped a really, really tiny piece of string, that you can't see without knowing what to look for, under one side of a fold and above the one opposite it. When someone undid the wrap on the paper, they untaped the string from one end of the paper. When they redid the job, they didn't tape the string back down."

"Very sneaky of you," Genma said in approval.

"I learned from the sneakiest guy around," Ranma said with a decided lack of approval in his voice. He paused to consider who the likely culprit was. "My bet is it was Nabiki. She seems the suspicious sort."

"An inquisitive nature is always a good attribute for any potential wife," Genma happily pointed out.

"Drop it, Pop," Ranma warned. Now Nabiki knew the horrifying truth, and Ranma's secret was out: he had taken the time to locate and wrap up a real hubcap to throw people off in case someone got too inquisitive.

It looked like his precaution had paid off. Ranma gazed up at the ceiling, satisfied that string he had put across the tile was still in place, and the item he had hidden up in the crawlspace was still secure. There was no way he was going to let this intrusion in his life slide with Nabiki, he silently vowed to himself. His private business was just that, private. He'd just have to figure out some measure of revenge. And it would start this morning.

"Gee, I wonder if I should take my lucky hubcap to school," Ranma emphasized the word 'hubcap' as he looked directly at Nabiki.

Kasumi continued serving breakfast. Soun was looking out at the water filling the koi pond. Genma worried about Ranma possibly alienating Nabiki, a potential future wife. And Akane just thought Ranma was getting weirder by the day.

As for Nabiki, she knew damn well what Ranma was up to. Somehow he knew she had unwrapped his 'lucky hubcap,' and was mocking her about having one up on her. Big mistake. Not only was she going to get back at him for outmaneuvering her and flaunting it, it also served to make her more convinced than ever that something odd was going on with that disc. She'd figure out what it was, but only after she dished out some measure of vengeance.

Her plans were interrupted when the doorbell rang. Kasumi excused herself from serving and answered the door. A moment later she returned, bearing a note in hand. "It's addressed to the dojo, Father."

Soun took the offered envelope and quickly tore it open, eyes pouring over the contents. As he finished reading, his hands began shaking. "It's a challenge for the dojo. It says here a sumo champion is going to arrive tomorrow and have a fight to prove clearly whose combat art is superior. It says he'll take our sign if we lose. And it's signed, 'The Duke'."

"Oh great," Nabiki sighed. Another inane challenge. If the pattern followed its usual course, her father would force her to defend the dojo. "Fine, I'll do it," she said, beating her father to the punch.

"And Ranma will help her out," Genma added as he thrust his son towards Nabiki.

"What?" Ranma spluttered as he found himself unintentionally violating Nabiki's personal space.

"A capital idea, Saotome," Soun heartily agreed.

"It's so nice of Ranma to help out Nabiki. It'll prove how well they get along," Kasumi said, thinking they did make as nice a looking couple as Ranma would with Akane.

"Yeah, it'll almost be like they're practically married," Akane quickly added, smiling at this unexpected opportunity to bring the two closer together.

"Now wait just a minute," Ranma started to protest, somehow finding himself not only involved in a fight that had nothing to do with him, but that everyone else seemed intent on pawning him off upon the middle Tendou daughter, who he was currently feeling less than charitable towards.

Nabiki feigned indifference. "Don't worry, Ranma. I'll fight this guy on my own. He's probably very tough and you might end up getting hurt."

"Now wait just a minute," Ranma repeated, this time for a whole set of different reasons. "I didn't say I wouldn't fight. I'd be glad to put some slow, overweight guy in a giant diaper in his place."

"That's my boy," Genma placed his hands around Ranma's shoulders. It was about time the boy started acting heroic without his father's prodding for a change.

"Fine, you can help," Nabiki said, hiding her smile behind her cup of tea.

Ranma continued his stretching exercises as he prepared for the challenger to arrive. The man was already fifteen minutes late, and the youth was beginning to wonder if he was going to show at all.

The other thing that concerned him was Nabiki. It didn't seem as though she were taking the challenge seriously. Although she was dressed in a stylish black gi with a green and gold dragon on the torso (a bit gaudy, in his opinion) she did not seem interested in the fight at all. She hadn't even begun to warm up. All she was doing was standing idly by, examining her watch every few moments and looking bored

And then he felt it. The land trembled slightly, as though in earthquake was about to begin, but the motion was all wrong; it was too rhythmic, and not causing the destruction associated with that force of nature. It took only a few moments for Ranma to determine that the rumbling was not originating from the earth, but rather from something walking across it, and drawing ever closer.

The rumbling seemed to reach its peak, then in one quick motion the entryway to the dojo slid back to reveal the source of all the noise. A troop of at least forty huge men, not one weighing under four hundred pounds, dressed in white kimonos, entered the dojo in two ramrod straight lines, maintaining a military precision in their movement. The men flanked two sides of the dojo, then as one sat down in cross-legged fashion. All of their eyes then turned to the doorway. The Tendous and Saotomes followed suit.

And there he was, standing in the entryway, his form momentarily blocked out by the bright glare of sunlight that seemed to rise from behind him. But the burning image faded as the sun lowered behind the wall surrounding the Tendou grounds, and allowed the others to clearly see the challenger.

He was the largest of the men present, standing six feet tall and weighing at least six hundred pounds, dressed in a huge white kimono that could have doubled as a tent. A very wide, six hundred pounds. He was more akin to a mountain, or at least a foothill, than a human being. Luckily, the entryway to the dojo was wide, and allowed him to enter without having to turn sideways. But perhaps the most curious characteristic of all was that the man was clearly a gaijin. A Caucasian, to be specific.

"Sorry for the delay," the man said in heavily accented Japanese. "Me and the boys got hungry on the way over and decided to dine at an all you can eat sushi bar. But then the owner keeled over from a heart attack as soon as we entered and it postponed the meal and made us even later."

"You're 'The Duke'?" Ranma asked.

"You got it. Fred J. Dukes, to be specific," the man smiled and bowed, "but I just shortened it to 'The Duke.' Makes for an easier ring intro. Besides, you Japanese guys have trouble pronouncing, 'The Blob'."

"Ring intro?" Ranma asked.

One of the sumo surrounding the floor answered, "The master is the greatest sumo champion ever. He has won every major tournament in Japan and the surrounding countries. He has never been defeated. He even took all of us on and defeated is in the very same day. That is why we refer to him as our master." The man genuflected before his leader.

"Yeah, deciding to come to Japan was the best choice I've ever made," the Blob confirmed. "Being a respected wrestler over here sure beats being a fat man for the circus, or some cheesy super-villain." Of course, given his subtle mutant power was perfectly suited for sumo wrestling, it made winning all the easier. But there was no need for anyone to know about that little 'irrelevant' detail. He was a tough guy that would have won anyway. It just served to speed things up the inevitable.

"And now it's time for me to prove to you just how kick-ass sumo is," the Blob bragged. "I've already knocked over a dozen dojo, and yours is next in line. Before I'm done, sumo isn't just going to be the most respected martial art in Japan; it's going to be the only one. Haw, haw, haw."

That brought a resounding cheer from the other wrestlers around the dojo.

Ranma considered that, and found himself respecting his opponent a little more, though not by much. "Heh, buddy, you've met your match this time. Ain't no way some fat guy's ability to bump people with his belly can defeat the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts. You're completely outclassed."

Nabiki moved to Ranma's side. She addressed the Blob, "We might as well get this started. I would assume you don't want to be late for dinner."

"Haven't missed one in twenty years. Have no intention of starting now." The Blob rubbed his belly as he smirked. It didn't make a bit of difference to him if they tried to take him two-on-one. He had fought a whole dojo once and defeated everyone.

"Let's begin," Ranma said.

"Just let me get out of my uniform so I can fight in proper gear." And with that the Blob removed his kimono to show off his 'proper gear'.

According to Greek mythology, there was a trio of sisters called the gorgons of which the most famous was Medusa. It was said they had snakes for hair and that anyone who dared to look upon them would find himself turned to stone from the hideousness of their features.

However, on this day, it was proven conclusively that in the case of some horrifying sights, it was infinitely preferable to be turned into a piece of masonry rather than to go on living with such an unholy vision burned forever in one's mind.

Case in point: seeing the Blob wear nothing but a too tiny g-string.

"I'm blind! I'm blind!" Ranma shouted, covering his eyes. But it was far, far too late.

"This is easily the most traumatic thing I've ever had to see," Nabiki said dryly, though with an amount of disgust that, while more reserved, was equal to Ranma's.

Soun and Genma hugged each another in terror. "This is more horrifying than anything the master did to us!" Soun blurted out,

"Even Volstagg wouldn't look that disgusting," Akane stated fearfully, the others too horrified to pick up on the unusual comparison. Trying to avoid looking, she was amazed to see Kasumi unfazed by the Blob's appearance. Curiously, the eldest Tendou daughter was still looking in the Blob's direction, not seemingly repelled in the least.

"How can you stand to look at… that?" Akane finally got out, trying her best to avoid visualizing again the sight she had just borne witness to.

"It's easy. I know this is just some horrible nightmare that will end when I wake up." Kasumi continued smiling blissfully. "So if it isn't real, I don't have to be frightened by it."

Genma was less restrained. "For god's sake man, why would you inflict this evil upon humanity?!"

"Get real. I'm hot," the Blob shot back. "Japanese chicks dig us sumo guys. So I figured if I wore something smaller than those diapers they usually wear, the babes would really get turned on."

"Or puke their guts out on the ground," Ranma added.

"You're just jealous cause you wouldn't look as good as me in one of these." The Blob posed in that sexy way that only six-hundred-pounders can manage. Regrettably, the effect was lost on all the women present, due to a distinct lack of appreciation for the more esoterically erotic things in life.

Actually it was lost on the men too.

"That's enough!" Ranma shot back. "Let's get this over with."

"Then we can all get counseling to try to get over the effects of what's just happened," Nabiki added.

Repressing a shudder, the others forced themselves to look in the Blob's direction so that they could watch the upcoming fight. Once a person got over the initial shock, seeing the Blob in a g-string wasn't that bad.

Okay, it was that bad, but the others were somewhat used to the unusual, and therefore they adapted to the situation, looking everywhere higher than waist level on the huge roll of fat that stomped his foot down and prepared for combat.

Nabiki and Ranma lined up side-by-side and prepared for the Blob's charge. Soun raised his hand, then lowered it, indicating the fight should start.

The Blob moved forward. Ranma gauged the man's speed and came up with over a dozen ways to get out of the way of the charge. He gave a smirk to Nabiki. "I don't need your help. I can take this guy by myself."

"Okay." Nabiki fell out of her fighter's stance and casually walked over to where her sisters sat.

Ranma was so surprised by her actually taking his advice instead of being insulted that he almost allowed himself to be trampled by the Blob's charge. It was only at the last moment that he evaded it, catching a swat on the shoulder from the meaty hand of his opponent.

"Almost got you, skinny," the Blob taunted.

Ranma bristled. There was no way he was going to take that kind of slur from the big man. He aimed a hard right into the Blob's stomach to surprise him, then planned to follow that up with a hard left to the head.

However the plan was disrupted when, instead of merely punching the Blob's stomach and backing up for another swing, Ranma found his hand caught firmly in the rolls of fat. Unable to easily remove it, he braced his feet against the floor and redoubled his efforts to pry it out, but still his fist wouldn't budge a centimeter.

"Ha! Whatcha' going to do now, lightweight?" The Blob began laughing hard, a deep nasally thing that involved a lot of snorting and caused him to jiggle like a bowl full of jelly… on a lifeboat in the middle of a typhoon.

Much to the relief of everyone in the room, the endless chortle was interrupted by a hard left to the face, snapping the Blob's head back from the force of the blow.

The Blob shook his head, actually feeling the impact from the hardened fist. "Fine. Back at you." The big man brought his skull forward, head-butting the stationary Ranma with the full force of the blow. It was Ranma's turn to shake his head from the solid impact.

"Don't exchange punches, boy. Get some space," Genma shouted from the sidelines.

"I'm stuck!" Ranma protested as he deflected a right cross from the Blob with his free hand, then brought it back just in time to parry a left.

The Blob changed tactics as he brought his arms together and caught Ranma in a bear hug. It was only at the last second that Ranma brought his loose hand up and prevented it from being pinned as well.

"Use the Saotome Super Special Anti-Bear Hug Technique!" Genma shouted.

"No way! It's too embarrassing!" Ranma protested, though the breath was slowly being crushed from his lungs by the Blob's surprisingly impressive strength.

"Get real, beanpole," the Blob snorted. "There's nothing you can do anyway, secret technique or not. My hold is unbreakable. Unbreakable!"

"Fine," Ranma said, pride giving way to the need to win. He held his fingers up high in a victory sign, causing the Blob to scowl and wonder why the boy was declaring victory when he was on the verge of blacking out.

The Blob learned the true nature of the move as Ranma gave a battle cry of, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk," and poked the big man in eyes with said fingers. The Blob immediately released his hold both on Ranma's back and his trapped fist, then placed his hands over his eyes as he roared in pain.

Genma looked on in approval. "Witness the dreaded fury of 'Moe-Fu'."

"It seems pretty silly to me," Akane observed as Ranma began audibly slapping the top of the Blob's head, irritating the man further.

"Hardly. You should see what he can do with a cream pie," Genma said ominously.

Akane shuddered and watched on.

Ranma switched from those arcane techniques and went with more conventional ones. A hard slap to the Blob's ear stunned him further, and a stomp into the big man's foot made him crash to the ground hard, shaking the dojo to its foundations. Several more hard blows landed before the Blob regained his footing and prepared to fight back.

It quickly became obvious as the fight progressed that Sumo techniques were ineffectual as Ranma deftly avoided every one of them and, retaliated with a series of blows to the Blob's vulnerable head. The strikes added up and began taking their toll on the large sumo.

The easy manner in which the Blob was losing the fight made him panic. The boy hit harder than anyone he had faced before and the youth was quick enough to avoid the big man's attempts to hit him back. Worse, he wasn't wasting time trying to hit the Blob's body any more and went for his more unprotected head and face. Unable to deal with Ranma's speed the Blob found himself weakened and becoming light-headed from the merciless assault. He decided to go for it all with the most powerful technique in his arsenal.

Using all of his strength, the Blob leaped up high in the air and cried out, "Earthshaking Body Smash!" and targeted his landing zone for Ranma.

Ranma nearly rolled his eyes at the Blob's ridiculous attack. Like he was going to remain motionless and let the big man land on him like an out of control Boeing 747. He tensed up to leap out of the way when Nabiki's voice cried out, "Ranma, look out behind you!"

The cry caused Ranma to automatically spin and look behind him to ward off the impending attack. Seeing no immediate attacker, he hesitated in confusion.

Which was just the right amount of time needed for the Blob to crash land directly on top of Ranma. The force of the tremendous impact nearly caused the youth to pass out as all of the breath was driven from his lungs, and he found himself smashed into the floor, splintering the floorboards underneath.

The Blob smiled as he planted his butt firmly on Ranma's back and allowed his feet to touch the floor. Triggering his mutant power, the Blob literally became an 'immovable object'. Not even a herd of elephants could drag him an inch from this spot. He felt Ranma try to rise to his feet, but between the large man's tremendous weight combined with his mutant ability, Ranma couldn't do a thing. All that was left was for the Blob to wait until his opponent gave up or passed out. It didn't make a difference to him which way he won, just so long as he was the champion at the end.

All but one person on the Tendou and Saotome side looked stupefied at the sudden reversal of the match. Soun and Genma began cheering Ranma on in encouragement, while Akane and Kasumi turned to the sole member who wasn't the least bit surprised at what had just happened.

Nabiki saw the stares directed to her. "I thought I saw something behind him." She didn't even bothering to try to sound sincere.

Akane shot her an accusatory glare. "Liar. You did that deliberately to distract Ranma."

"Prove it," Nabiki taunted.

"Nabiki, you have to help him," Kasumi insisted.

The middle Tendou daughter shook her head. "Ranma said he could handle it on his own. I wouldn't want to wound his pride or anything."

"But if he doesn't win, we'll lose the dojo," Kasumi pointed out.

"No one can blame me for that." Nabiki shrugged, then placed her hand to her chin thoughtfully. "You know, it suddenly occurs to me that if that happens, I probably won't have to practice martial arts anymore. Now won't that just be a shame?"

Akane and Kasumi saw where this was leading to. Gritting her teeth, Akane asked, "What is it going to take to get you to help Ranma and save the dojo?"

Nabiki pretended to consider that, events finally having progressed to the moment she had been waiting for. "I guess I might bring myself to help him win if, say, Ranma was asked out on a date after the match?"

"No way!" Akane said.

"I'm not sure if that would be such a good idea," Kasumi said, finding her hands suddenly fascinating.

Nabiki shrugged. "And it was such a fine old dojo too. Been in the family for a couple of generations. Very nice."

Akane and Kasumi looked at each other, seemed to come to a mutual unspoken agreement, then sighed. Akane spoke for them, "Fine. One of us will ask Ranma on a date after the match. You can decide which one later."

"Au contraire, my dear sibling," Nabiki said. "Both of you have to go out with him."

"What?" the pair said as one.

Nabiki's eyes took on a calculated gleam. "I wouldn't want to be accused of preferring one of my sister's over the other. Since I love both of you equally, it's only fair that both of you go out with him. Besides, don't you think it's best that Ranma has equal opportunity to see which of his two potential fiancées is the one most suited for him?"

"You forgot to include yourself," Kasumi mentioned.

"No, I didn't," Nabiki said firmly.

"Fine, go help Ranma before it's too late," Akane insisted.

Nabiki smirked at her victory and went into action. She slowly walked up to the Blob, who watched her approach with a careful eye. He felt Ranma try once again to lift him on his shoulders and off the ground, but still the Blob's mutant power made Ranma remain where he was, buried face first in the dojo floor.

Seeing she now had the Blob's full attention, Nabiki moved right next to him, easily within arm's length. She told herself this was for her sisters' sakes. One of them was going to have to be chosen by Ranma, and the sooner that happened the sooner Nabiki and the one not chosen would be allowed to get on with their lives. As to the one left behind, well, sacrifices had to be made, just like the one Nabiki was about to make right now. She mentally prepared herself for what she was about to do.

The sumo tensed up, ready for any attack Nabiki might unleash. Or at least any attack save one.

Standing on her toes, Nabiki unleashed the Anything Goes Osculation Technique (without tongue. There were limits, even for Nabiki)

The Blob was in complete shock. Not that he had been kissed, but that he had been certain it would take at least another five minutes before the girls started jumping his hot and sexy g-string clad body. Obviously he had underestimated his own unstoppable sensuality.

The kiss distracted the Blob so badly that he momentarily lost control of his mutant power and went to just being a normal six hundred pound man sitting on the back of a teenager. Under ordinary circumstances, or even against any other sixteen year old, that would have been enough.

But not when the opponent was Ranma Saotome. The boy was at the peak of physical perfection thanks to the super soldier serum coursing through his veins. Unaware of what had just transpired above him, with every one of his muscles straining, he somehow managed to lift the Blob off his feet, carrying the tremendous amount of weight solely upon his shoulders.

The Blob panicked as he felt his feet lose contact with the ground before he could regain control. Without it, his mutant power was useless and he became just a surprisingly strong fat guy. Using that strength, he tried to strike Ranma in the head. But his position on top of Ranma's shoulders, along with a distinct lack of leverage, made his blows carry only a small portion of the possible power behind them.

Ranma could feel the muscles in his back threatening to buckle under the tremendous weight even as the Blob hammered away at his head. He had to move fast if the plan he had formulated while pinned under the big man was going to work.

With a ringing battle cry he ran through the doors of the dojo and into the backyard, every step draining tremendous amounts of his energy as he carried the squirming six hundred pounds of human flesh on his shoulders. A weaker man would have fallen, but the serum in his veins retarded the build up of lactic acid in his muscles and staved off the fatigue that would have worn anyone else down and caused them to collapse to the ground. Still, Ranma was almost completely exhausted as he finally stopped at his destination.

Everyone else that had been in the dojo followed to witness the rest of the fight. There was a gasp as everyone saw where Ranma had stopped and realized what he was about to do.

Atop his perch on Ranma's shoulders, the Blob recoiled in horror as he realized what his opponent was about to do. With one last surge of strength he tried to get off Ranma's shoulders. For the briefest of moments he thought he was about to succeed as he leaned far to the left and almost off his seat, but the teetering man's motion was arrested as Ranma regained his balance and at last forced the Blob off his shoulders and down in the direction that he wanted him to go…

…headfirst into the koi pond.

As the Blob ended up vertical in the pond, similar to what had happened to Genma the other day, Ranma grabbed onto the big man's legs and prevented him from breaking the surface or getting enough leverage to force his head above the water. The Blob struggled for a few moments as he was held underwater, but he had failed to take a deep breath before ending up in the pond and quickly ran out of the necessary fuel to keep him going.

Ranma felt the big man's struggles become weak. Shouting to be heard underwater, he asked, "Do you yield?!"

For a moment, the Blob struggled, trying to force his way out. But the reality of the situation sat in, and he had no choice but to give a watery, "Yes."

"Do you swear to never challenge another dojo again?"

After a longer pause, the answer was again repeated.

"And in all of the names of the gods above, do you swear never ever, ever to wear a g-string again?"

The feet began kicking forcefully once more. In response, Nabiki, Soun, Genma, and Akane helped hold the Blob where he was. After a full minute of struggling passed, a reluctant, "yes" again emerged from the pond.

It was only when the Blob swore to the vow a second time that the others finally released their hold. With the match over, and Soun politely explaining that he didn't possibly have a budget that was large enough to have the sumo over for dinner, the Blob gathered his students together and headed off into the sunset.

"Heh. That was easy," Ranma said confidently. That elicited a snort of disbelief from Akane, who then left the group. Kasumi seemed a bit perturbed as well and excused herself.

Nabiki was about to leave when Ranma said to her, "You know, you're really making distracting me at critical moments a habit."

Stopping, Nabiki turned to look at him in confusion. "What's that supposed to mean? I only did that to you once."

"Ah," Ranma stammered, suddenly aware of the error he had just committed. It had been 'Bucky' that had been distracted the first time by Nabiki, not Ranma Saotome.

Nabiki was about to press further when Genma shouted, "Would you look at this? It appears the bottom of the pond was cracked again by Ranma dropping that man in headfirst."

"But I just paid to have it fixed! Now all of that money's been wasted!" Soun complained as watched the water level noticeably drop before his eyes.

Genma tried to console him. His claim that "Money isn't everything," was met by an angry, "Obviously it doesn't mean anything to you since you don't have any and are content to leach off mine." Ranma followed as Genma tried to force an apology from him for breaking the pond and choosing a girl as a fiancée as a means of reparation, to which Ranma replied he'd sooner let the Blob wear a g-string again.

And Nabiki was left alone outside, her attention not wavering in the slightest by the argument and still trying to figure out what Ranma meant by her distracting him 'again'. Something was going on, all right. And she was going to get to the bottom of it eventually. One way or another.

A day passed as Nabiki found herself no nearer to an explanation for Ranma's comments and behavior. She was sitting in the living room, taking a break and watching television, when she spotted a scowling Akane limp into the room. However, it wasn't the scowl that caught Nabiki's attention but rather the yellow and green dress she was wearing. It was a far nicer outfit than Akane usually wore and was cause for speculation.

It took Nabiki a moment to figure out what the occasion was. "So, you decided to get it over with right away and asked Ranma out already?"

Much to Nabiki's surprise, Akane's scowl disappeared and was replaced with a disturbingly sweet smile. Disturbing because Akane never smiled that sweetly at her unless she was up to something herself.

"You've got that right, Sis," Akane said.

Nabiki was still trying to figure out what Akane was up to when she saw Kasumi also enter the living room. Like Akane, Kasumi was dressed in an outfit that was much nicer than her usual choice of clothing. An elegant red dress with white elbow length white gloves and short black heels. The duo made quite the pair.

Again Nabiki looked her older sister over in confusion. "Wait a minute, I thought Akane was going out with Ranma tonight."

"She is," Kasumi confirmed.

"But you're dressed up like you're going out with Ranma."

"That's because I am."

Now Nabiki was more perplexed than ever. "So you're going to go out with Ranma after Akane, right?"

"No," Kasumi answered.

"Then you're going out first and Akane's going out after?"

This time it was Akane who answered, "No."

"What the heck's going on?!" Nabiki finally shouted, at last at wit's end.

Kasumi gave her normal sweet smile, which caused Nabiki even further worry. Kasumi said, "Akane and I decided the fairest thing to do would be for both of us to go out with Ranma together, as in at the same time."

Nabiki stared at her sisters, slack-jawed. "But that means-"

"-that Ranma won't dare make a move on either of us for fear of insulting the other," Akane finished for her. "There isn't the slightest chance anything is going to happen. He probably won't even risk flattering us or even giving us flowers. You can hardly even call it a date." Akane gave a smirk that rivaled any of Nabiki's

As for Nabiki, she would have given her sisters' deviousness a nod of approval if it hadn't been for the vested interest she had in pawning one of them off on Ranma.

She was still in the process of how to circumvent her sisters' plans when Ranma at last appeared, dressed in a tux that, despite its large dimensions, was still pulled tight across his impressive chest. Akane and Kasumi actually found their tension drift away for a moment as they found themselves, while not necessarily attracted (they told themselves), not quite as disinterested in their date as they were a moment ago.

Off to the side, Nabiki felt a touch of envy towards her sisters. It quickly disappeared when she remembered what the end goal would be if she were to voluntarily become involved with Ranma. If there was even the slightest hint of interest in him, she had little doubt her father would have them married quicker than she could say, "I do."

Ranma stared at the attractive girls and was more panicked than ever. Obviously the trio were so desperately captivated by his appearance that they were now fighting over who had the privilege to go out with him. It was equally obvious that since neither Akane nor Kasumi were going to back down, they had made some kind of agreement to go out with him at the same time. Worse, there was now a chance that not only would the two fathers' push him to marry at least one of the girls, but they might conceivably want him to take another as his mistress. He silently vowed to play it cool and not do anything in the slightest that could be construed as possible interest in either of the girls, even if they did look nice. Equally so, which was quite remarkable considering they were both very different, yet very cute and…

Ranma shook those sorts of thought out of his head. That was exactly the sort of thing that would get him into trouble by getting him married to one of them and then who knew what disaster would befall him after that. No. He would have to think about things other than the girls' looks and concentrate on fending off their advances (of which there would no doubt be many) so they wouldn't report back to either father that he had demonstrated an interest in either one of them.

The doorbell rang. Nabiki saw the three other occupants of the room were so preoccupied with their private thoughts that no one else had reacted to it. She decided to leave the trio alone to think about one another while she answered the door. She found herself greeted by the one person in the world she least expected would drop by.

"What are you doing here, Mr. Dukes?" Nabiki asked of the man who, much to her relief had lived up to his vow of not going about in a g-string. She was still having cold sweats about that whole incident. Of course, there was the curious question as to why he was decked out in a horrifying plaid tuxedo and held a bouquet of flowers in his hand.

"Hey now, sugar cakes. Why don't you call me Fred?" he said as he removed his hat and bowed before her.

"Why don't we find a middle ground? You don't refer to me in any affectionate culinary terms, and I won't kick you in the balls hard enough to make them come out your backside?"

The Blob kept on smiling, unfazed by the threat. "That's no way to talk to your date, honeybunch."

"D… Date?" Nabiki barely managed to get out.

"Oh yeah. I knew from the moment you sucked my face you were steaming hot for me. But don't worry, I like playing things slow. There's no reason we can't go on several dates first before we go back to my place and do the horizontal mambo. Got the bed specially re-enforced so I can give you a real wild ride." He swayed his hips to add to the effect of the come on.

For a moment, Nabiki nearly visualized what he was saying. Almost. "Listen up, I would sooner marry my would-be fiancé and birth a dozen little anklebiters in his name before I would ever willingly consent to a date with you."

"Be that as it may, you are still going out on a date with Mr. Dukes."

Nabiki turned on shock at the all-too familiar voice that had come from behind her. "What do you mean, Daddy?"

Soun had a look of intensity upon him, a very, very rare one. It was the one that indicated it would be better to agree with what he was about to say rather than end up being punished and doing it anyway. "You employed the Anything Goes Osculation Technique on him. No daughter of mine shall behave so brazenly with a man and refuse to go out with him at least once."

"But it was for the dojo," Nabiki protested.

Soun shook his head, his mind already made up. "Irrelevant. You will go out on at least one date with him."

"And we'll have a good time," Fred nearly drooled.

"BUT NOT THAT GOOD A TIME!" Soun shouted as he unleashed his demon-head attack towards his daughter's would-be suitor.

Fred nearly wet his pants. And he had thought that Magneto twit was scary. "I won't lay a hand on her, sir!" he quickly said, mentally adding that no girl, no matter how attractive she was, would be worth ending up with THAT as a father-in-law.

Nabiki ground her teeth in anger. There was one obvious person to blame for all of this. The one who was responsible for losing her temper in the first place and making her sloppy in having to resort to using the osculation technique. With a snarl she growled out, "Ranma Saotome, this is all your fault!"

And in the house, Ranma shuddered. It felt not like that someone had stepped on his grave, but that rather that they had thrown him in an open hole and poured a half-ton of dirt on him.

"These girls are scary," he murmured under his breath.


To be continued.

Author's notes: Yes, I know I used 'The Blob' instead of 'The Duke,' throughout the fic despite the latter being the more 'proper' name in this universe. I tried it that way, but I felt it didn't provoke the proper imagery when picturing The Talented Mr. Dukes.

I know this was shorter and a bit of a filler but I couldn't resist doing it. Next chapter reveals the last heroes right before events finally fully kick into the motion as all of the various Avengers will be brought together at last.

Special thanks to:

  • T.H. Tiger.
  • William Morse
  • Gary Ee
Act 1-7
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