A Ranma ½ story
by D.B. Sommer
Not a fusion or crossover with Those Who Hunt Elves. Any similarities between the two names is purely coincidental.
Any and all C+C appreciated. You can contact me at: email@example.com
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
It was at the exact center of the museum that the ancient object lay. It was out in the open, standing upright in the middle of a raised dais that was composed of the purest crystal in the world. Thousands of ancient symbols were engraved upon each of the raised steps leading to the center of the dais. Various gemstones, magically altered into a liquid state, filled each of the engraved runes making each a different color, ranging from abyssal black to the deepest azure to colors that the human mind could scarcely comprehend as they shimmered impossibly in the light. A skylight was poised above the platform, shining unfiltered moonlight directly through glass made of solid air, illuminating majestically the single object that rested in the exact center of crystal dais. It was an ancient urn, unlike everything else in the room, haggard looking and worn. It was a sickly earthen color, and numerous small cracks lined nearly every square centimeter of the surface. One of the handles near the top was cracked, making holding the object by anything other than the bottom an impossibility.
Basically, it looked like something shitty one's great-grandmother has stored under five inches of dust in her attic which she won't let be thrown out because it has sentimental value, never mind the fact her memory is so shot she doesn't remember where the damn thing came from in the first place, just make sure to leave it right where it is.
And yes, it was the only thing that truly mattered in the room. The object of three ninja's quest and what their opposition sought to leave right where it was.
The Sacred Urn of CaoPatty.
And it was at the center of the museum where things truly began.
Ranma ran into the room first, being chased by Ryouga who was accusing him of being the only one around that could qualify as a "bimbo secretary".
Akane was next, quickly followed on her heels by a two-handed magic sword wielding kunoichi.
Kodachi, Ukyou, and Mai followed, actually getting along quite well with one another.
Tai bounced into the room, constantly looking over her shoulder for any sign of pursuit.
Kunou and Mousse were actively chasing Konatsu, who was still successfully fending off their mutual attacks.
Akane won the contest for 'Most Interesting Entrance', since she had the advantage of being pursued by one of the new people, as well as the unusual nature of the weapon she was being attacked with. Kunou and Mousse came in second, due to the fact they were combining to attack Konatsu, an unusual target considering they bore him no personal grudge and actually hated Ranma more than anything.
"Hey! We're missing someone," Ranma pointed out.
Shampoo was somewhere else in the building, cursing her lack of wind. It really was her own fault. Lately, she had been taking it easy and eating way too many Twinkies. Her pack-a-day cigarette habit hadn't helped things either.
"We'd better get started without her then," Ranma said.
"Hey!" Ukyou exclaimed. "How can Mousse and Kunou be picking on Konatsu when he's standing right next to me and Kodachi?"
Mai turned in anger on Ukyou. "That's because I'm not Konatsu, you whiny, screwed-up, cross-dressing, obsessed little weirdo! God, if I have to hear another simpering complaint about your precious little 'Ranchan', I am going to hurl."
"Ukyou does not whine," Ranma protested.
"That's right. I don't…" The rest of the words died in Ukyou's mouth as she shot Ranma a nasty look. "Hey! What about the rest of the stuff?"
"You're not little and I wouldn't personally describe you as a weirdo either."
"What about the rest?"
"What about it?"
Ranma suddenly found himself the recipient of close to two dozen throwing spatulas hurled in his direction.
"Let's see who this fake Konatsu really is." Kodachi moved forward and ripped off the kunoichi's mask. "Look, it's the owner of the haunted amusement park!" she gasped.
"I don't own a haunted amusement park," Mai protested.
Kodachi gave an impish smile. "I know. It's just that I've always wanted to do that." The gymnast moved away from Mai and examined the kunoichi a little more closely. "You're very handsome."
"Yeah. He's got that bishonen look down better than Ukyou," Akane agreed.
"I am not a guy!" Mai protested.
Ukyou poked Mai in the chest. "But your chest is even flatter than Konatsu's, and he's really a guy."
Konatsu moved forward and joined in the poking. "Say, I think you're right. Isn't it possible you might have been raised by women and only taught to think and act like a girl and you're really a guy?"
"It's a possibility," Tai said from off to the side.
"It is not and you know it! You grew up with me, stupid!" Mai raged. "Who's ever heard of such a preposterous story anyway?"
All the Ranma ½ regulars raised their hands.
"Bloody bunch of weirdoes, you are," Mai said.
"You got that right," B.J. agreed. "Now we had a nice normal upbringing. Born in an Icelandic rainforest, we were abducted by New Zealand Conquistadors at the age of three. For several years we were raised by them until we were lost at sea, eventually ending up washed ashore on an island with a bunch of dinosaurs that were too stupid to realize they were supposed to be extinct for centuries. After hiding in caves for a year, we escaped on a boat made up of nothing but coconuts and tied together with our own body hair. We were about to drown at sea when we were picked up by a weird-looking space ship that was made out of wood. We were supposed to be transported safely to Japan, but our idiotic sister thought carving our initials on the tree in the center of the ship was a good idea. The space tree disagreed, and we were hurled bodily out of the ship somewhere over France. We survived by working with a troupe of circus midgets until we stumbled onto a cave of time and were sent into the past. After many adventures, we eventually made our way to ancient Japan and had ourselves cryogenically frozen until we were revived several years ago." B.J. let out a long breath as she finished her tale.
"Wow! The exact same thing happened to me," Ryouga said.
B.J. nodded in Ryouga's direction. "See? Perfectly normal."
Ranma leaned closer to Akane and whispered, "Remind me to thank Pop for my relatively normal upbringing."
As B.J. finished regaling the others with her tale, Shampoo at last burst into the room, huffing and wheezing. After taking a moment to catch her breath, and swearing to cut back to half a pack a day, she leveled her bonbori at Tai. "There you are, Stupid Ninja Girl! Now Shampoo give you Kiss of—"
"Ahhhhh! Tai squealed at the top of her lungs. "It's the evil Amazon lesbian, hunting me to ground at last. Oh, woe is me. No doubt she has already made insidious plans to chain me up and make me her sexual plaything."
"Shampoo is not a lesbian!" the Amazon insisted.
"Liar!" Tai shot back. "The first thing you said when you came into the room was that you were going to kiss me."
Shampoo suddenly looked a bit awkward. "Well, yes, Shampoo said she was going to kiss you, but it not that kind of kiss. And Shampoo is not a lesbian. Just ask all of Shampoo's friends."
"I always suspected you were perverse in that way," Kodachi said as she leveled in accusatory finger at Shampoo.
"Hey, Shampoo, I turn into a really attractive girl, so you still want to be married to me, right?" Ranma asked, his sex appeal suddenly in jeopardy.
Ukyou recoiled in horror. "Oh, god! I've been in public baths with her before. She was probably sizing me up and coming up with all sorts of lewd thoughts about my nubile body."
"Ha!" Shampoo snorted. "Shampoo not think such things about Spatula Girl. Besides, Akane have much better body than Ukyou, not that Shampoo notices such things."
Mousse was at Shampoo's side in an instant. He fell to one knee and grasped her hand. "Oh, Shampoo. Now all of your rejections of me make sense at last. Allow me to turn you aside from this deviant lifestyle. Please marry me!"
Shampoo nailed Mousse in the head with a bonbori.
"Fine," Mousse said from his position on the ground. "I'll just get some Nyanniichuan and turn into a cute girl. That'll solve everything."
Tai saw Shampoo return her attention to the kunoichi again and continued cringing in horror. "Keep away from me!"
A flick of Tai's wrist and a chain appeared in her hand. She swung it around once, and then hurled it around Akane. One quick tug later, Akane found herself hurled across the room and in front of Tai. "Here," Tai said as she thrust Akane before her. "Take this raging bull dyke instead. She'll make you almost as happy as I could, if I was a lesbian."
"I am not a bull dyke!" Akane shouted as she muscled her way out of the chain.
"That's right," Ranma said as he made his way to stand next to his fiancée. "Akane might be uncute, unfeminine, and built like a brick, but she is definitely heterosexual."
Akane punched Ranma in the face.
"What was that for?!" he snapped. "I was defending your sexuality."
"Don't! It's even worse than her accusing me of being a lesbian."
Tai looked incredulously at Akane. "Oh, come off it. Just look at that butch haircut and muscular build. You're practically screaming, 'I'm one rug-muncher that can make your day, girly-girls, so drop your panties and come get some'."
"I am not!" Akane protested.
Tai looked unconvinced. "Oh, really? I bet you took auto shop in high school."
"Only in my freshman year, and that was because the home economics teacher made me do it since I blew up a stove. Although I did enjoy the class and got an A in it."
"Right. Did you beat up guys that came onto you?"
"They were all just creepy boys."
"I see. Do you own any KD Lang CDs?"
"Chris Davies and Jim Bader?"
"AH-HA!" Tai pointed her finger right at Akane. "That proves it. You couldn't be more of a lesbian than if you joined the LPGA Golf Tour."
"That proves nothing!" Akane shot back. "Just ask all of my friends."
"I always suspected you were perverse in that way," Kodachi said as she leveled in accusatory finger at Akane.
"Hey, Akane, I turn into a really attractive girl, so you still want to be engaged to me, right?" Ranma asked, his sex appeal suddenly in jeopardy.
Ukyou recoiled in horror. "Oh, god! I've been in public baths with her before. She was probably sizing me up and coming up with all sorts of lewd thoughts about my nubile body."
"Ha!" Akane snorted. "I have never thought of you that way. Besides, Shampoo has a much better body than you do, not that I've ever noticed such things."
Kunou was at Akane's side in an instant. He fell to one knee and grasped her hand. "Oh, Akane. Now I understand your resistance to my advances. Allow me to turn you aside from this deviant lifestyle. Please marry me!"
Akane flattened Kunou with her fist
"Fine," Kunou said from his position on the ground. "I'll just become gay. Then we will be perfect for one another in our homosexuality."
"No worry, Akane," Shampoo said sympathetically as she placed a reassuring hand on Akane's shoulder. "Shampoo do all of those things too, and she not a lesbian either. Maybe we exchange KD Lang CDs, yes?"
As the two began to discuss the merits of music, Tai, backed away from the others and formed up with Mai, and B.J., forming the 'Three Sexy Ninja Girls' Squad. Seeing this, Ranma and the others gathered together and did the same, forming 'Those Who Had Found The Ninja They Were Hunting For'.
B.J. smirked at her opponents. They were clustered together. It was perfect.
"Sexy Ninja Girl Attack: Blinding Style!" The glare from the overhead lights shone off the sequins of her outfit, reflecting the light a hundredfold. It produced a bright glare, equivalent to a hundred kilowatt light bulb and blinding her opponents, causing them to all recoil from their sudden lack of sight. "Ha! That took care of them!"
A hand smacked B.J. in the back of the head. "And us too, you nitwit! Next time warn us when you're going to do that," Mai warned from behind, as she too could no longer see anything but a glare of white. Tai was no better as she began stumbling around, running into her sisters and asking if either of them was one of their opponents.
Mousse, though unable to see anything, was calmer than the others. "The joke's on you, ninjettes. I'm used to not being able to see clearly. Now prepare to pay for your foolish attack!" A throwing club was brought out from the folds of his robes. He drew back, blindly smacking Ranma in the head with it, before releasing the club in the direction of where he thought his opponents should be.
After hitting Konatsu with the first one, Mousse's second throwing club was more on target.
B.J. ducked the assault, allowing the club to shatter a display case behind her. "Impressive move, four-eyes. But your style of clothing leaves a lot to be desired. Plain white robes are so passé they make me want to cringe just looking at them. Now if you wore, say, an aquamarine sash and matching vertical lines along the side, then you might have something to impress people with."
"You know, I was thinking the same thing," Mousse admitted. "Maybe I should add leather along the shoulders."
"Yes, I think that could work," B.J. said.
Both Mai and Ranma, who had wandered around until they nearly bumped each other, recovered their vision at about the same time. They noticed their respective allies start to delve deeply into a conversation about Mousse's fashion. They looked at each other, nodded, and then approached their respective partners.
Ranma smacked Mousse in the back of the head while Mai did the same to B.J.
"Exchange fashion tips later. Right now get back to the fight," Ranma chided to Mousse.
"Thanks for the help," Mai said to Ranma as she held B.J. by the ear.
"No problem," Ranma said.
"Do me a favor. I have to continue reprimanding my sister here, so could you hold this candle for a moment." Mai handed Ranma a long red object with a burning string on the end. He accepted it, and she hurriedly backed away from him.
Ranma examined the red object more closely. The wick on it was pretty long, and it seemed to be giving out a tremendous amount of sparks, but at the current rate of movement of the flame on the wick it wouldn't take long for it to reach the candle.
"Ranma! That's not a candle! It's a stick of dynamite!" Konatsu shouted from across the room.
"Don't be paranoid!" Mai shouted from the opposite end of the room. "Just read the writing on the side."
Ranma slowly read the writing out loud. "Only an idiot would think that this candle was a stick of dynamite."
"Turn it over and read the other side!" Konatsu shouted.
Ranma turned it over and read the words out loud again. "Of course this is really a stick of dynamite, you loser. Too bad you just ran out of time to do anything about it."
The dynamite exploded in Ranma's hand.
"Truly they are tricky ninja." Konatsu bowed in admiration to Mai, who bowed back in deference to him.
Ranma was left lying flat on his back as the battle was truly joined. Ukyou and Kunou formed an unlikely team as the chef threw mini-spatulas in B.J.'s direction, trying to drive the kunoichi into reach of Kunou's bokken. Across the room, Konatsu and Kodachi tried to use a variety of clubs and shuriken to bring Mai down from afar, not allowing her to attempt any ninja tricks. Mousse and Akane chased Tai around the room, while Tai was more concerned with keeping as much distance between herself and Shampoo as possible.
Ryouga moved in to help Akane. Tai saw this and said, "Hey, Hanger. Play your cards right and you might get some of this later." She did a leap kick in the air towards him.
Ryouga looked up to defend himself, then saw what had lain so many of Tai's opponents low. Her lacy thong panties had ridden up so high, that Ryouga couldn't help but seeing clearly what was outlined within. That combined with the implication that he might 'get some' of it later, and the vivid fantasy that accompanied it, completely overwhelmed him as he hit the ground and passed out from the sight.
Tai landed next to his unconscious form. "That's the first time I knocked out someone without kicking them. Hmm." She took a closer look at Ryouga, A wicked grin spread across her face as she pulled out a length of steel cable, flipped Ryouga onto his stomach, then proceeded to hogtie his arms and legs behind him. Satisfied at the results, she shouted to her sisters, "Hey, this one's mine! I'm saving him for later, after we complete our mission!"
"You can't abduct Ryouga. I won't let you," Akane threatened as she menacingly approached Tai.
"Keep away, pervert," Tai warned. "I'm only interested in guys, especially strapping young men like this one." Her hand drifted towards the area of Ryouga's groin. "Here, let me show you how straight I am by demonstrating what I like to do with a hanging hunk of studmuffin like this." Tai undid the drawstring on Ryouga's pants and pulled them down to his knees, but since this isn't a lemon, Tai didn't get to perform her little 'demonstration'.
"Tease," Tai complained bitterly as she reluctantly pulled Ryouga's pants back up. The kunoichi didn't have time to complain further as Shampoo drew near her again. Tai quickly ran off and left Ryouga behind.
Ukyou's series of attacks had at last made B.J. zig when she should have zagged. The kunoichi found herself before Kunou, his bokken drawn back as he prepared to strike her. Thinking fast, she quickly spun halfway around, hiding her front from Kunou. Just as his bokken began to swing downward, B.J. turned back around. "You wouldn't hit a pregnant ninja with glasses, would you?"
Kunou stopped his bokken barely two inches from B.J.'s head. She was indeed wearing glasses and there was a noticeable bulge in her abdomen. "I hadn't realized your condition. Please forgive me."
"She has a pillow stuffed under there, you idiot." Ukyou pointed at the tag sticking out from under the bottom of B.J.'s uniform.
"Eh?" It was too late for Kunou as he was distracted enough for B.J. to lay three solid punches into his jaw and two kicks to the head, stunning him. A smoke bomb hurled in Ukyou's direction had her coughing enough to allow B.J. to leave her opponents behind and help one of her other sisters out. Mai appeared to be holding her own against her adversaries, so she assessed Tai's situation. A quick plan formed in her mind.
Mousse was trying to hit the elusive 'ninjette' with a potty training seat when he heard a familiar voice cry, "Yoo-hoo, Mousse dear."
All thoughts of attack burned away in the flames of passion that overrode Mousse's senses. He could barely force himself to look in the direction of the voice. "Sh-Shampoo?"
She waved at him, his lavender-haired purpose for living. And she was smiling and posing sexily for him too. She almost never smiled at him, except those times when he promised to leave her alone. It made trying to keep those promises almost worthwhile. "You called me 'dear'," Mousse softly moaned.
"Yes, Shampoo did," Shampoo cooed.
Mousse was nearly floating above the ground in joy when a voice somewhere behind him growled, "No be stupid, Mousse. That not Shampoo."
Mousse turned around in confusion. Amazingly, there was indeed another Shampoo behind him, identical to the first, right down to the short, tight pink outfit she was wearing.
"No be confused by that impostor," The first purple-haired girl, Shampoo 'A', said as she moved closer to Mousse and ran a finger under his jaw. "Handsome Mousse know who real Shampoo is. All he have to do is look into heart."
"That's right," he cooed in a lovestruck delirium.
"Shampoo know stupid Mousse no fall for such transparent trick," Shampoo 'B' snapped back.
Shampoo 'A' grabbed Mousse by the sides of his head and buried his face in her chest. "Shampoo know Mousse is only one for her. Shampoo love Mousse too, too much." She pried his face out of her cleavage and looked him in the eye. "You show Shampoo how loyal you are. You beat up evil impersonator, then you get real Shampoo all to yourself."
Shampoo 'B' shook her head sadly. There was no way even that idiot would mistake such melodramatic, saccharine sweet talk from an obvious impostor. Mousse had grown up with her all of her life, had lived under the same roof with her for a year. Any half-wit moron would clearly be able to see the difference between the two.
Mousse detached himself from the Shampoo embracing him and drew menacingly towards the second one. Shampoo 'B' looked at him in confusion. "Mousse, what you doing? That not real Shampoo you listening to."
"I don't care!" Mousse shouted back, nearly weeping with joy. "I want that Shampoo for my own. And if she says I have to beat you up to get her, then so be it." A series of chains shot forth from Mousse's sleeves.
"Aiyah!" The real Shampoo shouted out in dismay. Mousse was serious this time. Thinking fast, she grabbed the nearest thing that could shield her from the incoming projectiles. "Airen, protect Shampoo from attack!"
Shampoo grabbed the just recovering Ranma from his position behind her and held him before her like a shield. The chains, and the blunt objects attached to them, hit Ranma squarely, blocking Shampoo from the attack. Once the volley was over, Shampoo gave Ranma a powerful glomp. "Ranma is so heroic to save Shampoo from attack."
Ranma could only give a stunned moan in response.
Akane stomped over to Shampoo. "How dare you use Ranma to protect you like that."
Shampoo tossed Ranma to the side. "Okay. Shampoo use Akane as shield this time."
"Look! Akane has boldly thrown herself in front of Shampoo to protect her from attack!" Kodachi shouted to everyone in the room.
"I did not!" Akane snapped back. She was about to say more when the bit about shielding attacks finally sunk in. Akane turned just in time to see a series of chains strike her solidly, knocking her unconscious and sending her body back into Shampoo's arms. The Amazon reflexively caught the girl.
Shampoo 'A' (B.J. Shampoo), moved closer to Mousse's side. "No worry any more, Mousse. Now Shampoo finish off these two jerks." B.J. Shampoo unlimbered 'Pigsticker II' from its sheath and took a swing at the unconscious Akane and the Amazon supporting her. The real Shampoo was barely able to get out of the way in time, reflexively holding onto Akane. B.J. Shampoo swung again, forcing Shampoo to flee, carrying Akane with her the entire time. Tai shouted words of encouragement, telling her sister to "slice and dice away."
Ukyou stared at the scene in open amazement. To Kodachi she said, "Look at the way Shampoo's protecting Akane, and right after Akane took that attack for her. What that kunoichi said about them being perverts must be true."
"I knew it all the time," Kodachi said confidently from her position next to Ukyou.
"So did I. It was obvious for anyone to see," Mai agreed from her position next to Kodachi. "By the way, I have to go over there for a moment. Could you hold this wire for me?"
"Certainly," Kodachi said graciously as she accepted the end of the wire offered to her by Mai. "Oh, but that will keep my hands full. Could you do me a favor as well and hold this medicine ball for me?"
Mai looked in surprise at the medicine ball that had seemed to appear from behind Kodachi's back. "Ah, sure." She accepted the ball and began to walk away. What a bizarre girl. Well, soon to be fried bizarre girl, as all Mai needed to do now was throw the switch to the power box the cable was connected to. Then the leotard-clad girl would be exposed to ten thousand volts of electricity, eliminating her from the fight. Mai had to laugh to herself. Sometimes it was too eas—
"Gunpowder-filled medicine ball?" Ukyou asked as she laid a hand on Kodachi's shoulder and watched Mai's singed form collapse to the ground.
"Of course," Kodachi said with a broad smile. "No mere kunoichi can outwit the likes of Kodachi Kunou. OHHOHOHOHOHO—"
"Unless Kodachi Kunou forgets to let go of the live wire she's holding," Tai said dryly as she threw the switch to the power box that her sister had failed to reach.
Both Kodachi and Ukyou, found themselves hit with ten thousand volts of electricity, knocking them both to the ground.
"Well, that was easy. All we need to do now is take care of the last two and we can—" Deeply ingrained ninja instincts took over as Tai barely dodged out of the way of a series of throwing knives that arced through the air towards her. They flew past her, burying themselves in the power box where she had been a moment before. Turning, she found herself confronted by another ninja.
"You're that Konatsu person, correct?" Tai asked as she took up a fighting stance.
"Indeed." Konatsu said, mirroring her positioning.
"And you're really a man dressed up as a kunoichi, correct?"
"Indeed," Konatsu admitted.
Perfect. Tai had him. With a thrust of her powerful leg muscles, she leaped high into the air and prepared to deliver a leap kick to Konatsu. She made certain her skirt flew high up her waist as she brought her right foot forward, preparing to deliver it to the openly gawking face of her opponent.
Except he wasn't openly gawking.
With preternatural speed, Konatsu twisted and grabbed Tai's ankle in mid-kick and hurled her powerfully into the ground. Slowly, Tai got up, staring at him in open disbelief. "How? How could you be unaffected by the power of my revealing leap kick? Are you gay?"
Konatsu crossed his arms confidently. "No. I'm just in touch with my feminine side."
Tai's shoulders slumped in defeat. "I see. Then that leaves me with only one choice. Sexy Ninja Girl Final Attack: Nutcracker Suite!"
Konatsu gave her a curious look. "What sort of attack is thACK?!" The rest ended in a howl of pain as Tai kicked Konatsu right in the balls.
Konatsu went down to his knees, his eyes tearing in pain. Tai smiled evilly and leaned in close, whispering into her opponent's ear, "Time to get in touch with your masculine side now."
"Thanks," Konatsu said through gritted teeth. "Allow me to return the favor. Konatsu's Super Secret Sneaky Ninja Attack: The Titty Twist!"
Konatsu's hands shot forward, firmly grasping Tai's twin mounds. He twisted them hard enough to nearly make a full revolution with his wrists.
"ARGH! Not… into… pain," Tai gasped out as she fell onto her back in agony.
"I'd have never fallen for that attack," Mai's singe-covered form moaned from her position close by.
"Not have… enough chest… for it… to work… either," Tai gasped out as she continued writhing in pain.
"Bitch," Mai retorted weakly back.
The real Shampoo began to panic as she found herself driven into a corner by Mousse and the sword-wielding impostor (She wondered if her thighs really looked that big, though. If so, it was definitely time to cut back on the Twinkies). What was almost as bad was the smile Mousse had on his face; he was actually enjoying himself. Oh, if it weren’t for the fact she was going to die, Shampoo would really have laid into him for that one.
Shampoo saw the impostor draw back her two-handed sword. It reached high into the air, like a giant finger of death, as it was carefully lined up on Shampoo and primed for the kill. It looked like it was really the end.
As with many people facing impending death, Shampoo reevaluated her life and found regrets filling her mind. When she thought about it, she realized that she had done many bad things. She should never have tried to use magic on Ranma to win his heart. She was sorry she hadn't learned the true nature of his curse in time before she had tried to kill him. She felt grief over not trying to be more friendly and less antagonistic to her rivals. She was sorry for not taking the moral high road in her pursuit of Ranma. But the thing Shampoo regretted most of all was that Akane wasn't thick enough to possibly block the incoming blow from the sword and buy her time to escape.
In desperation, Shampoo's free hand reached backward and fell upon an open display case located next to the corner. Her hand grasped something that was slightly larger than her open palm. It felt hard, yet seemed to give slightly under the pressure of her hand. It had eight projections, four to a side. Her fingers grasped in-between the projections, and she brought the item out of its case and held it before her, as though something so small could shield her from such a huge blade. Her eyes fell upon the object; it appeared to be an elaborately jeweled jade spider. It contained enough precious stones to buy Shampoo's village, but she would have traded them all in for a sword to block the blow from 'Pigsticker II'.
The two-handed sword started to descend, and Shampoo closed her eyes and cried out as her grip on the item tightened. She felt the jade give slightly with an accompanying hiss. Through closed eyes, Shampoo heard Mousse and the impostor cry out, and then complain loudly about something. Daring to peak, Shampoo saw that the duo were now stuck to the floor, cocooned in what appeared to be a large set of white webbing.
Shampoo stared in wide-eyed wonder at the scene, then turned the spider around in her hand so that it was facing her. There was no way all of that silk could possibly have fit in such a tiny object. Truly it was an amazing magical device. She must have accidentally triggered it by squeezing.
Then the spider began to wiggle in Shampoo's fingers of its own accord.
Shampoo gave a squeal of fright, as the spider leaped out of her grasp, releasing a much wider spray of webbing that trapped both her and Akane together under a silky sheet of white. Completely pinned to the corner by the webbing, Shampoo could only look on in horror as the spider began scuttling around the ground. The Amazon could see it open its tiny mouth. Small needles extended from its maw, disproportionately large compared to the rest of the spider. A tiny drop of green ichor fell from one of the needles and struck the floor. The instant the drop made contact with the marble, the stone sizzled and bubbled, a small, acrid column of smoke rising. As the tiny cloud cleared, Shampoo could see a hole cleanly eaten though the marble.
The spider reared up on four of its tiny legs, then proceeded to quickly scuttle towards Shampoo and the motionless burden still in her arms, Akane. It was no more than a couple of feet away when it gave a low hiss filled with bile, hate, and—
—silence, as a black slipper stepped right on the spider, shattering it into a thousand tiny green fragments.
"Don’tcha know you're never in any danger when Ranma Saotome's around?" He gave a cocky grin towards Shampoo.
"Oh, airen," Shampoo sighed. Ranma had gone to all of that trouble just to save her.
All right, he had saved Akane too, but Shampoo just knew she was what was on his mind first and foremost. At least she'd better have been.
Ranma made sure not to touch the webbing as he tried to visually examine the bundle in Shampoo's arms. "I got to admit, Shampoo, it took guts risking yourself like that to keep them from hurting Akane. I know she ain't light, and she must have slowed you down a lot. That was real nice of you."
"Of course. Was no problem for Shampoo." Actually, the truth was Shampoo had been so distracted in saving her own skin that she had forgotten she was still carrying Akane. Otherwise she would have left the tomboy behind for sure. Still, she had accidentally scored some points with Ranma and was damned if she would let the opportunity slip by.
"Now why don't I get you guys out of there? Let me look around for something to get you free." As Ranma began to search around for something to cut through the webbing, Akane began to stir in Shampoo's grasp.
As the first vestiges of consciousness began to return to Akane, she was vaguely aware of being held tightly in someone's grasp. There was something about a giant sword chasing her and then she had been rescued. Dimly, her mind made a connection.
"Ranma, you saved me," Akane softly murmured, then embraced him.
"Ack!" Shampoo gasped as the breath was forced out of her lungs.
"What's wrong? Ranma asked.
"Akane breaking… Shampoo's back," she gasped out.
Ranma heard the words softly being moaned by Akane, understood, and smiled. "Gee, kinda stinks being squeezed like that, doesn't it?"
"No can… breathe."
"Yeah," Ranma said casually. "The initial loss of breath is the hardest part. If you get caught off-guard like that, it all gets pushed out of your lungs and then you can't breath any more for the duration of the glomp."
"It… getting… dark."
"That's the oxygen deprivation. You're going to start seeing spots in a moment and then it'll get darker. Sometimes you'll even hear the voices of people that have been dead a long time."
"Okay… Shampoo… get… point. Will… no… glomp… Ranma… anymore." For at least three or four days.
"Right." Ranma bent low, then shouted. "Akane! Wake up!" Seeing she was starting to come fully around, he went back to trying to find something to free the girls.
Full consciousness returned to Akane. She felt a blush rise to her cheeks as she realized the sort of dream of Ranma she had just been having. She tried to get up, but realized she was immobilized by something all around her and that she was in someone's embrace. "Hey! What's going on?"
It took a moment for Shampoo to regain her lost breath. "Shampoo and Akane stuck in webbing."
Akane cringed as she realized exactly whose arms she was in. "Look, Shampoo. We're in a tight situation here, and I think we both firmly stated our sexual orientation earlier. Still, I feel now would be a real good time for me to reemphasize that I am completely heterosexual."
"Shampoo is too. Being caught in web with Akane is last place Shampoo want to be in. Except being trapped in web with Mousse. That much, much worse."
"Right. With that being said, would you please remove your hand from where it's currently located on my body?"
"Oh, sorry. Shampoo not realize where her hand resting. Akane feeling pretty perky today, though, yes?"
"Don't remind me. Let me try to move around here." Akane shifted slightly. "Yuck. This webbing is pretty tight and really moist."
"*Gasp* Akane, that not *Gasp* webbing you fingers *Gasp* in right now."
"It's not? Then what is… AHHHH!"
Ranma began increasing the rate of his search.
"I see things couldn't have turned out better if I had planned them this way from the beginning," a voice boomed from one of the connecting passageways; the one that none of the others had entered from.
All eyes turned to see the speaker. Still lying on the floor because of excessive static cling, Kodachi's eyes widened as she gasped. "Of course. I should have known the one behind all of this is would be you, Mr. Takayami!"
"Of course he's behind this!" Ranma snapped. "He's the owner of this museum. He's the one that requested our presence in the first place. It only makes sense that he'd be here."
"Indeed," Takayami said as he entered the room and drew nearer to Ranma. "However, I believe the delightful Miss Kunou is closer to the truth than even she realizes."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ranma asked as a terrible foreboding, like the one he usually got when a new fiancée came to town, began to creep up on him.
"Not much," said the well-dressed man as he casually ran his finger along one of the exhibits. "Just that now that you've worn each other out, and it's almost midnight, I shall be taking over the world shortly."
"Ohh, I just knew it," Mai shouted as she finally got to her feet. "Let me guess. Through magic, you've remodeled this whole building into a magical focus, going so far as to collect every evil magical item you can find and replacing the real museum pieces with them, so that you use their collective energy to summon some sort of massive power to reshape the world in the image you want. Right?"
"Well, yes," Takayami said hesitantly.
"I bet you screwed up the parking, too."
"That is soooo cliché it makes me want to barf. That is the plot of just about every single large scale powerful magic-involved plan there is." She made a frightening face. "I'll collect all of this energy and make myself ultra-mighty. Ohh, scary, " Mai complained as she held her hands up in frustration.
Takayami went from being caught off-guard to unleashing a whiplash smile towards the girl. "Tell me, young lady, would it be cliché for me, the villainous mastermind in this little scheme, to use my power to hurl you into the wall hard enough to make you nothing more than a bloody smear?"
Mai went from bemoaning the situation to suddenly becoming nervous. "Ah, not really."
"Good." Takayami held up his hand, palm forward, and pointed it in Mai's direction. The air around it distorted, rippling as though it had somehow taken on the characteristics of water. The collected distortion hovered in front of his hand for a second, then shot forward and headed directly towards the open-mouthed Mai. She shook herself out of her self-inflicted surprise, but knew it was too late. Even as she tensed her muscles up to leap away, the distortion was no more than three feet away from her. There wasn't even enough time for regrets.
Then world went topsy-turvy as Mai felt a heavy object strike her in the side and knock her out of the way of the incoming distortion wave. As she fell to the ground, she saw the ripples touch the wall, shattering hardened marble into dust instantaneously. Oh yes. That would have hurt big time.
Mai looked up into the face of her savior, who was currently lying on top of her, his hands directly on her breasts. It was the Ranma boy. A bit of a surprise, that. In response, Mai began purring in a seductive voice, "Amazing. Now that you've saved my life, I feel helplessly drawn to you and your roguish charm, despite the fact we are currently opposed to one another in this endeavor and have been enemies right up until the appearance of this new powerful foe. I think it’s a case of love at first sight."
Ranma got off her as though he had found out she had another Jusenkyou curse for him. "Oh god! I don't need another fiancée or any other love interests either!"
Mai got up and brushed herself up. "Relax, loverboy. The truth is, I was only kidding.' She placed her hands on her hips and looked indignant. "I can't believe you'd think I'm so shallow as to throw my heart at some complete stranger, that, to be quite honest, isn't all that attractive or charming. I mean, we haven't even had a single conversation, not even some inane discussion about the weather. And I sure as hell don't believe in that 'love at first sight' crap. That's just an excuse people use to cover up that fact they get horny over a member of the opposite sex they spot and try to pass it off as something with deeper meaning."
"Thank god," Ranma said as his heart started beating once again. "For a second there I was afraid you'd… What do you mean I'm not attractive or charming?"
"Should I have added stupid too?" Mai asked. "I think I was pretty clear and straightforward there. You have, at the most, average looks, which do absolutely nothing for me, are of average size and not overly muscular, kind of short, and you come across as an egotistical jerk who's so full of himself he should explode. You also seem a bit fearful around women. I bet you're the kind of guy that couldn't commit to a girl if your life depended on it."
"That's amazing," Ryouga gasped from his hogtied position on the floor. "Are you sure you've never met Ranma before?"
"You shut up!" Ranma shouted back. "I am not any of those things, you cocky, flat-chested, guy-looking, inept ninja girl."
Rather than be offended, Mai simply sneered. "Ha! Since I have absolutely no sexual interest in you whatsoever, I find your insults reassuring. The last thing I would want a major turn-off like you to do is to try and take me out on a date, which for you, I'm sure, is nothing more than an outdoor ramen bar and a flower you've picked from some vacant lot because you're either too cheap or too stupid to remember to get one."
"It's scary how someone can be so right about someone with just a glance," Mousse said from under the webbing.
"That's not true!" Ranma howled. "If you go out on a date with me, I'll show you what a great guy I can be."
"I'd sooner hit myself in the head with a baseball bat. It'd hurt less and be much quicker." Mai turned her back to Ranma.
"You can't reject me out of hand like that," Ranma protested.
"It's already been done, loverboy," Mai assured him.
Ranma was about to say more, but the sound of a throat clearing behind him gained his attention.
Upon seeing that he had both of the disputants' attention, Takayami began speaking once again. "As amusing as seeing the two of you arguing with one another is, I find myself offended that I'd be forgotten so quickly. I think I'll rectify that situation by vaporizing both of you, and then you can carry your little love spat into the afterlife. And considering how viciously you were going at it, I have a feeling you'll need an eternity."
Ranma began to tense up, but Mai just sneered in Takayami's direction. "The joke's on you, oh so powerful scumbag. I started that argument with the express purpose of distracting you long enough for the others to free themselves or recover from their various injuries. And you fell for it."
Takayami looked around to see that people were indeed rising to their feet, looking much better than they had moments before. Kunou, Ukyou, Kodachi, Tai, and Konatsu all stood up. B.J. cut through both her and Mousse's webbing with her magical two-handed sword, and Akane and Shampoo had easily melted through their webbing with their combined battle auras, which had formed when they saw how hard Ranma was trying to get a date with Mai. There was just one little detail.
"Hey, could someone cut my bonds loose? I can't get enough leverage to break out," Ryouga said.
"No time," Akane said as the others formed up in front of Takayami.
Ranma turned to Mai and smiled. "Pretty clever trick there, saying all of those lies about me to distract the head guy. I'm impressed."
"Oh no. I meant every word I said," Mai assured him.
"What?" Ranma started to protest.
Akane cut him off by shouting, "There's no time for this! We have to stop this guy."
"Right," Ranma said, silently vowing to take up his little discussion with Mai at a later time.
"Now this should be fun." Takayami crossed his arms and waited for the others to make the next move. The wait wasn't long as nine martial artists charged him at once, trying to dogpile Takayami where he stood.
Collectively, nine of the most powerful martial artists in the world assailed Takayami with ki reinforced weapons: bokken, shuriken, ribbon, hammer, bonbori, chains, spatula, leap kick, and magical two-handed sword. Combined at the same moment and at the same target, they hit with enough force to sink a small cruiser.
Individually, Takayami didn't even flinch at the power directed towards him. Once the initial wave of their onslaught passed, and they had a moment to stare in horror at their lack of results, Takayami tossed them all to the far side of room with nothing more than a wave of his hand.
"Absolutely pitiful," Takayami said as he looked over the stunned group of martial artists. The walls themselves seemed to come alive as sections of it took on a serpentine shape and wrapped themselves around the arms and legs of all of the fallen foes. They were hoisted up flat on the wall, spread-eagled like some sort of trophies. Struggling was useless in the hands of the marble bonds as they refused to give in the slightest.
"I've toyed around with the idea of leaving some of you alive to witness my triumph, but I'd rather not be cliché. Goodbye, you insignificant fleas." Takayami raised his hand and built up the wave force again.
"You forgot about one little detail, buddy."
Takayami turned to look at the speaker. "Ah, that's right. You held back. So, the supposed best has been saved for last, is that it?"
"Let's not waste anymore words and just end this thing." Ranma felt the power build up in his every atom of his body as a glow formed between his hands. He was dealing with a being more powerful than anyone he had ever faced, save perhaps Saffron. There could be no holding back this time, for the power the owner of the museum wielded could tear apart and recreate the fabric of realit—
Ranma, impatient with the author's long, drawn out imagery, released his blast at his foe.
Power enough to destroy Saffron twice over was hurled in a two-foot diameter beam of energy that flew from Ranma's hands and struck his opponent dead center. For a moment, all was lost as the brilliant beam of coruscating light blinded everyone for several seconds. Slowly, as vision returned, a Ranma, completely drained of his energy, was able to bear witness to the results of his handiwork.
A hair had fallen out of place on Takayami's scalp.
"Pussy," the museum owner said flatly.
For this first time in his life, Ranma's confidence was shattered. He had wielded forces nearly beyond his imagination and all he had done was blast his opponent's hair out of place… and only one strand at that. He couldn't even have claimed to make the guy flinch. There was only one option left to Ranma. An attack he had never dared use before, but then, he had never found himself pressed into so desperate a situation.
It was time for The Fierce Crouching Tiger Attack.
Ranma leaped to Takayami's feet bowed before him, pleading in a fashion that would have put even his father to shame. "I'm sorry. I never should have done that to you. I don't know what I was thinking in trying to fight you. Please, oh please, don't kill me."
Everyone, even Kunou, looked in shock at Ranma's groveling form. Akane was the first to who found the ability to speak. "What do you think you're doing?"
Ranma turned to Akane. "I'm giving up. Didn't you see what just happened? I don't stand a chance."
"But you can't just give up," Ukyou protested.
"Because you can't," Kodachi answered before Ukyou could. "You're supposed to fight to the death rather than give up. That's one of the things we've found so appealing about you; your persistence. Even your enemies respect that."
"No I don't," Kunou said.
"Be silent!" Kodachi shot back.
Ranma looked up from his crouching position to gaze at Takayami. "In all honesty, about how long would it take for you to kill me?"
"It depends on how long it would take for me to blink."
"Right," Ranma said. "Sorry guys, but even I am not willing to get killed in that pointless of a death. I'm giving up right now."
"Coward!" Mousse spat.
"You can take his place and challenge me," Takayami offered.
"Oh, no. I give up too," Mousse hastily assured him.
Takayami sighed. "You know, this is somewhat anti-climatic for me. When I first heard that there were ninja girls coming for me, and I recruited the lot of you to help defend this place, I was certain something would go wrong and you might actually defeat me, or at least put me on the verge of it. That is how these things usually go. I can see now that I seriously overestimated your abilities as well as underestimated mine."
"Wait," Tai said from her position from the wall. "We didn't come for you. We came for the urn."
Takayami shrugged. "Myself. The urn. Where does one end and the other begin? Who knows?"
"What you mean?" Shampoo asked.
"The urn is the true source of my power," Takayami said idly. "In fact, this body that you see before you is nothing more than an innocent vessel that foolishly tried to unlock the secrets of the urn and ended up discovering more than he bargained for. It was only three days ago that the true Toji Takayami released me from my slumber and allowed me to take over his form."
"Wow, you did all this in three days? I'm impressed." B.J. gave off a low whistle.
"Thank you," Takayami said. It was nice to see his work appreciated. "But in truth, time was of the essence. There is a full lunar eclipse coming tonight, one will give me all the power I need, and I fear this will be my only window of opportunity for the next hundred years."
"But if you were powerful enough to do all of this, why did you need us to prevent the theft?" Akane asked.
Takayami gave Akane a grin full of mirth. "In magically gathering all of the evil enchanted items here, and reconstructing the museum so that the power could be properly collected, my inherent abilities were completely drained. I was essentially helpless. It was only in the last hour or so that my powers returned. Before that, any one of you could have defeated me quite easily. But now, I am invincible. And in the next five minutes, I shall be remaking the world."
"That's what you think!" Ranma shot to his feet and dashed towards the urn on the crystal dais. He ran faster than he thought possible, knowing he had to reach it before the demon could react. In less than three heartbeats he was within a finger length of the urn. He had it. It was going to be—
Takayami laughed as Ranma was hurled back and thrown to the ground at the base of the dais, completely paralyzed from the pain he was in. "You moronic simpleton, did you honestly think for one second that I believed your little surrender? That I would tell you of my weakness while there was the slightest chance you would exploit it? Oh no. I know your kind too well. You screw things up by being insufferably noble to the bitter end. The others were right: you would sooner die than yield. And so you shall, but only after you watch me achieve ultimate power."
The crystal of the dais itself reached up and wrapped up Ranma's arms and legs, binding him so powerfully that he couldn't move a muscle. "The urn is protected by a magical barrier that is impenetrable to any force in existence. Anyone attempting to touch it is dealt only pain, as you found out firsthand. You see, I've learned from other's mistakes. I set you up by faking a weakness that you could not truly exploit. And you fell for it!" the dapper demon sneered.
"And now that I have all of you trapped, it's time for the final part of my plan." He waved his hand, and the field around the urn became visible for a moment, then disappeared completely. "With that final barrier out of the way, the full power of the eclipsed moon will bathe the urn in its shadowy light and unlock the final reservoir of power from me. I'm afraid here is where I break with tradition and actually win this little fight. And now, it's time for sinister laughter, boys and girls. Muahahaha—"
Ranma's eyes scanned the room, desperately looking for something, anything, to get him out of his current predicament. Then he saw it. A smile broke across his features as he turned back towards Takayami. "Can, I make one observation here."
"Go ahead," Takayami said.
Ranma took a moment to clear the feeling of residual pain that still ravaged his form, "I got to hand it to you, your plan's pretty good, with the reconstruction of the museum, the gathering of the evil magical objects, the magic field, and all of that stuff. There's just one little problem."
"Today's Saturday the twenty-sixth."
"Which means?" Takayami said, beginning to grow irritated at the distraction.
"The eclipse is on the twenty-seventh."
Takayami recoiled slightly, then gave a deep, sonorous laugh. "Nice try. Very nice. But you can't—"
"Oh, you're right, Ranma. I hadn't even thought about that," Akane said from her position, hanging on the wall.
"Don't be naïve. My whole plan hinges on this. Don't you'd think I would know when a total eclipse—"
"No," Kodachi said. "Ranma-sama is correct. One of my science teachers mentioned that we might want to stay up late and watch the eclipse on the twenty-seventh. Not the twenty-sixth."
"My sister speaks the truth," Kunou insisted. "It is on the twenty-seventh."
"No buts, sugar."
"Everyone makes mistakes, even demons," Konatsu said soothingly.
"I DID NOT MAKE A MISTAKE!" the demon bellowed at the nine people hanging on the wall. "I'll prove it to you. I marked the exact date on a calendar, one I kept right in this room just to be sure."
Takayami went across the room to where the calendar was hanging on the wall and tore it down. He held it close to his face and examined it carefully. "Ah, ha! Here's your mistake. Today is Saturday, but it is also the twenty-seventh. Friday was the twenty-sixth. You were simply getting your dates confused. That explains the mix-up. For a second there, I was wor—"
Nine hanging people?
Takayami's eyes remained fixed on the calendar as his mind raced. Nine people hanging. One person bound to the dais. One person hogtied. So he had eleven people under his complete control. Which would have been good, except for the fact there had been—
Slowly, Takayami raised his eyes from the calendar and looked towards the dais.
"Twelve of us, my oh-so-predictable demon. There were twelve of us," Mai said as she balanced the urn upon one finger. She unleashed a grin that would have made a Cheshire Cat proud. When she saw that everyone was going to attack at once, Mai decided to hold back. She doubted if her power would make any difference in the fight. If the others succeeded, she would have pretended to have helped out and accepted the accolades. But if they failed, then she could stay in the shadows and wait for an opportunity to strike when the enemy was vulnerable; just like a good ninja would. And boy, had she made the right choice.
"Ninja ain't the only ones that can be tricky," Ranma said as grinned towards Takayami. He had to admit, it was a brilliant plan he had come up with. It had been sort of lucky that, after his failed attempt at grabbing the urn, he had spotted Mai in hiding and came up with a plan to distract Takayami once the demon had dropped the protective field around the urn. The others had been smart enough to play along with the trick as well.
"Actually, I sincerely believed it was the twenty-sixth," Kunou pointed out.
Takayami began to sweatdrop. Big time. He unleashed the most pleading look he could at Mai, who continued to balance the urn on her digit. "I don't suppose I could bribe you with the usual things. Money? Power? Handsome men? A Starbuck's Franchise?"
"No," Mai said casually.
"How about bigger tits?"
"DIE!" Mai threw the urn to the ground, shattering the ancient relic into a thousand tiny pieces.
"I hate it when that happens," the demon sighed.
With his anchor to the mortal world destroyed, the demon inside Takayami began to flow out of its host, appearing to the others as a fine mist that dissipated through the man's pores. Within moments, the real Toji Takayami was given control over his body once again.
With the demon gone, the walls and dais reverted back to normal, releasing all of the prisoners. Everyone began rubbing their arms and legs, trying to get the circulation flowing through their limbs again.
"What's going on?" Takayami asked as the fog, that had clouded his mind for the last three days, was lifted at last.
Ranma decided to break things gently to the man. "You were possessed by a demon that wanted to rule the world. He warped your museum into a reflection of his own perverse desires and replaced most of your exhibits with evil cursed objects. Oh yeah, he ruined your parking lot, too."
Yep. Nice and gentle.
Takayami looked at Ranma in shock. Once his mind processed the information, he calmed visibly. "I was planning to get the place remodeled, the exhibits were pretty standard and boring, and I did need a vacation. I guess I came out ahead when you stop and think about it. Too bad about the parking, through. I suppose I should rename this 'The Nerima Cursed Museum of History' now."
"Works for me," Ranma said as he found himself surrounded by several girls (and one angry Kunou) enthusiastically congratulating him on his heroic struggles and brilliance in dealing with the demon. However, for a change, he just couldn't seem to enjoy the open adulation the others were demonstrating for him. There was something nagging at him. Actually, it wasn't exactly nagging him. It was more like something was pulverizing the concrete of his ego with a jackhammer.
"Where'd that ninja chick go? The one with the flat chest?"
"I think she and her comrades scooped up the remains of the urn in a dustpan and left while you were explaining things to the owner of the museum. Since the urn was destroyed, I didn't see any reason to stop them," Konatsu said.
Ranma snapped his fingers. "Shoot. I was going to take her out on a date to show her I ain't cheap."
Four simultaneous battle auras popped up, combining with a force that nearly rivaled the demon at the apex of his power.
"Ranma, how dare you try to ask some kunoichi out on a date!"
"Is too, too bad idea, Airen."
"I don't think I can let this one slide, Ranchan."
"I'm afraid I'm forced to agree with these plebeians, Ranma-sama. You must be taught to keep that eye of yours from roving."
A cold sweat broke out on Ranma's brow. "Now hold on a minute, guys. You don't have to feel threatened. I ain't interested in her that way. She's more cocky than Shampoo, more tricky than Kodachi, less feminine than Ukyou, and she makes Akane's chest look like that Tai girl's by comparison."
The girls all turned away from Ranma and looked at one another. Akane said, "I'm not sure if I should feel flattered or insulted by that comparison."
The other girls all mirrored Akane's sentiments. They decided to ask for further clarification from Ranma, but when they turned back towards him, they saw that he had managed to slip away in the confusion.
Outside the museum, three kunoichi smiled at each other in triumph.
Mai looked down at the dustpan she was holding. "Ha! Not only did we slip away unnoticed, but we recovered the urn as well. Not exactly the way Granduncle probably expected, but technically we have it. We're going to be genuine ninja now."
All three girls gave a shout of joy. As the initial wave of elation passed, B.J. took note of the burden Tai was carrying. "Sis, exactly why did you bring that guy you hogtied up along?"
Tai gave her burden, the bound and gagged Ryouga, a sexy look then primped her hair. "I'm going to show the stud some of my more flexible techniques, as well as my ability to dislocate my jaw at will." She gave a girlish giggle in Ryouga's direction.
Ryouga gave a muffled protestation. Tai removed the gag and allowed him to speak. "I can't do that. I'm not ready for this. We don't even know each other."
"Silly boy," Tai cooed soothingly as she ran a finger gently along his jaw. "I'm not looking for some deep relationship. I'm just going to use you for sex." She replaced the gag in his mouth to muffle his cry of anguish.
Truly, he was cursed, Ryouga thought. A deep depression overwhelmed him. It served him right since he had accepted that wish from a demon. He should never have asked to become bigger. Now all women were going to do was use him as a sexual object. What a horrible fate he had ended up with.
"What about you?" Tai asked. "You're still in that Amazon disguise."
"I know," B.J. complained. "That webbing made me all sticky, and I can't pull off the disguise. Even my wig is still stuck into place. I don't even like purple; it clashes with my ninja wear. Still, it could be worse, all things considered."
"Oh, Shampoo. I was afraid I'd lost you for a moment there. You almost left the museum without me."
B.J. cringed in horror as she found a male Amazon attached to her body with a vice-like glomp. It took several moments for her to regain control of her voice. "I'm not Shampoo."
"Of course you are," Mousse said as he continued glomping her.
"No, really I'm not. Look." B.J. tried pulling off the wig, but it was firmly attached to her real hair, and with Mousse glomping onto her she couldn't change her outfit. "Well, listen to the sound of my voice. I don't sound a thing like her. My Japanese isn't that annoying pidgin speak either."
"Changing your voice can't change the person you are inside. I know you're my Shampoo. And I know you love me just as much as I love you," Mousse assured her.
"No, no!" B.J. protested, nearly in tears. "I'm not an Amazon lesbian. I'm really a kunoichi named Bobbie Joe Hashimoto." She turned to her sisters. "Tell him."
Mai and Tai looked at each other, then shrugged.
"Of course you're Shampoo," Mai said.
"And I might I add, Mr. Mousse, that you are all she talks about," Tai added.
"Never seen a more perfect couple," Mai said.
"Oh yes. True love if ever I saw it," Tai agreed.
"WAHHH!" B.J. couldn't take it anymore as she ran off, bawling her eyes out with Mousse still firmly attached to her.
Mai and Tai watched their sister shrink into the distance, satisfied looks on both their faces.
"It's good to see her dating again," Mai said approvingly.
"Yes. A blind obsessive is just what she needs to add some joy and stability to her life." Tai agreed. "Too bad about you not finding a guy to go out with, though."
"Well, I wouldn't exactly say that." Mai gave Tai a devious grin, the one that her sisters had termed 'The Smile'.
Tai began to shift uneasily. 'The Smile' was rarely unleashed, but when it was, trouble usually followed.
Four voices, angrily crying out, "RANMA!" in concert, shattered the silence. Tai looked fearfully at the museum, wondering what new hellish monster had been unleashed within its halls. Mai, on the other hand, just continued using 'The Smile'. Oh yes, the groundwork had been laid and the bait set out. She hadn't been exactly untrue with Ranma. She personally didn't think he was much to look at, and he certainly wasn't what she would consider charming (Especially with what Ukyou had told her when Mai was impersonating Konatsu. Though considering how twisted the chef was, Mai took it all with a grain of salt.) but there was some imperceptible quality about him that called out to her (admittedly hard to catch) interest. However, Mai was going to need time to think things through and learn what the real Ranma Saotome was like before she decided if he was going to be worth the hassle of pursuing or not.
Besides, Ranma had to pay for those derisive comments he had made about her chest and femininity. All that was left to decide was in what form the currency would take. If Mai decided she didn't like him, then it would be in huge amounts of excessive pain and violence.
And if Mai decided she did like him, well, heh heh, she'd find ways to extract the toll from his body.
Either way, Mai Hashimoto would come out a winner.
As Ranma Saotome ran for his life through the halls of The Nerima Cursed Museum of History, chased by four angry women wielding insanely powerful cursed instruments of violence, he felt an all-too familiar sensation creep up his spine and settle in for the duration, a sensation that had absolutely nothing to do with the four women currently pursuing him.
"I can't believe I just picked up another one!" Ranma railed at the Fates above. "It ain't fair, I'm telling you! It just ain't fair! And it's not my fault, either!"
As Ranma continued running through the halls, resisting the overwhelming urge to cry, he came to the conclusion that there was at least one constant in the universe.
Some days it just didn't pay to get out of bed.
"What do you mean we don't graduate?"
"Yeah. You said if we recovered the Urn of CaoPatty, we'd graduate."
"And here it is. In a lot more pieces than it started out as, sure, but it's there."
"It doesn't matter," Takeo said in his most authoritative voice as he sat behind his desk and looked at the trio standing before him. They were in his study, where he had decided to break the news to them. "Bringing back a destroyed object does not count as a success. It's like bringing back a dead defector you were supposed to rescue. Sure, you got him out of enemy hands, but he doesn't really do you any good, now does he? You needed to bring that urn back intact."
"But if we hadn't destroyed it, a demon would have taken over the world. We couldn't let that happen. We wouldn't have graduated under those circumstances either," Mai pointed out.
"Which is why I'm not failing you outright," Takao reluctantly admitted. Fine, they had saved the world and he probably did owe them a debt of gratitude, but he was damned if he would let them graduate if there was even the slightest technicality he could catch them on.
"So what do we do now?" B.J. asked.
Damn. Takao had been hoping they would leave him a little more time. Although once he thought about it, perhaps it was best to get this out of the way. "You'll get a second chance at graduating." That set of words practically had to be ripped out of his mouth.
"We do?" Tai asked.
"Yes. I have another mission for you." A smile blossomed under Takeo's mask. Here was the best solution he could come up with. A very good one. "You see, several centuries ago, our clan attempted to steal two magical items from China. We successfully retrieved only one and quickly lost it once the members of our clan returned to Japan. Recently, it has come to my attention that the original owners of the items have managed to recover the one we had originally stolen and have the set matched once again. Your mission is to go to China and recover these two magical items for me. Do it, and you will graduate. But you have to bring them back intact."
"Oh, is that all?" Mai said idly. "I was afraid it'd be something hard."
'This is great!" B.J. exclaimed. "I can pick up on what the current Chinese fashions are."
Tai was looking in a mirror and applying some make-up as she asked, "So what exactly are these magic items we're supposed to recover?"
"A magic ladle and pot. Their names are Chiisuiton and Kaisufuu, to be specific," Takao explained. "They are currently in the possession of a group calling itself the Musk Dynasty. You are to infiltrate their fortress, retrieve the items, and return them to me."
"Yeah, yeah. No problem," B.J. said nonchalantly. "Just get our diplomas ready, because the next time you see these Three Sexy Ninja Girls, we'll be drinking tea from that pot you're so hot to get your hands on." All three pumped their fists in the air and gave a battle cry.
Takeo could barely keep from laughing. The Musk Dynasty were among the most dangerous beings in the world, their fortress was a giant death trap, and they would guard those two magical items with their lives. The only thing Takao would be making ready for his grandnieces was their funeral arrangements.
Mai took command of the trio. "Three Sexy Ninja Girls, salute your sensei!" All three saluted Takeo.
"DON'T SALUTE, YOU IDIOTS! BOW! BOW!"
With their hands still raised to their foreheads, all three girls blindly bowed as one. Simultaneously, all three slammed their foreheads into the edge of the desk, knocking two of them out instantly.
Only Tai was still awake, though barely. She managed to get out, "What a sneaky trap, extending the edge of your desk like that in order to knock people out when they bow," before slumping to the ground and joining her sisters in unconsciousness.
Takao looked at their unconscious forms. After a moment of indecision, he began crying and proceeded to slam his own head into the desk until he joined them in unconsciousness as well.
Sometimes, it's never the end.
Special thanks again to:
And Gary Kleppe, who is responsible for every use of the word 'ninjettes' in this fic.
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