A Ranma ½ story
by DB Sommer
Any and all C&C is appreciated. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
August 11, 2002
Preface: There are some endnotes that might allay some concerns you might have after reading this chapter.
What's happened before: Akane got her hands on a wish and used it to wish her mother had never been in a car accident and was alive in the present. Well, her mother wasn't in an accident, and is with them in the present, there's only the slight complications that she's there at the ripe old age of seventeen…
"But I want to hold her in my arms!" Soun pleaded.
"No, Daddy," Nabiki said with more than a hint of iron in her voice.
Kasumi was far more sympathetic as she explained yet again, "While it is true that this is Mother, she doesn't recognize you. This was a version of her plucked out of time before you two met. To her, you're a complete stranger."
"Even worse, she thinks you're a pervert," Akane added.
"But I'm her husband. Surely someone can explain to her that we were happily married for a number of years, and that it's perfectly fine to pick up where we left off."
"If you try that, the odds of us losing a father are pretty high. And we're fresh out of wishes to bring you back," Nabiki evaluated.
"But my dear departed wife is no longer departed! I've missed her so much, and now we're reunited. It's like a dream come true. It's not fair that she's here and doesn't remember our lives together."
Akane laid a sympathetic hand on her father's shoulder. "I know. We all feel the same way. We'll get things sorted out, but it's going to take time. You need to back off. If you keep trying to do what you've been doing, all you're going to do is drive Mom away."
Kasumi gave a small clap to her hands. "I know. All you have to do is act like you're meeting her for the first time again. Behave the same way you did back then, and after a while, nature will take its course and you two will eventually fall in love and get back together. Before you know it, she'll be your wife, as well as our mother. And it'll be especially easy for you to win her heart since you already did it once before. It'll be history repeating itself."
"That's a great idea!" Akane said. "We'll start off with how you two met and go from there."
Soun squirmed uncomfortably. "Our original meeting was arranged at the behest of her parents. My mother was an acquaintance of her mother, and since her parents were looking for someone acceptable for her to marry, they thought we should meet. After that meeting, I was deemed suitable by them."
"That might make thing difficult, since Grandma and Grandpa Tendou are dead," Nabiki said.
"Mother doesn't know about that, does she?" Kasumi said.
"Who's going to tell her?" Akane asked.
Four sets of eyes looked one another over.
"Maybe she'll figure it out on her own and we should comfort her then?" Soun suggested.
The three girls agreed.
With the situation somewhat more sober, Soun said, "I'll do as you say, and treat her as I would any respected visitor to our home."
It was Kasumi's turn to place a sympathetic hand on her father's shoulder. "Don't worry. I'm sure things will work out and Mother will fall in love with you all over again."
"Of course. You're right. With my inherent charm and good looks, I'll be able to woo her in no time, again." Soun pumped his fist triumphantly in the air. "I already know everything about her. Such as her favorite foods, what kinds of flowers she likes, and how she liked it when we were in bed and I'd run my fingers along her—"
"Whoa! Stop! Way too much information," Nabiki declared. "Just remember to take things slowly and let her adjust a bit. Me and the others will help you when the time is right. For the moment, all we're concerned about is damage control and getting her to see you in a non-hostile light. Now, do you agree to the ground rules?"
Soun nodded. "Of course. The last thing in the world I want to do is cause her grief. I'm just so overcome with emotion that she's back." He began to cry in earnest.
The girls waited for their father to pull himself together before leading him back to the living room, where Kachiko was waiting. As they entered, they saw Kachiko waiting, tapping her foot impatiently. Ranma and Genma were also present, standing slightly behind her.
Kachiko pulled up the waistband of her shorts, then placed her hands firmly on her hips, clearly glaring up at Soun as he entered. Akane positioned herself so that she could interject between the two should her father be overcome with emotion and try to embrace his wife again.
Nabiki started to say, "Good news. Daddy agrees not to—"
Kachiko waved her hand at Nabiki, indicating silence. She marched right up to Soun's face and stated, "All right, buddy. Let me make things perfectly clear. As far as I'm concerned, this is my house, same way it was yesterday. Ranma and his father are welcome to stay as long as they want. I'm willing to let the girls stay as well. But the last thing in the world I want inhabiting this house is some dirty old letch. The only reason I'm going to let you stay is because Ranma asked me so nicely."
"I didn't ask you that," Ranma said.
Kachiko considered that. She then grabbed Soun by the shoulders, turned him around, and began pushing him towards the door, shouting, "Out! Out! Out!"
Soun wailed at the top of his lungs, resisting her efforts by grabbing onto the walls and pleading with her to allow him to stay.
"Ranma." Akane prodded him in the ribs and pointed at Kachiko.
Ranma sighed and said to the time-lost girl. "I would consider it a favor if you'd let Mr. Tendou stick around."
Kachiko stopped trying to push Soun out. "What are you going to give me in return?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Ranma asked.
"You said you'd consider it a favor to let him stay. Well, I want a favor in return."
"No way. Favors lead to nothing but trouble."
"Out! Out! Out!" Kachiko shouted, and returned to shifting, so she was trying to drag Soun out instead of pushing him.
Akane prodded Ranma in the ribs again.
"Sure, I'll do you a favor," Ranma sighed.
"Done." Kachiko released her hold on Soun. "Now for the rest of the rules concerning my house. I'm taking my room back, so that means Akane has to sleep somewhere else, except Ranma's room, which is off limits to everyone but Ranma and his father. And that goes for the old perv too, since he might try to hit on Ranma's cursed form."
"Hey! Why do I have to move?!" Akane shouted.
"You make for a lumpy rug. I might trip on you when I have to get up," Kachiko explained.
"Oh, well we wouldn't want to inconvenience you or anything," Akane grumbled.
"You can stay with me for now, until Mother finds someone's else bed to sleep in." Kasumi smiled and gave a knowing shake of her head towards her father.
"Comments like that are how you end up with a foot driven up your flabby backside," Kachiko said in a flat voice to her oldest 'daughter'.
The statement had a somewhat more severe impact on Kasumi than in the old days when, if she misbehaved, her mother would threaten to spank her. Though it served the same purpose, as Kasumi chose to remain silent.
It was at this point Nabiki decided she had enough. "I hate to break this to you, 'Mother', but there is the little matter of you being declared dead for over a decade, which wouldn't be a concern, except you WERE dead. Whereas you might regard this house as yours, and it might very well have been at one time, I'm afraid that legally it belongs to Daddy." Nabiki smirked.
Kachiko cocked her head quizzically, seemed to consider something, then said, "Why thank you for pointing that out. I hadn't thought of it in those terms. I'm glad you cleared things up."
"No problem," Nabiki said.
"Now go to your room."
Kachiko pointed upstairs. "You heard me, Daughter. Go up to your room right now for being mouthy to your mother."
"Don't be ridiculous. I am not going to my room because you say so." Nabiki remained in the exact spot she stood, crossing her arms adamantly.
Rather than press the point with the girl, Kachiko turned to the man next to her. Her eyes were full of tears as she sniffled and said, "Soun-chan, our daughter's being defiant. I go away for a couple of years, and this is how you let our children's behavior deteriorate, showing no respect for the people that brought them forth into this world. I'm so ashamed." She cupped her hands to her face, hiding it from view as the sounds of crying filled the room.
A transformation seemed to overcome Soun as, for the first time in years, his backbone stiffened and his resolve firmed. "You're absolutely right, Kachi-chan. I've been a poor father. Nabiki, go to your room."
Nabiki's eyes were wide as she barely was able to associate the man before her with what she knew him to be. "Daddy?"
"You heard what both of your parents said. Go now, or you'll be punished even more severely."
It took a moment for the full impact of what just happened to set in for Nabiki. Eyebrow twitching at being so easily forced from the field of play, she stomped up to her room.
Once Nabiki was out of sight, and the sound of a door slamming reached everyone's ears, Soun turned to his sobbing wife, whose face remained buried in her hands. "Forgive me, dearest. I'm afraid without you, I've been something of a shell of the man I once was." He moved to embrace her. "But with you at my si—"
A swift uppercut prevented him from making contact.
Eyes quite devoid of any sorrow, Kachiko tugged up her shorts and said, "Now that the wiseass has been taken care of, I hope things are made perfectly clear here. I'm in charge from now on. If I say 'jump', you say 'one leg or two'." She immediately began laughing hard enough that true tears filled her eyes.
Everyone just stared.
Seeing no one else laughing, she wiped the tears away "That was a joke. You know, instead of 'how high' — 'One leg or two'?"
Somberly, Soun said, "Yes, you're definitely Kachi-chan, all right. No one had a sense of humor like you. Thankfully."
"I don't remember it being that bad," Kasumi said.
"You probably blocked out the memories. That happens with traumatic experiences, especially when you're young," Soun explained to her.
"Hey, I got a great sense of humor!" Kachiko pleaded her case, but no one cared to hear it as they left the room en masse.
"Twenty years later, and still no one knows a good joke when it comes up and bites them in their rear." Kachiko grumbled as she turned to an environment more familiar to her senses. The house might have been physically the same, at least as far as the structure was concerned, but it unquestionably had a different feel than when she had lived there alone with her parents. It was cozy, for lack of a better term. The Tendou home had been many things in Kachiko's life, but cozy was not one of them.
But the same could not be said for the place she entered. The dojo. This was where her heart lay. In many ways it was more of a home than the place she ate and slept ever was. Here, within these four walls, she was in surroundings that allowed her to thrive and flourish. Here it was ability — not gender or societal expectations — that ruled. Speed, endurance, skill, wits, power, these were the tender that was bartered about in the world of martial arts. Time could change many things, from places to people, but it could not distort that basic truth. The fight was eternal, and would always remain so even if she were hurled a thousand years into the past or future.
Kachiko carefully examined the interior of the place that even now, made her feel more secure. She could see some of the walls had been patched and a section of the roof replaced, but those were cosmetic changes. The feel was still the same. She breathed in the air deeply. The smell of blood, sweat, and muscles exerting themselves to the fullest still permeated the wood. It was the same in the ways that mattered. Time would not take this all-important place from her; she would not allow it.
Joints creaked and muscles strained as Kachiko began to stretch out and prepare for practice. The routine was automatic, so she allowed her mind to wander. There was a time when even a basic work out would have excited her, early on. Her rotten old father had been reluctant to teach her the Tendou School of Martial Arts. Given the nature of the school, so similar to Kachiko's inherent nature, one would have thought that would make her an ideal student. But her father was fostered in the old ways, and felt it improper for a girl to learn to the art. But even the old man's stubbornness could not fight off reality when it reared its ugly head. Her parents had a great deal of difficulty trying to conceive a child, and Kachiko had been given to them only later in their lives. When it became obvious there would be no male heirs, her father finally acquiesced and taught her the art.
So much time had been wasted, but Kachiko quickly made up for it. She proved almost inhumanly adept at the school and its catalogue of impressive techniques. In no time she rivaled her much older father in skill, and was certain she would have passed him soon, if she had not done so already. Her mind on the battlefield was like a trap, even Sakura, who cared little for martial arts, would admit that. Once in a fight, nothing else existed, save Kachiko and her opponents. In other walks of life she might not be perfect, but in the art, she had no equals. Or at least, none that she had met yet. Oh, there was the occasional setback from time to time. Single defeats hidden within numerous victories. But that just meant it was time to come up with a new battle strategy, and new techniques. Even as masterful in the art as she was, Kachiko knew she would grow complacent given enough peace. Well, peace fighting-wise, rather than peace in her life. But struggles in life did not always equate to struggles in combat. And thanks to Wakaba and others, there was no fear of losing her edge.
The warm ups complete, Kachiko rose to her feet, only to find the need to pull up the bottoms of the gi Akane had loaned her yet again. It was getting ridiculous. The tops all fit fine, but none of the shorts or pants Kachiko had been loaned fit in the slightest. That girl must have had hips wide enough to give birth to a rhino. And Akane's style, while not too bad, was a bit conservative by Kachiko's estimation. She would have to acquire clothing more suited to herself and her personality before too long. She'd ponder how to obtain the clothing after her work out.
Given her highly agitated state with the recent turn of events in her life, Kachiko chose a more advanced routine of fighting that would really make her heart start pumping. She chose one involving a high level of combat she had been forced to use against several armed, and unreasonably violent, opponents. Her mind's eye visualized a combination of several opponents attacking her at once. She shifted quickly from form to form, going from defense to offense in mid-motion, as remembrance of past fights and openings in the opponent's defenses sprang to mind.
Her mind and body were in the middle of a fight with that idiot who claimed he was the reincarnation of Pharaoh Sat-Ona-Tak, or somesuch stupid name, when she sensed the presence of another entering the dojo. Her body tensed up, switching so that she was ready for actual combat, as her mind went through a half dozen attack or flight scenarios, before she turned to determine the identity of the newcomer.
"Oh, hello, Ranma."
Watching from the sidelines, Ranma gave a half smile towards Kachiko. "Hey there. It looks like you really do know some martial arts."
"Can't kick ass without some talent." She made flexed her arm to show off her lean, but definite, muscle.
Ranma entered the dojo fully. "I didn't recognize some of those moves."
"They're from my family's arts, combined with some things I came up on my own. Unless you've had training in the Tendou School, you wouldn't know it."
"Well, I do know the Tendou School of Anything Goes Martial Arts, and I did recognize some of those moves you used, but not all of them. Some of them looked pretty good."
Kachiko gave a proud smile. "Almost as good as the girl that was using them."
An eager gleam came to Ranma's eye. "How about we spar some and see how good you really are?"
Surprisingly, Kachiko scoffed at the suggestion. "If I want to pretend to punch at something, I can do that alone. It's full contact or nothing."
Ranma hesitated at that. Not that he thought she could hurt him — she was just a girl — but it would look really bad if Kachiko turned up with so much as a scratch and he was to blame. From Akane to Soun, any injury, no matter how slight, would be returned to him a dozenfold. Even Kasumi would probably look cross at him, for roughing up her recently returned parent. And that made him very uneasy. "I don't know."
Kachiko turned and began to go through a kata. "I understand. Most people are wisely afraid of my fighting prowess. There's nothing to be ashamed of."
"Hey! I ain't afraid of nothing! I'll show you! We can… what are you writing there?"
Kachiko continued scribbling in a tiny notebook, murmuring, "Easy… to… goad…" She tucked the notebook inside her gi, and started whistled innocently. "Nothing. Nothing at all. Let's fight. Go ahead and warm up and let me know when you're ready."
Ranma fell into an aggressive stance. "Being a practitioner of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts means being ready for anything at any time. And besides, I have people come out of nowhere and attack me all the time, and I have to be ready to defend myself right then and there."
"I know the feeling. People are always harassing you and accusing you of stuff you never did, or blaming you for things that aren't your fault. Or maybe they are a tiny bit your fault, but then people just have to go and overreact. It's like, 'I'm sorry I flushed your map to the Emperor's Lost Treasure down the toilet, but I had to go really bad and there was no toilet paper in the stall, and it's not like you would have wanted it after I was through with it anyway, and besides, what could you really do with a half ton of gold'?" Kachiko held her hands out helplessly.
Ranma shook his head. "I know there's a story behind what you just said, but I think I'm better off not knowing it." He shrugged his shoulders and got back to the matter at hand. "Don't worry about anything. I'll go easy on you."
"Thanks. I really appreciate it. I bruise easily."
The disarming cute smile she gave him (unlike her wide hideous one that would have been more appropriate for terrifying small children) stirred Ranma. It reminded him, almost painfully, of the one Akane could give when she was pleased by something. Seeing it on another person made him uncomfortable for reasons he didn't understand.
He shook clear of those thoughts and instead focused on more immediate matters. It was the time for the sparring match. He meant what he had said about going easy on her. He'd move first and try to get close to her rather than actually punching or kicking. Maybe he'd try to trip her and put her on the floor, then use his superior strength to pin her down without harming her. Yes, that seemed the best way.
They stood apart, and bowed before one another. Kachiko was the first to move as she closed the distance between the two in a heartbeat. A bright blue aura surrounded her fist as she drew it back and bellowed, "ROARING THUNDERFIST OF DOOM!"
A chi attack. That was a surprise. Obviously, Kachiko knew what she was doing if she could summon it so easily. Still, Ranma had countered plenty of chi-powered blows before, and brought his arm up to deflect the incoming punch, already planning his counterattack.
However, the punch ended when it only closed half of the distance to his face. Kachiko's foot, however, did not stop as it darted forward and planted itself firmly between Ranma's legs.
The blow made Ranma double over in agony, his hands dropping to his groin reflexively. Kachiko took advantage of the lapse in his defense by bringing her hands forward and striking Ranma on both sides of the head right below his ears with a vicious double chop. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and he hit the wooden floor of the dojo with an audible thump.
Kachiko gave a disapproving noise as she looked at the prone figure before her. "Jeez, you're gullible. What sort of idiot calls out an attack before she makes it? It's like saying, 'I'm going to punch you in the face. See if you can block it in time'. And I thought you were a tough martial artist." She pulled up her pants yet again. "And I really got to get this problem taken care of." She departed, leaving Ranma lying unconscious on the floor.
Nabiki was still seething on her bed when a loud knock sounded on her door. "Come in."
Kachiko hesitantly entered, her eyes cast downward before laying their shamed gaze upon Nabiki. That made the middle Tendou daughter sit up as she concentrated on her visitor.
Bowing deeply, Kachiko said, "I profusely apologize for my improper behavior earlier today. It was wrong of me to send you to your room for simply making a point that was a legitimate cause for concern. I'm still disoriented from my time travel and my judgment has been a bit off balance lately. Since you're my daughter and everything, I wish to make amends." She approached Nabiki and held her arms out wide. "Come, give your mother a hug."
Nabiki's features softened, and she rose to embrace Kachiko. The two gave a quick hug, patting each other on the back before breaking apart.
Breaking the embrace, Nabiki said, "Don't worry about anything. I understand now."
Breathing a sigh of relief, Kachiko said, "That's good."
"I understand Akane's bottoms are too big and you came here hoping I'd loan you some of my clothes."
Kachiko made a strangled noise. "I'm that transparent?"
"To one who can see the signs," Nabiki said confidently. "I take it Kasumi's clothing was too big for you?"
"Well, it's not so much that as her selection of clothing was, how shall we say…" Kachiko searched for the right words. "Ah yes, appropriate for someone in her forties that wants to shout, 'I have no life and don't want to take a chance of getting one.' I was afraid some of that frumpiness was going to rub off on me just by looking at them. I don't think that girl owns a thing that shows off anything above the knee."
"Aside from one piece swim suits, probably not," Nabiki admitted.
"So you'll loan me some clothing?"
"Sure." Nabiki watched Kachiko run enthusiastically toward the closest. "And I'll only charge you a hundred yen a day per item."
Kachiko stopped. She looked at Nabiki in shock. "You're going to charge me?"
"I agreed to loan them to you, not give them away."
Sniffling, Kachiko said, "But I'm your mother. The woman who brought you into this world."
"You're the woman that will eventually," Nabiki emphasized the last word, "bring me into this world. Seeing as you haven't done it yet, at least from your perspective, that doesn't give you much hold over me. Still, in the interest of maintaining a good line of communication, since you are going to be living here for a while, I'll go easy on you."
"Thanks." Kachiko went back into the closet.
"Ten percent discount for family."
Grumbling low enough so that the words couldn't be made out, though their meaning was clear, came from within the closest. Still, Kachiko remained within, rummaging around, if making louder noises than necessary.
For a brief moment, a pang of Nabiki's conscience informed her that taking advantage of her mother was probably not the most highly moral of paths. But then again, Kachiko had started things by manipulating events so Nabiki had been summarily dismissed when she was just trying to protect her own. And what Kachiko had started, Nabiki would finish. And after all, wasn't it the dream of every parent that the child should surpass them at some point? Nabiki was just getting a jump on things was all.
In less than fifteen minutes, Kachiko returned with a handful of shorts, pants, and even a short skirt under one arm. It was much less than Nabiki would have thought she needed. "No more?"
"I only need several for now," Kachiko said enigmatically. With her free hand she reached into her back pocket and pulled out an impressive wad of cash.
Nabiki watched hungrily as Kachiko rolled the bills out of the fold, one at a time. That was an impressive amount of money for her mother to carry around, its size comparable to the amount Nabiki usually kept on her person. How Kachiko had accumulated such an amount in her own past time, Nabiki was reluctant to guess, though it did bode well. The more money Kachiko had access to, the more money Nabiki would have access to as well.
Slowly, Kachiko replaced the roll of money in her pocket. "I hope you're happy with yourself."
"I'm happier than I was a moment ago." Nabiki counted the money and placed it within her own pocket, exaggerating everything for her mother's benefit, and reminding her who had come to whom.
Kachiko gave a loud "Humph!" and exited, shutting the down loudly behind her.
That made Nabiki smirk. She had won. That had been a cute little bit of maneuvering on Kachiko's part, getting Daddy to back her against Nabiki — that was something she hadn't thought possible — but, once again Nabiki had asserted herself as the savviest of the people in the area. Kachiko had shown some small promise of being a potential headache, but it had taken a matter of moments to gain the advantage over her. One Nabiki would not be relenting anytime soon.
And the final blow to prove her superiority was that all of the clothing Kachiko had chosen were things Nabiki had borrowed from Akane. Oh well, being set back to square one would be a good lesson for Kachiko in how the pecking order worked around here. Nabiki at the top, and everyone else somewhere below. And that including time-lost parents who thought they were smarter than everyone else.
"So, you thought you could teach Mommy to suck eggs, did you?" Had anyone seen Kachiko's smirk, they would have been struck by the uncanny resemblance between her and Nabiki as she continued counting the money in her hand. Kachiko could tell that Nabiki was hiding a kind heart behind a facade of ice. Had the middle girl's pride allowed her to, she would have been happy to give Kachiko the money she needed to purchase some new clothes. As it was, in order to leave Nabiki's pride intact, Kachiko had helped herself to what resided in Nabiki's pocket during their 'embrace'. It was a mother's job to let her children believe certain things in order to treat them like adults, and in her opinion, this certainly qualified as one of those moment. And if Kachiko came out ahead financially, then it was for all the better.
Akane's information on Nabiki had seemed accurate. Kachiko had certainly known people like Nabiki in her time, and subsequently knew how to deal with them. Of course, Kachiko's 'middle child' would probably try something else and act like the top girl around here, which would mean Kachiko would have to keep on her toes. But then, she was used to friends and family keeping her alert and ready for anything at all times. Kachiko wouldn't have had it any other way. An interesting life was far better than a dull one.
And it was at that moment one of the more 'interesting' things in Kachiko's life chose to reassert itself.
Ranma staggered toward her, one hand covering his groin. He winced out, "I want a rematch. You didn't really win. That was a cheap shot."
Kachiko appeared completely oblivious. "What was?"
"That attack you called out. That was no punch."
"Well, it all depends on your point of view. It was sort of a punch, in an existential sort of way."
"No it wasn't! That was kick, and a dirty one at that."
"If you don't want to risk accidentally taking one in the balls, fight as a girl." Kachiko grabbed a glass of water (that was inexplicably resting on a table) and tossed it at Ranma. Immediately the transformation took place.
"What did you do that for?!"
"Feel any better?" Kachiko asked.
Ranma considered that. "Yeah, actually it doesn't hurt so much. Though now the whole area's a little sore. Still, it's better than before." Ranma poked herself down below.
Kachiko said, "Anyway, it's time for you to pay back that favor. We're going clothes shopping for me, and I need a man's opinion on what I'll look good in."
"I've, uh, got a meeting with a friend of mine to discuss something about bread." Ranma spun around in the opposite direction and began to walk off.
Kachiko stopped Ranma's forward progress by latching on to her pigtail. "Time enough for baking later. A favor's a favor and you're repaying yours now. It's either that or you wash my back again."
"I'll go! I'll go!" Ranma said, turning around so that she was facing the same direction Kachiko was.
Kachiko spun around for Ranma's benefit. "So how do I look?"
'Actually you look pretty nice, though not as good as I would look in it', was what the now male Ranma thought, but most assuredly did not say. That answer would have pretty much covered everything. The first part would make everyone but Kachiko angry at him, the second part would then pick up that loose end. Even if it was the truth. Using a combination of basic diplomacy, taught to him by his survival instincts, and dumb luck, he said, "Shouldn't you concentrate on getting tops that go down past your midriff and skirts that go past your knees?"
Kachiko scoffed as she fingered the halter top and leather miniskirt that bordered on ‘micro’. The metal belt she wore made her gave a jingling sound as she spun. "Are you kidding? It's great that a girl can walk around in this sort of stuff without getting stared at. Or at least the wrong kind of disapproving stares. Back in my day, which was sort of yesterday, wearing this sort of outfit would have made all the old folks give you a lecture about dressing improperly. Besides, when you got a build like mine, it'd be a crime not to show it off." She sauntered over to Ranma, who was sitting in a chair and being made to watch her as she displayed her outfits for him. She made certain her pelvis was at eye level, and shifted her hips for his benefit. "Wouldn't you agree?"
Ranma looked pointedly away. "I didn't notice, so I can't say."
She grabbed him by the sides of his head and thrust his face into her bare midriff . "Can you notice now?"
"Yes. I notice you're an innie," his muffled voice replied
Kachiko turned his head away and released it in disgust. "Honestly, Ranma. You sure do know how to play dumb. If I hadn't kicked you in the nuts before, I'd swear you were an eunuch."
"Yeah, and thanks a lot for that little favor." Ranma squirmed in his seat, his legs moving closer ever so slightly.
"If it still hurts, I can kiss it and make it better." Kachiko puckered up and made kissing noises.
"Don't be perverted." Ranma covered up his privates, despite their already being hidden by his pants. Around Kachiko, one could never have enough cover.
"I was only kidding. You sure can't handle sexual innuendo," she informed him.
"When it comes to that kind of talk around here, it's never just innuendo," Ranma grumbled as Kachiko went back into the dressing room to try on yet another one of the multitude of far too scanty outfits that seemed to have met with her approval. The only upside seemed to be she hadn't hit him up for the money to pay for it all.
As Ranma sat there and pondered the situation, the saleswoman — who had attached herself to them as soon as they entered the store — appeared as if by magic and once again inquired, "Are you certain I can't interest you in some outfits as well? We have a number of shirts that would match your companion's perfectly."
Ranma resisted the urge to retort, "I am a human being, not a walking commission," and instead said, "I like what I got just fine."
The saleswoman persisted. "But you and your girlfriend make such a lovely couple. You'd look even lovelier if you clothing was coordinated as well."
"She ain't my girlfriend!"
Kachiko's head poked out from between the drawn curtains. "He's right. I only met him yesterday. But he is a hunk and he's already conspired to see me naked, so I'd say things are going along at a pretty fast pace."
"They are not moving fast. They aren't moving at al…" Ranma trailed off. Then he noticed that the curtain below her head was parted a little bit. The opening went downward just low enough that one could clearly see that Kachiko's comment had come at a time when she had removed both her top and bra. There was enough space to allow one to see not just the valley between, but a couple of centimeters of the sides of the breasts as well.
Kachiko noticed his attention had drifted off and followed the path that his eyes had taken. She looked down at herself, then pulled the curtain shut so only her head was showing. "Typical male. Says one thing, does another."
"Too true," the saleswoman agreed.
Ranma, temporarily flummoxed, turned away and grumbled to himself. Not twenty-four hours, and already the new girl was making his life more complicated than it was before. And the whole resemblance to Akane, while not behaving at all like Akane, was only compounding matters.
"I wanna go on a training trip," Ranma said to himself.
"Is Designate: MDD I in position?"
"Yes. All systems are ready."
"Then proceed with the plan."
"And how does this look?"
Kachiko was about to give up. She had dragged Ranma along sincerely wanting a man's opinion on her choice of clothing. But since their brief discussion about her navel, 'Fine' was the only response she could pry out of Ranma each time she asked. Worse, he seemed to mean it each time. What was it about guys that made them so uncritical about clothing? By her estimation, if the matter of clothing had been left up to men, the human race would probably still be running around dressed only in fig leaves.
"Ranma, how do you think I'd look in a fig leaf?"
It had to be genetically hardwired into the male form. Sort of like blinking. It was the only explanation.
Kachiko was about to ask him if he'd like another shot to the nuts, and if he said 'fine', she'd do it too, when the sound of a loud explosion came from the street.
"Thank god!" Ranma was out of his seat and through the front door in the blink of an eye.
It seemed to Kachiko that she was going to be denied any quality time with the potential target of her affections. "Here," she tossed the saleswoman enough money to cover the outfit she was wearing. It was her experience that whenever there were loud explosions, outfits tended to end up a bit the worse for wear. Better to pay for the clothes in advance and enjoy them intact a little while instead of having to pay top price for damaged goods.
Once Kachiko made it out in the street, she saw the source of the clamor: it was a huge man, standing nearly eight feet tall and weighing close to five hundred pounds. He wore a white gi, and his head was vaguely fish-shaped, with huge eyes, no hair, and bulging lips. He was striding down the street, moving almost mechanically. Behind him, a trail of twisted metal and destroyed storefronts and vehicles indicated the path he had taken.
As Kachiko assessed the situation, the giant man approached a small, abandoned truck, raised his hand, and brought it downward. The chop sundered the tiny vehicle in half as easily as if it were made of papier-mâché and he had taken an axe to it.
Ranma did not seem the least bit taken aback. "What does that idiot Dojo Destroyer think he's doing?"
"Dojo Destroyer?" Kachiko asked.
"Yeah. Some dumb big guy that bothered me and Akane a while back. He went around destroying dojo, and tried to take the Tendous'. Akane played around with him for a while before I finished him off."
"Doesn't sound like much he was much of a challenge," Kachiko said.
The Dojo Destroyer lived up to the latter part of his name by destroying another vehicle with a single swipe from his hand.
"Well, it does look like he's a bit stronger, but confused. I'll straighten him out." Ranma gave a cocky grin and ran up until he was in front of the Destroyer. "Hey there, you idiot! Those aren't dojo you're destroying. They're just cars and stores. You having problems seeing, or have you decided to expand your skills by wiping out every kind of building now?"
The Dojo Destroyer opened its mouth. A sound similar to a voice synthesizer being tortured emitted from it.
"Was that German? It sounded German to me," Kachiko asked as she moved forward to help Ranma.
"Ah, no. I'm not sure what that was," Ranma admitted. "He used to talk fine."
The Dojo Destroyer bought up his arm and pointed at Ranma. There was a clicking sound, as though something was locking into position. Then dojo signs began shooting out from the confines of the arm of the loose gi.
Ranma and Kachiko darted out of the way before the signs could hit them. Instead the boards hit the street, exploding and shattering the pavement, sending rocky shrapnel everywhere.
The two recovered quickly. "Okay, explosive dojo signs. That's a new one," Ranma admitted.
"This seems familiar, somehow," Kachiko said, and began scratching her head as she tried to remember why.
Almost mechanically, the Dojo Destroyer turned to their new position, and once again spun his arm so that it made another clicking sound. The two separated before the signs could detonate around them.
"You distract him while I go in and take him on up close," Ranma instructed Kachiko.
She wasn't happy with the order, but did as she was told. She made an obscene gesture towards the Destroyer while Ranma ducked behind a mailbox. As Ranma had planned, the big man followed the girl's movement and clicked his arm once again.
As he began firing on Kachiko, Ranma rushed forward. The giant ceased firing as Ranma drew near, but it was too late to evade. Instead Ranma got in under the large man's guard and punched him under his shooting arm, aiming for the ribs.
Instead of the Destroyer wincing in pain, it was Ranma, who looked in shock as his fist 'clanged' against the side of the Destroyer. "Hey, wearing armor is no fair."
The Destroyer raised his hand over his head and brought it down aimed at Ranma's skull. The smaller boy easily moved to the side, allowing the blow to pass by and ruin another section of the street.
"My turn!" Kachiko shouted as she leaped up into the air and aimed for the Destroyer's head. He didn't even try to move as she streaked past, impacting solidly with the top of his cranium.
"Ow!" Kachiko shouted as she bounced off, hurting herself more than the Destroyer. She landed in a crouch, muttering, "This is real familiar."
Ranma maneuvered so he was behind the Destroyer, intent on attacking him in his blind spot before he could recover.
Rather than pivoting his body around to follow the smaller boy, the Destroyer simple swiveled his head around so he was facing Ranma again.
"That's new too," Ranma said uneasily, wondering where the man had tucked his neck bones in order to move it around like that.
The Destroyer's eyes glowed red for an instant, then ruby beams of energy shot out, hitting Ranma squarely in the chest and sending sparks everywhere.
Ranma recoiled in agony form the heat and impact the beams imparted. Though painful, it was not enough to incapacitate him. All he needed was a second to recover. Again the Destroyer's eyes glowed, and Ranma was uncertain if he would get the time he needed.
A loud shout announced Kachiko's approach. The Destroyer gave off another inhuman cry and turned in the direction of this new adversary. Kachiko was faster as she evaded the eyebeams and struck him in the cheek, knocking off a piece of his flesh.
The chunk arced toward Ranma, and he reflexively caught it. Then he realized what it was he had grabbed. "Ewww! That's disgusting. He must have leprosy or…" Ranma felt the material in his hand. "Hey, this isn't flesh. It's come kind of plastic."
"Plastic?" Kachiko said as she returned to Ranma's side.
The Dojo Destroyer remained motionless. A moment later, he was bathed in a blue light that seemed to come from within his robes. It rose up to cover even his hands and head. In a flash of blinding blue energy, all of his clothing and flesh seemed to fly off his body, his form momentarily blocked from view.
When the pair's eyes recovered enough to see what had happened, they both recoiled. Standing before them was a completely silver metal version of the Dojo Destroyer. His eyes were multi-faceted gem-like material. His fingers were tiny missiles, and there was some sort of metal panel on his rounded belly.
The Destroyer opened his mouth and emitted the mechanical sound again.
Kachiko shouted. "Ah! I know what he is. He's some kind of Germinator sent into the past to hunt me down, because I'll be the mother of the leader that will rise up against his machine empire!"
Ranma shouted. "You mean Terminator, not Germinator! And how could you know that when the movie came out after you disappeared?"
"What movie?" Kachiko asked. "That really happened. Although it was trying to kill Icky at the time instead of me. And it was a Germinator, since the machines were based on plants material rather metal. It was some made of some sort of funky bio-technology."
"How do you germinate someone?"
Kachiko told him.
Ranma recoiled. "Oh god, that's disgusting. And I thought having a curse was bad."
Kachiko nodded in sympathy. "It was the one time I felt sorry for Icky. Mostly."
"Still, I don't think that guy's a Germinator. He looks metal to me," Ranma pointed out.
Kachiko reconsidered that. "Hmm. You're right. Maybe after the plant machines fell, mankind didn't learn its lesson and made a metal machine empire instead. Although now that I think about it, that design looks awful familiar. And there's something about it making itself to look like a guy instead of a robot that's tickling at my memory." Kachiko began pondering that in earnest.
While Kachiko wracked her mind, the mechanical Destroyer brought its hand around so it was pointing at the duo. It turned its flat palm up and down, causing the missiles to fire.
Ranma saw that Kachiko was deep and thought, and shouted, "Look out!" Rather than taking a chance, he scooped her up in his arms and leaped into the air. He made it just in time as the missiles struck where Kachiko was standing a moment before.
The moment Ranma landed, he sat Kachiko down and shouted, "What is your problem? You nearly got blown up—"
Kachiko placed a finger to his lips to silence him. "I'm onto something here. It's right on the edge of my memory."
Ranma rolled his eyes. "You stand here and keep out of danger. You're just getting in the way. I'll take care of things."
"Sure you will," Kachiko snickered.
Her lack of confidence inspired Ranma to new heights. He'd show her. He would take care of the metal monstrosity single-handed. After all, if he could beat someone as tough as Saffron, he could take on a giant toaster oven.
"Here I come, you hunk of tinfoil!" Ranma shouted.
The Destroyer launched another volley of missiles and its eyebeams at Ranma. The youth darted around and over blasts and explosions until he was nearly upon the Destroyer.
Rather than try to move out of the way, the Destroyer remained motionless. Or almost motionless, as its head began spinning around in a circle on its metal chassis. In less than a second, it was moving so fast it was little more than a gray blur. From around it, a vortex of fast spinning air seemed to appear and expand until it entirely surrounded its body. It was only then its head stopped moving, but the vortex remained.
Ranma went in low, intent on knocking the robot off its legs, then really cutting loose and dismantling it bolt by bolt. However, as he went in low for the kick, his leg hit the vortex. Rather than simply being whipped about, it felt like he had hit a wall of tiny needles. He gave a yelp of pain and drew back, regaining his footing.
"Well that ain't going to stop me!" he shouted at the Destroyer. He thrust his hands forward, and formed a circle with his thumbs and forefingers. "Moko Takabisha!" he shouted, and unleashed a sapphire beam of pure chi at the robot.
The beam splashed harmlessly against the vortex.
"Why you rotten—" Ranma prepared to unleash an even more powerful beam, but Kachiko's voice gained his attention.
She shouted, "I know what's going on now! I just remembered. You keep throwing ineffectual attacks at it while I take care of things."
"Ineffectual?! I'll show her!" Ranma blustered. "Moko Takabisha!"
Again the beam splashed harmlessly against the vortex.
Ranma found himself slightly at a loss. Maybe a Hiryuu Shouten Ha. "Your mother was a moped and your father a pocket watch."
The robot seemed unmoved by the insults.
Ranma pulled a Ryouga by picking up the nearest piece of large pavement and hurling it at the vortex.
Again it bounced harmlessly off.
Refusing to back down, Ranma began grabbing a variety of items from a cart labeled 'Odds and Ends' that had been abandoned by its owner when the Destroyer appeared, and threw them in the hopes that would could pierce the shield.
A bokken was shredded into splinters.
A cinderblock reduced to cinders.
A barrel of Nannichuan shattered against the vortex.
"Nannichuan?! AHHHH! What did I just do?!" Ranma ripped at his hair in frustration.
Now it was the robot's turn to be at a loss as it watched Ranma drive his head repeatedly into the ground.
"Designate: Mecha Dojo Destroyer I is a complete success."
"Indeed, this time we shall rule the world. Nothing can stop us now. Nothing."
A hand fell on each of their shoulders.
Kachiko laughed. "Well, well, well. If it isn't my favorite pair of aliens from Space Hunter Nebula X: Dipshit and Asswipe."
"I am Designate: Dippe-Shick. My associate, Designate: As-Wype. You always had difficulty pronouncing our names, Designate: Kachiko Tendou."
Kachiko looked the pair over, now that they had turned to confront her. They were exactly as she remembered. They wore skintight uniforms that only left their faces uncovered, and even then they wore visors to cover their eyes as well. The outfits were black, with only a touch of silver on the arms and legs, and with odd sorts of puffy rings around their torsos, wrists, and tops of their heads. With the way the uniforms tapered at the top, it had the effect of making them look like they were wearing full body sized condoms.
"Over twenty years, and you idiots are still trying to take over the Earth using giant… well, not so giant this time, robots disguised as earth creatures. Your plans never work. Why do you two keep trying the same thing over and over when you know it's doomed to failure?"
Dippe-Shick said, "It is only by the merest of chances that our plans failed. This time we were certain of success. Observe how your companion is completely helpless against the power of our robot."
"He's hitting his head into the ground and your robot's just standing around because it's clueless."
"That's relatively helpless, which is close enough for our purposes," As-Wype said.
Kachiko made a dramatic show of cracking her knuckles. "All right, now that I know what I'm dealing with, it'll be easy to take your Mecha Dojo Destroyer apart, just like I did your Mecha Fire Breathing Dinosaur thingee."
"Actually, you did not defeat it," As-Wype said.
"Sure I did. I smashed it hard, and it fell into pieces."
"Incorrect. It collapsed under its own weight because it was constructed with defective materials." Dippe-Shick gave a pointed look at his comrade.
"But we were running low on funds. I had to hire the cheapest contractor," As-Wype insisted.
"Only because you used most of our money to build an elaborate underground secret base in a dormant volcano."
"If you want to conquer the world, you need an elaborate underground secret base. Everyone knows that."
"He does have a point," Kachiko admitted. "And even if I didn't beat the first Mecha Fire Breathing Dinosaur thingee, I beat the second one you sent out."
Dippe-Shick said, "Again, it was not your actions that resulted in its defeat. Someone neglected to carry a zero when calculating Designate: Mecha Fire Breathing Dinosaur II's energy consumption. Rather than ten weeks, its internal batteries only had ten minutes of power. After that, it became a large sculpture rather than a world conquering robot." He gave an even more pointed stare toward his companion.
Kachiko began to bluster, "Well, I defeated the Mecha Giant Ape."
"Incorrect. It was defeated when tricked into consuming acid filled bananas that destroyed its interior mechanisms. That was the result of Designate: Wacky Wakaba's actions, not yours."
"The Mecha Fire Breathing Turtle was mine!"
"Incorrect. Its defeat was due to the twin singing female midgets that summoned a giant hot spring turtle to combat it."
"I beat the Mecha Moth! I know I beat that one!"
"That is true," As-Wype admitted. "Of course it lacked any offensive weaponry with which to combat you. All it could do was fly around and become attracted to sources of light."
"I told you a moth was a stupid creature to base a Mecha Robot design on," Dippe-Shick pointed out.
Kachiko laughed. "See, I've defeated you before, and I'll do so again. Although I have to say, you've really gone to hell. All of your other creations were at least a few stories high. This guy's a midget compared to them."
As-Wype said, "After the destruction of Designate: Mecha Moth, our budget for world domination had run out."
"We were forced to work part time at a gay bar until we saved enough money to construct Designate: Mecha Dojo Destroyer," Dippe-Shick explained. "He might be small, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in heart."
"And offensive weapons," As-Wype added.
Kachiko snorted. "I've stopped all of your evil schemes before—"
"Actually, you only stopped one of our schemes."
That earned Dippe-Shick a punch to the face. Kachiko cleared her throat, "As I was saying, I've stopped your evil schemes before, and I'll do so right now."
Kachiko braved leaped back into the fray, confronting the vortex shrouded Mecha Dojo Destroyer, who was watching Ranma run back in forth, shouting, "I can't believe I wasted a cure like that!"
She smirked at the two aliens. "I bet if you fired every weapon at me, it wouldn't cause a scratch. In fact I'll stand right here and give you a free shot." She turned around and bent over right in front of the robots, pointed at her bottom. "Right here, baby."
As-Wype shouted to his robot, "Destroy Designate: Kachiko Tendou immediately. Full offensive barrage!"
Over the entirety of the robot's body, a dozen hidden weapon emplacement suddenly popped up, revealing a wide array of energy and projectile weaponry. Targeting computers came online as every one of them was aimed at a single target: Kachiko Tendou.
Ranma came out of his depressed state long enough to see Kachiko making a target of herself. He shouted, "No!" and leaped forward to take her out of the path of danger, regardless of the cost to himself.
Kachiko side stepped his attempted lunge, grabbed Ranma by the shoulder and pulled him so he was standing alongside her. "Let's watch the fireworks together."
Ranma's eyes nearly bugged out of his head as all the weapons, now pointed directly at him as well, charged up to their maximum power output. "Are you crazy?!"
"No, I just know how to have fun," Kachiko smiled.
And then the weapons went off as one. Lasers, Missiles, Explosive Shells, Plasma, and a host of other weapons screamed as they flew forth through the air, hurled from the robot. Their combined power was sufficient to destroy a fleet of battleships.
And all of it impacted on the inside of the impenetrable force field.
Ranma and Kachiko shielded their eyes as a bright light filled the interior of the vortex. When they could see again, both vortex and robot were gone. All that remained was a handful of pieces of blackened metal.
Away from the explosion, As-Wype said, "Oops. I should have had Designate: Mecha Dojo Destroyer lower its force field before unleashing all of its weapons."
Dippe-Shick sighed. "It appears we will have to work our eight o'clock shift after all. And here I was hoping to call off due to our conquering the world."
"Do not worry. In another twenty years, we should have sufficient funds to construct a Mecha Dojo Destroyer II. Then we will conquer the world in the name of Space Hunter Nebula X."
"Yes, there is that, I suppose. Let's head back so we can get ready for biker night."
The pair of youths looked at the remains of their opponent. Ranma kicked a piece with his foot. "That'll teach you to mess with Ranma Saotome."
Kachiko moved up to Ranma and pointed at his chest. "Looks like those eye blasts did a number on this." She fingered a blackened hole in the shirt.
"Ah, I've handled worse," Ranma assured her.
"I was more concerned about what you're wearing than you."
"Gee, thanks," Ranma said dryly.
"We'll take care of that." Kachiko began pulling him by the arm in the direction of the clothing store again.
"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" Ranma moaned.
Tentatively, Ranma entered the Tendou home, hoping for a quiet entrance where no one would hassle him and he could go to his room unmolested.
The quintet of people in the living room killed, buried, and held a funeral for that idea in an instant.
"And where were you two all this time?" Nabiki asked as she munched on a cracker.
"Bonding." The words were muted as Kachiko was currently concealed behind enough bags and packages to hide all of her features above the knees. She moved past the group and headed in the direction of her room.
Ranma tried following in her wake, but was immediately blocked by both Akane and Soun.
"And just what is that supposed to mean?" Akane snapped.
Soun's anger was evident. "Yes, explain yourself, Boy."
"Ranma, I don't think it's really proper for you to try and bond with Mother," Kasumi fretted.
"I didn't do anything with her!" Ranma insisted. "All we did was stop some aliens from taking over the Earth. Just because we worked well together that does not constitute bonding."
Nabiki, not worried in the slightest about the comment, said, "Hey, Saotome, nice look."
The others shifted their ire from Ranma to curiosity about his outfit. He was decked out in a tasteful silk white shirt and tan dress pants, a far cry from his usual casual outfits.
He shifted uncomfortably. "Thanks."
"Where did you get them?" Nabiki asked.
"Kamy pmmd em omp mo mu," he mumbled to the ground.
"What was that?" Akane asked.
"Kachiko picked them out for me," he said just barely audibly.
Nabiki began laughing. "You mean my mom had to dress you? Don't you think you're a little old for that?"
"Mother used to dress us all the time," Kasumi pointed out,
"Yeah, when we were five." Nabiki continued laughing. "Does she pick your underwear out for you, too?"
"Don't be silly. It was hard enough stripping his old clothes off him and forcing him to put the new ones on. And he bolted when I showed him the tiger-striped bikini briefs. He's such a big baby," Kachiko said as she reentered the room.
"Oh. Mother really did dress him," Kasumi said, giving Ranma another disapproving look.
Soun and Akane's were somewhat more… intense than Kasumi's.
Kachiko appeared not to notice. "Anyway, it was worth it. I want him to look good on our date."
"Date?!" Akane sputtered out.
Soun couldn't even manage that. He simply turned red as the veins bulged across his forehead.
"I never agreed to a date!" Ranma shouted.
Kachiko shot him a sly look. "Oh, come on. I know you want to go out with me. I saw the way you were ogling my breasts when you peeked on me while I was changing in the dressing room."
"I didn't ogle your breasts, only the sides of them… That came out horribly wrong," Ranma lamented as Soun and Akane's tempers finally snapped and they fell on him.
Seeing the pair go after Ranma like twin pitbulls after a piece of raw meat, Kachiko cried out, "Not the new outfit!" And dove in, trying to strip Ranma as the other two tried to pound on him.
"This just isn't my week!" Ranma cried a moment before someone's foot stomped on his head.
To be continued.
Author's notes: A word of concern was given to me of Kachiko being too much an ANC, and it probably best I respond now. Yes, she is very annoying at times. She's has to be, given the direction which the story will take. Yes, this chapter things overall did go well for her, getting the better of Nabiki, Ranma, and the mecha in 50K or so. It was necessary to set things up for later, and this is the way the chapter came to me. Don't count on her having an easy time of it in the future. That's not to say she'll start losing left and right, just that it won't go all her way.
This one had to be modified slightly, and it shows. I ended up doing 'filler' material in the second half after all. But I was having problems with how to end things, and decided to throw that out there. Not really satisfied with this the way I was with the panda demon part in the last chapter, but I think the 'Mecha-Godzilla homage.' is appropriate (I must be getting old since some of the prereaders didn't get the parodies. In my day, everyone watched the giant monster movies ^_^) but it was all that came to me, and there wasn't enough room remaining in the chapter to start anything else even before that. However in this chapter I did get the ground work and future actions for Soun in there, as well as getting a grip on Kachi's relative martial arts skill, Ranma losing to her, and some Nabiki-Kachi interaction. Tentative plans for next chapter are for Kachiko to finally end up in school and meeting more of the fun-loving cast at last as the others start to adjust to her presence, and start to react to it. Should be concentrating more on her presence in the present than what happened in the past for a while now.
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