A Ranma ½ story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Genma despaired. His son of sixteen years had nothing else to learn from him. He had taught him the Yamasenken and the Umisenken in hopes of prolonging their training trip and giving him more time to assure himself of Ranma's readiness. Now his only option was to take a trip to China where he could find more to teach his son.
They arrived several days later on the coast of China, both soaked to the bone and thoroughly exhausted.
"Hey, Pop. Where to now?" asked Ranma as they sat at their campfire later that night. He had recovered his energy much faster than his father, who was lying on his bedroll emitting the occasional groan as his muscles protested being abused in such a horrible manner as swimming all the way to China from Japan.
"I'm not sure, son." Genma thumbed through the Anything-Goes training manual and stopped briefly at the section on the Nekoken. He sure was glad that gust of wind had flipped the next page to the part about driving the trainee insane before he had thrown Ranma into the pit.
Ranma grumbled at his father's apparent lack of a brain and went off to practice. He found the perfect place at the top of a small hill a few hundred meters away. For months now, ever since he had been taught his father's forbidden techniques, Ranma had diligently worked to create his own versions of them; ones that better suited his style and were less dangerous to an opponent. Tonight he decided to attempt a variation of the Kijin Raishu Dan; one made of chi instead one that used chi to simply form the blade. Like every other time he tried, Ranma found the task easier to accomplish than the time before.
"Moko Raishu Dan!" called Ranma. He swung his arm in a horizontal slash at such high speed that it momentarily disappeared. Then a blue flash lit the night sky as a two foot curved blade of chi erupted from in front in front of Ranma and traveled at almost supersonic speeds until it impacted the trunk of a large tree, exploding it into a shower of broken splinters. "Yatta!" he cheered his success. Never before had he been able to remove the cutting edge from the technique, which meant that if he were to ever use it on a person they would at the very least be severely injured. Now he had something that would blow them up instead— that is, until he learned to control just how much force the technique had.
"Ranma! Are you all right?!" Genma came running up the hill and was nonplussed to find Ranma fully intact and to see him standing beside what once must have been a tree of some kind. "What happened?"
"I did it! I finally fixed the Kijin Raishu Dan where it won't kill people all the time." Ranma pounded his father on the back and pointed to the shattered tree stump at his side.
"Son…I believe that the original is a bit less deadly." He couldn't help but imagine what would happen to a person if they were hit by a chi strike with such explosive power.
"Baka Oyaji, I don't plan on using it on anybody yet. I've still got to learn to control its strength." Ranma happily jogged back to camp.
Genma breathed a sigh of relief at his son's news.
Three weeks later Ranma and his father were preparing to make camp for the night when they saw a large amount of smoke coming from over a nearby hill. The sounds of gunfire soon reached their ears. Ranma immediately threw down his gear and ran to investigate, followed— suprisingly— by Genma.
Cresting the hill, a small temple came into view. The courtyard was full of armed men who were herding women and children from the temple and into the night. Far to the left, near a small stream, a wagon of hay burned intensely.
"Get out here!" ordered one of the men. He brandished his gun and looked as if he were about to shoot someone. The frightened people quickly obeyed his orders.
"Is that all of them?" questioned another.
"Take two men and go through it one more time," answered the first man.
Back on the hilltop Ranma said, "We've got to do something."
Genma nodded in agreement. No matter how cowardly he was, he wouldn't allow harm to come to so many defenseless women and children if he could stop it. "Right, son. Let's go!" They began to run down the hill at full speed.
"Umisenken?" asked Ranma.
"That would be best," replied his father. Both invoked the way of the quiet thief, becoming invisible to all.
They made their way through the men like wraiths, swift and deadly. Ranma, using pressure points, rendered those he attacked unconscious while his father simply and efficiently snapped the neck of every armed man he encountered. It was all over in less than five seconds, and not a single one of the men had made a sound in surprise. Ranma was first to drop the Umisenken prompting his father to also. The women who had been huddled into a large group stared at them with fear and awe, but the children watched in wonder.
"You didn't have to kill them, Pop." Ranma had never killed a man before and didn't intend to unless there was absolutely no other option.
"Ranma… Son," said Genma sagely, "you must learn to show no mercy with those who would attempt to take your life or the life of others." He didn't argue with his son, though; killing took a piece of you every time you were forced to do it, and the last thing he needed was for Ranma to become cold-blooded. He would later take care of those that Ranma had only incapacitated.
Only seconds had passed and no one besides Ranma and his father had spoken until, "What's going on here?!" Three more men came running from the temple with their weapons raised and ready to fire. They didn't see the martial artists responsible for the downing of their fellows, and assuming that the women had done it, opened fire on them.
"No!!" screamed Ranma as five women and three children fell under the first burst of gunfire. He leapt into the air, an angry blue aura surrounding him, and in one fluid motion, swept his arm in front of him. "Moko Raishu Dan!" The wave of energy released was huge in comparison to the first one he had ever created, and when it hit the three men, it was as they were not even there. The gigantic chi blade continued downward, leaving three pairs of smoking legs and matching lumps of molten steel where once had been men. When it hit the ground not even a half second after being launched, an explosion that shook the earth in all directions for a hundred feet occurred. In its wake was a swimming pool sized crater that came into view once the dust had cleared.
Genma watched this in as much shock as everyone else. Never before had he seen a match in sheer destruction generated by a person's chi force. In an easy jump he joined his son to congratulate him. "Ranma, that was incredible! I'm so proud of you!"
Ranma didn't look happy though. Instead he looked slightly green. A moment later he ran to a small cluster of bushes and for several minutes was violently sick. When he returned, Genma squeezed his shoulder in a reassuring gesture that did little to help.
One of the women, a young girl really with long chestnut brown hair, came running up to them and said, "We're so grateful! Thank you so very much!" She bowed to them until she was kneeling on the ground. "The spirits listened to our prayers and sent two of their own to save us."
Ranma was still nauseous, so Genma said, "No, ma'am, we aren't spirits, just martial artists." It was a small comfort to meet someone besides his son that could speak Japanese in China.
The girl ignored him and continued to kneel before them. A voice, like sandpaper and gravel said, "Martial artists, indeed. Your prowess is most impressive." Both Ranma and Genma turned to view the owner of the painful-to-hear voice and were not disappointed when they saw a shrunken old man leaning heavily on a cane.
The injured had been tended to and the dead buried. The women and children huddled together in silence, still shocked from the day’s events. In a large room in the back of the temple, the old man now known as Li, the Saotomes, and the girl who had first thought them to be spirits sat.
"I am grateful beyond words," rasped the old man. He levered himself out of the chair he had been sitting in and hobbled over to a bookshelf that took up the entire back wall of the room.
"Please, grandfather, you must rest. Your heart—," said the girl, worried for her only living relative.
"Oh, come on, girl, what's the point of living if I can't move around a little?" whined her grandfather.
"I understand," she lied.
"Now, you two, come here." Li gestured towards Ranma and Genma with his cane. Once they were in their designated places he continued, "I have nothing to give you, I'm sorry, besides an opportunity to gain an important scroll that I have been guarding for over a century."
Eagerly, Genma asked, "Is it of martial arts techniques?"
Li shook his head. "I do not know what knowledge the scroll contains within it. I have been entrusted to give every man or woman I deem worthy a chance to attain it, though."
Ranma, now recovered asked, "Why haven't you read it? I mean just to see what is on it."
Li chuckled dryly and answered, "After the first twenty years or so, I tried to force it open and in return received this voice which I'm sure you've noticed sounds hideous. And the thing wouldn't open for me. It'll only respond to the right person."
Genma told Ranma that he wanted to talk to Li alone for a minute. Ranma went back to the table where Li's granddaughter was sitting. "Hi. My name's Ranma, if you haven't heard yet."
"I'm Ukyou. It's nice to meet you."
"If you don't mind me asking," he sat down across from her, "where are all the men at, and why are you all staying here?"
"All the women here are widows who can't support themselves and their children. Grandfather and I try to help them."
"Oh." Before he could say anything more his father returned.
"Come on, Ranma, and let's see if that scroll works for you." Genma had made sure that it wouldn't hurt his son before he let him try. He had also tried to open the scroll but failed.
"Well, here goes nothing." He went back to the shelf where Li still stood. In the man's left hand was a plain looking scroll. He wordlessly accepted it when Li held it out to him. With a deft movement he untied the ties that held it closed.
Li's mouth fell open and his cane clattered to the floor. "Finally," he whispered.
"What's wrong?" asked Ranma before he attempted to unfurl the scroll.
"You've done it, Ranma!" exclaimed his father. "No one has ever been able to do that."
Ukyou rushed over to them and was shocked to see the scroll opened.
"Unroll it and see what it says," said Li, giddy with excitement. He would finally be able to see what was so damned important about the thing.
None were as surprised as Ranma. He had not expected anything to happen at all. Slowly he began to unroll the scroll. The first words burned themselves into his mind.
Ranma quickly pulled it to his chest before the others could see it.
"Well? Are you going to let us see?" Genma asked impatiently. If need be, he could always guilt-trip him into sharing.
"I can't. It says if anyone else reads it, they will die." He looked them each in the eye and said, "I promise, that's the very first thing it says."
Li sighed in disappointment. He should have guessed that something like that would happen. Genma could tell by the look in Ranma's eyes that he was deadly serious, and chose to heed his warning. Ukyou didn't care enough about what was on an old piece of paper to risk her life, so she went back to the table she had been sitting at.
It was late in the night before Ranma got the nerve to read more of the scroll. Alone on the front steps of the temple, with only the moonlight and a small oil lamp he read:
Ranma nearly dropped the scroll in surprise, but continued to read after a moment.
Ranma rolled the scroll up and went in search of his bedroll. Somehow he knew that the scroll was telling him the truth and that he was somehow chosen to protect a man. What he didn't know was how he would ever be able to protect a man that was supposed to be on another world. Giving thinking up for the night, decided that sleep would be nice.
The next day Ranma and Genma departed from the temple. They said their goodbyes and warned the people staying there that they should probably be moving on, since the men who had attacked the day before were obviously after them for less than honorable reasons.
Miles of silence later Genma asked, "It's important, isn't it?"
Ranma knew what he was talking about and answered, "Yes, very important."
"Can you tell me about it, or is that forbidden too?"
"It doesn't say not to, but I don't think I should. I will tell you that it is scary stuff, though."
Genma seemed mollified, going back to being quiet and contemplative like he seldom did. He decided that they would go back to Japan as soon as possible. Even with their skill, it was too easy to get hurt or killed if they encountered any more heavily armed bandits. It was mid-afternoon right before their usual sparring session when he announced his decision to Ranma.
"What about the Amazons?"
"Huh?" Genma didn't know what his son was talking about.
"Oh, yeah, you were asleep when Li told me about them. He said that in the Jusenkyo valley of the Quiang Hai province is a tribe of warrior women who know lots of powerful fighting techniques. I figured that we could swing on by, you know, and learn a thing or two."
Perfect! Quiang Hai was a great distance. The trip there and back could take months. So what if it was a tribe of weak women; it was still a good enough excuse.
For nearly two months they hiked across China. Genma sparred daily with his son, more to keep himself in shape that to help Ranma. Ranma spent most of his time developing his chi and reading the scroll. He no longer slept; strangely enough, he didn't need to. Instead, he read all night, every night. The first thing that he learned from the scroll was an entirely new language. It was the main tongue of the world the scroll originated from. Surprisingly, he could speak the language fluently in a month. Ranma assumed that it was some magic property of the scroll that helped him to learn it. Then came things straight from his imagination. Written in the newly learned language were instructions on how to develop his gift and the spells that he could cast with it. Whenever his father would go to sleep at night, he would cast a web, a kind of spell, on him that would make him sleep through any explosions or sounds that practicing his sorcery might cause.
On the final leg of their journey to learn from the Amazons, Genma became excited about something, threw his pack off and began rummaging through it. Ranma watched his father with an amused scowl until the older man finally found what he was looking for. In his hand was a pamphlet written in Chinese with a few lines of Japanese thrown in.
"We are near the Sacred training ground of Jusenkyou! I just remembered!" He shoved the pamphlet in Ranma's face and began pulling him towards the area indicated on the map.
Genma may have been oblivious to the big red characters in Japanese that said going to Jusenkyou was stupid and extremely dangerous, but Ranma didn't. "Hey, Pop! You might want to take a look at these." He pointed out the numerous warnings on the pamphlet.
"Don't be silly, son. Those are just to keep amateurs away. Real martial artists have nothing to fear." Never let it be said that Genma is smart, even an improved version.
Ranma sighed and followed his father. Someone had to keep the old man out of trouble. Their rapid pace had them at Jusenkyou by noon. The place looked harmless enough. Just a lot of pools of water with bamboo poles stuck in them. Probably for balance practice. Ranma took one look at the place and began weaving the strongest web that he could manage to repel water from him.
"Come on, son," enthused Genma.
Ranma didn't know what to make of this place. In the last two months they had encountered a few mystical sights and artifacts. Ranma could tell how powerful and dangerous most of them were, but this place seemed more hostile than the surface of the sun. "Fat chance. This place is seriously bad news. There's something wrong with the water."
"Feh," snorted the man, "You aren't scared of a bit of water, are you?" He walked to the edge of a pool and knelt at its side. "Don't tell me you're going to start crying like a girl now, too." Genma made a show of dipping his hand in the water despite Ranma's protests.
Ranma couldn't help himself. He had to laugh. It was just too damned funny. His father was now effectively his mother. The man was just sitting there staring at his chest, which now sported a nice pair of breasts.
An ugly, fat Chinese man came running out of a hut, windmilling his arms. "Oh, no, sir. You fall in Nyannichuan, Spring of Drowned Girl, very tragic tale of girl who drown in spring 1,500 years ago."
Ranma burst out laughing again. "Who's manly now, Pop… Or should I say 'mom'?"
Still in shock, Genma slowly pulled the now very baggy gi open and examined himself more closely. After a moment his nose started to bleed and then he passed out.
Genma awoke on a small cot in the guide's hut. He recalled having the most horrible nightmare, and just in case it was true he patted himself down and found that he was totally male. "What happened?" he asked.
"You didn't listen to me when I told you that the water was dangerous. Now you've got a curse." Ranma's sides and jaw still ached from laughing so hard.
It wasn't a dream! "B-b-but, br-breasts." Genma pointed out that he didn't have any. This was quickly corrected when Ranma poured a cup of cold water over his father's head. "Oh, my God!" he screeched in shock. Genma was now a cute and busty teenaged girl with a mane of green hair.
Darkly Ranma said, "You better be glad that I didn't fall in one of those springs, or I would be beating you to death right now."
"I'm a girl," mumbled Genma morosely.
"No worry, sir. Curse of Jusenkyou reversed with hot water." The guide poured a kettle of steaming water over the girl's head.
Genma ignored the pain from the over heated water and began feeling for any stray breasts. When he found none he wept in relief and started blubbering about manliness.
Ranma chose to ignore his father and asked the guide, "Do you know where a village of Amazons is? I know it's around here somewhere."
"You must mean Joketsuzoku. Village of very strong warrior women?" Ranma nodded. "I lead sirs there whenever sir's father is able to travel."
"Thanks. I'm going to go get some air."
Outside, Ranma carefully observed the springs from a distance. He hadn't seen it at first, but now with his father linked to one of the springs, it was obvious what was going on. The water from each spring was some kind of magical construct that bound its victim in a web of additive and subtractive magic, the magic wielded by wizards. That explained how the change in size and weight could occur. The subtractive magic took away what wasn't needed in the cursed form and the additive returned what was needed in the original form. Too bad that he was a sorcerer and not a wizard; his gift would be totally ineffective against the magic of Jusenkyou. Well, he might not be able to cure an already cursed individual, but he could keep others from being cursed. For over an hour he thought of different ways to do this, until finally he came to a conclusion: destroy the place.
Ranma turned to look back at the springs one last time. The web he had created would steadily raise the heat of the springs and the ground surrounding them until it became molten rock. A shield of sorcerous magic would cancel out the non-bound magic of the steam created, rendering the water useless and forever destroying the Springs of Woe. He hurried his pace to catch up with his father and the guide.
They had just finished eating a meal of rice and beans when the village came into view. It had walls made of large tree trunks buried in the ground and lashed together. It was the first village Ranma had ever seen with walls. It seemed unusual that a people that went through the trouble to create such a wall would leave it undefended. When Ranma asked the guide why there were no guards, the guide said, "Today very important Tournament take place. Decide village champion for year."
"Hear that, Pop? We can be in the tournament." Ranma's father, currently in his cursed form because of a strong gust of wind and a puddle of water started to say something when the guide interrupted.
"No, no, sirs, must not fight Amazons. Very strict laws for outsiders who defeat them. If you man you must marry Amazon you defeat, and if you woman Amazon must kill you."
Ranma and Genma blanched and both decided to not pick a fight with any Amazons.
"That has got to be the stupidest thing that I've ever heard!" exclaimed Ranma.
"I agree with sir, but nothing I can do. They very powerful fighters, peoples scared to speak against them."
"We understand." Father and son exchanged another glance that told them they really didn't.
No one met them when they walked into the village. Village was really the wrong word for it. City was more accurate, decided Ranma. They followed the sounds of a cheering crowd, which led them to the center of the city. Several hundred women were gathered around a central ring. In the ring, two of the warrior women fought on a rope-suspended log. One was a lithe and graceful girl with purple hair and wielding a pair of strange maces; the other, a hulking brute of muscle barely identifiable as female who used a four-inch thick tree trunk like it was a Bo. Ranma winced in sympathy for the mountainous woman as the other's mace made contact with her skull, rendering her unconscious and knocking her to the ground.
Xian Pu! Xian Pu! Xian Pu! chanted the crowd. Xian Pu held her maces high above her head in triumph. A severely shrunken woman who balanced herself on a gnarled staff joined her on the log. Ranma could sense the chi force the old woman possessed and decided that he would have to arrange a fight with her, one that wouldn't get him married to her if he won. The women raised a withered arm into the air causing the audience to fall silent.
"Today, my heir and great-granddaughter, Xian Pu, has become our Champion." Her proclamation was met with a roar of cheers and applause.
It took several minutes for the noise to die down, time which the girl, Xian Pu, used to catch her breath. Ranma was about to go congratulate her on her victory when angry jabbering broke out around him. He looked around and saw many women pointing at him and then he turned to see his father, still female, inhaling a huge feast that had been laid out on a long table. The women were pointing at her too.
<What are you doing here, man? You should be in the fields with the other men,> demanded the Xian Pu as she stormed up to him. She hadn't yet seen Genma eating her prize
"I don't speak Chinese," Ranma told the guide. He translated for Ranma.
<What do you want, outsider?> the guide translated.
Everyone's attention turned to Ranma and dead silence spread throughout the crowd. "I came to learn Amazon fighting techniques."
If anything the crowd got quieter.<Men are weak, they can't use Amazon techniques,> growled Xian Pu.
"Hey, stop that!" demanded Genma-chan as three Amazons led him to Ranma at spear-point.
<We caught her eating your feast, Xian Pu,> said one of the Amazons.
Xian Pu gripped the handles of her maces so tightly that her knuckles were white. She began to generate a hazy purple battle aura that caused many of her fellow Amazons to take a step back.
Once the guide translated. "Great going, Pop! Now we've got a bunch of crazy chicks pissed off at us!" Ranma berated his father.
"I was hungry," she replied weakly.
"We just ate! Now I've got to get us out of here." He turned to ask the guide to translate a message for him, but the guide was already halfway out of the village and still going thanks to Xian Pu's display.
"Screw this, it's just been a wasted trip." Ranma grabbed Genma-chan by the baggy sleeve of her gi and began to pull her towards the gate.
"You go nowhere!" Demanded Xian Pu. She blocked Ranma's path and held up her maces, ready to strike.
"Ah, jeez. Pop, I'm gonna make you regret this." Around Ranma a huge blue battle aura with streams of gold running through it appeared. It continued to grow until Xian Pu's own was no longer visible because of the brightness of Ranma's.
Genma-chan's mouth fell open in awe of his son's chi. Xian Pu took several steps back and only stopped when she ran into her fellow Amazons, who themselves had retreated.
"Incredible, quite incredible!" cackled the same old woman who had announced Xian Pu's championship.
Ignoring her, Ranma pulled Genma-chan through the corridor that opened before him. A small chi blast detonating in his path stopped him. He turned to face the source of the blast, but wasn't surprised to find that it was the same old woman with the huge chi.
"Not so fast, child," she hopped over to him. "I believe that you came here to our village to learn. Have you learned anything?"
"Just that I shouldn't have wasted my time coming here."
She cackled and said, "I like you."
"That's nice to know."
"Won't you stay for a short time? It could be a learning experience."
"Does that mean what I think it means?" Ranma looked hopeful but cautious.
Xian Pu fumed to herself. That outsider boy and his female 'father' had stolen all attention from her, and what was worse, the boy had humiliated her and gained her great-grandmother's favor. The crowing of a rooster told her that dawn had arrived and that she hadn't slept. She stepped back from what had once been a two-foot tree trunk imbedded in the ground that Mousse normally used for target practice. A splintered wreck was all that remained in the aftermath of hours of bonbori strikes.
Early the next morning Ku Lon stopped at the edge of the village square to watch her guests in a furious fight. It was quite impressive, she had to admit. Ranma and his father, now male, seemed to fly through the air trading blows that to any but a few of her most skilled warriors would have appeared as nothing more than blurs.
"Don't give me any of that crap, Pop! You know that I've been better than you for years!" Ranma faded from view only to reappear on front of his father in a blink. A single kick to the gut sent Genma into a post of one of the communal buildings.
She distinctively heard the crack associated with breaking of the sound barrier. If he could move his whole body that fast… Ku Lon ruled out amaguriken training.
Genma picked himself up and while holding his abdomen with one hand he waved the other in submission. "You had better be glad that I took it easy on you."
Making herself known, Ku Lon asked, "Are you ready to begin your training?"
"You bet. It's been a while since I learned any new martial arts."
"I think I'll take a nap." Genma somehow developed a limp, but headed towards the area where he and Ranma had been allowed to set up their tents.
She hadn't planned on teaching him anyway. "Ranma, this area will soon be filled with people. Come, I will show you to where you will be training." Ku Lon led Ranma to a small hut at the edge of the village, several hundred feet from the perimeter wall. Inside was a hole in the ground that Ku Lon jumped through.
Ranma followed. The distance to solid ground was nearly twenty feet, but the fall didn't bother him. He was surprised to find himself in a large glowing cavern that had to undercut at least a third of the village. "What is this place?" he asked in wonder.
"No one knows for sure. It was discovered when the village was founded and has been used ever since as a vault and a place to train in secret Amazon fighting techniques."
He whistled when he saw a heavily warded door on the other side of the cavern. It radiated magic.
Ku Lon noticed Ranma's reaction but didn't let him know.
If she ever got her hands on Happosai, Ku Lon didn't know what she would do to him. No, she did know: it involved lots of men's underwear and a cement casket. Not only had he stolen many sacred and magical Amazon artifacts, he had also taken instructions on teaching some of their most powerful techniques. Thankfully, only Ranma and his father seemed to have knowledge of them, and Ranma had admitted that only he could actually perform any of them.
"Um… are there any more besides those?" How was he supposed to know that the bakusai tenketsu, amaguriken, and hiryu shoten ha were Amazon techniques? He just thought that his father had come across a really valuable scroll that was knocked into a fire by accident.
"Yes, but there are only a few that wouldn't take years of intense study to master, and I believe that you are on a schedule."
"Why are you teaching me? I mean, you don't have any reasons that I can figure out, and my Pop did screw up your feast."
She smiled cunningly and said, "I saw your chi, and I know what you are. Ranma, you will need everything you know to survive whatever course your life takes."
"Now let me tell you about splitting hairs…"
Four days later Ranma was attempting one of the techniques Ku Lon had taught him. He was impatient and sloppy, only being able to produce six chi copies of himself this time. He knew that he should be able to triple that.
Ku Lon sat on the sidelines with the other elders who had taken a liking to watching Ranma practice.<Six, and he isn't happy!>
<I didn't have enough control to make six images until I was five times his age!> exclaimed one of the elders.
<He is upset with himself that he hasn't mastered it in four days? Is he human?> asked another elder who was thinking of how to set her heir up with Ranma.
<You should see him using Hidden Weapons. As you know, the amount of matter that can be held in suspension is directly proportional to the amount of space that can be chi warped. Since my grandson wears such voluminous robes, he is able to carry a huge array of weaponry in the folded space within them. Ranma disdains weapons, so at first scoffed at the whole school of Hidden Weapons, but after he saw how versatile it could be he was able to duplicate it in less than an hour,> said Mai, the village's Master of Hidden Weapons who had taken part in Ranma's instruction on the second day.
<How much can he carry?> asked Si Ku.
<Very little, actually. He doesn't store items within his clothes like usual; instead he maintains a small pocket of folded space within the palm of each hand.>
<Is that why he requested such strange orders from my shop?> Si Ku ran the village smithy with the help of her family. The day before Ranma had come in and asked for several dozen large steel needles and an equal number of shuriken and marble-sized steel balls. He had offered to work for them, but Si Ku had just waved his offer off and had the items ready by the end of the day.
<Yes. He's got an idea to use them to deliver precise payloads of chi and as channels for his other abilities.> Ku Lon herself was planning on using Ranma's idea with the needles.
<Other abilities?> So Pu asked.
<He hasn't admitted it, nor has he made his intentions known for the requested weapons beyond carrying chi, but Ranma has the gift of magic more strongly than I once believed was possible in a person.>
<I don't trust him or his father. Especially his father. The man is despicable,> Ban Li, the only elder who had remained quiet finally said.
<Your suspicion of Ranma is unfounded. Genma, though, is not to be trusted and I will not let his father's faults hinder Ranma. He may very well be a great ally to our tribe,> argued Ku Lon in Ranma's favor.
Ranma and a dozen copies of him were now circling a stone statue. With no warning, one of the Ranma's broke from the ring and darted in, cleaving off the right hand of the statue with a chop. Following it were the others who piece by piece turned the statue into rubble, then disappeared after attacking. Finally, only one Ranma remained, the real Ranma. He was breathing hard and sweat was dripping from his chin. "Whoa," he said before fainting.
Before he had even stopped his assault on the statue, the Amazon elders were on their feet, staring at him in shock. Even Cologne, who had seen many of Ranma's skills before, was startled. The images created by the Splitting Cat Hairs technique were made of loose chi and dispersed on contact with any solid object, but Ranma had somehow sidestepped this drawback. When he went down, they rushed to his side and began fussing over him like a gaggle of mother hens.
"Never… gonna… do… that… again," groaned Ranma. He was referring to using so much chi that he passed out. He'd never had such a bad headache before.
"Child, sometimes you scare even me," muttered Ku Lon. The boy had only been out for half an hour and now he was back with almost full reserves of chi and no ill effects, except maybe a headache, indicated by the moaning and clutching of his head he was doing.
Before Ranma could respond, outraged screaming could be heard from outside. They both hurried to the door and arrived in time to see Xian Pu furiously attacking Genma. He dodged her strike easily, content to continue doing so until someone stopped the fight.
Genma-chan didn't need a wife; she already had one. A wife that liked to carry around a katana that she could use very well, and who would react rather badly if he brought home a cute Chinese girl.
<Xian Pu!! What do you think you are doing?!> demanded Ku Lon angrily. What had gotten into the stupid girl's head this time?
<Great grandmother, this fat outsider has admitted to being the student of He Who Must Not Be Named.>
Happosai wasn't the most well-liked man, and his name was now outlawed in the village, although for several decades it had been a popular curse.<Are you seeking a husband? If I had known I would have helped you look around.>
<What do you mean, great-grandmother?> asked a confused Xian Pu.
<Did you not notice how easily your opponent dodged your attacks? If he continued until you could no longer fight due to exhaustion, you would still be obligated by the marriage laws.>
Xian Pu looked slightly sick— then really sick when she glanced at Genma, who was talking to Ranma.<I… uh, just remembered that I have something cooking.> She ran for the nearest latrine.
"What in the hell did you do this time?!" Ranma berated his father.
"Honestly, I don't know. I just mentioned my old master when this kid with glasses asked me where I learned to fight. Then she started attacking me." Genma was completely sincere. He didn't know what Happosai was to the Amazons, though.
Ranma found himself believing his father. The man was a really sorry liar and hadn't been able to fool him since he was nine. "All right. I believe you, Pop."
Times like these were when Ku Lon wished that Amazons weren't so uptight all the time. Here she was with a warrior more skilled than any in memory, and because his father's sensei was a perverted panty thief they were all in an uproar and calling for public executions and burning Ranma and his father alive.
<They must be spies!> exclaimed Amber, a ninety-seven year old woman who was just a girl the last time Happosai raided the village. Though not an elder, she was only three years from the test of worthiness and her word carried a lot of weight.
<He's coming back!> called someone in the mob.
<They must not be allowed to escape!>
"Pop, I think we should be going." Ranma nervously looked out the window and saw the angry mob. No training was worth getting killed.
"Couldn't have said it better myself." Genma was already gathering their stuff from the small hut Ku Lon had managed to get for them.
The door opened and closed, admitting Ku Lon. "I'm afraid that it is mob rule, and with the other elders in the mob I am not able to stop it. You should both flee."
"Don't worry about us. No one'll ever see us go." Ranma hefted his backpack and waited until his father was similarly prepared before saying, "Thanks for everything, and I'm sorry that everyone has gone crazy."
Even to Ku Lon's super sharp senses the two men completely vanished. "Good luck; you'll need it."
Soun sighed in relief as he read the postcard.
"Kasumi, Nabiki, Akane, come here please!" He waited for a couple minutes, and when none of his daughters responded, went to check the dojo. They were all so dedicated.
"Come on, Akane, you can do better than that," said Kasumi as she upped the speed of her staff as it swung at her youngest sister, who was dodging frantically. Noticing a hole in her defenses, Kasumi sent Akane to the floor with a well-placed strike to the back of her knees.
On the sidelines Nabiki held her twin wakizashi at chest height. "Fire and Ice!" She slashed both wakizashi in the air, one emitting hot chi, and the other cold. The two opposing energies interacted, causing a visible distortion in the air that raced towards a wooden training dummy that was set up in the corner. When the sphere of wavering air struck the dummy nothing happened at first, but then its chest exploded into small chunks. Each piece emitted mist as if they were extremely cold, which they were.
"Good going, Nabiki! It looks like you've really mastered it!" exclaimed Kasumi.
"Wow, sis, that was the best one yet." Akane jumped to her feet, ignoring the pain in her butt.
"Thanks," said Nabiki. She blushed at being complimented so much.
"Oh, Nabiki, you make your father so proud!" Soun ran into the dojo and embraced Nabiki who had barely enough time to sheath her swords before her father impaled himself on them.
"Okay, Dad. Calm down." Nabiki patted her father on the back.
"Did you want something, Father?" asked Kasumi.
"I almost forgot. My old friend Genma will be arriving soon along with his son, Ranma. Ranma will be your ally in the coming challenge."
Akane scowled at her father and said, "Daddy, we don't need any help."
"You may not, but the Saotomes have as much on the line as we do."
"Oh. Okay, Daddy." Akane sounded unconvinced though, and frowned at her father's back when he left.
"I wonder how old he is." Kasumi liked her men older.
"I hope he's cute!" exclaimed Nabiki.
"Listen at you two. It's not like you're going to marry him."
They both ignored Akane. She and Nabiki had been having trouble at school lately, thanks to Tatewaki and his ninja horde; and since they were all male, Akane had sworn off all men like it was their fault.
"So, who's this friend of yours?" Ranma asked Genma-chan. They were only a few blocks away if his father was right.
"His name is Soun Tendo, and he owns a very popular dojo." Genma-chan had to continually glare at boys and men of all ages who ogled her. "Perverts," she muttered.
Ranma couldn't hold it back and laughed all the way to the front door of their destination. Genma-chan pouted cutely, causing Ranma to laugh harder.
"Father, could you get the door?" Kasumi asked from the kitchen where she was cooking a huge pot of spaghetti.
Soun was already on his way to the door. "Yes, can I help you?" he asked the amazingly beautiful green-haired girl and pig-tailed boy at the door.
"Tendo, my old friend!" enthused Genma-chan. She leapt up and embraced him tightly. Unfortunately her chest was pressed against Soun's face, causing him to faint with a severe nosebleed.
Ranma, started laughing again and asked, "You do that to all your friends, Pop?"
From around the corner Nabiki came to see what the commotion was. She was wearing a pair of short shorts and a plain white tank top with her shoulder length hair up in a high ponytail. "What's going on here?" she asked dangerously, preparing to pull her wakizashi from stuff space.
"Um, sorry. I'm Ranma and this is my father Genma." He pointed to Genma-chan who was bent over Soun, slapping his face to wake him up.
"Father?" Nabiki obviously didn't believe him.
Ranma smirked and said, "He's normally a fat and ugly bald man, but back in China he got this curse that turns him into a girl."
Nabiki considered herself a good judge of character and her gut was telling her that this Ranma boy was telling her the truth. It was also telling her to carry him up to her room and tie him to the bed so she could have her way with him, but she ignored that message. "Okay… I'm not sure that I believe you, but at least you can bring Daddy in."
Nabiki led Ranma and Genma-chan to the sitting room, where they deposited Soun on a cushion. "Could you get us some hot water, please…?"
"Nabiki, Nabiki Tendo. And what do you need hot water for?"
"To change Pop back to normal, so your dad doesn't freak out again."
Nabiki shrugged and went to the kitchen to get a glass of hot water. In the kitchen Kasumi asked, "Are there guests? Are they Father's friends?"
"Yeah, but they're a bit weird. I'm getting one of them some hot water now."
Kasumi was confused but decided to wait until she took the bread out of the oven to see the guests.
Nabiki returned with a glass of hot water that she gave to Ranma, who gave it to Genma-chan, who then poured it over her head. Nabiki yelped in shock as she witnessed the pretty girl become an ugly and fat bald man just like Ranma had claimed.
"Tendo! You in there, Tendo?" Genma prodded Soun's prone form with his foot.
"Come on, Ranma. I'll introduce you to my sisters."
Ranma followed behind her and said, "Nice place you got here."
"Dad teaches a lot of classes, so we can afford it, no problem."
"Do you or your sisters practice the art?"
They were now in the kitchen and Kasumi answered his question. "All three of us practice the art. You must be Ranma."
"Great! Why don't you go out to the dojo and introduce yourself to Akane? I'll meet you all when I finish in here."
"Sure thing, sis. Come on, Ranma."
Ranma once again followed Nabiki, this time to the dojo.
Akane had just put her naginata in its rack when her sister and a strange boy walked in. He was probably just some boy that wanted to get a few martial arts classes under his belt to impress his girlfriend. Nabiki was speaking to him.
"I like to fight with a pair of wakizashi and Akane and Kasumi prefer the naginata. What do you use?"
"Until recently I've never really focused on a weapon since they're a crutch and if you become to used to one then lose it in a fight your seriously hindered; but my Pop has made me learn the basic forms for most weapons. Not to long ago we stayed in a village where I picked up some thrown projectiles, though."
Nabiki ignored Ranma's comment about weapons often being a crutch since she knew it to be true, and asked, "What, knives or shuriken?"
Ranma closed one hand and drew the other across it. When he opened it there was a shuriken, a small steel ball, and a six-inch eyeless needle. "They work real good if you pack them with a little chi. I've figured out how to make them explode, conduct a continuous chi stream into a target, and change temperatures."
"You can control your chi that well?" she asked, in awe of this newcomer. "I've just figured out how to project mine in the last few months."
"That's still really good. All these years on the road, and up until a couple months ago I'd only met a dozen or so people who could even generate a battle aura; and only half of them could do anything with it. What about your sisters? Can they?"
"No. Kasumi is too well-balanced to have any emotion strong enough to use as a focus, and without more experience won't be able to use pure chi for a while. Akane is too unfocused to even think about the higher chi abilities."
"Hey, I heard that! And I'm not unfocused— it's just hard, that's all!" screamed Akane to her sister and the high and mighty know-it-all boy. She stormed past them and into the house.
Neither had noticed the youngest Tendo until her outburst. "You just met Akane." She drew her wakizashi from stuff space and asked, "Want to spar?"
Ranma looked at the swords and asked, "Where'd you learn to do that with the swords?"
"Oh, you mean pull them from nowhere?" Ranma nodded. "A friend of Dad's taught us all a few years ago. You want to learn?"
"Nah, already know it, but how about you show me your main chi attack, and I'll see if there are any pointers I could give you?"
Main chi attack? That would imply that he thought it common to have more than one! "You're not scared to fight me, are you?" she teased.
Ranma laughed at the joke. At least he hoped that it was a joke. "No, but I figured you would get more out of me teaching you something than if I kicked your ass."
Nabiki glared at Ranma. That jerk! He was probably right, though, and he was easy to talk to. Not at all like the boys at school who ran away screaming when they saw a battle aura. "Let's go outside so there won't be a mess that I'll have to clean up."
Soun wept for his friend and the suffering that he had endured.
"Don't worry, my friend. The sacrifice was worth it, I assure you. Ranma is a fighter without peer. I believe that the master would be little challenge for him," Genma said proudly.
Soun's weeping stopped and his jaw hit the table. "Surely you're joking, Saotome," he finally managed to say.
Genma shook his head. "It's the truth—" An explosion from the back yard drew their attention.
Ranma smiled in appreciation. Using very little hot and cold chi, Nabiki had demolished one of the large rocks that lined the koi pond. "Good idea. Mind if I try?"
Nabiki nodded her assent and was about to hand him her wakizashi when he turned towards another rock and called out her trademark "Fire and Ice!" Using his hands instead of blades for focus, he duplicated the attack perfectly, getting similar results.
"How did you do that?! It took weeks to just get mine to move!"
Ranma smiled sheepishly. "I've had some experience with using different temperature chi, but I have to admit that yours is better than mine."
Nabiki seemed slightly appeased and asked, "Would you teach me how to use my chi better before the challenge?"
"What challenge?" Something bad, he knew.
"You mean that you don't know?"
"About the challenge to our families by the Hibikis, Kunos, and Kumons. It's been planned for years." She stumbled and fell on her ass while trying to get away from Ranma's battle aura. The growl that came from his throat made Nabiki shudder.
Genma and Soun had been spying on the pair ever since the sound of Nabiki's chi attack interrupted their conversation.
"Oh, shit," Genma whispered. He slowly began to creep towards the front door.
"You didn't tell him?" Soun couldn't believe that his friend had with held such important information from his son.
"I was meaning too, but… Well, it never came up." He was halfway to the exit.
"What's this I hear about a big challenge?" Ranma appeared in front of his father. His battle aura was gone but the air of menace around him remained. Genma rose several inches from the floor and began floating towards the back door. Ranma grinned evilly when he saw the expanding yellow stain in his father's white gi. "Looks like you need a bath." Then with a flick of his wrist he sent the trembling man into the koi pond.
Behind him the Tendo family watched in morbid fascination as Genma-chan sputtered and splashed around in the water. Kasumi dropped the dish she had been drying in surprise when the girl rose from the water and flew through the air to land in front of Ranma.
"Pop. Explain. Now."
The girl fainted.
Soun had gathered the courage to run out of the house and grab his friend before the boy could do any damage. Now Ranma was sitting in the dojo with the three Tendo sisters who made sure to keep their distance from Ranma
"The challenge to our families goes back to when our fathers were training under their old master, Happosai. He was an evil and perverted man, and in their travels he angered many people. When they came looking for him, instead of settling the conflicts himself, he promised his students' children as compensation. Neither of our fathers knew about the arrangement until I was born. Then the families Happosai made the deal with all showed up and demanded me and any other children our families would ever have. Our fathers managed to convince them to wait until we were all at least sixteen before they would return, and then they would have to defeat all the children before they could be taken," explained Kasumi.
"Oh, boy, am I going to make somebody suffer for this. Major, big time suffering."
"Not Daddy!" blurted out Akane.
"No, they actually managed to do something right. I'm talking about Happosai and anyone planning on making us slaves or something."
Akane and Kasumi both went to bed early. Seeing Ranma so casually throw his father around like a rag doll without moving had spooked them both badly. Nabiki was intrigued and stayed behind in the dojo with Ranma.
"Ranma, what did you do to your dad?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" he countered with false innocence.
"Don't try to kid a kidder. What did you do to him? It wasn't chi. Do you have some kind of mental power?"
"Mental power, what's that?"
"You know, telekinesis."
"Never heard of that." Ranma shrugged, dismissing the whole idea.
"Then what did you do?" Her patience was wearing thin. She loved solving mysteries, and Ranma was a mystery.
Ranma hesitated for several minutes, not knowing how to explain. Finally he asked, "Do you believe in magic?"
Nabiki arched her eyebrows. "How could I not, after seein' your father's curse in action? … Are you saying that you used magic on him?" Nabiki's eyes were very saucer-like.
Ranma nodded, waiting for Nabiki to call him crazy or a liar. when neither were forthcoming he said, "I've been a sorcerer for almost half a year now."
"You mean like the ones you see in the manga?" Like when he had explained his father's curse, Nabiki could tell that he was being truthful.
"I guess. I've never looked at any of them; never had the time or money to waste," replied Ranma a bit bitterly.
Her eyes lit up. "Well, we'll just have to fix that." Without giving Ranma a chance to protest, she grabbed his hand and dragged him out the dojo and into the house, then up to her room.
"What are you doing?" Ranma surveyed the room for possible exits and found the window to be large enough for a quick escape if necessary.
"Since the challenge isn't for a few more weeks, you'll be staying here. We can't train all the time and I'm sure that you'll like manga."
"Um… Okay. If you say so."
The next morning Ranma and Nabiki both came down the stairs bleary eyed and partially asleep.
Kasumi grabbed hold of them each by an arm. "Akane's cooking, so go back upstairs until the takeout gets here."
Nabiki was instantly awake and returning to her room. The urgency of her actions penetrated the dense fog in Ranma's brain, waking him up well enough to run after her.
Back in Nabiki's room, Ranma asked, "What's wrong?"
"You don't understand. The last time anybody ate Akane's cooking, they were in the hospital for a week. One home economics teacher that ate it ended up with permanent kidney and liver damage."
Ranma summed it all up in one word. "Wow."
"Don't worry about it, though. Kasumi's got it taken care of. So why don't I show you some anime?"
"Sure." Ranma already had several ideas for new chi attacks and was planning to teach some of them to Nabiki if he could.
After a breakfast of croissants and fruit, Ranma was informed that he would be attending school with Akane and Nabiki. He fought it until Kasumi insisted, causing his will to disintegrate. Now he was walking on the fence with Nabiki while Akane stuck to the sidewalk.
"I can't believe that anyone does that besides you, Nabiki," commented Akane about them walking on the fence along the sidewalk.
"Balance practice," replied Ranma and Nabiki simultaneously.
"Scary," murmured Akane to herself.
"When we get to school, Ranma, there are going to be a lot of ninjas trying to kill us. You can help us take care of them if you want," Nabiki told Ranma.
"Trying to kill you? Why?" He never knew that school could be that interesting.
"They work for Tatewaki Kuno, a member of one of the families that we have to fight next month. He's as crazy as a loon and has decided to finish us before the designated time. Since his dad is so rich, no one has done anything about it."
"What?!" Ranma nearly fell from the fence. "Doesn't that violate the agreement?"
"It should, but that pervert owns this whole district. He can get away with anything," answered Akane. He didn't want to kill her like he did Nabiki. No, he wanted his own personal sex slave.
Ranma shook his in disbelief. His life was just getting weirder and weirder. "How long has this been going on?"
"A few weeks. We haven't got hurt yet, but we've come close."
"How good a fighter is he?" It ended today. One way or another, it ended.
"No one's ever seen him fight and we can never get to him to find out, not with all those damned ninjas," Nabiki replied. The school was just up ahead.
Ranma saw the school and said, "They're mine!" Then he jumped over Nabiki and sprinted at incredible speed towards the school gates. The Tendo sisters were left in his dust.
Ranma came running through the gates with his senses at their maximum. With a single massive vertical leap, he rose ten meters into the air, then stuck there (That Dragonball cartoon really was educational). He raised one hand in the air above his head and pointed the other, palm flat, towards the ground.
The majority of Furinkan High School's student body were gathered at various windows, prepared for another spectacular fight between Kuno's Ninja squad and the two Tendos. When a boy came running into the courtyard they assumed from his Chinese clothes that he was an exchange student late for registration. When he jumped in the air and stayed there they assumed he was a demon or other supernatural creature. By the time that he began raining lightning down on every concealed ninja within the school walls, they were already on their way to the basement bomb shelter.
Nabiki and Akane arrived just in time to see dozens of rope-like bolts of lightning come crashing down into the trees and various slightly unusual patches of grass. Several thuds were heard as unconscious dozens of ninja fell from trees and exploded from foxholes. Only when the light show ended did they see the source of the power: Ranma. He floated gently to the ground and pretended to be wiping dust from his hands.
Nabiki and Akane couldn't manage to make their legs work.
"Foul sorcerer! How dare you interfere in this honorable struggle between the Kuno and Tendo families." From his out-of-date samurai robes Kuno drew two gleaming katana. "Now taste the power of the mighty Tatewaki Kuno, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High!" Both blades began to glow and were soon white hot. "Have at thee!!"
Ranma noticed the wires leading from the hilt of each sword and assumed they were somehow the cause for their heat. "Heh, this is pathetic," Ranma said smugly. When Kuno was only a few feet away, Ranma's form blurred for an instant, then there were two of him, then they split forming four. The process continued until there were three dozen copies of Ranma running in various patterns around the delusional kendoist.
Kuno stopped dead in his tracks when Ranma split. He stood defiantly when they all began to taunt him and mock his sanity. He snarled in rage when they questioned his honor. But through it all he stood his ground. He even stood while the copies of his enemy tore apart his robes, leaving him all but naked in front of his peers.
To be continued.
Author's notes: I may finish this eventually, but it'll be a while. I'd just finished reading "Faith of The Fallen" (book six, I think, of the Sword of Truth) and was pissed off at how much of a wimp Richard was for most of the book… and this chapter just sorta happened.
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