A Ranma ½ story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Author's notes: This is getting kind of ridiculous I guess. This is another fic that I never intended on posting, but I changed my mind and, well, here it is.
With a pop of displaced air, Ranma appeared a few feet above the surface of the pool. But instead of falling in, he touched down gently on the crystal clear water and walked to solid ground without ever causing a ripple.
<So this is the place?> asked a voice in Ranma's head.
<Yeah. I'd hate to see what a mage could do with access to this place,> Ranma answered.
<Maybe we should get some of the stuff,> another voice, this one female, purred.
<I don't want anything to do with Jusenkyou. It took three Archmages to get rid of that damned curse, and they charged an arm and a leg.>
<Heads up, boss!>
Ranma turned around quickly and saw a fat Chinese man running towards him.<Don't worry Morrin. He's harmless.>
"Oh, sir, how you do that? Never, never seen happen before. Don't I know you?" he asked. The guide was sweating profusely from his short exertion.
"It was just a trick." Ranma waved the matter off. “Do you know where I could get some supplies, and maybe a place to stay for the night?"
Still confused, the guide stammered, “Yes s-sir. A-Amazon village few miles down trail." He pointed out the trail, which was really nothing more than a worn path in the grass.
"Thanks. By the way, have you seen a man with a panda curse recently?"
"Oh, no sir. He not been back since cursed. Three years now."
"Thanks again." Ranma bowed slightly and set off down the trail towards the village. Amazons weren't so bad; he'd met a few in his travels with his master.
It was a little less than an hour when he finally reached the clearing that separated the village from the surrounding forest. The village was walled, he noticed. There were also regularly spaced towers along its length.
<Sorta like back home,> commented Morrin.
<A little, but remember, this is home now. We won't be leaving.>
<Is it really like you told us, darling? No magic and always peaceful?> Morgan asked wistfully.
Ranma didn't even mention the 'darling' comment. She'd been calling him that ever sense he created her. Morrin's 'boss' was much more tolerable. <Sure is. Unless it's changed while I was away.>
<I don't know why she wants a peaceful existence. It's just no fun without a fight every so often.>
<And what happens if darling gets killed? With no magic on this world, he wouldn't be able to be resurrected. What would happen to us?> argued Morgan.
<All right, you two. Keep it to yourselves.> The bickering disappeared from his mind, but Ranma could still feel their telepathic communication. Before stepping into the clearing, Ranma sent his armor, the only obvious magical item he possessed, away. Not even a minute passed before lookouts in the towers had spotted Ranma and sent a party of warriors out to meet him.
An attractive purple-haired woman led the group. The rest of the warriors were younger, almost children really. She spoke harshly to him in Chinese and Ranma told her in Japanese that he didn't understand her. “Shampoo want know why man trespass on land of Joketsuzoku Amazons," she eventually replied in broken Japanese.
"I was just looking for a place to purchase supplies. The Jusenkyou Guide directed me here." Okay, these Amazons were a bit less polite than the ones he had met.
"You go to Jusenkyou. Is you cursed?" demanded Shampoo.
"No, not anymore." Behind Shampoo, whispering broke out among the younger girls. One of them must have understood him.
"You break curse?" she asked, with a slight pleading in her voice.
"I paid some people and they got rid of it for me." Shampoo must have a curse herself.
"You come with Shampoo." She gestured sharply towards a pair a girls and said something to them. Nervously, they took a coil of rope from another girls pack and began walking towards Ranma.
With a bit of concentration, Ranma caused their rope to burst into flame, while carefully avoiding burning the girl carrying it. She screamed, threw the rope down like it was a live snake, and drew her sword from a scabbard across her back. She held it in front of her as if to shield herself from Ranma. Shampoo and the other Amazons were staring at the burning rope with a good amount of fear in their eyes. From the flames rose a hissing cobra. They all screamed and ran, except for Shampoo. She kept herself still and took an offensive stance with her maces in hand, though they trembled badly. A bit overdone, but quite effective.
"Sh-Shampoo not afraid of Magic Man," she boasted, but her skin was dead white with fright.
"There's no reason to be. I won't hurt you. I'll even leave if you wish," replied Ranma gently.
"No, Shampoo honor demand take you see great-grandmother."
Ranma shrugged and started walking down the dirt road that led to the main gate.
<Nicely done, boss.>
<That bimbo better keep her hands to herself.>
<So I take it that you two worked your little spat out?> asked Ranma wryly.
<I let her win,> Morrin whispered to him.
<I heard that!> Morgan screeched telepathically. They both withdrew into their own minds so he wouldn't hear them.
Ranma almost laughed, but decided it would only disturb his 'escort'. The six young Amazons had caught up to him and were spread out on either side of him. Shampoo paced him a few feet to his right. They all eyed him like he was a demon or something. It was really going to suck if he got that reaction everywhere he went. “Sorry I scared you," he told her when they were only a few feet from the open gate.
"Shampoo, not scared," she snapped angrily.
Ranma made placating gestures and said, “Okay."
Cologne surveyed the warriors that stood before her. They were all a few years older than Shampoo, and some were even more arrogant than her self-possessed great-granddaughter. Unfortunately arrogance was poor fuel for chi. The only one among them who currently had the ability to learn to project her chi was in the later stages of pregnancy, and she couldn't be asked to risk her baby for instruction that she could just as easily get in a couple months. “You are dismissed," she told them.
They rushed from the practice yard and out from under Cologne's disapproving gaze. Before she herself could leave, Shampoo, along with her assigned group of students came around the corner of the armory. They led a man, obviously Japanese, who they all avoided looking at. Even Shampoo's eyes tightened and her muscles tensed when she looked his way.
>What have we here, great-granddaughter?< she asked the girl.
>This man claims to have broken a curse that he acquired at Jusenkyou. When Ling Ling and Lung Lung attempted to restrain him, he used magic to ignite the rope. Then the flame became a cobra.<
Cologne glanced warily at the young outsider. He was paying them no attention, instead, he watched as a team of men labored to set the heavy stone column in place that was going to be the main support of one of the new defense turrets. With a loud crack, the pulley system became a whirlwind of activity as the thick rope snapped. Dozens of men, with their weight no longer countered, fell to the ground. Men began screaming. The pillar was falling directly towards a group of fallen workers. Cologne cursed silently. There was no time to summon up enough chi to deflect the falling column. Many fine Amazons would be widowed this day. A split second before the men met their fate, though, Cologne watched as the column came to a dead stop in mid-air and slowly righted itself. There were startled exclamations among those who had seen the miracle, but Cologne ignored them all, choosing instead to look at the outsider. Only a few hops on her staff were required to put her next to him. “Thank you," Cologne said. "We are in your debt."
"Not really. I was just doing my duty." Luckily, no one seemed to realize that Ranma had been the one to save the men. He'd really have a situation on his hands.
"Well then, young Mage, welcome to Joketsuzoku. I am Cologne." Much to Cologne's chagrin, Ranma was laughing slightly.
Ranma saw the expression on Cologne's face and hurriedly said, “Sorry. It's just that you called me a mage." He broke out in another fit of laughter. “I’m about as much a mage as you are."
"Well then, what are you?" Slim chance that she would get a straight answer out of him.
"A psionicly endowed martial artist," answered Ranma mysteriously. He had never let people think of him as a psionicist. Not many people trusted them. An extraordinary fighter they did trust.
She was right. “Pardon me for my ignorance, but could you tell me what it means to be 'psionicly endowed'?"
"That's really just a fancy way of saying that I do stuff with my mind. If you want, I'll explain in detail to you later, but right now I believe that my services are needed." He was already moving towards a cluster of people as he finished answering her.
What an amazing thing. If it was true, she simply had to bring him into the tribe. An army of warriors capable of using their minds to fight would be priceless in the times to come. Cries of wonder snapped her out of her daydream. The boy was bent over one of the men who had been injured by the rope as it snapped. When she arrived at the scene, Cologne saw what had excited her people. Conditioner, Shampoo's father, was the injured man, and even as she watched, the ugly gash across his bare chest that had created a pool of blood on the ground beneath him was closing up. The flesh was slowly knitting itself back together and all Ranma was doing was holding Conditioner's hand.
When the wound was closed and the ribs had been set back in place Ranma lingered a moment more, carefully repairing a punctured lung. He stood up and saw that Cologne was behind him. “I did what I could for him, but he's lost a lot of blood."
Cologne nodded and said, >Take him to his home and see that he is taken care of.< To Ranma she said, “I believe that now would be a good time for that explanation."
"… After he kicked me into the spring, I was a bit homicidal. I wasn't looking where I was going and fell into another spring. The next thing I knew, I was laying in someone's bed without any clothes on. I freaked out again when I realized I was still a girl and started breaking things. By the time I calmed down, I had put down every soldier in the place, and two mages. People were panicking and stuff, so I tried to slip away, but this old man showed up and attacked me. He attacked my mind. It was my will against his for almost an hour, then one of the soldiers woke up and knocked me out from behind. When I woke up the next time, I was chained to a wall in the dungeon. That same old man was there and he was smiling at me. I figured it was because I was naked. But Phelps, that was his name, told me that he was a psionicist and that he knew what had happened to me. Turns out that he probed my mind while I was unconscious. After that, Phelps explained that I had a remarkably strong psionic potential and asked me to be his student, and I agreed. It took a few weeks to find a mage that could tell me anything about the curse, so at least I could be a guy again. The whole planet was at war, so the rest of the story is just a long series of battles." Ranma went on to tell her of some of his adventures.
Cologne was almost overwhelmed by Ranma's story. She could tell that he was sincere and honest, but what he had told her was incredible. “How was the curse removed?"
"It took three powerful mages to finally break it," answered Ranma. He yawned loudly and said, “I’ve haven't slept in the last few days. If you could find me a bed…"
Cologne led him through the sleeping village to the small house set aside for emissaries from other villages. She left him and crept back to her own home for the night. She found Shampoo inside waiting for her.
>Is it true what they're saying, great-grandmother? Did the outsider really save my father?<
>Yes child, he did.<
Shampoo climbed out of the heavily-cushioned chair she had been sitting in and said, >I treated him badly. I must apologize. Where is he, great-grandmother?<
>Sit down for a minute.< When Shampoo was seated, she continued, >Have you thought of settling down, maybe raising children of your own?<
Shampoo's eyes widened in realization. >You can't mean…< She sputtered for a while. >He isn't even a warrior. He couldn't defeat me without his magic.<
>I'm not saying that you should challenge him, but I think you would be surprised at his prowess as a warrior. What I am suggesting is that you get to know Ranma. He would be an invaluable addition to the tribe. He's intelligent and strong…<
Shampoo tuned Cologne out as she rattled on about this Ranma's good points. She'd tried the same thing when that Kumon boy came through the village the year before. He'd had very powerful martial arts techniques and they would be invaluable to the tribe, of course. Now another impressive man was in her great-grandmother's sight. When Cologne finished, Shampoo promised to talk with Ranma and left for her own home.
Ranma woke up instantly upon hearing Morgan's scream. <Jeez, what's the emergency?> he asked groggily.
<Nothing much, boss. There's just a few dozen Amazons outside waiting for you. Morgan scanned a couple, and, well… I'll let her explain.>
<They all want to marry you! Every last one of them!>
<Morrin, is she serious?>
<Afraid so, boss. Their custom is to marry the man who can defeat them in combat.>
Ranma groaned in dismay. So much for a little peace and quiet.
<They can't have you, darling! We're soul mates!>
<Okay, Morgan, don't have a fit. I won't fight any of them, promise,> assured Ranma. He threw back the covers and climbed out of bed. His black pants and tunic appeared on him, along with his boots. Morrin and Morgan had already transported themselves onto his arms. The gauntlets were his most powerful creations. They were also a bit free-spirited, but he wasn't complaining. They'd saved his life a number of times.
As he stepped out onto the small porch, Ranma was assaulted by a wave of cheers. He heard several formal challenges in carefully memorized Japanese. Before he could find an escape route, though, an angry Amazon shoved her way through the crowd and rounded on the horde. It took her very little shouting to disperse them. He jumped down the steps and said, “Thanks Shampoo, I owe you one."
"No thank Shampoo. Shampoo bring to great-grandmother, that all."
Ranma shrugged off the rude Amazon's behavior and followed her to Cologne's house.
"I don't plan on getting married any time soon, Cologne," Ranma told her.
Cologne didn't react, simply asking, “How did you learn of our marriage law?"
Ranma held out either gauntleted arm and answered, “Each of these is alive. I created them. One of them woke me up and told me about the Amazons outside and the other told me about the law."
Cologne decided to ask about his claim later and said, “The other elders must have set their sights on you. To have one such as you in their family would greatly increase their political power in the Council. With times as they are, this could be very bad."
"Times as they are? What does that mean?"
"I'm afraid that you would have been better off not returning."
"Cologne, what are you talking about?"
"The Phoenix Tribe and the Musk Dynasty are preparing to go to war. The Amazon nation will surely be caught in the dispute."
"No offense, but how does that affect me? I could leave at any time."
"You could, but it would do no good. For over four thousand years, before my people even came to live here, Jusendo has exerted its power on the world. Every major conflict in this valley is magnified unaccountably in the rest of the world. As far as we can tell, from various sources, no less than a week passes after the fighting starts before a much larger fight begins elsewhere. Then when it stops, the outside world soon follows."
Ranma collapsed back into a chair. As far as he could tell, he had several options. Leave immediately and try to find his parents, hopefully keeping them safe. Try to stop a war. Choose a side and use his power to end the fighting sooner. None seemed all that feasible except for choosing a side. “How much time until it begins?"
"The Oracle has Seen the first battle occurring during a blizzard. The first snows won't come for six months at the earliest, and seven at the latest."
"Which side has the advantage? The Phoenix or the Musk?"
She realized what Ranma was leading to, but answered anyway. “There is no definite answer to that question. Herb, the Musk King, is the descendent of a Ki dragon. His mastery of chi rivals my own, but he can produce much more than me. Saffron, the king of Phoenix Mountain, is an immortal phoenix. Any damage done to him heals almost instantly, and his control over fire is absolute."
"And what of the Amazons?"
"We hold the most defensible territory and have greater numbers than either side alone. My fellow elders and I are surpassed only by the rulers of our enemies, but will most likely be the first singled out for death."
It didn't sound good. The Musk and Phoenix could keep a conflict going for a while. The Amazons would only make things worse. “What are they like? Their personalities, I mean."
Cologne chuckled. One point for her side. “Both are irrationally arrogant and quite foolish as rulers. It's only the extreme fear their subjects have of them that hold the kingdoms together."
How did he know that Japan would even be involved in the fighting? They weren't exactly that well prepared for a war. Then again, that would make an invasion that much easier. Several minutes passed as Ranma thought out a course of action. During this time Cologne showed no signs of impatience. “What about negotiations?"
She couldn't help but laugh. “Ever heard the saying, ‘Don’t kill the bearer of bad news'? You can be assured that anyone attempting diplomacy will not live beyond bridging the question."
It wasn't really too late to just teleport back. He still had that castle near the beach. So what if he had to deal with an overenthusiastic thief every so often? Was a few years of rest and relaxation so bad?
"I'm sure that Herb or Saffron would be very generous to an ally with your unique talents."
Ranma snapped, “I’m not a mercenary! I do what I think is right, and if I had to help one of them to save lives, I would."
"Believe me, I understand," Cologne assured calmly. “I, however, believe that you don't fully understand the situation. According to the Oracle, this will be the last of the wars. By the time the fighting stops, there won't be enough of any one people to refer to them as such. Carrying over to the world as a whole…"
Really bad time to come home. Especially with Armageddon approaching. “We’ve got a lot of work to do," he finally said. “And I'm gonna need some stuff. I'll make a list." Before Cologne could speak, Ranma teleported back to his temporary quarters.
>This is ridiculous!< exclaimed one of the elders. >I refuse to grant the outsider's request!<
Cologne sighed in frustration. Ti Xu and her supporters were arguing against Ranma's plan simply because she supported it. >Why? Ranma has already constructed a solid stone wall twice as high as we ourselves were planning, and he doubled the enclosed area. Now we'll be able to shelter all of our people and those of the smaller villages throughout the valley. The weapons he proposes to create would give us a chance at a victory we could not have previously hoped for.< Hopefully they would see reason.
>Already our young ones are being swayed toward his ideas. The men no longer believe they are inferior. If we allow him to create these powerful weapons, what is to stop him from turning against us?<
>That's farfetched even for you, Ti Xu. Ranma has proven himself honorable. So what if he brings about social reform? We need to change if we are to survive.<
>We've survived three thousand years without changing our ways. Why should we now?< one of the younger supporters of Ti Xu asked.
>Who among you honestly believe that the Amazon Nation will survive the coming war? The Oracle has foreseen our destruction, but that was before Ranma returned to this plane. Now her Sight is blurred and confused. That means that there is hope. The future can be changed.<
Eventually, Cologne's persuasive argument won enough of the Council over to allow commission of the needed materials. She did have to compromise with the elders from the other Amazon villages. If they survived the coming conflict, the villages would each be given an equal share of Ranma's creations. Cologne went to find Ranma to tell him the good news. She found him in the main practice yard with Mousse. Ever since Ranma had unlocked the blind boy's 'wild talent' as he called it, Mousse had been his shadow. Now for short periods of time Mousse could overcome his handicap with several extra sensory abilities. That was one of her only reservations. Ranma had discovered that nearly every male in the village had these wild powers, some of them multiple ones. But only two Amazon warriors had been found to possess wild powers. Now she had a supernatural army, just of the wrong gender. As she neared the pair, a ball of fire erupted from Mousse's hand and destroyed a nearby straw dummy.
"Way to go, Mousse!" cheered Ranma.
That wasn't one of the powers Mousse had, Cologne was sure. “How?" she asked Ranma.
"Mousse is my first student on Earth. I've begun instructing him in mastering his psionic potential," Ranma answered. Mousse had turned out to be a pretty likable guy once that obsession with Shampoo had been eliminated.
"Are there any others that could learn?"
"A fair number of the men, but I'm gonna be too busy to teach them."
There was no helping it. “The Council has agreed to your plan. Beginning tomorrow, you'll be able to start. Good day, Ranma, Mousse." She hopped away. There were still numerous preparations to be made and time seemed to be slipping away.
When Cologne was gone Ranma reached into his pocket and fished out a plain gold ring and handed it to Mousse. “Here, take this. It's like a psionic battery. When your own grow weak, just draw from it. I've got several of them, so you can keep that one."
Mousse slipped it on and gasped. “So much power."
"Just remember that it takes just as long for it to recharge as you or me, but there's a whole lot more to charge."
"No one's ever given me anything like this." Mousse grabbed and shook Ranma's hand fiercely.
"Don't let them push you around so much, and we'll call it even. Now let's get back to work."
The weeks flew by for Ranma, as he spent every day empowering weapons for the Amazons and making receptacles to power them. He focused his efforts on giving them destructive power. These would be placed atop the walls to aid in repelling attacks. The personal weapons to be given to the most skilled warriors of the tribe came next. Ranma allowed the warriors to choose what they wanted their weapon to possess. Nearly all of them chose the Metapsionic discipline when he explained to them the well-balanced offensive and defensive capabilities it granted. The more skilled elders, however, who already possessed great power with their chi, chose Disciplines that best suited their own styles and personalities.
Mousse proved to be nearly as fast a learner as Ranma himself had been, and in the six months that he had been his student had advanced greatly. He had eventually taken up the task of teaching psionics to the men in the village with the potential to learn. As their power and numbers grew, so did their belief in equality. Then, shortly before the foreseen time of the first battle, an attempt on Ranma's life was made by an elder while he was exhausted from completing the last of the planned weapons, but Morrin managed to teleport him to safety before the chi strike could kill him. Mousse and the Guard as the psionic men called themselves, took it upon themselves to hunt down the assassin. It was a simple matter for Mousse to determine Ti Xu as the assassin. When the Guard razed her house to the ground with the elder in it, a civil war nearly broke out. It was Cologne who convinced the Council that it would only weaken them before the main conflict that they had all been preparing for. Also it was obvious to all of the ancient women that such a dispute could swing either way now that nearly every man could bring the power of his mind to bear.
Winter came and with it the first snow of the season. By then the expanded walls of Joketsuzoku were nearly bulging with people. Warriors drilled constantly and mounted patrols extended for dozens of miles beyond the Amazon borders. Word soon came of mobilization of troops from both Phoenix Mountain and the Musk Dynasty. Proof that Jusendo still exerted its will on the world came when a villager with a hand radio reported to the Council that tension between Russia and America had been reported and that their troops were also mobilizing.
One day while Ranma was making a final inspection of the weapon emplacements along the walls and conversing with the intelligences that inhabited them, riders appeared from the newly expanded clearing around the city. It could no longer be called a village, not with over two thousand people living in it. It took only a few seconds to recognize who rode on the horses. Ranma nearly fell from the wall when they came into view. He ordered the gates opened and made sure that none of the overzealous Amazon archers posted on the wall would loose their arrows. With that taken care of, he leapt from the wall and sprinted out to someone he never thought he'd see again.
"Miserable beast," complained his father as he climbed down from behind the Amazon rider.
"Daddy, I'm gonna get you for this one day," an angry girl with long black hair and a scowl on her pretty face said to another man who was struggling out of his own position on a horse.
"Hear that, Saotome? My own daughter hates me! Waaahhh!"
"Pull yourself together, Tendo. These savages mean business."
"I wouldn't talk like that around them if I were you," commented Ranma wryly after making a perfect landing in front of them.
"Ranma?! You're alive!!! Oh, joyous day!" Genma ran to his son and embraced him warmly. “I can't believe it's really you!"
"Jeez, Pop, you don't have to freak out like that. It's embarrassing." Ranma pried himself from his father's grip. >News?< he asked, using the small bit of Chinese he'd picked up from Mousse and the others.
The Amazon squad leader who had found his father answered, >No, sir.<
>Report to elders,< he told her. After the half dozen riders had ridden through the gates he said, "Come on, Pop, before someone decides to shoot you." He turned and led them into the city.
Behind him Akane snorted, "Hmphh. The nerve of him, ordering us around like that."
"Now, now, Akane. He seems to be in charge, and we don't know what those dreadful women would have done to us if Ranma hadn't shown up when he did."
"This is soooo stupid. I could have taken them easy," she snapped.
"Don't count on it," Ranma said. They had just entered through the gates and Ranma's self-appointed bodyguards were forming up around him. “Every single Amazon is exceptionally skilled in martial arts, and all those on patrol are at least moderately versed on chi manipulation. Besides, if you had beaten any of them, their honor would demand that they kill you."
Akane found herself at a loss for words. “They’re already talking to each other," Genma whispered to Soun. Soun nodded happily.
Ranma led them to his home and escorted them inside. Once they had all taken off their heavy coats and seated themselves, Ranma asked, “Pop, what are you doing here?"
"Never mind that. Now that I've found you, we can all go back to Japan."
Ranma shook his head. “No can do. There's about to be a war, and I'm leading the Amazon forces."
"You hear that, daddy?! You brought me into a war zone to find this stupid boy!"
"Now listen here, boy! As your father and Master of the Saotome-Ryu, I'm ordering you to return to Japan with us!" exclaimed Genma.
Ranma stood up and loomed over his father. “Now listen here, Oyaji. I'm my own man now, and you can't tell me what to do. There are a lot of things going on that you don't understand, and only when they're taken care of will I consider going back with you."
Genma sighed melodramatically. “I hate to do this, son," Ranma tensed, "but I'm afraid I must."
To be continued.
Author's notes: Send C&C to email@example.com
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