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Chapter 4

A Ranma ½ story by

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.

Only after Ranma had put Satori to bed and he'd returned downstairs did he realize exactly what he had done. He was alone with a pretty girl in the house of his mother. That would have meant possible embarrassment to any other person with even remotely normal parents, but Ranma knew his mother well enough to know that he was royally F***ed if she found out he had a girl over. Not that she would be upset. No, far from upset, she would be overjoyed. Nodoka would be so happy that her son had proved his manliness that she would almost certainly let Akane know, if not the whole harem.

As he tried to think of a solution to his newest problem that didn't involve leaving Satori to the Nanami woman, Ranma began to pace the living room nervously.

Ranma, may I make a suggestion? Chiron asked much more calmly thought he should have. After all, the guy carrying him around had only a few hours to live.

Suggest away, Ranma replied.

Why not tell your mother the truth?

Ranma considered the advice. It could work. Why hadn't he thought of it? It was so obvious. Wait a minute! How did you know what I was thinking about? Can you read my thoughts? he asked his companion suspiciously.

Chiron coughed mentally. Um, not really. It's just that you're screaming your thoughts out so loudly that I'm starting to get a headache.

Can you get a headache?

Oh, yes. As of right now, it's getting very unpleasant.

His worries momentarily forgotten, Ranma asked, How can you have a headache? You're a computer.

Sounding almost hurt, Chiron answered, I am not a *computer*. I am an artificially sentient biologically active neural processor. And I get headaches from your mental stress, the same as you would if I wasn't soaking it all up.

Scientific gibberish Ranma didn't understand, but bullshit he did. So you're just a very, very advanced computer, heh?

The mental silence lasted for several long moments, until finally, Chiron said, Yeah, pretty close.

Ranma didn't have time to gloat, mainly because he was busy panicking. Someone was at the front door, and the sound of a key turning in the lock seemed to stab into his ears. He wasn't ready!

Nodoka opened the front door and picked up her bag of groceries. She was determined to fix Ranma the best meal of his young life, as a welcome home present. She still couldn't decide whether or not Genma should be allowed to attend. Kicking the door shut behind her, Nodoka followed it up with slipping her shoes off, then headed for the kitchen. As she passed the living room she saw Ranma sitting on the sofa. He was busy gnawing on a finger. Ranma?

Nodoka dropped the bag when she realized her son was home. She rushed over to him and gave him a motherly hug and kissed him on the cheek.

"What are you doing home so early, Son? However did you get in?" she asked after turning him loose

Ranma looked very nervous as he spoke. "Mom, I need to tell you something. It'll sound very strange, and mostly unbelievable, but it's all true." He waited for her approval.

"Of course, Son, you can tell me anything." Sensing that whatever her son had to say may take a while, Nodoka sat down next to him. Maybe he had finally decided to marry and make lots of grandchildren. She would need at least a dozen if she didn't want to die prematurely from extreme boredom in her declining years.

Ranma began with finding Chiron, the changes that had brought, and how he suspected that the cure for his curse had come with it. He went on to tell what Chiron had told him of Nanami and the others working for her, finally finishing his narrative on the subject of Satori.

Ranma was such a manly son. Always looking out for others. Always kept an eye out for the ladies, too. "Where is the poor dear?" Nodoka asked Ranma.

"In the spare bedroom."

"Wait here, Son. I'm just going to make sure she's alright."

Ranma, what were you talking saying about a curse? Chiron asked him after his mother had departed for her meeting with Satori.

It had completely slipped his mind to mention the curse to Chiron. A lot had been going on, and Chiron had been offline when it all happened. Before I found you I used to turn into a girl every time I got splashed with cold water.

A girl. Chiron suddenly burst into fits of laughter. Eventually he calmed down and asked, And you don't have it now?

No, it's gone.

Could you describe the transformation? I assume there was a transformation, not just a changing of bodies?

It was definitely a transformation. My body would shrink, and I always lost a lot of weight. I was weaker, but also faster, and my range decreased a lot. Everything went back to normal whenever I got splashed with hot water.

Almost a minute passed before Chiron's excited answer came to Ranma. During the initial conversion process, after your body had been altered, but before the advanced systems had been anchored to your nervous system, I ran into an energy anomaly. It was most unusual, and was interfering with placing the spatial generators. I couldn't link your energy with the generators because the anomaly acted as a buffer between the two, so I used the already installed gravitational and magnetic capacitors to draw the energy away. Of course the capacitors weren't meant to handle that type of energy, and it all dissipated harmlessly. That must have been related to your curse in some way that I can't determine with the means available to me. It's most fortunate that this happened or the first time you transformed, the technology within you would have retained its normal size while your body shrunk around it. You would have died.

Ranma shuddered as he thought of strange machinery sticking out at odd angles from various places on his female body. At least he wouldn't have to worry about that. Thanks, I guess. You didn't do anything else to me that you don't know the effects of did you?

Well, now that you mention it, I did run into a very small portion or your brain that was highly overactive.


Producing much more energy than necessary, or safe. I chose it as the core of my consciousness since I could substitute any of the functions it performed, and I felt it would be safer to remove the area without highly invasive and dangerous brain surgery.

Couldn't really complain about that. Thanks again.

Nodoka led a much more conscious Satori down the stairs. The girl had a rosy cast to her cheeks and would not make eye contact with Ranma.

"Son, it was very admirable of you to save Satori, but I'm sure that her parents must be worried sick by now," Nodoka said.

"Both my mother and father are out of town, Mrs. Saotome. I've been staying with a friend."

"Well, then, we can't have you put your friend in any danger, or increase that which you are already in. You'll just have to stay with us until your parents return. Then we'll make other arrangements."

"I wouldn't want to be a burden," Satori said quietly.

"Nonsense," Nodoka replied. "You wouldn't be any trouble, I'm sure. Now that that is decided, Ranma will be taking you to your house to gather up some clothes and things."

"Huh?" asked Ranma. His mother hadn't actually invited Satori to stay over at his house?! Sure, he had done it, but Ranma knew he never thought things through all the way unless he was in a fight, so he could be excused for being dumb; but his mother was an adult, she was supposed to make sure this kind of thing didn't happen.

"I was just telling Satori-chan that you were kind enough to offer her an escort home."

Ranma nodded. They were on the opposite side of Nerima, and they probably hadn't started looking for him yet. He wasn't too late. Maybe he could avoid being seen by anyone. He would have to be especially careful around other teenagers. There was no way to tell if they were working for Nabiki.

"Great! Now you take Satori-chan, and I'll go start dinner." She didn't leave either of the teens time to say anything, grabbing up her groceries and scurrying into the kitchen.

Nodoka smiled to herself once she was safely in the kitchen. That girl definitely had a crush on her son. If Satori could just work up the nerve to seduce her son, then Nodoka was sure she could get her son out of the engagements to all those horrible girls! And to think that she had been hoping Akane would marry Ranma. That girl was just plain mean.

"Wow, your mom is…"

"Overbearing?" Satori nodded. "Yeah, I know what you mean. So, where do you live?" Please don't let it been near Furinkan.

Satori gave Ranma the general directions, but stopped abruptly before finishing. "Shara says to forget about directions. She's sending the coordinates and a picture to Chiron so that you can teleport us directly to my house."

Even as she spoke, Ranma was receiving a mental picture of Satori's house and a set of spatial coordinates. It was weird how all he had to do was look at the trio of separate numbers and he knew where he would appear.

Satori, you really need to calm down, Shara chided her. Your heart rate and breathing are very high and your blood is becoming hyper-oxygenated.

Satori couldn't help it. She felt her ears burning red as Ranma put his hand on her shoulder to teleport them to her house. He had to notice that she was almost as red in the face as his shirt.

Ranma made a note to himself to ask his mother is she thought Satori was sick. Satori's face was very red, from a fever, he guessed. There was nothing he could do about it. Besides, now that he could simply teleport them to Satori's house, there was no fear of being found with another girl.

As quickly as the world caved in on itself, it sprang back into its normal, non-warped existence around Ranma and Satori. It was becoming easier, Ranma noted, though it had never really been difficult to teleport. Practice did make perfect after all.

Satori let out a quick gasp, still unaccustomed to the feeling of whatever the process was that allowed Ranma to move without moving. It probably would have been disorienting to him, too, if Chiron hadn't tweaked a few things in his head. That, more than anything, made Ranma nervous. Even though he agreed with Chiron's decision to replace the damaged section of his brain, what would happen if he suddenly had to fight a fire-chucking demigod and he needed a Hiryu Shoten Ha, but he couldn't make them anymore? It had happened before. Ranma dropped the unpleasant thought, choosing instead to gawk at his surroundings.

It was mostly pink.

With lots of fluffy purple stuff.

And lace. Lots of lace.

There were also pictures of guys on the walls. Semi-nude guys.

It was a girl's bedroom!

Ranma screamed then dived under a queen-sized bed seemingly composed of purple ruffles. Just to make sure he wasn't attacked by any carnivorous teddy bears, he readied his distortion field, just in case.

The sound of giggling made Ranma peek out from under an overhanging fall of lace. Satori was giggling girlishly while trying desperately to stifle more raucous laughter. She finally failed and laughed until she fell back into a normal wooden chair, the only pieced of un-hyper-feminine material in the room.

"R-Ranma," Satori wheezed, "what in the world is wrong with you?"

Ranma nervously crawled out from his hiding place. Nothing had attacked him yet, so he was probably safe.

"Well?" She giggled again.

Ranma grumbled at his own behavior when he replayed the whole scene in his mind, once again cursing his father for ever being born, even though he knew the ramifications that the event not occurring would bring. "You promise not to tell?" Ranma asked Satori. She nodded and he continued, "When I was a kid, about six or seven, I guess, Oyaji took me to a carnival that was visiting from America. Well, he found a place with all kinds of scary stuff in it. Then as part of my training, to conquer fear he said, he snuck into the place one night and locked me in one of the rooms. When he turned the lights on I was trapped in a room almost exactly like this one, except there were giant stuffed animals with metal teeth and knife-wielding dolls. The bastard left me in there the whole night."

Satori burst into another fit of giggles.

"You promised," accused Ranma. Okay, he would sure never tell that story to another living soul, especially if it got that reaction.

Satori managed to catch her breath and apologized, "I'm sorry Ranma, I couldn't help myself." She blushed, or was her face already rosy from laughing so hard, and began moving about her room with practiced ease, flowing from one giant walk-in closet on one side of the room, to an equally huge bathroom on the other. Within a minute she had a large duffel bag packed full of necessities absolutely essential to the survival of girls the world around. Then she started packing clothes. This took longer, almost five minutes, and when it was over Ranma had a large bag under on arm and an even larger one slung over his shoulder.

Of course, Satori could have carried them. Like Ranma, she could most likely have lifted a greyhound bus one-handed, but she was used to passing baggage off to ever-accommodating boys, and Ranma was the accommodating type.

"This all?"

"For now, but we may have to make another trip in a couple of days," Satori answered.

Ranma decided not to reply, not wanting to offend a girl who was being nice to him for no reason. It also helped that she was a living weapon. With his free hand he gripped her shoulder lightly and once again teleported them to his home.

"Satori-chan, would you like to help me cook?" She really should establish a good relationship with the girl that she was praying would marry her son.

Satori had just finished unpacking her things in the spare bedroom and was sitting at the kitchen table flipping through a magazine. At Nodoka's question her head snapped up and she got a gleam in her eyes. "I love to cook and I would love to help."

From then on they worked like a team, backing each other up and performing separate tasks that soon brought the bigger picture of the meal into focus.

"So, Satori-chan, what do you think of my son?" Nodoka asked suddenly as the two of them worked together mincing vegetables.

Satori fumbled with the knife and it ran down the back of her pointer finger. Normally she would have had a bad cut requiring several stitches, but Satori wasn't exactly normal now, so the blade glanced off her skin, unnoticed by the older woman. "W-what do you mean, Auntie?" Nodoka had insisted that she be called that.

Without stopping her chopping, Nodoka said, "I know that you like him; it is fairly obvious."

Satori slumped, her whole body going limp. "I must be making a fool out of myself in front of him." She 'eeped' when she realized what she had said.

Nodoka smiled and went on. "Don't worry; my son is almost completely oblivious to anything but a completely direct approach from a girl. He just doesn't pick up on the more obscure signals we women send out."

Satori's face got a very confused look. "You sound like you don't care whether I like Ranma or not, but doesn't he have a fiancée?"

Nodoka smiled again. "Oh, no, dear; Ranma doesn't have a single fiancée. He has four." She stopped, giving Satori time to close her mouth and make her eyes go back to normal size. "It's not by choice that he is betrothed to them, I can assure you, but because of his father's lack of responsibility and honor. The girls are just dreadful, too. One of them is a backward Chinese girl who can barely even speak Japanese, the chef is a cross-dresser, the gymnast is completely insane, and the worst one of all is constantly blaming problems on Ranma and hitting him. So, you see, I would not mind at all if something like a relationship was to form between you and my son."

Luckily, Ranma was nowhere within hearing range of his mother's conversation with his newest acquaintance. He was having a chat with the little voice in his head.

Go over that one more time, Ranma requested.

Exasperatedly, Chiron said, Priziun society is based around the color of a person's skin. There is no discrimination because the culture chose to develop towards its present status millennia ago.

Yeah, yeah, I got all that. I mean go over the color thing.

There are ten naturally occurring skin colors among the Priziun people. Through selective breeding and social isolation between young Priziun, different sets of values and beliefs are indoctrinated into them. White Priziun, for example, are educated almost exclusively in the arts, nurturing their creativity, and forming them into highly skilled artisans. Blue Priziun, like my creator, are given little education beyond mathematics and the sciences. They form the scientific and engineering sector of the populace. Even though occupations are color specific, no one color has any advantage over any other color, meaning that a red Priziun could be brought up like a white one and have the same artistic motivation as a white.

Ranma reminded himself that they were talking about a completely alien society and he couldn't expect them to live like people from earth. What about black?

Black Priziun are trained from an early age to be soldiers, and make up the entirety of the military command structure, Chiron finished, his mental voice clearly betraying his happiness that he would no longer have to explain the complicated and strange, even to him, Priziun way of life.

So that would make me like the leader, or something, Ranma mused to himself, not even aware that he was talking to Chiron.

Chiron laughed weakly before saying, Ranma, you may well be the most capable warrior ever encountered by a Priziun… or Priziun technology, but you are far from being a leader. You have much more maturing to do before such a task falls into your lap.

Ranma took the criticism in good humor, knowing that it was the truth. Okay then, since you're the black cube, does that mean that you could tell the others what to do?

Sure, I could tell them what to do until I'm blue in the face, figuratively, but I have no real authority. Those cubes who have been found by the people similar to you may have developed personalities, like Shara, that respect my decisions. That's all, though.

Nanami leaned back in her leather-upholstered chair, drumming her fingers on the mahogany desktop as she waited impatiently for Leffan to arrive. The glossy red of her long fingernails reflected her mood perfectly. The glow from a myriad of heat lamps mounted above her stained the rest of her and her surroundings blood red. She still hadn't reached capacity yet, despite being in an almost constant state of thermal drain. Tirna assured her, though, that her limit would soon be reached. Her calculations put her maximum capacity at nearly ten billion BTUs. The numbers indicated the fantastic amount of damage she could do if the crystalline emitters in her palms would allow for more than focused beams and intense blasts of infrared energy, but the technology grafted within her body by Tirna was centuries, if not millennia, beyond human duplication, and there was no way to tell what the side effects would be if she tampered with what she didn't understand.

A hazy plane of air formed several meters in front of Nanami's desk, signaling that the wait for Leffan was over. She would have to keep in mind that Germany was in a different time zone when she scheduled the next meeting.

"Hello Nanami," Leffan greeted her in heavily, though passable, accented Japanese.

"Leffan. I take it that the trip went well?" Leffan's ability to create those mysterious gateways of his demonstrated just how advanced the cubes were. Nanami couldn't even begin to wrap her mind, considerable as it was, around the sophistication needed to create stable portals between two places in space.

Leffan shrugged. "I can't complain."

Nanami flipped the switch that controlled the heat lamps and quickly absorbed the excess heat from the room returning it to a more comfortable, less life-threatening temperature. Knowing Leffan, he would have let himself cook before he complained about it. "So, getting down to business, do you have the arms ready for production?"

Leffan nodded and reached his arm into one of those portals of his, no doubt retrieving the desired object from a predetermined table somewhere. When he pulled his arm back his hand held a long bundle of wires, tubing, and microchips. "Like the rest of the armor, the servo-hydraulic hybrid design increases speed and strength by a factor of ten." He laid it on the desk. "The outer plating has to be fitted after the fire-controls are linked to the soldier. The weapons are modular and can be easily exchanged. Presently we have working grenade launchers, flamethrowers, autocannon, and anti-armor rocket launchers. There are also a number of close combat weapons that can be chosen to best suit the soldier."

"Excellent," Nanami grinned. Leffan's people were leftover from the cold war, and they were good at what they did "What about the lasers?"

"My scientists are making progress, but your expectations may be too high. The energy cells can only hold ten charges at the most, and that's pushing past safety tolerances. Now that that's taken care of, we should discuss my expenses on so much R&D, and the agreed upon payment."

Nanami reached into her desk and pulled a large velvet pouch out. It was almost bursting at the seams with its contents. She undid the tie-string holding it closed and passed it to Leffan. "Twenty million in uncut diamonds, as usual."

Leffan deposited the bag of precious stones on the other end of a portal then nodded to his business associate before standing and walking through a portal that ceased to exist as soon as he passed through it.


To be continued.


Chapter 5
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