A Ranma ½ story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Kojiro glared at the police officer's back as the uniformed man wrote him a speeding ticket. It would have to be the one time he had ever broken the speed limit that he got caught. Knowing it was petty and spiteful, and that the man was just doing his job, Kojiro raised his hand, palm toward the officer, and shot a miniscule thorn into him. The officer absently swatted at his back attempting to get rid of a mosquito that didn't exist. It'd be nice to know how many tickets the man could write, when he was so busy scratching at the new rash already developing on him that he couldn't think.
With an almost polite farewell, the officer handed the citation to Kojiro before heading back to his motorcycle. He was already scratching at the place where the thorn had struck.
Nice touch, Jizo commented sarcastically as Kojiro put his Honda into drive and pulled of the roadside.
If he hurried, he could still make it to the tournament. Thanks, Kojiro replied dryly.
It was almost half an hour later when Kojiro pulled into the driveway of his and his parents' home. There were several cars parked alongside the road, and even more bicycles chained to lampposts and the iron bars that made up the front wall of the property. He rushed into the house and up the stairs to his room, retrieved his gi, and leapt out the window. He changed into his gi before landing. Sure enough, as he ran into the huge dojo that his father and three brothers ran, Kojiro saw that the fights had already begun. At least they weren't very far along, he noted; only second dan students.
Now knowing that he wasn't too late, Kojiro calmly made his way through seated and standing audience members to where his family was seated.
"I was worried you wouldn't be gracing us with your presence," Akira, Kojiro's father, said without taking his eyes off the fight between his student and his opponent from a rival school.
"Lighten up, Pop. I had a major exam today, then I got caught in traffic." Kojiro didn't see why they had to have these little tournaments between the three biggest dojo in the district. If they would wait for the yearly Tokyo-wide event, there would be many more competitors and fewer people who knew your students' strengths and weaknesses.
The majority of the afternoon passed, much to Kojiro's chagrin, with the Shotenko dojo winning a little over half of the matches. If he had known that he wouldn't have been fighting for almost three, Kojiro could have taken his time and not gotten a ticket. When it finally came to the end of the competition, Kojiro found himself matched against an arrogant kendoist who spoke in an archaic dialect. Tatewaki Kuno was a newcomer to the fights, with no school, and as such, he had had to fight his way through the more experienced students in order to get a chance at fighting the winning school's champion. Oh, well, it would be worth the trouble if he got to pound a little of that Shakespearean nonsense from the idiot's head.
"Who would challenge the mighty Blue Thunder of Furinkan High, undefeated kendo champion, and dread enemy of the foul Ranma Saotome?"
The fool's babbling caught the attention of several of the instructors and students in the room. Ranma Saotome was a legend in martial arts circles. There were rumors, though with reliable sources, that he had fought and killed a kami in China. The raving also jogged the memory of many present. They had also heard of the countless defeats of a delusional Kendoist at Ranma Saotome's hands. Undefeated indeed, they thought.
In response to Kuno's challenge, Kojiro stood, pulling a bo-staff from a nearby rack of weapons. It was nothing compared to the one he had created using the power granted to him by Jizo, but it would do. "I do," Kojiro said firmly.
Kuno scoffed, "You? They would send a mere boy to do a man's job?"
Kojiro scowled at the idiot. Even if he had managed to beat the others, Kojiro was on another level than Kuno, and he knew. Even before meeting Jizo he could have easily defeated him. It would be harder faking a small amount of exertion during the fight than anything else.
Akira Senior, Kojiro's grandfather, and a judge of the tournament, signaled them to the ring. Once the two warriors, one wielding a bokken and the other a bo, were in place, the elderly man brought his hand down with a chopping motion and called for the fight to begin.
Kuno came rushing at Kojiro from the beginning, attempting to cleave his skull with a vicious overhead blow. Using his bo, Kojiro parried the strike, leaving Kuno open wide open and defenseless as the butt end of the bo crashed into his stomach.
The air exploded from Kuno's lungs with a whoosh, followed by a number of deep, racking coughs. Kojiro pulled back to give his opponent time to recover, something Kuno was very good at since he received countless poundings by at least one Neriman-class martial artist daily.
"I fight on!" Then he renewed his attack with a vengeance, once again rushing Kojiro, heedless of the danger. This time the attack came at Kojiro's side. It was fast and precise, and Kojiro observed, charged with a moderate amount of chi. It was the same technique he used to cut through solid objects with his bo. But used on a person, such an attack was just as dangerous as a blade would be.
"Back off, you idiot. We're not trying to kill each other!" Kojiro shouted as he knocked Kuno's sword upward, making sure his bo had at least as much chi in it as the bokken. This time instead of going for the once again exposed torso, Kojiro swept Kuno's feet out from under him.
Kuno attempted to roll, but a bo planted at his Adam's apple stopped him. Slowly, unbelievingly, he looked down to see Kojiro's staff poised to end his life with a simple thrust.
It wasn't possible! He could not have been defeated! Tatewaki Kuno was unbeatable, the greatest master of the blade ever. But the proof was right before his eyes, staring him in the face. The answer came to him in an epiphany. This so called Shotenko school of Martial Arts was no more than a temple of vile magic. It sickened him to even be within its walls. They were obviously in league with Saotome, using their dark arts to cast doubt into his noble heart. He couldn't allow it!
Kuno ignored the offered hand of assistance and stood on his own. He surveyed the room, looking for an exit. If he surprised them quickly enough, they would not be able to assume their true forms and pursue him into the light of day. With a loud shout of, "I will return!" Kuno bolted. He shoved aside two children and ran out through the shogi.
Kojiro joined in as the entire gathering of martial artists, young and old, laughed hysterically at the 'Blue Thunder's' exit.
"So, Mom, is Oyaji going to be staying here too?" Ranma asked as he sat down to eat, along with Satori and his mother.
"You should have more respect for your father," Ranma shrugged," but yes, he too will be moving back home. It has been almost eleven years since he left."
Ranma sighed a bit regretfully, in a combination of knowing how much he had missed as a child growing up without a mother, and the knowledge that his good-for-nothing father would still be close enough to make his life miserable.
Nodoka served them helpings of rice and stir-fried vegetables first. Ranma, and surprisingly, Satori, made short work of that and the following courses. Nodoka, who was on a diet no one knew about, she did have to keep her figure after all, ate only small portions.
"That was great, Mom, Satori. You really outdid yourselves," Ranma complimented them as he leaned back, patting his stomach contentedly.
"T-thanks, Ranma. Auntie did most of the work, though," Satori said while blushing furiously. Ranma recognized it for what it was now. How could he have missed it? He had seen the same expression, and color, on the faces of countless girls at school when he caught them sneaking glances at him in class. Now he would have to be immensely careful, or somehow, he would end up with another fiancée. That would be bad.
Ranma, you're giving me another headache, Chiron pointed out.
Sorry, the boy muttered. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts, he repeated continuously. Eager to get out from under his mother's approving and fawning gaze, Ranma said, "I'm going to go out back and practice for a little while." It would also allow him to put some distance between himself and Satori.
"That's nice, dear. Don't overdo it, though."
Gratefully, Ranma made his escape.
"Did you see, Satori-chan? He finally noticed you," Nodoka enthused as they put the newly washed dishes away.
"Auntie, I'm not at all good at this kind of stuff." It amazed Satori that she could open up so easily to this strange woman, who it seemed, had latched onto the idea of Ranma marrying her. Just the thought made Satori blush, again.
"You're doing just fine."
"But I'm not doing anything. I just start blushing and stuttering every time he looks at me," Satori admitted glumly.
Nodoka's smile was sly, and only slightly evil. "And that's just what you need to continue doing. My son is accustomed to overbearing girls throwing themselves at him, and he reacts badly to it, mostly by becoming rude and standoffish. So, you see, he's never had a normal-acting girl to form a relationship with."
As Satori stood pondering the revelation, Nodoka dried her hands on a small towel and pulled a cordless phone from the wall. She didn't pay any attention as the woman talked to someone she had called. Satori felt the same odd sensation she now identified as a signal that Ranma was messing around with the forces of nature.
Why don't you go out and talk with him? It also wouldn't hurt if you spent a little time further acquainting yourself with your abilities. Shara's voice broke the silence.
But he'll look at me, then I'll turn into a blushing idiot, Satori all but wailed. Despite information from Nodoka, it just didn't seem natural for a popular guy like Ranma to be attracted to someone as quiet and shy as she was.
I really wish Chiron had programmed me with basic psychology instead of a bunch of useless recipes that don't even apply to the wildlife of this planet, Shara mumbled.
That made Satori laugh. The yellow Priziun, as Shara had told her, were the bureaucrats, doctors, and caretakers of the great planetary libraries. Because of this, and since Shara was meant for a yellow, Chiron had intended to cram as much information into the little yellow cube as possible. Unfortunately, the information download had been interrupted by the attack on the lab. The last subject to be transferred had been Priziun Cuisine.
Hey, it's not funny. If I had those files I might have been able to tell you how to stop making a fool of yourself.
Satori snorted at Shara, and steeling herself, marched into the backyard to meet her fate.
Ease up, Ranma, or you'll destroy it, Chiron advised Ranma.
Ranma was sitting cross-legged in the backyard, floating several inches above the lawn. Levitating slightly above his upraised palms was what used to be a knife. Ranma had liberated it from his mother's kitchen, and after stripping the wooden handle from it, set to work. Using a combination of magnetic and gravitational force, Ranma was slowly compressing and reshaping the former Ginsu. It had started out as little more than a large butcher knife, but now had the privilege of being no thicker than a knitting needle and about a foot long.
Pretty good idea, Chiron. Mom'll probably think that Pop stole the knife to sell for food.
I'm not complaining. Now, for a few moments, double the pressure on it.
Ranma did as he was told, then asked, I know it's good practice, but why am I doing this? I'm not going to be able to use this thing for any useful purposes.
No, you won't, but Satori will, Chiron answered.
How is Satori going to use this? She isn't a fighter, and even if she was, I doubt she could come up with much use for a super hard spike except to throw it. Ranma still hadn't figured out what to do about the girl. She was nice, and beautiful, and she didn't hit or smother him, so she had several good points, but there were the other girls and well…
It isn't to throw, Ranma. Shara requested that you create it so that Satori could more adequately focus her plasma attacks.
Oh, okay. Ranma unfolded from his position and dropped to the ground, intent on giving Satori the spike, or wand, whatever it was.
Sliding open the back door, Ranma found himself face to face with Satori. Her eyes were wide and her cheeks quickly colored. Ranma stepped back, but remained close enough to catch her if she fainted. It had happened before, after all, so he couldn't be too careful.
"Satori, just who I was looking for. Here this is for you." Ranma handed her the spike.
Satori held the spike in her hand, obviously surprised that it weighed so much. "T-thanks, Ranma. It's… nice."
It's nice?! That was all she could come up with?! Although she really didn't know what she was supposed to do with a piece of metal, and had no idea what it was, Satori was flattered by the simple fact that Ranma had given her a gift.
Shara's mental head shaking grabbed Satori's attention. You didn't act like this before you met Ranma. Maybe I can get Chiron to make Ranma stop whatever it is that affects you so strongly. Anyway, that piece of metal in your hands is not a gift. Chiron, at my request, had Ranma to produce it using his power.
A little disappointed that it wasn't from Ranma, but also relieved at the same time, Satori asked, Um, what does it do?
It doesn't do anything. What it *is* is important. That piece of steel is compressed far beyond what human engineering is capable of, and has a much higher a melting point. I'll finally be able to teach you how to do more precise attacks.
Defensively, Satori said, I know how to do everything that your systems are capable of.
That doesn't mean that you do it well, or can't do it better, Shara remarked.
No use arguing the obvious. Satori realized that she had just had a minute long conversation with Shara while she stood in front of Ranma. She shook herself, blinking a couple times to moisten her eyes that sometimes stayed open when she had mental conversations. "Shara was just telling me what it is."
Understanding dawned in Ranma's eyes and he seemed to relax. "That's good. Well, I'm going to go wash up."
Ranma left her on the back porch.
Okay, now that the main distraction is gone, we can get down to business. I want you to focus a very small sphere of plasma at the blunt end, and…
Ranma ran into his mother before he could make it up the stairs.
"I just got off the phone with Tendo-san. He was very worried about you, as was the rest of the family. Kasumi calmed him down long enough to get the phone and I invited them over to visit. Genma is bringing over your and his belongings."
Wordlessly, Ranma nodded and ran up the stairs to his sparsely furnished room. Things had just gone from bad to worse. Another girl was in love with him, a super-powered crazy woman was trying to take over the world, but worst of all was Akane. She would be in the same house as Satori, and she definitely wouldn't miss the look directed at him. She would tear Satori to pieces… Ranma's own thought rebounded of the sides of his skull. Akane had barely been able to hurt him before he met Chiron, and now she couldn't even scratch him. Which translated to Satori, too, being practically immune to Akane's, Ukyou's, and Shampoo's wrath. He didn't know about the chemical side of things, and that was Kodachi's strong point. Come to think of it, the only people he had to worry about would others that had found a cube.
Wow, that just changed things immensely. Even knowing how big a boost he had gotten from Chiron, Ranma had had his new powers for less than a week, and he wasn't fully accustomed to them. It came as a shock to realize that his old enemies and rivals were to him as babies were to a meat grinder. His mood brightened with the knowledge that he would survive the coming confrontation, Ranma laid down in his bed— he actually had a bed now— to take a short nap. Tendo wouldn't be calm enough to travel for a while, so he had some time.
Nanami, along with Leffan— who she had called back— and a few select members of her R&D team observed the grafting of the cybernetic jacks into the first of the new soldiers, by way of video-feed. The man on the table was sedated heavily and nude while surgeons capable of performing medical miracles went about making incisions and attaching artificial nerve fiber connections to the major nerves throughout his body.
"As you can see, Leffan, my people and I have not been wasting our time. There are nearly a thousand men, all prepared for implants, waiting for your shipments," Nanami commented.
Leffan didn't acknowledge Nanami directly, instead asking, "Why are those discolored patches of skin there?"
Upon close observation, there were, at the groin, neck, and armpit, oddly colored areas of skin ranging from green to yellow, which showed up against the man's light brown skin.
"Merely a harmless side-effect of the genetic treatments needed to make his nervous system receptive to the artificial neural tissue."
"We could not remove that particular trait without making the entire series of gene treatments useless," added an older woman with gray-shot hair and in an immaculate white lab coat.
"With my surgical teams operating on eight-hour shifts and the robotics lab bringing the new automated units online, I expect to have a full compliment of soldiers within the month. Will the goods be ready by then?" Nanami asked.
"Actually, we're shooting for two weeks, but like I said earlier, the lasers are going to be a problem. With a month, however, we may be able to push about fifteen discharges out of the energy cells before they have to be recharged."
"Pardon me, Kanzaki-san, but I may be able to help with the energy cell problem," a young man with a ridiculously thick pair of glasses said.
"Last night I created an alloy that should behave desirably with the reactants presently being used in the cells."
"How much of a capacity increase?"
"I can't be sure, Ma'am, but a third, maybe a half more."
Nanami turned to Leffan. "Hakubi will be accompanying you back to Berlin. See that he is provided with whatever he needs."
Leffan didn't argue. He was still getting paid, and it would save him money in the long run. He shrugged and said, "Fine by me."
"Good." Nanami reached into her pocket and pulled out an ingot of some unidentified black tinted metal. "Have Hakubi analyze this— he's my chief metallurgist— and use it for the frames of the exoskeletons. I'll double your payment if you do."
Once again he didn't argue. More money was more money. "What's so special about the stuff?"
"It's completely non-ferrous, and once tempered is as hard as industrial diamonds."
Leffan whistled in appreciation and Hakubi's eyes came alight with the opportunity to study Nanami's mysterious metal.
Nanami wasn't about to tell them that the little piece of metal had been part of the casing that Tirna and the other cubes had traversed space in. Leffan was the only one who knew what she was capable of, and spreading the information around was on her things-to-do list.
To be continued.
Author's notes: I know that nothing really happened in this chapter, but I did get it done pretty quickly, so that's a point in my favor. Stay tuned for the next chapter when things start to get violent!
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