Chapter 3-B: Decisions, Debates, and Reflections.
Not Necessarily in That Order.
A Ranma ½ story
by Dragon Claw
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong
to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
For once, Cologne was using her staff to actually walk instead
of hop, as each step felt like moving a mountain.
After the fight, all of the various factions of Nerima divided
to mull over the problems that this defeat raised.
No, scratch that. Akane had told them, if her understanding of
Japanese was correct, to 'Get the hell out of MY HOUSE before you
No one had really been happy with this treatment, but Nodoka and
that sweet Kasumi had their hands full with caring for the three
buffoons that made up the leadership of Anything Goes, so no protests
had succeeded in piercing Akane’s determination or rudeness.
Nabiki was not available to bribe due to her focus on what was
apparently a very precious necklace, intricately carved and composed
of pure silver. The aura of floating yen signs was also rather disturbing
to the assembled martial artists.
Loosing the groom for another five years was concerning. Her family's
honor had been tainted by Shampoo’s initial defeat at the village,
and further blackened by the failure of Shampoo to fulfill the law.
But when Cologne, a Matriarch and one of the top five fighters
within the ruling council, had failed to coerce the Saotome boy,
the whole village had been dishonored.
Everyone back home wanted Ranma in the tribe, and if Shampoo were
not up to the task, another would be sent. His power and ability
were exceptional, his style was known, respected, and feared by
the Amazons as well, thanks to Happosai. If they could get Ranma,
then not only would the village’s honor be restored, but revenge
against Happi could result in a three-week-long celebration.
However, the Endless Warriors (or something similar) were well
respected by the Amazons. The last time one of them had been in
the village was about seven hundred years ago, and he had managed
to beat a Musk army back almost single-handedly after the majority
of the village warriors had been poisoned by descendents of the
Snake tribe. If one of THEM were interested in Ranma, she probably
would have to step aside.
But to lose contact with him for so long could corrupt his memories
of Shampoo to the point where he would see her as a dark and evil
person. Cologne couldn’t really fault this reasoning, if you viewed
the number of dishonorable paths they had traveled to win Ranma’s
heart. But alienating him from the Amazons could spell disaster
if he ever decided to pursue revenge.
What to do, what to do.
Sighing, she decided to sit in the shade of a convenient tree.
She had wandered into the park after ordering Shampoo and Mousse
home to the Cat Café. The city was nice in its way, making you comfortable
with running water and television, but when you lived for decade
after decade in the tranquility of an untouched mountain range,
you just needed a break from technology every now and then. So imagine
her surprise when the tree bark gave way to cloth and flesh.
"Would you please not do that?"
Blinking in surprise, Cologne turned and saw a tree. Then she saw
Vortex! Then a tree, then Vortex, then a tree, then Vortex.
'Hmmm, there appears to be a pattern here.'
"Excuse me, how are you doing that? You look and feel—
spiritually anyway— just like an old tree."
Scratching the back of his head, Vortex motioned to his right shoulder.
"Ah, could you please come up over here? People might start
to stare if you are seen talking to a cherry tree."
Nodding, Cologne hopped on. She was startled, however, when things
went as dark as night.
"Calm down Cologne, it’s just an illusion. A shield to hide
Not liking the implications, Cologne decided subtlety was NOT something
she could afford right now. "And why, pray tell, are you hiding?"
The place was complete darkness, similar to being encased in stone,
but Cologne could feel Vortex’s disbelieving stare. "What,
do you think that defying the Heavens is a light matter? Oh, I can
avoid its agents fairly easily, but offering this way out to Ranma
is defying the decree of someone VERY high up on the scale of power.
I am effectively an outlaw in several circles now."
"Yeah right, this is too good to be the truth. I’m sorry,
but if you knew of this problem, why did you seek out Son-in-law?"
"Because I believe in justice, and Ranma deserves some."
Cologne didn’t really know how to answer such a bold decree. Primarily
because of the shame she felt for not acting herself, Ranma’s own
"However, I also I think that this individual, who shall remain
nameless, had a reason to decree him off limits besides the obvious
ones. There is something here that is different than I expected,
something I am grasping the edges of. If my guess is correct, then
I am well within my rights to intercede. With proof of this, any
decree made about my disruption of the laws can be challenged."
Grateful for the natural poker face found in complete darkness,
Vortex then proceeded to smirk at the still form of Cologne. "Now
then, I think we have a little bit of business to discuss."
Ukyo sighed, flipping another circle of batter off of the hot grill.
It was her lifeblood and trade, but the Okonomiyaki kata just didn’t
seem to be helping to calm her today.
"Konatsu, please take care of it."
The ninja nodded, strangely silent, as he tossed the pancake onto
the already impressive pile. However, this act caused the seven-meter
tall mound to collapse, spilling the Japanese pizzas all over the
Both Konatsu and Ukyo looked at the mess, then each other, their
faces completely blank. Then slowly, Ukyo and Konatsu began to smirk,
then smile, and finally degenerated into laughter. They laughed
as the tension of the afternoon and the last few days seemed to
melt onto the floor as easily as the hundreds of plain okonomiyaki
had a moment before.
After what seemed like a lifetime, Ukyo finally contained her mirth,
Ten years was a long time to a teenager, and Ukyo had paid it.
Paid it in tears from her shame, rejection of her gender, and the
loss of her friend.
Oh, and Ranma’s two hundred and seventy-five thousand yen tab.
But after all of her sacrifices, Ukyo was still getting the short
end of the stick. Her fiancé thought of her as a boyhood
chum. Rivals constantly fighting for what she had every right to,
a friend, fiancé, and lover. A cross-dressing ninja had fixated
Heck, the bedroom dance would probably be the only way to get her
womanhood back at this point! Never mind what surgery could do these
days; you couldn’t cut out a stain of honor.
And now, she found out that Ranma had managed to piss off something
a little more imposing than some mere martial artist with a grudge.
The gods were gunning for him, for goodness sake! The GODS!!! Well,
they could just be attacking more openly than before…
Looking around at her home, business, and employee, Ukyo started
to seriously consider her life, and her future.
What to do, what to do.
Maybe she should just change her name, leave Japan, and try to
make it alone somewhere else. America tended to have money to blow
on fads, and Japanese stuff was very hot right now. A start-up chain
in California was possible. She could just see the advertisements
now: "Okonomiyaki, the latest craze since Monster Cards!"
Or, she could go home, and use the dishonor of Genma’s dealing
with the clan, not to mention the numerous times she had beat the
fat panda up, as proof of her right to be a girl again. After all,
how would it serve honor to marry into a family that had a liar,
cheat, glutton, and morally deficient creep such as Genma as its
Or she could sit passively by, cooling her heals in Nerima for
another five years while the love of her life left for places unknown
to train with this Vortex guy. Leaving the abuse, the problems,
the Tendos, and the rivals, to get better in The Art… HIS Art.
Leaving her again.
SHE WOULDN’T… NO, SHE COULDN’T ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN! EVER!
Konatsu sweatdropped as his savior and love proceeded to bend the
hot grill with her bare hands.
Wiping oil from her hands and tears from her eyes with equal ferocity,
Ukyo decided that her fourth and final option was the best bet.
None of the above.
There were many things to take care of; plans to make, and most
importantly, Ukyo hoped, places to go.
Just one more little thing she had to do.
"Hey, Konatsu. Could you help me get rid of all the sake bottles
in my room?"
Smiling, the ninja replied in the positive, even as he proceeded
to put out the electrical fire that the damage had started.
With an earth-shattering cry, four reinforced concrete blocks were
broken into their base components.
Ranma sighed, looking towards the sky for his answers. They stared
back in resignation or malice; he couldn’t tell which right now.
His life was never what was considered ideal under the best situations.
At least by someone who was sane, not a pervert, and human, qualities
that could be difficult to find grouped together in Nerima.
But still, it was his life, the only one that he had ever known.
And now someone wanted to take it away from him, just like when…
That name, the name of the one opponent he truly despised, arose
like bile on the tongue. The one who he had killed, that he had
intended to kill.
Anything Goes taught that victory was the goal and the only option.
The only option anyone who wished to survive had. All training was
geared towards honing the need to win. Winning meant eating good
food instead of rice and water, sleeping on a futon instead of rocks,
being next to the fire or out in the cold. Victory was the only
choice a practitioner had to live from day to day. And killing your
opponent was considered victory in its purest form.
He hated it.
Ranma had felt unclean since that act, that one moment where blood
had been spilled for real, where the fight wasn’t a game or an excuse
to get better. A true death match. The memory of it sickened him.
To make things worse, he now knew that it would be repeated. The
fights would get tougher when this spread beyond Vortex. Divinity,
demons, spirit hunters, grandmasters; they would come and he would
fight. And kill again.
Once that line had been crossed, there was simply no going back.
As a martial artist, you protected the weak and defeated the opponent
with honor. As a warrior, you killed for what you believed in.
But what should he believe in? Being the best? Ha! That quest had
taxed his mind, his body, and now his soul to the limit. His family
honor? Saotome honor? Wasn’t that an oxy… oxy… uh… contradiction?
Who he loved? Okay, that seems reasonable. Just one little question;
who DID he love?
Exactly the problem. He didn’t know.
All of the fiancées, the first people to desire and want to be
with HIM in his entire life, felt special. Not like the feelings
he had for a mother long thought dead, or the childlike respect
Genma had caused. No, they all made him feel a certain way, one
he couldn’t recognize.
This made a choice so much more difficult, because he didn’t want
to hurt them by taking their hope, their belief that they had a
chance to succeed. Oh, and having the 'winner' sent into the hospital
or cremated. You just had to look at the wedding to figure that
Ranma cared for Akane; he could admit that now, but it didn’t feel
like a stable relationship. Who wanted to marry someone without
trust? Shampoo was cute, strong, could cook, and had access to some
of the strongest martial arts lore in the world. Who wanted to marry
someone who saw them as breeding stock? Ukyo was cute, nice, relatively
stable, and one of Ranma’s oldest and dearest friends. Who wanted
to marry the closest thing they had to a sister? Kodachi was fawning,
rich, beautiful, and hurting deep inside, something Ranma couldn’t
stand. But who wanted to marry someone insane?
Besides, the whole fiancée problem was secondary in this instance.
He actually had a choice to make. A choice HE could make. And listening
to Akane vent her frustration over the defeat by breaking things
was not helping.
Sighing, Ranma headed out to his other thinking spot by the bridge;
his last thought proof that repeated blows to the head over the
course of a lifetime cause serious brain injury. At least nothing
ELSE could go wrong tonight.
"We must do something Tendo! The future of the School is at
"Agreed Saotome! But what? We were… were… DEFEATED!
Kasumi sighed as her father proceeded to soak the floor, change
Mr. Saotome into a Panda, dehydrate his already weakened form…
"Watch where you aim the waterworks, boy!"
…and give Happosai his weekly bath.
The two disciples of Anything Goes proceeded to bow and scrape
to the damp and angry form of their master. Then they were hit over
the head for attempting to electrocute him.
The trio had awakened a few minutes ago, and already their antics
had caused Nodoka to retreat to the guest room and Akane to leave
for the dojo. Nabiki was still staring at that necklace from Vortex
in her room, as far as anyone could tell.
However, as the head of the household, it was Kasumi’s duty to
tend to the wounded guests and her father. Right after she left
for the kitchen to boil water for tea, of course.
Setting the kettle on the stove, Kasumi looked out to the koi pond,
lost in thought. Vortex had shown himself to be very powerful, skilled,
and fairly polite. And being polite was one of the greatest virtues
that Kasumi admired. But the advice that he gave her was… creepy.
"Listen well, young one. The life you live is the reflection
of another destiny, a shadow of someone else. If you desire your
own happiness, you must act, or loose any chance at change."
What had he meant?
Oh, she might seem to be a copy of… Mother… sometimes, but
Kasumi was her own woman!
She just had to care for her sisters until the left for college
in a few years. Then she had to care for father, since it wouldn’t
be proper to leave him alone. Then there would be her sister to
help after marriage. Akane still had to learn so much…
So eventuality Kasumi Tendo could try to find someone who wanted
a thirty to forty-year-old housewife in modern Japan.
The whistling teakettle thankfully broke Kasumi’s train of thought.
Smiling lightly, she proceeded to bring it out to the impromptu
council of war. Genma wasted no time in grabbing the kettle and
joining the discussions of Anything Goes Planning Forum #5: "Loophole,
loophole, who’s got the loophole?"
"I say that we chase him off in the morning! He just caught
us by surprise the first time!"
Soun and Genma were showing the origins of their heirs’ stubbornness.
They both blinded themselves from the truth to a point of idiocy
that the universe had yet to see.
Of course, Happosai’s survival instinct was far greater. When you
resort to leaching off energy from helpless females to remain alive,
it is a sign of someone who refuses to die.
"We should simply knock the boy out and tell Vortex that he
decided not to join him for training."
Or it’s a sign of someone who wants to choose his executioner.
"Oh my. But isn’t this choice Ranma’s?"
Kasumi wasn’t upset, heaven forbid. It’s just that the rules of
the match had been very specific.
"Oh, that boy can’t be trusted to make the right choice! Keeping
him here is for his own good, after all." Genma nodded to Kasumi
reassuringly, with as much parental authority as possible.
"Right, Saotome. Ranma has many responsibilities here! He
can’t take off on some silly training mission on the word of a gaijin!"
Soun straightened with all the dignity that his bloodline required,
almost daring his eldest to challenge the reasoning.
"Besides, we saw him first!" Happosai, on the other hand,
was more honest about his desires at least.
"But won’t that make Vortex-san suspicious? After all, he
seemed to want the answer straight from Ranma. Someone else telling
him the facts might not be acceptable."
Not to mention that stopping Ranma was something none of these
three could do anymore. Cleaning up after the resulting fight could
After looking at Kasumi blankly with incomprehension, Genma, Soun
and Happosai proceeded to plan Ranma’s capture as if she hadn’t
spoken at all.
"Where can we find some cement?"
"Chains ought to do the trick!"
"No, no, NO! You’re both wrong! Chloroform is the only way
Leaving for her room in resignation, Kasumi thought, "Maybe
it IS time for me to get out of the house more often."
Kami-sama, Ruler of Asgard, had been aware for countless years.
Through His/Her long existence, countless galaxies, solar systems,
planets and civilizations had come and gone. He/She had watched
as His/Her children played upon mortals of all kinds, and even found
some measure of entertainment from their antics, even as He/She
would punish them for misbehavior. He/She was as jaded as they came.
"Come on! Tell me! Tell me!"
Which didn’t seem to help deter the annoyance that Toltiir was
causing, currently in the form of seven cute kitten-girls with watery
eyes and high-pitched voices, a method known as one of the ultimate
tortures in any reality.
Although an elder god, Toltiir did not have full power over every
little thing. There were certain limits to even HIS influence, and
knowing information about internal affairs based upon violation
of Yggdrasil was one of them. Toltiir was the first to admit that
if he ever got access to the Ultimate Force System that Yggdrasil
employed, then every living thing on Earth would start wearing a
blue and orange clown suit and start dong the twist while juggling
three pineapples and a lit torch.
That was actually listed in his book as 'Joke I Will Do Some Millennium
So Kami-sama didn’t have to tell him anything at all about this
crisis if He/She chose not to.
On the other hand…
"Wahhhh! I just KNOW that Vortex is going to rub this stunt
in my face for the next thousand years if I can’t top him!"
His/Her infinite fuse had finally run out.
"Concern yourself not. Vortex will no longer be a threat to
your fun. He is currently being hunted as a high criminal of the
seventh tier, to be brought in for trial, or executed on sight,
dependant upon the will of his pursuers."
Toltiir's eyes widened as that fact sunk in.
"WHHHHAAAAAAAATTTT?! He’s done something that horrible!?!
That illegal!?! That INCREDIBLE!?! Grihabmhgjrhs! (Bovine eating
your liver and pissing on your spleen) Make that TWO thousand
Kiima, Guardian of Lord Saffron and High Warrior of Phoenix Mountain,
was currently walking through the halls to the Inner Sanctum, hidden
deep within the craggy spire. This chamber was the home of Lord
Saffron between regenerations, where he would be safe and able to
relearn the skills that a body required.
And her job was to insure that her King was well cared for and
content at all times…
"Story! Story! I wanna story!"
…which included changing him, feeding him, clothing him, and
of course, entertaining him.
Luckily, his divinity made Lord Saffron grow like a weed. Within
a few months, the Phoenix of Eternal Flame would have the grasp
of his basic powers once again. The process would take some time,
though, and using Jusendo again as a quick fix was NOT a good idea
after the last attempt. In about ten years he should be able to
resume the leadership of his people with few problems.
"STORY! I WANNA STORY, KIIMA!"
However, he was currently stuck in the 'terrible twos'.
Entering the playroom, filled with the finest orange and red silk
hangings, wall pictures, and stuffed animals, Kiima made her way
to the large bed on the other side of the room. In the middle of
a magnificent comforter was the diminutive form of Saffron, Lord
of Phoenix Mountain.
"Be at ease, Lord Saffron. I am here. But what have I told
you about demanding things?"
Looking up at the larger woman in front of him, Saffron sighed
as his face scrunched in concentration.
"Should ask, be polite. Shouldn’t de… de… TELL for something."
When the warrior Ranma Saotome had asked that Kiima try to raise
Saffron better this time, she had taken his words to heart. For
the last few weeks she had labored towards instilling proper values
into her Lord, and the efforts were bearing fruit, if somewhat slowly.
"So can I have a story? PLLLLLLEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSEEEEEEEE?"
Letting him know the effectiveness of puppy-dog eyes on his elders,
however, had probably been a bad idea. He was just too CUTE when
he did that; it brought a smile to her face.
"Fine, my lord, fine. What story do you want today?"
A light female voice cut through the scene of domesticity like
a knife. "I am afraid that storytime is currently not an option."
Snarling, Kiima unsheathed her sword, turning to face the intruder
who had managed to breach the most secure location in Phoenix Mountain.
But the sight that greeted her caused the winged warrior to fall
There were three intruders, each in a relaxed stance that nonetheless
blocked the only entrance. However, Kiima was taken aback as each
seemed to be radiating a heat-based aura of power that was far stronger
than even her Lord at full strength.
The woman who had spoken was an imposing figure with beautiful
features and a formal kimono of what appeared to be beaten gold,
with a gaze that hurt to match. Each eye was a torch of power that
illuminated every corner of the room. Her face was accented by three
golden markings, one on her forehead and one for each cheek, which
seemed to be pairs of lines as straight as a sunbeam. At her side
hung an imposing katana. The being to the right had at first seemed
to be a man. However, while the exposed muscled chest, arms, and
legs were clearly human, that was were the similarity ended. His
head was avian, with a vicious beak, fierce large brown eyes, and
dark plumage. His face possessed similar markings to the first,
only they were diamonds of bronze. To add a touch of surrealism,
he also seemed to share the embrace of a deadly cobra, as the coils
of the powerful snake almost acted like living jewelry. The third
individual was almost the polar opposite of the other two in looks
and temperament. He was clean-shaven, blonde, smiling, and seemed
to possess a carefree attitude enhancing the impression that he
was simply an innocent child in a grownup's body. However, his muscular
frame and warrior stance let you know there is more here then a
pretty face. Flanked by golden circular symbols, but still a pretty
The group faced off against the lone Phoenix warrior, not moving,
simply staring as if wondering where their challenge was. Kiima
bristled, every muscle clenched for the onslaught she knew would
There was a silence between the two groups that seemed to stretch
for eternity, becoming more and more uncomfortable for Kiima as
her opponents clearly lacked any fear. The tableau was broken however
by Saffron’s sudden cry of surprise…and recognition.
To be continued.
Author's notes: I'm just BORROWING them! I'll put your characters
back, I promise!
Huff… Huff… huff…
Sorry. Just need to catch my breath. That took WAY too long, but
it's done! Real Life was making a nuisance of itself. Now to get
to work on the next part!