A Ranma ½ / All-Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku story
by Corwin and Ginrai
Previous chapters can also be found at Phu's Anime Page
Disclaimer time: Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty and Viz Communications own Ranma ½. Yuuzou Takada and A.D. Vision own All-Purpose Cultural Girl Nuku-Nuku.
This fic is based on Gregg Sharp's Nuku Nuku idea from chapter 30 of 'A Reluctant Bet', and is used here with his permission.
Thanks to Brian Randall for pre-reading this.
Chapter 3 - Old acquaintances, gratuitous female appearances and Happi nowhere in sight!
Jumping over the gate into the front yard of Furinkan, Nuku Nuku calmly landed on her feet, showing no sign of weariness from the running she did to school. Smiling as she breathed in the warm, fresh air, the catgirl turned around to see if either Ranma or Akane were near. 'I wonder why they don't want to run,' she thought. 'Especially when the weather's this good!'
Filing that as another one of those things that only humans would do, Nuku Nuku went on to think of more important things. Like whether or not Kasumi made fish for lunch.
Before she was able to start drooling over the delicious thought of fried fish mixed with steaming rice, Nuku Nuku heard footsteps as someone walked up to her. Thinking it was Ranma, she turned to face the newcomer.
Instead, the catgirl came face-to-face with a brown-haired girl of medium height looking somberly back at her. Her aura seemed to show such dark despair that even the most cheerful of people would instantly become unhappy once within.
"Morning, Mio!" Nuku Nuku said, smiling happily, not at all affected by the gloom that the other girl seemed to emit.
"Ominous," Mio said in a mysterious, yet monotonous, voice.
"Eh?" Nuku Nuku asked confusedly.
"I see bad things happening to you in the next couple of days."
"Why is that?" she asked, having no idea what the other girl was talking about.
Staring at the ground, as if to compose herself for what she was about to say, Mio answered in a disturbingly calm voice, "I… have psychic powers. I can partially see what goes on in the future." Looking up, she saw the girl whose fate was doomed staring back at her with a blank expression. Sighing, she continued, "This morning, while sleeping, I saw the image of my grandfather. He told me that the school will be in danger and it will all center around you." She pointed towards the catgirl. "A girl whose movements resemble that of a feline's."
The psychic was too much into her speech to notice Nuku Nuku wiping off the large sweatdrops on the back of her head.
"And then, an image formed in my head. Upon sight it brought a fear to my heart that I never felt before. One whose features were so terrifying that I immediately woke up and frantically drew a picture of what my mind beheld, lest I end up forgetting how it looks, thus ensuring our end." Taking out a piece of paper from her schoolbag, Mio handed it over to the catgirl. "This is what I drew."
"What's this?" Nuku Nuku asked, looking at the strange drawing in front of her. It looked like a massive purple blob wearing a furry gray hat. She tried turning it around onto different sides to see if maybe she was viewing it wrong.
Mio looked back at her and calmly said, "It's… a laughing hyena on top of a ten-foot tall dinosaur."
"WHAT?!" Nuku Nuku was aghast, taking a step back to recoil in shock. She had no idea what the psychic meant, but now that the figure in the picture had a name, it _must_ be something bad. The catgirl knew what she must do and leapt over the wall in frantic search of Ranma and Akane. If anything, they'll tell her what to do when a laughing hyena on top of a ten foot-tall dinosaur attacked.
"You… You jumped off the wrong foot," Mio said, staring at spot where the catgirl just left. "We're all doomed."
Walking casually on the fence towards school, Ranma wondered, not for the first time, whether or not Akane was ignoring him on purpose. 'Geez, just because I said that Nuku's Chinese dresses weren't the right size for her… Ah, well. I'm guessing she's one of those people whose mood changes rapidly.'
Hearing the shout, the pigtailed boy hopped off the fence and looked up to see Nuku Nuku running towards him and Akane, her facial expression giving off a sense of urgency. "Hey, Nuku. What's up?"
Panting after having overexerted herself to reach her friends, the catgirl grabbed both of them by their shoulders and shouted, "MioSaysThatALargePurpleDinosaurAndALaughingHyenaAreAfterMe!"
Akane, annoyed at being suddenly grabbed, blinked and asked, "What are you trying to say?"
Nuku Nuku showed Ranma and Akane the drawing and explained in detail what Mio told her.
Feeling her right eyebrow ever-so-slightly twitch, Akane asked the catgirl, voice becoming icy as she continued, "You mean to tell me that you came all the way here and stopped us from going to school because you think that a dinosaur is after you?!"
The pink-haired girl shook her head, saying, "That not what Nuku Nuku mean." Seeing she got Akane's interest, Nuku Nuku said, "Think that laughing hyena _on top_ of ten-foot tall dinosaur is after me."
One massive scream of frustration later, Akane turned towards Ranma, who throughout this looked like the epitome of calmness. "And what do _you_ think of this, Ranma?"
"Eh. It could happen. I've seen weirder things."
Both eyebrows giving off a noticeable twitch, the raven-haired girl walked away from the other two, not caring if they followed her or not. She wondered if she was the only normal one around. It seemed that way lately, especially with Nuku Nuku's absurd belief. 'Besides, it would make so much more sense if it was a ten-feet tall dinosaur riding a laughing hyen--' Akane slapped herself a few times, not wanting to continue that thought.
"Are you okay, Akane?" asked a concerned voice from behind.
She jumped up in shock, eyes wide, turning around right away to see if anyone knew what she was thinking of. Seeing it was the two from before, Akane said, straightening herself up to try and look as normal as possible, "Umm, yeah. I'm fine. Might as well walk with you two to school." She didn't want to be caught off guard like that again.
Nearing Furinkan, she took note on how quiet it was. Ever since Shampoo and her friends gave the boys an ultimatum -- fight them and get instantly turned into a girl -- the morning fights stopped. 'With the weapons those Amazons have, I can see why. Though Kuno's trying to attack Ranma to try and 'free his loves'… Idiot.' Akane shook her head. In the end, Kuno was still Kuno.
Passing through the gates, Akane gave Nuku Nuku a look of satisfaction. "See? What did I tell you? I can't believe you got worked up over something so stu--"
"Saotome, prepare yourself!"
Ranma immediately stiffened, becoming as rigid as a board. Once the initial shock set in, his muscles unclenched, allowing the pigtailed boy to regain control of his motor functions. Sweating profusely, Ranma looked around in an attempt to locate the course of the voice. "Oh, man, I can't believe she found me!"
Nuku Nuku turned to look at Ranma confusedly. Flicking an ear, the catgirl asked, "What are you talking about?"
"She…" He took a deep breath to calm himself before shouting in reply when he was satisfied he could say an entire sentence without stammering, "She's the epitome of EVIL; the one spelled with big capital letters!"
"Evil?" Akane repeated, not sounding convinced.
"EVIL!!!" Ranma insisted, nodding frantically.
"You don't like this girl very much, do you, Saotome?" Nabiki deadpanned, making a mental note to try and find out as much as she could about someone that made Saotome nervous. Aside from the Amazons, that is, but they were after Ranma's manly bod-- Hey! Maybe that was what's been going on now?
A chilling laugh interrupted Nabiki's train of thought, making her wince involuntarily. "Ohohohohoho!"
"That laugh! What is my sister doing here?! Saotome, you cur! How dare you ensnare my sister!" Kuno, who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere, grabbed the cringing martial artist and yelled at him.
Relaxing after a few moments, Kuno blinked and released Ranma. "Oh. This is not my twisted sister." He picked up Ranma again and started shaking him. "Saotome, how _dare_ you ensnare this young and virile woman…"
"Give it a rest, will you, Kuno!" Ranma shot at the swordsman with a frown, planting a foot in his face.
"I want to become one with you, Ranma. Body and… Hmm, your body is enough for me!" the beautiful longhaired girl announced, before breaking into laughter once more.
"Ease off on the laugh, Biiko!" Ranma commanded, before continuing ominously, "So, you've found me at last…"
"For two whole years I have searched the world for you, going as far as the top of the Everest and the heart of the Arctic…" Biiko replied, raising a shaking fist to the heavens.
"Did ya try China?" the pigtailed boy queried casually.
Biiko just fumed silently in response.
"Anyway, read my lips. I ain't interested. You're pretty an' all, and the money can't be all that bad, but there are other things in life."
Puzzled, Biiko looked at Ranma, and asked, "Like what?"
"Umm, I dunno. Friends?" Ranma replied, scratching the back of his head. "Ice-cream is nice… and--"
"Enough! You _will_ be mine, Ranma!" Biiko shouted, before discarding her school uniform, revealing a very flimsy hardsuit underneath.
Ranma noticed the high heels that really clashed with the metal bikini and sighed internally. Not overly impressed and ignoring one of the spectators shouting, "My eyes! Oh, my eyes! Dear sweet kami! I'm blind!" he looked at his companions for some insight.
Akane, who had been stunned into silence throughout the conversation, was blushing furiously and trying very hard not to look at the severely underdressed girl. Nabiki had a calculating smirk on her face, and Ranma noticed her left hand reaching for a miniature camera that she habitually carried, as he'd discovered earlier that week upon accidentally meeting her in the dressing room of the furo. Turning his head towards Nuku Nuku, he suppressed a laugh at how her right eye kept on twitching violently. Unless he somehow got his facts wrong, the catgirl was getting territorial again.
'Oh well, at least we're not in a village filled with Amazons anymore,' Ranma thought, shuddering internally. Giving Biiko a glance, he announced firmly, "I don't think so."
Turning to go into the school, Ranma petted the pink-haired girl on the head and added in a sing-song voice, "Nuku, try not to make too big of a mess, okay?"
"All right, Ranma!" Nuku Nuku replied cheerfully, smiling widely and brandishing her translucent ki claws.
"Umm, wait… No, don't…" Biiko protested, madly jumping all over the schoolyard in an attempt to avoid the catgirl's claws. "Ahhhh!!!"
Grimacing, Akane grabbed the pigtailed boy's shoulder and yelled, "Ranma! That poor, defenseless girl will be slaughtered! How can you just stand here and let your pet kill that completely normal--"
"--girl," Akane finished lamely, as explosions sounded all around her, miraculously missing the present students, who opted to flee in fear.
Raising an eyebrow, Ranma asked, "Defenseless?"
"Just shut up!" Akane shot back at him, stomping away.
"Play nicely, now!" Ranma called out to Biiko with a smile, before finally entering the school.
A quarter of an hour later, the catgirl showed up at class, the hem of her dress looking slightly singed. Despite that, she was cheerful as ever. Taking her seat beside Ranma just as the bell rang, she told him that Biiko finally flew away. The pigtailed boy just shrugged, and closed his eyes, preparing to sleep until the lunch period.
No one bothered Ranma, as the female students stared at him with lustful and adoring gazes, sighing occasionally. The male population of the class unanimously settled for drooling over Nuku Nuku's revealing clothing, some of the more daring boys occasionally sneaking peeks at an Amazon or two when they thought the female warriors weren't looking or brandishing their weapons about.
Professor Yamagata made an attempt to wake Ranma early on into the period, but the piece of chalk thrown at the pigtailed boy was deflected by a small, curved dagger that continued on its course and imbedded itself a few centimeters away from the teacher's right ear. The teacher turned his head oh-so-slowly towards Shampoo, who gave him an evil smirk and held up two more daggers between her fingers. Their wicked blades were pointed lower… much lower.
Once she was satisfied that her message had come across, Shampoo turned around happily and resumed watching Ranma sleep. Since she would be leaving soon with all of the other Amazons to find a place to stay, the purple-haired girl wanted to etch a picture of her beloved into her mind, to comfort her in the time they must regretfully spend apart. Besides, he was just too, too cute like that, and anyone who would dare wake him up would feel the full wrath of the proud Amazon nation!
Ranma woke up at the sound of the bell, and stretched his arms, yawning. Glancing at Nuku, he frowned upon realizing that her dress had been damaged more than he had initially thought. Signaling the purple-haired Amazon to come closer, he whispered to her conspiratorially, "Hey, Shampoo, do you mind giving Nuku another dress?" Frowning, he added, "I don't like the way all those guys are ogling her… more than usual, that is."
Shampoo nodded happily, giving the pigtailed boy a smile. "Is no problem, Ranma! Leave it to Shampoo!" Bouncing over to the catgirl, the Amazon grabbed her right hand and started pulling her towards the window.
"Where are we going?" Nuku Nuku asked in confusion.
"Shampoo give wife better dress. Is good, yes?"
Nuku Nuku seemed to accept that reason, and followed the Amazon. They reached the window next to Ranma's desk in no time, and Shampoo was about to jump out when the pigtailed boy asked her, "Why don't you use the door?"
Shampoo frowned, and pointed at the window, saying, "Is Amazon way." Her frown disappeared immediately afterwards, and she waved at Ranma, jumping out of the window.
Nuku Nuku mirrored her gesture, and followed the Amazon.
Ranma stared off into the distance for a few moments, before shaking his head. "I won't think about it," he muttered, returning his attention towards his book bag. Fishing out his bento from it, the pigtailed boy turned towards Akane, waving at her. When she pointedly ignored his presence, Ranma walked over to her, smiling. "Hey, wanna have lunch together?"
"You just want to steal my food," Akane grumbled, hugging her bento protectively to her chest. She wasn't about to forgive him for his earlier comment.
Ranma's face took on a hurt look. "How can you say something like that about me?"
"I know you just want to shove your dirty chopstick into my bento!" she snapped at him. "Stop playing those perverted games with me!"
"Perverted games?" Daisuke asked no one in particular, promptly getting hit by Sayuri.
"Idiot!" she hissed at him in lower tones. "She means foreplay!"
"The imagery is kinda weird, isn't it?" Yuka murmured. "Is that some weird food fetish?"
Hiroshi shrugged, taking out a small and worn out notepad. "I dunno. The Americans say something about salami and an oven, so this isn't too far fetched." He turned to a new page and began to write, talking out loud while doing so. "Akane says 'Shove dirty chopsticks into bento'." Reading what he had just wrote, he exclaimed, "Ohhh… Kinky!"
Akane grabbed the notebook from Hiroshi's hands and ripped it to shreds, her face red not unlike a ripe tomato. "Stop saying those perverted things about me!"
"Ahhhh!!!" Hiroshi yelled, dropping to his knees and picking up the torn out pages. Lifting a tear-stricken face at Akane, he sobbed, "How could you do this?! This notebook… is my life!"
Akane stomped on the notebook once more for good measure and huffed, walking out of the classroom stiffly. Ranma followed her closely, attempting to start a conversation with the girl.
"M-My notebook…" Hiroshi mumbled, before raising his head to the Heavens and howling, "NNNOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" madly.
"His uncle gave it to him," Daisuke told Yuka and Sayuri sadly. "Hiroshi said it was very educational…" A sudden frown creasing his forehead, he scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Though I'm wondering why he's getting so worked up over it. If I remember correctly, Hiroshi has a box full of these back home."
Daisuke promptly got smacked on the head by Hiroshi, who hissed at him, "You're ruining the scene!" Winking, he continued, "Besides, the more angst I show, the better chance I have to get a girl…" Realizing that Yuka and Sayuri were still in listening distance, the boy turned around slowly, chuckling nervously, one thought dominating his mind. 'Uh oh…'
Ranma, Nabiki and Akane were sitting together in the courtyard. The youngest Tendo daughter was still ignoring Ranma, though her older sister didn't have any such qualms.
"Say, who was that girl that showed up earlier today, Ranma?" Nabiki asked him nonchalantly between bites. The look she gave him out of the corner of her eye betrayed her interest at his answer, though.
"Biiko," Ranma replied simply, continuing to attack his bento with a gusto.
"B-ko?" Nabiki repeated after him with a raised eyebrow.
Ranma shrugged, snatching a pickle with his chopsticks and admiring it for a brief moment, before popping it into his mouth. "Close enough."
"Who is she?" Nabiki couldn't help but ask, mentally shaking her head in disbelief as she recalled the events that transpired in the morning. 'Flying hardsuits packed with dozens of missiles? If I hadn't seen a Jusenkyo curse, I'd never believe that…'
"Just some crazy chick that's after me," the pigtailed boy replied quietly with no small amount of resentment in his voice.
"You don't like her much, then?"
"Like her?!" Ranma snapped, glaring at Nabiki for a few moments before reigning in his anger and averting his gaze. "I can't even stand her laugh!"
"Did you defeat her too, Ranma-baby?"
"Not really… Nabs."
Nabiki froze, and leveled a frosty glare at him. "Don't you ever call me that name again."
"I won't…" Ranma drawled out, "if you won't call me 'Ranma-baby'… Nabs." The pigtailed boy smirked at the expression of quiet rage that appeared on her features before she managed to school them into an emotionless mask.
"Stop flirting in broad daylight, you perverts!" Akane snapped at the two, finally finished with her lunch.
"What's the matter, Sis?" Nabiki smirked, having found an easier target to vent her frustration at. "Jealous?"
Stunned for a moment, Akane was speechless. She shook her head vehemently and made a face, stomping off on her own.
"You still haven't answered my question… Ranma," Nabiki pressed on when they were alone.
"That B-ko girl."
Ranma sat in silence for several moments, before sighing. "You might as well know the full story. That chick's full name is Biiko Daitokuji. We stayed at her old man's place for some time during the training trip. In fact, that was the only place where we didn't get kicked out when Pop tried to steal something." Smiling, he added with amusement showing clearly in his voice, "Probably cause it helped test their security system every time he tripped on an alarm."
"So that's how you got your money?!" Nabiki exclaimed, congratulating herself on her perfect deduction skills.
"Nah." Ranma shook his head to the negative. "I never stole anything in my life."
Nabiki gave him a level look. "Anything?"
Ranma rubbed the back of his head nervously. "Well… I never stole anything expensive. Food, on the other hand…" Ignoring Nabiki's smirk, Ranma continued, "Pop, however, just doesn't like to work… and he's too lazy…"
"I think I get the point, Ranma," Nabiki said dryly.
The pigtailed boy kept on talking, counting on his fingers as he did so, "… too stupid… too ugly…"
Nabiki's left eyebrow twitched, and she smacked him on the back of his head. "I said I got the point!"
The pigtailed boy looked at her for a long moment, before nodding slowly. "Right." With a shrug of his shoulders, he continued his story. "Anyway, I think he wanted to engage me to that Biiko chick, but was too scared of her. We ended up running away and going to China. Pop must've been really afraid that time."
"And you just went along with it?!" the Tendo girl asked incredulously.
Ranma shrugged. "I didn't want to stay with her, so I couldn't care less. I didn't like sneaking out, but I doubt she'd have let us go otherwise."
"What do you mean?" Nabiki scrunched her forehead in mild confusion. "B-ko would've kept you locked in her apartment?"
"Her mansion. And yes, she'd probably lock us in some dungeon. She looks like the type who'd have a dungeon."
Nabiki boggled at the money the Daitokuji family must have and at how casually Ranma talked about it. Before she could try to get more information from him, however, the bell rang, signaling the end of the lunch period. They two stood up, brushing a few crumbs that got on their clothes away and reached the school, heading towards their respective classrooms.
Throughout his years of strenuous training, Soun Tendo had taken upon many small hobbies to keep himself from going insane.
One of them was bird watching.
Ever since that day several years ago, when he had paid actual attention to a winged creature glide through the air without a care for the first time, Soun had wondered how it would feel to be able to have another level of freedom when the ground just wasn't enough. That, and he was curious as to why certain birds seemed to fly head-on into solid objects.
Now that he experienced this form of journeying first-hand, Soun realized that he just wasn't cut out for flying. Throwing in the fact that animals, especially ones with sharp beaks, kept heading towards him as if he shouldn't exist, made his decision all the more easier.
"Saotome?" he asked his currently pink companion, who was actually doing all the heavy-duty work as far as air travel went. "Just why is it that on certain days you have this sudden impulse to flap your ears and fly?"
Genma-elephant's trunk twisted upwards, holding a sign in front of Soun's face. [For practice, of course!]
"Ah, I see." He realized that his friend was just trying to get used to his cursed form, in case there was ever a moment when it was truly necessary to take on the elephant form. Soun's eyes suddenly widened in shock. Pointing out forward, he shouted, "Saotome, watch out for that--"
But it was far too late, as Genma-elephant crashed into a tall tree. His thick cranium lessened the effects of the blow, though it was enough to prevent him from flying as he toppled backwards.
It was a sight to behold as both rider and carrier fell through the air, shrieks of 'Why?!' and frantic bellows heard every now and then, vainly trying to grab onto something as to stop their descent. Soun vaguely felt violated as several long objects too slippery to be tree branches brushed against his behind. However, being in public, he couldn't bring himself to ask a small pink elephant in whether the creature had tried to molest him.
Unfortunately for Soun, he was the one to reach ground first, followed by Genma-elephant right on top of him. "That… hurt," he moaned, finding out the hard way that elephant calves are quite heavy, before drifting off into an unexpected rest.
As a new school day started, Ranma, along with Nuku Nuku and the Tendo girls, walked towards Furinkan High, his thoughts not quite on the upcoming schoolwork but on other things. Most of them having to do with a certain girl and prayers that he would never have to see her again. 'So far it's been working with regards to _him_. Only thing that could be worse is if I see them both at the same time.' Ranma shuddered, not wanting to even fathom such an unholy meeting. Deep in thought, he didn't pay attention to what was around him, eyes only staring at the sidewalk in front.
"Ranma, are you okay?" Nuku Nuku asked once again, concerned about why he wasn't his usual playful self that day, only muttering at times about huge robots.
She did everything to try and get his attention from waving her hands in front of him, to running in front to make him stop, though all that did was have him swerve away from her, to even licking his ear. The last one seemed to get the attention of Akane, who muttered something about all boys being perverts. Nuku Nuku still couldn't understand these humans that well. Wasn't it customary to lick someone all over to get their attention?
'Did Baka-san do something?' she wondered, recalling how different and slightly pale Genma looked when talking to Ranma during the morning spar. The catgirl wondered if bribing the elephant with peanuts would get her some answers from him.
Her curiosity about Ranma still high, the catgirl walked over to ask Akane if anything happened. "Nuku Nuku worried about Ranma. Try everything but Ranma still not react. It's so hard to get him going. Does Akane know if anything happen?"
At first the other girl blushed before realization set, causing her to shout back, "How should I know?!" walking away in a huff…
Right into the water an old lady was tossing out of her pail.
"Nuku Nuku go back to Ranma now," the pink-haired girl replied before smelling the air and adding, "Akane should take a bath. She doesn't smell nice anymore." And with that she cheerfully ran off, leaving dust in her wake. When the dust cleared, a wet and fuming girl could be seen.
Not having noticed that two of the girls were left behind, Ranma walked on, still in a trance-like state.
'Just one sign, that's all I want. Any sort of sign pointing towards Biiko not being here.'
As if on cue, everything around him got dimmer while a single ray of light shined briefly on the pigtailed boy.
'Thank you!' Ranma, taking it as 'the sign', thought with glee as he looked up… to see Biiko, smiling and standing in front of the school with twelve huge figures covered in cloth behind her.
"YOU LIED!!!" he screamed up to the heavens.
"Greetings, my love," the silver-haired girl stated in a haughty tone, tracing her fingers through her hair, not taking notice of the boy's distressed state. "Such a nice day, don't you think?"
"You still around after yesterday? Didn't ya have enough?!" Ranma shot back.
"But, Ranma-sama, I have discovered the key to your love," Biiko replied. Putting up three fingers and counting them down, she went on, "Wealth, intellect, a good breeding… all these take a second place for you in a woman."
"What the hell are you rambling 'bout there?" Ranma asked, confused but not liking the tone of the conversation one bit.
Before Biiko could continue, a cloud of dust appeared behind the other two and stopped next to Ranma. When it cleared, Nuku Nuku was standing by Ranma's side, mouth agape in awe of the huge, cloth-covered figures. Then, seeing the girl standing in front of the figures, she smiled and waved at her. Maybe the girl wanted to play with her again and be kissed, like her friends from the Amazon village.
Hearing someone else running into school grounds, Nabiki turned and saw her sister, who had dried herself before arriving.
By the time she reached Nabiki, Akane chose to glare at Nuku Nuku before looking towards Biiko. Something major was about to happen, she noticed, and certainly those two need her martial arts skills for this!
For a split-second Biiko recoiled at the sight of the catgirl before composing herself.
"The way to win your heart, Ranma, is through power!" she shouted, punching a fist in the air for emphasis. Then, pointing a finger at her beloved, Biiko continued, "Saotome Ranma, I challenge you! If my robots defeat you, then you'll marry me…"
"And if I win?" the pigtailed boy asked in a hopeful tone.
"Ohohohohohoho!" the girl responded. Looking at Ranma in the eyes, she said, "My robots are the embodiment of power! But, if you shall manage the impossible, I shall take your leave, my darling."
"Just what I wanted to hear!" Ranma smiled, striking a fist into the palm of his other hand, ready as ever for the fight.
"Ranma! You can't agree to this… this… lunacy!" Nabiki screamed towards the two, terrified at the possibility of Ranma and Nuku Nuku dying. All the fun they could have together, and the money she could have made, gone because of this. It would be the greatest waste ever!
Biiko, glaring at Nabiki, shouted back, "Shut up, insolent wench!"
Turning around, Ranma added, "Nabiki, this is my best chance to get rid of that fruitcake once and for all!" Then, looking back at Biiko, he looked at her gravely and said, "I accept your challenge, Biiko. Nuku an' me will go against your robots. And as you said, if we win, you'll leave us alone."
"Are we going to play again, Ranma?" Nuku Nuku asked, jumping up and down at the thought of all the fun they were going to have.
"Yep, Nuku." Smiling while cracking his knuckles, Ranma shouted, "Bring it on, Biiko!"
With a victorious grin, Biiko pulled out a remote control and pressed a few commands on it, causing the dozen huge robots to remove the cloth that covered them previously, making everyone present recoil in shock.
"I based them on what seems to be a popular show that commoners adore…" Biiko announced proudly, gesturing lazily at the closest robot. "They appear to be the epitome of love!"
Paling, Hiroshi pointed at the mecha, shouting, "Oh, dear God! It… It looks just like that… that evil THING from that God-awful show!"
"I can't believe they were able to twist a pure and beautiful emotion such as love that badly," Daisuke remarked with a groan.
The girls opted to point at the bulky robots and whisper amongst themselves. "I know what they mean. What was it called, something about friends?" Yuka asked Sayuri.
Whirling to face the two, Hiroshi immediately shushed them, making a scary face to the girls. "You actually remember that much of that damned name?! I've been trying to forget ever since…"
"I blame society!" Daisuke exclaimed, choking back a sob. "No, better yet, I blame my parents for making me watch that horror!"
More than a bit annoyed at the murmurs of the crowd and at the smiling faces and waves Nuku Nuku made to her creations, Biiko shouted, "Enough! ATTACK!!!"
The robots moved towards Ranma, Nuku Nuku and the two girls. Nabiki wisely stepped aside and took cover as the other three fell into their stances.
Suddenly, a breeze that came out of nowhere swept through the area, kicking up a dust cloud in its wake. Once the dust settled somewhat, the outline of a teenager became visible in its center. The figure walked out of it until it was in front of Akane, revealing itself to be an upperclassman in a kendo outfit, and grasped her right hand.
"My fair lady, I shall vanquish those foul demons and be free to date thee!" he announced bravely, blind to the amount of sheer disgust that appeared on his beloved's face. Holding up his bokken proudly, Kuno charged at the robots, only to be swatted aside in an anticlimactic fashion like an insignificant fly by a purple mecha.
Akane followed Kuno's trajectory, hearing another student shout out, "Kuno-sempai got hurt again!" until he became one with the school's wall, and wisely decided to step out of the attacking robots' way and move over to stand next to her sister. If there was anything that Ranma and Nuku Nuku's arrival had taught her, it was that while it was embarrassing to withdraw from a fight like this, it was much more embarrassing, not to mention painful, to actually participate in one of that caliber.
Besides, without her superior skills, those two perverted jerks would no doubt get the beating of their lives!
The closest mecha to Ranma wasted no time and launched a lightning-fast punch at the pigtailed boy's head. Ranma's features blurred momentarily, as he jumped onto the overextended appendage and jogged upwards, flinging his body towards the mecha's head when he reached its shoulder.
The purple robot tried to swat at the nuisance with its left arm, only to stop short when Ranma's body went through its head, somersaulting through the air and landing lightly on his feet.
The mecha staggered, and fell forwards heavily, raising a cloud of dust as it did so.
"Let's get them, Nuku!" Ranma shouted excitedly, rushing over to his next victim.
Squealing in delight, Nuku Nuku ran towards the nearest robot and grabbed it by its foot. It was playtime again!
Raising the giant metallic monster over her head, she twisted in her place several times, before letting go of it. Flung by the kinetic energy generated by the centrifugal forces, the bright red mecha impacted upon another of its kind, a distinctly yellow one. The two robots hit their heads together and fell to the ground, taking a third one, green this time, with them. The three robots together combined a bizarre, colorful sandwich, lying on top of one another motionlessly.
High-fiving each other, Ranma and Nuku Nuku turned towards a neon-cherry mecha that stared at them dumbly. Exchanging a glance and a smile, the two double-teamed it, raining blows all over its legs, completely destroying them in the process. When the giant robot sagged down, Ranma and Nuku Nuku each grabbed one of its arms, pulling on the count of three. The mecha was neatly torn into two more or less equal halves.
Down to only seven robots out of what only moments before had been a whole dozen, Biiko ordered them to open fire. White-hot plasma streaked from the robots towards their two targets, making them scramble for cover, madly dodging all the while.
Lasers joined in on the fun, as two of the robots shot precise beams of concentrated red light at Ranma. Nuku Nuku wasn't fairing much better than him, having to dodge the collective fire of the remaining five mecha.
However the case was, both combatants managed to avoid getting hit, and Biiko began to fret. Normally, she'd just wait for her opponents to tire themselves out… but this was Ranma!
The snobbish girl narrowed her eyes, when she saw Ranma take out a small keypad seemingly out of thin air and punch in a few numbers, before leaping away once more to dodge the incoming attacks. Biiko had the distinct feeling that she was running out of time, and decided to go for broke.
Utilizing the full capabilities of her robots, Biiko ordered them to fire their entire missile load. A thunderous roar caused by their launch shattered windows in a five mile radius, as missiles literally covered the sky, soaring overhead in a circle and even going as far as blocking out the sun.
All of the spectators looked at them in awe, and even the combatants stopped fighting, and looked at the heavens quizzically.
And then, all of the missiles slowly started to form a gigantic sword, whose tip pointed at Ranma, Nuku Nuku… and the entire student body that was too close to them to escape unharmed.
Screams sounded all over the schoolyard, as all the spectators ran away in horror. The mechs made things especially difficult by resuming their fire. Glancing gravely at the missiles, Ranma signaled for the catgirl to shield him, and wasting no time turned away, taking out a small, sleek datapad. Knowing what was at stake, Nuku Nuku redoubled her efforts against the robots, tearing out a metallic drainage pipe and batting away the plasma shots, while simply reflecting the laser beams.
As Ranma punched furiously at the little device, the catgirl managed to deflect a laser beam into one of the mecha, and then successfully redirected three plasma bolts into it while the orange robot was immobile. The remaining six mecha withdrew and regrouped, opting to fire at the pink-haired girl from afar.
Nuku Nuku tried to deflect their shots, but the larger distance between her and the robots worked against the catgirl, giving her opponents time to move out of the way, while continuing to fire methodically. And, unlike them, she didn't have that luxury. Moving away would mean that her human would get hurt; as simple as that.
It was her duty to protect her human.
Knowing in her heart that Ranma would solve the problem if given the chance, Nuku Nuku continued to stand her ground. She only winced when a stray shot came to close to her body, going through her skirt and setting it on fire. Not bothering to put the fire out, Nuku Nuku tore the burning section off, idly throwing it aside.
"How much longer, Ranma?" she asked raggedly, trying not to let any of her tiredness creep into her voice.
"Almost… there…" the pigtailed boy replied, his breathing labored and sweat pouring down his brow.
Nuku Nuku nodded to herself curtly, and narrowed her eyes at the mecha. She was able to deflect a few more shots, before the metal overheated and the catgirl was forced to drop it, so that she wouldn't get burnt.
A few stray shots went over her head, before one bolt of plasma went headed straight for Ranma's head. Nuku Nuku knew that normally her human would have no problem dodging the attack, despite the fact that it was fired at him from behind. However, she also knew that he wouldn't move from his spot, having total and complete confidence in her and her abilities to defend them both.
Leaping to intercept the shot, Nuku Nuku winced she blocked it with her left shoulder. But even that desperate act only bought her a few moments, as three more plasma bolts headed her way menacingly. The missiles that had finally gotten into their giant sword-like formation and were rapidly descending towards them weren't helping matters either.
Unable to protect Ranma from that position anymore, the catgirl grabbed him in a fireman's carry and leaped away. The tiny device Ranma was working on fell to the ground out of the startled pigtailed boy's hands, clattering to the ground.
When they were relatively safe, the catgirl put Ranma back on the ground, and said, "Sorry we had to go, but Nuku Nuku couldn't fight on that spot anymore!"
"Hey, that's alright, Nuku," Ranma replied, smiling at her reassuringly. "I was just about to tell you that I was finished."
Unperturbed by the large boom that sounded from above, as explosions wreaked havoc through the myriad of missiles, ripping them apart without detonating their nuclear-tipped warheads, the pink-haired girl returned his smile, cheerful as ever after the praise. Ranma's eyes involuntarily traveled downwards all over her body…
And the pigtailed boy immediately noticed something. He could see a whole lot of flesh; too much even for the carefree catgirl.
"Nuku, what happened to you?!" Ranma exclaimed, his eyes widening in horror when he realized that her left shoulder was charred and bleeding.
"Stupid big and ugly robots don't play fair," Nuku Nuku replied agitatedly, remembering her recent predicament.
And the evil things even tried to hurt her human!
Playtime was over.
Glaring at the gigantic mecha surrounding her in a wide semi-circle, Nuku Nuku slowly crossed her hands in front of her chest, before bringing them down sharply as light erupted around her knuckles where her translucent ki claws came to life.
Biiko hurriedly dispatched orders to her robots, switching to backup plan C. Somewhere deep in the recesses of her mind, a small part of her was bothered that plans A and B were all failures, but Biiko couldn't be bothered with such trivialities at the moment.
Plan C's success rate was over ninety-nine percent! Every simulation she'd run the day before had pointed to that unanimously!
The remaining six mecha retracted the fingers on their hands, sprouting long claws of diamond instead.
Amidst the chaos, Biiko's haughty laugh sounded through the wrecked schoolyard, augmented by the remaining robots' external speakers.
"Soon, my love, you shall be mine… all mine!"
Ranma's left eye twitched violently, and he shook his head angrily. The pigtailed boy was about to shout a degenerating reply to Biiko when the entire schoolyard exploded in bright white light.
Shielding his eyes from the nearly unbearable glow, he noticed in awe that it was Nuku Nuku who was generating the fearsome aura.
And then, the catgirl was gone.
One moment, she'd been standing next to him, seething quietly and glaring at the mecha while her ki claws glowed menacingly, and the next… she was all over the robots.
The aquamarine mecha didn't even know what hit it. Its sensors managed to register an extremely agitated mewl before its body was literally torn apart. The robot's smoking remains fell to the ground in eight pieces, shrouding the surrounding area in dust and smoke.
A humanoid shape could soon be discerned in the cloud. A few moments later, the catgirl stepped out into plain sight with a bowed head, her hands and ki claws held at her sides.
The remaining five mecha involuntarily took a step back when Nuku Nuku's head snapped back up, her eyes glowing with an unnatural emerald light.
"Ranma! Your fight is now with me!" Biiko shouted, ripping off her school uniform and revealing the Akagiyama hardsuit underneath.
Throwing a short fit of laughter, Biiko pointed at Nuku Nuku, announcing grandly, "Destroy that She-Demon, my beautiful creations!"
Looking at each other, the mecha gave an equivalent of a shrug and charged the catgirl together, dogpiling her.
"Nuku!" Ranma exclaimed urgently, seeing his companion literally buried under the bulky robots.
The pigtailed boy made a move towards Nuku Nuku, who was getting pounded relentlessly by the mecha, which took full advantage of her momentary disorientation. However, Biiko blocked his path.
"My darling, here is where you will realize your folly and bend to God's will! Our love was written in the stars themsel--"
The rest of Biiko's rant was cut short, as Ranma's punch caught her straight in the jaw, sending the girl dozens of meters away until she became imbedded in a wall. Shaking her head to get her bearings straight amidst the rubble her impact had created, Biiko smiled. "I see… you still do not think of me as worthy to be your consort."
Torn between his desire to go help Nuku Nuku and fearing to leave his back wide open for an attack, Ranma waited for Biiko to make her move, his knuckles whitening from the exertion he was putting into his muscles. 'C'mon, you psycho… attack me already!'
Wiping a slight trickle of blood that ran from her mouth, she charged at Ranma with the speed of a freight train, shouting, "I won't hold back anymore!"
Not even blinking, Ranma met her charge head on, barreling into the longhaired girl and grabbing her right hand in a pain hold. He was about to dislocate it and get Biiko out of the fight when an explosion off to the side sent both of them tumbling to the ground. Turning their heads towards its source, Ranma and Biiko could only gape at the massive mushroom-like dust cloud.
Soon, a speck of light could be seen approaching them from the cloud. The speck turned into a glowing line, its features becoming more and more distinct until it could be identified as one of the beam sabers the mecha used.
Ranma hoped beyond hope that the catgirl had ripped a saber out of one of those robots during the last moments of the battle and was using it as a weapon. Even though he knew that unlike him, Nuku Nuku didn't like to use weapons, preferring to fight only with her body, he continued to hope…
Only to have those hopes dashed utterly and completely when an orange mecha stepped out of the cloud flanked by two others who had powered down their saber weapons.
The scene finally cleared, revealing a gigantic crater and charred pieces of what seemed to be two melted robots.
Nuku Nuku was nowhere to be found.
Ranma's heart sank and shattered into a million tiny pieces at the realization that he had lost Nuku Nuku. He bowed his head, staring at the ground next to his feet in shock. Losing… Nuku Nuku… The mere idea was not perceivable! The catgirl had been a part of his life for as long as he could remember, always helping his and generally staying by his side…
Nuku Nuku was a very special friend. She knew more about him than anyone else possibly could. Whenever life would get difficult, or his father would try one more of his idiotic training technique… Nuku Nuku would always help him.
'What horrors would've happened to me if it weren't for her?'
Most of the people his father and he had met in their travels usually treated Nuku Nuku as an 'it'… but Ranma knew better. One only had to look in her eyes for a few moments, and see the deep intelligence projected back.
He had always known in his heart that Nuku Nuku could understand him when he would talk with her… sometimes for hours at a time…
If nothing else, her fast grasp of Japanese proved that theory. To learn how to speak within a few hours from being changed into a girl for the first time in her life was no mean feat.
And now, all of that had been lost.
The only cat he'd never feared in his life, despite the Neko-ken training his father had put him through…
No, it was…
It was more…
His best friend in the whole wide world…
The friend he made a pact with all those years ago…
Gone, and never coming back…
Biiko laughed triumphantly, satisfied in the successful execution of her master plan. The demon was gone, and her enchantment over Ranma-sama would surely be gone in no time, allowing him to see through the veil covering his eyes and realize that only she, Biiko Daitokuji, was his one true love!
Several moments later she realized that something was wrong. After all, Ranma darling wasn't hugging her, declaring his undying love as he should have.
After glancing at Ranma, Biiko recoiled in shock. She'd miscalculated the demon's hold over him! What foul spell could have done that to him?!
Ranma had to be knocked out, she realized. It was only for his own good, after all.
Her mind set, Biiko ordered the mecha to attack Ranma.
His hair unbound from the pigtail that had pretty much become his trademark throughout the years, Ranma stared at the whisker that was used to hold it in place. It used to belong to Nuku Nuku, but she'd lost it during one of their fights with his father, when he'd gone too far yet again and had to be stopped.
And now, it was the only thing he had left to remind him of her…
Ranma's hair changed color and became a deep blue, an unseen wind picking up all around him. His eyes slowly darkened, until they were the color of blood, and even the robots missed a step when Ranma raised his head and stared at them listlessly.
And then, it was as if the dam had broken.
Energy coalesced all around Ranma's body, bathing him in an eerie white light. It coursed through his hands, merging with his fingers. Sharp, translucent claws came to life, extending from his fingers. Growling loudly, Ranma leapt at the mecha in the center, slashing at him wildly with his newfound claws. The remaining two robots tried to bum rush him, but Ranma paid them no heed, idly batting both of the mecha away with translucent walls of pure energy. The one on the left was flung high into the sky towards the Kuno mansion, while the other robot impacted heavily against Biiko, who stood to the side in shock, completely awed by Ranma's display of power and unable to dodge the incoming robot in time. They proceeded to traverse at high speeds towards one of the nearby buildings, the mecha detonating on impact with the stone wall.
Before she slipped into unconsciousness, Biiko's last thoughts were, 'Such prowess… I must have him!'
Ranma didn't stop his attack for a few minutes, and when he regained his senses, there was a deep trench in the ground from his claws. Of the robot, there was no sign.
His adrenaline rush fading away, Ranma collapsed onto his knees, letting his face drop into his hands.
"Nuku…" he sobbed, as tears flowed freely down his cheeks, falling onto the scarred ground.
Ranma continued to cry openly, completely disregarding the beeping that was coming from behind him. He was never even aware of the danger, even when the green robot finally completed rebooting his system and pushed the yellow and red ones off itself, getting on its feet. Ranma didn't move a muscle as the robot grabbed his in its massive palm and started squeezing slowly.
His vision started to fail, spots appearing all over it. Ranma's trained body automatically tried to defend itself, but all the exertion it had been put through had used all of the resources.
'So… this is how it ends…' Ranma thought sadly, comforted by the fact that he wouldn't be alone in the afterlife.
Just before he passed out, Ranma heard a distant explosion, which was immediately followed by a sudden gust of wind on his face.
Vaguely aware of someone calling his name urgently, Ranma tried to focus his eyes on the blurred figure that was holding him.
'Wasn't a robot crushing me to death?' Ranma wondered drunkenly, getting sidetracked by the bright colors assaulting his mind seemingly from all directions.
A lock of red hair caught his attention, and Ranma mumbled a name before finally succumbing to the bright light.
To be continued.
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