A Ranma ½ / Sailor Moon crossover story
by Josh Temple
Naturally, I own neither Sailor Moon nor Ranma. So here's the disclaimer. Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.
C&C as always is wanted.
Chapter 1: The Start of Something Upsetting
Ranma woke up to the sound of leaves blowing in the wind. The relative silence was refreshing. He had spent most of his life on the road, and it was nice to get away from it all. Nerima felt too closed in and loud, even if it was one of the more low-density wards.
His trip out here was fairly simple. After taking the subway to its westward terminus, he walked down the street to a train station and got on. By the time he had reached Komi, roughly a hundred miles from Nerima, Ranma had switched trains six times. The most direct route would have required him to do it only two times. He had also changed gender a couple times and used a disguise or two.
It was part paranoia and part decompression. The further he got, the less wary he became. Distance bought him time. Ranma knew that he would eventually be found, but the more distance he got from everyone the more time to himself he would get.
He was not asking for much. Just some time to practice and develop some new techniques. Ryoga always got the chance to find new moves and learn them in solitude. It was not like Ranma would not be back in a couple of days, but paranoia seemed to be a trait others possessed.
All he wanted was some time to himself, and after making the transfers, he would have it. Unless someone had managed to follow him all the way from Komi, and then managed to track Ranma on his two hour hike into the forest.
Getting up, he heard the sound of birds high up in the trees. He was happy that because of the mountainous topography of Japan, many areas were undeveloped and likely to remain so.
Ranma sighed as he pulled his breakfast out of his pack. It felt like today would be the last day of uninterrupted training. That any time now someone would pop in shouting, "Prepare to die", "Foul Sorcerer", "Airen", or some such nonsense. There was a very good chance that he would be found, but this time he dreaded it. The area was so peaceful and serene. It had done wonders for his stress, but he knew he could not get rid of them.
In a way, it worked out rather well, Ranma thought while eating some energy bars. If he used his time wisely he would have a new or modified technique and someone to try it against. His father approved of these trips, saying that he had taken similar trips in his own youth, and that it was good to show initiative in the Art, but lately Genma had been suggesting that he should take Akane along.
Ranma knew that it was another scheme to get them together, but this one might have some merit. Akane did need more training if she ever wanted to improve. Perhaps away from the distraction of the other fiancées and rivals he could actually teach her without having an argument or a fight.
The martial artist dismissed those thoughts as he put his refuse in his trash bag. Bringing Akane along would just make the others all the more frantic. At least now the fiancées knew he had gone alone. Shrugging, Ranma secured his camp and then began training.
Ranma leaped over the gulch. Possessing a small stream and only moderately sloped sides, it was not quite an arroyo, although the depth and levelness of the bottom indicated that the stream did flood. A hydrologist or an environmental engineer would have placed the stream as a relatively new development in the local watershed.
Easily crossing the twelve foot gully, Ranma twisted as he hit the ground, firing a small ki blast as he rolled to the left. His target was a small bit of rock exposed over a hundred feet downstream on the side of the gulch.
Popping back up, he glanced briefly to see if he was on target, before resuming his twisting and dodging. Right now he was executing a cross-country live fire exercise to see just what his range and accuracy were. His goal was more precision and speed on these draining attacks.
Following the stream, he was pleased to have hit the target. The stone shattered, bits of it falling down the side of the gulch. As he ran past, Ranma noticed that something squarish had fallen along with the broken rock. Drawn by curiosity, Ranma doubled back to examine the object.
It appeared to be a cube of some kind. It looked like it was made out of pieces of wood that were dovetailed into each other, and was just too big to fit in one hand. There were no openings and it was absent of markings. The box was too light to be solid wood, and it did not rattle. Ranma's eyes itched as he turned the box over, for a second he felt as if things were reversed and that the box was examining him. He found a small metal plate on one of the sides, but it was stained with dirt or something.
After his nails failed to reveal what, if anything, was written on the plate, he sighed and walked over to the stream. Ranma managed to clean off the grime but activated the curse in the process.
The redhead sighed at her inability to decipher the symbols on the plate. Her frustration grew as the joints in the box failed and it fell apart in her hands. Even more annoyingly, a thick cloud of dust burst out of the box as it disintegrated and covered her. She closed her eyes and the substance irritated her skin.
Grumbling, she washed the dust off and tossed the wooden pieces away. Ranma did not bother to notice that the inscription on the plate had changed, nor did she realize that it was too late.
She had more important things on her mind. It was about lunchtime anyway and she made it back to her camp, muttering about dusty trash as she went. Not surprised in the slightest at her hunger, Ranma began to tear into her supply of food. After eating all of the energy bars she had brought with her, Ranma had to pause as a woozy feeling overcame her. Then she felt the hunger again. Ripping open instant ramen packages and eating them uncooked. She ate and ate.
It was only after she had eaten and drunk everything she had in the camp, even that last bit she kept "just in case", did she stop. The hunger still gnawed within her, but unless she started eating moss and twigs, there was nothing left.
Then throughout her body she felt a strange popping. It was almost as if her blood was filled with shipping bubble-wrap that was bursting all at once. The hunger was still there, but there was also a darkness encroaching on her vision.
Wobbling, the redhead made her way back to the tent where she fell on top of her sleeping bag. She briefly wondered if she was poisoned somehow. She panicked as her body heated up.
Feeling feverish, she slipped out of her clothes, curled into a ball, and passed out. Tiny silken filaments mysteriously extended from beneath the girl, following the contours of her body. The silver threads wasted no time in setting upon their charge, encircling and encasing the girl within a thick cocoon.
The capsule had waited until someone would come who matched all the requirements. It had almost passed on this candidate, but then the gender had suddenly changed. The candidate had consumed just enough food for the process and as the sun set the magic began its work. During the night, the tent was silent save for the occasional gurgle and twitch from within the cocoon.
The sun rose, its light piercing through the forest. Within the tent, the cocoon started to bulge as the being within fought to break free of its prison. The fibrous covering tore and pulled away as what was inside made its way out of the chrysalis.
A new girl emerged from the tent. During the night, she'd lost over an inch of height as she acquired a lighter and smaller frame. Her skin had gained a glowing, almost glittering tan. Stretching, she found somewhat increased flexibility. Her hair was longer now, freely flowing, and had become a rich ruby-red with a sapphire-blue streak down the center.
Feeling them, she could tell that the tips of her ears had been elongated and tilted back. Next she touched a pair of four inch long blue-green antennae coming out of her forehead. Finally, she noticed the wings that had just finished unfurling. She had a pair of green-and-red spiraled sparkling butterfly wings on her back.
Considering the changes she had gone through, it was understandable that it took her a while to notice that she was quite naked. Strangely, her bare breasts and exposed privates unsettled her more than her bobbing antennae and her trembling wings.
Fear and anxiety bubbled up within her. She could feel herself panicking. She almost dropped to her knees as she shuddered. The girl's twitching then eased up and she rose to what was now her full height. Panicking would not accomplish anything. She had to think. Her mind calmed and cleared with surprising ease. The first thing she needed was to get dressed.
Before she could get more clothing, some force obliged her. Motes of light surrounded her and formed a set of clothing that centered around a white bodysuit.
It had a gold-trimmed green skirt and golden ribbons. Her shoes were inch-high green heels. Her nails were extended, shaped, and painted gold. She had white fingerless elbow length green-trimmed gloves. She wore a thin green choker encircled with golden leaves. A golden tiara set with emeralds, rubies, and sapphires formed under her antennae. Earrings of tiny silver leaves formed into place. Her hair twisted and was pulled up and held back with golden bands, forming into a vibrant spiraled ponytail of crimson and blue.
"What’s happening to me?" she uttered, noticing her new voice. It was higher and softer now, and somehow reminded her of honey. She looked at her hands; they were delicate, soft, and long. She walked over to where the backpack was hung. She had to see what she looked like. She could not have turned into what her mind was telling her.
Lifting up the flap, she pulled out a small shaving mirror. Looking into it, she saw that her eyes had turned emerald green and were complimented by a beautiful, if somewhat heavily made-up face. Her emerald eyes seemed to twinkle in delight. Turning the mirror she could only catch glimpses: a piece of a jeweled wing here, some sapphire and ruby hair there, a bit of gold ribbon here, green lace there, and so on.
Each fragment made her increasingly worried. She needed to see it all. She had to know what she had become. She felt within her that there was a way. The forest seemed to grow around her as she shrank to the ground. She went from just under five feet, in heeled pumps, to four and a half inches tall.
She was surprisingly calm as she stood on the ground dwarfed by even the smallest of plants. Her clothing and jewelry maintained the same size relative to her. The mirror had fallen to the ground and was still the same size, although now it could show her entire body. Propping it up against a small rock, the tiny young woman got the first full glimpse of what she had become.
She could now see the fullness of her change. The metamorphosis within her cocoon had changed her form completely and then dressed her. It was an extreme reaction to some apparently magical object, even for her. "Why does this kind of crap have to happen to me?" she cried in that honeyed voice.
As she studied her reflection, she pouted. "Wow. That magic thing just had to make me into a sexy fairy girl," she said, fluttering her wings. The new girl ran a hand through her hair and she posed in the mirror. "My hair hasn't been this long since that stupid island with that lame prince. The new style's cute, though." She paused and blinked. "Gah! What am I saying! And what's wrong with my voice?!"
Suddenly she felt a twitching from within her antennae. It took her a moment to realize what the sensation was. The appendages growing out of her forehead were detecting motion of some kind. She could tell that something was coming towards her and it was now picking up speed. Somehow she knew that it was an animal much, much larger than her now.
Ranma shrieked, and acting on disturbing new instincts, took to the air. Supported by her fluttering wings, she studied the animal that had just padded into the clearing and was looking at her with a dopey grin. The large canine studied the flying girl with an expression that seemed interested.
Ranma smiled at that. She was very sparkly and eye-catching. "What are you doing out here? I don't think a dog can help me. That is, unless you can help me out of this lame getup or get me back to my normal height." She looked up at one of the spiraled antenna that hung almost above her vision. "As if turning into a girl wasn't bad enough." She turned to see that the animal was now sniffing around her tent.
"Like you understand what I'm saying," Ranma sighed. At least talking made things feel clearer.
"On the contrary, I understood everything. It was a good thing I kept my language skills up to date." The canine's tone was proud, but it turned annoyed. "And I'm not a dog. Don't you know what a wolf is? I mean, these islands were populated with them a mere hundred years ago."
Ranma narrowed her eyes as she carefully flew closer to the wolf. She looked at her uniform, then at the talking animal, then back at her uniform. "Oh no! You can forget it! Turn me back!"
"Though I guess things could be worse. I heard rumors that those silly Senshi had to listen to cats. A big old wolf is better."
The wolf smiled. "I'm glad you approve. Serenity may have copied more than a few things from Titania, but she did get her own type of advisor. Heck, Serenity stole her royal guards' uniform designs straight from ours. So don't worry. You won't be working for some uppity Moon Queen."
"Uh… that's good, I think, but I'm still…"
"Small?" The wolf smiled again. "I can help you. That is my job."
"Yeah… about that," Ranma said, her newly green eyes hardening. "You're going to tell me exactly what happened."
"Fair enough. You're the boss. It's been so long since I've heard a fairy's voice. It's a bit annoying, really."
"You did not just say that." Ranma's eye twitched. "You're not my advisor, and I'm not a magical girl."
"Not like those Senshi. I can't believe those girls are still running around. Avalon falls but the Moon kingdom's still around." He shook his head.
"The what now? The Senshi have a kingdom? I heard they just fight monsters. I don't pay attention to that nonsense."
"How fitting. Anyway, that box you found was something of a time capsule. The civilization behind it was dying, and they constructed it in the hopes of preventing themselves from dying out completely. The old queen herself was critical in the crafting of the artifact. It was her last great work."
"And they just buried it in the woods?" Ranma sighed. It was stupid, but she had been screwed over by enough magical items to know that the makers of such items were just that moronic.
"Well, they secured the area with a large number of protective wards. The container itself was also locked. It would only open when it was held by a maiden of strength, honor, and purity. All that standard stuff for making a new queen. I was also left here to watch over this place and maintain the wards and to protect and train you."
"There's one problem. I'm not a maiden! I'm a guy."
The wolf's ears perked up. "That's… that's not possible. The transformation couldn't work on a guy. This is some heavy duty magic. The box would never open to a male."
"That's it! I'm going to get you to reverse this one way or another!"
The wolf blinked. As he tried to dodge the incoming fairy. He presented several well-reasoned arguments as to how he had no idea how to reverse the process. His job was just to maintain the area until a new queen was found and then protect and train her. He only had the dimmest of ideas as to how the transformation process even worked.
As he was being pummeled by the tiny girl, he reflected that at least she knew how to protect herself. She even had a knack for channeling her magical energy. Something he would have appreciated more if it weren't being used to make little blue-glowing fists of fury.
"Do you mind?" the wolf asked as a now human-sized girl leaned against his very sore body.
"According to you, I'm your queen. Therefore I get to use you as a pillow, Wolf," Ranma said as she stretched, putting even more weight on a sore spot. "You're pretty comfortable, ya know?"
Wolf rolled his eyes and bore the indignation. "I'm glad you've found a use for your teacher and protector. I could be teaching you how to use your magic, you know."
"Some protector. I beat you up when I was smaller than your head! As for teaching…. You were no help when getting me back to my normal size. 'Think big.' Yeah, that's a lot of help. Way I see it, the only use for a big, fuzzy wolf is as a pillow. Maybe you can carry my stuff too."
"If that's what you want," Wolf raised his head absently. He was more than strong enough to carry his queen's possessions. It beat the years and years of lonely meditation, training, and waiting.
"You sure about being called Wolf? I mean, it's a pretty generic name," Ranma asked as she studied her left ear using her mirror.
"You heard my full name," Wolf sighed. "I prefer generic."
"As long as you don't call me Titania or queen, I won't call you Windsong from the Dark Mountains of… I don't remember the rest."
"Your title is Queen Titania Windgates the Second, but that's still much less annoying than my name. So deal."
"Good. Okay, I can accept that you're just a flunky doing a job. And you're not pushing me."
"It's your first day, and you give orders to me. Not the other way around," Wolf pointed out.
"So why am I not freaking out?"
"What are you talking about? You beat me up."
Ranma's antennae drooped in annoyance. "After that."
"You panicked when you thought you couldn't return to a human size."
"There was that time you almost beat me up again after the hot water did nothing. Though what do you expect from those new-fangled curses? They don't hold a candle to the stuff that your predecessor could do."
"Yeah, yeah. Now I'm talking about what happened when I got sick of that stupid uniform."
"I showed you how to make some new clothes."
"Fairy clothes," she clarified.
"Your human ones won't shrink with you. That still got you freaked out. I mean, you really didn't like what you first got into."
"It was invisible! I was naked!"
"Glittery and see-through is normal for fairies," Wolf sighed. "Besides you fixed it."
"Yeah, I did," Ranma said as she got up and twirled briefly, showcasing the green leotard she wore. Resembling an abbreviated one-piece swimsuit, it had leaf patterned accents and was open-backed to allow for her wings and plunged low revealing much of her chest.
Her movements made the translucent short skirting she wore flail up in a shimmering flounce. Covering her legs was the same material that made her skirt. It was thicker around her feet and made for a pair of bootie-like slippers. Her entire outfit and her skin sparkled and glittered. "See, isn't this much better?" the fairy happily asked.
"I agree adding the leotard makes the image more tasteful and accentuates your body more, and cutting down on the eyeshadow helps too. A more natural look."
"Thanks." Ranma blushed. "I like the see through stuff, but I need some more… modesty." She blinked. "That! That was it! Why am I okay with this? I'm accepting this too easily!"
"Oh, that. It's a minor thing your magic is doing to keep you sane. Going from a human to a fairy is a big shock. This just rounds the edges off."
"I don't want my edges rounded! I don't wanna wear pretty clothes and have shiny and lovely hair… Gah!"
"Go back to your human clothes, then. It's not like I care about your hair and makeup. I'm a guy."
"Thin ice…." Ranma hissed.
"Still. You've got those pants. They'd still fit."
"Uh… I tried that, remember… they… itched."
Blushing, Ranma walked over to her pack and pulled out a pair of pants. She shook them and a cloud of golden glitter came off of them.
"I didn't realize that's what fairy dust did to human clothes," Wolf noted.
"That's the worst part. I make glitter. I mean, it's not like this skirt started off being sparkly."
"There are more embarrassing things to make, Ranma. And at least what you're wearing now catches it. I guess that's why fairies dress like that."
"Yeah, but still, it's glitter!" Ranma grumbled and punched a tree. "Ouch!" she cried in surprise. "That's not supposed to happen!"
"What, getting hurt when you slam your fist into wood?"
Ranma flexed her arm and felt around. She was always on the slight side, especially when in female form, but there was always solid compact muscle. Not anymore. She closed her vibrant green eyes. To her pleasure she found herself caring about this change. "You fleabag! What happened to me?"
Wolf cocked his head to the side, not really understanding what Ranma was getting at. "Can you be a bit more specific?"
"Care to explain this!" Ranma went prone and started doing pushups. Shortly… much too shortly for her tastes, she was out of breath and at her limits.
"Um… impressive?" Wolf ventured. It was a good amount of physical exertion for a fairy. Especially one in human-sized form.
"No! That's not even a quarter of what I used to do! What'd you do to me?" The fairy looked quite threatening, despite her sweet voice, glittering wings, and sparkling body.
"You did just emerge from a cocoon. You went through a big change."
"You know how much training I'm going to have to go through to get my body back in shape? Gah!" Ranma smacked her hand to her forehead.
"I don't see what the big deal is," Wolf shrugged.
"Oh no. I care about this. You're not gonna trick me into not carin'. This isn't like wearing a pretty skirt or having nice long hair." Ranma paused to collect her thoughts.
"What I meant was that for a fairy you're in great shape. Your kind isn't known for it's physical strength. You did manage to punch me out, though," Wolf offered.
"Yeah… how did I do that?"
"I guess you do want me to teach you how to use your magic, then," Wolf teased.
Ranma narrowed her eyes. "Are you being like this to try to get me to use my 'queenly authority' to make you act proper?"
"Whatever gets you learning." Wolf shrugged again.
"Right. I have to learn how use my cute little body." Ranma stopped her primping and narrowed her eyes. "Okay, this isn't just making me not care. I'm being girly."
"It made you not care about being a fairy queen. Like you said, you make glitter and the like." Wolf paused to think. "Back when you were human, did you take… pride in your girl-body or use its beauty?"
Ranma blushed. "I did the cute act to get food sometimes. So what?"
"Oh, nothing. I'm sure that won't have any side effects," Wolf dismissed. "Though I bet you could really clean up now."
"Yeah," the fairy posed and gave a wink. "They won't know what hit them."
Wolf nodded. Nope, no side effects at all.
"You're going to have to teach me how to look human, you know," Ranma added.
"Yes, a basic glamour spell to conceal your wings, antennae, and ears would be a good start. Then you can learn more powerful illusions and eventually shape-shifting."
"Shape-shifting? I could be male again. It would cure me?" Ranma cautiously asked.
"Cure? There's no 'cure', my queen. You are the queen of the fairies. Though I suppose if you got skilled enough in your magic, you could assume a male form sometimes."
"I could? What's the catch?"
"No catch. Aside from how difficult it would be to learn. The first Titania could do it, but she was very powerful and experienced. Though she was not as… motivated as you. She was simply curious. Be warned, you would not look like your original male form."
"Yeah, it'd be the male version of this, wouldn't it?" Ranma pouted at she indicated herself.
"You would be making yourself into a male fairy. Still, it's a start," Wolf offered. He did not want to go into more detail about what male fairies were like. It was much easier for male fairies to… shift than for females.
"You're right!" Ranma brightened. It was a chance. She could have some semblance of her life back — and without losing her new one, a very small part of her quietly added. "Let's start training!" she said happily, fluttering her wings for effect. "You've also gotta show me how I can get my strength back."
"I'll teach you everything I can." Wolf nodded. Right now his queen's enthusiasm seemed like a good thing, but after he saw how Ranma handled training he would be both disturbed and impressed.
"Are you sure about this?" Wolf asked as he walked next to his queen.
Ranma looked down at her… pet, and smiled. "You don't think it's a good idea?"
"Actually, I admire your directness. From what you've said, your mother could go either way with this."
"She accepted the curse, but this…?" the redhead looked down at her tanned and sparkling body.
"You could pretend," Wolf offered.
Ranma stopped her walking and turned to face the wolf. "I will not go through another charade with mother. Not again. Sure, I could fool her into thinking I just got a tan and lengthened my hair, but I'd be lying to her about something bigger than my curse."
The wolf nodded. "Good." He looked over Ranma's glamour with a critical eye. The fairy looked like a normal, if short, teenage girl with a tan… who had an affinity for leotards and glitter. She easily passed for human, especially among those who did not know anything about magic. It was like the magic that was allowing him to walk and talk right next to her. Everyone knew that wolves were extinct in Japan, and even if one was on the street it could never talk. Therefore, the animal walking next to the girl had to be her dog. These spells worked with a person's natural perceptions.
"Was that a test?"
"I was wondering how you would treat your old life." Wolf ignored the glare that Ranma gave him at the use of the word 'old'. "You could move away and use your powers to start a new life and build from scratch, but if I may offer an opinion, what you're doing now speaks well of your character."
Ranma smiled slightly. Spending almost a week with Wolf had given her insight into his teaching methods. "You didn't really answer, yah know. What's the lesson? I can order you to tell me."
Wolf gave a little smile. "You'd be ordering me as a queen. That works for your training too. You are coming along nicely."
"Aw, thanks." Ranma blushed. She then blinked, and cried out in frustration. "I hate this," she muttered. "This stupid magic. I can't get angry. Not really angry, anyway."
"I'm sorry. This was never intended to be used on a male mind," Wolf said, hoping that his charge would be okay.
"I wanna… I'm still a guy, you know." Ranma sighed.
"Careful. Remember the last time you tried to prove that." Despite his warning tone, Wolf was smiling.
Ranma shivered. "Don't remind me. I would have won." It was a simple contest in one of the towns along their trip back to Tokyo. Ranma thought that if she could have won it….
"Then the leotard incident happened," Wolf said, trying his best not to laugh, but ended up making coughing-like noises anyway.
Ranma stopped walking and glared at the canine. "Don't remind me. That was only the start of the bad things." She still had no feminine modesty, but the problems with her leotard were only the tip of the embarrassing iceberg.
"At least you're being more cautious now."
"Right," Ranma deadpanned. "Let's not mention that leotard thing to mom, okay?"
"Whatever you want," Wolf agreed.
"Ranma?" Nodoka asked when she opened the door to her house. The girl standing before her was her son, but the cursed form looked different. "Did you get a tan?"
"Yes, something like that," Ranma stated.
"I see…" Nodoka said. Her attention drifted from her daughter's hair to the large animal that accompanied her. "Did you get a dog?"
"Yeah…" Ranma fidgeted. "Can we talk about this inside?"
"Of course," Nodoka said before leading Ranma into the house. She frowned slightly when she noted the type of shoe that Ranma was removing. It was a pair of delicate and quite feminine slippers.
"Would you like some water?" Nodoka asked once Ranma and her… pet were inside the house. She looked over her child's appearance but something else seemed strange. More so than the obvious changes was a fuzzy feeling. It was something Nodoka could not place.
"Can we sit? I think we should sit down first," Ranma pleaded. She looked down to her advisor and steeled herself.
"Is something wrong? Did you get yourself in a spot of trouble?" Nodoka bluntly asked once they sat down around the table.
"Yes," Ranma hung her head.
"Magic? Are you locked?" Nodoka's voice was softer now.
"I was out training in the forest and I stumbled on an old artifact," Ranma explained. She was able to get that much out.
"And you must be looking for a cure. A manly quest," Nodoka surmised.
"Actually… yeah," Ranma admitted as she scratched her hair. For some reason it started to feel odd kept up in a ponytail like that. She had a slight urge to let it out.
Nodoka's face brightened. "As pleasurable as this visit is, don't feel that you have to stay. I can't keep you from your quest."
Ranma sighed. She could just leave. Promise her mother that she would look for a cure. It did not even have to be a lie. Despite the magic's effect on her, she still wanted to become male again.
She balled her fists. She would be running, though. She had run from mother before, had pretended to be Ranko, but mother had accepted her. However, a man who turned into a girl was different from what she was… now. Ranma frowned and looked to wolf for counsel.
"Son, I don't think your pet will give you any advice," Nodoka noted.
"I dunno, he's pretty good at that stuff," Ranma absently stated. "For a big fleabag."
Wolf glared at his queen, a slight growl coming from his mouth.
"What, you have something to say?" Ranma asked the wolf.
"Ranma, don't antagonize him," Nodoka chided. "An animal that large could break something if excited. Now quit stalling and tell me what's wrong. Is there more to this getting locked?"
Ranma turned to her mother, then back to her advisor. "You tell her." She wished there was an easier way, living like this was frustrating.
Wolf shrugged and rose to a sitting position. He coughed. "The thing is, Mrs. Saotome, your son accidentally ended up becoming Queen of the fairies."
Nodoka stared at the dog… that suddenly no longer looked like a large dog, but instead looked like a large wolf. Her eye twitched, and she was suddenly reminded of some of the more colorful moneymaking antics her husband had tried when they were newlyweds.
Then her gaze turned to her son. Nodoka's eyes widened when she took in the sparkling wings, antenna, and glitter. Her expression froze at that. The glitter… there was too much. Far, far too much for her son.
Nodoka calmly stood up, paused with a curious expression on her face, and then swooned. She was caught by Ranma before she hit the floor. Nodoka quickly regained consciousness. Unfortunately, the first things she saw were the overly glittered and somehow newly green eyes of her child. "My sword, where is it?" Nodoka mumbled after reaching for the spot on her back where it normally was.
Ranma gave a disturbingly effeminate "eep" and seemed to collapse in a shower of sparkles. Nodoka froze as she watched a tiny version of Ranma fly off.
"That went well." Wolf sighed as he trotted after his queen.
"What… what just happened?" Nodoka asked. She blinked. "I'm home? So that's why I'm not wearing it." She stood up and went into the kitchen where she found a large wolf standing guard in front of some cabinetry.
"I won't let you hurt her," Wolf stated. He was pleased that the woman had not retrieved her sword… yet.
"You're a talking wolf," Nodoka noted.
"Your son just transformed into a tiny fairy, and you're wondering why I can talk?" Wolf started to wonder about Ranma's family. The stories he heard about Genma alone….
"She's hiding in the cabinets?" Nodoka asked. "Why?"
"There is that 'man among men' oath," Wolf stated.
"I won't do anything," Nodoka assured. "I'm sure my son has a good explanation. He was able to be manly despite his curse." She sidestepped the wolf and started opening cabinets.
Wolf kept an eye on the woman, but let her look for Ranma.
Nodoka's eyes widened when she finally found Ranma. The fairy was curled into a ball and hiding behind a few teacups. "Ranma, please come out," Nodoka gently said.
"It's not my fault," Ranma said, not looking up. "The stupid box made me this way… I didn't want any of this."
"Just come out," Nodoka said as she reached into the cabinet with her arm and delicately placed her hand on the fairy's back. "We can talk about a cure once you come out."
"You won't like what it is," Ranma sighed, but she got up and crawled out of the cabinet and flew in front of Nodoka's face.
"At least you can fly," Nodoka offered.
Ranma's antenna drooped. "You don't understand. I didn't want to be like this… but I'm stuck. I am the fairy queen."
Wolf raised an eyebrow but kept silent. It was a positive step that his charge could admit this.
"A queen?" A brief vision entered Nodoka's mind. When she was pregnant she had fantasies of what would happen when her child grew up. Naturally, what she imagined if she had a son was vastly different from what was planned for a daughter. "It's almost a shame you have to get cured," Nodoka noted with a glazed look.
"Uh… right," Ranma said before returning to a human-approximate height.
"If you're a queen… where's your kingdom? Subjects? One of them may know how to cure you. They are magical," Nodoka asked.
"Unfortunately, they all died out. The last thing the previous queen did was seal her powers and other knowledge in an artifact. I was tasked to guard it. It was designed that only a maiden of strength, honor, and purity could receive its powers. This maiden would then become the new queen, and be tasked with rebuilding the kingdom," Wolf explained.
"Stupid box." Ranma sighed.
"Strength, honor, and purity?" Nodoka mussed. "That's positive. But a maiden?" She turned a critical eye to Ranma.
"I was a girl at the time, I got wet during training." Ranma blushed. She then smacked herself in the forehead.
"We didn't think something like this would happen," Wolf apologized.
"Rebuilding a kingdom, though… So she can make fairies?"
"Oh yes, and it's not just that. The queen has numerous fertility powers," Wolf agreed. "Over both genders. Her powers are designed to repopulate an extinct species."
Ranma's eyes widened in horror. "I did not need to know that."
"Oh dear… that is manly." Nodoka clapped her hands together. "But does Ranma have to look like this?"
"She is a queen," Wolf stated.
"That's not how a queen would dress. Not a proper one, anyway," Nodoka stated.
"I am the one that decides what's proper," Ranma stated. "Wait.. I ain't a proper queen! I don't wanna be one!" Ranma cried. She was starting to wonder about Mother. Ranma herself had magic as her excuse.
"What's wrong?" Wolf asked Ranma. "Your Mom's calm now. And she even thinks you're a bit manly for a queen."
"She can impregnate maidens?" Nodoka asked.
"Not really, but she can make fairy maidens very, very fertile. Though she has to turn some humans into fairy maidens first," Wolf said to Ranma's growing horror.
"I see. Still… I wanted a manly son. Not a daughter who would be queen of her own kingdom." Nodoka paused in thought. "But if this is her destiny…."
"What? No! You can't be agreeing with this?" Ranma exclaimed.
"Your… wolf said the artifact would only open to maidens that meet certain requirements," Nodoka said as they returned to sit around the table.
"But… it was a glitch. The box didn't work," Ranma said.
"This previous queen, was she powerful? Wise?" Nodoka asked the wolf.
"Titania the first? Oh yeah," Wolf agreed.
"And the fate of an entire kingdom rests on my… daughter's shoulders?" Nodoka asked again. Ranma paled at her mother's use of the word 'daughter'. An admirable feat given her current skin tone.
"Thank you. What is your name?" Nodoka asked.
Wolf sighed and stated his full name. "But you can call me Wolf. It's something that… the queen and those close to me call me."
Nodoka smiled and nodded. "You see, Ranma, Wolf agrees. It was your destiny that you have come to bear this burden. Even though you are a queen, the spirit of manliness is within you, for your task is great." Nodoka nearly cried at the thought. An entire species of grandchildren.
"You're taking this too well, Mom!" Ranma said as she held her head in her hands. She then turned to the wolf. "Did you put some magic spell on my mom?"
"Certainly not," Wolf indignantly stated.
"Ranma, you were the one that came to me for advice. You could have hid and made your kingdom somewhere else, but you came to me," Nodoka said with a smile.
"I thought you would understand," Ranma sighed.
"And I am beginning to, but…" Nodoka paused and looked over her daughter.
"Oh, please God, no," Ranma whispered.
"You have been required to give up much for this task," Nodoka said, her voice dripping with drama. "And you have come to me… but I wonder if I am sufficient to help you, as I am now."
"What?" Ranma blinked. "No… you can't. Why?"
"You have to rebuild a kingdom. A kingdom needs subjects."
"Who said anything about rebuilding a kingdom?" Ranma asked. "I ain't doing that just because the fleabag wants me too."
"So you're going to ignore the great responsibility trust upon you?" Nodoka's tone had become icy. "That is quite unmanly."
"But being a fairy queen is?"
"No, it's not," Nodoka stated. "But it makes your sacrifice have meaning."
"You wanted me to get a cure just a few minutes ago!"
"Wolf, is there any possible way for my daughter to become human again?" Nodoka asked.
"Undo Titania's final spell? Reverse the effects of an artifact that she and her best mages built in the hopes of one day having fairies live again?" Wolf asked just as dramatically as Nodoka had. "Yeah, there's no way that can be undone. Unless…."
"Yes?" Ranma asked. If there were even the slightest hope that she could get cured…
"Unless you became more powerful and skilled than your predecessor then you might be able to undo it," Wolf clarified.
"Oh," Ranma sighed.
"This is clearly the work of higher powers," Nodoka noted. "Predecessor?"
"Oh yes, Ranma's royal name is already determined," Wolf happily said.
"Don't…" Ranma warned.
"What? I think your mother can figure out that you're Queen Titania Windgates the Second."
"I thought so," Nodoka agreed. "It is a lovely name, dear," she told Ranma. "So she can't become human. What about just male?"
"She asked me about that," Wolf said. "It's theoretically possible, but Ranma has to learn a lot of transformative magic, which would take quite a long time. Also, the result would be a male fairy, and even then she'd still be the queen."
"I see. So by the time that happens, she would already have her kingdom. Still it's a useful skill to have," Nodoka stated. "Would anyone like some tea? I'm sorry, Wolf, but would a bowl be fine for you?"
"Certainly," Wolf agreed.
"You're being too calm about this!" Ranma cried. "Oh, and yes, please."
"Getting excited and irrational doesn't accomplish anything," Nodoka said before going into the kitchen.
"This is going quite well," Wolf quietly said.
Ranma turned and glared at the wolf. "My mother wants me to be a fairy queen!"
"She spent my whole life going on about how I need to be a man among men, and now she wants this?" Ranma shook her head. She always knew her parents were a bit loopy, but now she was really starting to wonder about her mother.
Wolf smiled. "She knows it's not your fault that you're like this. She knows you can't go back. Your mother understands that you have a great responsibility."
"So she's replaced man among men with queen among queens?" Ranma asked. She then froze with her antenna almost uncurling. "Oh no… That's horrible!"
Nodoka returned with a tray laden with cups, kettle, a single bowl, and other tea accessories. "So have you given any thought to my request?" She asked as she poured Ranma some tea.
"About you becoming a fairy?" Ranma absently rubbed one of her temples.
"Yes, I really think I could help you that way," Nodoka agreed.
"Look at me! I spread glitter everywhere! My wings are all sparkly! My hair keeps growing! Why would you want to give up being a human?"
"Because I love my daughter," Nodoka said before looking down at her cup.
"Oh," Ranma breathed in a few times. This was not how she expected things to go. Mother was being too accepting. At least Ranma was now certain that her mother was not quite all there. "Mom… you should think about this, what would dad say?"
"I can deal with him, dear," Nodoka promised.
"Maybe you should wait on this," Ranma offered. "It's touching, but…" Ranma was amazed by her mother's willingness to sacrifice. "Are you sure you want to do this for me?"
"Ranma, I've just accepted that my manly son has to become something completely alien to him, but I know he will do it because that's the kind of man he is."
"Thanks," Ranma said, despite her confusion.
"But this is still surreal. For all of us. I just want to be better equipped to help you," Nodoka pleaded. She then nervously sipped her drink.
"If… if you really want this." Ranma sighed. "Wolf? How do I make people into fairies?"
"You're going along with this?" Wolf asked. "Why?"
"If mom wants to be a fairy… Well, maybe she will understand what's happening to me. I could use the help, and someone that won't reject me," Ranma sighed.
"Excellent," Nodoka clapped her hands. "Once your bodyguard tutor tells you how to do it, we can get started."
"It's quite easy," Wolf said after looking up from the tea he was drinking. He complimented the queen's mother before continuing. "Making new fairies is a major ability of yours."
"Lemme guess. I concentrate on cocooning Mom to make her a fairy until my hands glow and then I zap her." Ranma rolled her eyes.
"So you do know how to do it," Nodoka noted.
"No, that's just how all my lousy powers work. Are you sure about this, Mom? It itches like crazy," Ranma confessed.
"Only when you try to wear pants," Wolf corrected.
"Pardon?" Nodoka asked.
"It's all the glitter," Wolf said.
"Oh. That's a minor sacrifice, then." Nodoka shrugged. She never wore pants.
Ranma gave an evil little smile. "That means no kimono, Mom. The most you can wear is a loose skirt and maybe a light shirt. What I'm wearing now is my limit."
"As queen, you do make the most glitter, Ranma. I'm sure your mother could wear a kimono. Maybe a shorter one, or something with some translucent parts," Wolf offered.
Ranma once again glared at her wolf. Sometimes she wished he was less helpful. "She's my mom and would be a fairy too, wouldn't she?"
Wolf smirked. "Face it, kid. No one's going to come close to you in the glitter race."
"Still, it's less of a sacrifice than you made…" Nodoka smiled. "…Son."
"Okay, then," Ranma sighed.
"I think we should do this in your mother's bedroom," Wolf interjected. "Unless you want her cocoon to be out here.
"I'll be cocooned?" Nodoka asked.
"For several hours, while your body is transformed," Wolf said.
"Still wanna do it?" Ranma asked, hoping that such details would dissuade her mother.
"If it's that involved, then I should dress properly for it," Nodoka said as she got up. "I'll just be a second. I'll call when I'm ready," she stated before going to her bedroom. She made one detour. There was another item she wanted to wear during her transformation.
"Properly?" Ranma asked. "I was naked when I transformed."
"You're a special case. I do wonder what she has in mind for proper," Wolf admitted.
"This is all your fault, you know. Makin' her think it's my destiny to be some queen."
"I think that," Wolf reminded.
Ranma sighed and the two waited in silence until Nodoka called them into her bedroom.
"You look… nice." Ranma was surprised at what she saw.
"You're being too polite," Nodoka blushed, as she nervously adjusted her obi "I hardly had time to do my makeup or hair properly."
"Good looking kimono," Wolf noted. "The plant theme is very nice. Very pretty flowers."
"Thank you," Nodoka bowed slightly. "I wanted something special."
"Well the light green background really contrasts nicely with the floral pattern and the red in the obi."
"Are you sure you're a male wolf?" Ranma asked.
Ranma blinked when she looked at her mother. "Mom… why are you wearing your sword?"
"I thought it was fitting," Nodoka stated.
"Oh. I see." Ranma was not sure what to make of that.
"Should I lie down on my bed?" Nodoka asked.
"Okay," Ranma shrugged.
Nodoka nodded and slid onto her bed with her sword at her side.
"Last chance to back out of this," Ranma said as her hands started to glow.
"I love you," Nodoka said. "So yes."
Ranma paused. A tear formed in her left eye. She wiped it away. "Thank you, Mom. I'll do my best."
Ranma shook her head and released the energy. With what Ranma swore was an audible "zap", the greenish white bolt hit Nodoka and spread out. Ranma felt a need to put more energy into this and help the silken filaments cover and increase the energy saturation. She felt an area that the magic had not filled and poured more there.
Nodoka gasped when the transformation magic hit her. She felt claustrophobic as the cocoon formed around her, but a strange calm descended over her and she fell into a deep slumber.
"Oh, God," Ranma gasped when the cocoon was finished. Her antennae could pick up the abundance of fairy energy in the silken casing. "You wanted this, Mom."
"Come on," Wolf said as he nudged Ranma out of the room. "You don't need to watch this."
Ranma nodded and went back to the kitchen. "So how long will this take?"
"A few hours," Wolf shrugged.
"I can't believe she wanted this," Ranma stated as she fluttered her wings. She turned away from Wolf.
"She loves you like any mother should love her child. She wanted to help."
"Yeah," Ranma said, still turned away so Wolf could not see her tears. "Well, I've got some time to train, then," Ranma noted as she cast an illusion spell to make herself look human.
"Still building your strength up?"
"You better believe it," Ranma smirked after cleaning her face. "I'm gonna still be a martial artist."
"Great. Titania herself was known for her battle prowess."
"Really, now?" Ranma asked as they made their way to the Saotome residence's backyard.
"She did make her empire," Wolf pointed out.
"And then she and all her people died out," Ranma reminded him before starting her exercise regimen.
"Natural disasters of that scale tend to do that. They only had enough time to make the artifact."
"Yeah, yeah," Ranma said as she exercised.
"It's more healthy that you've directed your urges this way. There's no risk of a nude fairy getting caught in a fish packing plant," Wolf nodded.
"I told you not to mention that," Ranma glared.
"Right. You do know that no matter how much you work out, you're still going to be a slight fairy?"
"So? I still want to have some semblance of strength."
"She's done," Ranma said after her antennae picked up a magical spike. She ran into the house and to her mother's bedroom with Wolf loping after her. When she got to the room, she was greeted by an impressive sight.
"Hello daughter," the fairy, who was slightly taller and more mature looking than Ranma, said in a high and sweet voice that was still recognizable as Nodoka's. Her hair was the same bright shade of red as her daughter's, but it lacked the characteristic blue streak. Her eyes were still brown. Like her daughter, her skin had become tanned, her ears were pointed, and antennae and wings adorned her body. Her wings were the same pattern as Ranma's, but they were green and blue.
Her kimono had changed drastically. Its hem was shorter by a few inches and its background had changed to a transparent green material. The floral patterns were still solid and gave her a modicum of decency. Naturally, the back was slitted to allow for her wings. There was glitter, but only a little — not nearly as much as Ranma had.
"How do you feel?" Ranma asked, still taking in the changes.
"Wonderful," Nodoka smiled. "Though the glitter is less noticeable than you made it seem."
"Told you," Wolf reminded Ranma.
"Is she going to have any 'mental smoothing'?" Ranma whispered to Wolf while her mother examined herself further.
"Not unless you cast a spell to do that on her," Wolf replied.
"Oooh, this is a surprise," Nodoka cooed as she looked at her katana. The hilt was wooden and looked to be carved into vines and leaves. The scabbard was similarly carved and had some silver inlay for the finer vines and flowers. The grain on both parts was very fine and looked to be of an impossibly high grade.
Then Nodoka drew out the blade. "Oh, wow…." Nodoka said when she held it up to the light. It was still a katana blade, but it was all but invisible. The only things that betrayed its presence was how some light reflected off of the edge, that a few particles of glitter landed on it's surface and that shadows were distorted by it.
"That may be a bit dangerous," Ranma warned, remembering some of her mother's accidents with that sword.
"Yes, maybe I should start practicing with it," Nodoka admitted. "Oh, this is handy," Nodoka noted when she tapped one of the gems in the hilt. The material of the sword glowed white just enough for it to become visible and define its shape. "Well, we'll have time to deal with this later," Nodoka said as she put her sword away. She then smiled at Ranma. "Are you still unsure about this?"
"Yes," Ranma nodded. "You're a fairy now."
"I did this for you," Nodoka pouted.
"I know, it's just… you gave up being human."
"For you," Nodoka repeated as she walked over to her daughter. She then hugged Ranma, while being mindful of her child's wings.
Ranma put her own arms around her mother. "I know. It's just…" She shrugged. "I love you, Mom."
Nodoka broke the embrace and then appraised Ranma. "Yes… we've got quite a lot of work to do."
"I won't have my daughter be a sub-par queen," Nodoka said.
"Do you even know what a fairy queen needs to be?" Ranma asked. "I thought that was my choice."
She re-examined her new kimono. "I suppose so. This dress isn't proper for a human, but I feel fine in it. Wolf, you're a tutor. Can you summon books?"
Wolf blinked at the request, "Yes, yes I can."
"Would they even be in Japanese? Or are they in some fairy language?" Ranma asked.
"Both, and several others. It was quite boring in the forest, and translating books was one way to pass the years and years I waited."
"Do you have one on proper fashion, deportment, manners and the like for a young queen?"
"Don't even think of giving her any ideas!" Ranma shouted.
"Titania! I am your mother, and I expect you to have respect towards the station that you have been burdened with." Nodoka glared.
"You… you called me by that name?" Ranma looked hurt and betrayed.
"I just wanted to remind you of your responsibilities, Ranma," Nodoka emphasized. She frowned at her child's expression. "I'm sorry."
Ranma stared at her mother. On the one hand, the fairy book would be nightmarish, but it would be fairy-like, and it could be better than what her mother would come up with on her own. "Wolf, give her a book, but make it something that Titania," she glared at her mother. "The real Titania would have liked. She sounded like an okay lady."
Wolf gave an amused little smile. "I think I have just the book." He stared at the floor. A pinprick of light formed and rapidly expanded until it became book-shaped. The light died down leaving a thick leather-bound book in its place. The title, embossed in sparkling gold, was "Titania's Guide to Raising Proper Ladies" and was immediately picked up by Nodoka. "It's a book she wrote."
Ranma sighed as her antennae drooped. Her only hope was that Titania really was as okay as she sounded.
"This is perfect," Nodoka said after reading through the table of contents. "Thank you," she said to the wolf with a bow.
"You tricked me…." Ranma grumbled.
"You ordered me to give her that book," Wolf said defensively.
"It's okay, daughter. We'll make you a proper queen in no time," Nodoka reassured as she hugged Ranma again.
"What? That wasn't my concern," Ranma stammered.
"There, how does that feel?" Nodoka asked. She had finished the washing and cleaning and was now brushing her daughter's hair.
"Much better," Ranma smiled, enjoying the sensation.
"She really cleans up well," Wolf noted from his spot on the floor outside the bathroom.
"Yes… even in the woods with no civilized hygiene," Nodoka said as she examined the shiny, almost sparkly, tresses. "Daughter, are you ready to see what your hair looks like when it's properly taken care of?" she asked, putting down the brush.
Ranma blinked and turned to look at her reflection. "What did you do to me?" She demanded. Her hair had gained a considerable amount of body and cascaded down her back in curled tendrils that tumbled over and around her lithe frame.
She absently put a hand up and patted the hair on top of her head, then flipped one of her big fluffy curled bangs. Her antennae emerged from a silky, puffy structure that added a couple inches to her meager height. "Did you give me a perm?"
"Dear, you would know it if I did that to you." Nodoka sighed. "It was just shampoo, conditioner and a bit of mousse."
"But… my hair… It can't be poofy," Ranma whined. Her hair being this way was almost as emasculating as making glitter… almost.
"It's naturally like that," Nodoka said as she resumed brushing the tresses, which would spring back to their "normal shape" after she finished a stroke.
"Girl ends up with hair any woman would kill for, and the first thing she does is complain," Wolf remarked.
"Would you like it if your coat was all bushy?" Ranma grumbled. She was just doing this as part of a costume. She had worn worse to get the needed effect. Compared to the bunny suit or the wedding dress this was nothing… so far.
The wolf absently shrugged. "Least you're taller now than you were as a human girl."
"Yes, Ranma, you really are fortunate," Nodoka remarked as she kept brushing her daughter's hair.
"You're making it bigger!"
"If you want, I can try curling some of it," Nodoka offered. "Maybe try for some ruffles or party curls."
Nodoka smiled. "It's okay, dear. I was just joking."
"Yes, you've got far too much hair for one of those styles. Though your hair would curl wonderfully, I'm sure," Nodoka mused.
Ranma grumbled and looked at her reflection again. Her hair's color had… changed. It was how she remembered it when she first changed.
"Such lovely colors, too," Nodoka noted, seeming to read her daughter's mind. "Normally I don't like these two-toned colorations, but you pull it off. Like ruby and sapphire."
"You think that's something, hold one of the strands up to the light," Wolf offered.
Nodoka and Ranma both tried and were amazed at the sparking translucence the hair had. It felt and moved like normal hair, but it looked almost like the gems.
"How'd you know?" Ranma asked.
"It was a guess. Titania's hair looked like spun gold, after all."
"I guess you'll get mad if I try to put this back into a pigtail," Ranma noted, as she absently fluffed her hair.
Nodoka put a hand on her daughter's shoulder. "Dear, you came here with a ponytail. I remember you fussing with it. Do you want to bind up your beautiful hair like that again?"
Ranma sighed and looked down. "I shouldn't have hair like this."
"You did try cutting it off a bit back," Wolf reminded.
"Just to get it back to how long it's supposed to be!" Ranma reminded herself to make sure she went back to normal, or some semblance of normal, when this was done. She was only humoring mom.
"And how well did that work?"
"An hour to cut hair that just grew back overnight." Ranma pouted.
"We can wait if you want," Nodoka said as she carefully put the brush down. "We are surprising them. We can always go tomorrow."
Ranma looked at her reflection and steeled herself. "Maybe. I do want to make a good impression on them," she said with a devious little smile.
"If you want to make a good impression…" Nodoka gave a little laugh. "…I have some ideas that can really blow them out of the water."
"Yeah, maybe I can get more than just Soun to faint this time." Ranma grinned. She would put on some costume and have a bit of fun. Unfortunately, she forgot that there was not much "costume" to take off.
Wolf tilted his head. There was something about this pair working together that made the fur on the back of his neck rise. He wondered what they would do to him.
"I have some, well, wild ideas for your nails and makeup… but the book says they're proper," Nodoka said with a bit of embarrassment.
"Well… if it's just to mess with them," Ranma reluctantly agreed. "Won't you have to go shopping, though?" Ranma did not see her mother as having very much in "wild makeup".
"Actually, Wolf has been showing me how to apply it with magic. Normal makeup and nail polish wouldn't stay on you anyway. Too much glitter."
"I guess," Ranma said. She then caught her wolf giving a doggy smile. "Don't forget, Mother. We have to take care of Wolf. He hasn't had a bath in a very long time."
"Yes," Nodoka agreed. "We can not have the queen's guard wolf being shaggy, now can we?"
"But first your makeup," Nodoka stated. She then closed her eyes and chanted a couple of precisely stated words. A small makeup set then appeared in her hands.
"Wolf! How come you didn't teach me this stuff?" Ranma asked.
"You wanted to know how to summon a fairy makeup set?" Wolf asked. "Uh… okay."
"Don't squirm," Nodoka said as she started applying makeup. After what seemed to be far too long Nodoka finished and closed the little makeup kit. "Well?"
"How is this wild, Mom?" Ranma asked as she examined her face.
"Well, the eyeshadow and lipstick are a bit risqué, but you are a young and single queen," Nodoka remarked.
"They look… normal. Elegant, I guess," Ranma remarked. The cute and pretty tanned face staring at her was hers, but it was different enough. That it was framed by masses of shimmering hair also changed things.
"That’s what you want, dear," Nodoka smiled. She then picked up Ranma's hands and sighed.
"I know," Ranma sighed in agreement. "Becoming a fairy made my hands way too soft."
"This is too soft?" Nodoka shook her head. "We have some work here." She examined the nails. "Too short… and are you biting them?"
Nodoka paused wondering where she should start. "A queen has to take care of her hands. These are far too rough. We'll have to start with some moisturizing creams and hope for them to improve with time. Though a good manicure will distract from the problems."
Ranma blinked. She did not see much difference between her hands and her mother's, aside from the nails. "Uh, Mom, you know I was able to shatter steel with just my fingers right? I'm not gonna stop training or nothing. Wolf even said the old queen was a trained fighter."
"Yes, but she still had perfect nails," Wolf reminded Ranma.
"See," Nodoka said. "You're going to have to learn how to be a queen and a warrior."
"So that means poofy hair and long nails?" Ranma asked.
"Did Wolf teach you how to do nails too?"
"No, but this book is full of handy information like that," Nodoka said while paging through "Titania's Guide to Raising Proper Ladies". She started reading the section on first meetings. "Wolf… can my daughter summon jewelry? Or is it only things like clothing?"
"Depends," Wolf shrugged. "What did you have in mind?"
"Hey! Don't I get a say in this?"
"Of course." Nodoka beamed. "I'd love to hear what kind of jewelry you want to wear."
Ranma blinked. "Well… we are going for a big impression, right?"
"You want to make a statement?"
"Yeah, I want this on my terms," Ranma emphasized.
"Of course," Nodoka reassured as she took Ranma's hand in hers. She looked down. "That reminds me. We have to do your manicure." Nodoka said as she handed some moisturizer to her daughter and started paging through the book.
Ranma sighed and applied it to her hands. When she finished, Nodoka slid the open book over to Ranma and pointed to a small line of text.
"Please say this incantation," Nodoka requested.
"What's it gonna do?"
Nodoka briefly frowned at the slang. She would address that later. "It'll grow your nails."
"Uh… Okay," Ranma sighed before starting the chant. It would be easy enough to trim them again. When she finished the small spell a tingling spread from her nail beds and caused her fingernails to extend. "Gah!"
"Calm down," Nodoka said as she pulled out a nail clipper and started trimming. "I'll make them the same length as mine. Just some clear coats to seal it."
"Uh… okay," Ranma allowed. They were just nails. It was not like anyone would notice them, especially with her hair.
"How does that look?" Nodoka asked after she finished shaping and polishing her daughter's nails. "Careful. They're not dry yet."
"They're fine," Ranma stated.
"Great! Now we can start on your dress," Nodoka smiled as she ushered Ranma to the master bedroom and its full-length mirror.
Soon enough Ranma found herself wearing Nodoka's idea for a dress. Her lower lip quivered at the sight of her reflection and her antennae were drooping.
"Something wrong, dear?" Nodoka asked as she adjusted the shoulder of the dress.
"It's still a bit… much," Ranma tried to rub her right temple with her right hand but a set of fluffy bangs got in the way.
"You wanted strong and sexy," Nodoka reminded. "You called my original design an 'abomination'."
"Yeah, I think this is better," Ranma allowed. She managed to negotiate out most of the embellishments and puffiness. Ranma felt her mother's original idea looked like it came from some deranged bridal magazine or something from that deranged skater girl's closet. At least the magical nature of the clothes made alterations quick.
"You look… royal," Wolf appraised.
"Watch it, furball. Once mom's done with me, you're next," Ranma said as she fingered the green material that made up her dress. The skirting consisted of a couple petal-shaped layers and went to her knees. The layers were translucent and sparkly. Her stockings were visible through the dress until they reached mid-thigh, where they got obscured by the amount of skirting.
The top of the dress was backless to allow for her wings, and scooped in the front. Some sequins on the front formed swirled patterns that followed her breasts. It was shimmering and accented with silver trim. The shoulders of the gown were made up of the same translucent material as her skirt and were a bit puffed up.
"Admit it. You look good," Wolf smirked
"That's beside the point," Ranma said as she smiled at her reflection. She did take pride in how she looked. "So that's it, Mom?"
"Almost," Nodoka smiled. She was happy to see her daughter get into this. "We still have your jewelry," Nodoka said as she flipped to the relevant passage in the book
"Yeah, yeah," Ranma said before she read out the incantation. It was longer than the one that extended her nails, and midway through it images of jewelry started to form in her mind. She concentrated and tried to imagine something not too girly.
"Lovely," Nodoka smiled. "Understated, but elegant. Bravo."
"Uh… thanks?" Ranma said. She fingered the pair of circular jade bracelets, with gold hinges and latches, which adorned her wrists. The pair of rings she now sported were silver with jade insets shaped in vines. Adorning her ears were leaf-shaped earrings of the same material. Around her neck was a choker with a thin chain of gold and more jade leaves with a center piece that was some kind of seal. It was a crown crossed over a scepter with a set of butterfly wings in the background. It was Titania's seal.
"Titania's mark. Nice touch," Wolf noted.
"Ah, man," Ranma sighed. She then noticed the increase in height. Her gaze went downward and she noticed the pair of two inch tall geta on her feet. Ankle ties kept the platform sandals on her feet. "Jade again. That's nuts."
"They're stronger than crystal slippers," Wolf smiled.
"Not exactly appropriate for the house," Nodoka frowned.
"I'll be happy to take 'em off," Ranma said as she bent down.
"No… They are new, and you could use some practice in them," Nodoka allowed.
"Gee, thanks," Ranma sighed. "At least I'm done."
"Yes, you can practice walking and sitting, and read the book. It's really a great source," Nodoka suggested. "I'll clean him," she said, beckoning Wolf to follow her.
"Have fun." Queen Titania Windgates the Second smirked before returning to her reflection. "I can do this," she whispered into the mirror. "I've definitely got the looks to do it," she then said in a more confident tone. Then she smacked her forehead when she realized what she had just said.
"Yes?" Kasumi asked the two guests. Both had tanned skin and vibrant red hair. The younger of the two had more, and it was adorably styled. The older, perhaps an older sister, had a more conservative bun. Her clothing was also more conservative, but only because of what the younger was wearing. A partially translucent kimono was quite unconventional. Kasumi blinked and tried to make the slight shimmer around the two girls go away, but it stayed.
Kasumi's smile grew when she saw the large canine that was sitting behind them. His coat was pristine, and while Kasumi could not place the breed, she thought husky, perhaps. He was a fine specimen. "What a pretty dog. Is he yours?"
"Yes, he is," the younger one said. Her high voice sounded almost perplexed.
"Please, come in," Kasumi said as she stepped back from the doorway.
"You don't recognize us?" the younger redhead asked.
"Should I?" Kasumi inquired in an overly innocent voice. She looked into the redhead's bright green eyes and smiled again.
"Right," Ranma said as she undid her geta. She was relieved to find the jade footwear undamaged. She and her mother did fly more than they walked, and when they walked Nodoka insisted that Ranma walk properly. That the geta were undoubtedly magical in nature and stronger because of that. It was most likely the main reason for their lack of damage.
"Oh, how lovely," Kasumi noted as she looked from the geta to the jewelry. She knew these two women had to have a fascinating story to tell. "Who should I tell the others are visiting?"
"Queen Titania Windgates the Second, her mother and her guardian," Nodoka said before Ranma could speak.
"Of course," Kasumi said with another little smile. "Do you want the others to be gathered before you say anything else?"
"Yes, thank you," Nodoka said
Ranma raised an eyebrow. She watched Kasumi walk away, and soon enough she was led into the tea room where the rest of the household had been gathered. Before she entered the room, Ranma caught snippets of the conversation. Most of it was about herself, and when Ranma would return from his training trip, and what he or Genma had done to get another suitor.
Silence fell over the room when Ranma, Nodoka, and Wolf entered. Despite herself, Ranma smiled at their stunned reactions. Kasumi introduced them exactly as instructed. She then introduced the members of the household to the guests.
Nabiki appraised the group. They looked foreign enough to be a part the rogue's gallery of lesser suitors. At least she was dressed like royalty, or at least eccentrically and expensively, which was just as good. "I'm guessing this is about Ranma," she asked the supposed queen.
"Very much," the younger redhead said with a high laugh that grated on Nabiki's nerves.
Akane looked over this Titania girl. For one of the few times in her life she was not jealous of a girl who was more feminine than her. This redhead would give Azusa Shiratori a run for her money. Of course Azusa would try to kidnap this girl.
The youngest Tendo calmed herself. She knew this glittery girl was going to be trouble, but at least she was not Ranma's type. She was far too girly for Ranma's tastes. "So how did you get engaged to Ranma?" Akane finally asked. "Did Ranma do something perverted or Mr. Saotome do something stupid?"
"I assure you, I've never seen these women in my life," Genma stated. He was fairly certain he was not lying. Though the older one did remind him of his wife. Especially with how she fingered the sword at her side.
Nodoka's gaze went to her husband. "I assure you my daughter is not engaged to Saotome Ranma. Daughter, please drop your glamour." Large wings and antennae suddenly popped into existence on both redheads.
"What are you? Queen of the fairies?" Nabiki asked half-sarcastically.
"Nothing ever gets by you, does it, Nabiki?" Ranma laughed. "Well, you did miss one thing," she said, absently fluffing her hair.
"If you're not engaged to Ranma then what is your reason for stopping by?" Soun politely asked. He felt the need to show he was the head here and would get to the important questions.
"I believe Lady Titania wanted to explain what happened to her to us," Kasumi said. "I suppose her mother may have come to see her husband too."
"Ranma?" Nabiki skeptically asked as she looked over the younger.. fairy. She was the same height as Ranma's female form, if only because her hair was overly styled and poofy. When this girl first came in Nabiki saw the red hair but dismissed the girl as being Ranma.
Nabiki ignored the dress and glitter in her appraisal. She knew Ranma was more than willing to wear ridiculous and girly costumes. Granted, Ranma had to think it was worth his while, though blackmail worked too.
She made her judgment based on the eye color, tanned skin, even higher voice and the new body shape. Ranma's female form was slight, but she was a martial artist. This girl looked like she shied away from physical activity or at the most was a dancer.
But magic upended Nabiki's appraisal. Magic allowed for Ranma to be turned into — well — anything. "So what happened to you, Ranma? Or are you Titania now?"
"What did you do this time?" Akane asked, her anger was muted by the bit of experience she had developed. "I guess you finally won. You are definitely more girly than me now." Akane smirked.
"Wife?" Genma asked. She did look like Nodoka, back when they were first married.
"Not going to challenge her?" Nabiki asked. She was already working the angles. Whatever had happened, the information was juicy. Pictures of Ranma's new look alone…. Nabiki's thoughts shifted when she remembered her first impression of the fairy. She was dressed eccentrically and expensively.
"What? A girl-off contest with her?," Akane pointed at Ranma. "Even if I win, I lose."
"I know how you feel," Ranma sourly said as she and Nodoka sat down. "You're lucky that you can be a tomboy."
"Daughter…" Nodoka warned.
"So you're a fairy too," Nabiki noted.
"Yes, I changed so I could better help my daughter with her destiny." The pride in Nodoka's voice was thick enough to cut.
"That being the queen of fairies?" Nabiki recalled.
"Of course. Such a great sacrifice my daughter had to make."
"We have a son!" Genma reminded. "He's supposed to be manly!"
Nodoka looked at her daughter. "Really?"
"You are turning our child into… a… a.. fairy!"
"A magical artifact that she was destined to find did that," Nodoka calmly stated. "I am merely helping her with her destiny."
"It was an accident that I got the box. It wasn't supposed to do this," Ranma mumbled.
"Look what you did!" Genma shouted. He was cut short by drawn sword appearing in front of him. The blade was translucent and glowed slightly.
"I suggest you calm yourself. You are a guest too, and you are making a scene," Nodoka reminded him, before she sheathed her blade.
"Er… then I request that I not be held accountable to the Man among Men contract," Genma stated. This was not his mess.
"Of course," Nodoka allowed. "Our son was given a great task and she will become a Queen among Queens. The rebuilding of the fairy race has fallen onto her shoulders."
Akane blinked. From her times with "Ranko" and Mrs. Saotome, she knew the woman was a little loopy. Akane felt sorry for Ranma. Even a pervert did not deserve this. At least a pervert who was as okay as Ranma.
"What of the engagement? Surely this is just temporary?" Soun asked.
"This is who my daughter is now," Nodoka stated as if she were mentioning that it looked like rain. "She cannot marry a woman. A nice nobleman, on the other hand…."
"Mom! What are you doing?" Ranma cried.
"I'm just stating the facts. I thought you would be happy. You were complaining about this fiancee mess."
"So I'm not good enough for you now that you're some queen?" Akane asked.
"You hardly wanted to be engaged to me when I was male, but now that I'm a fairy you want me?" Ranma asked. She would never understand women.
"That would settle the pool at school about which team you play for," Nabiki noted.
"Sis!" Akane blushed.
"It's not nice to bet on your sisters," Soun reprimanded.
"Sorry, Dad." Nabiki turned to Ranma and Nodoka. "So Ranma finds a magic thing that makes her into this, and you decide Ranma's destined to be a fairy queen and work to make her queenly?"
"Of course not. That would be crazy." Nodoka laughed, before pointing to the wolf. "He told me my son was now queen of the fairies."
"A dog told you?" Akane asked.
"It's a wolf," Ranma corrected. She smirked when the others blinked and looked at what they thought was a dog. A big wolf had taken the place of some indistinct, but big, breed of dog.
"And he talks, because he's your magical advisor," Nabiki ventured.
"You are quick." Wolf nodded. He turned to Ranma. "Watch her, my queen, she's a schemer." During their time in the woods Ranma had explained his life, but actually seeing these people was something else, and this was just the tip of the iceberg of madness.
"Yeah, yeah. I know," Ranma said, well acquainted with that particular aspect of the middle Tendo's personality.
"Moi? I'm hurt." Nabiki pouted. "So you can talk."
"No, you're not. You're thinking of the best way to sell this info," Ranma said. "Good eye, Wolf."
"Thank you. I am your guardian and advisor." Wolf looked at Nabiki again. She warranted closer inspection.
"Yeah, yeah," Ranma muttered.
"So, why're you dressed like some fairy tale reject?" Akane asked. She was trying to see what Ranma's angle was. She was not acting effeminate, but she was being calm.
"Mom, Akane doesn't like the dress you helped me make." Ranma pouted before switching to a tiny smirk.
"My daughter is the queen of the fairies," Nodoka reminded.
"You're encouraging this?!" Genma shouted.
"You just noticed she has wings too?" Nabiki asked.
"Did your mother give you the glitter too?" Akane quietly asked to Ranma.
Ranma coughed and looked down. "No… This is a stupid… I can't stop it." Ranma's eyes darted to the sides. It would be nice to get some privacy. "You wanna go to the dojo?"
"And ruin your hair? What if I tear your dress?"
"Afraid?" Ranma laughed. It was a laugh she reassured herself and definitely not a giggle.
"It's good to see those two are still friends," Kasumi noted as she watched them leave the room.
"They do know Nodoka just dissolved the engagement, right?" Nabiki asked.
"She cannot do this," Genma grumbled loudly.
"Our daughter will not marry a woman," Nodoka stated simply.
"There was that time I offered to marry her," Soun recalled, in an odd, distant voice.
Nabiki blinked. It really was for the best that Ranma had left the room.
"Noted," Nodoka said. She had discussed her daughter's… future with Wolf, and her husband's friend was not a good pick.
"It's clear what we must do," Genma said turning to Soun.
"Convince, Ranma that I should marry her?"
"No! I'm talking about how to preserve the original engagement."
"Ahhh…." Soun nodded in understanding. "It will be hard to convince Akane that she should become a man and wed Ranma."
"No, you fool! We cure…" Genma paused. "Well… that could… Tell you what, old friend. That'll be Plan B."
Kasumi remarked to herself how lucky her father was, and people said he had bad timing. She sighed. She was curious as to exactly what powers fairies had, and her father's timing prevented her from seeing Ranma showcase her powers.
"Oh, this won't end well," Nabiki muttered as she stood up. Her camera awaited. That would be the first step. No one would believe this…. Well, Kuno might. She politely excused herself and left to go up her room.
She exited her room and found the wolf sitting in the hallway. He was looking at her with a quizzical expression. Nabiki stopped. She was just starting to notice how large the animal was. "Yes?"
"You're a threat," Wolf said simply.
"Oh, am I? Do tell," Nabiki noted. She was curious to learn more about Ranma's guardian.
"I noticed you looking over my mistress. I also noticed you pawing over her shoes too. It's easy to see your type," the sitting wolf shrugged.
"You're a mercenary. You always think about the bottom line and will betray a current employer if you get a better deal. Of course my experience lies with real mercenaries," Wolf added with a toothy grin.
"So I like to make money. Nothing wrong with that," Nabiki said.
"Maybe not for you." Wolf chuckled. "But others might not like it."
"Are you trying to make a deal?" Nabiki's voice was calculated. There was something about a large wolf that was disarming.
"Oh, it's not a deal. Just informing you of the facts. If you endanger my queen, you will face the consequences," Wolf said with a smile. This time he showed more of his big, shiny teeth.
"You're joking." Nabiki shook her head. "Wolves don't eat people. That's like something—"
"—out of a fairy tale?" Wolf offered.
"You can't be serious. You can't just eat me because I sell some pictures." Nabiki eyed the wolf. He was a large, powerful predator. "You think you can just go around threatening people?"
"I'm a wolf. It's what we do." He laughed again. "And calm down. I won't get angry if you take pictures. I'm talking about real threats."
"So you're telling me to keep my nose clean," Nabiki narrowed her eyes.
"It's in your best interest, and you're a smart girl," Wolf said with perked ears.
"How charitable of you," Nabiki dryly remarked.
"I'd even chew on your bones. No one would know what happened to you," Wolf added happily.
"So what can I do?" Nabiki asked. She considered taking a picture of the wolf, but that would not be worth anything if she got eaten. "You can't gag me completely."
"Eh, you'd be surprised what spells can come in handy." Wolf stood up and eyed the girl. "You forgot what I said about mercenaries. They'll work until they get a better deal, and you won't get one. That I promise you."
"Going for the carrot now?" Nabiki raised an eyebrow.
"I said you were bright. There could be a use for you. Hopefully as more than just a snack." Wolf smirked.
"What do you have in mind?" Nabiki asked. "You're already familiar with my work and know what I could do… if I'm on your side." Nabiki figured playing nice was small price for not getting eaten. Especially if she worked for people with magical powers, and if she found a way around this whole man-eating wolf thing… then that gave her even more options.
"I'm glad you asked," Wolf said with a little grin.
"You… you hit me," Akane said. She looked up at the redheaded fairy with astonishment on her face.
"I told you. I can fight like this," Ranma said as she shifted her stance.
Akane managed to keep herself from chuckling. The amusement of seeing someone wearing a dress like that doing martial arts diminished, slightly, over time. "Yes, you're still very fast, but that's not the thing. How much were you pulling that punch?" Akane asked.
"Oh quite a lot," Ranma stated.
"Are you okay?" Akane asked, momentarily forgetting about how that blow felt.
"Sure. I've turned into a fairy and my mom wants me to become a queen. I'm just peachy," Ranma deadpanned.
"You're very… calm about it." Akane broached as she circled around the redhead. Regardless, Ranma was still just as fast and skilled.
"Yeah, the stupid box put a spell on me that rounds my edges. Can't have the new queen go crazy because she's been turned into a fairy," Ranma grumbled as she waited for Akane to make her move.
"That why you're not going on about hitting girls?" Akane asked. She then attacked. Her kick was deftly blocked and then the redhead twisted closer to Akane.
Akane just managed to slide back and out of Ranma's blow. She counter-attacked with a direct punch. Naturally it was blocked, but then something strange happened. Akane found herself able to overpower Ranma's block. Her fist slipped through, and thanks to Ranma's speed still met air.
"Okay… what was that?" Akane asked when they paused for break. "You're holding back aren't you?"
"Of course," Ranma shrugged. "I'm not flying or shrinking down to a tiny fairy."
"I didn't mean that." Akane grumped. She looked over her former fiance's frame. The redhead looked more slender, and there was less muscle definition. "Did you get weaker?"
"No!" Ranma said a bit too defensively.
"So, what, turning into a fairy weakened you?" Akane asked.
"Hey! I'm strong for a…." Ranma blinked. "Aw… damn." She sighed. "Stupid body." Ranma took some solace in Akane's inability to read ki in others.
"What happened? Is it more girly stuff?"
"Are you just going to laugh about how girly I am now?" Ranma sighed sadly.
"Come on, I'm not being at all jealous," Akane offered.
"That's because you're a tomboy. A nice, normal tomboy. You're not stuck as some damn glitter factory."
Akane opened and closed her mouth. Ranma had called her a tomboy… and used it as a compliment. "You're the one jealous of me?"
Ranma nodded weakly.
"Well…." Akane looked at the glitter that had spilled on the floor. "At least your mom's accepted you."
Ranma shrugged. "That is nice, but I do worry…."
"What, she'll cut off your head if you're not girly enough?" Akane joked.
"She does want me to be a queen among queens."
Akane blinked at the tiny girl.
"This Titania chick was supposed to be real powerful during her day."
"How powerful is real powerful?" Akane asked. Ranma could admit that others had power, but… it took things like leveling a mountain to get him to admit it.
"She was queen of all the fairies. Wolf says she mastered all kinds of magic. Oh, and you know those Senshi running around?"
"With the funny clothes and goofy monsters?"
"Yah, them. Their queen was once a student of Titania."
"I see." Akane gave Ranma a measured look. "Are you sure your wolf's not just making stuff up?"
"Well… he did spend a long, long time alone in the woods."
"Poor wolf," Akane said as she adjusted her gi. It looked like the sparring was over.
"Yeah, he's actually been nice. He doesn't push me to act like a queen. Course that's 'cause he thinks I'm already the queen."
"Least he's not pushing you. Not like your mom."
"Yeah, lucky me," Ranma sighed.
"And I don't think your mom will take off your head if you're not a queen," Akane offered.
"She thinks it's my destiny to be Titania the Second, but I can't do that dead." Ranma shook her head, making her bangs flutter about. "I don't wanna know what she'd do if I resist too much."
"Resist? Look at your hair!"
Ranma narrowed her green eyes. "It's naturally like this."
"It is? But it looks like you styled and permed it."
"Fairy Queen, remember? This stuff's got a mind of its own." Ranma's shoulders sagged. "Not gonna call me a pervert? I am dressed like…" Ranma pointed to her dress. "…this."
"Well… that's your mother's doing."
"Yes," Ranma looked up towards the heavens theatrically. "Why, oh why, couldn't I be a tomboy queen? Why did it have to be a fairy queen?"
Why you…." Akane fumed. She then saw Ranma's forlorn expression and blinked. "You're serious?"
"I make glitter, Akane. Being stuck in my cursed form would be a picnic compared to this."
Ranma smiled. Her hopeful expression made her face far too adorable and innocent looking. "It's so great that you're being my friend, Akane. I was so worried you'd call me a pervert or think this was all my fault."
Akane froze. She had never understood the term thunderstruck. After all, it was lightning that hit you; thunder was just the noise it made. But now….
Now, Akane perfectly understood what it meant. She smiled and tried to find her voice. "Of course. Of course, I'll be your friend."
"Thanks, Akane," Ranma said as she reached out and hugged the shocked Akane. "You've no idea what this means. You never did try to force me to be anything."
"Yeah," Akane said while she wondered about the times she hit Ranma, but that was because he was often a selfish jerk. She returned the hug. "You wanna spar some more? It might help."
Ranma broke the hug and smiled. She could always count on Akane to try to help. Her help might not be desired or even, strictly speaking, helpful, but she always tried.
"Sure," Ranma said as she slipped into a familiar stance. At least something good had come out of this visit.
"Did you have a good time?" Nodoka asked her daughter as they walked off the Tendo property. The two fairies and one wolf all had their normalizing glamours up.
"Yes. We got to mess with them good." Ranma smiled as she carefully walked down the sidewalk. "Even Nabiki seemed helpful, but I'm sure she's doing it to get on my good side."
Wolf smirked at that.
"Kasumi's always nice, but Akane… Akane I'm happy about. She's being a good friend."
"It's good that you'll have a friend," Nodoka said, a hint of worry entering her voice.
Ranma stopped her gentle steps. "What's wrong, Mom? Is it about that talk you had with Pops?"
"Yes." Nodoka sighed. "The engagement's very important to him.He will not let that go."
"I should have known," Ranma rubbed her temple.
"I explained that you were a queen now and could not marry a woman," Nodoka remembered. "He then insisted that you marry Soun."
"Mom! I won't marry him!" Ranma stated. She stamped her foot, which fortunately did not damage her magic geta.
"I told him that. It would be unacceptable."
Ranma smiled. At least her mother still cared about stuff like that.
"I mean, he's not a noble or anything. No, we're going to find you a man worthy of being your husband."
"Huh?" Ranma worked her mouth but could not say anything else.
"Of course. You are a queen," Nodoka said.
"I don't want some prince!" Ranma cried.
"I know. Wolf told me about all your experiences with princes." Nodoka sympathized. They largely sounded uncouth or foreign, but it did warm Nodoka's heart to see that her daughter had princely suitors even before her royal destiny had revealed itself.
"I don't want some guy!"
"Of course," Nodoka agreed. Some random guy would be most inappropriate. "But your father wants you to hitch up with a male Tendo."
"No way am I going with Soun," Ranma stated.
"What about Akane?" Nodoka asked.
"You're joking. Akane would never…."
"That's their Plan B. Get Akane cursed and force him on you," Nodoka said with a shake of her head.
Ranma paused for a bit. "Mom… can I see your sword?"
"No, allow me, your highness. I've never had panda before," Wolf interjected.
"That will be our Plan B," Nodoka suggested. "I hope we can defuse this situation… somehow."
"Be nice if we could, but you know how it goes." Ranma sighed as they resumed walking.
"They would have to get Jusenkyou water from… Well, somewhere," Nodoka noted. The springs were unstable the last time they checked, but there had to be stockpiles of that water someplace. "Maybe that will keep them occupied?"
"What if they get it then?" Ranma warned. "They'll try to use it." The queen flexed her hands. "No. I won't let them curse Akane."
"We'll have to stop them," Nodoka agreed.
"There might be a way. They're going on a training trip anyway. What if… we made it a quest. Something to get them out of the way," Wolf offered.
Nodoka nodded. "It could get us some time. Maybe enough to make it so they won't be able to curse Akane or try to marry you to Soun."
"Time? What's your plan?" Ranma asked.
"It's simple," Nodoka smiled. "We find you a manly suitor and then you marry him."
"That's crazy! I'm not marrying some guy!"
"You are a queen," Nodoka stated. "Besides, if you're married, the worst they can do is try to make Akane a concubine to your husband."
"No way. No husband," Ranma stated.
"And even that's not bad. I mean, a wife and a mistress, how manly," Nodoka swooned.
"Mom! That's sick!" Ranma shouted.
"Nonsense." Nodoka sniffed. "It's perfectly proper for a husband to have a mistress. Of course, if you satisfy your man then he won't need one."
"I ain't going after any guys!"
"Then he'll definitely need a concubine," Nodoka confidently stated, continuing on her way.
Ranma stood there speechless, feeling in her heart of hearts that she should have known something horrible would have come out of this visit.
To be continued.
Author's notes: Special thanks to my prereaders, PyroRaven, Kevin D Hammel, Trimatter, Ozzallos, Jerry Starfire, Truk, J St C Patrick, and Wray. Especially to Ozzallos for the title.
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