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Chapter 3

A Ranma ½ story
by Larry F
Last update 10 Feb 98

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

<These brackets indicate a character’s thoughts.>
{These brackets indicate sentences spoken in Chinese.}

Ranma was frustrated. The men guarding the hostages were very professional about it; he never got an opportunity to escape even if he’d dared to try. The guards even took the hostages to use the washrooms in groups of five, never allowing the men out of their sight and only allowing the women ten minutes of privacy before entering the ladies' room to bring them back.

Because he was in girl form, Ranma had been forced to go to the rest room with four women, and his face was still red from the embarrassment. Even though his body was female, he felt like a peeping tom… and the things he had overheard the women saying! He had never imagined how unbelievably raunchy women could be while talking in the restroom, and now he wished he could have his ignorance back. Before this, he’d thought that things he’d heard said in the boy’s locker room were nasty. Now he knew better; guys were amateurs. The comments those ladies had made about the men holding them hostage had been so brutally graphic that he’d eventually had to cover his ears.

He’d washed his hands and face with cold water while staring longingly at the hot water tap. Nothing would have made him happier at that moment than to fill the sink with steaming hot water and splash in it until he regained his real body. It was something he wished he could do with all his heart, but he'd fought down the urge savagely. There were several reasons why he knew he couldn’t give in to it.

Transforming in front of the women in the room would have been a disaster in itself. They wouldn’t understand his curse and he had a very good idea of how they’d react to a man suddenly appearing in front of them; he’d been through that scene before. He also didn't dare lose sight of the fact that there were dozens of armed men looking for a piece of the male Ranma's hide. If they caught him, he knew that they’d probably beat him into a coma to get revenge for their comrade, who was laid out in one corner of the bank lobby with broken ribs. He also knew that if they did catch him, he wouldn't have the option of defending himself. They were likely to shoot him if they thought he was going to be difficult to handle.

Ranma was an excellent martial artist and he wasn’t one to indulge in false modesty. His arrogance about his fighting skills came because he knew his capabilities. To pretend to be less than he was would have made him a hypocrite in his own eyes, so he didn’t try. On the other hand, he also knew his limits. Supreme confidence would mean nothing to rifle bullets, and there was no way he could possibly disable more than one or two of the guards before the rest opened fire on him.

Even the most sympathetic person in the world would have to say that Genma Saotome wasn’t much of a father. He had some strange ideas about training that seemed to be more in tune with sadism than martial arts. However, he really was an effective instructor in his own twisted way and he had drummed a number of concepts into Ranma over the years they had been on the road. The first was that nothing was more important than the art. The second was that it was the duty of all true practitioners of the art to help the defenseless. The third was that duty and honor were more important than life… sort of.

The fact that Genma himself broke these rules more often than not didn't bother Ranma too much; he had come to terms with his father's cowardice. Instead, he had developed his own code of honor from the things that he thought were worth it, and ignored his father’s bad examples. However, there was a concept of Genma's that Ranma believed in because it made sense.

Dead martial artists were of no help to anyone.

That was why he had accepted the "Saotome secret technique" (running away when things got out of hand) as a legitimate option. "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day" was an article of faith to both of them, if for different reasons. Genma ran away from his problems and didn’t look back, trying to put off the day of reckoning as long as he could. Ranma only ran away until he could think of a way to win.

Ranma was also blessed (or cursed) with a natural sense of responsibility. That's not to say that he didn't barge into things without thinking, but he never did any harm to anyone on purpose. If he caused trouble with the bad guys, there was a real chance that some of the other hostages would be shot by accident. Ranma wasn't going to take the chance that someone else would be hurt because of his pride. That just wasn't an option in his book.

No matter how much it galled him, he decided that he had to behave like a frightened, helpless girl. Although patience wasn’t one of Ranma’s strong points even at his best, he didn't seem to have any other choice. His unhappy job was to just sit there and wait for whatever happened. It was almost more than he could stand, but with no better ideas he clenched his teeth and suffered. As a way to kill time, he amused himself by imagining what he would do if and when he got the chance for some pay back.

Fortunately, none of the guards noticed the feral grin that flitted across the face of the seemingly innocent and harmless redheaded girl.

Mrs. Niwa was relieved; Kasumi Tendo had a calm and reassuring air that immediately put her at ease. This was the type of reception she’d hoped for, and it settled her mind about the disturbing rumors she'd overheard from the people who'd given her directions. Surely such a well-mannered young lady could never live in the kind of place the neighbors had hinted at. She and her daughter bowed respectfully to Kasumi, who returned the bow with an elegant grace that Mrs. Niwa found captivating. It was refreshing to find such poise and maturity in a teen aged girl.

"Good evening, Miss Tendo. I'm Mrs. Niwa and this is my daughter Kazuko. We've come to visit Ranma Saotome if he’s home. He also suggested that I enroll Kazuko for training here. Would it be possible for you to fit her into your next class?"

Kasumi favored them with a dazzling smile.

"Of course, Mrs. Niwa! My father is indisposed at the moment, but I can make the arrangements for your daughter. We don't have any formal classes right now, so she’ll get individual attention. Please come in and we’ll begin filling out the entrance papers."

As she began to lead the Niwas to the main entrance of the house, Kasumi was careful to shield them from the sight of her father and Saotome-san lying drunken and snoring in the side yard. The last thing she wanted was to scare off the first paying customers that had come to apply in years! Kasumi prayed this would be the end of the misfortunes they had suffered since Mother's death. If the Niwas were happy with the training Kazuko received, then perhaps they would recommend the Dojo to their friends and family. None of the local folk came to the Dojo because of its unfortunate reputation, caused by the unusual… disturbances… that happened there occasionally. While the unbelievable did have a way of finding the Tendo home, that sort of thing didn't occur every single day, as the neighbors seemed to think. It was all so unfair!

Mother’s illness had marked the beginning of their bad luck. It was almost as if she was the embodiment of the family’s spirit guardians, and her failing health was allowing the good fortune to trickle away from their home. When Mother died, Father had fallen apart, and without him they had lost their last few students. In the following years their reputation in the community had dropped to the point that no one came to apply anymore. But now, it looked like a change was coming. Ranma had attracted a student, and if he could bring one to the Dojo, then he could bring others too. Kasumi had faith in Ranma's potential to become a good teacher. All Kasumi had to do for now was sign up little Kazuko, and she believed that she could trust Ranma to eventually return prosperity to them. Kasumi could help Ranma best by supporting his efforts, and she was an expert at that. Her care of her family during the dark days after mother’s death had taught her well.

<All we need for now is an hour’s peace, while I finish the paperwork.>

Just as that thought crossed Kasumi's mind the window of the room used by Ranma and his father shattered outward in a spray of glass, wood, and feminine screeching. Kasumi's smile froze in place…

Akane and Nabiki had been following the news carefully as the police tried to learn what the men inside the bank building wanted. They were so fascinated by the unfolding drama of the story that they were oblivious to anything else. They didn't notice Kasumi leaving to answer the gate, and they didn’t notice when Ukyou went to the kitchen to make tea. They didn't look away from the television until they heard women's voices screaming in rage on the second floor of the house, and the crash-tinkle sound of breaking glass. That was enough to frighten them both half to death. They could hear the sounds of many more things being broken after that; judging from the noise half the house was being torn down around their ears. Nabiki looked over to Akane, her face white as a sheet.

"Whatever's happening up there, it sounds serious…"

Akane pulled together her nerve and stood up. She began looking around for something she could use to defend herself. Nabiki knew instantly what she intended and watched her in astonishment.

"You're not thinking of going up there, are you? You might get hurt!"

"Of course I'm going up there! Whoever it is, they're trashing our house!"

Akane's search for a weapon was fruitless. The only things at hand in the living room were the table, the television, and a number of cushions the family sat on when eating dinner. Akane pictured herself facing a homicidal burglar while armed with a 19" Sony Trinitron (with cordless remote control), and gave it up as a Bad Idea. She also discarded the idea of threatening the intruders with one of the cushions (Monty Python reruns had taught her the futility of that, and besides, she didn't even HAVE a "Comfy Chair"). She drew a deep breath, and tiptoed over to climb the stairway, nervously watching the second floor landing in case the intruders might suddenly come out and attack her.

As Akane reached the top of the stairs and disappeared down the second floor hallway, Nabiki sat with her arms wrapped around her knees and chewed nervously on the end of a lock of her hair. Although she might never say it, she loved her sister dearly, and she was frightened that Akane might be hurt by whoever was up there. She was also feeling totally inadequate; she was as brave as anyone else around the house, but she had no fighting skills to speak of, and knew that even if she had gone with Akane she wouldn’t have been able to help at all.

She was so lost in her thoughts she didn’t see Ukyou open the door to the kitchen and walk back into the living room, teapot in hand.

“Hey, Nabiki. What’s all the ruckus about?”

Nabiki’s reaction to her unexpected appearance was predictable.


Back at the Mitsubishi building, things were not going well for the teams assigned to track down Ranma. The situation was so far outside the contingencies they had trained for that they didn't know how to deal with it. During the planning of the operation, their training had been rushed because of the time factor involved. They had simply scripted out a number of possible events they might encounter, and how to react in each case, and then practiced drills for each scenario. Mysterious Martial Arts masters launching devastating attacks and then disappearing into thin air had very emphatically NOT been one of them. They had been searching without success for over an hour now, carefully avoiding the booby traps their comrades were planting throughout the building. The men were skittish, and assumed that every strange noise or shadow was a sign they were about to get their teeth kicked in. It certainly didn't help that they had deliberately disabled the lighting circuits for the entire skyscraper except the bank itself, so police snipers wouldn’t see them. Now they were forced to tiptoe around in the inadequate glow of emergency lights.

Group Leader Okamura was drenched with sweat in spite of the excellent air conditioning in the building. He was in overall command of the combined group and to say he was nervous was a gross understatement. He devoutly hoped that the guy would be cornered as far away from his command post as possible. He had rock steady nerves when it came to the normal operations the organization conducted, but none of his training had prepared him for combat against a ghost. Okamura had already received nine unconfirmed sighting reports over the radio his men carried. Even if only half of them were true, the guy they were hunting couldn't be human. He seemed to be able to move at will through the traps, and at an unbelievable speed. How else could his men have caught glimpses of the guy at places so far apart from each other, with only minutes between each sighting? His men were badly spooked, too. The best-armed combat teams in Japan outside of the Self-Defense Forces were creeping around frightened of shadows and strange noises. It might even have been funny if it weren't so damn serious.

God knows Okamura wasn't laughing.

Shampoo and Kodachi paused to catch their breath by unspoken agreement. Even though they had only been fighting for a few minutes, the room was a shambles. It was just as well that neither Ranma nor his father had many possessions. Kodachi's habit of snapping up any object she could with her ribbon and using it to batter her opponent had shredded the futons and burst open the backpacks the Saotomes kept their things in. The tatami mats were torn, and the window had shattered when she'd missed a strike at Shampoo and hit it instead. The walls would have to be re-plastered, because the girls had knocked holes in them with Kodachi’s gymnastics clubs and the impact of both of their bodies.

Shampoo regarded her adversary through narrowed eyes, as she adjusted her grip on the clubs she'd picked up after Kodachi had thrown them. Kodachi was already showing the bruises from the pounding she'd taken, and there was a line of blood running from one corner of her mouth, a sign that she'd probably bitten the inside of her lip at some point. The thing that got to Shampoo the most was that the trickle made Kodachi look more alluring and distinguished, like some kind of Vampire princess.

<{Dammit, that's totally disgusting! No one should be able to make BLEEDING look sexy!}>

Taking stock of her own damage, Shampoo was distressed to note the number of cuts and contusions Kodachi had managed to inflict on her. As a warrior, Shampoo had trained to be the best since she could walk. That a foreigner could hold her own against Shampoo for even a few minutes was almost inconceivable; if Grandmother Cologne found out, she would have Shampoo scrubbing floors and reviewing combat techniques for weeks as punishment.

There was no way around it; Shampoo absolutely had to finish the fight quickly. If she took any more hits from Kodachi, there would be no way to hide her bruises and she'd be punished for sure. Adjusting her stance, she readied for an all-out attack to get inside Kodachi's weapons, making them less effective. Her expertise at close combat would see to the rest.

<{Okay, on three: One… two…}>

The door to the room crashed open, revealing a very angry Akane Tendo who had stopped off at her room long enough to pick up a baseball bat. Akane took one look at the destruction, and the two girls standing in the middle of it.


Akane's loss of the last frayed strands of her temper came with a snap that was almost audible. With a cry of wordless rage, she launched herself at Kodachi, who happen to be closest to her.

The fight swung into Round Two.

Kasumi was staring at the window to the Saotome's room in near paralysis, as Akane's voice chimed in with the shrieks that were clearly audible to the entire neighborhood. Only a person who knew her well would have been able to see the signs of the storm of activity going on in her mind. One of her most crippling faults was a tendency to lapse into physical passivity when she was confronted by the unexpected. To look at her at that moment, one would assume by her vacant smile and glazed eyes that no one was home inside her skull, but the appearance was deceiving. Thoughts were racing through her head, but she just couldn’t express them. This, more than anything else, showed that she hadn’t escaped being emotionally scarred by her mother’s death any more than the other Tendo girls had.

This time, she was in shock over the suddenness of the catastrophe. Every time it looked like they might have a change of luck, something like this had to happen! Were the gods themselves conspiring to make her family look bad in front of the entire world?

She stole a sideways glance at the Niwas. Mrs. Niwa was kneeling on the walkway with her arms around little Kazuko, and her face was pale. Kazuko was clinging tightly to her, trembling uncontrollably. The situation was such a complete disaster to Kasumi that she had to fight to control her tears. How could she possibly convince them to stay after this? What would Ranma think when he found out that she’d failed him?

Just when Kasumi thought it couldn't possibly be worse, the entire window frame burst outward as two bodies crashed through it. Kasumi recognized one of them as her sister, and the other as the Kuno girl who occasionally came to visit with Ranma. They landed in a tangled heap a few feet away from Kasumi, and lay stunned by the fall. They were immediately followed by Shampoo, who leaped out of the window and landed in a crouch right in front of the Niwas, carrying a pair of slender clubs in her hands.

For a long, frozen moment, no one moved. Then Kazuko let go of her mother and took up a defensive stance, positioning herself to protect her mother and Kasumi.

Shampoo paused to take stock of her surroundings. After making a blind jump to follow the other girls, who had crashed through the wall while struggling over possession of Akane's baseball bat, she reflexively scanned her landing area for potential threats. It took her a moment to register the scene in front of her: the two women and one small girl posed no threat, and her two opponents were no immediate threat. Her subconscious having satisfied itself that she was not in danger, control was returned to her conscious mind. She was about to turn towards her opponents to continue the battle when the little girl faced her and took up a combat stance. Shampoo reflexively rose to a counter-stance of her own, then began to analyze the situation.

The child's technique was rudimentary; she was obviously a beginner. An Amazon child her age would have shown far more experience in her combat style. Then Shampoo looked into the girl's eyes… and what she saw there astonished her. Everything about the girl's body language spoke of overpowering terror; she shouldn't have been able to move, much less try to fight Shampoo, but her eyes showed her determination. Shampoo felt a wave of admiration sweep away the anger of the fight. What Shampoo saw in the young child was pure courage, a classic decision to act in spite of the fear she felt. The child was obviously trying to protect the two women, and was ready to pay the price even though she must know she hadn't a chance of winning. This was such a change from the bravado of experienced Martial Artists that Shampoo couldn't help but feel a little ashamed. Her own motivation for fighting that afternoon was petty in comparison.

Shampoo made a quick decision and relaxed her stance. Tossing the gymnastics clubs aside, she bowed out of respect for the little girl's bravery.

"You no need to be afraid, Shampoo not hurt you. You and the others safe now."

She noted with amusement the look of complete shock on the faces of Akane and Kodachi. They probably didn't understand why she was backing off, but true courage deserved to be honored when it presented itself. To continue the fight now would be disgraceful. There would be other days for their differences to be settled.

At that, Kasumi regained her composure. Now she was able to call upon the resourcefulness that allowed her to defuse so many tense situations.

"Please, everyone, why don’t we talk about this over dinner?"


To be continued… eventually.

Chapter 4
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