A Ranma ½ / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon / Ah! My Goddess crossover story
by L. S. McGill
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ characters property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Sailor Moon characters property of Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. Ah! My Goddess property of Fujishima Kosuke, Kodansha, TBS and KSS films; AnimEigo, Studio Proteus, and Dark Horse Comics. Other characters who may cameo are property of respective owners. All are used without permission. I did not write this for profit, but for practice. Will be removed at request of original creators or authorized rep.
Zhu Shu (who shoo), Tao-Ching (dow ching), Xi'an Chi (zy-an chee), and Clans Dragon and Skorpion are mine, and may be used so long as I am asked beforehand.
Book Three: The Black Dragon
Chapter Two: Hitting the Fan
Finally, night had come.
The figure nodded to himself as he watched the Tendo house. Soon, it would be time.
He watched as the evening shadows grew longer and finally that damnable Chinese meddler and the defiler went back inside and hid themselves from sight.
Time passed, and finally his quarry appeared in the window. He moved forward, hands slipping into the folds of his robe
Then a loose roof tile gave way, and he found himself sliding. He desperately sought purchase, but there was no time before he was catapulted off the roof and into a telephone pole. His glasses flew away into the night as he slowly slid down the pole with a groan, finally collapsing into blissful unconsciousness at its foot.
From the window of Akane's room, China looked towards the noise, but on seeing nothing, returned to reading her textbook, trying to puzzle out the Japanese kanji as she read her homework assignment.
Morning dawned bright and early, and as Zhu Shu and Nabiki prepared to leave for school, they found a smilodon once more waiting for them. Nabiki smiled. "So, my fiancé is finally here? After two days back?"
Tao-Ching shrugged. One huge paw scratched out, "I had to settle some business payments, then I got lost in some ward called New Detroit."
Nabiki shook her head. "I'm gonna need a tracking collar for you, aren't I?"
The big cat laughed.
They rode to school, Nabiki and Zhu Shu both being quiet as Tao-Ching purred, but finally Nabiki broke the silence. "So, how long has Shan Pu been a cat?" she asked, her voice holding a trace of amusement.
Zhu Shu blinked, the question snapping her out of her morose mental wanderings. "Cat?"
"Shan Pu. She's playing at being China, isn't she?"
Zhu Shu raised eyebrow. "Why ask?"
"Because this big idiot let slip that Shan Pu already had a curse. And I remember how upset she was that Ranma had a fear of cats; even vowed to see Ranma cured of that fear. Now, put two and two together. Shan Pu must have a good reason to be upset that Ranma fears cats, and the very next day, Akane is 'given' a betrothal gift of a cat, and made to promise she'll help break Ranma of his fear. Now I don't know Shan Pu anywhere near as well as you, but I don't think she's so sentimental that she couldn't have given the cat to someone else to take care of and gotten Akane a different gift. Put Tao-Ching's slip that Shan Pu has a curse together with all of that, ergo Shan Pu is the kitten in question, and has a vested interest in curing her fiancée of a phobia to her cursed form."
Tao-Ching shook his head, and they felt a rumble as he laughed. Zhu Shu smiled.
"Shan Pu be cursed since thirteen," Zhu Shu admitted. "Great-grandmother tell be cat. Hope learn more about Akane so not chase away. Hope help Ranma not fear cat." She shook her head, the small bells in her braids chiming softly. "Zhu Shu not sure is best course. Not sure how Akane react when find cat is fiancée, not sure how Ranma react if find out fiancée turn into worst fear."
Nabiki nodded. "I can see where that might be problematic. Does Kasumi know?"
Zhu Shu nodded. Nabiki shrugged. "Well, I suppose for now we'll see how it goes, then. I have my own fiancé problems, like that fact that this idiot still hasn't taken me on a date!"
They continued onwards toward school, neither of them noticing the shadowy figure that had stood up next to the phone pole they had just passed, rubbing his head and contemplating the words he had just heard.
"So, the defiler fears cats. Wonderful. I shall make his life a feline hell until he frees my love!"
Turning to stalk off dramatically, he ran smack into the telephone pole again. Picking himself up, he grumbled as he searched around the ground until he found his glasses. Then laughing manically, he headed off towards the school as well.
Ranma looked off towards the school and shook his head. Akane looked at him curiously. "What's up?"
"Nothin'. Just a cold shiver."
Shan Pu smiled. "Old legend say when get shiver, someone plan evil to you."
Ranma laughed. "Maybe. Wonder if Kuno's up to something?"
"If he is, you'll just knock him unconscious again," Akane said.
Shan Pu laughed. "He do have very strong head."
Ranma nodded. "Hopefully, he's not bothering Zhu Shu today. She's doing a lot better than last night, but she's still upset over this Ukyo thing. Hopefully Rei can cheer her up again today."
Akane smiled. "If it was anything like the cheering she did yesterday, I doubt Zhu Shu will be very resistant."
Shan Pu blinked and looked at the pair. "What Shan Pu miss?"
Akane laughed. "It seems our little priestess decided that the cheering Zhu Shu needed yesterday was of the physical variety."
Shan Pu smiled. "Good. Zhu Shu need playtime. Tried get play occasionally two months chase Ranma. Sister too serious all time. Come Japan be good for her."
Ranma rolled his eyes. "You can say that again. She's got a great sense for mischief, but it's rare she shows it. Rei's been good for her. I just hope this thing about Ukyo doesn't ruin it." He smacked his fist into palm. "If it's the Dragon's will or not, if Ukyo is the one her tattoo is indicating, she better treat Zhu Shu right, or old friend or not there will be a reckoning."
"I agree," Akane said, "but let's wait and see how things go for just the first little bit, okay? Try not to let your temper get the better of you."
Ranma raised his eyebrow, but wisely held back the comment about pots and kettles.
Then a chain shot down from a tree by the school gate just in front of them, Ranma barely sensing it in time to dodge as the spiked end gouged a line in the pavement before retracting with the same speed. A second chain followed, then nearly a dozen chains streaked out of concealment.
Ranma managed to dodge most, but one caught his braid and pulled him backwards, and before he could recover, five more had wrapped themselves around him.
"Mu Si!" Shan Pu yelled at the tree. "You let Airen go now, or Shan Pu be very angry!" She moved over towards the bound boy as Akane's swords cut through a chain that had come too close to her.
A tall boy clad in a long Chinese robe appeared, standing on the branch of a tree, his long hair flowing down his back freely. Huge glasses with incredibly thick lenses covered his eyes, and the chains around Ranma emerged from within the sleeve of his voluminous robe.
"I am sorry to have to do this, my love, but I must free you from this hideous bondage!" From out of his other sleeve a large clay pitcher flew towards Ranma.
Shan Pu's bonbori appeared in her hands as, without thinking, she went to bat the pitcher away.
Zhu Shu was dismounting from the back of the smilodon as she heard Shan Pu yell from just outside the gate. Tao-Ching, as usual, had gotten turned around and had ended up entering the schoolyard from over the wall next to the school. Nabiki had been having fun berating the big cat, and Zhu Shu wasn't entirely certain the few minutes of wild ride had been an accident.
She was moving towards the sudden sound of combat, when suddenly, there was the sound of something breaking, followed by a surprised yowl, and a shriek from Ranma. Dreading what she'd find, she ran out the gate.
Akane was staring, her swords out, and her ribbons wrapped around a tall Chinese boy. As Zhu Shu followed her gaze, her heart sank.
Ranma lay on the ground, soaking wet and struggling to try and get away while still wrapped in chains. On her chest was the dress Shan Pu had been wearing, along with scattered shards of pottery. Shan Pu's bonbori lay to either side of her, but it was the wet, forlorn China setting on Ranma's chest, mewing apologetically, that Akane's eyes were fixed on.
"China?" Akane said, softly. The boy tried saying something, muffled behind Akane's ribbons. Akane didn't even look down as she slammed her sword across the back of his head, making his eyes roll up as he slumped unconscious. "Shan Pu?" Akane whispered.
Zhu Shu stepped forward to pick up the forlorn-looking kitten. "Great-grandmother tell her be pet for Akane. Please not be angry with Shan Pu," she said to the still stunned girl.
Akane blinked. "But but I thought I thought she was in China?" She shook her head, the long braid lashing like a tail. "No She was China," she added. "AND SHE DIDN'T TELL ME?!"
Zhu Shu hid her sister behind her back. "Grandmother tell her not to."
Akane's glare could have melted steel, and for one long second, Zhu Shu was afraid Akane was about to try and chop Shan Pu into sushi, regardless if Zhu Shu was in the way or not. Then she closed her eyes, and seemed to deflate. "Give her to me, Zhu-chan." She sighed at Zhu Shu's hesitancy. "I'm not going to wring her neck, Zhu-Chan. I promise."
Shan Pu nosed over Zhu Shu's shoulder and mewed.
"No, I won't kill you," Akane said. "But no more sleeping under my bed."
Shan Pu nodded. She hopped down and gingerly stepped over to Akane, who picked her up. She held the kitten nose to nose. "However, you and I are going to have a long talk later."
"C-c-c-c-cat!" Ranma finally managed to say.
Akane and Shan Pu both turned to look at her. The redhead had finally crawled out of her chains and was pressed back to a phone pole. Akane sighed and looked at Zhu Shu for help.
Zhu Shu produced her kettle, but looked over her shoulder to the students gathered at the gate, attracted to the commotion. Akane got a mischievous grin, and took the kettle anyway.
"You deserve this, dear," she told the kitten as she poured the water her.
Shan Pu didn't even flinch as she transformed. She smiled. "Shan Pu not mind if Airen wish showoff to school."
Akane shook her head. "I should have put two and two together. I've been comparing you to a cat since we met. And you're as utterly shameless as one."
"Why Shan Pu be ashamed of self? Work hard make body pleasing to eye."
Akane looked over to where most of the Hentai were agreeing. Their nosebleeds over the nude Chinese girl certainly seemed to indicate their appreciation. She picked up Shan Pu's dress and tossed it to her. Then turned to Ranma. "Is that better?"
The redhead shook her head. "No! She turns into a CAT!"
Shan Pu sighed as her shoulders slumped. "Please, not be angry with Shan Pu. She not help be cursed. Musk Prince throw off cliff into Jusenkyo when thirteen."
"BUT YOU'RE A CAT!"
"And RANMA IS GIRL!" Shan Pu shouted back . "Shan Pu not help be cat! She play pet try get Ranma not scared!"
"But why didn't you tell me?!"
Shan Pu hung her head. "Shan Pu is sorry. Great-grandmother say try to cure work better if not know." She tried to step towards Ranma, but the redhead scurried back behind the pole. Shan Pu sighed, then turned and started trudging towards the school.
Akane gave the red-haired girl a sour look. "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going in to class." She yanked her ribbons free, sending the unconscious Chinese boy rolling along the ground, then turned her back on Ranma and walked into the gate.
Ranma looked at Zhu Shu. "What? You gonna be upset at me too? I only promised I'd try to learn to live with a cat! I never said I'd marry one!"
Zhu Shu noted how her voice had gone up several octaves as she spoke, ending in a near shriek, and realized there was no talking to the near-hysterical girl. Being tied up with a cat sitting on her had nearly driven her into the nekoken, and until she calmed down
She sighed as she turned to follow the others.
Ranma remained against the pole, taking deep breaths as she tried to get her heart to stop hammering, tried to forget the claws, the fangs, the horrible hot breath
She got glomped.
"Oh, Shan Pu! I've rescued you from that defiler!"
Ranma looked at the Chinese boy clutching her and growled.
"LET GO OF ME, YOU PERVERT!" she screamed as she booted the boy into an arc that ended with him crashing into a wall. The wall crumbled and the building attached collapsed on the boy with a satisfying roar.
She shrugged and cracked her neck, the brief outbreak of anger having provided an outlet to the adrenaline surge her fear had caused. Then she turned to find Ke Lun standing in front her. She paled.
"Rash words, Son-in-law. Be glad Shan Pu did not hear you."
Ranma frowned. "You could have told me!"
"You reaction now is proof of why I didn't. Had you known, you would have shied away from her as you just did. I had hoped to reduce your fear first. I shall be having a long talk with yon idiot."
"I am not an idiot, Warleader! How could you have betrothed my love to this defiler?!" the Chinese boy yelled, pushing aside the rubble that covered him. He stood and dusted himself off and reached into his robe. " I vowed I would find her a cure! And I have! Behold, Nannichuan!" He held up a small wooden cask.
Ke Lun sighed. "Mu Si, you are a fool, as I told you when you set out on this quest. You are fool still. Shan Pu has rejected you time and time again, yet still you persist in hounding her. Must I exile you before you will cease?"
"B-but but I have the cure!"
Ke Lun hopped over behind him and swatted him upside the head with her staff, knocking him down as she retrieved the cask. "Fool indeed. Had you spilled this, you would now be female." She poked Mu Si in the chest. "You are a lucky boy to have even braved the springs and escaped untouched."
Mu Si just blinked myopically. "But, elder. The cure?"
Ke Lun made the cask disappear, and pulled out a flask of water. She gave Mu Si back his glasses and poured it on herself. Mu Si blinked at the much taller and younger bunny-girl Ke Lun had become.
"This is what you would curse Shan Pu to become, Mu Si. She would no longer be a cat, true, but neither would she have escaped being a cat."
"Your fool quest had you far from our village when the Musk attacked, and when half our warriors were turned to rabbits. We have tried your 'cure', boy. Had you bothered to ask, we could have told you it would not work before you even began to quest. You have spent four months discovering what the elders could have told you in four seconds!"
Mu Si cringed. "But Shan Pu?"
"Shan Pu is married! As per Amazon law! She was defeated in fair combat in an accepted challenge match. She is not now, nor ever has been, for you."
Mu Si turned eyes burning with hatred on Ranma. "Then I challenge you! I challenge you for "
"You can't have Shan Pu, Mu Si. Ranma is her Husband" Ke Lun said in a tone that brooked no challenge. Mu Si paled and thought frantically.
"Then if you have stolen my love, I shall steal yours! I challenge you for
"You can't have Akane Tendo either, Mu Si. She has defeated Shan Pu in fair combat as well and accepted her as a Sister-Wife," Ke Lun said.
Mu Si turned an interesting shade of purple. "Then I destroy you, Defiler! You have stolen my dreams and ruined my hopes! As you have stolen my life, so shall I take yours! I will hound you till the day you die!"
"How ‘bout we settle this right now?" Ranma asked. "I beat the tar out of you and you go away."
"You have school right now, Ranma. And you have only a few minutes before you are late," Ke Lun said. "This fool has already wasted too much time, and I have words I need to have with you. If you wish to fight, do it after school."
Ranma cracked her knuckles. "Fine. After school it is."
"Agreed," Mu Si said. "Enjoy your day, defiler! It shall be your last!" Mu Si turned and stalked off.
Ranma turned with a growl, preparing to get some hot water before class, but Ke Lun poked her with her stick. "Don't think I am done with you, Son-in-law. You have much to learn, not the least of which is your duty. Think about things that can not be changed, and when you are ready to admit your folly, apologize to Shan Pu for shunning her and shaming her in front of your countrymen."
"Whatever. I got enough problems to deal with now, old woman. That idiot turned me into a girl in front of the whole school, so now they all know!"
Ke Lun raised an eyebrow. "So foolish. Go to school, Ranma. You'll learn your lesson soon enough."
Ranma pushed past her, and looked at all the Hentai still blocking the gate and drooling over Ke Lun's bunny-girl form. "Move already! I gotta get some hot water!"
Hiroshi and Daisuke blinked from their comatose drooling stare and looked at Ranma. "Water? Hot water? Like Zhu Shu? You mean you turn into a hot babe and you've been hiding it all this time?"
"Idiots. Keep your hands to yourselves or I'll break them."
"But but Gym . showers ." They lurched forward zombie-like
"Aw, screw this!" Ranma said and leaped up, running across the crowd of lust-induced zombies by stepping from head to head. She cleared the crowd and landed , looking up to find she was blocked by Ai.
"What do you want?"
Ai gave her a long look, one that made Ranma feel like she was being sized up for dinner. "Nothing for now."
Sighing, Ranma dodged around her and into the school, heading for the janitor's closet just inside, and the hot water tap. Ai watched as the door closed.
A few minutes passed, with a couple of muffled yelps coming from the closet, then a still female Ranma emerged from the closet.
Ai looked back over the crowd of boys to where the black-eared bunny-girl still stood, just in time to see her laugh before turning and walking away.
Akane blinked as a still-female Ranma came into the classroom just seconds before the bell rang. The teacher looked at her and blinked.
"May I help you, young lady?"
"Give me a break. It's me, Ranma. Ranma Saotome? I would have thought that with Zhu Shu the dragon-girl and my bunny-girl fiancée you'd have figured out I got cursed too!"
The teacher adjusted his glasses. "Interesting. Two of you arriving as girls today. Very well, young lady, take your seat."
Ranma blinked, then her eyes searched across the room, to finally settle on Ukyo, looking much more feminine with her hair down and her over shirt parted slightly to reveal her cleavage.
And right next to her was the only free seat in the class. Right between her and Akane. Ranma sighed. Life was certainly conspiring against her today.
She slumped in her seat, as the teacher started writing on the board. Akane looked at her and hissed softly, "Why are you still a girl?"
"Stupid Ke Lun was watching the fight. She did somethin' to me 'cause I got upset that Shan Pu's a c-c-cat! I can't change! I can't even touch lukewarm water, because it's scalding!"
Akane raised her eyebrow. "Well, you did sort of overreact. I mean, she can't help being a cat any more than you can help being a girl."
"You're one to talk. She's been playing your pet!"
Akane nodded. "Oh, trust me, Shan has a bit to answer for there. But I have my revenge planned out for her already."
"Yeah, well. She's still a c-c-cat!"
"And our fiancée. Ranma. I don't know about you, but I've been coming to realize I have an obligation to live up to my promises. And Shan Pu is one of my promises."
"Yeah, but I didn't promise to marry a c-c-c-cat!"
"No. You promised to marry Shan Pu when you accepted the betrothal."
"Like I had a choice!"
"Yes, you did. You could have refused! But you didn't! You went along with it, and you promised in front of my family and yours to marry Shan Pu and honor the alliance between our clans!"
"You're one to talk. You fought tooth and nail with me over marrying me! You fought with your father about accepting the betrothal with me, with everyone!"
"And there's a difference. I didn't promise to marry you until later! Now that I have, have you seen me fighting it? I made the promise to Shan Pu, and her Great-grandmother, and the Amazons. As did you!"
Ranma sank into her seat in a pout. "I ain't marrying no c-c-cat!"
Akane glared. "I see why Ke Lun stuck you as a girl, then." She turned back to the board and began studiously ignoring the redhead.
Ranma looked over at Ukyo at the sound of a muffled laugh, but the girl was also looking forward studiously, but unable to hide the grim amusement in her eyes.
Lunchtime found Akane setting under a tree with Shan Pu. Ranma was nowhere to be found, which suited Akane just fine at the moment. She'd gotten more than fed up with her pouting in first period.
Shan Pu, on the other hand, had been apologetic, even going so far as to make Akane lunch in her home ec class, and serving it to her bite by bite. Akane had been allowing her to have her fun while waiting for Zhu Shu to get back with her little "revenge".
As Shan Pu was feeding her the last little bit of pork with her chopsticks, the dragon girl fluttered in for a landing and handed Akane a package. "Get many strange looks at place Nabiki send. Asked if want make movie."
"I'm sorry, Zhu-chan." She sat up and unwrapped the package. "Now Shan-kitty, dear?"
Shan Pu blinked. "Yes, Airen?"
"I just want you to know, I'm not going to blame you for not telling me, or sleeping under my bed. After all, you could have slept in the bed with me, and you didn't. I do give you credit for mostly not abusing my trust that you were my kitty."
Shan Pu nodded. "Shan Pu just want try learn more about Akane."
Akane nodded. "And that's good. And it's because of that and the fact that you were only doing what your Grandmother ordered that I'm not mad." Here, Akane gave her a half-lidded, almost seductive look. "But there is one question I do want to ask."
Shan Pu blinked, uncertain what to make of Akane's tone. "Ye-e-es, Airen?"
"Did you enjoy watching me play with Ranma?"
Shan Pu blushed a deep crimson. "Um Shan Pu um "
"Yes or no, dear?" Akane tapped her head where her bunny-ears were in her cursed form. "I heard you purring, so I already know the answer, but I want to hear it from you."
Shan Pu blushed even brighter as she looked down. "Yes. Shan Pu enjoy watching Airens pleasure each other." She gave Akane a look from under her lowered eyelids that smoldered softly. "Shan Pu wish could be with Airens instead of just watch."
Akane smiled. "Good." She opened the package and pulled out a soft velvet choker collar, with a silver buckle and a heart-shaped charm. "But if you're going to be my pet, Shan-kitty, then you certainly need a proper collar. After all, if you're not tagged properly, someone might just try to steal you." Akane's grin grew sultry as she leaned forward so she was nose-to-nose with Shan Pu. "I certainly don't intend to do without my favorite bundle of purrs," she said as she slipped the collar around the Amazons neck.
Shan Pu was stock-still as Akane finished buckling the collar, hardly daring to breathe as her lips trembled mere inches from Akane's. Her violet eyes remained locked on Akane's face as she smoothed the soft velvet collar. Finally, Akane's eyes looked back up to meet hers.
"And now the whole world will know you're mine," Akane said.
Shan Pu's heart nearly stopped with the implications of Akane's words, and as Akane started to pull back, a small mew of protest escaped her lips. Akane smiled and leaned forward again.
As their lips met, Shan Pu felt like a small star had ignited in her. The world around her slipped away as a current like an electric storm coursed through her. For a long eternity, it felt like a icy wind coursed across her skin as a warm fountain poured through her soul. As Akane pulled back, Shan Pu leaned forward, not wanting the kiss to stop, her lips still seeking Akane's. She caught herself as she was about to fall over, her eyes opening to she Akane's pleased smile.
"Hmm. Two for two on stunned reactions to my first kiss."
Zhu Shu smiled. "Akane use technique learns from Zhu Shu. Chi kiss. "
Shan Pu sighed happily. "Airen kiss wonderfully."
Akane raised an eyebrow. "Okay I had no idea."
"Is okay. Akane use much she learns from link. Not realize."
"Shan Pu not complain."
Akane gave her a sultry look. "Good. Now look at your tag."
Shan Pu lifted the heart shaped tag and tilted her head awkwardly. "Shan-kitty. Property Akane Tendo?"
"Yep." Akane's tone was highly amused.
Shan Pu looked back up in time to see Akane raise the squirt gun and fire, then came the usual wrenching shift. She crawled out of her dress and looked up at Akane. "Mew?"
Akane patted her lap. "I told you, I'm not giving up my favorite bundle of purrs."
Shan Pu smiled and jumped into Akane's lap, happily surrendering herself to the ecstasy of Akane's fingers.
Ranma watched Akane and Shan Pu from the roof of the school while Akane gave the Amazon a kiss. A small flash of jealousy sparked for just a second before her conscience squashed it. What right did she have to be jealous? Akane was right. She had promised to try and love Shan Pu too.
And, much as she hated to admit it, so had she. While it was true her mother had rushed her into it, and her grandfather had set it up, she'd been the one making the promise as she sat in front of the assemblage. She had sworn on her honor to uphold the alliance and Amazon law.
"It's not easy, is it?" Ukyo said from behind her.
Ranma looked over to the girl, half expecting her to have her spatula out to brain her. "What?"
"Promises and honor." She came and sat on the edge of the roof with Ranma. "I spent the entirety of last night thinking about it. And betrayal of promises."
"Look Ukyo, I'm sorry I can't marry you "
"It's not your fault, Ranma. It's your father's. I've been contemplating exactly how I'm going to maim him for getting me into this mess, but I can't really blame you. Like you said, you didn't know. My life is ruined, but it's not your fault." She shrugged. "I even thought about killing myself. I might have even done it if your strange friend hadn't talked to me yesterday. Kami knows, it looked like the only available option. My father's vow won't let him see me a girl. Your fathers promise was meaningless. My own vow to make you pay for leaving me is meaningless. Everything I have spent the last ten years striving for is meaningless. What did I have to live for?" Ukyo laughed bitterly. "Then that damned dragon girl had to come and tell me about losing her first love, and how she tried to commit suicide, and how she finally learned life can give you second chances. So here I am, waiting to see if she's right."
"Zhu Shu tried to commit suicide?" Ranma shook his head. "I never knew that. I knew Ying-Ying had died, and Zhu Shu had a hard time dealing with her death " he looked at the dragon-girl. "I wonder if Akane knows."
"Her lover was female?" Ukyo said. "Humph. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, considering your weird fiancée situation. And your curse. Can't say it's something I'd go for. Really hoping I can find some solution to this being stuck legally as a guy before I'm forced to marry a girl."
Ranma looked at her sidelong. "It's really not bad at all. Rather enjoyable, in fact. Once I get married, I'll be able to compare both ways, but I can certainly say as a girl that I enjoy it."
Ukyo raised an eyebrow. "Hmm. Don't know, Ranma. I've always kinda visualized being with you."
Ranma sighed. "Sorry."
"So you're scared of cats?"
Ranma blinked at the change in subject. "Um yeah. My idiot dad threw me in a pit full of hungry cats wrapped up in fish sausage."
Ukyo stared at her in shock. "You're kidding, right?"
Ranma sighed. "I wish I was. Every time I'm near a cat, I just get overwhelmed with the memories of them clawing, and scratching, and gnawing on me." She shuddered. "And Akane's right. I promised to take Shan Pu as my wife."
"And here I am griping about getting forced to marry a girl. You're stuck with your worst fear." Ukyo shook her head. "Wanna run off and elope?"
Ranma gave her a sour look. "I can't, Ucchan. Running away is a coward's way out."
"Just kidding, Ranma. Trying to lighten the mood. Not sure why I even came up here. By rights, I should hate you."
Ukyo looked at her for a long moment. "I should. I just can't seem to, though. I mean, hearing you this morning, I was overjoyed to hear you having problems then my conscience started fussing at me."
Ranma put her head in her hands. "Yeah. Mine too."
"Wish you hadn't said what you said, huh?"
Ranma nodded. "I've been told I let my mouth run away with me."
"You always did. You were always so cocky when you were stealing okonomiyaki. But you were just too good for me to beat you. Now, even after ten years of training for fighting you, I still can't beat you. You can afford to be cocky, I guess. Your skills can back your mouth up."
Ranma sighed. "Yeah. But it's not something I'm proud of."
Ukyo laughed. "I guess that means there's hope for you yet."
Ranma smiled. "It's good to have you back, Ucchan."
Ukyo shrugged. "Hey, I can't hate you, I can't beat the tar out of you, and I can't marry you. I guess if I'm ever gonna have any part of you at all, it might as well be as friends."
"I'm still weirded out that you're a girl."
"You're weirded out? Trust me, Ranma; you ain't got nothing on me. You turn female, one of your fiancée's turns into a playboy bunny, the other into a cat, and one of your friends flies around looking like a hentai pinup dragon-girl. I'm just a plain old ordinary tomboy."
Ranma laughed ruefully. "Yeah, I guess my life is pretty crazy." She stuck out her hand. "Friends again?"
Ukyo took her hand and shook it. "Friends."
The rest of the day went pretty quietly. Ranma was excused from gym once the teacher verified she couldn't change back to male, since he couldn't send her to the females' dressing room, and knew the havoc that would result sending her into the males'. She'd had to sit and watch from the sidelines as Akane and Shan Pu played softball.
Of course, by the end of the day, everybody had known about the impending fight, and that Ranma was stuck in female form. Hoping to see yet another fight resulting in a display of female anatomy, the Hentai Squad was out in force.
Ranma wasn't co-operating though. She'd shown up wearing more than her usual Chinese shirt and pants, her outfit having had a heavy leather tunic added to it. She wasn't giving a free show if she could help it, regardless of how loud the hentai groaned when she walked out onto the athletic field.
Ke Lun had gotten into the spirit of the show, though. Ranma had blinked on seeing the elder in her cursed form, wearing a playboy bunny outfit complete with collar and cuffs as she stood in the center of the ring. At either corner two younger girls, one with red hair, one with green, stood by with bonbori.
Shan Pu had been conscripted by her grandmother, and was walking up and down the stands with a tray filled with cups of ramen. She waved at Ranma as she walked by. "Be careful, Airen. Mu Si master hidden weapon technique. Very dangerous."
Ranma nodded, doing her best to shove the memories of Shan Pu setting on her chest, mewing, out of her mind.
Akane and Zhu Shu sat next to the ring on one side, and almost directly across Ukyo sat, avoiding Zhu Shu's eyes. She gave Ranma a thumb's up.
Akane merely gave her a raised eyebrow. Ranma sighed and stepped up to the ring.
Mu Si stood impassively in one corner of the ring, frowning as Ke Lun strutted around the ring with a large sign proclaiming "Mu Si vs. Ranma" in large kanji. Ranma jumped into the ring and looked at the scantily clad elder.
"Ain't you wearing just a little too little, old woman?" she asked.
Ke Lun gave him a look. "Show some respect, Son-in-law. I'm having fun. It's been centuries since I last had men throwing themselves at my feet."
Ranma sighed. "So, we here to fight or what?"
Ke Lun tossed the sign away into the crowd , were several hentai tore it shreds trying to gain possession of it. She pulled a mike out and tapped it to get their attention.
"Ladies and gentlemen! We are here to see a challenge match between Mu Si, the Joketsuzoku Master of Hidden Weapons, vs. Ranma, the currently female Master of Anything Goes! At stake, Mu Si's idiotic vow to make Ranma's life hell because of a woman he couldn't have anyway!"
"Hey!" Mu Si objected. Ke Lun batted him upside the head with her stick.
"The rules of the match! Contestants are expected to not kill or maim one another! Winner shall be when one contestant can no longer fight!"
Ranma cracked her knuckles. "This will be a piece of cake."
Ke Lun laughed and leaped out of the ring, landing with a flourish on the announcer's table. "Begin!"
Mu Si had barely waited for the call before he launched a flight of darts at Ranma. She blinked and dodged, grabbing them before they went out of the ring into the crowd. "Hey, watch it! You could hurt someone!"
Mu Si laughed. "Hurt! I shall do far worse than hurt you! I shall humiliate you! For the shame you have brought to my love, my Shan Pu!"
"Shan Pu no belong to Mu Si!" Shan Pu called from the sidelines. "Shan Pu belong Akane and Ranma!" She touched the heart-shaped tag attached to her collar with a happy smile.
Mu Si fumed. "How dare you collar my Shan Pu!" He launched a volley of chains at Ranma, but the redheaded girl wasn't there anymore. Mu Si looked upwards just in time to see Ranma's foot before it collided with his face.
"How dare you turn me into a girl in front of the entire school!" Ranma said as she landed.
Mu Si rolled over and rose to his hands and knees. "I will dare far more, defiler! Attack of the Unsure Foot!"
Mu Si rose to his knees and swung his arms in an arc, ball bearings pouring out in a flood. Ranma, having jumped to avoid another chain, cursed as her feet landed on the small iron balls and flew out from under her.
Mu Si seemed to be having no trouble. With a yell of "Attack of the Violent Petunia!", he had pulled a large flower pot out of sleeves and brought it crashing down, narrowly missing Ranma's head.
Unfortunately, the jerk to move out of the way had sent Ranma spinning across the ring. As she was struggling for purchase, another of Mu Si's chains hooked into the top of her leather tunic, and her momentum caused it to rip downwards. Ranma caught herself at the edge of the ring by grabbing the rope, and flipped herself to the corner pole.
"You jerk!" she yelled, surveying the damage. She wasn't exposed, but the cut ran all the way down to her navel.
She looked back up in time to see another of Mu Si's chains. It hooked around her neck, and as she grabbed it to keep from choking, he yanked her off the pole with a "Come here!"
Ranma managed to twist just enough so that she avoided the spear that had emerged from Mu Si's other sleeve, but the loud rip let her know it wasn't by much. She used her momentum to swing around Mu Si, but she slipped on the ball bearings.
The results were extremely satisfying though, as her inertia caused her to spin around Mu Si and not only free her, but wrap the chain around the Chinese boy.
She grinned as she held onto the rope for balance and yanked. "Spinning Top Attack!"
Mu Si crashed into the far rope, the spin leaving him glassless and dizzy. Shakily he reached into his sleeve and pulled out a chicken?
Ranma blinked as Mu Si raised the chicken and with a cry of "Flying Egg of Death!" he squeezed several eggs out of the chicken, hurling them in a wave in Ranma's general direction.
In shock at the weirdness of the attack, Ranma didn't move in time, and one of the eggs exploded at her feet in a fireball.
Akane screamed her name as the wave of fire engulfed her, and Ranma let out a howl of pain. As the fireball burned out, she stood revealed, singed but otherwise unharmed, though her top had shredded into uselessness.
"Do you have any idea how much that hurts when you're hypersensitive to heat!" she yelled, finally able to keep her footing as the explosions had cleared out most of the ball bearings.
"It is only the beginning of the pain I shall bring you for defiling my Shan Pu!" Mu Si said as he launched a kick at the corner pole and followed it with a flurry of punches.
Ranma blinked, then walked over to the furiously attacking boy and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Yo, jerk! I'm over here."
Mu Si paused, blinking myopically at Ranma. With a growl of frustration, he reached into his sleeve again. Ranma decided enough was enough, and grabbed Mu Si's robe. As the Chinese boy drew forth a large round object, Ranma yanked.
"I think I'm tired of your tricks!" she yelled as with a rip, Mu Si's robe ripped free, leaving the blind boy as bare-chested as she had ended up.
The girls in the crowd cooed at the muscular physique Ranma's move had revealed, glad that finally, some male cheesecake had been exposed. A few cheered for Ranma to rip the rest of his clothes off. Then Ai assembled her team and they started cheering for both combatants to get naked.
Ranma did her best to ignore them as Mu Si seemed to shrug off the loss of his robe.
"So, you want to settle this in a contest of skill alone? So be it! I shall kill you with my own hands!"
With that challenge, Mu Si hurled down the round object, shattering it. A large cloud of smoke poured out of the shards, filling the ring with thick choking smoke. Ranma fought to control his coughs as he tried to listen for Mu Si over the sound of the disappointed spectators. A slight sound was all she caught as he emerged out of the smoke and attacked.
Once more, she barely dodged the lightning fast attack, feeling cold metal brush past her skin, but the near miss cost her her pants. She had to rip them free as the cut waist band dropped them around her ankles.
However a gust of wind blew the cloud of smoke away and caught her standing there, stark naked. She blinked at Ukyo, who was using her spatula as a giant fan. She blinked as the girl's eyes traveled down her body, and she stopped moving, a small smile on her face.
Ai poked her head over Ukyo's shoulder, giving the redhead a lascivious grin. "I agree."
Ranma blinked at both of them as a blush spread from her hairline down towards her toes.
Then Ukyo yelled, "Watch out!"
Ranma turned just it time to catch Mu Si's arm, and she ripped the claws off his hand. "What ever happened to settling this on skill?!" she screamed as she tossed the boy back across the ring.
Mu Si righted himself and looked in Ranma's general direction. "I am Mu Si! The Master of Hidden Weapons! My weapons are my body!" He threw out his arm in Ranma's direction.
Ranma dodged out of the way, feeling something small whistle by her. Mu Si pulled his arm back and Ranma watched a cheerleading outfit sail past him. She turned to look at Ai, who was standing there as naked as she was.
"Hey!" Ai yelled. "I'm all for exhibitionism, fella, but I like it at my choice!" She struck a dramatic pose as she showed off. "Squad! Pom-pom retaliation Attack!"
Ranma dove for the cheerleading outfit as Mu Si was bombarded with exploding pom-poms. She managed to pull the oversized sweater over herself as Mu Si emerged from the cloud of smoke, his clothes every bit as tattered as Ranma's had been.
The Furinkan girls cheered at finally getting to see a guy mostly naked, but booed when Ranma tossed Ai's skirt and Mu Si's glasses at the Chinese boy. Mu Si caught the items and looked at them dumbly.
"For Kami's sake, cover yourself," she yelled. "Nobody wants to see that!"
Ranma found herself pelted with a variety of objects by the girls who seemed to be objecting that they did indeed want to see that. She shielded herself from the debris as Mu Si put on his glasses and looked at the skirt.
"Why would I wear this?!"
Shan Pu tossed a bucket of water at him. "Idiot!"
Mu Si tried to move, but it was entirely too late. The water poured over him.
Silence descended on the field as everyone looked at the soaked boy who was no longer a boy.
Mu Si stood dripping, revealed as a slender feminine version of himself with a pair of large white wings sprouting from her back. Ranma blinked.
"So, boy. You were even more of a fool than I thought. How many pools did you fall into?" Ke Lun asked.
Mu Si turned to look at the elder. "Two. I fell into a pool and became a duck, and was nearly eaten, then was led by the guide to the pool I retrieved water for Shan Pu from. I slipped and fell into it while filling the cask."
Ke Lun fixed Mu Si with a hard stare. "So you knew that your cure would not work, yet you attempted it anyway."
Mu Si gave Ke Lun a defiant glare. "She would at least have still been more than a cat! I have seen her suffer for years! The quiet looks, the pity! She is the most beautiful woman in our village, and yet she has no one who seeks her hand but I! I could not stand it! She has suffered because of what was done to her!"
Shan Pu sighed. "Mu Si. Shan Pu have no suitors because Mu Si no leave alone. Make Shan Pu no want boys hang over, seek favors. Shan Pu teach other boys leave alone! But not Mu Si. No matter how many times she tell Mu Si go away, he no listen! She beat him, he no listen! Shan Pu no want Mu Si, HE NO LISTEN!" She was shaking in her fury. "Now try make Shan Pu a cat-girl whether she wish or no?"
Mu Si backed away. "I was only trying to help!"
"You no help! You interfere in Shan Pu relationship with Airen! Mu Si upset Shan Pu Husband!"
Ranma blinked. Husband? She shook her head as she continued watching the angry Amazon.
"Shan Pu have enough! She done with Mu Si! She done with interference! Mu Si leave Shan Pu no choice!"
Mu Si blinked, her large eyes made even larger behind the glasses. "What what are you saying?"
Shan Pu just shook her head. "Mu Si. Shan Pu have tried asking, Shan Pu have tried making understand. Now Shan Pu must settle once and for all. Mu Si, Shan Pu turn back on you!"
With all the deliberateness of a ceremony, Shan Pu turned away from the nearly nude, winged girl.
Ke Lun looked at Shan Pu. "There is no revoking this, child. Are you certain?"
Shan Pu nodded. "Mu Si is dead to me."
The effects of her words on the winged girl were dramatic. She had paled as Shan Pu had turned, but the confirmation sent her to her knees. Ke Lun jumped over the rope into the ring and stood before the trembling girl.
"By Amazon Law, Mu Si, son of Brus, Shan Pu, daughter of Par Fum has declared you dead to her. From this day forward, you will no longer exist to her. Your name shall not be spoken, your voice will not be heard, you presence will not be acknowledged. You are a ghost."
Mu Si shuddered. "I am a ghost," the winged girl whispered. Then she stood and with a sob and threw herself into the air. Shan Pu didn't even turn to watch as the winged girl vanished into the distance.
Finally, she turned to Ke Lun, who was sadly looking after the vanished Mu Si. "Great-grandmother? Give Shan Pu water, please."
Ke Lun raised her eyebrow, but produced the cask. Shan Pu took it and walked towards Ranma.
To her credit, Ranma tried very hard not to shy away. Shan Pu sighed and placed the cask in front of Ranma. "Airen Akane like Shan Pu be cat. But Airen Ranma is important too. If Airen Ranma ask, Shan Pu be cat-girl, instead of cat. If help Ranma not be afraid of Shan Pu, she make change."
Ranma blinked. "Um." She stepped back. "I…"
Ukyo placed her hand on Ranma's shoulder. "Hey, Ran-chan. Don't freak. Think about what we talked about."
Ranma's hands clinched. Honor and promises. She turned to punch one of the ring's posts, the hollow metal rupturing. She looked down at the wreckage and her hands as the crowd took up a slow chant of "cat-girl, cat-girl…"
"SHUT UP!" she screamed. Dead silence fell across the field. Ranma whirled. "Is that what you want?"
Shan Pu stood silently.
Ranma looked down at her hands. "I know you aren't able to help being a cat. I know you're not responsible for my dad throwing me in a pit. I-I—" She stopped and took a deep breath. "I can't… I won't ask you to curse yourself further, Shan Pu. Akane had no choice; we had to have warriors… I can't force you to change yourself because of my stupid irrational fears. I-I don't know if I will find it easier to deal with if you're a cat-girl. I don't know if I should ask you to be one." Ranma forced herself to look Shan Pu in the eyes. "I have promised to take you as my wife Shan Pu, every bit as much as I have promised to take Akane." Blood dripped from Ranma's clenched hands. "I will get over this. Just… just give me time. I can't make a decision like this without thinking about it."
Shan Pu gave Ranma a quiet smile. "Shan Pu give Airen as much time as need. Now not fear for Ranma heart." She picked up the cask. "Shan Pu keep till Airen decide."
Since Shan Pu couldn't, Akane jumped into the ring and gave Ranma a hug to the cheers and whistles of the crowd. She even kissed the redhead, causing the crowd to cheer even louder. Ai, still strutting around shamelessly, started a cheer calling for a strip show. Akane just gave her a dirty look.
Finally, Ke Lun waved the crowd to silence. "I declare this match over! Winner by forfeit, Ranma Saotome!"
Akane held up Ranma's hand as the crowd cheered, but Ranma pulled it down again. "I could have beat him properly if everybody hadn't kept interfering," she said morosely. "I mean, I didn't beat him. Shan Pu just drove him off with that little show of hers." She waved to the shreds and tatters of her clothes around the ring. "And all I have to show for it is a strip tease in front of the entire school. I'm gonna be hearing about the way you trimmed me forever!"
Akane swatted the redhead on the rump. "Stop grousing or I'm gonna give Ai back her sweater and make you walk home showing it off. I like it."
Ranma gave her an evil eye. "You know, ever since you decided you actually liked sex, you've been rather bossy."
Akane smiled. "Yep. And if I actually told you to take off that sweater right here, you'd do it too, wouldn't you?"
Ranma blushed. "Point taken."
Akane gave the redhead a smile. "You and Shan Pu both. You're these amazing powerful warriors, but you like it when I boss you around about certain things. Things that let you know how attracted I am to you."
Ke Lun meanwhile had enlisted Shan Pu's aid to clear a path out of the field, and waved for Ranma and Akane to go. They hurried up the momentary path and ducked into the gym, where Akane got Ranma her spare gym clothes. Ai showed up at the door as she finished dressing, still nude, but holding her skirt.
"You done with my sweater, femboy?"
Ranma gave her a dirty look. "Yeah, and don't call me femboy."
"You're lucky I'm in a good mood, Ranma. Your buddy stealing my clothes was a big hit. Wish I had thought of it myself sooner. The Hentai squad is worshipping at my feet like it should again."
Ranma sighed and tossed the sweater at the shameless girl. Ai caught it with a laugh as she turned and exited out into the gym.
Akane shrugged. "At least it means she's likely to leave Zhu Shu alone for a while."
Ke Lun appeared at the door, dressed once more in her usual robe. "Well, son-in-law, I'm glad you have reconsidered your rash words this morning."
"So are you going to release me from what ever it was you did?"
"No, not yet, Ranma. I think a week or so of being stuck as a female will do you good. Perhaps it will help you concentrate on what you will ask Shan Pu to do." She smiled. "I am glad you did not rush into a decision rashly. That is rare for you."
Ranma grimaced. "Thanks." She shook her head. "What was up with Mu Si, anyway?"
Ke Lun's eyes hardened. "Mu Si need no longer concern you, Ranma. By Amazon custom, he is dead to Shan Pu, and by extension, her family. I ask that you honor this, and if your paths cross again, ignore him. If he will not allow you to ignore him, you are free to do as you wish to convince him of the error of his ways."
Ranma blinked, then shrugged. "Okay. I owe the jerk for the strip show anyway."
Ke Lun's eyes sparkled. "Yes, I heard quite a few comments on how cute the heart was. Anyway, Shan Pu is waiting outside for you."
Ranma nodded and took a deep breath, looking at the small cuts on her palms from clenching her fists. "I will beat my fear. I will beat my fear."
Akane followed her out, her eyes drawn for a moment to two women setting at the top of the bleachers, both strikingly beautiful. One had long platinum blonde hair so pale it almost glowed, the other had long hair that was pure white. She blinked, but their strangely hazy look didn't fade.
"Akane?" Ranma called back to her. "You coming?"
Akane looked back at the bleachers for a second, then shrugged and joined her fiancée as they left the field.
Mara watched the last of the stragglers leaving the field, then leaned back to look over at Urd. "That was a bit harsh, wasn't it?"
Urd was looking at her notes. "Yes, but unfortunately necessary. Mu Si was a tad . excessive in his infatuation. Yggdrasil predicted that anything less permanent would not get him to stop, and Shan Pu will never accept him. I had to arrange for him to go to Jusenkyo several weeks ago, though I'd only planned for him to get the water for Shan Pu. The klutz fell into the pools on his own."
"Yes. Not really sure how it's going to affect things. Originally, Yggdrasil projected that Mu Si would follow Shan Pu to Japan, eventually go to Jusenkyo, get turned into a duck, and then try to turn Akane into a duck, finally becoming a thorn in Ranma's side as he continued to try and win Shan Pu."
Mara raised an eyebrow. "I thought no one could know the future?"
Urd smiled. "Yggdrasil gave it a seventy-five percent likelihood. That's about as high as it gets. And Yggdrasil is the master control program for this reality, so it's the best predictor based on current program data. It's not much use right now, because for some reason, the moment I started trying to grant this wish, it's only giving me insufficient data to most of my prediction requests. The best I've sweet-talked it into is a fifteen percent probability prediction."
"Hmm. I can see where that would make it difficult."
Urd shrugged. "Where goddesses are concerned, Yggdrasil usually will give a lower predictability rating, but fifteen percent is exceedingly low. It's just one more thing making me wonder whether we're dealing with a reality nexus."
Mara nodded off after the receding winged figure, still barely visible to her preternatural senses. "So what about his role in Shan Pu's wish? His happy ending?"
"I do have someone in mind for our young man Sort of killing two birds with one stone. And if I judge his trajectory correctly, and if the spell of drawing I cast works
I am dead.
I am a ghost.
I cannot be seen, I cannot be heard, I cannot be felt!
I am dead.
Mu Si couldn't stay in the air any more; the weight of despair was too great. Better to end it all than be dead while still alive!
Eyes blinded by tears, heart leaden with sorrow, she folded up her wings and allowed herself to plummet. The cold embrace of the earth was all she could expect, now that Shan Pu was forever beyond her reach.
The impact was enormous and she heard the sound of breaking. Pain beyond any she had ever felt shot through her body as her ears filled with the sound of shattering glass. She felt herself plummet further, landing on a surface that drove ten thousand pricks of pain through her as glass rained on top of her, piercing her wings.
I am a crucified angel. she thought through the pain, laughingly recalling the stories the occasional western missionary had tried to teach her as a child. A messenger of love brought low by grief.
Then something struck her in the temple and all thought faded.
Kodachi looked up from pulling on her leotard at sound of something crashing into the greenhouse. She growled as she tugged the sleeve into place as she headed for the garden. It had better not have been her idiot thrice-bedamned brother throwing Sasuke out a window again!
She emerged from the mansion to look at her private retreat, frowning at the enormous hole. Swearing she was going to feed Tatewaki to Mr. Turtle, she stormed towards the door.
The interior was even more annoying. Whatever had crashed through the roof had been directly over her prize black roses. She rushed in to check on her darlings, the rage building to murderous intensities as she determined both Tatewaki and Sasuke were going to die for this
Then she saw what had crashed through the roof, and her breath caught, all anger forgotten in her wonder.
The angel was unconscious, blood trickling from a gash on her forehead where a support frame had landed, and from several glass shards that had pierced her snow-white wings, but miraculously, none of the long slivers of solar glass had impaled the slender, graceful body. Kodachi couldn't pull her eyes away from the vision. The long black hair matched to pale skin, the wings so white they almost seemed to glow, the ethereal beauty .
All her life, she had prayed for an angel to rescue her, a god to free her from the dreary world, someone worthy of her worship
Even her wonderful Akane! Her goddess who had so far spurned her worship, who had refused the love she had to give, who she had still to prove how much she was devoted to, regardless of the fact her goddess had taken up with that Chinese harlot! She knew she could prove how worthy her love was, and had prayed to for a sign her devotion would be rewarded!
And the gods had answered! They had sent her a test, to prove her worth to her goddess. She would care for this wounded angel! Show Akane how devoted and caring she could be to this beautiful creature!
Her mind filled with lovely visions of ministering to the angel's need, she reached for the bell to summon Sasuke.
To be continued.
|Book 3, Chapter 3|
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