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By Shade

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and affiliates are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Rifts and Phase World are owned by Palladium. Other references belong to their respective owners.

3-B: And the Band played on

"Oh? Good morning, Kasumi!"

Ranma had decided to do without his shirt, since his workouts tended to work up quite a sweat and he didn't have that an extensive a wardrobe in the first place. His crew had never complained about it though, so naturally he figured that the same would be all right here. His years spent in other dimensions had not destroyed the core of innocence that lay within his heart, a fact that continued to draw members of the opposite sex to him like moths to a flame. The main drawback of that well-meaning naiveté was that it also meant that short of directly confronting him with said interest (and sometimes not even then) the poor Knight would never realize that it was there in the first place.

Now was no exception to the rule.

That rosy tinge to those flawless cheeks, those sparkling eyes simmering with barely repressed lust, and the way she tore a perfectly good apron into teeny tiny shreds of white would have clued even the most dense of men that something was up.

But this was a Saotome… their cluelessness was legendary.

"So what brings you out here this morning? If you're going to practice, I just finished, so the Dojo's free."

It took Kasumi a moment to realize he was talking to her, as her attention wasn't focused on his head. Her appreciation of Chinese garb rose enormously as she noticed that after his workout the black silk pants now molded onto Ranma like a second skin.

"Oh no, I don't train anymore. Akane is the heir to our family's style. I was curious to see who was out here at such an early hour. Usually Akane goes out jogging in the morning. She prefers to save her workouts in the Dojo for when she comes home from school."

"Sorry about that. I didn't think anyone would mind if I trained here."

"It's no trouble at all. This place has been so quiet since mother…"

Kasumi looked down as her voice trailed off.

Human perception is an unpredictable thing. While he couldn't pick up even the most blatant come-on if his life depended on it, Ranma had an uncanny knack for being able to recognize the signs of emotional distress and help a person deal with it. This was due in part to the fact that he was an excellent listener (though with rather selective hearing) and a very compassionate person by nature. So as soon as the words "quiet" "since" and "mother" were uttered, tiny alarms started going off in his head.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to remind you of any painful memories."

Leaning closer toward Kasumi, who still averted her eyes away from him, Ranma placed a warm hand on her cheek and gently tilted her head up to face him.

A chance ray of sunlight chose that particular moment to illuminate the young man's features with a bright halo, as his smiled warmly in an attempt to let the Tendo daughter know she wasn't alone and that he was there for her.

A quiet hush descended on the premises, as Kasumi became lost in those concerned pools of sapphire blue. They seemed to promise a safe haven from the storm of turmoil that surrounded her as she kept the household together day after day. Her body unconsciously swayed and started to lean toward him, bringing them closer together. She could almost taste his lips… the moment was so perfect…

Closer… just a few inches more…

Almost there…

Just as this scene was about to become prime time viewing one of the simmering pots in the kitchen started to bubble over on the stove.

A slightly unpleasant smell coming from the direction of the house caused the couple's respective noses to twitch in alarm, breaking the mood.

"Oh my! Breakfast is burning!"

Withdrawing with a guilty look of disappointment, Kasumi started to rush toward her little kingdom to avert a potential disaster.

Ranma followed close behind. He still hadn't put a shirt on yet. Kasumi wisely didn't turn around to look as she fought to keep her composure… but she also didn't point the young man's state of disarray to him, either.

"I'll give you a hand in the kitchen."

"It's alright, you don't have to…"

"It's no trouble. As a guest here, it's the least I can do."

"Oh… thank you."

Such a simple gesture of kindness, yet it made her feel all warm and tingly all over. Had anyone ever done anything like this for her before? Akane's ill fated attempts at helping her usually sprang from wanting to impress friends, or out of a desire to simply show the world that she was just as good at the more feminine arts as "Big Sister Kasumi". Somehow cleaning up the messes she inevitably made and compensating for the utensils and dishes she broke or rendered unfit for human contact was always ignored and left for Kasumi, which only added to the workload of cleaning and cooking for a family of four. The only time Nabiki ever entered her domain was to pick up something to munch on. As for Father… though she knew in her heart that he was a good man, even he didn't lift a finger to do the chores, and she didn't have the heart to try and tell him to do them.

Yet here was someone who she had just met and he offered his help without asking for anything in return. Not that she'd mind if he did want something… oh my, that thought was becoming most improper…

If Kasumi had been wearing glasses they would have fogged over at that moment.

Fortunately Ranma was able to keep her from accidentally pouring kerosene onto the grill, otherwise the still slumbering residents would have gotten the mother in law of all wake up calls!

As the hours passed the glorious yellow sun started its climb across the sky and brought life-giving light and heat to the citizens of Tokyo.

Akane and Nabiki opened their slightly bloodshot eyes, yawned and cursed the early hour that forced them from their beds, then went to attend their individual morning toiletries. Both made very sure to check the furo for occupants before entering. Oddly enough both suffered minor twinges of disappointment upon the discovery that it was indeed empty after all.

Genma woke up, relatively speaking. Perhaps it would be better to say that he regained consciousness… or rather, what passed for a state of consciousness.

{Urghghhh… no more all night sake binges… wait a second… this doesn't feel like a hangover…}

The thick stench of burnt fur and body hair quickly got his eyes open as he sat up.


Genma's eyes widened as tears of pain formed. Sometime during the night when that evil suitcase had sprouted giant mechanical gloved hands and dribbled him around like big furry basketball before tossing him into the koi pond, a disc had slipped in his back. And boy did it hurt!

Training the boy could wait, he needed a chiropractor ASAP.

"Morning, Pop."

It took only a glance to figure out his father's predicament. Even though he knew it was wrong, Ranma couldn't help but smirk a little. That "ACME-Warner surprise upgrade" had been worth every credit he'd spent for it.

"Ranma, my boy, your father needs a doctor. Be a good son, and run along and get one."

"No need, I can fix it."

"Ah… wait a second, boy. Do you have license for this?!"

"Don't worry Pops. I had a good teacher. Trust me… "

Somehow, that didn't reassure Genma any. It sounded too much like him, right when he'd suggested the trip to Jusenkyo.

`I'm sure it's nothing, Ranma. You don't have to!!"

"Oh but I insist…"

The older man did not like the grin he saw on his son's face.

"Wait, wait, wait!!"

"Now hold still. This may… sting a little."


Locating the appropriate spot in the small of his father's back, Ranma gave a small tap to it.



The house shook for a moment before settling back down.


"You're standing up, aren't you?"

"THAT'S… uh… I guess I am…"

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to set up the table for breakfast."

"Wait a second boy! It's time for your training! I've been too lax on you lately! You've become soft and weak like a woman!"

Ranma tried not bursting out into hysterical laughter. If Genma had ever dared to say something like that on the Untamed Stallion no one would ever find his body. If there was one thing that he’d learned, it was that women weren’t weak at all.

This was not the reaction the overweight martial artist had expected. Normally, even implying that he was remotely like a girl was enough to send his son charging in with a full head of steam.

And the boy had even left his back wide open. Such sloppiness was disgraceful! A good thrashing should teach his son better.

The older heavyset man crept up to Ranma as the young man set the table. Then as his son bent down to place a cup he struck. Ranma would never know what hit him…

-1.2344433446 seconds later


A soggy brown muzzle poked its way out of the koi pond.

"Nice try, Pops."

A few late blooming flowers were being carefully arranged among the dishes to form a decorative work of art.

-1.1118327483 seconds later


A large bulky form floated to the surface of the water.

"Would you at least wait until I finish?"

The tea set tastefully offset the rice bowls, but the chopsticks needed to be moved a little bit.

-1.26457 seconds later…



1.00033 seconds…


"… it…"

.93465 seconds…


"… off, already!"


A large lump formed on the now unconscious panda's head as it slumped against one of the ornamental rocks bordering the pool.

"He's stubborn, I'll give him that much."

Ranma went to pull his father out before he drowned. Maybe now Genma would leave him in peace.


Breakfast progressed smoothly with only one interruption.

"YOU'RE going to OUR school!?"

Akane's look was one that said she obviously hoped that she'd heard him wrong.

"Yes, Here's my transcript."

"How did you get it so fast?! You just arrived yesterday!"

Nabiki was a little flabbergasted. Her contacts should have informed her about something like this weeks ago!

"I made a few arrangements before I came to Nerima. No biggie, just a little this and that to smooth things along."

He deliberately left out the fact that he'd hacked his way into the government servers to register and set up a passable background that would minimize the paperwork, the moment he'd set foot in Japan. Ranma hated paperwork. It was the bane of all decent military personnel.

"Well then, I and Akane will just have to walk with you to school and show you where it is."

{Time to start revealing the disadvantages of the competition. Is that a silk shirt? It looks… nice.}

"Gee, thanks!"


"Oh my." {Drat, I've already graduated.}

Akane and Nabiki looked at the carefree martial artist casually strolling along. This wouldn't have been so strange a sight, had it not been for the fact he was doing so on a narrow chain link fence that was taller then they were.

"Why are you walking up there!? Too good to walk on the ground like the rest of us normal people?!"

Akane took this as yet another slight toward herself. At this rate she was going to earn herself an ulcer before she graduated.

"She does raise at least one valid question, Ranma. Why are you up there?"

Nabiki was genuinely curious to hear his reason for being up there.

"It's kinda fun."


After picking herself up from an impressive facefault, Nabiki shot a disbelieving look at what had to be the most totally unorthodox person she had ever met.

"You're walking on a fence because it's *fun*?!"

"Well, why not?"


Okay, so for once the Mistress of Wits didn't have a ready response at hand. It happens.

Silence filled the gap between the three. Of course Ranma didn't notice it much. It gave him more time to do important stuff, like thinking.

"I'm NOT going to marry you, you know!"

Finally, the youngest Tendo daughter decided to break the stifling quiet with her flawless logic and insight.

The handsome pigtailed young man shrugged carelessly.

"Fine with me."

Akane's eyebrows twitched with suppressed irritation at having been dismissed so casually… again.

Enter the comic relief.

"You WILL marry one of Tendo's daughters, Ranma!!!"

"Gotta catch me first, old man!"

Laughing gleefully, Ranma took off across the rooftops at a speed that a peregrine falcon would have envied.

"Come back here!"

Huffing and puffing, Genma scrambled off in pursuit.

"Honestly, those two are so embarrassing. Why do they have to stay at our house?"

`Now be nice, Akane. They are our guests after all."


-About 2 miles later


"Co… co… come… *cough*cough*… bac… back… *wheeze*… he… he… he… here… *ugh*…"

Genma collapsed, sweating like a pig and totally exhausted as he watched his boy vanish in the distance.

{When did he get so damn fast?!}


Ranma looked around at all the big stores and little shops.

He must have taken a wrong turn back there. This was the commercial district, not Furinkan. Although it was rather nice to know where he could go this afternoon to get some local units of exchange. Money couldn't solve every problem, but it certainly worked well for most of them!

It looked like he'd have to hurry if he didn't want to be late for his first day of school. A jade green blur bounded from roof to roof, as he finally determined the right direction to go. It was rather embarrassing to admit that even with his instinctual knowledge of his exact position in the Multiverse at all times, he STILL got lost sometimes. The funny thing was it had only started happening after that side trip to a little backwater dimension…

One particular building was home to a pair of sharp eyes.

"Michiru, what are you looking at?"

"I thought I saw someone for a second, Haruka."

"On the roof? Are you sure?"

"Funny though, I could have sworn it was carrying…"

"Carrying what?"

"A… schoolbag."

"… Maybe you need some rest."

"Only if you're here to share it."

"Well then… hey!… *mmm*… *light sigh*… *giggle*… aren't we full of energy all of a sudden…"

*Sounds best left to the imagination*

-Now where am I?

How hard was it to find one school in Tokyo? Ranma was about to find that out the hard way.

"Sorry, this is Tomobiki."

He sighed. This wasn't it, either.

"I knew I should have taken that right turn at the Cat Cafe!"

"Look, I've got to get going. Sorry I can't help you out."

"Oh, that's okay… um…"

"Ryunosuke, my name's Ryunosuke Fujinami."

"Ryunosuke? That's strange. What kind of an idiot gives such a cute girl a guy's name?!"

"Cu… cute?"


"Sure! I mean anybody could see what a pretty young lady you are. Oh, where are my manners. I'm Ranma. Ranma Saotome."

His devastating smile was on full power; he wanted to make the best impression he could. It worked well… too well, in fact.

"Pr… pre… pretty?!"

Ryunosuke had just passed Cloud Nine, and didn't show any signs of coming back down to Earth anytime soon.

"Sorry to bother you! Ja ne!"

Off he bounded like a grasshopper on steroids, leaving behind one very dazed cross-dressing girl…

{Furinkan High… maybe I can see him… er… I mean it, later.}

Somewhere in the neighborhood, a monk named Cherry raised his head and uttered two words that pretty much summed up the building situation.

"Most ominous…"


Saint Hebereke. Nope, he definitely had no business at an all-girl's school.

Maybe he should have checked the map *before* he left. The only consolation he had was that at least none of the people he knew were here to see this. He'd never live it down.

He wondered if that kid he had met in junior high had gone through this. What was his name again? Ryo… Ryoda Hidiki… or something like that.

Far, far away in the wilds of China something warm, fuzzy, and pure evil sneezed.

-This is getting ridiculous

{Not again!}

This was starting to get out of hand.

"Ah, excuse me. This isn't Furinkan High School is it?"

"No, this is Graviton High."


"Thanks anyway, Miss… ah…"

He was talking to a dust trail.

"Oh well. Let's try that again."

He'd probably never run into that redhead again anyway.

Once more unto the breach.

-Good Night Everybody!


{Big… Toenail… of… Satan… Educational… Facility?!!}

This didn't look anything like a school… He'd seen Kreeghor Prisons less intimidating!!

A very naked young lady ran past dressed in a red mask with a matching pair of high heel boots.


Carefully Ranma blinked his eyes a few times.

{I did not just see a naked girl in a red mask run by.}

Today was not shaping up to be a good day.

Try again.

-One more time!


At this point Ranma was getting a little desperate, if he couldn't find Furinkan soon he was going to be late. So here he was chasing after a bicycle doing better then 80 mph in the quiet Nerima streets.

At least the girl was cute.


Amazingly she could talk to him and pedal like a maniac at the same time without running into something.

"Hi, do you know where Furinkan High is?"

"Hmm….Nuku-Nuku remember! Take next right and go straight!"



Nuku-Nuku waved back at her new friend as she decided to start really moving.


The ten-speeder that was going at least nine speeds faster then it was intended to abruptly went from Warp drive to Ludicrous speed.

Lines of plaid bounced off Ranma's now sheepish face as he was left behind in the dust.

{This IS my home planet, right?}


Ranma wasn't the only one having a hard time swallowing this.

"I don't believe this! How can anyone fumble SIX navigational bearing rolls in row and not be a Hibiki?!"

Even dressed in stately white plate mail, somehow the figure managed to convey a sense of twitching incredulity.

The gray robed one pulled out a small notepad and then looked at the various enchantments and alterations in play on Saotome to jot them down for posterity.

After a moment of looking a very oversized sweat drop appeared.

"I think I'm going to need a bigger notebook."

-At long last

"Whew! Finally found it!"

He had arrived just in time. Akane and Nabiki were already approaching the front gates.

He waved at them, happy to see that he'd made it just in time. Jumping down to join the Tendo girls, Ranma clasped both their hands in his own in relief.

"Man, you two have no idea how happy I am to see you guys."

"What do you think you're doing?!"

Akane wasn't the only to react to this strange twist of events. Several dozen angry male voices yelled from the schoolyard as they witnessed this undreamed of sacrilege.


Ranma looked to see a weird sight. It looked like every boy attending Furinkan was dressed up in sports equipment or martial arts outfits and gathered in front of the school building.

One of them, dressed in an *ice* hockey uniform, gasped in shaky disbelief.


Cries of outrage sprung up from all around at that observation as if they couldn't see that perfectly well for themselves.

The group seemed to come to a consensus after some dark muttering.

"Let's get him!!!"

The horde of berserk, hormonally driven jocks charged toward the new student, intent on turning the infidel who had dared defile the skin of their pure goddess Akane into a stain on the concrete.

{You have GOT to be kidding me.}

A large sweat drop formed on the back of Ranma's head as he saw the angry mob heading toward him.

{Now the fun begins.}

Nabiki smirked. This was sure to discourage any chance of anything forming between her younger sister and their potential fiancé.

-Saotome Residence

"So when will we meet Ranma, Auntie Nodoka?"

"Chi! You and Azusa didn't have to tag along!"

It wasn't fair! How was she supposed to be able to spend any quality time with her fiancé and get to know him better, when her manager and apprentice in training would be watching over her shoulder every minute!?

"Very soon, once you've gone through the Anything Goes Bridal Training we'll join my son and husband at the house of an old family friend."

{Poor Soun, I do hope he's recovered from the loss of his wife. My son's wedding shouldn't be disrupted by one of his crying sprees.}

"Wha?! Anything Goes BRIDAL TRAINING???

"Of course, dear. When I'm done, you will be the perfect match for my manly son."

Something sent a cold shiver running down the spines of the three girls. It might have been that eerie, confident tone, the twinkling sparklies shooting out from big eyes filled motherly love, or the battle aura of motherly pride that towered over them.

The sudden crackle of thunder and lightning in the clear blue sky had absolutely nothing to do with it. Nor did the flock of frozen black ravens crashing down into a nearby temple… and it couldn't possibly be due to the fact that every chopstick in sight had just broken in half for no conceivable reason at all.

Heeheehee… yeah, right.

The three girls almost made it out of the house before the arms of well-intended doom dragged them back in to meet their fate…

"Wait!! I'm not the one getting married!!!"

The fine wooden door slammed shut with a solemn finality.

Black Queen takes White Pawn.


The local athletes were giving Ranma Saotome a warm welcome.

{Oh, Fershlugger!}

While being attacked by a bloodthirsty mob was not totally outside of his experience, this was the first time they used bats and rackets instead of guns and grenades. Japan was supposed to be a peaceful country after all. Had things really changed that much in ten years?

He'd have to follow that line of thought later. As for now…

[Tactical Mode Engaged.]

[Multiple hostile contacts detected.]

[Threat value: 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000001. —I.E. you’re kidding, right?]


  1. Attack —Unacceptable, Ethical conflict.
  2. Run —Unacceptable, Honor conflict.
  3. Non-lethal Neutralization —Unacceptable, 99.9% certainty that hostilities will resume in 23.68 hours.
  4. Bluff —Loss of dignity within acceptable parameters.

Commencing with Style #37: Lee Kwan Choo.  Initiating…]

Hopping back a bit to get some room to maneuver, Ranma avoided no less then twelve different types of sports balls, half a dozen training weights, and a javelin that some wise guy from the track team had borrowed… not to mention all the punches, kicks and miscellaneous attempts to cause great amounts of bodily harm to him.

It helped that every one of them fought like individuals instead of as a team. That meant that their attacks often got tangled up as they tried to attack from the same direction at the same time.

Akane watched this with a little shock. The crowd that normally challenged her each morning had gone right past her today.

Why weren't they attacking her? They were attacking… HIM?!

Relief was the first thing she felt. That lasted for only a moment before anger hit.


She was a martial artist too! No boy was going to upstage her!! Ooohhh… she hoped that he got creamed, that would teach him to stop butting in!

In fact she was going to give him a piece of her mind right now!

Akane started stalking over to the general melee going on. The slower boys that had the misfortune to be in her way quickly learned of their error before heading to la-la land.


If Akane had been able to finish what she was about to say the entire course of the story might have been different. But that was the moment Ranma choose to make his move…

A lot can happen in fifteen seconds.

In that short span of time battles can be won or lost.

Within that brief fragment of time a decision can be made that will have earth shaking effects in the future.

In fifteen seconds a person's opinion of another can be forever changed or set in stone for eternity.



The more observant ones closer to him spotted it first. The new kid was starting to light up as a prismatic glow enveloped him right before their eyes. Ranma's stance now looked a lot like a large cat preparing to pounce.


Those with a lick of sense in their heads hesitated in their attack and began to find that the idea of a strategic withdrawal had considerable merit. The majority of the pack charged in heedless of the consequences. Ranma's features hardened as a deadly gleam appeared in his eyes.


Now the rest of the boys noticed, even the most hardened of them were taken aback by the sheer force behind that chilling expression. Some of the more superstitious found themselves remembering stories of the boogieman and the many demons of Japanese legend.

Now more of the jocks were beginning to reconsider this impulsive attack. But it was already too late…


The battle cry struck like a physical blow, stealing away their confidence and weakening their muscles with the first venomous drops of terror.

-Eyecatch 1

(Scene: Ranma is chasing a horde of monsters and villains from various Anime and RPGs (Rifts, Slayers, BGC, SM, etc.). They run from left to right and then off-screen for a moment. Then Ranma comes running back from the right side with a look of pure terror on his face. A moment later a *gigantic* mob of women with

Kasumi, Tsunami, Urd, Ayla, Shayla-Shayla, Misato, and Jaina Solo among them coming charging after him.)

-Eyecatch 2

(Ranma looks nervously to both sides, then breathes a sigh of relief when he sees that he's alone. Then he spots a gourmet feast laid out on a white picnic blanket. When he leans over and tries to grab some of the tempting food the trap springs and a dust cloud briefly obscures the screen. Sasami, Kasumi and Makoto (SM) step in and smile, Ranma is revealed to be caught in a fish net hanging from a wooden rod behind them.)


Furinkan's finest athletes were frozen in place by a combination of terror and disbelief. Growing dark stains on both sides of their pants along with a foul odor that started to fill the air were clear evidence of the effectiveness of Ranma's attack. The entire student body (minus one) was stunned by it. Even Akane had to admit that she wasn't good enough to pull something like that off.


Shadow let out a soft whistle of admiration.

Who would have ever thought to use the Neko-ken style that way?! The fact that he was able to relearn it without going insane was incredible enough!

"I don't believe it! He's not supposed to have a horror factor unless he's transformed!!!"

Zora dumped a bucket of ice water to end the Guardian's ravings quickly.

The screams of outrage were another story.

{How'd he do that?!}

Akane wondered, if she could learn a trick like that…

Casually the pigtailed martial artist relaxed from his ready state and dusted off a few wood and metal splinters from his hands.

"That's the only warning you get gents. I strongly suggest that you leave both me and the Tendos alone or you won't be so fortunate next time."

Seeing that the gentlemen in question were incapable of even coherent thought at the moment Ranma started to head toward the school building.

Akane blinked as he walked past her then went after him. She reached out to grab him by the arm. As her hand encountered a solid array of muscle a small shiver that wasn't at all unpleasant in the least ran through the rest of her body and sparked a few embers in her lower abdomen.

"Wait a second Ranma!"

"Who dares approach the fierce tigress of my heart?!!"

Tatewaki Kuno's rehearsed speech was forgotten as he beheld this effrontery to his refined senses. So immersed in his fantasies that he'd missed the fireworks earlier, the would-be samurai had strode out just in time to see his beloved Akane grab some strange boy's arm!


It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair.

{There's always one more to deal with. The Universe never cuts me a break!}

What was next, giant singing fuzzy purple dinosaurs doing the Macarena? (1)

"Who are you, cur?" Not waiting for a reply, Kuno ranted on.

"Ah! But it is the custom to give one's OWN name first!"

{Is he for real?}

"Fine then! MINE I shall GIVE!"

The rumble of the approaching storm grew louder.

{This is ridiculous. I came back home to escape from the craziness, NOT make it worse!}

Ranma heaved a disgusted sigh as he looked up at the darkening heavens. It was going to rain any minute now and he wanted to get inside his class, not deal with this blowhard.

"My name is Upperclassman Kuno. I am captain of Furinkan Kendo club and the undefeated rising star of the high school fencing world. But my peers call me…"

{A loudmouthed idiot with more pride then sense, by any chance?}

"The BLUE THUNDER of Furinkan!"


A perfectly timed bolt of blue lightning ripped across the sky.

{What a show off…}

Several students watching the unfolding spectacle from the second story of the school building looked slightly puzzled by that last statement. Among them was Nabiki.

"Blue Thunder?"

"Have you heard about that, Nabiki?"

"News to me, last I heard he was calling himself the Shooting Star or some such junk."

The entire student body looked upon the poor doomed fool who had attracted the attention of the school's best fighter. Even though he'd just beaten the rest of the male population, Kuno was in another class altogether. It was rumored that he might even be better then Akane! So everyone watched and whispered conversations sprang up among them. Those that were still conscious that is. Which meant that the crowd was composed mostly of girls. Lonely girls who hadn't been able to get a date for weeks since Kuno's stupid declaration had sent practically every eligible boy in school after Akane Tendo.

"Oh no! Kuno's going to kill our one chance for happiness!!"

"Maybe he'll just break a few bones and be content with that?"

"Shhh… look! Something's happening!"

Having decided there was no other viable way out of this Ranma decided to just go along with this little farce until an opening appeared.

"I'm Ranma Sao…"

Trying to stop this, Akane blurted out the first thing that came to mind without bothering to think of the consequences.

"He's just staying with us, Kuno!"

{Oh swell, that really helped…}


Kuno's shock was nothing compared to the student body's reaction.


Told ya.

An ugly red glow formed around the slightly shaking son of the noble house of Kuno.

"Under the SAME roof as AKANE?!! I FORBID IT!!!"

The Insane Strike of Righteous Justice (patent pending) came slashing down. Kuno might as well have sent his opponent a formal letter announcing his every movement. He telegraphed his attacks like a professional wrestler.

Ranma merely jumped backwards, then continued on from his new spot several yards away from the angered kendoist.

"As I was saying before you so rudely interrupted me…"

{Foul lowbred dog! You dare insult the noble House of KUNO!?}

Tatewaki growled like a feral animal at this base attack to his noble samurai heritage. At this point he wasn't about to settle for anything less then this peasant's head mounted on a pike.

"I'm Ranma Saotome of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts. And to be completely honest, you don't impress me one bit."

After that statement was heard the betting tripled. Nabiki found herself hard pressed to keep up. Even she was astounded by Saotome's guts to say something like that!

But could Ranma back up his bold words?

It looked like they were about to find out.

-Somewhere not revealed yet

"Is something wrong old friend?"

The figure's features were lost within the grand hall that stretched as far as the eye could see as he gestured toward the exquisitely crafted platinum board between the two players.

"You've yet to make a move. In all the millennia I've known you, I've never seen you play so poorly before. "

The setup of the game in progress revealed that Black was swiftly gaining control of the board despite the solid defense of White. Currently it was White's turn to move. There were few options left, no matter which direction a move was made one of the important pieces would be lost. A closer inspection revealed that the pieces were in fact miniature representations of various beings and creatures from across the Multiverse. Even more telling was the fact that Ranma represented the Knight for White.

The figure expected no response. He'd learned long ago that there was a reason for everything it did. The trick was finding out and more importantly, understanding it.

Their friendship was an unusual one even by his standards. Both of them possessed ancient secrets and long lost knowledge that mortals would kill for, their separate existences had been recorded at the dawn of the written word and spanned far before that through half remembered legends passed down through near ritualistic oral tradition. Unique and alone, scholar and meddler, yet who both found a common enjoyment in a simple friendly game. For a brief drop in the sea of time their responsibilities were set aside for the only true peace they had.

But now…

The change in his friend's choice of pieces had not gone unnoticed either. He was worried. It seemed as if the other was playing an entirely different game this time, rather then the one between them…

[The Circle must be completed once more.]

Shock held him in its grip. For the first time ever his friend had spoken to him!

Ranma's armored form moved across the board to quietly knock over one of the opposing Black pieces.

Knight takes Rook


To be continued. Hehehehehehe…

Author's notes:

  1. I'm a fanfic writer, not a sadist!
Part 3-C
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