[Ranma/Ikkitousen crossover] "The Fate of the Sacred Bead" revamp

#1
Can't really believe I'm doing this. It'll probably end up a catastrophe or more likely will go nowhere at all and not even get up to the point that was already written a dozen years ago.

If he had thought about it at the time, he might have paid attention to how suspiciously perfectly the box had fit in his hand.

The box was three inches wide and four inches long, by three inches deep – exactly the right proportions for the bit of jewelry inside and exactly the right proportions to snugly fit inside his palm. A little bit smaller on the long side and it would have been a perfect cube.

He’d ignored that.

The black color of the box was perfect.

The gold kanji lettering on top … flawless.

He had thought it was made for him. He’d had no idea how right he was.

And yet … he should have been more concerned about the name.

The horse kanji second, that was right.

But the storm kanji, first or at all … even though it could also be read “Ran”, it wasn’t right. It didn’t fit. His name wasn’t written that way, had never been written that way.

Yet … he could only feel that it did fit, and at that quite well.

He, Ranma Saotome, should have realized how doomed he was from the start.

Instead of realizing this fact … he defied the gods and opened the box.

Pillowed inside on a fine bed of silk was a jewel bead like those he’d seen on more than a handful of people around Tokyo. They’d all worn the beads as an earring, usually on the left. The rumor he’d heard was that every person wearing one of these beads was a Fighter, and indeed he had felt that some of them were martial artists … although he’d found none worth challenging so far.

From the instant he looked at that bead … he wanted to wear it.

His own ears hadn’t ever been pierced … but to correct that would only be the work of a second, or rather not even that long. The injury, minor as it would be, would heal around the piercing and that would be that.

Sitting in the box the bead was perfectly clear and looked like molded glass. The instant it felt even the smallest touch – less than a hundredth of a second – he caught that instant with his eyes – the bead went from crystal clear to opaque, and took on a bright color of gold. Even the simple metal loop acquired that gold color. The whole thing seemed lit from within, glowing like it was alive.

The instant he saw that color of gold … he wanted to wear it. He needed to wear it.

“Cool!” he exclaimed, grinning broadly, and slipped it onto his left ear, piercing the flesh of his earlobe with absolutely no trouble. Even the pain passed in barely a setsuna.

In the layers of his soul, somewhere in the deep reaches of himself, something that had never been acknowledged stirred, and the first link was forged to the very deepest of the deep.

He, Ranma Saotome, should have realized how doomed he was from the start.

But these events … are Fate.
======================================================================

“Where have you been, boy?” Ranma’s father’s voice greeted him as he walked into the Tendou home, though he could see instantly that his pops’ primary focus of attention was on the game he was playing with Mr Tendou.

“Around,” Ranma replied, not caring to give any details; he could tell from his father’s voice that the question was mostly for form’s sake anyhow.

He had been around, more or less just moving, feeling the magatama bounce against his neck as he walked, ran, or leaped. He found that he enjoyed the sensation.

“What’s it to you anyway, old man?” Ranma asked, his own question more or less for form’s sake alone also.

Yet his father rose to the bait, actually turning to look at his son, taking his eyes off the game-board … he would pay for that, Ranma knew, Mr Tendou wouldn’t give up this unanticipated opportunity to cheat … Anything Goes in shogi just as much as anywhere else.

Genma ignored his old friend’s reshaping the game board as he gave his son a cursory up-down glance. But then he saw something that instantly commanded his actual, full attention. The golden bead on Ranma’s left ear.

It was something that he knew and recognized instantly, on sight. His absolute greatest fear for his son. His wife’s sword had nothing on this, not that Ranma knew anything about that. Genma had been running from her since Ranma was a child, had taken Ranma away in hopes of avoiding Fate.

He let himself go pale verging on white. He pointed at the bead and let a tremor slip into his voice. “w – What is that? Where did you get it?”

Ranma tapped the gold bead dangling from his ear. “What? This thing?” he asked insolently, mockingly. “Found it earlier. And don’t even think about swiping it. It’s mine.”

Genma knew damn well it was Ranma’s. That was the whole damn point. Yet the words pierced his heart anyhow.

“Foolish boy!” he shouted, not caring about the disrespect, which was so mild as to be easily ignoreable. “Do you have any idea what that means?” He hoped that his son didn’t.

‘Sure, I’ve seen them before,” Ranma said with a shrug. “It means the person wearing it is a Fighter. I’m a Fighter, so I’m wearing it. Get over it.”

Genme could tell from the tone that Ranma didn’t really know what they meant and so what he was getting into, but there was no way for Genma to hint to Ranma that he did without giving away vital information. All he could do was steam a bit and return his “attention” to the now-worthless game of shogi he was playing, while really thinking of a way to get that bead away from Ranma somehow.

Deep in his heart, he knew that would be a pointless and meaningless gesture even if it succeeded.

Genma considered his options for the rest of the night, arriving at nothing. He made one pitiful attempt to convince Ranma otherwise, and it had failed just as much as he’d anticipated.

As Ranma lay asleep that night, Genma stayed awake for a time. Thinking. Cursing, though silently. Finally, just before he too fell asleep, he concluded he had to send the boy to Nodoka. Or worse, take Ranma to her himself.

That would be pure hell, Genma thought, and he cursed silently one last time.

Fate was proving to be a bitch indeed.
More or less a combination of "The Jewel Box" and "Ranma's Magatama". My contribution rating: Pretty high. There's not a lot left of the originals in this.

"I don't understand, Saotome," Soun informed his old friend. "Why must Ranma leave? What about the Schools?"

Genma sighed heavily as he considered his response.

"I made a mistake, old friend," Genma said tiredly. "I made a number of them, but it all started with Nodoka."

"I don't understand," Soun repeated.

"When I married Nodoka, I had no idea what she was a part of," Genma explained. "If I had, I would have never gone through with it. It wasn't until just before I began Ranma's training in earnest that I discovered the truth."

"The truth?" Soun asked, mystified. "What horrible secret could she have been hiding from you that you would willingly turn your back on our promise?"

“You’re familiar with this book?” Genma asked, using a bit of Hidden Weapons technique to produce a book from nowhere.

His friend needed not even a second to recognize it. “Of course, Saotome! You’re just as familiar with it as I! The master,” and then he suddenly stopped, looking around wildly for several seconds before resuming, “the master talked about that book at length, from time to time. He thought it … what were his words … ‘a very great yarn’, I think.”

His friend nodded vaguely. “I had forgotten that. Well, that’s useful. So it needs no introduction. You know of the book, but did you know there are dozens and dozens of families, involving hundreds of students at seven schools throughout this part of Japan, that continually relive these events? Relive, re-fighting, sometimes dying, all of this ancient history? For most people it’s just a book … but for them it’s their reality.”

Soun Tendou shuddered in horror. “You must be joking, Saotome!”

Genma shook his head. “Sadly, my old friend, it is absolute truth. And Nodoka’s family is one of those families, and now Ranma is one of those wrapped up in what they call the Fate of the Sacred Bead. I wished desperately it wouldn’t have been the case … I took Ranma away in an effort to prevent it … hell, I convinced Nodoka that his name should be written differently in an effort to prevent it! Nodoka wanted his name to have the storm kanji in it, but it would have been read as “Ranma” in any case.” He shook his head. “Useless effort on my part. Fate found him when Fate was ready to do so.”

For a long minute neither spoke. It was finally the taller man who broke the silence.

“Is there no way to prevent this?”

Genma shook his head. “None that I could find. Fate has come for him, so he needs to go. I don’t want your girls wrapped up in this, Tendou, and if you think hard on it you don’t either.”

These words seemed to reach his friend. “No, I don’t,” the taller man said at length. “What will you do, to help your son stay alive?”

Genma’s eyes glinted. “I have trained Ranma to a level that damn few of these fighters will be able to match, I’m quite sure. That was the only way I knew how to prepare him, and what I wanted to do anyway. I won’t deny that old crone at the Cat Cafe has given him useful training,” he grumbled, “but the base was all my work. I will talk to him, make him aware that he may need, at some point that could come well before he’s ready for it, to use lethal force in a fight.”

His friend gasped. “That will not be easy for him to hear, Saotome! It never is! It may be especially hard for Ranma, with skills like his.”

Genma nodded. “I know. Believe me, I know. But there’s no helping it. There will be fighters for whom the code of a martial artist has no relevance whatsoever, and no meaning beyond some pretty words.”

Tears came to Soun’s eyes, but he wiped them away after barely a second. “A sad thought, Saotome. A sad thought indeed.”

For a while, again, they didn’t speak. Again it was the taller man who broke the silence. “Good luck to you, Saotome. May the gods keep your boy alive and well.”

Genma nodded curtly, “If I have any say in it, they will.”

He walked away from the table and the shogi board, and that was that.
======================================================================

"So that's it?" Ranma blinked in disbelief at his father. "After all the crap you've given me about the schools being joined and how I have to marry Akane and now you're saying forget all of it?"

"Things have changed, boy," Genma said as the pair walked toward the Saotome home. "Your mother will explain it to you better than I can."

"What about the others? Ucchan? Shampoo?" Ranma asked.

"What about them, boy?" Genma shrugged. "Do whatever you like."

Ranma was both irritated and relieved at Genma's response. At least the old man hadn't changed that much. Still, it was surprising that his father opted to accompany him to see his mother.

Ranma was still mystified by the old man's sudden turn around. He suspected it had something to do with the gold magatama hanging from his left ear, but what was so special about it that caused Genma to vacate the pact with Mr. Tendo, Ranma had yet to find out.

“Boy,” Genma said suddenly, in a harsh voice. “I want you to remember, always, no matter what, you’re a martial artist.”

"Feh, like I could forget," Ranma snorted.

"I'm serious, Ranma," Genma snapped. "You NEED to remember. You're about to be involved in something far different from anything you've had to deal with before. There’s every chance, and it could come very quickly, that some time in the near future you’ll have to kill an opponent in a fight to protect someone you care about.”

Ranma stopped moving. He considered the words. Reconsidered them. He touched the gold magatama still dangling from his left earlobe. “Is this damn bead that important? What if I just threw it away?”

Genma shook his head. “Throwing it away would be useless at this point. Fate found you before, Fate would find you again. But I’m glad … that you’re not attached to it.”

Ranma saw the expression his old man was wearing and grimaced.

"In spite of our travels, you've led a fairly sheltered life, Ranma," Genma said. "You've never faced evil, or insanity, or greed of the sort you might in the near future. I fear that all that sheltering might have given you instincts that could kill you at any moment. I've trained you to be strong and skilled, but if you want to survive, I believe you are going to have to learn to be hard, too, when it counts. And that isn’t easy, at all. I never taught you that because I had hoped we could avoid this, but that bead you wear found you.

"This isn't like the Hibiki boy jumping out at you and shouting 'Prepare to die'. It isn't even like when the Amazon-girl was hunting your female form. She didn't really want to kill you. The people your mother will tell you about won't have any qualms about ending your life. Some of them might even take pleasure in killing. Ranma, if you hesitate, you might end up just one more of a psycho’s victims.”

“Pops,” Ranma began, but he found he couldn’t say more, and he was interrupted anyway.

"Your mother will explain,” Genma said, in a voice that told Ranma that was the end of the conversation.

The rest of the trip to the Saotome home passed in silence as Ranma considered what he'd been told.
Minor update/revamp of the episode titled "Genma ... cares?" I put more in from Genma's point of view and tried to make him a bit more sympathetic, but he disappeared from the thread after this point and I don't know if I want to change that.

Ranma and Nodoka stood outside the gates of an extremely nice traditional Japanese home. It wasn't quite as large as the Tendo home but the grounds were far larger. The wooded property was positively decadent for someplace found inside the Tokyo city limits.

Things between his parents had not gone well. Nodoka had been resentful of Genma trying to keep Ranma from her and Genma had been resentful of Nodoka not having told him about her family's Fate before they had been married. Add to that, Nodoka's outrage at Genma having taken Ranma to Jusenkyo and things had exploded into a terrible shouting match that had done terminal damage to an already foundering marriage.

"This house belongs to my brother," Nodoka explained. "Although until a short time ago, only his son Kokin lived here. My brother decided that he wanted to live out in the country and take up farming, so he passed the house to his son and left. Recently your Aunt Goei and her daughter Hakufu moved in with Kokin so she could attend Nanyo Academy with Kokin."

Ranma sighed. They had had a discussion about school on the trip here. Nodoka had been very persuasive and Ranma had been forced to concede that his attitude toward school was ill conceived. The elder Saotome had extracted a solemn vow that he would take school more seriously.

"Come, Dear, let's go meet your aunt and your cousins," Nodoka urged Ranma through the gate.

"Do they practice the art?" Ranma asked.

"Of course, Dear," Nodoka smiled. "Your cousins have both trained nearly as long as you have."

"Cool," Ranma smiled. He hoped his cousins were decent. It'd be nice to have someone to spar with that wouldn't try to turn it into a death match.

Ranma had been disturbed by what his mother had explained to him about the magatama hanging from his ear, that it contained the soul of a warrior from the Three Kingdoms era in China. He began to understand why his father had reacted the way he had when Nodoka explained to Ranma about The Fate of the Sacred Bead. However, given the magatama had been stolen from the Saotome home and happened to be lost by the thief only to be found by Ranma seemed to indicate there was no avoiding his destiny.

Ranma and his mother entered the gate and approached the door. Just as they arrived the door was slid open to reveal a beautiful older woman with glasses and hair an even darker shade of red than his mother's. She was also dressed as traditionally as his mother and she took them in with a bright smile on her face.

"No-chan!" the woman squealed happily.

"Go-chan!" his mother squealed back and the two glomped each other.

"It's been so long, Sister, welcome to our home," the woman said before looking at Ranma, sizing him up like a side of beef. "Oh my! And who is this deliciously handsome boyfriend you have with you?"

"Oh, stop, Go-chan, you know this is my son, Ranma," Nodoka giggled.

Ranma's pigtail stood straight out when his aunt glomped him, cooing about how handsome he was. She did not just grope his butt, nope, there was no way Ranma was going to acknowledge that.

"Well, hello, Nephew," his aunt giggled. "My, I think you're even more adorable than Kokin. There's just something about a man in silk. Please come in and meet your cousins."

Ranma laughed nervously and scratched the base of his pigtail as his Aunt Goei led them out onto the engawa. Ranma could hear a high pitched female voice screaming "basics!" repeatedly as they approached.

"Hakufu, Kokin, come meet your Aunt Nodoka and your Cousin Ranma," Goei called out to the boy and the girl practicing out in the yard.

Ranma blinked as the pair approached. The girl had strawberry blonde hair and a bigger bust than his girl-form. She appeared rather...unrestrained as well. The boy was about Ranma's height but appeared to be much skinnier, lacking Ranma's hard-won musculature. In fact, although Ranma was a year younger, he appeared the more physically mature of the two.

"Hakufu, you remember your Aunt Nodoka, right?" Goei asked.

"Of course," Hafuku chirped. "Hi Auntie!"

"My but you've certainly grown since I last saw you, Fu-chan," Nodoka smiled. "You've become such a lovely young woman."

"Thank you, Auntie," Hakufu chirped.

"And Kin-chan! Why I haven't seen you since you were in diapers," Nodoka gushed, hugging the boy. "You've grown up so handsome! I bet you have all sorts of girlfriends you've been manly with."

Kokin blushed darkly while laughing nervously.

"Um...It's good to see you too, Aunt Nodoka," Kokin said

Then everyone turned their attention to the pigtailed boy in the silk Chinese tang and black kung fu pants.

"Hakufu, Kokin, this is your cousin, Ranma, my son," Nodoka introduced proudly. "Ranma is one of the top martial artists in the country."

"Pleased to meet ya," Ranma said giving a small bow to the other two teens.

"Wow, you're a martial artist?" Hakufu asked. "Are you strong and skilled?"

"I'm the best," Ranma said proudly.

"Great! Let's fight!" Hakufu chirped happily. "I love fighting better and stronger opponents! It gets me so excited!"

Ranma sweat-dropped as he watched his...um...unrestrained cousin bounce and wobble in her excitement.

"Now, Hakufu, you can spar with Ranma-kun later," Aunt Goei admonished. "Kokin why don't you help Ranma-kun bring their things in from the van and moved into their rooms."

"And after that we need to tell them about your curse, Dear," Nodoka added to Ranma.

"Aw, man, do we have to?" Ranma asked.

"Son, you know you won't be able to hide it for long," Nodoka chided. "It's best to just get it out of the way so they aren't surprised at a more inconvenient time."

"I guess you're right," Ranma admitted grudgingly. "Come on, Cousin, let’s get this over with."

The two boys headed out to the van to unload the luggage and other things that Nodoka had brought with her.
======================================================================

"That's sooo cool!" Hakufu gushed after the curse had been explained and demonstrated. "So which side fights better?"

Ranma shrugged. His cousin thought it was cool? He had never had that response before. Of course the male cousin was looking at him in horrified shock.

"There’s not a lot of difference," Ranma explained. "Might be a bit more agile as a girl. It's kind of a trade off, though. Just do me a favor and don't tell anyone about this. It's kind of embarrassing."

At that moment, Kokin's cell phone rang and he answered it. After a few brief words Kokin agreed with whoever was on the other end and hung up.

"I have to go meet someone," the older boy said. "I'll catch up with you guys later."

"Okay," Hakufu replied before turning back to Ranma as Kokin left. "Can we fight now?"

Ranma looked at his mother and aunt, hoping for a rescue again. He was disappointed.

"Kick her little butt, Ranma-kun!" Aunt Goei directed cheerfully.

"But Aunt Goei, she's a girl," Ranma protested.

Splash!

"Now so are you, so no problem," Ranma's mother smirked while Hakufu giggled.

Ranma scowled at her mother in indignation.

"Do you know how adorable you look when you do that?" Goei giggled, which earned her own scowl from the damp redhead while Nodoka was almost successful at stifling her snicker.


Ranma was not at all impressed with Hakufu. For someone who supposedly had intense martial arts training, the girl fought like a beginner. Thus, the sparring was almost a repeat of her first encounter with Akane. Hakufu kicked and punched nothing but air as Ranma bobbed and weaved around her attacks.

"Why aren't you attacking?" Hakufu asked. "I want you to show me your power."

"I'll show you my power when you get fast enough to make me," Ranma returned. "I thought you’d trained in the art since you were little? Is this all you got?"

"I'm not through yet," Hakufu returned, redoubling her efforts to hit the elusive redhead.

Not long later, Ranma was amazed as she actually had to block a punch and then a kick. A grin slowly made its way onto her face as more and more of her cousin's strikes needed to be blocked.

"Great, Fu-chan," Ranma smiled. "You should be exhausted, but you're getting better."

"Does this mean you're going to fight back now?" Hakufu asked hopefully.

Ranma just grinned wickedly. Suddenly, Hakufu felt a series of light blows along her torso as the redhead blew through her guard. Now Hakufu found herself on the defensive as her cousin became a whirling dervish of fists and feet. Hakufu was forced to give up ground until she caught her heel on a paving stone and fell on her butt.

Ranma couldn’t help but snicker at the surprised look on the other girl's face. Hakufu looked up at the snickering redhead and began to giggle herself. Soon both girls were convulsing with peals of laughter.

"Wow," Hakufu gasped trying to get her breath back. "You're great, Ma-chan!"

Just then Hakufu's cell phone rang. She dug it out of her pocket and answered.

"Hello?" she said into the phone. "Kokin, I know this is you. You're not fooling me with that fake voice … Stop fooling around … I mean it … It isn't funny, Kokin, stop it right now."

Ranma looked on as Hakufu began to get irritated with what he assumed was his other cousin. Suddenly, her irritation turned to concern.

"Kokin? Are you okay?" she asked. "Where?" Hakufu listened and nodded. "Alright, I'm coming. You better not hurt Kokin!"

"What's up?" Ranma asked as Hakufu snapped her phone shut.

"Some jerks grabbed Kokin and are holding him hostage," Hakufu said. "I'm going to get him."

"I'm coming too," Ranma announced. "Just let me get some hot water."


"What's this all about?" Kokin demanded from under the two guys holding him down. "Yoshu Private School isn't supposed to be fighting Nanyo Academy!"

"My boss said to," the smug-looking lead henchmen called Hanno replied. "It's an order. That's it." Hanno then smirked evilly before adding, "Plus, to have the famous Booby-bomb Girl as an opponent is something I look forward to."

It was clear from Hanno's tone that it wasn't the fight he was looking forward to, but what he planned to do to Hakufu when he defeated her. As anger welled up in Kokin, he recalled the meeting he had just had with Gakushuu, one of the 'Big Four' fighters that lead Nanyo Academy. The hulking fighter had told Kokin that thanks to Hakufu's decision to assist a fighter from Kyosho Academy, thus appearing to ally herself with the enemies of the current leader of the seven schools, Totaku of Rakuyo High School, Totaku was most likely going to attempt to take her out.

"Totaku. Hell," Kokin muttered to himself, to the surprise of Hanno; especially when Kokin suddenly threw off the guys holding him down. "If that's what you want, then I won't hold back," Kokin growled.

"You bastard," Hanno remarked. "Are you going to fight us alone?" The thug smirked. "You’re stupid, but brave. Too bad for you. Tear him to pieces!"

Kokin took up a stance and met the charge of the first fighter to attack. He leveled the guy with a powerful punch to the diaphragm and then jumped clear before they could engage him from all sides.

'Before Hakufu gets here, I have to take them out,' Kokin thought to himself, putting down another guy with a hay-maker to the face and knocked out another with a kick to the head. The last fell to another punch to the diaphragm leaving only Hanno standing. Hanno's eyes were wide in surprise as the last of his goons crashed into the ground in front of him.

"You're all useless!" Hanno spat while eyeing a crowbar lying by his feet. "I'll do it then," the thug said as he picked up the crowbar and swung it, shattering the windshield of a junk car nearby.

Hanno grinned wickedly and was just about to charge when a voice interrupted him.

"What's this about, Hanno?"
Basically a combo of "A New Home" and "Spar With Me!" from the original thread. Some changes to dialogue, also deleted the name of Lu Xun but not the whole reference to him; just made it a reference to someone unnamed.

"What's this about, Hanno?"

Hanno froze and looked around at the speaker, a large guy wearing sunglasses, a loose white t-shirt, with a bandana and two long braids of dark hair pulled over his shoulders.

"I-I thought I didn't need you," Hanno stuttered at the fighter regally standing atop a pile of junk cars. "I thought I could handle one little chick."

"Just because she is a chick," the fighter sneered. "You took a hostage to make sure she’d come."

"What's the big deal anyway?" Hanno demanded as the fighter jumped down from the stack of cars and snatched the crow bar out of his hand, tossing it away into the junk pile.

"You are …" the fighter said to Hanno in a cold, ominous tone, "a disgrace."


"Get on!" Hakufu shouted to Ranma as she slid the bicycle she was riding to a halt outside the gate.

"Hold it!" Goei ordered, holding a rug beater out to block Hakufu's way.

"What now?" Hakufu demanded in exasperation.

"That bicycle’s brand new! You aren't allowed to use it without asking," Goei informed her loudly.

"But you aren't even using it right now," Hakufu snapped back.

"I'll never forgive you if you get a single scratch on it!" Goei yelled, leaning into Hakufu's personal space.

"Fine! Man, you can be so annoying," Hakufu said, pushing her mother back while Ranma blinked mutely at the scene. He couldn't help but think that maybe he hadn't gotten away from crazy people after all; he had just exchanged them for a new batch of lunatics.

"The motto of this family is: Return whatever you borrow! Clear?" Goei barked out like a drill instructor.

"Yeah, yeah," Hakufu replied in a much put-upon tone. "Come on, Ma-chan!"

"You go ahead," Ranma said. "I'll keep up."

"Right!" Hakufu said, tearing off in a cloud of dust, causing an auto accident as she cut off a passing car. Ranma loped along right behind her, keeping up despite the fact that she was riding fast enough to make Shampoo jealous.


Kokin panted from his battle stance as the other thugs got to their feet. Before they could attack, the newcomer stepped forward, the others giving way before him in surprise.

"Taishiji?" one asked.

'Taishiji?' Kokin echoed in his head, getting a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"Sorry," the large fighter said amiably. "One of our idiots went too far. I'll have everyone withdraw. My only target is Hakufu Sonsaku. That’s all." He looked around at his fellows. "Now withdraw."

The others all began to back off.

"Taishiji! Why you..." Hanno growled.

"Don't worry," Taishiji reassured Kokin. "I have no intention of fighting with you."

To Taishiji's surprise, Kokin merely firmed his stance.

"I can't let you touch Hakufu," Kokin vowed.

"Don't you know who I am?" Taishiji blinked behind his sunglasses, amazed that this boy had the courage to stand up to him.

"Taishiji Shigi," Kokin replied. "I know you’re one of the strongest in all of Kanto."

"You know that and you still want to fight me?" Taishiji asked calmly.

"Even if it definitely costs my life, I can't let you fight Hakufu," Kokin repeated.

"Don't get cocky," Taishiji cautioned. "Try saying that after you hit me. If you can hit me just once, I won’t fight Sonsaku."

"Taishiji!" Hanno protested. "You can't make your own rules! You got orders too!"

"Is that a promise?" Kokin smiled.

"It is," Taishiji said. "I don’t break my word."

The pair faced off staring at each other, one waiting for the other to make his move and the other waiting for the perfect moment. Time ticked by seemingly unnoticed by the fighters.

"Five minutes already, wow," one of the watching goons remarked.

"Yeah," agreed another. "I've never seen Taishiji take this long. It's a first."

Suddenly a female voice was heard shouting Kokin's name and Hakufu appeared, racing up on a bicycle. Taishiji glanced to the side for a moment and Kokin saw the opening he was waiting for. He charged in with a hay-maker. Taishiji casually took his right hand out of his pocket as Hakufu ramped over a pile of cars to fly over the heads of the two fighters, landing with a crash on a pile of other cars.

Ranma came to a stop atop the pile of cars Hakufu had jumped from and took in the scene. Kokin was standing with his fist outstretched toward Taishiji's head while Taishiji stood with his fist buried in Kokin's gut. The glass in Taishiji's glasses shattered and Kokin slowly slumped to the ground.

Hakufu appeared from her crash site to see Kokin lying on the ground.

"Kokin!" she shouted in concern as she rushed up to him. "Are you okay?"

Kokin groaned and coughed up blood.

"Call him an ambulance," Taishiji said, removing his broken sunglasses and dropping them to the ground.

"Kokin..." Hakufu repeated in concern as Ranma leapt down to join her in inspecting his cousin.

"Where are you going?" growled Hanno.

"I gave my word," Taishiji said. "It was just my sunglasses, but a hit’s a hit. I gave my word. We withdraw."

"What? Are you crazy?" Hanno shouted.

"Wait right there!" Hakufu commanded Taishiji. "How dare you! How dare you do this to Kokin! I won't forgive you!"

"Don't do it," Taishiji cautioned. "The young man risked his life to protect you."

"No," Kokin whispered as Hakufu got up and assumed a battle stance. "I wasn't just trying to protect her. I was afraid it would come out again."

"Afraid what would come out?" Ranma asked in confusion.

"Her dragon," Kokin replied weakly.

"Um...Fu-chan, I really don't think you want to do this," Ranma cautioned. He could tell that the other guy was a much better fighter than either of his cousins.

"We have to stop her," Kokin said, struggling to his feet. "The stronger the opponent the more likely it is to come out."

Ranma didn't know what this “dragon” was but it clearly scared Kokin. Maybe it was something like the Cat Fist?

"You can still get up," Taishiji said, clearly impressed.

"You’re open!" Hakufu announced taking her opportunity to attack.
======================================================================

She lunged forward, swinging at Taishiji who merely stepped to the side causing her to miss.

"Bad timing," Taishiji observed as Hakufu recovered. "Is she a novice?"

Hakufu was undaunted and resumed her attack, launching a kick to Taishiji's head which he ignored.

"You bastard!" Hakufu screamed, firing kick after kick and punch after punch, none of them phasing the larger fighter.

"She's terrible," Taishiji said, finally taking his hand out of his pocket and landing a powerful punch in Hakufu's gut.

"Hakufu!" Kokin shouted as the girl went flying back thirty feet to slam into a car, blowing out the remaining glass in its windows.

"I’d have expected more from someone Totaku wanted taken out," Taishiji said in obvious disappointment.

"Totaku...I knew it," Kokin gritted his teeth as Ranma was trying to decide if he should step in or not.

Taishiji turned and began to walk away.

"Wait," Hakufu demanded, gritting her teeth in pain as she pulled herself off the junk car and collapsed to her knees.

"It’s pointless," Taishiji said, not turning around. "You took the same attack the young man did. I’m not sure why you’re still conscious, but I’ll tell you something. The young man is stronger than you right now, and I’m much stronger than he is."

Hakufu screamed and levered herself to her feet to the amazement of everyone present. Taishiji's eyes widened at the display.

"No, don't stand up!" Kokin entreated.

"I'll tell you something then," Hakufu said through the pain. "I always return what I borrow...because that is my family motto."

"Huh?" Ranma blinked in confusion. Was his cousin stupid or something? Still, he sensed her power climbing. It was sort of like their sparring match. She seemed to get better as she went. Not that it made much sense. Both times he had seen her fight thus far she had begun like a first year white belt. "Fu-chan, what gives? Did you forget all your basic skills? You were doing much better at the end of our sparring match."

"What? Oh, yeah, the Basics! I was so angry I almost forgot!" Hakufu chirped, forgetting the pain.

She took up a stance and Ranma nodded as he sensed her power rise even higher. Hakufu's strawberry blonde hair drifted around her as if being blown by a gentle breeze. For a moment, Ranma saw her sea-green battle aura flicker into the visual spectrum before it faded from sight again. It still wasn't close to what he was sensing from this Taishiji guy, but she had potential if she could stay focused.

"Goshin Imon Ken," Kokin breathed. "Hey, wait! You just learned that! How can you use it already?"

"I know it may not work," Hakufu said. "In fact, it probably won't work, but..." she grinned wickedly, "I'm too excited to stop myself anymore!"

Hakufu charged Taishiji again and the larger fighter swung his ki charged fist at her again. The girl ducked under the strike and quickly sprang upward with a ki charged palm strike to his solar plexus. Taishiji's breath exploded out of his lungs and he folded around Hakufu's strike. For a moment, Ranma saw the energy force a lump to raise from the guy's back, and his eyes widened for just that moment. If his cousin had put more power in that … or if this Taishiji guy weren’t as strong as he obviously was … it would have blown a hole right through him.

Then the two fighters were blown back from each other in a release of energy that shattered the ground beneath them. Everyone gasped as Taishiji flew backward and landed on his back in a cloud of dust.

'What incredible power' Taishiji said to himself as he lay there trying to figure out what just happened. 'Was that her spirit waking up?'

He levered himself up and approached where Hakufu was lying across the hood of a car. Her shirt was shredded displaying most of her large breasts and her shorts were just barely hanging on her hips to preserve her lower modesty.

"Get up," Taishiji ordered. This fight had gotten interesting again. He wanted to see what else this girl had.
======================================================================

"Stay down," Ranma ordered, enforcing his command with a hand on Hakufu's solar plexus, holding her down. "You did good, but now it's my turn."

"Who are you?" Taishiji blinked, noticing the boy for the first time.

"Ranma Saotome," Ranma replied. "You defeated my cousins … so now, you’ve got me."

"Ranma don't," Kokin protested. "He's one of the top five fighters in the Kanto area."

Ranma smirked, not impressed. He knew it wasn’t true.

"Not even close, Cousin," Ranma remarked. "He’s not bad, but I know some old grannies that wouldn’t sweat beating him."

"Is that so, Boy?" Taishiji smirked, sure that this pigtailed guy was exaggerating.

"Yeah, it is," Ranma replied. "You’re a pretty good brawler, that’s obvious … but there’s a lot of gap between a brawler and a master of the art."

Ranma couldn't help but smile in pride at having the right to claim that title. Before Genma had left, he had give Ranma a scroll that had proclaimed him just that; Happosai had even signed off on it, making it official. There were other scrolls too, ones that Genma had written Ranma should only learn if the need was truly dire.

Ranma took a stance and met Taishiji's eyes evenly.

"I won't do any permanent damage," Ranma assured him. "You've got honor and I respect that."

"Bring it," Taishiji nodded.

Ranma smirked and leapt into the air, not unlike Hakufu's first attack. As he expected, Taishiji easily avoided the attack by stepping to the side...only to get caught off guard by the foot sweep Ranma dropped into when he landed. Taishiji's feet went out from under him and he landed hard on his back. Ranma rose and backed off to give the bigger boy a chance to get to his feet.

"Hey braid boy," Ranma commented. "If you want to at least make this interesting for me, you better take your hands out of your pockets."

Taishiji grimaced and flipped up to his feet.

"You duped me with your cousin's clumsy opening move," Taishiji commented as he took a stance, his fists held loosely in front of him. "Don't expect for that to happen again."

"Bring it," Ranma grinned arrogantly, repeating his opponent’s own words.

Taishiji nodded and closed range, launching the same devastating attack that brought Kokin and Hakufu down. To his surprise, Ranma just stood there, not moving and accepted the ki-charged punch.

"Oof," Ranma ‘s voice sounded as he was picked up and thrown through the air by the punch, to slam into a stack of junk cars kicking up a huge cloud of dust.

"Ranma!" Hakufu and Kokin shouted in alarm.

Taishiji stood and lowered his guard. There was no way the boy was going to have any fight left in him after that; not considering he had put even more power into the attack than he used with either of the others. He began to turn away.

"Not bad, big guy," Ranma's voice said from the dust cloud with a cough. "That was almost as strong as one of the tomboy’s punches." Ranma walked out from the dust cloud at ease, evidently unharmed. Everyone gasped at this new kid's unreal toughness. "But I can take a lot worse. Is that all you got?"

"Who the hell are you?" Taishiji asked in awe.

"I told you, I'm Ranma Saotome," Ranma smirked. "You beat my cousins, but now you’ve got me. You ready to continue?"

With a battle cry, Taishiji charged in and began swinging at the smirking boy. He led off with a sweeping right cross which Ranma merely leaned to the side slightly to casually avoid. The right cross was followed by a left upper cut which Ranma leaned backward to dodge. The backward lean was followed up by a handstand flip when Taishiji dropped to attempt a foot sweep. The new kid was proving to be as elusive as a shadow. It was like trying to hit smoke.

"My turn," the grinning boy announced.

Suddenly Taishiji was purely on the defensive as a series of hits crashed against his guard. He was forced to give up ground even as he was amazed at the power behind the strikes. It was like he was fighting Ukitsu. Desperately, the larger boy launched a wild punch to try and get some space. The other boy ducked the punch and suddenly, Taishiji's ribs exploded in pain as Ranma landed a powerful kick to his midsection, launching the bigger boy into a pile of cars with a huge crash. Hanno's goon squad gasped.

"Whoa," one of them commented. "Taishiji’s getting taken apart!"

Meanwhile, Hanno had found the crowbar he had picked up earlier and had slipped around behind where Kokin and Hakufu were gaping at their cousin's display of martial skill and power. He just had to wait for the right moment to strike.

Taishiji coughed and clutched his cracked ribs as he climbed to his feet. He looked up at Ranma who was standing still, calmly waiting for him to pull himself together. It wasn't often that he was outclassed, hardly ever in fact, but he couldn't shake the impression that the boy he now faced might be as good as Ukitsu. The grin on Ranma's face and the excitement in his eyes didn't help any; they were the same as those on the fighting genius. Still, Taishiji didn't become the fighter he was by being a quitter. He gathered himself and charged the pigtailed martial artist.

Ranma cracked his neck and set himself to receive the other boy's charge. The larger boy barreled towards him and leapt into the air in a flying drop kick. Ranma deftly stepped to the side and then had to duck the spinning back fist Taishiji launched immediately after landing. Suddenly, Ranma was inside his guard.

"Got you!" Ranma shouted.

There was a rumbling, crackling roar and the amazed spectators watched as Taishiji's body began to float several inches off the ground while seeming to convulse. The roar ceased after about two seconds and before Taishiji could fall to the ground he was nailed with a spinning back kick to the chest. Taishiji was in a world of pain as he flew back from the kick that cracked even more ribs to land heavily on his back several meters away. He rolled to the side and coughed up some blood before blissfully passing out.

Everyone was frozen in shock at seeing one of the top fighters in the seven schools so easily taken out. As Ranma walked over to check on Taishiji, Hanno recovered his wits and decided that now was his chance. With Taishiji taken out, he was back in charge after all.

"You're mine, Booby Bombs!" he shouted and lifted the crowbar for a swing that would cave her head in where she was kneeling on the ground next to her boy toy.
======================================================================

"You're mine, Booby Bombs!" Ranma heard the shout.

What happened next was terrifying. Ranma's gaze snapped over to the crowbar-wielding boy, instantly processing what was happening as his father's words echoed through his mind.

"There’s every chance”, Genma’s voice had snapped, “and it could come very quickly, that some time in the near future you’ll have to kill an opponent in a fight to protect someone you care about."

Ranma's aura responded to those words.

Kokin also reacted, knocking Hakufu flat to the ground and throwing himself on top of her.

"HA!" Ranma shouted as he fired a blast of angry energy at his cousin’s attacker, at the fool who had sealed his fate.

Hanno had frozen when he both felt and saw Ranma's aura and was caught completely off guard when the ki blast hit him dead on. His chest exploded in pain as his shirt disintegrated and his ribs shattered from the force. He was thrown backwards, slamming violently into a stack of cars, bringing it down. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on who decided, the cars didn’t crush him as he lay on the ground, unconscious from the broken ribs and anger-fueled burns.

"What the hell was that?" one of the goon squad shouted.

"Hell if I know! Let's get out of here!" another cried fearfully.

"No shit! No way I'm messing with someone that can do that!" a third agreed as the whole lot ran like the hounds of hell were snapping at their heels.

"You guys okay?" Ranma called over to his cousins.

"Um...yeah," Kokin said, in awe of his younger cousin.

"That was awesome, Ma-chan!" Hakufu gushed happily. "How did you do that?"

"Not important," Ranma evaded, scratching the base of his pigtail. "Sorry about that. No time to do anything else. Might have thrown something, but didn’t have anything to throw. Kokin, check on him. See that he’s out."

"Uh, yeah, sure," Kokin said getting to his feet and moving over to where Hanno lay in a heap.

Ranma knelt down beside Taishiji and rolled him over on his back before slapping his face lightly to bring him around.

"Yo, big guy, you okay?" Ranma asked solicitously as the large boy groaned on waking.

"Ugh...what hit me?" Taishiji moaned as he crossed his arms over his aching torso.

"That'd be me," Ranma chuckled, "One of those things a little old granny taught me. You gonna be okay?"

"I'll live," Taishiji said, sitting up. "That was some attack. How many times did you hit me, anyway?"

"Eh, a good few," Ranma grinned briefly before his face took on a more serious look. "Kokin, how's the other one?"

"Alive, but definitely down," Kokin replied, drawing Taishiji's gaze over to Hanno's battered form.

"What happened?" Taishiji asked.

"Sorry about your friend," Ranma said apologetically. "He doesn’t have your honor, apparently. He used our fight as a distraction to try to take my cousin out with a crowbar. I had to knock him out instead."

"From a distance?" Taishiji blinked.

"Yeah," Ranma nodded, standing up and offering his hand to the larger boy to help him up. "I don't like it but he made me do it.”

Taishiji took the offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.

"The others ran away when I took that guy out," Ranma continued. "You think you'll be okay to call an ambulance for him?"

"I should be," the larger boy nodded.

"Great," Ranma grinned. "That was fun. Maybe we can spar again sometime?"

"Um...right," Taishiji sweat-dropped, not at all confident about the prospect of a spar with someone who, he was now sure, was even better than Ukitsu. "Sure," he said anyway.

"Cool," Ranma said. "I'm going to get my cousins home now. See ya around."

Taishiji nodded dumbly at the pigtailed fighter’s back as he went to collect his cousins.
And this combines four episodes into one: "Rescue Mission", "Conflict", "Jumping In with Both Feet", and "Excessive Force". Difficult to believe this is happening, but it seems to be. A fair amount of dialogue changes here, nothing really to the plot though, all the events are basically the same.
 
#2
I did another terrible thing.
Hakufu soaked in the furo reflecting on the days events. The arrival of her younger cousin was an unexpected delight. Her fight with Taishiji had been fun. He seemed so incredibly powerful. And yet, her cousin Ranma had toyed with him like he was an amateur. And the way her younger cousin took out that mean guy that tried to hit her with a crowbar was even more amazing. Ranma seemed to be the embodiment of every thing she wanted to be; strong, skilled, and insanely fast.

"That's it!" Hakufu declared, leaping up. "I wanna be a fighter just like Ma-chan!"

With that, Hakufu left the furoba wrapping a towel around herself as she went. She had to tell Kokin.


"Kooookiiin!"

Kokin looked up from the phone he just hung up just in time to see a towel clad Hakufu appear in his room.

"Gah! Why aren't you wearing any clothes?" Kokin demanded trying not to gawk at his attractive cousin. If she wasn't so stupid, he would have sworn she was doing this on purpose to tease him.

"I finally woke up!" Hakufu gushed happily.

"No wonder it took so long," Kokin remarked. "Did you fall asleep in the furo again?"

"I'm not the same Hakufu anymore!" Hakufu chirped. "Yes, in other words, I'm now the all new Hakufu Mk II!"

Hakufu turned around and struck a dramatic pose, inadvertently giving Kokin a clear view of her...feminine place due to the towel barely being long enough to cover her bottom. It was then the towel slipped off her body, giving Kokin an even better view before he jumped forward and grabbed the towel, holding it like a curtain between them.

Ranma ran past the door with Aunt Goei in hot pursuit.

"Ranmaaaa, come give your Aunt Goei a hug, you studly young man!" Aunt Goei caroled.

"Gah! No way! Don't wanna! Stay away!" Ranma shouted.

A moment later, a splash was heard followed by Aunt Goei laughing.

"Well, Ranma-chan if you didn't want me to hug you, you should have just said so!" Aunt Goei giggled. "You didn't have to soak yourself in that nasty pond."

Kokin sweat-dropped.

"I've decided!" Hakufu declared, apparently not having noticed the events outside. "I will become a top ranked fighter! I'm going to get Ma-chan to train me!"

"You need to wrap a towel around yourself first," Kokin muttered, trying not to look at his cousin … the complete Hakufu, in vibrant flesh tones.

At that moment, Ranma wandered in, in girl-form, stripping off her shirt while muttering darkly about perverted aunts and goldfish ponds. Kokin gaped at the well-formed breasts on Ranma's chest, nearly as big as Hakufu's.

"What's wrong?" Hakufu asked Ranma, turning toward her and giving Kokin a full frontal.

Suddenly the abundance of tantalizingly naked, lovely female flesh became too much for poor Kokin. His nose exploded in a geyser of blood and he fainted.

"Ewww!" Hakufu squealed. "Kokin, that's gross!"

"So what are ya doin' in here naked anyway, Fu-chan?" Ranma asked.

"Naked?" Hakufu looked down in surprise. "Oh, I guess I must have dropped my towel."


"So why aren't I going to Nanyo, like Fu-chan and Kokin?" Ranma asked.

"Because Seito Private School was the only one willing to make allowances for your condition, dear," Nodoka replied. "Now you better get going so you won't be late."

"Sure, Mom," Ranma replied.

"Have a good day, Dear," Nodoka smiled at her son and handed him a bento, a cell phone, and his train pass.

"You too," Ranma replied and turned to go...only to be glomped and groped by his Aunt Goei.

"Have a good day, Ranma-chan," Goei purred. "I just bet you'll have to beat the girls off with a stick when you get to school!"

"Gah!" Ranma squeaked, his pigtail standing straight out. "Aunt Goei!"

Goei giggled and let Ranma go. The pigtailed martial artist promptly vanished, leaving at high speed before his aunt got any weirder.

"No-chan, your son is so manly!" Goei said dreamily.

"Yes," Nodoka grinned, "He is, isn't he."


Ranma looked down and contemplated the cell phone he was holding while he rode the train. These were two very big indicators of how things had changed for him. He wondered how he was ever going to fit in to a normal school. He had a very big streak of individuality thanks to being apart from Japanese society most of his life. While most students were trying their best to conform, Ranma was trying his hardest not to. At Furinkan that really didn't matter. The school was full of nuts and non-conformists. This new school though...it sounded like just the type of place that took great pride in forcing people to conform. The only plus side is that being a private school, he would have his Saturdays free.

Then there was his family. They were weird...well...Kokin seemed halfway normal, but his aunt and his female cousin were definitely nuts. Ranma was troubled that someone was out there putting out hits on his cousin. It didn't make any sense. The girl was too big a ditz to make any real enemies, Sacred Bead or not.

On the other hand, for all their lack of skill, fighters around here seemed to be pretty cavalier about use of lethal force. Ranma had done a lot of thinking about what his father had told him and what had happened the other day. There was very little doubt that that Hanno-thug had been about to kill Hakufu. A crowbar to the head was a pretty blatant statement of intent.

The more he thought about it, the less guilty he was feeling about putting the prick in the hospital. If anyone deserved it, it was someone who would do what he had tried to do.

Ranma sighed. As bad as Nerima had been, the participants of the battles that took place there still respected life. Well, somewhat. Maybe.

This mess appeared to be vastly different. Whatever subculture of fighting existed here was more like war than martial arts. The fighters here seemed to have no limits; even assassination was acceptable. Even to guys with honor, like Taishiji. As for the guys who lacked it, like Hanno … well, he’d been taking somebody’s orders, hadn’t he? Where there was smoke there was probably fire. And any small fire could become a catastrophe.

Ranma didn't like how that idea sounded at all. Now that it had happened once, he wasn't stupid enough to think it couldn’t happen twice. Hospitalizing some goon probably would get at least some boss or an other’s attention. If they again went after Fu-chan, or any other of his family, eventually Ranma might really have no options he liked the look of. It looked like Pops had been completely right.

Fate … if this was Rate … was coming for him fast.

Ranma's thoughts were interrupted by the PA announcing his stop. He stepped off the train and headed toward his new school.
============================================================

Ranma stood in front of the classroom as he waited for the teacher to bring them to order. It was a mixed class of boys and girls. The boys wore straight-collared black jackets that looked vaguely militaristic, complete with school insignia. The girls wore sailor-style gear: white blouses and blue miniskirts, tan neckerchiefs over the blue and white collars of their blouses.

Boys and girls alike were looking at him with interest as he stood before them. The girls’ looks were decidedly more predatory though; the boys just seemed to be sizing him up. Just like he was doing to them, the thought occurred. He had written the correct kanji for his name on the board.

"Class, we have a new student this morning," the sensei said. "Please introduce yourself."

"Hey," Ranma greeted. "I'm Ranma Saotome. I'm a martial artist. I’ve been learning the art all my life, mainly from my pops. My mom and I just moved here from Nerima."

"So you're a Fighter then?" one of the guys asked, spotting the gold magatama hanging from Ranma's left ear.

"Yeah!" Ranma declared proudly, thinking in terms of martial arts and not of the magatama he wore at all.

A low murmur rolled through the class at Ranma's answer.

"Very well, Saotome-san," the sensei nodded. "Please take an available seat and that will be yours for the rest of the term."


Ranma was eternally grateful when the last bell rang. While actually getting a full night of sleep was immensely helpful to staying awake in class, school was still a lot of boredom. Yet, he had made his mother a promise to take school almost as seriously as he took the art. Ranma may have been a lot of things but he wanted to keep his promises.

Thankfully, the school-day was over now and he could get on with more enjoyable things. He stepped out of the building and paused as a group of about thirty people stood around in the school yard looking at him. Ranma blinked. None of them looked like they just wanted to say hello.

"So you're a Fighter, huh?" one of the tougher-looking guys said with his arms crossed over his chest, sizing Ranma up with vague disapproval.

"Yeah, I am," Ranma replied. "What's all this now?"

"Well, here at Seito, it's tradition that any newcomers get initiated," the older boy said. "You have to beat as many of us as you can, so we can see how good you are."

"You’re challenging me, then?" Ranma inquired, sweeping his senses over the crowd. He snorted in dismissal; none of them were nearly at the level to be a threat.

"Yeah, we are," the older boy said, ignoring or not hearing the snort.

"All at once or one at a time?" Ranma inquired confidently.

Several of the crowd of both spectators and Fighters gaped at the audacity of the question.

"Up to you," the leader smirked.

"All the same to you, I’d rather fight you all at once,” Ranma shrugged. “One at a time would take forever.” He kept the smirk off his face; there was no way they’d expect him to fight a huge group at once and probably weren’t prepared to fight as a group anyhow. As a mob, it would actually be easier to take them all down; the tomboy had been doing exactly that before his arrival in Nerima, he recalled.

Even the leader blinked this time. The new guy evidently had big brass ones. Well, if he was half as good as he thought he was then they would have a powerful new Fighter on their side.

Ranma sat his pack of books down on the ground by the door and cracked his knuckles. A quick twist of his head audibly popped the vertebrae in his neck; first to one side and then to the other. He then walked over and took a stance about ten feet away from the mob of fighters.

"Let's go," Ranma said calmly.


"I have heard that you and Sonsaku got into a fight with Youshu Private School the other day," Gakushu mentioned to Kokin.

"Yeah," Kokin agreed. "Totaku came after Hakufu just like you said."

"Hnn," the enormous fighter nodded. "I heard Taishiji was there."

"Yeah," Kokin confirmed. "If my younger cousin hadn't been there, things would have been a lot worse. He took Taishiji apart like he was a rank amateur. Even took one of his hits on purpose and shook it off like it was a love tap. The guy is amazing."

"Is he the one that put Hanno in the hospital?" Gakushu asked.

"Yeah," Kokin explained. "Hanno was about to hit Hakufu in the head with a crowbar. But what Ranma did was just amazing. He used a ki blast of all things. I could hardly believe it. Still can hardly believe it, really."

"Who is your cousin? Is he a Fighter?" Gakushu asked.

"His name is Ranma Saotome," Kokin informed his hulking companion. "He's going to Seito Private School, and, yeah, he's a Fighter with a gold Sacred Bead. He's also an extremely well-trained martial artist."

"I see," Gakushu nodded. "Anyway, as a result of Taishiji's failure to take out Sonsaku, Ryuyo, the leader of Youshu, tried to kill Taishiji to save face with Totaku. He failed and Taishiji staged a coup and took over the school."

"No kidding?" Kokin blinked.

"Hnn," Gakushu grunted in confirmation. "Totaku will likely be even more unpredictable now; especially with someone like your cousin running around becoming involved with the fights. Do you know which soul is housed in your cousin's Sacred Bead?"

"Yeah, my aunt showed me how his name was written. It’s the kanji for ‘rebellion’, and then the kanji for ‘horse’," Kokin reported. “Put that together and it’s Luan Ma.”

"Luan Ma?" Gakushu blinked. He paused. “Not a name I know. Just a soldier, probably. But he has a gold bead? And he’s going to Seito?”

"Right," Kokin agreed, not knowing what this conversation had done.

Upward potential, Gakushu thought, equally in the dark.

For these events … are Fate.


Kanu stepped out of the school building to see how the new fighter was faring with his initiation. The scene before her made her pause. The new guy was standing still and unharmed as at least thirty students were lying all around the yard … some unconscious, some nearing it, some hoping this new monster would go away and leave them alone.

"Impressive," she said, approaching the fighter to introduce herself. "I am Kanu Unchou, Seito Private School's top Fighter. Care to have a fight with me?"

Ranma turned toward the tall girl and blinked. Before him stood a girl his height if not slightly taller, carrying a naginata. While her uniform appeared to be the same as the other girls' it was highly modified. The skirt was nearly scandalously short, displaying her marvelously long, sleek legs in nearly their entirety. Her blouse stopped just below her breasts, leaving her flat, toned midriff exposed. Her extremely long, midnight blue hair trailed behind her in a pony tail that nearly reached the ground and was gathered at the end with a silver hair ornament. Despite her serious demeanor, a small, amused smile graced her lips.

Ranma fought to suppress a gulp. There was no denying it. This girl was hot.

"Uh...maybe," Ranma agreed when something occurred to him. Hot female; check. Hot female fighter; check. Hot female fighter with a large weapon; check. "One thing though; you don't have any weird rule about having to marry the first guy that beats ya, do you?"

Kanu blinked in surprise before an amused grin spread across her face.

"You sound like that's happened before," Kanu remarked.

"More often than I'd like ta think about," Ranma nodded, muttering something about Chinese Amazons.

"Well, normally, I wouldn’t follow any rules like that, but... in your case I could make an exception," she giggled, eyeing him with that familiar predatory look. "Oh yes … in your case I would definitely make an exception."

Ranma gulped, unnerved by the reply. He had just gotten away from his romantic troubles, but this girl … his cheeks warmed with a blush just looking at her.

"Um...t-that's really n-not necessary," Ranma stammered.

"You mean you don't think I'm attractive?" Kanu pouted, deliberately teasing the pigtailed boy.

"Nononono!" Ranma waved his hands wildly. "It's not that! You're beautiful! It's just that...um...yeah...I hardly know you! That's it!"

Kanu laughed at the boy's flustered response. She decided that she liked this guy.

"So, about the fight…?" Kanu prompted.

"Um, sure. You gonna fight with that?" Ranma asked pointing to the naginata she had resting on her shoulder. There was something about that weapon that put his senses on high alert. It was pinging his senses as being magic in some way, and the magic items he’d encountered in the past had been bad news.

"Not at all," Kanu replied, going over and leaning the naginata against the wall. “Unarmed for unarmed,” he heard her say.

She came back over and took up a stance, her right leg forward and her right hand held out in front of her while her left fist was cocked back close to her body ready to strike. The amused look abruptly left her face leaving behind a serious calculating look in her eyes.

"Whenever you're ready," Ranma said, adopting his loose, deceptive stance. He grinned broadly as he trained his senses on her ki, preparing for whatever came next. His senses told him she was at least as strong … no, stronger … than Taishiji. It looked like he was facing an interesting fight.



"Whenever you're ready," Ranma said, adopting a loose, deceptive stance. He grinned broadly.

Kanu nodded wordlessly. If she hadn't been in battle mode, his grin would have made her heart skip a beat, but as it was, she was more concerned with trying to sense his aura. He had to be hiding it somehow because she could barely sense anything.

Taking initiative, Kanu surged forward and struck out with a spinning back fist to Ranma's head. Ranma leaned back slightly allowing the fist to pass just millimeters away from his nose. Kanu went with the spin, turning it into a back kick aimed at Ranma's chest. Ranma ducked the kick and swept Kanu's foot from under her. She landed hard on her back while Ranma backed off to allow her to rise.

"Not bad," Kanu said as she climbed to her feet. "Guess I'll have to kick it up a notch."

Ranma just smirked and made a 'bring it' gesture with his hand. Kanu leaped forward and began firing incredibly fast kicks and punches at Ranma. The pigtailed fighter was gratified by how many he had to block. His grin widened.

Kanu, for her part, was impressed. Not many people could defend themselves against her speed, but Ranma's defense seemed nearly impenetrable. On the other hand, he had yet to attack. Even as this thought went through her mind, his stance shifted subtly as she launched a roundhouse kick at him.

Ranma slapped her leg as he ducked under it, imparting more momentum than she was prepared for. She was turned around and stumbled slightly as she fought to restore her footing. Before she did so, she felt him slap her lower back causing her to stumble forward again.

When she recovered, she found him standing a few feet away waiting for her to continue. Her eyes narrowed and she decided that it was time to really pour on the pressure. Thus far he had come out on top twice and she hadn't penetrated his defenses yet. Kanu gathered her power and was pleased to see his eyes widen slightly.

Kanu charged the pigtailed fighter once again, this time firing off kick after kick, saturating his defenses to set him up for the technique she planned to hit him with. Seeing her chance, she pooled all her available ki into her right leg and launched a powerful ki-infused thrust kick at his chest.

It should have landed clean, but somehow, Ranma was fast enough to catch the kick on his crossed arms. However, the force of the kick and the ki technique it delivered blew him violently backward, sending him crashing into the school's outside wall head first. The force of the impact shattered the wall and dazed Ranma as the debris fell on top of him.

Kanu had only just recovered her footing when suddenly her legs collapsed beneath her. She fell to the ground with a startled squawk, unable to move her legs. At first, she couldn't figure out what happened, but then she recalled the slap on the back which she thought at the time had been just an attempt to taunt her. It had to have been a pressure point attack. Damn, he was good. If she had kept going like she had, she would have lost the fight when it finally took effect.

She looked over at the pile of rubble. He still hadn't emerged, so maybe she had won after all. She saw some of the spectators cautiously approach the pile of broken concrete. They quickly stepped back and her heart jolted as the rubble began to move.

Ranma fought off the waves of dizziness as his head throbbed from the impact with the wall. His arms hurt like hell too where he had blocked her kick. It had been really powerful, way stronger than the technique he’d let Taishiji hit him with. If he hadn’t guarded, and it had hit his ribs … well. Bad.

Standing up, he fought back a wave of nausea. Ranma figured he probably had a concussion. He hadn't had time to properly position himself for impact with the wall because he was moving too fast and still fighting off the effects of her ki technique. Still, it would probably be gone by the time he got home.

Looking around he spotted Kanu levering herself up on her arms. With a grin, he realized the doc's pressure point technique had finally kicked in. He staggered over and sat down beside her.

"Call it a draw?" Ranma offered.

"Agreed," Kanu nodded. "What did you do to me?"

"A doc I know practices some shiatsu," Ranma chuckled. "Don't worry. It'll wear off in about an hour and you'll be good to go. Nice ki technique, by the way."

"Thanks," Kanu grinned. "I can't believe you shrugged it off like that."

"I’ve been in a lot of fights," Ranma said, clearly honest. "That hurt like hell though. And hitting the wall with my head, well, that wasn’t too smart. You’re really good.”

"Not good enough to make you go all out though, apparently," Kanu snorted.

"I don’t like doing that,” Ranma said. “Sort of a rule of my style. Keep your best in reserve for when you need it.” Kanu’s face fell a bit; that made it sound like he’d been toying with her somewhat. Seeing that, Ranma continued. “You are good though. You could probably handle a lot of what I held back. Still would rather hold it back though.” He smiled. “I’m Ranma Saotome. Good to meet you.”

"Pleased to meet you," Kanu smiled. "Welcome to Seito Private School."

"Thanks," Ranma smiled back. "So I guess that means I passed the initiation."

"And then some," Kanu laughed.

"Are you guys alright?" one of the awed spectators asked.

"I'm fine," Kanu answered. "How about you, Ranma?"

"Great," Ranma answered.

"Why don't you guys go help the others to the infirmary while Ranma and I have a little chat," Kanu suggested to the people gathered around them,

"Right, Miss Unchou," they said and the crowd began to disperse.

Kanu turned to Ranma and regarded him for a few moments. Definitely a cutie, she concluded.

"So what do you know about what's going on around here?" she asked him. "I'm assuming you just moved here."

"Yeah, a couple of days ago," Ranma agreed. "As for what's going on? Not much. Just that it seems like some of the fighters around here are a bunch of psychos. I mean my cousin Hakufu was nearly killed the other day when some jackass tried to cave her head in with a crowbar."

"Hakufu? Hakufu Sonsaku? The Sho Haou?" Kanu asked.

"Don't know what that name means, but yeah, she’s my cousin," Ranma nodded.

"Are you familiar with the story of the Three Kingdoms?" Kanu probed.

"A little," Ranma replied. "Pops wasn't big on literature. Mom told me a little bit about it when she explained what this bead meant." Ranma casually flicked the gold magatama hanging rom his ear.

"I see," Kanu said, wondering what sort of life Ranma had led.

Kanu gave him a quick who's who of the various fighters. When she got to Totaku, Ranma growled.

"That’s the one that ordered the attack on Fu-chan," Ranma said darkly.

"He won the Big Fighters Tournament two years ago," Kanu explained. "He's very strong, but there are rumors that he’s become unhinged, a danger to himself as much as to others."

"Figures," Ranma snorted. "Probably means I’ll be crossing paths with the guy at some point, whether I like it or not."

Kanu didn't know quite what to say to that

"Just be careful, Ranma," Kanu cautioned. "Totaku has killed people himself and ordered the deaths of others. His school, Rakuyo …. well, more than one school want to take them down."

Ranma just shook his head in dismay at the seemingly casual way killing people was discussed here. Still, what Kanu told him had been enlightening. It also gave him more to think about.

"So..." Kanu said, favoring him with a sly grin. "Since you cost me the use of my legs for another half an hour at least, how about a lift home?"

Ranma laughed nervously and scratched the base of his pigtail.

These events … are Fate.
Three episodes rolled into this one, essentially. They were "Ruminations", "Ranma Meets His Fate" and "And She's Tall with Long Blue Hair and Very Large Weapons!" Just calling it “Ranma meets Kanu” seems to the point enough; doubt those names were exact exact anyway. Quite a few dialogue changes here, and some trimming of internal exposition, but the meaning of everything left behind is basically unchanged. Also, the scene with Gakushu and Kokin has the plot mechanic change I thought of before I started revamping this story. The way it was in Iridium Heart’s original never came to fruition before the story went on hiatus.
 
#4
It's a fun series. You can get pics for the characters online, but beware, a lot of them will likely be NSFW. The series isn't porn but it is ecchi. However, it does actually have a plot worth paying attention to. There were four separate anime seasons/series and a bunch of OVA episodes. I'm pretty sure a different studio took over art direction and maybe production as a whole after season 1.

Sadly, the manga is ... a bit of a mess. The last like eight-plus volumes were never translated by anyone; the translations of the first couple volumes online were I think first translated from Korean raws into Japanese, and then into English. Tokyopop did a horrifically bad translation that they called "Battle Vixens" which absolutely should be avoided at all costs. It is complete fail.
 
#5
I have part of the next big chunk done now. I think it's going to revamp four episodes and be the largest segment yet. Probably won't have it before the weekend though,
 
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#6
i was surprised to see this back when anime addventure was a thing i liked crossover stories and this one got me into ikki tousen really hope you finish reposting and find it in yourself to possibly continue
 
#7
I finally finished a thing!

Kanu was smiling wickedly from her position draped over Ranma's back. Not that Ranma could see it, or he'd have been running for the hills. Instead, he just was telling Kanu about the highlights of his life as he somehow managed to carry her, his pack, and her naginata down the sidewalk while trying not to think about her breasts that were pressing into his back or the feeling of the smooth skin of her legs where his arms passed under them, and especially not the way her warm breath caressed his ear when she spoke to him.

So it was that Kanu, being in full body contact with Ranma, was in a good position to feel the entire thing when the inevitable happened. A stream of water shot over the wall they were walking beside. Two kids were playing with a hose and of course, Ranma happened to be in the line of fire.

Kanu froze as she felt the body supporting her suddenly shrink and she saw the head of black hair turn bright red.

"Damn it," Ranma muttered and then winced as she felt a hand giving her breasts an exploratory squeeze. "I can explain this."

Ranma sat Kanu down on a nearby bench and stepped back.

"W-what just happened?" Kanu asked in confusion.

"It's a curse," Ranma sighed. "One of the places my old man and I went … well, it was this so-called legend of a training ground, name of Jusenkyo. It's a valley between some mountains, with more than a hundred small springs just bubbling up out of the ground. But they’re not normal springs,” he paused, dejected at having this happen again. “If you fall in one, you get cursed with changing shape into whatever drowned in that spring last. The spring I fell in … well, some girl drowned in the spring about fifteen hundred years ago, according to the tour guide. Now, this is what I turn into when I get hit with cold water. Hot water turns anyone with one of these curses back to normal. Damn old man, finding that damn brochure. Sorry about this.”

"Why? It's not your fault," Kanu pointed out. "Sure, it's a surprise, but I'm not exactly unfamiliar with magic and the like."

She meaningfully patted her naginata. Far from being bothered though, she thought her heart was beginning to race. While she wasn’t immune to attractive males, it wasn’t often she found them, and she was honest enough with herself to admit that far more often she fantasized about and was attracted to women. This new knowledge of Ranma was a wonder and a delight, and made him all the more attractive. It was like Fate had given her a gift: he was a hunk of a guy, a total hottie as a girl, and a powerful fighter.

She had to have him.

"You don't mind?" Ranma blinked incredulously. "You don't think I'm some kind of freak, or a pervert or something?"

"Of course not," Kanu assured the petite redhead. "In fact, you intrigue me even more than before. I think you're gorgeous in both forms."

"R-really?" Ranma blushed.

"Yes," Kanu assured her. "Would you tell me about the curse? Is it just your body or what else does it do?"

Ranma sat down on the bench and began to answer her questions. Kanu was surprised to learn that foods of the different tastes could appeal differently to the same person when the opposite gender. This magic’s status as a curse became much more understandable when she learned that Ranma seemed to get splashed when it was least convenient, and most awkward, for him to be in one form and then suddenly the other. And Ranma was vehement about only liking girls no matter what body she had from moment to moment.

"So how did the girls chasing you take the curse?" Kanu asked, Ranma having told her about the situation he left in Nerima. Careful here, girl. Careful, she thought.

"One hated it when she learned," Ranma sighed. "And she was jealous of the way my female form looked. One ignored it after the novelty of changing me back and forth wore off. As for the Chinese girl, she had her own curse. She changed into a c-cat. That aside, I don’t want to be forced to go back to her village to live as … I don’t know, her homemaker. Or whatever. They didn’t seem to respect men much."

"I take it you don't like cats," Kanu said, observing the effect the mere word had. It was a clear warning.

"No, I don’t,” he said. “I’d really rather not talk about that,” he continued, in a voice that told her not to press.


"So, the little conqueror has a protector who can easily defeat the great Taishiji and fight the indomitable Kanu to a stand still," Totaku said melodically as he reclined back. "How interesting."

"What will we do, Totaku," the green-haired, provocatively-dressed Ryofuu asked the heavily bandaged boy as she knelt before him, running her tongue over the firm belly that was revealed by his open shirt.

"I want you to find out everything you can about that girl's protector, my dear Ryofuu," Totaku directed. "His arrival was unexpected and he could upset the game. We can't have anyone spoiling our fun, now can we?"

"I’ll see it done," Ryofuu vowed from her position between Totaku's legs.

"Tell me then, Ryofuu, how do you feel about defeating your old boyfriend?" Totaku asked with amusement.

"Absolutely wonderful," Ryofuu purred, her tone covering up the fact that she was lying through her teeth.

Standing, she straightened the maroon blazer she wore. Between the blazer's lapels was a deep chasm of cleavage produced by her very large breasts, not covered by the uniform white shirt because she almost never wore it. In spite of that display, and her shorter-than-rules allowed red tartan skirt, nobody who actually knew her would mistake her for the promiscuous fluff she portrayed. Promiscuous she might be, but Ryofuu Hosen was also one of the very strongest fighters in any of the seven schools. Not even a handful had any chance of escape if she meant them serious harm.

That this new guy defeated someone as powerful as Taishiji with no trouble and then reportedly fought Kanu Unchou to a draw with hardly more … it was a concern.


"Ma-chan! You're home!" Hakufu greeted as Ranma walked in.

"Welcome home, Son," Nodoka said pleasantly. "How was your first day? We were expecting you home some time ago."

"It went alright," Ranma shrugged. "They wanted to challenge me, so I had to fight about thirty or so before a girl named Kanu Unchou challenged me herself.”

"You fought Kanu Unchou?" Kokin gasped.

"Yeah," Ranma smiled. "She was far better than the crowd. Really damn good, actually. Has a hell of a kick. I ended up having to carry her home though."

"You won?" Kokin exclaimed in disbelief. The thought was almost absurd. Just how powerful was his cousin?

"Well, we called it a draw," Ranma chuckled. "She shattered a rock wall with my head and I took out her legs with a pressure point. She was cool though. I like her."

"So when is the date?" Nodoka giggled.

"What date?" Ranma asked, confused.

"You didn't ask her out, Son?" Nodoka asked. "Was she not attractive enough?"

"Gah!" Ranma exclaimed, waving his arms in warding motions.

"I've heard Kanu Unchou is totally hot," Kokin interjected, smirking. This would serve Ranma right for stripping in front of him in female form the other day. "Surely your standards aren't that high, Cousin."

"It’s not like that," Ranma protested while blushing heavily. "I mean, yeah, she's way cuter than the girls in Nerima were and more than likely she’d beat them all without much work. It's just that I just got here and we hardly know each other and it would be a mess and ..." Ranma realized he was rambling and stopped with a sigh. "Maybe if I met her before I got caught up in that. Besides, she probably isn't even interested."

Just then Ranma’s cell phone started ringing. He pulled it out of his pocket and flipped it open to look at the display. The blush that had appeared a minute ago returned in full force as he chuckled nervously and scratched the base of his braid.

"Uh… hold that thought for a minute," he said and stepped outside the sliding screen door to take the call.

Of course everyone rushed to put their ears to the thin door to hear what Ranma was saying.

"Uh, hi, Kanu-san," Ranma greeted. "Oh, cool. I told you it'd wear off quick enough ..."

The audience listened for several more minutes as Ranma spoke with the girl on the other end of the line all the while stammering and laughing nervously at whatever she was saying.

"I think Ma-chan's in love," Hakufu giggled.

Kokin could not believe it. His cousin had not been here a week and already he had beaten up Taishiji Shigi, fought the legendary Kanu to a draw and now she was calling him to chat him up. What was going to happen next?

Goei and Nodoka shared a look and a giggle between them, and then began plotting. First they would have to get a hold of Ranma's cell phone so they could get the girl's number off it.

=*(O_O)*=​

When Ranma arrived at school the following day, he discovered that he had somehow achieved celebrity status. Everyone seemed to know who he was and many students greeted him deferentially. Unlike the previous day when he'd had to shoulder his way through the crowded hallways to get to his classroom, today the way parted before him as other students stepped to the side to allow him to pass.

Not that this was anything Ranma wasn't used to; the students at Furinkan had acted similarly once his position as top ass-kicker was solidified. However, he hadn't expected it to happen so soon here. Ranma had to smile as he thought about the reason for his upgrade in status.

Ranma had found something he hadn't had in a long time: a friend that he could have a friendly fight with, one who wasn't coming after him on some bizarre or stupid quest for “vengeance” over a trivial or even imagined slight. It was a hole in his life that he hadn’t even known existed. The friend was really good, too, good enough to push him hard. And she, for the friend was female to boot, was a lot nicer to look at than Pig-boy and his ugly mug.

The only thing that kept him from being ecstatic over his good fortune was that stupid Fate thing hanging over his head. Still, he resolved to go with the flow until events meant he couldn’t.


Ranma walked out of the classroom, lunchbox in hand, en route to find some nice place to devour its contents. Class had been no less boring than it was yesterday and staying awake hadn’t been easy. As soon as he stepped into the hallway, he spotted a smiling Kanu leaning against the wall.

"Hey, Kanu-san," Ranma greeted.

"Hello, Ranma," Kanu returned. "I was wondering if you'd care to have lunch with me? There's some people I'd like to introduce you to."

"Sure, why not?" Ranma nodded. "Lead on."

A couple minutes later, Ranma found himself standing in front of a collection of three more girls. One looked to be his age. She was a short-haired, rather cute brunette and appeared to be sizing him up as if she wanted to pick a fight with him; the thought occurred that she was the combative, tomboy type. The second was another attractive brunette with longer hair tied into twin ponytails hanging over her shoulders. This one wore glasses, and a bright smile and she had a stack of books next to her. She was clearly not a fighter, but Ranma got the same weird feeling he got when he sensed Hakufu's ki, like something powerful was lurking just below the surface. The last one appeared to be a year or so older than him, like Kanu did, and was very pretty. She had long, silver hair and a sheathed katana within arm’s reach, leaned against the table. At first, Ranma thought she might have been sleeping, but then she turned toward him as he and Kanu approached, still without opening her eyes. Ranma then thought that she might be blind. Regardless, there were two impressions he got from looking at her: one, she was the best fighter at the table, even stronger than Kanu was; and two, eyes closed or not, blind or not, she was well aware of everything happening around her.

"Ranma, this is the Leader of Seito Private School, Ryuubi Gentoku," Kanu introduced, causing the short-haired brunette to short in disdain.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Ranma-san," the pony-tailed brunette chirped politely. "Welcome to our school."

"Next is Chouhi Ekitoku," Kanu continued, indicating the tomboy type.

"This is the guy that beat you, Kan-san?" Chouhi asked skeptically, crossing her arms under her breasts and turning her nose up. "He doesn't look like much."

"More than enough for you, tomboy," Ranma chided back, not willing to let the words go even though he knew he probably should.

"Chou-san, don't be rude," Ryuubi chastised as Ranma and the other girl glared at each other.

"We'll just have to see about that!" Chouhi challenged.

"Wherever you want, tomboy," Ranma smirked. "Whenever you want to have a go."

"You two can compare the size of your egos later," Kanu interrupted. "Ranma, this is Chou'un Shiryuu."

"Ranma-san," the silver-haired girl nodded to him in acknowledgment. Her eyes still hadn’t opened.

"Everyone, this is Ranma Saotome, our new transfer student, and the one that beat thirty fighters at once before fighting me to a draw yesterday," Kanu concluded.

Ryuubi and Chou'un both gave Ranma a polite bow which Ranma returned while Chouhi sniffed in disdain.

"Don't mind Chou-san, Ranma-san," Ryuubi advised cheerfully. "She's always lecturing me about how I should act."

"That's because you don't act like a leader!" Chouhi retorted. "You're always reading when you should be training! I don't wanna be known as a fighter that serves such a weakling!"

"Ekitoku! That's enough," Kanu ordered, sitting down and patting the bench beside her. "Ranma, please have a seat." Ranma shrugged and sat down, opening his lunchbox as Kanu continued. "Yesterday, Ranma proved that gold bead is for real and that he’s A-rank at least. I wanted everyone to meet him since he could be a great help in protecting Ryuubi from other schools if they decide to come after us."

"That would be welcome," Chou'un spoke up before Chouhi could start loudly protesting that they didn't need any help.

"Sure," Ranma said, pausing in his impression of a black hole of food. "I don’t have any problem with that. Count me in."

"Even if it's your cousins' school that attacks us?" Kanu asked.

"Well, I know Hakufu and Kokin wouldn't attack someone that couldn't protect themselves," Ranma shrugged. "But if anyone from their school wants to start some crap, then I don’t have a problem finishing. Fate or no Fate, I won’t go back on the code I’ve lived with my whole life."

"You don't care about Fate?" Chouhi asked in an overly-calm tone.

"Nope," Ranma confirmed. "Don’t really see why I should. If Fate is really unavoidable, then training and getting better are completely pointless, because whoever’s meant to take you down still will. I don't buy it. That's why I'm just gonna keep going the same way I’ve always done."

"An interesting outlook, Ranma-san," Chou'un commented with a slight smile. "Yet there are those that allow themselves to be controlled by their role in history."

"That's their choice," Ranma shrugged. "I don’t think I need to care so long as they don't make it my problem.”

The others at the table paused as this sentiment rolled over them.

No one felt the irony.

"Fairly said and meant," Kanu replied. "Now for the next item. The Big Fighter's Tournament is due to take place soon."

For these events … are Fate.

=*(O_O)*=​

Cologne hopped into the bar clinging to the top of her staff. While she didn't frequent places like this, it was Nerima so the sight of the tiny crone displaying unnatural agility balancing atop a staff wasn't cause for notice.

Cologne peered around he dimly lit interior of the bar until she spotted her target where he sat across from his partner in crime; both clearly on the way to serious inebriation. She was about to head over to the pair when suddenly her target was accosted by a large, foreign matron wearing a professional maid uniform complete with white support stockings and Cobby Cuddlers.

"Oh dear! You've got a right case of the dingies, you do!" the matron announced in what Cologne believed to be a Cockney accent to the bald man in the grubby gi.

Cologne could only stand and gape along with the rest of the bar as the martial artist struggled ineffectually as he was stripped to his underwear and left to wonder what the hell just happened as the matron disappeared out the door, his soiled gi in hand, with a battle cry of 'Fight for the bright!'

After a long, stunned silence, Genma Saotome climbed back up onto his chair, returning to his drinking while clearly ignoring that he now wore only his underclothes. Everyone else took that as a cue to resume their own activities, ignoring the entire scene. It wasn't the strangest thing that ever happened in Nerima.

Cologne shook her head and chuckled as she made her way to Genma's table. After all, she had an interrogation to get to. She was going to find out where her Son-in-law got off to or Genma was going to wish being assaulted by an insane British Matron was the worst thing that happened to him today.


"Have you found out anything, Sugar?" Ukyo asked as she buttonholed Nabiki at school.

"I can't get anything out of that slob except that Ranma went to live with his mother," Nabiki replied with no small amount of frustration. "And dad’s clammed up tight. I tried; he won’t give. I have a search going on Ranma’s mother but it hasn’t turned up anything yet either.”

"It's been a week, Sugar," Ukyo pointed out. "Who knows what sort of trouble Ran-chan has gotten into so far?"


"You!"

Ranma turned to see Chouhi standing a few feet away, looking at him with a hostile glare. Ranma raised an eyebrow in question.

"The training hall! Now!" she commanded belligerently.

"Why should I listen to you?" Ranma challenged. It was Friday afternoon and school had just let out. He was looking forward to getting home so he could train as hard as he wanted the whole weekend.

Chouhi scowled at him.

"Anytime, anywhere, you said," the aggressive girl growled. "The training hall, now … unless you’re afraid,” needling at him with words she hoped would make him defensive.

To her consternation, it didn’t work at all.

"Well, I guess you'll have all weekend to recover," Ranma shrugged indifferently. "Let's go."


"There you are, Guvna," the British matron proclaimed as she finished dressing Genma back in his gi. "Good as new! No more dingies here!"

"It is new," Cologne deadpanned, pointing to the tag hanging from the sleeve of the gleaming white gi.

A bead of sweat rolled down the matron’s forehead as she donned a sheepish expression.

"Er...right. How was I ta know it were only the dingies holding the thing together?" she remarked. "Disintegrated in the wash it did. Oh well, I'm off! Fight for the bright!"

Cologne shook her head and turned back to Genma.

"So Son-in-law's mother has a sister and a brother, huh?" she asked. "Now where might I find them?"

Genma cringed as the tip of the staff moved toward the pain-inducing pressure point that had already killed his pleasant buzz. He had tried to resist, but had not been very successful; At least, he thought ruefully, he had not lost consciousness as Tendou-kun had.

The damn crone was far too much like the master for his liking … or anyone else’s, he thought as pain washed over him again.


Chouhi screamed as she was launched across the training hall and slammed face first into yet another wall. Her body bounced off the wall and hit the ground in a heap, her hands going to her lower back where Ranma had just hit her. Fighting to ignore the pain she was in, she struggled to her hands and knees, panting heavily. Wiping a trickle of blood from her lip with the back of her hand, she looked over at where Ranma was standing in the middle of the dojo, a place she had been unable to displace him from since the fight began.

"You done yet?" Ranma asked with a patronizing smirk that made her blood boil.

Chouhi pushed herself up, standing unsteadily on her shaking knees, her vision blurring in and out as she faced her opponent.

"I am...Chouhi...Ekitoku...and I...will never...surrender!" she cried, charging him again.

The brunette tomboy's eyes widened as he casually caught the kick she had launched at him and then screamed in pain as he stabbed a nerve cluster on her inner thigh. She tried to counter with a punch but before she could get it off, he nailed her with a palm strike to the diaphragm which tore the air from her lungs and sent her skidding across the dojo on her back.

Chouhi laid on her back trying to gasp for air as her leg felt like it had been dipped in molten metal. Her eyes were clinched shut tears of pain squeezed out from them to trail down her cheeks. Suddenly, the pain in her leg vanished and she could breath again. Gratefully she took huge gasping breaths and opened her eyes.

She saw her adversary wearing a serious expression for the first time, an expression without mockery or condescension. “You’re not bad, tomboy,” he said. “You’re not on my level, but don’t sweat it. This ain’t a death match.”

He smiled and offered her a hand up, the smile actually looking and seeming genuine.




=*(O_O)*=​

Cologne sat in her room smoking her pipe while she pondered her next course of action. It was Genma's parting shot that troubled her.

"It won't do you any good, crone," Genma had wheezed. "The boy's true curse has found him. Not even you can save him from Fate itself."

This of course had led to more questioning and now Cologne had the whole story. The Fate of the Sacred Bead … her people had run across this before. They had lost families to the Fate when various warriors had married fighters wearing the strange beads. It had caused the village council to amend their laws: outsiders under the Fate were not merely exempt from the marriage laws but were to be avoided entirely, lest the village truly become embedded in what was clearly a game set up by the gods themselves.

By rights, Cologne should just pack up and head home with Shampoo and Mousse. Shampoo would suffer no loss of status as the Kiss of Marriage had never applied. There wasn't anything they could do about her curse, despite the fact that it turned out to be an erroneous punishment. How ironic that Shampoo's cursed form turned out to be something that would drive her perspective groom away. The omen was obvious in hindsight.

Regardless, Cologne had become fond of Ranma. The boy had been so much fun to toy with and now she didn't feel right about just leaving him to his Fate. Shampoo's marriage to him was out of the question now, being her sole heir, but she could perhaps help the boy prepare for the battles ahead of him. It would probably cause her some problems with the tribal council though.


Chouhi looked from Ranma's hand to his smiling face. She had to admit, his smile was really nice now that it didn't have that mocking component to it. She could see why Kan-san was so interested in him. He also lived up to his A-ranking. Chouhi was a lot better than her own D-ranking would suggest, but he still handled her as easily as an A-ranked fighter would handle any D-ranked opponent.

Nodding, she reached up and grasped his wrist. Ranma stood up and pulled Chouhi to her feet. As soon as she had her feet under her, she launched a punch at his face with her free hand while holding onto his wrist with her other hand. A meaty, flesh-on-flesh smack echoed through the training hall and Chouhi's eyes widened. He'd caught her brutal punch seemingly without effort and was now chuckling at her while waving a finger—and her fist—at her in admonishment.

"Nice try, tomboy," Ranma grinned. "Unfortunately for you, my old man is the master of cheap shots … including that knee to the groin you're about to try."

Chouhi smiled weakly and sagged.

"Um … just kidding?" she offered.

"Uh huh," Ranma smirked knowingly. "Are you done? Or do you need more of a lesson?" Now there was what seemed the beginnings of threat in his voice to continue the “lesson”.

"No, that's okay," Chouhi replied, surrendering. "I've found out what I wanted to know."

After all, it was Chouhi's job as Kan-san's best friend to make sure this guy she was interested in was worthy of her. In spite of the fact that he was a little rougher with her than Kan-san had described him being with her, he hadn't intentionally hit her in the face, breasts, or groin, and he hadn't used their fight as an excuse to grope her. He didn't even shred her clothes. That was usually the first thing that happened in a fight, even between two female fighters.

"Well, if we're done, do you need any help getting to the nurse's office?" Ranma asked.

"No, I'm fine," Chouhi grimaced, hurting all over if not actually badly injured. "Nothing a nice, hot soak in the bath won't fix." Maybe that was a touch of exaggeration, she thought as everything twinged.

"Suit yourself," Ranma nodded. "I guess I'll head home now. Got stuff to do."


As Chouhi made her way back to the changing room, Ranma collected his bag and stepped out of the dojo to find Chou'un leaning against the wall next to the door.

"Chou'un-san," Ranma nodded.

"Ranma-san," Chou'un nodded back. "You were a little rough with her, ne?"

Ranma scratched the base of his braid and chuckled.

"Maybe a little," Ranma agreed. "She's been giving me attitude; I guess I might have wanted a little payback. Is that a problem?"

Chou'un shrugged.

"I suppose not," the silver-haired girl said. "In truth, I find your restraint admirable. Not many fighters would have held back that much in the face of Chouhi-san's treatment of you."

"So you were watching?" Ranma asked, then winced as he remembered thinking that she was blind.

Chou'un laughed lightly, not missing the wince at all and somehow finding it charming.

"I'm not blind, Ranma-san," Chou'un smiled, correctly interpreting his wince. "I just prefer to use my other senses."

She did not add that nearly everyone who had seen her eyes found them alarming. "But yes, I was observing. I confess I was curious as to both your abilities and to see how you would handle Chouhi-san's challenge."

"And step in if it got too out of hand," Ranma smirked, causing Chou'un to blush in mild embarrassment.

"But it was not necessary," Chou'un replied. "I am happy to see Kanu-san's respect for you is not at all unwarranted."

"Glad you approve," Ranma deadpanned.

"Very much so," Chou'un remarked, her enigmatic smile talking on a decidedly sly overtone. "Enjoy your weekend, Ranma-san."

With a polite bow, Chou'un walked away as Ranma shook his head in exasperation while trying not to admire the sensual sway of her hips.


"Shiryuu-san," Kanu greeted as Chou'un walked by where Kanu was leaning against the side of the building.

"Unchou-san," Chou'un nodded, pausing.

The air practically vibrated with tension as the two girls stood there silently.

"Ranma is quite a catch, ne?" Kanu observed, breaking the silence.

"Indeed. Whoever ends up with him will be very fortunate," Chou'un replied calmly—thus informing Kanu that she was no longer the sole contender in this race.

"Game on," Kanu acknowledged the competition.

"May the best woman win," Chou'un smiled serenely as she walked away.

Kanu watched her go and sighed. Now she was competing with one of her closest friends,

It was worth it, she decided quickly. He was worth it.

She had never felt this way about a boy before.

These events … are Fate.


Ranma felt a shiver run down his spine as he made his way to the train station. Somehow, he got the inescapable feeling that someone had just declared it to be “Ranma season”.

However, he wasn't able to dwell on it for long since he suddenly found himself surrounded by several guys, all wearing magatama, and all radiating hostility. Ranma smirked, thankful for the distraction, and cracked his knuckles.

{oo}​


AN: Effing hell, this took me months. I finally decided the best way to proceed was just to delete the bits of exposition I found inconvenient. Nothing about the plot actually changed.

This melds four episodes of the thread into one chapter: “Taking Notice”, “Doing Lunch”, “Investigation” and “The Ranma Effect”. Sixteen episodes so far covered in total!
I bet you thought you'd never see more. This melds four episodes of the thread into one chapter: “Taking Notice”, “Doing Lunch”, “Investigation” and “The Ranma Effect”.
 
#8
Kanu was smiling wickedly from her position draped over Ranma's back. Not that Ranma could see it, or he'd have been running for the hills. Instead, he just was telling Kanu about the highlights of his life as he somehow managed to carry her, his pack, and her naginata down the sidewalk while trying not to think about her breasts that were pressing into his back or the feeling of the smooth skin of her legs where his arms passed under them, and especially not the way her warm breath caressed his ear when she spoke to him.

So it was that Kanu, being in full body contact with Ranma, was in a good position to feel the entire thing when the inevitable happened. A stream of water shot over the wall they were walking beside. Two kids were playing with a hose and of course, Ranma happened to be in the line of fire.

Kanu froze as she felt the body supporting her suddenly shrink and she saw the head of black hair turn bright red.

"Damn it," Ranma muttered and then winced as she felt a hand giving her breasts an exploratory squeeze. "I can explain this."

Ranma sat Kanu down on a nearby bench and stepped back.

"W-what just happened?" Kanu asked in confusion.

"It's a curse," Ranma sighed. "One of the places my old man and I went … well, it was this so-called legend of a training ground, name of Jusenkyo. It's a valley between some mountains, with more than a hundred small springs just bubbling up out of the ground. But they’re not normal springs,” he paused, dejected at having this happen again. “If you fall in one, you get cursed with changing shape into whatever drowned in that spring last. The spring I fell in … well, some girl drowned in the spring about fifteen hundred years ago, according to the tour guide. Now, this is what I turn into when I get hit with cold water. Hot water turns anyone with one of these curses back to normal. Damn old man, finding that damn brochure. Sorry about this.”

"Why? It's not your fault," Kanu pointed out. "Sure, it's a surprise, but I'm not exactly unfamiliar with magic and the like."

She meaningfully patted her naginata. Far from being bothered though, she thought her heart was beginning to race. While she wasn’t immune to attractive males, it wasn’t often she found them, and she was honest enough with herself to admit that far more often she fantasized about and was attracted to women. This new knowledge of Ranma was a wonder and a delight, and made him all the more attractive. It was like Fate had given her a gift: he was a hunk of a guy, a total hottie as a girl, and a powerful fighter.

She had to have him.

"You don't mind?" Ranma blinked incredulously. "You don't think I'm some kind of freak, or a pervert or something?"

"Of course not," Kanu assured the petite redhead. "In fact, you intrigue me even more than before. I think you're gorgeous in both forms."

"R-really?" Ranma blushed.

"Yes," Kanu assured her. "Would you tell me about the curse? Is it just your body or what else does it do?"

Ranma sat down on the bench and began to answer her questions. Kanu was surprised to learn that foods of the different tastes could appeal differently to the same person when the opposite gender. This magic’s status as a curse became much more understandable when she learned that Ranma seemed to get splashed when it was least convenient, and most awkward, for him to be in one form and then suddenly the other. And Ranma was vehement about only liking girls no matter what body she had from moment to moment.

"So how did the girls chasing you take the curse?" Kanu asked, Ranma having told her about the situation he left in Nerima. Careful here, girl. Careful, she thought.

"One hated it when she learned," Ranma sighed. "And she was jealous of the way my female form looked. One ignored it after the novelty of changing me back and forth wore off. As for the Chinese girl, she had her own curse. She changed into a c-cat. That aside, I don’t want to be forced to go back to her village to live as … I don’t know, her homemaker. Or whatever. They didn’t seem to respect men much."

"I take it you don't like cats," Kanu said, observing the effect the mere word had. It was a clear warning.

"No, I don’t,” he said. “I’d really rather not talk about that,” he continued, in a voice that told her not to press.

[oo]​

"So, the little conqueror has a protector who can easily defeat the great Taishiji and fight the indomitable Kanu to a stand still," Totaku said melodically as he reclined back. "How interesting."

"What will we do, Totaku," the green-haired, provocatively-dressed Ryofuu asked the heavily bandaged boy as she knelt before him, running her tongue over the firm belly that was revealed by his open shirt.

"I want you to find out everything you can about that girl's protector, my dear Ryofuu," Totaku directed. "His arrival was unexpected and he could upset the game. We can't have anyone spoiling our fun, now can we?"

"I’ll see it done," Ryofuu vowed from her position between Totaku's legs.

"Tell me then, Ryofuu, how do you feel about defeating your old boyfriend?" Totaku asked with amusement.

"Absolutely wonderful," Ryofuu purred, her tone covering up the fact that she was lying through her teeth.

Standing, she straightened the maroon blazer she wore. Between the blazer's lapels was a deep chasm of cleavage produced by her very large breasts, not covered by the uniform white shirt because she almost never wore it. In spite of that display, and her shorter-than-rules allowed red tartan skirt, nobody who actually knew her would mistake her for the promiscuous fluff she portrayed. Promiscuous she might be, but Ryofuu Hosen was also one of the very strongest fighters in any of the seven schools. Not even a handful had any chance of escape if she meant them serious harm.

That this new guy defeated someone as powerful as Taishiji with no trouble and then reportedly fought Kanu Unchou to a draw with hardly more … it was a concern.

[oo]​

"Ma-chan! You're home!" Hakufu greeted as Ranma walked in.

"Welcome home, Son," Nodoka said pleasantly. "How was your first day? We were expecting you home some time ago."

"It went alright," Ranma shrugged. "They wanted to challenge me, so I had to fight about thirty or so before a girl named Kanu Unchou challenged me herself.”

"You fought Kanu Unchou?" Kokin gasped.

"Yeah," Ranma smiled. "She was far better than the crowd. Really damn good, actually. Has a hell of a kick. I ended up having to carry her home though."

"You won?" Kokin exclaimed in disbelief. The thought was almost absurd. Just how powerful was his cousin?

"Well, we called it a draw," Ranma chuckled. "She shattered a rock wall with my head and I took out her legs with a pressure point. She was cool though. I like her."

"So when is the date?" Nodoka giggled.

"What date?" Ranma asked, confused.

"You didn't ask her out, Son?" Nodoka asked. "Was she not attractive enough?"

"Gah!" Ranma exclaimed, waving his arms in warding motions.

"I've heard Kanu Unchou is totally hot," Kokin interjected, smirking. This would serve Ranma right for stripping in front of him in female form the other day. "Surely your standards aren't that high, Cousin."

"It’s not like that," Ranma protested while blushing heavily. "I mean, yeah, she's way cuter than the girls in Nerima were and more than likely she’d beat them all without much work. It's just that I just got here and we hardly know each other and it would be a mess and ..." Ranma realized he was rambling and stopped with a sigh. "Maybe if I met her before I got caught up in that. Besides, she probably isn't even interested."

Just then Ranma’s cell phone started ringing. He pulled it out of his pocket and flipped it open to look at the display. The blush that had appeared a minute ago returned in full force as he chuckled nervously and scratched the base of his braid.

"Uh… hold that thought for a minute," he said and stepped outside the sliding screen door to take the call.

Of course everyone rushed to put their ears to the thin door to hear what Ranma was saying.

"Uh, hi, Kanu-san," Ranma greeted. "Oh, cool. I told you it'd wear off quick enough ..."

The audience listened for several more minutes as Ranma spoke with the girl on the other end of the line all the while stammering and laughing nervously at whatever she was saying.

"I think Ma-chan's in love," Hakufu giggled.

Kokin could not believe it. His cousin had not been here a week and already he had beaten up Taishiji Shigi, fought the legendary Kanu to a draw and now she was calling him to chat him up. What was going to happen next?

Goei and Nodoka shared a look and a giggle between them, and then began plotting. First they would have to get a hold of Ranma's cell phone so they could get the girl's number off it.

=*(O_O)*=​

When Ranma arrived at school the following day, he discovered that he had somehow achieved celebrity status. Everyone seemed to know who he was and many students greeted him deferentially. Unlike the previous day when he'd had to shoulder his way through the crowded hallways to get to his classroom, today the way parted before him as other students stepped to the side to allow him to pass.

Not that this was anything Ranma wasn't used to; the students at Furinkan had acted similarly once his position as top ass-kicker was solidified. However, he hadn't expected it to happen so soon here. Ranma had to smile as he thought about the reason for his upgrade in status.

Ranma had found something he hadn't had in a long time: a friend that he could have a friendly fight with, one who wasn't coming after him on some bizarre or stupid quest for “vengeance” over a trivial or even imagined slight. It was a hole in his life that he hadn’t even known existed. The friend was really good, too, good enough to push him hard. And she, for the friend was female to boot, was a lot nicer to look at than Pig-boy and his ugly mug.

The only thing that kept him from being ecstatic over his good fortune was that stupid Fate thing hanging over his head. Still, he resolved to go with the flow until events meant he couldn’t.

[oo]​

Ranma walked out of the classroom, lunchbox in hand, en route to find some nice place to devour its contents. Class had been no less boring than it was yesterday and staying awake hadn’t been easy. As soon as he stepped into the hallway, he spotted a smiling Kanu leaning against the wall.

"Hey, Kanu-san," Ranma greeted.

"Hello, Ranma," Kanu returned. "I was wondering if you'd care to have lunch with me? There's some people I'd like to introduce you to."

"Sure, why not?" Ranma nodded. "Lead on."

A couple minutes later, Ranma found himself standing in front of a collection of three more girls. One looked to be his age. She was a short-haired, rather cute brunette and appeared to be sizing him up as if she wanted to pick a fight with him; the thought occurred that she was the combative, tomboy type. The second was another attractive brunette with longer hair tied into twin ponytails hanging over her shoulders. This one wore glasses, and a bright smile and she had a stack of books next to her. She was clearly not a fighter, but Ranma got the same weird feeling he got when he sensed Hakufu's ki, like something powerful was lurking just below the surface. The last one appeared to be a year or so older than him, like Kanu did, and was very pretty. She had long, silver hair and a sheathed katana within arm’s reach, leaned against the table. At first, Ranma thought she might have been sleeping, but then she turned toward him as he and Kanu approached, still without opening her eyes. Ranma then thought that she might be blind. Regardless, there were two impressions he got from looking at her: one, she was the best fighter at the table, even stronger than Kanu was; and two, eyes closed or not, blind or not, she was well aware of everything happening around her.

"Ranma, this is the leader of Seito Private School, Ryuubi Gentoku," Kanu introduced, causing the short-haired brunette to short in disdain.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Ranma-san," the pony-tailed brunette chirped politely. "Welcome to our school."

"Next is Chouhi Ekitoku," Kanu continued, indicating the tomboy type.

"This is the guy that beat you, Kan-san?" Chouhi asked skeptically, crossing her arms under her breasts and turning her nose up. "He doesn't look like much."

"More than enough for you, tomboy," Ranma chided back, not willing to let the words go even though he knew he probably should.

"Chou-san, don't be rude," Ryuubi chastised as Ranma and the other girl glared at each other.

"We'll just have to see about that!" Chouhi challenged.

"Wherever you want, tomboy," Ranma smirked. "Whenever you want to have a go."

"You two can compare the size of your egos later," Kanu interrupted. "Ranma, this is Chou-un Shiryuu."

"Ranma-san," the silver-haired girl nodded to him in acknowledgment. Her eyes still hadn’t opened.

"Everyone, this is Ranma Saotome, our new transfer student, and the one that beat thirty fighters at once before fighting me to a draw yesterday," Kanu concluded.

Ryuubi and Chou-un both gave Ranma a polite bow which Ranma returned while Chouhi sniffed in disdain.

"Don't mind Chou-san, Ranma-san," Ryuubi advised cheerfully. "She's always lecturing me about how I should act."

"That's because you don't act like a leader!" Chouhi retorted. "You're always reading when you should be training! I don't wanna be known as a fighter that serves such a weakling!"

"Ekitoku! That's enough," Kanu ordered, sitting down and patting the bench beside her. "Ranma, please have a seat." Ranma shrugged and sat down, opening his lunchbox as Kanu continued. "Yesterday, Ranma proved that gold bead is for real and that he’s A-rank at least. I wanted everyone to meet him since he could be a great help in protecting Ryuubi from other schools if they decide to come after us."

"That would be welcome," Chou-un spoke up before Chouhi could start loudly protesting that they didn't need any help.

"Sure," Ranma said, pausing in his impression of a black hole of food. "I don’t have any problem with that. Count me in."

"Even if it's your cousins' school that attacks us?" Kanu asked.

"Well, I know Hakufu and Kokin wouldn't attack someone that couldn't protect themselves," Ranma shrugged. "But if anyone from their school wants to start some crap, then I don’t have a problem finishing. Fate or no Fate, I won’t go back on the code I’ve lived with my whole life."

"You don't care about Fate?" Chouhi asked in an overly-calm tone.

"Nope," Ranma confirmed. "Don’t really see why I should. If Fate is really unavoidable, then training and getting better are completely pointless, because whoever’s meant to take you down still will. I don't buy it. That's why I'm just gonna keep going the same way I’ve always done."

"An interesting outlook, Ranma-san," Chou-un commented with a slight smile. "Yet there are those that allow themselves to be controlled by their role in history."

"That's their choice," Ranma shrugged. "I don’t think I need to care so long as they don't make it my problem.”

The others at the table paused as this sentiment rolled over them.

No one felt the irony.

"Fairly said and meant," Kanu replied. "Now for the next item. The Big Fighter's Tournament is due to take place soon."

For these events … are Fate.

=*(O_O)*=​

Cologne hopped into the bar clinging to the top of her staff. While she didn't frequent places like this, it was Nerima so the sight of the tiny crone displaying unnatural agility balancing atop a staff wasn't cause for notice.

Cologne peered around he dimly lit interior of the bar until she spotted her target where he sat across from his partner in crime; both clearly on the way to serious inebriation. She was about to head over to the pair when suddenly her target was accosted by a large, foreign matron wearing a professional maid uniform complete with white support stockings and Cobby Cuddlers.

"Oh dear! You've got a right case of the dingies, you do!" the matron announced in what Cologne believed to be a Cockney accent to the bald man in the grubby gi.

Cologne could only stand and gape along with the rest of the bar as the martial artist struggled ineffectually as he was stripped to his underwear and left to wonder what the hell just happened as the matron disappeared out the door, his soiled gi in hand, with a battle cry of 'Fight for the bright!'

After a long, stunned silence, Genma Saotome climbed back up onto his chair, returning to his drinking while clearly ignoring that he now wore only his underclothes. Everyone else took that as a cue to resume their own activities, ignoring the entire scene. It wasn't the strangest thing that ever happened in Nerima.

Cologne shook her head and chuckled as she made her way to Genma's table. After all, she had an interrogation to get to. She was going to find out where her Son-in-law got off to or Genma was going to wish being assaulted by an insane British Matron was the worst thing that happened to him today.

[oo]​

"Have you found out anything, Sugar?" Ukyo asked as she buttonholed Nabiki at school.

"I can't get anything out of that panda except that Ranma went to live with his mother," Nabiki replied with no small amount of frustration. "And dad’s clammed up tight. I tried; he won’t give. I have a search going on Ranma’s mother but it hasn’t turned up anything yet either.”

"It's been a week, Sugar," Ukyo pointed out. "Who knows what sort of trouble Ran-chan has gotten into so far?"

[oo]​

"You!"

Ranma turned to see Chouhi standing a few feet away, looking at him with a hostile glare. Ranma raised an eyebrow in question.

"The training hall! Now!" she commanded belligerently.

"Why should I listen to you?" Ranma challenged. It was Friday afternoon and school had just let out. He was looking forward to getting home so he could train as hard as he wanted the whole weekend.

Chouhi scowled at him.

"Anytime, anywhere, you said," the aggressive girl growled. "The training hall, now … unless you’re afraid,” needling at him with words she hoped would make him defensive.

To her consternation, it didn’t work at all.

"Well, I guess you'll have all weekend to recover," Ranma shrugged indifferently. "Let's go."

[oo]​

"There you are, Guvna," the British matron proclaimed as she finished dressing Genma back in his gi. "Good as new! No more dingies here!"

"It is new," Cologne deadpanned, pointing to the tag hanging from the sleeve of the gleaming white gi.

A bead of sweat rolled down the matron’s forehead as she donned a sheepish expression.

"Er...right. How was I ta know it were only the dingies holding the thing together?" she remarked. "Disintegrated in the wash it did. Oh well, I'm off! Fight for the bright!"

Cologne shook her head and turned back to Genma.

"So Son-in-law's mother has a sister and a brother, huh?" she asked. "Now where might I find them?"

Genma cringed as the tip of the staff moved toward the pain-inducing pressure point that had already killed his pleasant buzz. He had tried to resist, but had not been very successful; At least, he thought ruefully, he had not lost consciousness as Tendou-kun had.

The damn crone was far too much like the master for his liking … or anyone else’s, he thought as pain washed over him again.

[oo]​

Chouhi screamed as she was launched across the training hall and slammed face first into yet another wall. Her body bounced off the wall and hit the ground in a heap, her hands going to her lower back where Ranma had just hit her. Fighting to ignore the pain she was in, she struggled to her hands and knees, panting heavily. Wiping a trickle of blood from her lip with the back of her hand, she looked over at where Ranma was standing in the middle of the dojo, a place she had been unable to displace him from since the fight began.

"You done yet?" Ranma asked with a patronizing smirk that made her blood boil.

Chouhi pushed herself up, standing unsteadily on her shaking knees, her vision blurring in and out as she faced her opponent.

"I am Chouhi … Ekitoku … and I will never … surrender!" she cried, charging him again.

The brunette tomboy's eyes widened as he casually caught the kick she had launched at him and then screamed in pain as he stabbed a nerve cluster on her inner thigh. She tried to counter with a punch but before she could get it off, he nailed her with a palm strike to the diaphragm which tore the air from her lungs and sent her skidding across the dojo on her back.

Chouhi laid on her back trying to gasp for air as her leg felt like it had been dipped in molten metal. Her eyes were clinched shut tears of pain squeezed out from them to trail down her cheeks. Suddenly, the pain in her leg vanished and she could breath again. Gratefully she took huge gasping breaths and opened her eyes.

She saw her adversary wearing a serious expression for the first time, an expression without mockery or condescension. “You’re not bad, tomboy,” he said. “You’re not on my level, but don’t sweat it. This ain’t a death match.”

He smiled and offered her a hand up, the smile actually looking and seeming genuine.

=*(O_O)*=​

Cologne sat in her room smoking her pipe while she pondered her next course of action. It was Genma's parting shot that troubled her.

"It won't do you any good, crone," Genma had wheezed. "The boy's true curse has found him. Not even you can save him from Fate itself."

This of course had led to more questioning and now Cologne had the whole story. The Fate of the Sacred Bead … her people had run across this before. They had lost families to the Fate when various warriors had married fighters wearing the strange beads. It had caused the village council to amend their laws: outsiders under the Fate were not merely exempt from the marriage laws but were to be avoided entirely, lest the village truly become embedded in what was clearly a game set up by the gods themselves.

By rights, Cologne should just pack up and head home with Shampoo and Mousse. Shampoo would suffer no loss of status as the Kiss of Marriage had never applied. Sadly there wasn't anything they could do about her Jusenkyou curse, despite the fact that it had turned out to be an erroneous punishment. How ironic that Shampoo's cursed form turned out to be something that would drive her prospective groom off. She should have seen it as the divine warning it was and kept her heir away.

In spite of that, Cologne knew she had grown at least a little fondness for Ranma. It was fun to toy with him and set him challenges … he really was gifted, and amusing besides. It didn’t make her feel good to leave him to the hands of Fate.

The council would be angry though. Very angry, if she continued to stay away and they learned her reasons. Even she couldn’t defy them endlessly.

And Shampoo was her sole heir. She had to train the girl up to a better standard, a greater standard … her own time in this world was not unlimited.

If she sent Shampoo home first … and Mousse … perhaps she could do the world a favor by eliminating the Anything Goes grandmaster before she returned to China. That would be a valid reason to remain in Japan …

Cologne sighed. That was wishful thinking … and likely an impossible task.

Happosai would outlive them all, probably.

[oo]​

A psnda brooded.

This was not an unusual sight in this area of Nerima; this panda was somewhat well-known to the locals, and it had been seen all around town, going about its day in a way entirely unlike every other panda alive.

The people of the ward, being good Japanese, ignored the beast’s presence. If a panda gained sentience and wanted to play at being human, that was its business.

The brooding panda, more often a brooding martial artist, was doing his brooding in a familiar location: the bar he and his best friend sometimes took sake at, more often Japanese beer.

Unusually, his friend was absent. They had had one last long drinking session together – the one the old crone interrupted … and were likely going to go their separate ways.

Tendou-kun had his daughters to look after.

Their agreement was done, for the protection of said daughters.

Genma now wondered if getting Ranma certified as a master had been a mistake. It might imply he thought Ranma didn’t need any help anymore.

His marriage was probably ruined for good: Nodoka certainly would only want their son to protect her now, when she needed protection.

But damn it … just because Ranma was master-level didn’t make him a god or an immortal.

He could still help Ranma. A little. More than a little. If the gods allowed, even a lot.

There were plenty of things he had never taught the boy … though he thought he would leave those techniques off the table. Better they remain buried … he had the only scrolls … maybe one of these days he should go ahead and burn them.

And frankly, there weren’t many martial artists better suited to keeping his boy at the absolute cutting edge.

And maybe Nodoka would forgive him if he came back, and stuck around, and did his damnedest to keep their boy alive.

He had even told Tendou-kun he would be fighting for exactly that.

The brooding time was over. He finished his drink, and made up his mind that he wouldn’t have anymore.

He had a son to track down and stay nearby.

[oo]​

Chouhi looked from Ranma's hand to his smiling face. She had to admit, his smile was really nice now that it didn't have that mocking component to it. She could see why Kan-san was so interested in him. He also lived up to his A-ranking. Chouhi was a lot better than her own D-ranking would suggest, but he still handled her as easily as an A-ranked fighter would handle any D-ranked opponent.

Nodding, she reached up and grasped his wrist. Ranma stood up and pulled Chouhi to her feet. As soon as she had her feet under her, she launched a punch at his face with her free hand while holding onto his wrist with her other hand. A meaty, flesh-on-flesh smack echoed through the training hall and Chouhi's eyes widened. He'd caught her brutal punch seemingly without effort and was now chuckling at her while waving a finger—and her fist—at her in admonishment.

"Nice try, tomboy," Ranma grinned. "Unfortunately for you, my old man is the master of cheap shots … including that knee to the groin you're about to try."

Chouhi smiled weakly and sagged.

"Um … just kidding?" she offered.

"Uh huh," Ranma smirked knowingly. "Are you done? Or do you need more of a lesson?" Now there was what seemed the beginnings of threat in his voice to continue the “lesson”.

"No, that's okay," Chouhi replied, surrendering. "I've found out what I wanted to know."

After all, it was Chouhi's job as Kan-san's best friend to make sure this guy she was interested in was worthy of her. In spite of the fact that he was a little rougher with her than Kan-san had described him being with her, he hadn't intentionally hit her in the face, breasts, or groin, and he hadn't used their fight as an excuse to grope her. He didn't even shred her clothes. That was usually the first thing that happened in a fight, even between two female fighters.

"Well, if we're done, do you need any help getting to the nurse's office?" Ranma asked.

"No, I'm fine," Chouhi grimaced, hurting all over if not actually badly injured. "Nothing a nice, hot soak in the bath won't fix." Maybe that was a touch of exaggeration, she thought as everything twinged.

"Suit yourself," Ranma nodded. "I guess I'll head home now. Got stuff to do."

[oo]​

As Chouhi made her way back to the changing room, Ranma collected his bag and stepped out of the dojo to find Chou-un leaning against the wall next to the door.

"Chou-un-san," Ranma nodded.

"Ranma-san," Chou-un nodded back. "You were a little rough with her, ne?"

Ranma scratched the base of his braid and chuckled.

"Maybe a little," Ranma agreed. "She's been giving me attitude; I guess I might have wanted a little payback. Is that a problem?"

Chou-un shrugged.

"I suppose not," the silver-haired girl said. "In truth, I find your restraint admirable. Not many fighters would have held back that much in the face of Chouhi-san's treatment of you."

"So you were watching?" Ranma asked, then winced as he remembered thinking that she was blind.

Chou-un laughed lightly, not missing the wince at all and somehow finding it charming.

"I'm not blind, Ranma-san," Chou-un smiled, correctly interpreting his wince. "I just prefer to use my other senses."

She did not add that nearly everyone who had seen her eyes found them alarming. "But yes, I was observing. I confess I was curious as to both your abilities and to see how you would handle Chouhi-san's challenge."

"And step in if it got too out of hand," Ranma smirked, causing Chou-un to blush in mild embarrassment.

"But it was not necessary," Chou-un replied. "I am happy to see Kanu-san's respect for you is not at all unwarranted."

"Glad you approve," Ranma deadpanned.

"Very much so," Chou-un remarked, her enigmatic smile talking on a decidedly sly overtone. "Enjoy your weekend, Ranma-san."

With a polite bow, Chou-un walked away as Ranma shook his head in exasperation while trying not to admire the sensual sway of her hips.

[oo]​

"Shiryuu-san," Kanu greeted as Chou-un walked by where Kanu was leaning against the side of the building.

"Unchou-san," Chou-un nodded, pausing.

The air practically vibrated with tension as the two girls stood there silently.

"Ranma is quite a catch, ne?" Kanu observed, breaking the silence.

"Indeed. Whoever ends up with him will be very fortunate," Chou-un replied calmly—thus informing Kanu that she was no longer the sole contender in this race.

"Game on," Kanu acknowledged the competition.

"May the best woman win," Chou-un smiled serenely as she walked away.

Kanu watched her go and sighed. Now she was competing with one of her closest friends,

It was worth it, she decided quickly. He was worth it.

She had never felt this way about a boy before.

These events … are Fate.

[oo]​

Ranma felt a shiver run down his spine as he made his way to the train station. Somehow, he got the inescapable feeling that someone had just declared it to be “Ranma season”.

However, he wasn't able to dwell on it for long since he suddenly found himself surrounded by several guys, all wearing magatama, and all radiating hostility. Ranma smirked, thankful for the distraction, and cracked his knuckles.

=*(O_O)*=​

AN: This melds four episodes of the thread into one chapter: “Taking Notice”, “Doing Lunch”, “Investigation” and “The Ranma Effect”. Sixteen episodes in total covered so far!
Okay, here's the deal. The above is a new version of the content I just posted a few days ago. Most of it is unmodified. Scene breaks are clearer, every scene break has this [oo] doing the separating.

I've changed every spelling of Chou'un to Chou-un. The extra apostrophe always bothered me, it's a way of showing the sound separation, but not the best choice of one, because of the obvious issue of when her name is used possessively. Technically Kanu's name should be written Kan-u in the same way ... but I don't think the thread ever used Kan'u. Maybe I'm misremembering.

And I changed Nabiki calling Genma a slob to her calling him a panda. Big effing deal.

Now here's why I reposted it. There is new content. The Cologne pov scene that began with "Cologne sat in her room smoking her pipe" has been changed heavily.

And I added a completely new scene from Genma's point of view. Because I have an idea. I am thinking of removing Cologne's presence, from the future of this revamp. Entirely removing -- no more from the Joketsuzoku characters.

And I would reinsert Genma into the plot. In what capacity I don't have firmed up, and it may not be until late-thread material, or perhaps even beyond that.

Am kind of wondering though, if I choose this course, from here on is this the same story?

To that end I'll be keeping both files, separately labeled. And I'll only write one or the other.
 
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