Ranma ½ Senpai: A Story of Good Friends ~Devas Edition~

The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
#1
Hey readers. After writing over 80 chapters/scenes for Senpai, I took a retrospective and looked back at the beginning of the story. And... it's as sparse as a story written by the seat of its pants can get, and there are many ideas, concepts, and characters that simply wound up being cast aside as it progressed forward, and others were just not handled well enough including them at all. So, with the little bit of help from my friends, I've begun a reworking, with much of the weight being pushed to the front and a slight tweaking of the world and the rules of the story.

This first set of scenes and the next will be familiar territory, with spruced up writing and revised characterizations standing out. However, after that? Well, you're in for a treat! Take a seat and get comfy, this is a story about some good friends.


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Disclaimer: The following is a fan-written parody. Ranma ½ is property of Rumiko Takahashi, Studio Deen, Shogakukan, Viz Media, and Madman Entertainment. Support the official release, okay?


Senpai: A Story of Good Friends
A Ranma ½ Story


|Right and Wrong Lessons|

If there was one thing that Katie Izland didn’t like, it was a bully. Back when she was in grade school, she’d been bullied by kids in her class by the common grade school punks who spread nasty rumors, carved nasty words in their victims’ desks and dumped pencil shavings on heads.

It wasn’t a good time for her at all, especially at that point in her young life–but don’t be mistaken: while her experience wasn’t great, theirs was awful when she was done with them.

A lesson Katie took from that point in her life was that when you knowingly messed with and provoked someone stronger than you and you got your ass handed to you on a silver platter for it, it was no one else’s fault but your own. If you could learn your lesson and change your ways though, you had a chance at being a better person. If you kept doing it? You were too dumb to live. It was this lesson that brought Katie to the following conclusion:

96% of Furinkan High School’s male student body were irredeemable subhumans.

It was the fourth day in a row that the American transferee had to watch a sad display of lust and desperation take place in the front yard of the school: a literal army of boys from first to third year armed with any weapon they could find was gathering in the front courtyard, waiting for a particular girl to show up so they could attack her.

There had to be nearly two hundred of them now, from every club from the kendo and boxing to the non-athletic clubs that had no actual business being out on a battlefield. All of them were there to beat her into submission–so that one of them would take her out on a date.

Setting aside how abhorrent everything about that was, what made it worse was that in spite of their numbers, weapons, and lustful determination? These guys were going to get annihilated by this girl, like they had every time they went after her.

She obliterated them, not even taking so much as a graze as she ripped through them like a chainsaw through melting butter and went on her way to class–she wasn’t going to let something like a gang of would-be rapists get in her way of an education, especially if they couldn’t do jack to her. Yet in spite of that, these clowns were determined to beat that date out of her and on the fourth day of this embarrassment Katie was tired of it.

For as strong as she was, the wrecking ball of their affections was just too nice to beat them down with prejudice, and while Katie understood why she wouldn’t want to actually maim any of them perfectly, she also knew that if it didn’t get driven into the collective heads of these idiots, they would probably go at this for weeks until it just became some twisted tradition that would never stop.

She didn’t come all the way to Japan just to be stuck in a shitty school full of guys who thought beating the shit out of a girl was a great icebreaker.

So with that in mind, the tall, black haired girl with striking green eyes rolled her shoulders and began to make her through the crowd of spectating girls and somewhat smarter boys–the precious 4% who knew better–towards the front of the group of malcontents. At 180cm she was taller than nearly all of the boys, and the moody, intimidating aura of her foreignness combined with the flat, disinterested look she had on her face most of the time parted the more timid and polite of the crowd without her having to ask.

Once past the onlookers, she made a line straight for the front gate, walking along the wall until she reached it. A glance to her left allowed her to catch sight of the girl in question, a cute girl with long dark hair walking with her slightly taller, bob-cut sporting older sister. Even from this distance, she could see that the girl of the hour was looking pretty agitated.

A glance to her right saw the slavering crowd, of young men readying weapons and psyching themselves up. Today was the day, she could hear the reassuring themselves and each other: One of them would do it! One of them would beat her and get to go on a date with her and maybe even get to win her heart entirely!

Yeah right.

Katie sighed and stopped, turning to face the group of boys. Seeing her step forth, the horde grew confused and stared at her. It wasn’t like they didn’t know who she was, the foreign transfer student from America’s Pacific Northwest stood out like a sore thumb, being taller than a bunch of the boys and emanating an intimidating aura that put off even the boldest attempts to approach her. Why was she suddenly stepping up?

Speaking clearly, with a surprisingly rustic accent, she revealed her intentions.

“Howdy guys, don’t y’all think this has gone on too long?”

|Good Grief|

Tendo Akane woke up as she did every day for the last three days, ready to punch every boy on Earth. Over the course of them, she had to fight almost the entire male student body of her school because that idiot Kuno Tatewaki, the top student in the school, had mouthed off that only a man who could defeat her would be able to date her without getting his crap kicked in by him.

Of course, a bunch of guys who were hot for Akane literally took that as “If you can beat Akane, then she HAD to go on a date with you” and here she was, with her knuckles still kind of raw from all the punching she had to do yesterday, getting ready to work over the same crowd of idiots again just so she could go to class.

Her morning routine, once pleasant and even relaxing, was now an exercise of unbridled frustration at immature boys who would take any shortcut to get a girl to date them that didn’t involve actually talking to one.

She got dressed, knowing that these guys saw her as property to win, rather than a human being.

She ate her breakfast, accepting that these boys were content with physically harming the same person they’d want as a girlfriend.

She walked to school, understanding that if it weren’t for the fact that she was 100% straight and in love with a kind, if somewhat silly man over twice her age, she would dive into the first lesbian relationship offered to escape boys forever.

“Ugh, there they are, the idiots,” Akane seethed at the sight of the waiting crowd.

Beside her was her sister Nabiki, who totally did not resent her younger sister for turning the boys she once happily flirted with into short-sighted fools who won’t give her the time of day.

“Well, you can’t fault them for being determined.”

“Yes I can, they’re just going to keep coming, and coming, until one of them actually beats me” Akane shot back, not noticing the tall dark-haired girl who walked out in front of the crowd.

She wasn’t concerned about any boy beating her. Even holding back Akane could lay them flat with a one-by-one-hitter quitter and still be done with all of them in under two minutes. More to the point, even in the highly unlikely chance of one of those randos landing a lucky knockout blow, she wouldn’t date him at all. In fact, the moment he showed up at her figurative or literal doorstep to cash in, she’d stomp him even harder.

“Why are they even obsessed with me? It’s not like someone’s selling pictures of me to give them something to work for.”

“Oh my, someone would have to be a stone-cold money-loving bitch with a jealous streak a mile wide to be so petty,” Nabiki dryly replied.

She was selling pictures, but only to one guy; the rest just thought Akane was cute–in spite of everything.

Akane looked ahead, ready to take on the horde, and saw a situation brewing at the school’s gate.

“What’s going on there?” She asked

Up ahead, Katie was appealing to the futility of the boys’ situation, politely, carefully imploring them to back down and go home.

“It’s been three days of this and it’s pretty obvious you’re not gonna beat her, so why don’t ya’ll give it a rest?”

She was expecting a more hostile response–maybe someone calling her a filthy foreigner and telling her to mind her own business, maybe someone brusquely shoving her aside so they could get to the object of their desire. However, they all did neither; the only response she got from them was a slack-jawed stare that told her they were all having difficulty comprehending the words she said.

At the front, a boy in a karate gi was the one to finally say it.

“You want us to… stop?”

It was Katie’s turn to be confused, how could they not understand her? “Yeah, she’s not going to want to date any of you.”

“Not until we beat her!” One enterprising young man said.

“Yeah!” A few others chorused.

“No, I mean, even if you beat her-” Katie tried to emphasize, but an enterprising young boxer cut her off.

“Well, she has to, that’s what Kuno said!”

A fencer in the crowd spoke up to correct the young man. “No, no, no. If we beat her, then we have permission to ask her out, that’s what Kuno said.”

The other boys quickly nodded in agreement, it wouldn’t do good to lose sight of their objective after all.

Now Katie needed a moment to process that one. “Hold on now, what?”

The boy in the gi explained the situation clearly. “You have to understand, Kuno-senpai is way stronger than all of us. If any of us tried to date Akane without his permission then he’d beat the crap out of us, and we wouldn’t stand a chance against him.”

Katie stopped for another moment, and when she spoke it was in a level but slightly enunciated tone, something dark and nasty leaking into her words.

“Correct me if I’m wrong: the reason y’all are lining up to get your shit pushed in, is because you think you have better odds of beating up the girl y’all want to date than you do Kuno?”

There were a lot of nods from the group.

Lowering her head, Katie clenched and unclenched her fists, and took a deep, shaking breath.

“HEY KUNO!”

Her shout came out with a force that filled the entire courtyard, making the boys in front of her jump with fright, and causing Akane and Nabiki behind her to give pause.

The crowd of boys parted like the Red Sea, Exodus style, revealing the tall and suave figure cut by one Tatewaki Kuno. He had heard the voice of a woman call him out, in a tone befitting an uneducated lout seeking challenge, and when he saw that it was the new foreign girl who’d darkened the halls of his school just days before, his intense eyes narrowed… intensely.

“Is there something that you request of the undisputed and undefeated champion of the High School Kendo circuit, I, Tatewaki Kuno?” He asked as he walked towards her, the wooden sword he carried in his right hand held low.

Katie’s voice dropped with fury and contempt as she lifted her head and stared dead straight into Kuno’s eyes, her own green orbs darkened with murderous fury. “Yeah–leave that girl and all of these guys alone, or I will break your arms.”

Kuno stopped, struck by the killing intent radiating from this woman.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Did I stutter? No–I said if you don’t stop, I am going to break your arms, you son of a bitch.”

Behind Katie, Akane and Nabiki reached the edge of the foreigner’s escalating exchange with Kuno.

Akane couldn’t believe what she heard. “Nabiki, isn’t that the transfer in your class, what’s she doing?”

“She’s calling Kuno out,” Nabiki said.

Akane frowned. “Why? He’s going to beat her to a pulp…”

Nabiki pulled out a camera phone. “Don’t know, but it’s going up on the net.”

The other students couldn’t believe it either. All anyone knew about her was that she was tall, kept to herself, and was from America… what was she thinking, challenging the ace of their school?

Kuno himself puzzled over that, and even considered that same information. Where did such a presence come from, and from a foreigner no less? Those questions had simple conclusions that reassured him, as he closed his eyes and let out a smooth laugh.

“I see… as you are an American visitor, I can understand your confusion.”

Katie tensed up. “Excuse you?”

Kuno wasted no time clarifying. “What you see before you is a test of manhood, a rite of passage to earn what does not come easily! If these men cannot defeat the fair Akane, then what right do they have to date her? As her champion and true love, I stand at the gate of her virtue to strike down those who are unworthy! You can be forgiven for your ignorance of our culture and the importance of proving one’s merits.”

His collected visage morphed into a harsher scowl. “However, your insults towards my person shall not pass so easily! Apologize for your insolence!”

Katie grimaced. There was no reasoning with this idiot.

“There ain’t shit in your culture that says it’s okay for a piece of shit with a sword to start threatening people over who they can or can’t date. You’re not some shogun, you’re just some douchebag chuuni who needs your arms broken, asshole.”

The other students winced, while one whistled, and another went “Oooooh…” in sympathetic fear and and anticipation

If there was one thing anyone didn’t address, it was the three hundred sixty-three kilogram gorilla in the room that was Kuno’s self-styled delusions of being a noble samurai that would be pathetic–if not for the fact that he could smash through concrete with the air displaced by a swing of a wooden sword.

Kuno scowled, incensed when that touched a nerve. A chuuni?! How dare she accuse him of being something that he was not?! “Even when shown mercy, you continue this foolishness. Well, let it be said that I, the Shooting Star of Furinkan High School, did not give you fair warning!”

“Oh no!” Akane murmured in alarm.

“Welp, she’s dead,” Nabiki quipped.

Both hands gripping his bokken, Kuno shot toward Katie, sword raised above his head. “I STRIKE!”

Akane could handle Kuno just fine, she was stronger than most nearly everyone in the school, but Kuno was still a monster. She dropped her bag aside and prepared to dive in to intercept the attack, block it, something–but she was too late as a loud crack silenced the schoolyard.

|The Breaker|

A well-known myth of Muay Thai is that practitioners of the sport increase the power of their devastating kicks by repeatedly kicking a sturdy tree over and over, until their legs were so strong that the tree eventually succumbed to the power of the practitioner’s mighty legs. The truth is far more mundane, with the so-called sturdy tree being the soft and malleable wood of the banana tree, which eventually evolved into the heavy kicking bags more popularly known inside the sport.

That said, with repeated kickings of a training bag, eventually through ossification repairing tiny fractures created by the impact, one’s leg bones do grow harder to break and better to break the bones of others. This was important especially in the case of Katie, who had delivered a roundhouse kick that connected her tibia into Kuno’s left arm with tremendous force.

The crack was the Shooting Star of Furinkan High School’s humerus snapping like a dry twig on impact.

Kuno didn’t get flung far, he wasn't even knocked off his feet. When he missed and she landed her kick, he just stumbled past her, his eyes wide and watering as the pain of having his arm clearly smashed to pieces registered.

Unharmed entirely in the exchange, Katie lowered her leg.

As one, the students all around her recoiled to a chorus of “EHHHH?!”

“Did… did she just break Kuno’s arm?” A disbelieving Akane asked as she stared, stunned.

Nabiki, ever the unflappable, continued to film. “Just like that this vid went from Nico straight to YouTube.”

Katie turned to Kuno, who had let go of his sword with his left hand and kept his head bowed, his well groomed bangs hiding his face.

“So, how’s that?” She asked.

“You… you…!” Kuno spat out, as he gripped his trusted bokken so tight the wood splintered.

He took a deep breath and turned around, his face streaked with tears, snot, and sweat but completely collected and composed.

“Did you think that merely crippling an arm would be enough to defeat me?” He asked coolly.

It hurt, it hurt more than anything he ever experienced, but he would not show such weakness to anyone, he was a man! A man amongst men!

Gasps and cries of amazement rose up, Kuno was showing such strength! Some boys in the kendo club, among the very same he threatened, could not help but cheer as their Captain stood fast.

Katie was unimpressed as she entered a loose fighting stance.

“No, I said I was going to break them both.”

Nabiki looked over to Akane. “So uh, weren’t you going to stop this?”

Akane picked up her bag as she watched the scene intently. “No, she’s got this.”

Panting loudly to maintain his front of composure, Kuno brandished his sword. “The only thing that will shatter, is your arrogance!”

He staggered towards her, each shift of his arm causing flashes of pain that blurred his vision momentarily. “I am unrivaled… undefeatable by all but whom I allow to best me!”

“Whatever.” The only chance Kuno had to win, Katie thought, was if he struck after she finally rolled her eyes out of her skull.

He turned his stagger into a charge, bokken held up and behind him to attack with maximum force.

“I will not… fall this day…! I WILL DEFEAT YOU! PREPARE YOURSELF, I STRIKE!”

Katie watched his sword come down as she moved out of its path to catch him by the forearm, which she guided down, down, and down, so that her rising knee met it at the elbow. After the immediately following snap, even Nabiki winced.

Akane looked a little green in her cheeks. “Arms don’t bend that way.”

“LiveLeak here we come,” her sister said.

Katie let Kuno go, and stepped back, letting him stand there, his whole body shaking. In his agony he foamed at the mouth, trying his darndest to try to focus on his opponent and having little luck. Due to the pain he could only really do one thing at a time, and what he was trying to do now was not scream and break down crying.

Other students began to feel sorry for Kuno. Not surprisingly, most of them were from the Kendo Club, as one such young man called out to him in clear distress. “Captain! Oh no!”

Another student, a girl, called Katie out. “Y-you didn’t need to do that to Kuno-senpai!”

“Nah, I had to,” Katie retorted.

“Ew… he looks like he’s going to pass out standing up,” a third student called over the growing rabble.

“You… you’re going to pay for this!” Another member of the kendo club roared.

Katie snorted, and turned away from them to Akane. Facing the green-eyed surprise powerhouse, Akane jumped–uncertain what to make of the girl and her intentions.

“Hey, uh… Tendo, right?”

“Yes?”

Katie hooked a thumb at Kuno. “Too far?”

Akane stared at the foreign girl, looked at Kuno still foaming at the mouth, and then back to the girl. She did this a couple more times, contemplating her answer, before she put it succinctly.

“Not far enough.”

Katie nodded and rolled her right shoulder, to loosen what kinks still remained in it. “I thought so.”

She turned around to face her audience, ostensibly to lay down the new law as it were, but instead found herself facing Kuno in the middle of picking up his wooden sword in his teeth and standing upright. Upright, he took in a deep breath and began to scream, howling loudly as he bit down on the bokken like he was getting an amputation without anaesthetic.

“OHHHHHHHHHHHH! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Katie blinked slowly as she stared at the screaming fool. “… Uh…?”

Katie looked back to Akane and Nabiki, who were staring at this new development with matching blank expressions. “Hey, does he think he can turn super saiya-jin or something, too?”

“This one’s new, actually,” Nabiki admitted.

Hilarious, too.

“He’s trying not to give away that he’s crying. He did this when I beat him in our kendo match, too,” Akane flatly added.

“I! FIGHT! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!”

Kuno’s passionate roar was less a hero achieving his final form, and more trying not to sound like he was bawling his eyes out like a child. The kendoists who cheered their abusive Captain on and promised revenge to Katie gaped in awe at the Kendo Club Captain’s sudden rush of determination.

“Captain… even in his state, he’s showing his true power!”

“Go Kuno-senpai!”

“Kick her butt!”

Energized by their cheers, Kuno bit down even harder on the bokken.

“I WILL SHOW YOU! THE TRUE POWER! OF THE PROUD! KUNO! BLOODLIIIIIINE!”

Katie stared at Kuno with a mix of bemusement and disappointment.

“Okay,” she said before she spaced her feet and lowered her stance.

Digging his heels into the ground, and his teeth into his bokken, Kuno crouched and sprang forward, charging for this powerful, savage woman to plunge his bokken in her heart with the power of his love, his anger, and all of his sorrow-!

Katie’s knee collided full force with his chin, snapping the bokken, shattering his jaw, and interrupting Kuno’s dramatic internal monologue of intent.

“You know what?”

A blast of wind washed over the students behind Kuno, blowing back hair and flipping up skirts, before there was a loud bang behind them. Behind Katie, Akane gasped when she saw a huge dent appear in the face of the clock near the top of the school’s front. At that same moment, Katie ground her knee against Kuno’s ruined chin, her green eyes lit up with fury. The air was still, filled with incredible tension even after the strange impact.

“Why don’t you just go…”

All at once the suspended tension snapped, and she unleashed it, completing the motion of her blow and launching Kuno skyward.

“FUCK! OFF!”

The recoil of her blow caused her to perform a backflip, and Kuno–a trail of condensation rings radiating from him in his short flight–smashed into the clock at the center of the school’s tower and hitting the bell behind it with a loud, warped clang followed by an uncomfortable grinding of gears.

|Nuclear|

The schoolyard was quiet again, as Katie landed on her feet and dusted off her uniform skirt. Letting her hands hang limp at her sides, she looked at the group of students staring at the hole in the building where Kuno had gone, and waited. Sure enough, one by one all eyes returned to the foreign girl who just made an embarrassment out of who had been once the undisputed lord of the school. Quiet murmurs rose.

“She… she put him through the school’s clock.”

“So powerful…”

“Is he dead?”

Everyone waited and listened. Sure enough, they could hear a high-pitched whine of pain from a man too durable to avoid being knocked unconscious, but not durable enough for when it counted.

Akane walked over to Katie, cautiously entering her field of view.

Noticing her, the taller girl turned her head to her. “Howdy.”

“You’re strong,” Akane said.

Katie shrugged her shoulders. “I’d better be, ‘else all that martial arts training was a huge waste of time and money.”

She looked back up at where Kuno’s legs dangled out of the school.

“Like with that son of a bitch; he oughta look for a refund–at least to help with the medical bills.”

Akane let out a small laugh. “Yeah.”

An epiphany struck one of the boys in the horde of Akane’s suitors.

“Wait, hang on. Does this mean we can ask Akane out on dates like normal people now? We don’t have to do this fighting thing anymore?”

Akane went stiff where she stood, her eyes wide and glassing over as fury radiated from her.

Katie shrugged her shoulders. “I guess? It’s not like he’s going to be kicking anybody’s ass anytime soon, but y’all played yourselves.”

Before any of them could ask, Akane’s sheer rage erupted into a visible blue glow, surprising Katie.

“Ask me… out? You still think-? After you-?”

Nabiki was impressed, never had she seen her little sister so angry that sentences were a challenge. Like a car with a popped clutch rolling down hill, though, Akane’s sputtering stopped and her anger exploded.

“I’LL NEVER GO OUT WITH ANY OF YOU SICK PERVERTSS!”

Just about every boy in the group lost the color on their entire bodies, turning titanium white except for a faint blue shade appearing on their foreheads and descending down their faces. Nabiki stepped back to catch everything on camera.

“YOU THINK THAT I’D GIVE YOU THE TIME OF DAY, WHEN I HAD TO PUT UP WITH YOU SHOUTING AT ME TO GO OUT WITH YOU, WHILE YOU WERE SWINGING FOR MY FACE?! SCREW YOU! SCREW ALL OF YOU FOR EVEN THINKING IT!”

A dark cloud appeared over them, weighing down their shoulders and forcing their heads down in shame. The students not directly in the path of Akane’s verbal assault stood stock still, most of them–almost all girls–in awe of the unfathomable wrath that was pouring from the girl.

“YOU WEAKLINGS COULDN’T EVEN BEAT ME UP WHEN THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF YOU, WHY THE HELL WOULD I DATE ONE OF YOU?!”

Katie’s mouth fell open, but she was speechless.

On the other end of the verbal assault, what had once been a fair large percentage of the male student body were now extras for a zombie apocalypse film.

“SO GO AND FIND SOME OTHER GIRL TO BOTHER AND LEAVE ME ALONE–OH WAIT! YOU CAN’T! BECAUSE EVERY FREAKING GIRL HERE KNOWS YOU’RE DESPERATE ENOUGH TO BEAT UP A GIRL YOU CAN’T HAVE!”

It was the most powerful and devastating truth of her eruption: in their desperation to avoid Kuno’s wrath they hadn’t just poisoned the well–they contaminated the entire aquifer. All any girl saw for the last three days were hundreds of boys gathering up to beat up a girl, and that girl beat them up effortlessly. Who would date a guy like that? Who would want to go near a guy like that? Who could call themselves a man after that?

Her long, ribbon-secured hair looking more disheveled than it ever did fighting the boys, her face red, and her body covered in sweat, Akane stood there gulping down lungfuls of air as she shook in her anger.

“Get the hell out of my sight, and if I lock eyes with any of you, I will do so much worse than what happened to Kuno!”

Completely destroyed, the male students of Furinkan High School obeyed, and one by one began to listlessly walk towards the front doors of the school.

As they marched silently away, everyone could see it in their lifeless eyes: there was no hope for them, no light, not even a faint glimmer. Any and all romantic aspirations for all of them were dashed with their irrational decisions. There would never be a springtime of their high school days, or real love and companionship to look forward to.

All that was lost forever, in lieu of a dark, lonely future surrounded by plastic figurines and posters of unattainable fictional representations of women, warmed only by the light of computer generated wives programmed to worship them but feel nothing.

Akane couldn’t imagine a more fitting punishment.

Katie took a deep breath. “… Damn.”

Nabiki let out a whistle, impressed, as Akane’s anger scrammed and the meltdown was brought to an end.

“Well, you didn’t throw a punch this time but I think you neutered all of them.”

“They never had any balls to begin with,” Akane snapped back.

“Inclined to agree there,” Katie said as she dusted off her hands. “If that’s all square, I’m gonna go to class.”

As she began to walk away, however, Akane called to her. “Wait, Izurando-san!”

Katie stopped and looked back at Akane. “Yeah?”

Akane bowed deeply to the foreign transfer girl. “I’m sorry you had to be bothered, but thank you for stepping in.”

Katie waved it off. “Weren’t no thing, you’re a pretty nice girl and those boys had no business picking on you.”

She shrugged her shoulders after. “Besides, been a while since I got a chance to actually put hands on a dude in a real fight, so… I was happy to oblige.”

“A real fight? I’ve seen slaughterhouses that gave the cows better odds” Nabiki hadn’t actually, but the sheer one-sidedness of that beating warranted the comparison.

Akane was flattered by Katie’s compliment. “Oh, um… thank you for that as well, uh…”

She brightened as she seized the opportunity to learn more about the mysterious girl and that unusual attack of hers. “Do you want to have lunch together?”

Nabiki raised an eyebrow in curiosity, as Katie gave Akane a probing glance, and smiled herself.

“Sure, you don’t mind eating lunch outside, do you?

Akane shook her head. “No, that’s fine.”

Katie smiled a little broader and reached out to give Akane the V-sign. “Definitely cool. I’ll see you out under the trees then.”

Katie turned and began walking back to the school along with the rest of the dispersing students. As they watched her go, Nabiki looked over to Akane, who was happier than she’d been over the last few days, despite having just gone off.

“She’s really nice,” Akane said.

Nabiki shrugged her shoulders. “Eh, she’s all right, I guess? Let me know when a hot guy comes along.”

Akane huffed noisily at that. “A hot guy? Here? If I ever meet a hot guy our age in this town, that’ll be the day I’m engaged to one!”

|Qinghai Province, China|

“ACHOO!”

The sneeze of a hot Japanese young man with brown eyes and dark hair ending in a tightly-braided pigtail, and dressed in a karate gi, made his father and their tour guide, both middle aged, follically challenged men, jump.

Sniffling loudly, Saotome Ranma brought his fingers to his nose.

“Aw geez, I hope I’m not coming down with a cold.”

“Don’t you worry, son, These springs will cure all that ails you even as we train,” his father, Saotome Genma, declared.

Ranma sniffled again and shivered. The air here was pretty chilly, for a place that was supposed to be a spring. “I hope so, it doesn't feel like no hot spring though, Pop.”

Their tour guide, stocky chinese man wearing a green uniform and matching cap, looked back at them. In stilted but comprehensible Japanese he spoke urgently.

“It not hot-spring, honored guests, it cursed spring. Very dangerous, you no want to fall in.”

Genma dismissed the tour guide’s warning like he barely understood it. “Whatever, even if they’re not hot springs. There’s nothing that a good workout won’t cure!”

Ranma had been paying more attention. “Wait, what about not falling in?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Genma insisted. “Besides, that’s the whole point of this training, you won’t fall in.”

The two of them looked ahead, at the cursed pools of the Jusenkyo Springs spread out before them. Thousands of wide pools spread out for as far as they could see in the mist-shrouded clearing in the hilly forest.

“Trust your old man, son. Nothing will go wrong.”
 
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