Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction ❯ Two Tigers Tales ❯ First ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Two Tiger's Tale:Ranma and Akane

Story: Two Tiger's Tale:Ranma and Akane

Storylink: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/1730228/1/

Category: Ranma

Genre: Romance/Adventure

Author: Shall-Iin

Authorlink: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/477239/

Last updated: 06/20/2005

Words: 56741

Rating: T

Status: In Progress

Content: Chapter 1 to 13 of 13 chapters

Source: FanFiction.net

Summary: What would happen if someone fresh from getting out of one pool jumped into another? Would the curses mix, cancel each other or do something very strange?

*Chapter 1*: Chapter 1 and 2

Two Tiger's Tale by shall-in@mindless.com or mvmoreau@iname.com or mvmoreau@puc.net or all of the above *********************************************************

Please allow me to explain a few things. First off, few if any of the characters belong to me. They belong to Takahashi-kamisama and whoever else owns the rights to them.

I have been reading a lot of Ranma fic since I first saw a few episodes of the series that one of my friends had gotten while he was down south at college before returning home.(let's here it for run on sentences!!!!!)

It instantly become one of my favorite series. (note that I did not specify a genre (type of series for those who have never had a media course ;)) The animation, action and characters, as well as the premise (again withthe English media language) were so well done that I was hooked. I've been stuck on it ever since. Before this event, I had been trying to write a few other fanfics and ORF but since then I have been unable to add much to them. Though I had no intention of actually trying to write a Ranma fic (due mostly to the fact that I've seen very few of the episodes and none of the manga) I have been able to read enough fanfiction by a wide variety of authors concerning certain events, as well as a few transcribed manga (v.38- Saffron, and v.24?- Musk) that I was unable to stay away.

So here I am, writing a Ranma alternative universe/x-over fanfic. I'm not sure where this is going, or even who will show up. This story will be as much a surprise to me as it will be to you. The only thing I do know for sure is that it will feature the nekoken quite prominently as well as deal with an earlier meeting or three between Ranma and Akane.

I apologize in advance for the horrific spelling of any Japanese wordings. I will be taking them from others fanfics, as well as the grammar and other language mistakes. Please feel free to correct me.

Thoughts are in 'single quotes' Different languages are in *stars*(i.e. Chinese, English, and others)Signs (panda and otherwise) will be placed in alligator brackets

My deepest thanks go out to Lord Archive, Micheal Fetter, MadamHydra, and all the wonderful authors who have added such rich tapestry to the Ranmaverse. May they all live long and prosperous lives while continuing to regale us with their fascinating imaginations.

Oh yeah, in case you missed it. This IS an alt. reality fic so don't flame me if anyone is OOC. I tried to make everyone enough different that you can tell the differences, but not so different that you hate them or me. Some of the differences are just in how I see the characters from what I have seen of Ranma. (Take Kasumi. I don't believe she's the airhead she seems. There's a lot more to her than what she shows. I think that she's just so centered (not the bad kind, I mean the kind were everything is in balance within her) that it takes a great deal to affect her center and cause her to break through her mask. Anyone who doesn't think this should go back and watch the first show carefully. She is completely repulsed by the idea of marrying Ranma and eagerly conspires with Nabiki to throw Akane to the wolves, so to speak.)

********************************************************* Chapter 1

Ranma slowly crawled his way into consciousness. He struggled briefly with himself trying desperately to recall the last thing he could. All he remember was the fear, the terrible gnawing fear, that had filled him at the sound of the approaching hoard of evil monsters. He could remember nothing after feeling the raking claws of the first feline menace.

He tried to get up but found that he was being held tightly. He looked around and saw that he was being cradled in the arms of an old woman. She was making soothing sounds to him, as though she was afraid he might hurt himself, or someone else.

"Ah, good. You've woken." she said, carefully setting his small form down on a nearby cushion. "Have you come back to your senses?"

Confused, he answered. "H-hai, obasan."

"That's good to hear. You had us all worried. You and the young lady, there. Imagine, both of you acting like you were cats. Running around naked on all fours, licking yourselves and each other clean. It was really quite shocking."

Ranma looked where she was gazing and was surprised to see a young girl laying on a futon in the corner of the room. Looking closer, he could see that she had many of the same injuries he seemed to have suffered because of his father's training. She had shoulder length blueish-black hair that was clumped and matted with dirt.

He felt a tingle run along his spine as he studied the naked girl. It was almost as though he knew her on some deep level. Some part of him reached out and touched a part of her, causing her to start sharply as she woke.

Ranma blushed as he realized that he was staring at a naked girl. He had not been around many girls in his life. He could remember only one whose name he remembered. And that had been years and years ago.

The girl sat up, staring at him as he studied her. With a startled eep, she dove onto the futon and covered herself with a nearby blanket. Searching around, she found a pillow and threw it at the naked boy who had been staring at her.

"What are you doing, you pervert???" she demanded, not really understanding the word. Her sister had explained that some boys would want to look at her when she was naked and that boys who did were perverts. Since the boy had been staring at her, and was naked, she assumed that he must be one of the perverts that Kasumi had been talking about. She peeked over the edge of the blanket and stared at the naked boy. 'Naked boy? Oh my' she thought to herself, 'So that's what that looks like.'

Ranma's confusion deepened. He turned to the old woman. "What's a pervert?" he asked her.

The old woman nearly dropped her tea cup. Pasting on a smile, she answered the boy. "Don't worry dear. If you have to ask that question, I don't think you have to worry about being one."

Facing the girl again, he noticed for the first time that she was staring at something in his lap. 'No', he corrected himself. 'She's staring at my. . . .' He blushed for some reason and covered himself with the pillow she had thrown at him. "What are you looking at?" he demanded, his voice cracking on the words.

"No-nothing." she stammered, her cheeks flaming. "Who are you?" she asked. "Where am I?"

"You're in my home, child. You and he came running here yesterday, as naked as the day you were born. Both of you were on all fours and acting like cats." she knew as soon as she sad the word that it was a mistake.

The boy and girl reacted in the same way, leaping to their feet and looking around in wide eyed terror.

"Where?" the boy asked, his voice filled with terror. The girl was shaking like a leaf and twisting the blanket in her fingers like that would save her from some evil monster.

The woman was confused for a moment. Then a possible explanation for their recent behavior came to her and she nodded to herself. 'If it's true, it would certainly explain all the missing cats in the neighborhood.'

Cautiously she approached the girl, sensing that she would be more receptive then the boy. "What is your name, little one?" she asked.

"Akane." the girl whispered, still looking around just in case.

"Well, Akane who has been training you in the martial arts?"

"My father." she replied. "But he's been different since Okaasan died."

The woman looked to the boy. "And what of you, young man? Is your father also training you?"

The boy nodded. "Yes. I'm Ranma, heir to the Musabetsu Kakutou Saotome- Ryuu."

The woman nodded, her fears confirmed. She felt sorry for the two young people before her. Their idiot fathers, in a bid to make them great martial artists, had trained them in the NekoKen. This was bound to make their lives much more difficult and confusing then they needed to be.

She sighed and began her explanation of their new technique. Several hours later, the two were sleeping quietly near the small space heater she had traded an American G.I. for nearly twenty years before. She considered hiding the children from their fathers, should they come searching for their errant heirs, but decided against it. She was old and tired.

Too tired to look after two rambunctious children. She looked at them as they lay curled near each other and smiled. Certain . . . side effects of the NekoKen were already beginning to show through.

She hoped with all her might that they would be able to withstand the coming troubles ahead of them. 'Luckily, they are still young. A little later, and there would have been even more problems for them.' she thought wistfully of her own children, long grown and with children of their own. Perhaps, when their fathers came for them, she would find a way to visit her grandchildren. It had been many years since she had last seen them.

Two days later, as the children once again slept near the heater and she was looking out a small window, she spotted a fat man wearing a dirty gi, glasses, and a white bandana looking around frantically. She listened and heard him calling for the boy. He was a little bloody and seemed to have suffered many recent injuries. Sighing again, for she did not wish to separate the two children who had became the best of friends, she went to her door and called out to the man.

********************************************************* Chapter 2

Akane grumbled as she walked into the house. Kuno-sempai had once again caused her to be late this morning with that idiodic idea of his. Angrily, she slammed her books onto a nearby table and threw her bag onto the floor beside it. She stomped into the changing room and took off her school dress, slipping into a gi. If she was lucky, her father would be in a decent frame of mind and would be able to help her train. She sighed as she recalled the last time her father had taken her on a training trip.

It had been less then two years before. He claimed that he had heard of a legendary training ground in China from a good friend of his. Together, they had booked passage on a freighter heading to Hong Kong, and from there hired a boat to smuggle them ashore. Once on the mainland, they had spent nearly three weeks traveling inland.

They had to cross a mountain range to get to the training grounds. Once there, she had been surprised to see that the grounds consisted of different length bamboo poles sticking out of a hundred different pools. There had been a guide standing there, trying to explain to them about something, but Akane had only managed to make out a few words due to his thick accent. Her father had nodded to her and leapt to the top of one of the poles. Shrugging, Akane dropped her pack and leapt onto another.

The fight was short and messy. Though her father was easily more skilled than her, she had known that since her mother's death, he was overly emotionally, given to extremes in all emotions as well as instant and total changes in directions. He could literally be crying a river one second and be as happy as clam the next.

Stumbling on the pole, she faked an injury. Predictably, her father began crying about his baby girl and leapt to help her. With a smirk that would make Nabiki proud, she leapt aside at the last possible second and slashed at the pole, slicing nearly two feet off the top. Her father, unready for the sudden absence of his injured daughter and the new height of the pole, sailed over the pole and fell into the pool below with a large splash.

"Yatta!!" she cried out, happy to have won a match against her father. What happened next surprised her.

The pool's surface rippled and boiled. A few seconds passed. Finally the small waves ceased and all was quiet. Akane began to worry. Her father had been under for a long time. She was about to leap down next to the pool when a large figure leapt out of the pool and landed on a pole next to her. She stared in surprise at the figure before her.

So surprised was she that she didn't realize that the figure was trying to gesture to her to move until it was too late. A body slammed into her back, sending her tumbling towards a pool. The body, a fat bald man in a dirty gi, fell like a brick into the pool below the pole she was standing on. She watched in shock as he fell into the pool with a splash. She looked down and saw that she was going to land in a pool in a few seconds. Idly, she wondered what she would become.

Before she reached the surface of the water, she looked in the direction the man had come and saw a familiar figure standing on a pole, one leg still raised in a side-thrust kick. She felt a sense of kinship with that figure for as she hit the water, she saw a large panda come flying out of the pool and knock him towards another one. Before the water closed over her, a name popped into her head. A name she had not thought of in a long time. 'Ranma' she thought before she blacked out. ********************************************************* Akane shook her head as she continued her kata. Thinking about Ranma always brought up feelings she wasn't prepared to deal with. She had first met him nine years before when her father had tried to teach her the nekoken. She paused her movements to trace a set of small scars that adorned her forearm. Her back and arms were crisscrossed with similar scars. She wondered again where her father had gotten the idiodic idea from. Dismissing it, she resumed her kata, flowing across the floor of the family dojo in an intricate, if simple kata.

Her kata came to an end and she bowed to the shrine set up in one corner of the room. She heard a noise behind her and turned to see her father. He was wearing his customary brown gi tied with a black belt. Her own yellow gi and red belt were much repaired from damage sustained during training.

"Well done, Akane. You are indeed a worthy heir of the Musabetsu Kakutou Tendo-Ryu. Shall we spar before dinner? Kasumi is attempting an Italian dish called spaghetti and meatballs."

Akane frowned. "Is that the one with ramen noodles and tomato sauce?" she asked. She remembered the name from her cooking class.

Tendo Soun smiled. He was so proud of his daughters. "I believe so. Usually they use beef, but considering how expensive it is, Kasumi decided to try it first with tofu and chicken."

"Well if Kasumi is making it, it's going to be great." Akane replied, getting into a tight stance. Her father took his place in a much more relaxed manner and they bowed to the shrine and to each other. With a kia, Akane launched her attack and the training began. *********************************************************

*Chapter 2*: Chapter 3 and 4

Chapter 3

Ranma struggled against the panda as he was carried to what he considers his doom. His stupid old man had waited until the last moment before telling him that the friend they were visiting had three daughters and that he, Ranma, was to marry one and carry on the Anything Goes School. This was the first Ranma had heard of any engagement and he did not like it one bit. He already had someone he wanted to marry one day. If he could find her, that is.

And he certainly couldn't find her if he was stuck here in Nerima being forced into a marriage neither he, nor he was sure, the girl wanted. After all, who would want to marry someone with his unique . . . abilities.

But oyaji-baka would not take no for an answer. When Ranma had tried to flee, the panda had uprooted a street sign and bashed him in the head until he was unconscious. Ranma's training, and his powerful curse allowed him to sustain a great deal of physical damage. It had taken nearly two dozen blows and several blunt objects to knock him out.

When he had awoken, he had found himself in his original form, bound and gagged. He also saw that he was slung over the panda's shoulder like a sack of rice. He tried to loosen the bonds, but the panda was smarter than he looked, in either form. He had used that special 'unbreakable' golden rope that they had found in that Amazon village. Ranma sighed as he remembered what had happened only a few days after he was twice cursed. ********************************************************* Ranma was angry. Angry at himself and at his stupid father. 'How dare he?' he thought to himself. 'What gave him the right to drag me away from her like that? And while she was still sleeping!' A small smile, all that his new body would allow, crossed his face at the memory.

He had been extremely surprised to see that the girl fighting on the poles was one that he recognized. He had just managed to knock his father away when he noticed that the old man was heading on a direct course towards another person fighting on the poles. He could just make out that the second figure was a dark haired girl when his idiot father, in an attempt to save himself, knocked the girl off the pole she was standing on towards one of the pools.

He had felt a shock of fear and recognition pass through him as he watched the girl falling towards one of the pools. He ignored the splash created by his father as he dove after her, desperate to save her. It had been almost a year since the last time he had seen her. He felt her terror and horror as she slipped beneath the surface. He knew from previous encounters that she could not swim and that she was terrified of the water.

He felt her black out as the water closed over her head. Angling his body to increase his speed, he hoped he would be able to save her. He knew that it was already to late to protect her from the curse. He also knew that by diving in after her, he was adding her fate to his own. But, as the old woman had explained 7 years before, their fates were already joined. As he had known when they met up again occasionally over that period of time until that fateful night a year before. A night neither would forget. Or remember.

The shock of the freezing cold water ended his reminiscence. He looked around, trying to spot her. He could dimly make out a figure a few feet away. Kicking his feet, he swam towards her. Reaching her, he tried to wrapped his arms around her but couldn't. All he could do was grip her with his teeth. He did what he could and kicked his way to the surface. As he did so, he noticed that something felt different. Both with himself and with her. He decided to ignore it for the moment as he struggled with her surprising weight.

Breaking the surface of the water, he clawed his way to the shore. Dragging her onto dry land, he noticed what was different. And began to scream in terror. Only his scream came out as a roar. ********************************************************* Shuddering, Ranma decided that perhaps it was best not to go much further. He knew that the rope rightfully belonged to the Amazons and that it was but one of several reasons that they had chased him and his father half-way around the world for the last two years. Until finally, only two months before, in a small town in Australia, they had lost them by tricking them into heading into the Outback.

Ranma hoped that they were still searching for them in the land Down Under. Briefly, it crossed his mind to wonder where his father could get the money to afford plane fare around the world. Grunting, he decided that his father must have stolen the money and hidden it during his own training trips with his master. Whoever the hell that was.

He looked around with his eyes, all that he could move thanks to the rope. As he did so, he thought of another effect of the rope. Truth. Whoever was held by it was compelled to speak nothing but the truth. He had tried several times to use it on his father, but the old man had some kind of protection against it. Something that cancelled its magic with its own.

He blinked as his transformed father held a sign before his eyes.

Relax, boy. Everything will work out. Trust in your father.

'Yeah right. As if I'll ever trust you again, oyaji.' he thought. With a smothered sigh, he resigned himself to his fate. 'If I'm lucky, the girls will hate me. Then I can leave and go find Akane. No more listening to oyaji. He wants me to be a man among men, then I'll have to start by being a man.' ********************************************************* Tendo Soun looked proudly at his three daughters as they sat at the table before him. He had called this meeting to announce the imminent arrival of his friend Genma and Genma's son Ranma. The two, knowing their children very well, had choreographed and timed their arrival to the second. Soun had delayed Akane enough that by the time she thought to get angry at him and to attack him for his actions, Genma, likely with Ranma slung over his shoulder and tied up, would arrive at the door. Due to the rain, Genma would be in his cursed form which, thanks to his and Akane's own visit to Jhusenkyo, would only startle them for a few moments. Akane and he had also fallen into the pools and its magic worked on them as well as on any other hapless victim.

In his case, a side effect of the curse was that he was almost totally in control of his emotions. Though he still mourned his deceased wife greatly, he knew that he could live the remainder of his life out before he joined her in the next. Hiding a grin, he explained what was about to happen, carefully avoiding mentioning that Akane and Ranma were very familiar with each other. Proof of their familiarity rested upstairs in Akane's room.

Akane had been feeling unusual for a few hours now. She hadn't understood it while she was at school because of Kuno and his idiotic proclamation. Now, she was beginning to think that she recognized the feeling. 'It can't be.' she thought to herself. 'He hasn't been around for nearly two years. How could he be nearby now, of all times?' Her scowl deepened. 'It has to be him. I can feel him. He's nearby. And getting closer. Very close.' She suppressed a growl. Ever since the nekoken, she had had trouble with her emotions and her damn curse just made it worse. 'I miss him so much, it's all I can do to keep from running off and looking for him. What's otousan waiting for?'

Kasumi smiled gently as she poured tea for her family. Though her outwards appearance was calm, her insides were in turmoil. She knew what her father was doing and had done. She had even helped him in some ways. She knew that Akane would eventually calm down once she realized what their father had done to her. She only hoped that Akane would be able to forgive them all. Considering what she was going to gain, Kasumi was very hopeful.

Nabiki lazily checked herself in a small mirror. She also knew what her father had in store for her sister. She had been in charge of preparing everything for today. She had arranged for the paperwork and paid for the other preparations. She had less faith in her sister's control than Kasumi, but she was deathly curious to meet this Ranma. She wanted to meet this paragon of manhood that her younger sister had been pining away for since they met. She knew that part of this was likely due to the nekoken, for unlike her father, she had read the entire manuscript and knew of most of the side-effects.

Tendo began. "Today is a great day, daughters. I have received a letter from my oldest friend. Saotome Genma and I trained together under the same master. Twenty years ago, before any of you were born, we promised that should we ever have children, we would marry them in order to continue the school."

Akane reacted first. "What the hell are you talking about? I can't marry some stranger! I'm marrying Ranma. If I can ever find him again after his idiot father ran off with him." She ground her teeth in frustration. "And you let them go! How could you? How could you let them go and claim that you love me? Especially after what happened?"

Soun began to worry. This was not going according to plan. Yes he had expected her to be angry, but still. This was anger mixed with sorrow. He wasn't sure how to deal with a sad Akane. Anger he knew how to deal with. He would simply wail like a baby and Akane would become so disgusted with him, that she would storm off in a fit.

He opened his mouth to try to explain, but there was a knock at the door. He hid a grin, knowing full well that it would be Genma. Kasumi looked questionably at him and he nodded. She rose gracefully to her feet and glided out to the room to answer the door.

A startled cry sounded from the direction of the doorway and Kasumi came backpedaling into the dining room. She was closely followed by an eight foot tall panda carrying a struggling form. Upon further inspection, it became obvious that the form was bound by a glowing golden rope.

The panda sweatdropped at the sight before him. He pulled out his magic sign. Hello. My name is Saotome Genma. Is something wrong?

"Ah, it's good to see you my friend. I see that you got caught in the rain. How was the trip?" Soun stated easily. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Akane go white as she stared at the panda. Or more precisely, at who the panda was carrying. 'It is true,' he thought to himself. 'She can feel when he is nearby.' "Is that your son you are carrying? I see he didn't take the news of his upcoming wedding too well."

Indeed, Tendo. He was quite upset. The panda flipped the sign, and strangely enough, an almost apologetic expression appeared on its face. I had to damage quite a lot of city property in order to be able to bring him here. My son has a very hard head.

Kasumi decided that it was time to say something. "Oh my. Mr. Saotome, did you and Ranma visit Jhusenkyo as well? Would you like some hot water?"

Hai, arigato. Indeed we did. We were there a couple of years ago. The sign flipped again. We've been travelling the world searching for a cure ever since. He dropped his burden onto the ground beside him before sitting at the table. Kasumi poured some water over them both, triggering the transformation.

Ranma felt strange. He could almost swear that his Akane was nearby. But that was impossible, wasn't it? Come to think of it, Mr. Tendo's voice sounded vaguely familiar. And hadn't Akane once mentioned something about Nerima? If it was true, his pop was in for the beating of several lifetimes. It would mean that he had known all along that Akane was Tendo's daughter and that the two of them had likely set them up. At least, after the first meeting anyway. Oyaji had probably given Tendo the idea to train Akane in the Nekoken in the first place, leading to their first meeting.

Wriggling around, he managed to turn himself over. Using all his strength, he managed to get up into a sitting position. And froze. It was her. Akane. Sitting at a table with two other young woman who could only be the sisters she had told him about. The oldest of the two, with long brown hair and a serene expression had to be Kasumi. He watched as she poured a kettle of hot water on his father, transforming him back into his human form. The other, with shoulder length brown hair and a calculating expression had to be Nabiki. Akane had told him about how she was always doing all kinds of things to make money.

And sitting at the end of the table, her long hair tied in a loose version of his own pigtail, sat Akane. His best friend and the only person he cared about in the whole world. Staring at him, her face as white as a ghost, almost as if she couldn't believe her own senses.

Ranma took in a deep breath, catching a whiff of the assorted smells in the room. He could see her do the same. He smelt the strong odors of the tea, and the pungent odor of the garlic Kasumi had added to her spaghetti. He caught Kasumi's scent and was amazed to find no trace of any negative emotions within her. Nabiki's smell was much different. He could smell the greed and lust for wealth that came off her in waves. Yet beneath that, he sensed a deep and driving concern for her families welfare. This told him a great deal about her nature.

Yes, without a doubt, she was greedy, manipulative and hard, but before all else, she took care of her family. The money she made with her betting pools, the pictures, the information, all of it, went into an account in the dojo's name. Only she and Kasumi had access to this account. It was used to pay the bills and to put food on the table. She used only a small portion of the money she made to spend on herself. The rest was used for the good of the entire family.

His senses nearly overloaded and his heart nearly burst as he caught Akane's scent. It had been two years since he had last been near enough to sense her in this way, but he knew her scent better than his own name. Everything about her was burned into the deepest recesses of his soul. Without a doubt, this was the Akane he had met as a child after his first decent into the nekoken. This was the Akane he had woken up to four years before, only to learn that he must leave her laying there on the cold ground. This was the young woman he had saved from the pool two years before, after his idiot father knocked her off of her pole towards the water. This was the woman who shared his curses, both of nekoken and Jhusenkyo. This was the love of his life and the only woman who could ever understand a tenth of what he was. She was the other half of his soul. And she was crying.

Whether in joy or sorrow, he didn't know. All he knew was that suddenly, tears he didn't know he had inside of him were streaming down his face, matching her own. And that because of his stupid father, he could do nothing to comfort her. ********************************************************* Akane sat frozen. She stared at the figure before her. She knew it was him. She had known the minute the panda walked into the room. Ranma. Her best friend. The only person in the entire world who understood her. Who could understand her. She had known from the moment she opened her eyes and saw him looking at her that he would play a big role in the rest of her life. She had not known then how big.

It had been very hard for her to let him go that first time. She knew now why that was. Even at her young age, she had been in love with him. They had so much in common. They were both martial artists. Their fathers were both idiots who had trained them in the nekoken. And neither of them had a mother. How could she not love him? Despite her first thoughts, she soon learned that he was not a pervert (whatever that was) and that he was much better than her. It hurt her to admit it then, and it still did. But she could not deny that he was much more skilled than her.

When his father came for him two days later, she had cried. The two of them had tried to talk his father into letting him stay, or letting her go with them, but he had refused. Tearfully, she had bid him farewell, kissing him on the cheek. He had been amazed at the action. It seemed that the only affection he got from was father was an occasional "Not bad" after he mastered a difficult technique. It had been painful for her to hear that. How could any parent, even one stupid enough to throw a child into a pit of starving cats, not realize how much a child needed to hear the occasional word of encouragement?

She had watched them walk off, tears rolling down her face. Not five minutes after they left, she saw her own father walking towards the small building the old woman who had been their hostess lived. She had run to him, sobbing and thrown her arms around his neck. He had asked her if she was okay and she had explained about her new friend. How his father had also tried to train him in the nekoken. And how much she had come to like him, once they both had some clothes on.

She had met him a few more times over the next few years, usually in strange places around the world that her father claimed to have heard of from a good friend of his. Most of the time, she would not know he was nearby until she woke up next to him after slipping into the catfist. Usually, they would be in a normal state of dress, but when she was eleven, she awoke to find them both naked. She had been sore in her private place, and something Kasumi had told her about not too long before had entered her mind. She woke him and asked him what he remembered.

He explained that he could remember no more than she could. The only thing he knew about the episode was that he felt strangely pleased with himself. Hearing this, she examined her own feelings and found a deep well of satisfaction and . . .satiation. The realization that they had indeed done that, had caused her to blush. He had asked her why she was blushing and she shook her head, unable to answer. He tried to press her for a response, because he could feel her distress, but she had silenced him with a kiss. He had been startled at first, but soon he was responding. Eventually, the feelings inside of them needed a release and this time, they knew what they were doing.

When she awoke again, he was gone once more. She cried for a little while before grabbing the remains of her clothing and donning them. As she did, she found a slip of paper in the pocket. Taking it out and reading it, she found that it was a note from Ranma. It explained that his idiot father had somehow managed to find him and had tried dragging him away. He knocked his father away, giving himself time enough to write a note. He told her that he did not want to leave her and that he loved her. He told her that he would find her again, and that one day they would be together forever.

She met him more times over the next three years. They would often awaken to find themselves curled around each other after episodes of the catfist. The last time was at Jhusenkyo. Where they were cursed for the second time. This time, the curse was physical, not mental like the nekoken. This time, the consequences would be longer lasting and more apparent.

With a shake of her head, she started to move towards him, but found that Kasumi was already there, untying him. She watched silently as he stretched out his cramped muscles. The last two years had been good for him. He had always been fit, but now, there was a sleekness to him that had not been that before. Gone were almost all traces of the boy he had been. Sitting there, slowly flexing each muscle group, it was obvious that he was all man. Even when he was a girl.

Finally, he finished loosening up and turned his head up to face her. Tears were wearing a track down his face. Bowing low, he spoke "Akane. Suki da, anata. It has been much too long. I only hope that one day you can forgive me for allowing oyaji-no-baka to take me away from you. Gomen nasai, my friend."

Akane was unsure how to react. On one hand, she was filled with anger. Both towards Ranma and towards their fathers. On the other, she was extremely happy that he was here. Making a decision, she nodded. With no warning, she launched herself towards him.

She hid a grin as he flinched and braced himself for an attack. She wasn't sure what she was going to do until she did it. She was almost as surprised as he was to find her arms going around his neck in a hug as her lips descended towards his. The kiss was almost as good as she remembered. Once Ranma got over his fear and returned it, it got even better. ********************************************************* Ranma, though surprised, responded eagerly to Akane's kiss. It was filled with the pent up emotions both of them had kept hidden for the last two years. Eventually, Akane pulled away. Ranma stared into her beautiful, expressive eyes, hoping that she had forgiven him for his weakness. So enthralled was he by the emotion in her gaze that he never saw her hand coming.

SMACK!!!! The slap was loud enough to startle Kasumi into dropping her teacup. Luckily, it was empty and somehow managed to fall into her lap where she was able to grab it and keep it from breaking.

Ranma meanwhile saw nothing but stars. Akane's slap was so strong, it knocked him head first into a nearby shoji door.

Akane struggled with her anger, a different type of tear coming from her abused ducts. She watched as Ranma recovered and pulled his head out of the door, returning to his seated position beside her. He kept his head down and Akane could easily make out the red imprint of her hand on the side of his face as it swelled visibly.

That he deserved the panda signed. Everyone ignored him except Akane. Seeing the cause of so much of her suffering blaming his son, her anger surged to the forefront.

"YOU!" she screamed, leaping to her feet. "HOW DARE YOU! WHAT KIND OF A FATHER WOULD DO THAT TO HIS SON!? YOU BASTARD, YOU TOOK HIM AWAY FROM ME!!! YOU LEFT ME ALONE AND SCARED! AND YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO BLAME HIM!!! PANDA NOOOO BAKAAAAAA!" Akane's battle aura flared into existence as did a large wooden mallet she used to repeatedly pound the panda. Eventually she stopped and the mallet disappeared, leaving a much bruised and slimmer panda pounded several inches into the ground.

Grabbing Ranma by his pigtail, Akane turned to her sister. "Oneechan, can you keep otousan and panda oyaji here. Ranma and I have a lot to talk about."

Kasumi smiled. "Hai, imoutosan."

Pulling on the pigtail, Akane dragged Ranma to his feet and towards the stairs.

Kasumi looked towards the injured panda, who had pulled another sign from nowhere.

Itetetetete! ********************************************************* Chapter 4

Ranma allowed Akane to drag him up the stairs and into her room. Before the door closed behind them, he saw a duck shaped sign with Akane's name written in the English manner. There was also a second, smaller sign underneath, but the door closed too fast for him to see what it said.

Akane tossed him onto her bed and dragged a chair from her desk over so that she could sit facing him. Since she didn't say anything right away, Ranma decided to look around a bit before he opened his mouth and said something stupid. He had forgotten how hard she could hit when she was angry.

The room seemed to fit an almost American design. There were no tatami on the floor. Instead there was a thick carpet. She had a western style bed with a thick mattress, which he was sitting on. There was a desk over in one corner of the room. The chair was currently being sat on by Akane as she stared at him, a strange almost eager look on her face. Not to far from the bed, away from the window was a crib. In the crib, a baby lay sleeping peacefully. Next to the crib was a small plastic container wich was overflowing with baby toys.

'Wait a minute.' Ranma thought to himself, halting his scan of the room. He turned his head and checked what he saw. 'Yup. That's a crib alright. Baby and all. I wonder where Akane got a baby?'

"So what do you think?" Akane asked casually.

Ranma stared at the baby. He felt a part of himself dying as he looked at it. There was only one explanation. Akane had found someone else.

Standing swiftly, he bowed deeply to her. "I'm sorry Akane. I didn't know. I guess. . . I guess I'll be going now." He started to walk towards the down, struggling to hold down his tears. 'Goodbye'. he thought silently. 'I'll never bother you again.'

Akane stared at him in shock. He was doing it again. He was leaving her. 'Not this time. Not now and not ever again.' she vowed to herself. Leaping to her feet, she grabbed his pigtail and tossed him onto her bed. He looked up at her with a surprised and hurt expression on his face.

"Just where the hell do you think you are going, you baka? You think I'm going to just let you leave again? What are you scared of?"

Ranma tensed. "Me? Scared? I ain't scared of nothin'"

"Oh? So you take one look at my daughter and you start to leave me and you say you aren't scared? Who are you trying to convince, Ranma. Me or yourself?"

Ranma was starting to get confused. Akane had a baby. For her to have a baby, she must have another boyfriend or something. But Akane still wanted him to stay. Maybe the baby's father pulled an oyaji and ran away? But why?

"Akane, I'm confused." he stated. "All I know is that when pop took me away from you that last time, I promised myself that if I ever found you, I would never leave you again unless you wanted me to go. Now here it is, two years later, and I found you. But you're not alone. You have a baby. Now I know I'm not the smartest person and that I've missed a lot of school, but even I know that it takes two people to make a baby. It's obvious to me that you've found someone else. Baby's are born after nine months. That baby looks to be about less than a year old. That means that the father is someone from here."

Akane stared at him. A rush of emotions flooded her, chief among them relief. 'He didn't want to leave me because of the baby. Well, he did. But not for the reason I thought.'

With a tender smile, she pulled him into another deep kiss. Just as he started to respond, she pushed him away. "Ranma no baka." she whispered to him.


"It's not a full two years since we last saw each other, anata. It's been exactly 19 months 5 days. Makoran was born 10 months ago."

Ranma frowned, starting to get a headache. "So?"

Akane giggled. "She is _your_ - no. She is _our_ daughter, anata. I am her mother and you -" she poked him in the chest. "You are her father."

Ranma stared at her silently for a moment. Then he looked over at the sleeping baby. After a few moments he returned his gaze to her. He repeated this several more times before shaking his head. He got to his feet and opened his mouth to say something and froze.

Five minutes later, seeing the he hadn't moved and seemed to be barely breathing, Akane got up from her chair and moved towards him. She reached out with a finger, and pushed him gently on the forehead. He toppled over like a house of cards on a windy day.

Ranma was surprised to come out of his daze to find himself staring up at the ceiling. "Atamai ga itai desu. Did I hear what I thought I heard, or was I hearing things?" he asked.

Akane moved over to the crib and looked down. She studied her daughters face. It was, in her opinion, a very beautiful little face. Heart shaped, with wide expressive eyes. Strangely, she had green-gold eyes and her hair had an almost reddish tint. Akane was certain that it must have been from Ranma's family. Especially considering the coloring of Ranma's cursed forms. She looked up from her contemplation of Makoran and saw that Ranma had moved to stand beside her.

"She's beautiful, Akane." he whispered, awe filling his voice. "She looks just like you."

Akane smiled tenderly and placed an arm around Ranma's waist, leaning her head on his shoulder. "Actually she takes after both of us." she stated. She reach out a hand and moved the blanket a little. She finished with the motion by brushing a tiny lock of hair from her ear.

Ranma had thought he could not be any more surprised than by his daughters existence. Akane had proved him wrong.

"Is that what I think it is?" he asked, reaching out a trembling hand to touch that which had so surprised him.

"Yes Ranma. It is a tail. And her ears are pointed."

"But . . .but.. . how?"

Akane smiled. "It seems that I became pregnant while we were in our cursed forms while under the nekoken. I know how that must seem, but Makoran proves it."

"But how could that happen? Both of our cursed forms are . . . are . .. "

Akane arched an eyebrow in a manner that would make Nabiki proud. "Are what Ranma? Are both female?"

Ranma nodded. "Well yeah. Don't it take a guy and a girl to make a baby?"

"Yes Ranma, it does. But you," Akane squeezed Ranma's waist affectionately. "are a guy, as you so often pointed out. Even in your cursed body, you are all man."

"Hell, I know that. It's just that when the guide told us about the springs we fell in, I never thought that I'd even be able to . . .you know. Then when we both transformed and that strange, extremely powerful . . . feeling hit us, I wasn't really able to think until I woke up and found pop draggin' me away from you. I could just make you out as you slept there, oblivious to oyaji's betrayal."

Akane moved around so that she was facing him, her other arm joining her first around his waist. "I remember." she said, looking into his eyes.

Ranma stared into her beautiful brown eyes, familiar, but long absent feelings stirring in him. He wondered however, if either of them were truly ready to do this again. Soon though, another person made the decision for them.


Akane let go of Ranma's waist and reached into the crib, lifting the precious burden. "Shh. Shhh, Makoran." Quickly and surely, she checked to see if something was wrong and found that Makoran was fine. She was just upset to have awoken. Cradling the baby in her arm, she looked at Ranma. who was looking at her worriedly. "It's fine Ranma. She's just being cranky about waking up." Makoran, sensing that her mother's attention was divided decided to see what was distracting her. She turned her little head and looked in Ranma's general direction.

Ranma was amazed at the feelings that were now stirring inside of him. They were so different from what he had been feeling just a few seconds before that he had to double check to make sure that they were still his own. 'Yup.' he thought. 'I've only known her for less than a few minutes and I already love her. She is my child and I will do anything to keep her safe and to make sure that she knows that I love her.' He looked questionably at his soon to be wife. He had lost all reservations about the marriage when he had seen her. He had known that marrying her was something he was eager to do and seeing Makoran only added to his intentions in that direction.

Akane smiled gently. She slowly held out the baby towards Ranma. "Mako- chan, meet your daddy. He's home now and we're going to be a real family."

As Ranma took his daughter into his arms for the first time, he was mildly surprised at how light and fragile she was. He felt his heart swell with love as she looked up at him with her green-gold eyes and cooed in happiness. Somehow, he knew that she recognized him for who he was, despite have never seen him before. He strongly suspected that it was a side effect of the nekoken mixed with the double Jhusenkyo curse that had allowed her to be born. And looking at her catlike eyes, pointed ears that were higher on her head, watching her snub nose twitching as she took in his scent, and feeling her tail rubbing against his arm, purring as she tried to grasp his fingers, he knew that he would not have it any other way. He glanced up at Akane, his lover and . . . his mate, tears streaming from his eyes. He was finally home. *********************************************************

*Chapter 3*: Chapter 5 and 6

Chapter 5

Ranma awoke with a smile on his face and a light heart. He looked around the guest room and spotted his father, still asleep in his panda form. He paused for a moment and realized that his father had only spend a very few minutes in his original form the previous day. Again he thought it strange that his father seemed to prefer his cursed form than his own. Maybe it was because he was stronger as a panda. Since Ranma's trip into the springs, he had been easily able to defeat his father at any time he chose. His father had soon after ceased trying to attack him first thing in the morning since all that it accomplished was getting himself beat up worse each time he did so. He had quickly learned that his son would not refuse to fight him, so long as he let him know of his intentions before hand.

Shaking his head, Ranma flipped up to his feet. He quietly walked over to the door and slid it open. He moved silently through the hall, paused briefly in front of Akane's room. He resisted the impulse to open the door and check in on his mate and their daughter. It's not like he needed his eyes to know that they were fine.

Turning away from the temptation, he glided away from the door with feline grace, something that most of those in the house would know not to mention. He was aware of his surroundings in a way he had rarely been before. He knew that since Jhusenkyo, he had been gaining more control of the nekoken, as well as retaining some of the abilities it provided. But the fear had not lessened much. Only it was odd, he thought, that he was not terrified of himself, of Akane or of their daughter.

Deciding to ignore it, he reached the stairs and placed his hands on the first step. Placing each hand carefully, he walked down the stairs. Reaching the bottom, he did a set of handstand push ups, his feet and back as straight as an iron rod. After finishing the tenth, he pushed up more forcefully, launching himself into the air.

Turning in midair, he reach up and touched the ceiling with both hands. Another two rotations in a pike position, he landed in a crouch. From there, he leapt away from the stairwell. He turned and twisted in the air, modifying a kata for the smaller space afforded by the walls and ceiling. He was not used to practicing indoors, and doing this in the house was probably not a good idea, but he was in too good a mood to care at the moment. Landing, he straightened and turned to make his way to the kitchen, eager for a small snack to settle his stomach before everyone else awoke.

A gentle clapping from behind him made him spin around into a defensive stance, his hands forming a grip he liked to call Tiger's Claw. Two knuckles of each finger bent, the tip of his index finger touching the nail of his thumb as it curled into his palm. His palms faced away from him, one hand up near his head, the other chest high. His feet shifted, left one forward, right one back. His back and knees bent, bringing his left hand closer to the ground in a stance he called Rearing Tiger.

Once he had become cursed, he had started to change his style and renaming his moves to match his new form. Since he had leapt into the 'Spring of Drowned Tiger' to save Akane and the two of them, in a state of shock at their new forms, slipped on the muddy bank and fallen into the closest spring, the 'Spring of drowned Young Girl', he had decided to stick with the tiger theme instead of adopting some other feline totem.

He rarely used a fist anymore, instead using his clawed grip to hit opponents with palm strikes and edged handed blows. He had also picked up a few shiatsu and tsubo techniques. His clawed hand made a great set up to their use. All he needed to do was to extend the needed fingers as they neared the points on the body. He was also strong enough to drive his extended fingers through brick and cement blocks. Of course, he always tailored his attacks to whatever style would best counter what his opponent at the time was using. It was the beauty of the Musabetsu Kakutou. Musabetsu Kakutou was the combination of all other styles into one form, taking the best of each and teaching practitioners how the negate each style with a corresponding style that would best counter that style.

Although his new skills often made others compare him to a panther, he knew, through his own observations and through reading up on it, that in most circles, the tiger was the symbol of feline strength, the lion was the symbol of majesty and inner strength, and the panther or jaguar (really the same thing except for the color- panthers are generally black, almost purple while jaguars have square spotted coats) was the symbol of stealth. Others, like the cheetah, were known for their own special reasons.

"Oh my." Kasumi stated as she took note of the sudden hostility pouring off of Ranma like a cheap cologne. "I'm sorry if I startled you Ranma-kun. That was a wonderful display."

Ranma visibly relaxed, releasing the pent up aggression with a sigh. "It's okay, Kasumi-san. I over reacted. I'm just not used to being around too many people who aren't attacking me or pop."

Kasumi smiled. "You've certainly lived an interesting life, Ranma-kun." She moved towards the kitchen, almost gliding on the air as she moved.

Ranma grinned. "You don't know the half of it." he stated. 'Kasumi isn't any where near as empty headed as her family seems to think. She's good. She's hiding her abilities very well, but she can't hide them from me. I've been hunted too long to be fooled by outwards appearances. She's at least as good as Akane and maybe almost as good as oyaji. And that's saying a lot. She must not get much practice in. Tendo's too emotional. If he saw Kasumi practicing, or sparing, he'd have a heart attack.'

Kasumi brought a hand to her cheek. "Oh, where are my manners. Ranma-kun, would you like something to eat while I prepare breakfast for the family? Akane should be up soon, Makoran usually wakes up with the sunrise."

"Hai. Arigato, Kasumi-san." Ranma followed her into the kitchen. "Since we're gonna be family soon, you don't hafta be so formal with me, Kasumi- san. Just call me Ranma. I'm not really comfortable with the kun's and san's and chan's. I haven't been in Japan in a long time."

"Hai, Ranma. If you will call me Kasumi, I will try to remember to call you Ranma." Kasumi passed him a small plate and a bowl, which he placed on the counter. She carefully placed four slices of bread in the toaster and took out a box of Western style cereal. The box had a tiger on it, and it was one of the few sugary treats that Kasumi allowed herself. Reaching into the cupboard, she pulled out a jar of peanut butter, which she then handed to Ranma. The toaster popped and Kasumi placed the toast on Ranma's plate. She poured herself a bowl of the cereal, ignoring the slight twitch Ranma gave at the sight of the box "And we've been family for almost two years now." she stated.

"So tell me, Ranma. What was it like travelling around the world?" she asked, pulling up a stool and taking a spoonful of cereal. "I've never had the chance to go further than Osaka, unlike you and Akane. Nabiki even once managed to win a trip to America in a stock exchange contest."

Ranma heard the slight emphasize on America and thought for a moment. "Well, since you brought it up, let me tell you about this place I found in America . . . ." ********************************************************* Akane woke up and immediately glanced towards the crib. She was pleasantly surprised to see that Makoran had decided to sleep a little later than usual and was comfortably curled up to a stuffed tiger that Akane had won at a booth at Disneyland some years before. It had been the last time she remembered her mother looking healthy. Soon after that trip, her mother had fallen ill and was put in the hospital. Akane smiled tenderly as she watched her daughter's tail twitching as she slept. Idly, she questioned if her daughter was dreaming of a hunt or of something else. As she watched her, Akane wondered what her mother would think of her grandchild. Somehow, she knew that her mother would love Makoran no matter what she looked like.

Stretching out her senses in a way she had tried to avoid since returning from China, she quickly searched the house, trying to find her mate. She found his scent in the guest room and followed it on its journey through the house to the kitchen, where it was joined by a scent she recognized as belonging to her sister. Her father was still asleep in his room, as was Nabiki. The stupid panda was also asleep.

She arched her back and purred as she felt her muscles stretching. She yawned, her lips pulling back over her teeth, displaying incisors that would make an ocelot proud. She had noticed some time ago that there had been some kind of leakage from her curses and that her normal body had changed slightly. She was stronger and faster than she had ever been before and her senses, especially her sense of smell and balance, were phenomenal. She could tell where anyone was in the house and in the yard from her room, just by sniffing the air. Her hearing was also much better. Before, she could hear nothing that happened outside her room. Now, she could almost make out the muffled voices of Ranma and Kasumi as Kasumi bustled around the kitchen preparing breakfast.

She slipped out of the bed, still a little disappointed that Ranma had not spent the night with her. She looked in on Makoran and saw that she was still asleep. With some sense she didn't really understand but wich had sprouted a few weeks after her daughter was born, she knew that she had some time before she awoke. Deciding that she didn't want to greet Ranma with morning breath and smelling like yesterdays socks, she grabbed her yukata and bathing supplies and made her way to the bath room. Today was a half-day, and school was only starting at noon for her class. The older class, Nabiki's and Kuno's, was starting earlier, and Nabiki would be rushing through in a few moments. She, on the other hand, could afford to take her time and relax in the furo. Now if only she could talk Ranma into joining her.

She smiled as she removed her pajamas and tossed them into the hamper in the changing room. She turned the small sign that announced that the bath room was in use and stepped inside. She removed the supplies from her bucket and filled it with warm water. She lathered her soap and started to scrub herself clean.

She dumped the bucket of water over her head and was happy that it was still warm enough not to trigger her curse. She had never really been comfortable about her cursed form. The only time she approached being comfortable was when Ranma was around. And now, he was going to be around for a very long time.

'That feels good.' she thought as she slid beneath the surface of the water in the furo. As she relaxed in the heated water, she thought over the events of the previous night. Disappointment warred with happiness inside her. While she was ecstatic that Ranma was here and that they would soon be married, she was disappointed that he had not spent the night with her. She knew that it was not that he didn't find her attractive, because she could feel how he felt about her. It was one of the more interesting side-effects of the nekoken. Well, that and the physical evidence that had been making itself known to her.

'I hope Ranma feels ready by next Sunday. If he thinks he can put me off on our wedding night, he's going to be in for a lot of pain.' Akane sighed. 'It's been a long time. I want him. Ever since I woke up next to him that first time, I've never slept well unless he was with me.' She felt her cheeks redden and knew that the reaction had nothing to do with the temperature of the water. 'Damn. I can't believe how much I still want him. I should be furious with him for leaving me alone and pregnant, but it was his idiot father who dragged him away.'

The opening of the changing room door interrupted her thinking. She opened her eyes and turned to face the door, half getting out of the tub. Somehow, she was not surprised to see a naked Ranma standing just inside the room. 'Wow' she thought. 'He's grown.' She felt her blush deepen as her body reacted to his presence.

Ranma gulped as he saw Akane half get out of the tub. Time, and childbirth, had been very kind to her. Her baby fat, what little she had had, was gone, replaced with the more mature curves of the woman she had become. He felt himself reacting to her presence and hastily lowered his towel to cover himself.

"I'm sorry Akane. I didn't know you were in here." He started to back out of the room.

Akane started to become frantic. "It's okay, Ranma. It's kind of silly of you to apologize for seeing me naked after everything we've been through together." Akane bit her lower lip and gathered her courage. "In fact, if you want to, you can join me." Seeing his uncertainty, she spoke again. "Please, Ranma? I promise I won't push you to do anything you think you aren't ready for." 'At least not unless you're still putting me off after our wedding. I will not wait longer than that.'

Ranma grinned, causing Akane to seriously doubt her own words. "It's not you that I'm worried about." Still, he didn't leave. He took a few steps further into the room, hooking a stool with his foot. He positioned it near the drain and placed his bucket next to it. With one eye on Akane, he took his towel and placed it on the rack next to hers.

He sat on the stool and began his absolutions. Once he was lathered, he looked at the taps. They were not marked, and he was not accustomed to indoor plumbing. "Ah, Akane? How do I get warm water to rinse off?" As he spoke, he felt a movement behind him and turned to see a gloriously naked Akane standing only inches away holding a full bucket which she dumped over his head. As he wiped the water from his eyes, he surreptitiously checked his nose to see if it was bleeding.

Akane giggled. She went to her knees in front of Ranma, trying her best to ignore his naked body. She reached out and cupped his face with her right hand. "Suki da, Ranma." she leaned forward and kissed him, being careful not to let her body press against his in an attempt to control her hormones. Giving him a gentle poke in the chest she grinned. "Now hurry up and get in the furo. We have school today and I want my fiancé to be at his best. Besides, Nabiki's going to come running in here anytime now. She has to be at school early today."

'Fiancé? Huh, what about that? I guess we are engaged, sorta.' He blinked as Akane stood up, her body only inches from his face. He watched as she turned and walked away, her hips moving gently from side to side, drawing attention to her behind. "Ah, right. Sure. School. Whatever you say, anata." he stammered as she bent over and packed up her supplies. He was saddened to see her put on her yukata. Her previous lack thereof had provided such a lovely view of things he only half remembered. 'Man, I don't want to rush things, but I don't think I can put her off much longer. She's so . . . sexy.' ********************************************************* Chapter 6

Akane rushed through her homework, grumbling as she did so. With Ranma's arrival, she had completely forgotten that she had a report due for English today. If Kasumi hadn't reminded her, her assignment would have been late and her grade would suffer.

She looked up from her book as she closed it. Ranma was on all fours, leaning over Makoran and making faces at her. She would reach up with her tiny hands and swat at the face above her, soft, tiny claws out of the sheaths. Ranma would then act like she had hurt him and make exaggerated expressions of pain. She would giggle, interrupting her general purring for a few seconds before Ranma would lean back in and they would do it again.

Akane felt a rush of warm feelings wash over her as she watched her mate and child playing. She had been terrified that Ranma would leave her when he learned of Makoran. But instead, he seemed happy. Like a part of him that had been empty was now full.

She was interrupted in her contemplation by Kasumi's entrance into the room. "What is it Kasumi? Is something wrong?"

Kasumi cocked her head. "Oh my no. At least, not if you leave soon. If you don't you'll be late for school."

Akane glanced up at the clock on her wall. "Kuso!" Reaching out a hand, she swept her books into her bag and tossed the strap over her shoulder. With her other hand she grabbed Ranma's pigtail and pulled. He got up slowly, not really eager to leave Makoran. "Kasumi, are you sure you don't mind watching Makoran like this? We could hire a regular babysitter. Or there's a daycare a few blocks over."

Kasumi smiled. "Of course not. Makoran is hardly the standard child. She has special needs that most centers or hired help would be unable or unwilling to handle. And no, you will not quit school. You need to finish your education."

"But its not fair to you, oneechan! You've already spent so much of your life taking care of the rest of us. It's not fair for me to take advantage of you."

Kasumi's smile changed to a grin. "Oh, I don't know. I'm looking at this as the opportunity to practice. Who knows when Tofu will get over his silliness and be a man."

Akane was shocked. She had never seen her sister like this. She blushed faintly. "Kasumi!"

"What? I was just saying that maybe he'd ask me out and that we might marry, if father approved, of course. Why, whatever did you think I meant, Akane?"

Akane sweatdropped. "Er, never mind oneechan." She pulled a little harder on Ranma's pigtail. "Come on, Ranma. We have to leave now, or we'll be late." She rushed out the door, almost dragging him by his hair.

Kasumi waited, gently lifting Makoran from her blankets on Akane's bed. Sure enough, seconds later, Akane came running back into the room to kiss Makoran's cheek and get her and Ranma's bentos. ********************************************************* Akane released Ranma's hair as soon as they were out the door. They ran side by side, not trying to outpace each other and not pressing themselves. They still had plenty of time.

Ranma was happy. He was with Akane. He had thought that all he needed was her, but the previous night, he learned that he needed only one other thing to be happy. Makoran. His daughter. Their daughter. Their beautiful, cat- like daughter. She was adorable. In fact the only thing that cast a shadow on his mood was school. Ranma had always hated school, the few times he had been allowed to attend.

"So Akane, what's this Furinkan like, anyway?" he asked, leaping over a pile of garbage that had been left on the walkway.

Taking a breath, Akane wondered where to begin. "It's a strange kind of school. No one's seen the principal in years. The vice-principals are terrified to do anything that will upset the status quo. The girls gym teacher is obsessed with volleyball and baseball. Everyone is terrified of someone, and everyone, even the teachers are scared to get Nabiki mad. They let her get away with anything, not that she does anything wrong that often, but the few times she does, no one says anything."

Ranma scratched his head. "She didn't seem that good to me. Why's everyone so scared of her? She doesn't look like a fighter."

Akane laughed. "Believe me, Nabiki doesn't have to fight. She the resident gossip monger, bet taker, loan agent, and blackmailer. She knows something about everyone at school that they don't want others to know. And when she's upset or wants something, she charges the people to have her keep it to herself." Akane grinned. "And since she's my sister, if anyone did try to fight her, I'd have to defend her. Most of the people know how good I am and leave us alone."

Ranma had never been what people would call sensitive. He knew this and it had never bothered him. But even he could detect the slight quiver in Akane's voice as she finished her speech.

"Is something wrong, Akane? Has someone been buggin' you?" Ranma felt anger welling up inside of him. He struggled against it with all his might, terrified at the intensity.

Akane sighed. She had hoped to avoid this today, but she knew that she couldn't do so forever. Briefly, she outlined the problems.

She explained how when she first learned she was pregnant, she had been upset and frightened. She had taken her anger out on a boy from Nabiki's class named Kuno Tatewaki. She told Ranma how he had been trying to 'date with her' for almost three years.

When news of her condition reached him, he had vowed to seek out and destroy the foul sorcerer who had corrupted the pure flower that was Tendo Akane. She had tried to explain that there was no sorcerer, but he was adamant. Some time after Makoran's birth, he had decided that he needed to purify her. Since then, he had been attacking her at the gates to the school everyday, making her late more often than not.

In a speech to the school during a debating contest, he had even called upon the other honorable men of Furinkan to aid in the quest to cleanse her soul and win her heart. He stated that only one strong enough to defeat her would be able to withstand the magic of the foul sorcerer Ranma (Nabiki had leaked his name, for a reasonable fee). Once she was defeated, only the victor would have the right to destroy the sorcerer by granting the fair Tendo Akane a kiss.

A low growling interrupted her and she turned her head to see Ranma, running along beside her, his hands clutching his head. "Ranma, what's wrong?" she asked, coming to a stop. He stopped moving the second she did, as though he was somehow connected to her movements.

Ranma could barely hear her through the thick veil of rage. It was a wild, passionate rage that touched parts of himself he wasn't willing to acknowledge. He could feel the stirring of something within himself, something powerful and full of anger at being disturbed. He fought to regain control of his emotions, knowing what would happen if he released his hold on the beast. Fear wasn't the only way to call forth the nekoken. Anger worked just as well. He had learned that the hard way.

Akane started to become nervous. She could feel the anger radiating off of Ranma. She had never felt such hate. Suddenly she understood. Her story was responsible. He was reacting to what she had said.

"Ranma! Ranma, calm down." Akane grabbed his shoulders, trying her best to calm him down. If Ranma were to go off in his current state, who knows what could happen. She could feel the stirring within him as the nekoken sought to surface. "Please, Ranma. It's okay. Kuno's just an idiot. So are those baka's who listened to him. I look at their attacks as training. It isn't worth it. They aren't worth the nekoken. Pull back, Ranma. Get control."

Ranma's growling lowered and finally stopped. His breath came in short, ragged spurts. "It stops! It stops now, today!" He raised his head and looked into Akane's eyes. Akane with held a shudder at the burning rage that was still visible. "I'm stopping it, Akane. I'm going to stop them all."

Akane swallowed. "What. . . what are you going to do?" she asked, her throat drying on the words.

Ranma grinned. It was not the cocky, arrogant grin she secretly loved. "I'm going to show them who I am. And who you are. If they don't understand about us after, well no one said that I had to be nice to them."

Akane's grip tightened. "Don't. . .don't hurt them too much, anata. I don't . . . I don't want to see anyone get hurt."

Ranma's grin became a tender smile. One hand reached up to stroke her cheek. "My beautiful, sensitive tomboy. I promise that I won't do anything permanent to the idiots. But Kuno . . . . He started this and I'm going to end it."

Akane shivered at the tone of his voice. She knew that no amount of cajoling would change her iinazuke's mind. He could be incredibly pigheaded at times. As could she. She nodded and pulled him into a hug.

"I love you Ranma."

Ranma smiled and tilted her head up towards him. "I love you too, anata." He kissed her, savoring the feel of her lips against his own. "And I have a plan. Just go along with me." *********************************************************

*Chapter 4*: CHapter 7 and 8

Chapter 7

"AKANEEE! DAAAAATE WITH MEEEE!" screamed a hoard of adolescent boys as the lovers approached the school gates. "OUR LOVE SHALL DEFEAT YOU, TENDO AKANE!!!! YOU WILL FALL TO US THIS DAY!!!!"

Akane felt the familiar rush of anger and took a step forward. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned, her arm swinging up to punish the person who would dare grab her. She was embarrassed to see that it was only Ranma. More embarrassing to her was how easily her deflected her blow, causing it to flow through the air by his head.

"It's my turn, my tigress." He said to her, grabbing her hand and kissing the palm. "Leave them to me."

Akane blushed at both his words and his actions. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the crowd of screaming boys screech to a halt. Deciding to really give them something to think about, she pulled Ranma into a passionate kiss. She released him and stepped back. Bowing to him, she wished him luck. With her enhanced senses, she could clearly hear the crowds incredulous whispers.

One of the boys took a few steps forward, emboldened by Ranma's seeming inattention. "Who dares steal a kiss from the lips of the glorious Tendo Akane?" He struck a pose, his bokken held out before him, pointing directly towards Ranma.

Ranma came out of his pleasant dream and turned to face his accuser. "Nani?"

"Who are you demon, to dare touch Akane in such a familiar manner."

"Who wants to know, stick boy?" Ranma challenged, hiding a smirk. He could feel the chi from the crowd, and could tell that all of them together were nowhere near as strong as he was. He sensed a slightly stronger emanation hiding behind a tree, but was unable to classify it. There were also one or two in the crowd watching that were as strong as all the boys together.

"I am the man who is going to destroy you, you honorless cur!" With a shout the boy ran forward, raising his bokken and followed by the rest of the boys.

Ranma released his smirk and allowed his aura to flare into existence. The strength of the release nearly knocked several of the boys off their feet. As they recovered from their stumble, they looked up and gasped.

Ranma was glowing. His chi was burning off him like a living flame, an orange and black striped pattern. He took his stance and beckoned to the oncoming boys. With a roar, they resumed their charge.

Ranma tore through them like a lead weight through a wet tissue. They didn't stand a chance. Out numbered more than 50 to 1, Ranma took the time to toy with them. He allowed several blows to land and others to come much closer than they would have if he had not. A basic tenant of his school was to always hold back and to match your style to the minimum needed to defeat your opponent. It was so ingrained in Ranma, that he did it automatically, not even realizing it most of the time.

Their basic lack of skill was almost amusing to him. If he still wasn't filled with anger, he would have laughed out loud. Instead, he taunted them, egging them to attack him more furiously.

He ducked a swing by a baseball bat, and leaped over another by a tennis player. Two palm strikes later and two more boys joined the growing pile of refuse. A quick edge hand shattered another bokken, and he lashed out with his foot, breaking both bones of the kendoist's arm. A leap and spin, and he brought both of his feet forward to kick a pair of boxers in the face. Even through his soft soled shoes, he could feel the cartilage snapping. Using the momentum, he backflipped over the heads of three more boys.

A sweep kick and three shiatsu pressure points later and the pile grew even more. Ranma checked himself and was surprised that the fight had so far taken only 1 minutes and 43 seconds. He took a quick count and found that nearly thirty of the boys were unconscious. He jumped to the side, avoiding yet another bokken. It seemed that most of the school's kendo team was a part of the group harassing his mate. Reaching out, he grabbed the offending bokken and twisted it out of the boys hands, breaking his wrist in the process. Using it like a foil, he proceeded to strike the remaining kendoists about the head and shoulders, his chi lending an unbreakable quality to the poorly constructed weapon.

He was striking so powerfully, he was denting the headgear and armor of the kendo team. He flipped the bokken at another baseball player, one wearing catchers equipment. The throw was so strong, he knocked the boy off his feet and nearly a dozen feet back.

With a short laugh, he stood to his feet and immediately ducked. A fat leg sliced through the air where his head had been, taking out two of his attackers. Ranma planted his hands and kangaroo kicked at the opponent behind him. His legs nearly buckled as his feet connected with something hard.Using the push, he rolled forward, managing to dodge a huge fist that slammed into the ground, cracking the pavement and underlying cement.

Springing to his feet, he turned to face his new attacker and groaned. He hated fighting sumo wrestlers. Taking a quick study of his opponent, he was able to see that this was the strongest fighter of the bunch. Even including the person hiding behind the tree. With flash of insight, he realized that the hidden figure had to be Kuno Tatewaki, the one who started this all. With a silent vow of pain to the foolish youth who had so insulted Akane, he turned his attention fully on the immense figure before him.

The sumo wrestler pulled his fist out of the ground and took up a stance, squatting low to the ground. Ranma, being acquainted with sumo, knew that if he allowed the boy to get a firm stance, he would never be able to move him. He could tell that the wrestler was almost set when he ran towards him, hoping to break his concentration.

Nearing his huge opponent, Ranma leapt, hoping to land a few kicks to the boy's head. It almost worked. However, using just his toes, the boy moved to the left and swung his arm forward, catching Ranma in a clothesline that would have made an American wrestler envious. Ranma's chest slammed into the boy's trunk like arm, knocking the wind out of his lungs. Ranma spun in the air like a top, completing two full rotations before landing on his back, his head slamming into the concrete.

"I am sorry to do this, but I can not allow you to hurt my friends anymore." The boy stated, grabbing Ranma by the chest and throwing him like a baseball.

Ranma flew through the air, heading towards the wall. A quick twist and slight tensing of his stomach muscles and he rebounded off the wall and shot towards the wrestler. Painfully aware of the boy's strength, Ranma used all of his knowledge to avoid another blow from the wrestler. As he flew by, he struck out with his fingers, striking several shiatsu points on the sumo.

The boy stood, paralyzed. Now that he had the time, Ranma finished taking out the rest of the hentais. He tossed aside the last and stalked to the sumo. He watched as the boy's eyes widened in fear.

"You were not a part of this." Ranma stated amicably. "Yet you tried to stop me. That was your mistake. It was not your fault that you do not know who I am. I hope that we can fight another time, in a more formal and less . . . dangerous setting." With a short bow, Ranma's hand flashed out, striking the larger boy's forehead, knocking him out.

Releasing his aura, and allowing his 'claws' to form, he faced the gathered students. "I am Saotome Ranma!" He shouted. "Tendo Akane is my fiancée. I am the father of her daughter." He stood to his full height, his eyes blazing in rage. "You who would attack her, trying to win the right to date her when she is not interested, nor available, hear this. If any of you come near her again, I will kill you. I will reach inside your chest and rip out your heart."

Ranma allowed his aura to dissipate. He turned to Akane and bowed. "Shall we go to class, anata?"

Akane came out of her daze and nodded. Ranma walked up to her and took her hand, grinning at her. Akane flushed, suddenly embarrassed by the open display. ********************************************************* Nabiki grinned as she counted the yen she made off today's betting. 'Not only did no one win the bet about the fight, I also got them on the bets about Makoran's father returning and on Akane's willingness to marry him. Not bad.' She held the wad of notes near her ear and flipped the corners. '83450 yen in notes,' she reached down and jingled her small book bag. 'And almost 25000 in coins. All in all, a great day.' She looked out at the wreckage, quickly scanning for a familiar form. 'Hum. Kuno-chan didn't take part in the fight. Must be in shock about what Ranma said. Which means,' her eyes twinkled in the artificial light cast by the school's cheap bulbs. 'He'll come by today, probably during junior second, and ask me about Ranma. Yatta! I'll probably be able to get another 40000 for the info and another 10000 for the pics. With Ranma and his father around, I think we're going to need the extra money for the food and repair bills.'

With a smirk, she placed her bag over her shoulder and walked out of class. It was her favorite class of the day and the only reason she had even come today. At least, the only reason she had come to classes. Even without it, she would have come to watch Ranma's reaction to the hoard o' hentais.

As she left the class, she decided to treat herself and her sibling to lunch in the cafeteria. Today's special was one of the few edible meals the gaijin cooks made and was also one of her favorites: hamburgers and french fries. It was one of a very short list of things Kasumi had not mastered. Her fries were either burnt or soggy, and the meat always overdone to an almost charcoal like consistency. "Kasumi's bentos won't go to waste with Ranma here. If he wants burgers, he can buy his own. He's not my brother yet, after all." ********************************************************* Akane and Ranma entered her class still holding hands. Ranma guided Akane to her seat and glared at the boy sitting next to her until he fearfully offered his seat to the growling youth. Akane sighed as Ranma thanked him and dropped into the chair, ignoring the boy as he speedily grabbed his belongings and vacated to an empty seat.

"Ranma, stop scaring the other students." she said, bopping him on the head.

Ranma rubbed the spot where she had hit him. "Ok, ok. Just stop beating me, will ya?"

Akane mini-blushed and turned away from her fiancé. She unpacked her bookbag, carefully placing each book in the proper order inside the desk. Once finished, she turned back to Ranma, only to find him with his head down on the desk, sleeping.

"Wake up, baka!" she ordered him, poking his shoulder.

"C'mon Akane! I need to sleep. Why you always waking me up? Just five more minutes, and I'll do anything you want." Ranma's head turned to face away from Akane, who was now blushing furiously as she noticed that most of the class had heard his remark and were now whispering about what he could have meant.

Several girls overheard his remark and frowned. It wasn't fair. First Akane hogs all the boys to herself for so long and now a new, handsome boy comes along and he happens to be Akane's fiancé and Makoran's father. They started to plot a hideous vengeance on her, but remembered who her sister was and decided that it was best to leave her alone. But maybe, just maybe, the two of them weren't as close as they once were? After all, Ranma did say that Akane beat him. And they saw her hit him. Maybe he'd grow tired of the abuse and would look for a nice, gentle girl to settle down with and make him happy. One who could cook for him and who would never hit him.

Akane groaned as she noticed the looks in the eyes of the girls sitting nearest her. She had seen that look often, though usually in the eyes of some hungry predator. She looked at her sleeping lover and frowned. She knew that he was handsome, and skilled, and strong. But she also knew that he was hers and that if any of the girls were foolish enough to try and take him away from her, now that she had him back, they would be in for a lot of pain. Ranma belonged to her. Anyone who tried to get between them was dogmeat. On this, she agreed with Ranma's statements from outside. She would kill to protect her family.

The class started to settle down, students finding their seats. The bell sounded and the teacher entered the class. A middle aged, balding man, he was well liked by the students. He taught them three classes during the day and his was the only one that was rarely disrupted. Akane shook Ranma awake, and pointed in the teachers direction at his questioning look. He nodded and took out a pencil and some paper.

Class began and even Ranma was soon interested enough to attempt to take notes. ********************************************************* Chapter 8

Classes passed quietly. Akane watched as a pile of notes began to grow on Ranma's desk. Ranma oblivious to it all, watched Akane. He ignored the teachers, except when the kindly middle aged one returned.

He frowned. Akane was angry. He didn't understand why until he reached into his desk and found it full of folded notes. He looked around and saw that most of the nearby girls were glancing at him. He groaned inwardly. 'Not again! What is it with these girls? Don't they realize that I love Akane? Why is it they always do this to me?'

He closed his desk and turned back to Akane. He could feel her anger and fear. He knew the anger and digging, he found the source of her fear. She was afraid that he would leave her and Makoran and run off with some other girl. A girl who hadn't stuck him with a baby and an engagement he obviously didn't want. Why else would he not have stayed with her the previous night? All she had really wanted was to hold him and to have him hold her so that she would know that it wasn't a dream when she woke up. Was that too much to ask? Maybe . . .maybe he had already found someone else and was only stringing her along.

Ranma broke the connection and shoved away his desk. He ignored the startled exclamations from the students and the angered voice of the teacher as he stood. He took the two steps to Akane's desk and pulled her out of her chair. He could see the uncertainty in her eyes as he held her. He grasped the tenuous connection they shared and allowed his feelings to flow into her. 'Suki da, Akane. I told you yesterday, I'm telling you today, and I'll tell you everyday for the rest of our lives. I love you, Tendo Akane. And soon, I will marry you and make a family for our daughter. No one and nothing will ever separate us again.' Sending the words through the link, he kissed her as passionately as he could, willing her to believe in him and to believe in their love.

Akane melted into his arms, her heart in her eyes. She had never believed anyone could feel this much for her. She felt her heart nearly burst as her own love for Ranma swelled to match the rushing tide. Tears made their way down her cheeks, as she let loose all restraint and relaxed in her lover's powerful arms. Somewhere, deep within her mind, her pride ordered her to push him away, to tell him that she could stand on her own and that she didn't need him to be complete. But she ignored it, as she knew it was a lie. She needed Ranma as much as she needed air to breath and food to eat. He was a part of her and together, they would live and love for all eternity. He was her best friend, her lover, and her mate. He belonged to her and she belonged to him, neither owning the other, but both sharing each other. ********************************************************* Nabiki wiped her hands on the napkin and nodded to her companion. The girl smiled brightly and left, grateful to have won a small sum of money off of Nabiki. Nabiki didn't mind losing the bet to her. She was something of a friend. One of the few people who wasn't terrified of her.

She heard a commotion behind and grinned to herself. 'Right on time.' she thought smugly as a shadow fell across the table. "What do you want, Kuno- baby?" she asked before the person behind her could speak. Idly, she stirred the gravy leftover in her plate, trying to look bored.

Kuno Tatewaki glared at the seated girl before him. By all rights and traditions, she should stand and bow before him. "Tendo Nabiki, I require some information."

"Take a seat and ask me what you want, Tatewaki."

Kuno's glare hardened and he sat stiffly across from the girl. It pained him greatly that he had to deal through her to get the information he so needed. "I wish information on the foul sorcerer who has bewitched the lovely Tendo Akane into believing she cares for him. Also I wish to know if it is true that he is the father of her child."

"You know the drill, Kuno-baby." she stated, taking a sip from her drink and wondering what spin to put on the info. She loved her sister and didn't want to see her hurt, but she didn't trust the Saotome's and wasn't quite ready to let them into her family. Especially Genma. It was best if she slowed Ranma's and Akane's relationship down. For everyone's sake.

Grumbling slightly, Kuno pulled out his wallet. "How much?" he demanded, a sneer evident in his voice.

Nabiki withheld her frown. 'He's going to pay for the attitude. Both in yen and in a beating.' "5000 to hear your account of events this morning. I'll total the rest at the end, after you ask the questions."

Kuno proceeded to tell her how he had waited in glorious anticipation. How the appearance of Akane was marred by the sight of the foul beast beside her. How he had watched as the demon used it's evil powers against the righteous wrath of the students.

He told her how he had watched in growing fury as the demon took advantage of the fair Akane. How he was immobilized by the demon as Akane was forced to take his hand and lead him into the building. He ended by telling her how he had punished his aids for failing to defeat the demon who had cast such an evil spell over Akane.

This was much as Nabiki had expected. Kuno had a somewhat unique view of the world. She opened her mouth to say something, but spotted one of her associates running up behind Kuno, a flushed look on her face.

"Excuse me a moment, Kuno-chan. I have a bit of business to take care." She stood and joined her associate at a table a few rows away. "What do you have that's exciting you so much, Keiko?"

Keiko took a breath, tired from running. She had ran straight from class to get this to Nabiki before anyone else. "Akane. . hugh . .. pant. . . and the new boy . . .weeze .. .. making out in class. Ignoring the teacher. She dumped some warm water on them. You know, because of Akane's curse? They didn't notice. They've been kissing for about ten minutes straight. Hands are starting to roam. Clothes are starting to come off. Akane's got her back on her desk and her legs around the guy's waist. It's like they're in heat." Her eyes grew wide as her words sparked a memory.

'Damn.' Nabiki swore silently. 'I have to get them to stop.'

"NANI!" roared a voice from behind her, causing her to jump. She had forgotten all about Kuno. "HOW DARE THAT VILLAIN ATTEMPT TO MOLEST THE FAIR TENDO AKANE! AND IN FULL VIEW OF THE ENTIRE CLASS! I SHALL STAND NO MORE! SAOTOME RANMA, PREPARE TO FACE THE RIGHTEOUS WRATH OF THE BLUE THUNDER OF FURINKAN HIGH, KUNO TATEWAKI!" Lightning crashed in the background. Kuno, being the idiot that he was and knowing full well about Akane's curse, pulled a bucket of cold water out from behind his back. "I SHALL TOSS THIS ON THE VILLAIN AND ON THE FIERCE TIGRESS TENDO AKANE, ALLOWING HER TO GROW IN STRENGTH TO FREE HERSELF FROM THE VILLAINOUS CUR!"

Nabiki groaned. She considered stopping the idiot, but decided that this was the perfect payback. She knew that Ranma had the same curse as Akane. She had seen him transform this morning, during a sparring session with his father. If Kuno thought splashing them with cold water would work in his favor, let him. If he survived, she would simply charge him more for some dribble of information. *Paybacks a bitch, asshole.* she muttered to herself. 'That should show you not to insult me, Kun baka.'

"You do that, Kuno-baby. I'm sure you'll be very surprised by the results." Kuno ignored her and made his way majesticaly out of the cafeteria, the scene spoiled only by the sloshing bucket he carried.

Silence reigned in the room for a moment, all eyes following the kendoist. As one, all heads turned to Nabiki. She stood gracefully, facing the largest group of students. "Any bets?" ********************************************************* Akane purred as Ranma's hands roamed her body. Her own were busy pulling his shirt out from the waist band of his pants. Her legs were around his waist, pulling him closer to her. She was incredibly hot and was only getting hotter as his hands stroked her back. She let go of his shirt and reached down to her waistline to loosen her own. Her vest jacket had long since been thrown aside.

Ranma's hands joined hers and pushed them aside. He started to rub her stomach in a circular motion with one hand while the other fumbled with the material.

A distant crashing and the sudden sensation of cold startled her from her passion induced haze. She blinked and reached up to wipe some of the cold water from her face. Then she realized the position she and Ranma were in and blushed. She looked for the source of the spray of cold water and spotted Kuno, staring behind her, his eyes wide and his jaw hanging somewhere near his chest.

'Cold water?' she thought, realizing what had happened. Looking down at herself, she noted that she had changed. Fearing the worst, she turned to face her mate. And blushed at what she saw.

Ranma's curse was somewhat different then her own, as they had learned. His truly was a double curse. After he had pulled her out of the pool and they had changed back, he had asked the guide about some of the other pools. When he learned that there was a 'spring of drowned young girl' he had lifted her from the straw matress she was resting on and ran out the door of the hut, intent on curing her.

Unfortunately, it had started to rain, causing them both to transorm into their cursed bodies. However, Ranma had been standing next to the Nyaniichuan by this time and Akane fell into it. As Ranma's head and shoulders fell towards the ground, he too ended up in the pool. For the second time.

The effects of being cursed twice were different for everyone, the guide explained. For Akane, it meant that both curses combined fully. Instead of becoming a normal siberian tiger or a young chinese girl, she become a seven and a half foot tall, black and white weretiger. For Ranma, it was much the same, except for one difference. If he was touching another human being when he was splashed, he became a short, well endowed red-haired girl. If he wasn't touching anyone, he became a red and black seven foot tall weretiger.

And unlike the traditional Western or European werewolf, Ranma and Akane were more human in appearance than tiger. They were lightly furred, with small claws at the end of each finger instead of fingernails. In between each knuckle, was a sligth bump, that they learned could extened in to 3 retractible claws.

Ranma's claws were 9 inches long, and Akane's were 8 inches. They had long, slim tails and feline ears. Their eyes were slitted like a cats. Ranma's were usually a golden hue, while Akane's were almost orange.

Their noses were short, with large nostrils. Their mouths were a little larger and stuck out from the rest of their faces. They had many sharp, pointy fangs. They were much stronger, faster, and agile in these forms. They also seemed to exude a sensuous grace that drew the attention of any men and most women in the area. Instead of being afraid, most people found their new bodies incredibly attractive.

Ranma's weretiger form was also female.

Fortunately for Kuno, Ranma had been touching Akane when he was splashed. Instead of being beaten within a micrometer of his life, he was only sent to the hospital for a week. *********************************************************

*Chapter 5*: Chapter 9 and 10

Chapter 9

"What? You have a problem?" demanded Ranmachan as she stared at the class, wiping her hands on the seat of her pants. "He's lucky I didn't kill him." she stated.

A purring from behind her caused Ranma to spin around. Instead of the evil monsters she expected, she saw her lover, in her cursed body. The two stared at each other for a moment. Then Ranmachan covered her nose and blushed, running from the room. Akane moved to follow but tripped on the ruins of her uniform and crashed through her desk. Irritated, she slashed down and sliced the dress off herself before running after her mate. Neither of them noticed the teacher cowering in the corner of the room, or the boys staring at them, drool leaking down their chins.

Nabiki stared as a girl with red hair ran by, wearing Ranma's clothes. She did a quick check and couldn't think of any student at Furinkan or any nearby school that had red hair, so she came to the impossible conclusion that somehow, the girl was Ranma.

The huge black and white cursed form of her sister passed by, running after the girl. Nabiki watched for a moment then started to chase after them. "Akane! Wait! You're not wearing any clothes!" she screamed at the fleeing pair. She didn't notice the arrival of the ambulance nor its departure as the paramedics brought what was left of Kuno Tatewaki to the nearest private hospital. After all, a noble of Kuno's line could not be expected to be treated at a common, public hospital with descendants of their former servants, could they? ********************************************************* Ranma ran into the changeroom, immediately looking for the showers. Seeing them, she tore off her clothes and adjusted the spray so that the stream would be hot enough to trigger the curse, but not too hot that she would be burned. Sensing a presence behind her, she spun not surprised to see Akane behind her. Remembering what the two of them had been doing in class and that they had almost done caused her to blush. Realizing that she was staring at Akane's naked body, she eeped and spun, one hand pinching her nostrils closed.

"Jeez, Akane. Don't sneak up an a guy like that." she stated, stepping into the shower. The hot water washed over her, changing her back into his natural body. "Why you in here anyway, this is the boy's locker room."

Akane didn't answer, simply stepping into the spray. She looked up at him, her brows krinkled in mock anger. "Well, what are you waiting for, baka?"

"What are you talking about, tomboy?" Ranma asked, sensing the teasing tone behind her harsh words.

Akane grinned and slipped her arms around his neck, pressing her naked body against his. "Aren't you going to finish what we started in class, lover?" she whispered into his ear, kissing it. She rubbed herself against him, feeling his reaction to her growing between them.

Ranma groaned as Akane pressed herself against him. "As much as I want to, this isn't the right time or place for this." He kissed her gently. "We need to dry off and get dressed." He crumpled under her pout. An idea came into his head. "Why don't we skip the rest of the day and go out?"

Akane thought for a moment, struggling to get control of her raging desire. Ranma's idea was a good one. A stray thought entered her head before she could form a reply. "But I don't have any clothes!" she exclaimed, blushing. "The only things I have here are my gym clothes."

The sound of a throat clearing caused them both turn, hands reaching to cover their private areas. "Excuse me, but if you two hentais don't want to be arrested for public indecency, I suggest you, Ranma, put your clothes on, and you Akane, " a bundle of cloth flew through the air and collided with Akane's chest. "Put these on. You can pay me later."

Akane smiled as Ranma eeped and leapt behind a half wall that separated the shower area from the changeroom. She turned off the spray with one hand, clasping the bundle of clothing to her chest with the other. "Thanks Nabiki." She said, stepping into the changeroom. She placed the clothes on a bench and grabbed a towel.

After drying herself she realized that Ranma was still cowering behind the partition. She walked over to it and looked over the barrier. She giggled as she saw her lover curled into a ball, doing his best to cover his private parts from view. She stopped giggling and glanced over to Nabiki who was craning her neck, trying to get a better look at Ranma. A surge of jealously struck her.

"Nabiki! Quit trying to peek at MY mate." She gritted her teeth and took a step towards her sister.

Nabiki recognized the look on her sisters face and started to back away. She reached out behind her and twisted the doorknob. "Sorry, imoutochan, but I have to get going. Remember, you only have a few more minutes before the gym class lets out and this room fills up. If you don't want to give them a show, you'll need to make a choice: You can chase after me to beat me up or you can get dressed."

Ranma poked his head over the half wall. "Well, that ruined the mood. Pass me a towel so I can dry off, well ya?"

Akane smiled. "If you think that this is over, you'd better think again, anata." She slipped the dress over her head, the material obstructing her view as Ranma dryed himself with a towel. Once her head popped through the openeing, she saw that Ranma had already dressed and was waiting for her. "We're still going out, right?" she asked as he reached out a hand for her.

Ranma squeezed her small hand and pulled her to his side. He draped an arm over her shoulder and kissed her cheek. "Sure. Where do you want to go? I don't know Nerima at all. What is there to do here?"

Akane thought for a moment. "Well, we could go see a movie or take a walk in the park. If neither of those seem interesting, we could hop a train and go into Tokyo. Maybe visit a theme park or tournament of some kind. I'm pretty sure there's some kind of martial arts exhibition or tournament going on in Juuban. The only thing is, it's all the way on the other side of the city. We wouldn't be able to get back until very late and the trains stop running at 1:00am."

"Than let's make it a two day trip." Ranma suggested. "We'll go see a movie, then hop the train to Juuban. We can check out the exhibition and spend the night there and come back tomorrow afternoon."

Akane's smile widdened. "That sounds great. We'll need to stop at home and pick up a few things, not to mention letting Kasumi know where we'll be and to see if she minds taking care of Makoran overnight." Her smile faltered when she spoke her daughter's name. "I hope she'll be okay. I've never been away from her overnight before."

"I'm sure she'll be fine." Ranma stated. "Our daughter is not going to be some whiney girl. She's going to be a strong, beautiful tomboy like her mother." Ranma ducked as Akane swung half-heartedly. He stuck out his tongue and dodged another swing. Laughing, he ran from the room, being chased by a fiercly scowling Akane. ********************************************************* Chapter 10

Kasumi hummed gently to herself as she folded the laundry she had just finished washing. A gurgle behind her caused her to smile and turn her head. She watched Makoran playing happily with some of her baby toys. The baby swiped at a rubber mouse with her claws, giggling happily as it spun and bounced around her playpen.

She sighed and turned back to the laundry, of which there was very little to do. She had already finished the majority earlier that day, and now there was not much left for her to do until Akane and Ranma returned from school. Nabiki had already phoned to say she was going shopping, so she would not be back until dinner time. Otousan and Saotomesan were playing Shogi by the garden. All she had to do was watch Makoran.

Not that she really minded that task. Makoran was a darling little girl and very well behaved. She was several months ahead of most children her age. She could already crawl and sometimes climbed out of her crib. She always climbed right back into the crib. Like Ranma, she was a very physical person and enjoyed the physical activity of the climb more than making a mess. She would sometimes take a toy out of the toy chest and carry it into the crib in her teeth.

One night, puzzled by how different toys were getting into the crib after they put her to sleep, Kasumi and Akane had asked Nabiki to set up a camera in the room to tape what happened over night. They had all been amazed as they watched the seven month old wake up without a noise. She had turned onto her stomach and shakily gotten on all fours.

From there, she scampered over to the bars of the crib and grapsed them with her hands. Using them, she pulled herself upright and with the help of her claws, was able to climb out of the crib by grasping the top bar and pulling herself up while using her little feet to push against the bars. She balanced on the bar before tipping over onto the floor.

Like a cat, she turned herself in the air to land on all fours, still having not uttered a sound. She made her way over to the toychest, a little purr starting in her tiny chest. She reached up and pushed the lid of the chest off. Then grabbing the edge, she again pulled herself upright.

She peered over the edge of the chest, her back to the camera. One tiny hand reached into the neat pile and pulled out a rubber mouse that Nabiki had purchased as a joke. Purring happily, Makoran let go of the edge and stood on her own feet for a few seconds, her tail allowing her to balance. Her legs, however, soon gave out and she fell onto her bottom.

Now her face could be seen by the camera and there was an unmistakable grin on her face. She gently bit the mouse's tail, and turned onto her stomach. From that position, she was able to crawl back to the crib.

The climb in was even more amazing then the escape. Makoran was able to reach up and grasp the bottom edge of the mattress and using her feet to push against the leg of the crib, she pulled herself up. Once she was holding the bars with her hands and her feet were steady on the matress between some of the bars, she reached up with a hand and grabbed the top bar again. She pulled herself up and onto the bar, this time leaping down into the crib. Throughout it all, the mouse was clutched between her teeth and she was purring loudly.

A noise from the front door startled Kasumi out of her fond remembrance and brought her back to the present. She took another quick glance at Makoran before gliding into the greeting room, where she was suprised to see Ranma and Akane slipping into their indoor shoes and tossing their school bags into the closet.

"Konnbawa, Imoutochan, Ranmakun. You're certainly home early. Did they cancel school again, Akane?" she asked, although she already knew the answer.

Akane shrugged and grabbed Ranma's hand, moving towards the shoji that lead to the area Kasumi usually did the laundry on nice days. Akane knew that Kasumi would put out the playpen for Makoran. She sketched a quick greeting to Kasumi as she passed, hardly aware of her presence. At the moment all she was interested in was seeing her baby. After all, she was going away for a few days and she wanted to say goodbye and get a last hug and kiss from her beautiful little girl.

"Nah. Akane and I just decided to leave early because some of the people were botherin' us." Ranma stated as he was partly dragged through the room. "We decided to take a break and leave for a few days till things calm down."

"Oh my. Where will you be going?" Kasumi asked as she glided after her sister and soon-to-be brother in law.

It was Akane who answered. She dropped Ranma's hand and picked up a mewling Makoran, who had started fussing when she heard her mother's voice. "We're going to go into Tokyo for two days. Do you remember that tournament I mentioned I wanted to see? We're going to go watch that."

"But where will you stay?" Kasumi asked, concern touching her voice.

Akane spun Makoran around causing the girl to chortle with glee. Ranma went over and started making faces, which caused Makoran to giggle louder than ever.

"We're going to get a hotel room. More than likely at that place we stayed when we were little and Okaachan took us to see a traditional kabuki performance." Akane stated as she passed Makoran to Ranma, who started doing an airplane imitation.

Kasumi's eyebrow rose slightly. "How will you be able to afford such an expensive hotel? Daddy hasn't had a student in years."

"I'm paying." Ranma answered. He held Makoran cradled in one arm and used the other to poke at her ticklish spots. Makoran countered by swiping at his hand with her tiny claws. Ranma grinned and glanced up at Kasumi. "Actually, Pops's the one payin'. He just don't know it yet."

Kasumi smiled at the young man. 'Ranma's going to be a wonderful father.' she thought to herself. 'It's obvious how much he loves Makoran and Akane.' "Are you sure he'll have enough to cover two nights, oniisan? If not, I can always give you some from the family account." she offered gently. She already knew that Ranma's pride was very touchy and that he might very well resent the implacation that he could not care for his family. Which is why she mentioned that the money would come from the family account. She was showing him that she considered him family, even though he and Akane were not officially married.

Ranma considered it for a moment. While his first instinct was to refuse and to refuse loudly, he was not certain if his father had had time to hide his stash or not. Kasumi's offer was generous, but her own words earlier about the lack of business from the dojo worried him. He did not wish to take money that they would need at a later date.

"Thank you for the offer, Kasumi-oneechan. But I am unsure if it would be wise to take money from the family's coffers. I know for certain that I can cover one night in the hotel, meals, train fare, and other expenses of that nature. If I can not acquire the remaining amount, than I will accept your offer. But only on the condition that I am allowed to make reparations at my earliest opportunity." He stated formally, bowing deeply as he finished. It would have been impressive if he was not holding Makoran in one arm. With him holding her it was even more impressive. The baby purred and giggled as she found herself horizontal to the ground, staring sideways at her mother.

Kasumi nodded. That was a fair solution. "Than I also accept your request, oniisan. If you are unable to pay for both nights, than the family will pay for the second. You will pay for the meals, and for train fare. However, I will also give you some money of my own and ask that you purchase a few things for me. It would save me a trip into Tokyo and allow me to remain here, where I will be able to look after Makoran for you and Akane."

"Oh thank you oneechan!" Akane exclaimed. "I hated to have to ask you that. I realize how selfish we've all been, relying on you to take care of us since Mother died. You've giving up your own life to take care of us and I know how unfair that was and how kind and generous it was for you to do. And I promise that I will start to take more responsibility for myself and Makoran. She's old enough now, at least in one way, to put into a local daycare. That will allow you to get out some. And Ranma and I will start to do our own duties and chores." Akane wiped a tear from her eye. "It's time I start caring for my family on my own."

Kasumi felt her eyes watering. 'Imoutochan is growing up.' she thought to herself, discreetly wiping her eyes. "It's been my pleasure, imoutochan. You've made me so proud. If mother were here, I have no doubt that she would be as proud of the woman you've become as I am."

Akane lifted Makoran out of Ranma's grasp and held her close to her heart. "A lot of that is because of you, oneechan. And I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you've sacrificed for us. But we're old enough to care for ourselves enough now, and otousan has Saotome-san to stay with him. It's past time for you to start taking care of yourself and to try and find your own family. Now that Ranma is here, we can take care of Makoran. That's part of the reason we're going. We need a few days alone to iron things out between us and to get to know each other again before we can really start to take control of our own lives." ********************************************************* A young man trudged through a dark forest. He was wearing dark brown canvas pants and a yellow and black shirt. His black hair was kept out of his eyes by a bandana with the same spotted pattern as his shirt. On his back he carried a grossly overloaded hiking pack. In his hand, he carried a bamboo umbrella, which he used to clear his path of vines and other obstacles.

His face was set in a scowl, as though he was in pain or angry beyond reason. A jaguar leapt out from the bush at him and he casually knocked it aside, not pausing in his march. The wild cat tried again, only to be sent flying away from it's prey as the young man swatted it into the air with the umbrella.

Throughout his journey, only one thought, one desire, kept him putting one foot in front of the other. Revenge. Revenge against the person who had ruined his life. Revenge against all those who were responsible for his miserable existence.

"Saotome Ranma! Tendo Akane!" the boy screamed into the forest. "I will destroy your happiness!" His fist lashed out and connected with a tree, causing the trunk to turn to dust under his immense strength.

A finger tapped him on the shoulder and the boy turned, not surprised to see that the forest was gone and that he was now standing in the middle of a more civilized park. Beyond the trees, he could make out incredibly tall buildings of steel and glass. He studied the person before him.

"Is something wrong, officer?" he asked in perfect English. He thought he was speaking Japanese. He thought he was in Japan. He hoped he was in Japan. He was wrong.

The police officer looked the boy up and down. "Yeah. You just destroyed public property, kid. I'm going to have to take you in."

The dark-haired youth tilted his head and squinted at the officer. "Okay. But first can I ask you something?"

His hand resting on the handle of his pistol, the officer nodded. "Sure kid. What is it?"

"Just where the hell am I now?" he shouted. Behind him, the setting sun briefly spotlighted the Statue in the harbor as it proudly held up a torch.

********************************************************* "Are you sure you packed enough, imoutochan?" Kasumi asked as she watched her sister and her lover prepare to leave.

Akane's face scrunched up in thought. "Yes. We aren't going for long and we're only going to see a movie and go to the tournament. If we're very lucky, maybe they'll have an opening and we can get in the tournament."

"Don't know why you'd wanna take part in some silly tournament, Akane." Ranma stated as he placed his bag next to Akane's suitcase. "Most of the ones I've seen have been pretty dull. I ain't seen anyone who could do half of what you can."

"That might be true, Ranma, but being in a tournament is an excellent way to promote the dojo. Or do you have something else in mind to support a family?" Akane asked, jiggling Makoran in her arms.

Ranma scratched his head. "I never thought of it that way. So, what you're sayin', is that if we fight in this tournament and others, that when we win, people will want to come train under us?"

"It's like you said, anata. Most people can't do what we can simply because they don't know it's possible. When we show them what we can do, they'll come to us to learn how to do it themselves. The more tournaments we enter and do well at, the better for us." Akane's eyes lit up. "This is the biggest of the tournaments. It's a freestyle, anything goes mix."

"What's that all mean?"

"It means that it's not limited by styles. At most tournaments, the disciplines don't fight each other because the organisors are trying to see who the best at that style is. So kendoists fight only kendoists, karate against karate, kempo against kempo and so on. But at this one, they are trying to see who the best martial artist is by mixing the styles without hindering anyone."

"But what if a kendoist is facing off against akido? Does he have to go without a sword?"

"No. That's what makes this different. If a person is used to fighting in one style, and that style is a weapons form, than they are allowed to use their weapon."

Ranma began to see some interesting opportunities with this tournament. If he, no if they, could secure spots, it would be an amazing chance to train against many different styles at once. Lately, his father had been sticking to kempo and akido. It would be good to see how he would match up against, say, a dan level kickboxer or karate champion. Maybe there would be some exotic martial arts like capeore or Thai boxing.

Akane saw the light in Ranma's eyes grow at the thought of facing off against highly skilled opponents of various disciplines. She gave Kasumi a small grin of triumph. She knew her lover very well. She knew that the idea of pitting his vast skills against an array of highly skilled fighters of different styles would ignite his competitive spirit.

"Akane, do you think they'll have a couple of slots open?" he asked.

Kasumi smiled. She had called the organization committee while Ranma bathed. "They had a few cancellations. One of the schools that was competing suffered an illness and only 2 of the 8 members are able to compete. I asked if they would be able to find two spaces for students of the Musabetsu Kakutou Ryuu. When they heard that, they became very excitted and almost demanded that you attend. There are a few things you'll have to sign when you get there, but you will be competing, if you want."

"That's great! Akane, your sister's a genius." Ranma picked her up and swung her around, giving her and Makoran little kisses as he did. He put them down gently. "I hope that there's some good fighters there. If those guys at school are anything to judge by, I'd go soft very quickly staying here." He looked down at his family. He noticed that Akane's face had become frozen and that her eyes were watering. "But you know, it would be worth it if it meant never leaving you and Makoran again."

Akane smiled tenderly at her lover. "Thank you, Ranma. That means a lot to me."

Ranma started fiddling with his pigtail with one hand while he picked up the bags with the other. "Huh. It ain't nothing." he stated.

Kasumi, who had listened to them quietly, smiled gently at her sister and new brother. "Akane, you and Ranma should be leaving soon. You don't want to miss your train."

Akane glanced at the clock. "Kasumi-oneechan is right, Ranma. We need to leave." She kissed Makoran's forehead and rubbed cheeks with her. Ranma came over and kissed his daughter. Akane passed the little girl over to Kasumi. Makoran, knowing only that her mother and father were leaving her starting to whimper slightly.

Akane's eyes watered as she listened to her little girl. She started to reach for her, but Ranma beat her to it.

"Don't worry Makoran. We'll be back very soon." he stated, looking her in her cat's eyes. "Mommy and I are going to be back very soon. When we get back, we'll start you with a few light exercises. Would you like that? Huh? But you have to be a big strong girl for Daddy and not cry, okay?"."

Akane almost scolded Ranma for his words, wanting to tell him that Makoran was still too young to know what he was saying, but Makoran's little face had scrunched up while he was speaking, as though she was struggling to understand what her father was telling her. Akane mini-sweatdropped when Makoran's face broke into a huge smile and she nodded and purred. She facefaulted a few seconds later when Makoran spoke for the first time.

"Hai, otouhan. Beibei." Makoran giggled happily, waving her tiny hands at her parents.

Ranma and Kasumi also looked surprised. Akane immediately reached for her, babbling about staying with her and seeing what else her beautiful, genius daughter could do. A sense of pride she didn't know she had started to fill her.

Ranma glanced at Kasumi over her head and raised an eyebrow. Kasumi grinned and nodded, handing him an envolope containing some money and a list of things she wanted them to get while they were in Tokyo.

Ranma grabbed her hand and started pulling her out the door, ignoring her protests that she had to stay with her little girl. Kasumi, still smiling closed the door behind them.

"Now, what am I going to do with you?" Kasumi grinned at the little girl squirming in her hands. "A smart little girl like you deserves a reward. Now. What should the reward be? I know. Would you like to go to the park?"

Makoran looked up and her, her lips pulling up so high, they exposed the two little fangs that had started to grow not too long before. Her squirming became frantic with joy as she tried to escape from her aunt and head out the door. *********************************************************

*Chapter 6*: Chapter 11 and 12

Chapter 11

Akane sat stiffly, trying to remain angry. It was very hard for her to sit still. She wanted to shout to the world about how beautiful and smart her little girl was, already speaking and running and climbing at her age. She sighed, finally turning to look at Ranma, only now noticing that he was asleep in his seat next to her.

She frowned. 'How can he sleep on this noisy, crowded, and bumpy train?' she thought to herself. She studied him while he slept, noting that even in sleep, his pigtail curled upwards toward the end. She resisted the urge to try and make it hang down.

An announcement no one could make out came over the speakers, annoucing the approaching stop. Akane looked up at the map on the wall and realized that they were already at their destination. As the train slowed to a stop, she reached over and poked Ranma. She was not surprised to see that he didn't wake up.

"Wake up, baka!" she demanded, smacking him in the back of the head.

It wasn't the slap that woke him, but the collision of his face and the back of the seat in front of them. "Huh? What happened?"

"We hit a bump." Akane lied easily. "Come on, this is our stop."

Ranma looked around and noted that it was indeed their station. They gathered their things and walked out the doors just as the chimes sounded their imminent closure. The made their way out of the crowded station and into the street.

"So which way do we go?" Ranma asked. "Do you want to go to the hotel first or sign up at the tournament?"

Akane thought for a moment. "Let's go to the hotel. We can leave our things in the room and clean up a bit. We'll stop at a yatai on the way to the tournament for a quick bite. The tournament only starts at 7:30pm." She glanced up at a nearby clock. "It's 5:15 now. That gives us just under 2 hours before we should get there."

Ranma nodded. "Sounds good to me." He looked around. The streets were clogged with cars and the sidewalks were even more crowded with people. There were too many buildings and they all looked the same. "So which way do we go?"

Akane looked at the street sign and thought. "It's this way." she stated, starting off to the right.

Ranma shrugged and followed his mate. A distant rumbling of thunder caused a shudder to go through him. Looking up, he noted that the sky was darkening rapidly and he hurried to catch up to Akane. He reached out and grabbed her hand, causing them both to blush as people noticed and smiled at them. ********************************************************* Ryoga looked down at the city below him. He did not understand. He had realized he was not in Tokyo when the officer had walked him into the stationhouse and he had not seen a single japanese officer. He was frightened when he realized that he had somehow ended up in America.

The officer who booked him had asked for ID and he had been unable to provide it since he had none. The officer had called the Japanese Embassy, but they could not provide any information since Ryoga was not registered with any official offices either here or in Japan. The police were very interested in this and had added a charge of illegal entry to his list.

If it were not for the tall, blond haired man who walked into the building some ten minutes later, Ryoga would be in a cell right now. The man, who gave his name as Owen, seemed to have a strange sort of power within that Ryoga could just barely make out.

He also seemed to have some clout with the police, for he was able to have Ryoga released immediately, with all his belongings returned intact. The man had looked down at Ryoga and sniffed, seemingly dismissing the lost boy. Ryoga had felt himself become angry and was barely able to refrain from attacking the blond. Something told him that this would not be a good idea.

When he asked the gaijin what he wanted, the man had simply stated that his employer was interested in cases like his and would like to speak to him.

Ryoga had been surprised to be brought to a tall metal and glass building. The blond had not let him out of his sight, grabbing his arm whenever he started to stray. On some of those occassions, Ryoga could swear that he had felt a tingling of some kind, almost as if he were being pulled back from an electrical storm.

If he was surprised by the size of the building, he was amazed by what he found when he stepped out of the elevator into the main room of a genuine, Scottish castle. He had asked the man how it had come to be there, and the man had simply stated that his employer was a very powerful man with an interest in the ancient and unusual.

"That's all very interesting, Mr. Xanatos, but what does that have to do with me?" he asked the man standing nearby.

David Xanatos smiled. "Hibiki-san, I know all about the nature of your family curse. In fact, I probably know more about it than you do. If you can provide me with some information, I am willing to try and help you find a cure. If we can't find a cure, or a means to control the curse, I will do what I can to make it easier on you when you make your. . . jumps. I can provide you with documentation stating that you are an employee of mine. Passports, Visa's, health cards. All of the paperwork a traveller needs. This should allow you to avoid some problems with most officials. I will also pay you a small fee, so that you no longer need spend nights in train or bus stations or camping out in vacant lots. You will be able to stay in hotels, with warm water and decent food. All of it billed to us."

Ryoga scowled. "Why do think I would care about that? I get along just fine."

Xanatos laughed. "Don't be coy with me, Mr. Hibiki. I am also aware of . . . your problem with cold water." Xanatos leaned forward, placing his hands on the rampart and looking down on the city. A roar was heard in the distance. "We might be able to help with that as well."

Ryoga felt a shiver go through his spine. 'This guy knows too much about me. I don't like it.' There was another, answering roar, this one much closer. 'No. I don't like it one bit.' "What do you want from me?" he asked, his voice as dark as the night sky.

"Jhusenkyo. I know what it does. I know how it works. I just need to know where it is." ********************************************************* Chapter 12

"Konnbawa. We would like to checkin please." Ranma stated as he and Akane reached the desk.

The clerk looked up from the computer and smiled. "Certainly, sir. Your name please?"

"It's either under Saotome or Tendo. My sister made the reservation." Akane replied, lowering her bag to the ground. "I don't know which name she used."

The clerk grinned and rapidly typed into the computer. A couple of seconds went by before he looked up. "Ranma and Akane?"

"Yup, that's us." Ranma stated, looking around the room.

The clerk bowed. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you. Kasumi-san has spoken of you often."

Akane blinked. "You know Kasumi?"

The clerk nodded. "Hai. We went to school together and still speak often. I was also a student of your father's. I was surprised when she called to make the reservation for you."

"Why would you be surprised?" Ranma asked, looking around the lobby. The hotel was much fancier than he expected and he began to think that he might need the extra money Kasumi had given him.

"It's simple, really. Kasumi told me everything." The clerk paused to allow that to sink in and continued when he saw their eyes light up in understanding. "She felt it would be wise to have someone aware of your. . .special needs. It would be my honor if you would allow me to aid you should the need arise." The clerk grinned. "Also, she asked me to stop by the Center and pick up the information you'll need for the tournament. Most of the bigwigs and officials are staying here." The clerk handed them a few pages. He also handed them a card. "If you can just sign, here, I'll give you your keys."

Ranma signed quickly and passed the card to Akane. Akane signed more slowly, taking the time to read what the card said. She gasped and dropped the pen in surprise.

"I'm sorry, but we can't accept this." Akane bowed deeply, moved by what she had noticed. "We only wished for a normal room with a double bed."

The clerk smiled. "That's what Kasumi-san asked for. However, it is my pleasure and duty to give you this room for the price of a normal room."

"But why?" Akane asked. "That's a huge difference."

The clerk smiled and nodded. "Hai. But it is something I felt I must do. You see, your father took me on as a student, despite the fact that I was unable to pay him. My parents were against my learning the Art and refused to pay him. I gave him my word of honor that I would one day repay him or his family."

Ranma scratched his head. He knew he was missing something. "Heh? What's so special about the room?" He picked up the card and studied it. Unfortunately, he couldn't read English very well.

Akane elbowed him gently and took the card. "It's the honeymoon suite, Ranma. And it's twice the price we can afford, yet Suziki-san is giving it to us at the price we would pay for a much smaller room."

Ranma's eyes narrowed. "Look you, we ain't some charity case. We didn't ask for this."

The clerk smiled and bowed deeply. "Forgive my rudeness, Saotome-sam, but it is not charity. It is a repayment of a dept due. I well remember what Tendo-sensei charged per lesson, and I calculated how much I owed him for the nearly 2 years he taught me. This room, for the time you will be here, is only a small fraction of what I still owe. I mentioned to Kasumi-san, that I and our hotel would be honored to host you during your honeymoon, when the two of you are finally married. She tried to dissuade me as well, but she knew something you do not."

Ranma's eyebrows rose. "And what's that?" he asked.

Suzuki-san grinned. "My parents own this hotel and are the main hosts of the Martial Arts Tournament you will be entering."

Akane frowned. "I thought you said your parents couldn't pay my father for the lessons?"

Suzuki laughed. "Iie, Akane-san. What I said was that they refused to pay. They were afraid that I would be hurt. I have been able to change their minds a little. Now they allow me to practice the Arts and even encourage me. I talked them into conducting the tournament as a way of bringing together the best martial artists in a formal setting and not in a Dojo challenge." He grinned again. "I look forward to seeing if I am skilled enough to face either of you in the ring."

Akane and Ranma looked at each other. Ranma shrugged and lifted their bags. Akane smiled at him and turned back to Suzuki-san, who handed her two little plastic cards with the kanji for newlymarried written on them.

"Your room is on the top floor. You can't miss it. It faces the elevator. Big arched doors. If you need anything, just call the desk and let them know what room you're in. The staff has been advised to do their best to keep you happy."

Ranma paused. "Do you know any of the restaurants nearby? This is the first time I've been in this part of Tokyo and I don't know anything about any of this." He pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. "Also, we need to get some things for Kasumi-oneechan."

Suzuki-san nodded. "We have an excellent 4star restaurant in the hotel and there is a shopping plaza around the corner. There is a menu in the room, but the cooks are flexible. Just dial the desk and place an order. If there is something you would like that is not listed, ask for John and he will be able to help you."

"Domo arigato, Suzuki san." Akane said with a bow.

"Hai, thanks man." Ranma looked uncomfortable for a moment. He brightened and grinned. "If you're still interested in learning Musabetsu Kakutou Ryuu, stop by the dojo. Me an' Akane are going to start up classes again soon."

"I think I will." ********************************************************* "Why in the world would you want to go to Jhusenkyo?" Ryoga asked, both amazed and horrified by the eager expression on the other man's face.

Xanatos seemed to realize how eager he looked and turned away for a moment. When he looked back, it was like a mask had replaced the flesh and bone of his face.

"That is no concern of your's, Hibiki-san." he replied in perfect Japanese. "All that should matter to you is that I and my associates may be able to help you gain control of both your curses."

Ryoga looked away, his gaze drawn out over the city. He felt a chill go down his spine, like someone was watching him. Frowning slightly, he scanned the city. Seeing nothing, he casually turned and placed his back against the stone of the ramparts. He looked over the castle. A slight movement near one of the upper towers, were there was a large statue of somekind, caught his attention. For a moment he was almost certain that it was the statues tail. 'Not likely, ' he thought to himself. 'This guy's probably got guards and everything, being so rich and all.'

"If you want my help, you'll need to explain why any sane person would willingly go to that . . . that hellish place." Ryoga shuddered, remembering his own brief visit. "They aren't called 'Pools of Sorrow' for no reason. It's a horrible place."

Xanatos chuckled. "I can see where you would think that." He sighed, placing his hands on the battlements. "As for your question, I have a . . .friend who needs the water from two pools. Spring of drowned man, and spring of drowned woman. You are the first person we've encountered that might lead us to the pools. We tried in the Nyschezu village, but they weren't cooperative."

Ryoga started. "You went to the Chinese Amazons? Why would you want to do that?"

"I thought that they might be willing to help me when I explained the situation."

"What situation?" the lost boy asked.

"It's not my position to tell you. My friend has need of the water, and when we went to China to try and find it, the Amazons chased us off."

"Who is your friend?" Ryoga asked, thinking 'What kind of idiot want's to get cursed?'.

"I am." stated a deep voice from the shadows behind them. ********************************************************* "Mother's name?" Ranma thought to himself. He looked up from the form he was filling. "Hey, Akane, why do they want to know all this junk?"

"I think it's in case we get hurt. They have to know who to get in touch with if something happens."

Ranma snorted. "Like something's gonna happen." He frowned. He took a quick look around, noticing that there was no one within earshot. "What if I don't know some of these?"

Akane looked up from her own form. "Which ones don't you know?"

Ranma turned his gaze back to the sheet. "Mother's name, home address, blood type, birthday, next of kin, home phone number, ranking, number of siblings-" before he could continue, Akane cut him off.

"Well, what do you know?" she asked, a wave of sorrow hitting her. At least, she knew all the answers, even if some of them were painful to remember.

Looking over the list, Ranma sighed. "The only ones I do know are my name, age, sex- huh? Hey, check it out! The little box beside the thing asking your sex. It has a choice of both. Do you think there are more like me out there?"

Akane looked closer at her sheet. Sure enough, beside the little box where you were supposed to fill in your sex, there was a third option titled both. Studying the list further, she found a few other strange choices.

' "Can you shapeshift?", "If so, what can you change into", '"Can you perform ki-blasts or shields?", "Do you have the ability to control the elements?" What the hell kind of questions are these?' She almost started back to the table to demand and explaination for the weird questions when she remembered her own unique situation. With a faint blush she finished her forms before turning to try and help her mate. *********************************************************

*Chapter 7*: Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15

Chapter 13

Ryoga stumbled back in fear. His had gripped the stone of the battlements, which crumbled to dust under the force of his grip. "What the hell are you?" he asked, his voice low in barely controlled fear.

"I, and my family, are Gargoyles." The immense figure stated as he stepped fully into the light. His voice was incredibly deep and powerful. His whole being presented a sense of raw earthy power, of barely contained strength.

Ryoga had backed up as far as he could. His back was pressed against stone. He looked around desperately, trying to find a way out of this trap. He noticed that the older man was just standing there, a smirk on his lips. For a moment, his anger surged, blocking out the fear. He took a step forward, his eyes narrowing as his rage built within him. It was then that he noticed the smaller forms standing just behind the purple giant. His eyes widened with fear and he slammed back into the wall, his hands digging into the solid stone.

There were 8 figures behind the largest of them. They were widely different in appearance. There were two who were obviously female, judging from the fact that they were wearing halters to cover some quite significant chests. Under normal circumstances, seeing two woman dressed in the manner of these two would have sent Ryoga into oblivion with a massive nosebleed, but his fear overrode his normal responses.

Out of the shadows, a hispanic woman strode forward until she reached the lavender monster's side. Ryoga passed out again as she looped an arm around the waist of the monster and smiled up gently at him. The monster retured the favor, by gently placing one of his incredibly muscular arms around the woman's shoulder as a small smile grew on his lips.

Behind the woman, the scarlet haired demon scowled slightly at the sight. However, Ryoga Hibiki was not concious to notice, nor would he have noticed if he were awake for he was the typical Japanese teen in at least one sense: he was completely oblivious to anything subtler than a mallet to the head and with him, even that was more often than not too subtle.

"What's his problem?" asked Lex as he studied the boy. ********************************************************* The register stared down at the form in his hand. More than half of it was blank. No personal information at all except for name, age, and genders. Under any other circumstance, he would have laughed at the two teens who had handed him the form. However, these were not ordinary circumstance for under the name of the school was listed an extremely rare and secretive name.

Among regular schools, the Musabetsu Kakutou was almost legendary. It is reputed to be one of, if not the, single most powerful school of martial arts ever created. It's history was shrouded in myths and legends. The only concrete evidence of it's existence was in the criminal records of the few practitioners and the existence of a little known and almost never used Dojo in Nerima. Whereas all other schools had ranking systems (belts, beads, dan levels, etc...), the Musabetsu Kakutou was rumored to have only 3 positions. Student, Master, and GrandMaster. There was only 1 GrandMaster, and the largest known number of Masters at one time was 7, nearly 500 years prior to this event.

The students, few that there were, were virtual slaves to the masters, forced to endure training that not even the most avid of any other school would attempt. The masters were similarily subject to the GrandMaster. At this time, rumor had it that the small school had only been continued by 2 families.

Now, it seemed that the rumor was truth for standing before him were Saotome Ranma of the Musabetsu Kakutou Saotome-Ryuu and his fiancee Tendo Akane of the Musabetsu Kakutou Tendo-Ryuu.

And despite the fact that Saotome-san's form was less than half filled, he was forced to accept it and treat the young man with respect, as his employer, Meaiu Setsuna had been very direct in ordering him. When he had asked why he should treat the youth with respect deserving only to a true master of an actual school, the normally staid and proper Setsuna had stared at him with her purple-green eyes and collapsed back into her seat laughing. She had then dismissed him with a wave of her hand and a reaffirmation that he was to be most polite and respectful to the youth and to any others claiming to study the Musabetsu Kakutou Ryuu.

As he had opened the door to leave her office, her laughter had stopped. He shuddered as he remembered her next words.

'"Should a short, wrinkled old man come and claim title to the Musabetsu Kakutou as GrandMaster, page me immediately. Treat him with respect, and do not deny his claim. Warn the women and girls to guard their possesions and their persons. Do not anger him until I arrive."'

He would have dismissed her claims if he had not sensed the undercurrent of fear in her voice. The knowledge that she feared this man was enough to make him shudder in terror. As long as he had known her, Setsuna had never shown any fear of anything. He was most definitely not eager to face something that could terrify HER.

"Saotome-kun, Tendo-san, it is an honor to have practitioners of your schools at this tournament." he stamped the forms and slipped them into the appropriate folders. "Do to the nature of your schools, and your late arrival, you have been granted a by to the 2nd round. Your first fight, should all go well, will be this evening at 9:45 for you, Saotome-kun at Area 3, and at 10:15 for you, Tendo-kun in Area 6." He hand them each a small booklet. "Inside here, you will find a map of the stadium with all the locations for the battles. You will also find a copy of the rule book and a biography of some of the celebrities that shall be in attendance. It also directs you to the changing areas, food court, Nurses station, and a few other places you might need."

Not having a watch, Ranma looked around for a clock. "What time is it?" he asked the gaijin register, whose name tag read "Aaron".

The tall sandy haired man looked at the watch on his left wrist. "It is now 5:50. The first match, a demonstration match between 2 of our mystery celebrities is to take place at 7:05. It is in Area 3, which is the center of the arena."

Akane studied the map that had been in the booklet, and nodded. 'That's pretty nearby, actually. I want to see this, then Ranma and I can get something to eat.'

Ranma was looking around, studying the people around him. He was looking with more than his eyes. He was trying to see the ki levels of the people taking part in the tournament. He could sense several strong powers in the building, but could not pinpoint the origrins. Some of the powers were strangely different from ki, but similar enough that he could detect them. Some were even vaguely familiar.

*Ranma! Saotome Ranma?!!* a voice screamed from. *What the Hèl are you doing here, of all places?*

Looking around franticly, Ranma spotted a large figure moving towards him. His reflexes started to prepare for a fight, but he could sense no hostility from the advancing figure.

*Who are you?* he asked as the figure approached. While he trusted his sense for danger, he still placed himself between Akane and the man who was almost at the desk. The crowd was beginnning to part willingly, as the large figure simply pushed aside anyone who did not get out of his way.

The figure stopped a few feet away. *Don't you remember me? We trained together at the Ket Jung Do Dojo in San Fransisco.*

Ranma frowned, looking up at the redhaired giant. Something was tickling his mind, a name and a face. He could not quite make it out. *Hey, the last time I was in San Fransisco I was only about 9 years old. How do you recognize me?* he asked puzzled.

The giant roared with laughter. Several of the nearby people recoiled at the boisterous sound being emitted. *After what you did to me? I could never forget your face. Or your pigtail. You're the only guy I've ever seen wear it like that. Not to mention your fat old man. How is the old geezer?*

Ranma blinked again. Before he could reply, Akane grabbed his arm and moved to his side. He glanced down at her, as she stared up at the man who must have been more that 7 feet tall.

"Ranma, do you know who this is? What is he saying?" Akane asked.

Ranma smiled. He remembered who this was now. "Just a moment Akane."

He turned back to the giant. *You yellow son of a halfbreed mongrol dog, you ask me what I am doing here? This is my home, you dog ugly horse eater.*

The giant roared. His face darkened with emotion. More of the crowd started to back away. The tall man was more than 2 feet taller and probably a few hundred pounds heavier than the younger man.

*Who are you to talk you yellow slant eyed coward?* he stated in a angry tone of voice. None of the people nearby could understand the language, but they did understand the tone.

Ranma grinned. *Coward? Who are you calling a coward, Irishman?*

*Irishman? IRISHMAN?* The giant began to growl. *I am a son of Iceland. Not the damned isle of Eyre.*

Ranma looked the man over, a sly grin on his lips. *Oh? I see. I must have been mistaken. After all, Irishman look alot like Icelandic women. I'm sure you can understand the error, you being so womanly and all.*

The giants face darkened even more. Suddenly, without warning, he grasped his sides and fell to his knees, his whole body shaking with the effort of containing laughter. Unfortunately, he was not successful. *It is indeed a good thing to see you again, my little friend. It has been a long time.*

Ranma smiled and thrust out his arm. The giant grasped it below the elbow, and Ranma effortlessly hauled the big man to his feet. *It is an honor to see you again as well, Ulaf. What are you doing in Japan? When we last met, you had planned to return home to take over for your father.*

*The fool recovered. It was simply a bad case of food poisoning combined with a heart attack. He had nearly recovered by the time I arrived home. We had a discussion about it when the doctor cleared him.* The giant looked down at Akane. *And who is the pretty little thing here?*

*This is my mate, Akane.* Ranma stated proudly, his arm wrapping around her shoulder. He also looked at Akane and blinked at the frustration he saw in her face. *Do you think we could speak Japanese. I'm afraid she does not speak the language of the frozen isles.*

The giant waved a hand. "Certainly, little friend. I must practice it anyway. My father has decided to extend his business to your country. That is a large part of why I am here. That, and this tournament. I received an invitation." Something seemed to click in his mind. He looked at the girl standing next to Ranma more closely. "This is Akane? The same Akane you told me about all those years ago?"

Ranma grinned. "Hai. My idiot of a father conveniently engaged us at birth. He didn't bother to tell me about it until we returned from China and were a few blocks away. He also did not tell me that the person he had engaged me to was Akane. He only told me that we were going to an old friend of his and that I was going to marry one of his daughers. He knew all along that Akane here, was the same one I had met after that damn Nekoken training. Hell, the bastard even convinced her father to put her through the same sort of training. Nekoken, Jhusenkyou, and a bunch of other stupid training methods."

Ulaf frowned. "I know about the Nekoken, but what is Jhusenkyou?"

Ranma shuddered, but it was Akane who answered. "Trust us, Ulaf-san. You do not want to know."

"Hey, Ulaf, when is your first fight? Akane and I got some kind of bye thingy to the second round for some reason. I don't have a fight until 9:45, and Akane until after 10:00. I'd love to see your match."

"My match is in the first round, right after the opening emonstration by the 'surprise guests'." Ulaf stated, looking around. "If I understand these brackets, I am to fight a Hawaiian named Edmond Honda."

"Oh? Have you heard what style he uses?" Akane asked. She had placed an arm around Ranma's waist and was leaning her head on his shoulder.

"From what I overheard others saying when they thought I would not understand, being gaijin and all, he is supposed to be a Sumo wrestler who has competed in the underground Street Fighter tournaments that are run by Shadowloo."

"huh. Must be pretty good, then." Ranma stated. "I've seen some of those, though I've never been in one." He shuddered. "I think I was 6 when I saw the first one. It was right after the tournament that oyaji decided to train me in the Nekoken. I think he was planning on entering me for the prize money and the bets." He swallowed. "It was the first time I saw someone die."

Akane and Ulaf's faces became grim.

"What happened, Ranma?" Akane asked gently.

"This guy in a mask, with a set of claws on his hand was fighting this other guy with a staff. It looked pretty even for most of the fight, until the staff guy hit the mask guy in the face. That guy then clutched his face and started screaming in some language I didn't know. I learned later that it was Spanish. Any way, he went nuts. He went into a roll with the claw extened. The staff was sliced early, and then the claws were sticking out of the guy's back, straight through the heart. Claw guy yanked down before pulling the claws out."

Ulaf nodded while Akane looked ill. "I think I know this man you speak of. I hear he is called Vega and that he is some high ranking assasin for Shadowloo and M. Bison. If even a tenth of the rumors concerning that group are true, they are a danger to the world."

Ranma grinned. "I know. That's what the Street Fighter tournaments are about. They're a front to hide Shadowloo's recruiting of the best fighters in the world. I happen to have come across a small group that's trying to stop them, by hiding their intentions by fighting in the tournament." ********************************************************* A tall blond man behind Ranma started. His hair was cut very short in a military style and he was wearing blue combat fatigues. Over one shoulder, he was carrying an army issue duffel bag. Beside him, an oriental woman dressed in a maroon business suit stopped and the two started eavesdropping on the conversation.

The man looked over the three people talking about the Street Fighter tournament. Turning to the woman with a concerned expression on his face, he spoke in heavily accented Chinese. *Chun, do you recognise any of them?*

The woman carefully studied the small group. Half closing her eyes, she extended her senses. Her eyes shot wide open and her face paled. *I do not know these people* she stated, her voice shaking. *But I sense they are very powerful, especially the young man.*

*What do you mean?* Guile asked.

*During my childhood, I was taught how to read a persons aura, to learn how powerful they are and whether they were a threat or peaceful.* she explained, her voice still quivering. *My father's grandmother taught me the trick during one of her many visits.* Taking a breath, she tried to calm her racing heart. *There is as much power in that young man as there is in anyone I have ever faced. And, he is hiding a much larger source of power, as is the girl.*

*So what you're saying is that you can tell how strong someone is just by reading their aura, and that the kid is stronger than most of the fighters you know? What about Bison or Ruy?*

Chun-Li shook her head. *I do not know. They too are capable of hiding their strength. Let me put it this way. If the young man were to remove the constraints he keeps on his power, he could likely destroy a medium sized stadium such as this with just the release.*

*Do you think you could teach me this trick? It would help us a lot, if others could tell if someone nearby was an enemy or a threat to others.*

Chun-li hesitated before answering. *I do not know if I should. The technique is a secret of my father's people, the Jokoketsu. Great- grandmother once told me to never teach the technique to outsiders, especially males.*

Guile groaned. He had heard a lot over the years of the legendary chinese amazons. *Would I be able to learn the technique in the first place?* he asked.

Chun-li grinned. *Oh yes. Most people are instinctively capable of it on a much smaller scale. You yourself have trained it about as far as you can without a few minor meditative aids the amazons have developped. It's that sense that tells you when someone is watching you, or the feeeling of danger you get when being stalked by a large predator. But my ancestors were able to extend it in many ways.* She turned to face the convention door. *For one, they have made it possible to recognize the presence of a close friend within a certain distance.*

"Hey, Honda!" She cried as her eyes spotted the figure her senses had noticed seconds before. "We're over here!"

A large man turned to face the shout and a smile broke on his huge face. "Konnichiwa, Chun-Li, Guile-san. You'll never guess who I ran into at a restaurant a few blocks from here."

From behind the large man stepped a familiar figure to the two government agents. Clad in his standard white training gi and red belt stood Ryu. ********************************************************* Chapter 14

Ranma nearly staggered as his senses were suddenly overcome by a powerful aura. Akane also stumbled. Ulaf simply looked down at the two, not understanding why they were so startled by the door of the elevator opening.

Ranma looked around, trying to sense the source of the powerful and somehow familiar aura. Akane also looked around, extending her enhanced senses. Her chi training was not as progressed as her mate's but her mutated body was still dozens of times more sensitive than any normal humans.

"Where is it, Ranma? I can feel it, but I can't pinpoint it. There are too many powerful sources near it."

"There are other ways, anata. Look for a group of 4 that are just standing around. It feels like they just got together, so they should be exchanging greetings."

Ulaf, still not understanding what they were really talking about, decided to try and spot a group like the one Ranma mentioned. He spotted four people standing not far from the desk, where he had run into Ranma. He noticed that one of the figures was quite bulky and wondered if it was Honda.

"Over there, my friends. Near the desk." he stated softly. Ranma's and Akane's head whipped around to face the direction he had pointed out.

Ranma's eyes narrowed as he studied the figures. He could sense that they were all very powerful. The weakest of them was easily a match for his father and Tendo-san. Maybe even a match for Akane. Ignoring the sumo and the American, he started by studying the Chinese woman. Something about her kept reminding him of the Amazons. Perhaps she was one. But it was the fourth figure that caught his attention. He could almost sense the power radiating from the man, even without chi-enhancing or his metahuman sense. A growl started in his throat and he moved to position himself between the figure and his mate.

While he could not sense any hostility from the man, he knew better than to rely on that. All this took place somewhere in Ranma's subconcious mind. His concious mind was busy trying to place where he had felt that aura before and why the man seemed so familiar to him. ********************************************************* Ruy studied the faces of the people standing around in the hotel lobby, trying to appear casual. He could feel the presence of a familiar aura, but there were to many others interfering for him to pinpoint it.

While he recognized the aura as one he knew, he could tell that there was a difference in it that was not there the last time he had felt it. For one, it was much more powerful, almost as strong as his own. It was also hiding a much greater power within it. There was another very large power near it and a slightly less powerful force with them.

His gaze slowly crossed the bank of elevators before moving on. Something below the concious level of his mind caused him to turn back and stare at the elevators.

A face passed through his minds eye, followed by the image of a bucking horse. His gaze bore into the face of the young man, who was also now staring directly at him. The rest of the world faded away and the image of the horse shifted into a name.

"Ranma." Ruy stated quietly. He sweatdropped when the others turned to look at him. ********************************************************* "Ryu" Ranma's voice was soft and his stance shifted from one of agression to a more relaxed defensive stance.

Akane, not liking the feel of the lobby, dragged Ranma into the elevator. She pressed the button for their floor, as did Ulaf. ********************************************************* Chapter 15

Ryoga awoke with a start, sitting up abrubtly, causing the person leaning over him to jump back in fear.

"Was I dreaming?" he asked the air, not having noticed the person in the lab coat.

"No sir, Mr. Hibiki." came a timid voice from the man in the hospital scrubs.

Ryoga looked around, noticing the man and the room. Obviously, he was in some kind of examination room, judging by the expensive equipment. He watched as the man spoke into a device built into the wall, speaking too quietly for him to hear.

Less than a minute later, the door swung open and Xanatos entered, followed by the blond man who brought him here, a tall red-haired woman with a strange looking blue-tattoo on her face and the olive skinned woman in the jeans and red bomber jacket.

"What's going on here?" Ryoga asked. "What were those things I saw?"

"Those were gargoyles, Mr. Hibiki. The Wyvern clan, to be precise." replied the blond man in a monotone.

"What's a gargoyle and what is Wyvern?"

"Wyvern is the name of this castle." answered Xanatos. "And those beings you saw are gargoyles. They are the reason I need your help in finding Jhusenkyou."

"So those monsters are gargoyles and they are why you need Jhusenkyou." Ryoga frowned. "You want to make it so they can pass for human? Why?"

"Let's just say it's personal and leave it at that, okay?"

Ryoga frowned as something occurs to him. "It has to do with keeping them safe, right? And with the way the big one was looking at her?"

Xanatos blinked. He hadn't know the youth for long and even he could see how oblivious he was. "Yes. But the reason why isn't important. If you are willing, we need to get a supply of the water, both nannichuan and nyannichuan."

Ryoga frowned. "In case you're wondering, I think there's also a spring of drowned gargoyle." he offered, deciding to take the offer. This Xanatos person's help would be a godsend. With a steady pay, and official papers, his search for Saotome would progress much quicker and he would be able to have his revenge.

Xanatos looked towards Eliza, both of them wearing expressions of shock. *How does he do that? He seemed almost a little dim, then he springs this on me.* "Are you certain of that? That would be of great interest to me if it is true."

Ryoga scratched the back of his head. "As certain as I can be. When I fell off the cliff into the spring, I saw something climbing out of a spring near the one I fell in. Thinking about it, it looks a lot like that small green one, except it was more yellow then green, and had horns curving over his head and hair."

"Detective, do you recognize the description?" asked Owen. "Does it sound like a member of one of the clans you've met?"

Eliza blinked. "I've never met one that looked like that. And I've been around gargoyles in most parts of the world."

"Not quite all the world, detective, but close enough, I suppose." Owen stated in his dry voice. "And remember, the gargoyle that drowned in that spring could have died centuries or even millenia ago."

At one time, Eliza would have bristled and attacked him for the manner in which he addressed her, but a few years of close proximity and several life and death situations shared by those in the room, had relaxed her somewhat. She wasn't fond of being called detective by any of this crowd. Not since Demona had started using it to taunt her with durng the Rift as it was now called. She and Demona still had their problems but they could go whole hours in each other's prescence without thinking of killing the other.

"So it could have been from one of the many lost clans." she stated.

"I guess. I wouldn't know anything about that. I only know what I saw." Ryoga stated, looking around. "Where are they? I'd like to meet them."

"Dawn is approaching and they are taking their places around the castle walls. They turn to stone during the day, reawakening at dusk." Owen stated. "If you'd like, I will show you them later. You are alright now?"

"Yeah, I'm just not good at being surprised like that." He hoped off the table, and everyone in the room took a step back. His stomach took that moment rumble, reminding him that he hadn't eaten in a while. "Er, could we stop for something to eat first?" *********************************************************

*Chapter 8*: Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18

Here it is after so long, Chapter 16 up to 18

Usual disclamers apply. All characters belong to those who created them and I own nothing except my idea of how to use them.

*************************************************** Chapter 16

Ranma and Akane sat in the loveseat of their suite, while Ulaf dragged a chair over to face them. They each held a cup of tea, and were discusing what had happened in the lobby.

"So who was that guy and how did you know him?" Akane asked.

Ranma sipped his tea. "His name is Ruy. He's a wandering martial artist who fights in the Street Fighter tournaments. He's one of the top fighters in the world, probably in the top 3. He's on some kind of personal quest to take down Shadowloo. Pop and I ran into him and some friends a few years ago in Taiwan. They were busting up a drug cartel that was a front for Shadowloo and Pop and I were there to learn a from a master who was living in the area. Anyway, Pop's an idiot and he tried to pick Ruy's pocket. Ruy caught him and they had a discussion. As much as I enjoy the idea of Pop getting his ass handed to him, I stepped hin and stopped Ruy from delivering a kick. It nearly broke my arm and I'm sure that it would have cracked oyaji's ribs.

"Ruy wondered why I would save the old man and I told him that as much as I sometimes hated the bastard, he was my father and I couldn't let some stranger kick the shit out of him for something as stupid as having his pocket picked. It was partially his fault for letting the old man get so close, after all. If he had been paying attention to his surroundings instead of brooding over whatever was on his mind, he would have felt Pop coming from down the block.He sort of grunted and turned to walk away.

I took a swipe at him, angry that he would turn his back on me. He ducked and spun a kick.We traded a few blows, and even though I knew I was outclassed I still fought as hard as I could. I got a few hits in, but he eventualy put me down with a right fake, left sweep kick followed up with a palm strike to my solar plexus. He stood over me for a few seconds and watched while I got my breath back. Once I did, he told me I had great potential and that if I wished, I could travel with him and he would train me and help me improve. It's from him and his friends that I learned how to use my ki to project my aura and to throw kiblasts." Ranma paused to see if the two were following his story and they motioned for him to continue.

"Anyway, I agreed to the training and Pop and I travelled with Ruy and his friends Ken Masters, an American, and Cammy, a British woman who worked for a special forces unit of the United Nations Peacekeepers. I learned a lot from them all and got to see some of the horrible things Shadowloo has done. Unfortunately, Pop is an idiot and he sold out where we were staying to some Shadowloo's agents and Cammy and Ken were badly injured. Ruy blamed me and threw us out, saying that if he saw us again, he would extract repayment of the debt we owed him for the near loss of his friends."

Akane sighed. She had heard similiar stories from Ranma and had lived in similar events in her life. Several times during her travels with her father, she had made enemies simply through her own skills and after Jhusenkyo and the nekoken, it became harder for her to make friends. And her father was somewhat likeable, unlike Ranma's who was a complete and total scoundrel.

Ulaf frowned. "And know here he is, at this tournmant, and here you are, also taking part. Do you think you will face him?"

Ranma shrugged. "It depends on how skilled the other fighters I face are. He shouldn't have too much problems with his matches. Like I said he's easily one of the top 3 fighters in the world. He's the only man outside of Shadowloo to win more then three Street Fighter tournaments and walk away. He's fought Bison and won. I don't know if I could do that, even in my were form."

"I guess we'll just have to wait and see." Akane stated placing her cup on the table. She looked over at the clock, noting the time. "Come on, let's go. We only have about twenty minutes to get back to the arena and find some good seats for the celebrity exhibition and the firstround. Ulaf is fighting in that round against Honda and we're supposed to be at the dressing rooms 15 minutes before match time for a quick medical checkup."

Ulaf stood, downing his cup and seating it next to Akane's and Ranma's. "Thanks for the tea, and the story, Ranma. It was a pleasure meeting you Akane. I hope we can get together again this weekend, if our schedules permit it."

The three walked out of the room to return to the arena, making plans to meet the next afternoon and tour the city. Akane was the only one who had been in Tokyo before so she would give the two newbies a tour of the city between the afternoon matches, should they all win their matches this evening. They split up upon reaching the arena, Ulaf to go and prepare for his match and the cursed duo to find good seating for the exhibitions, some of which were going on.

**************************************************** "What's wrong, Ruy? Who's Ranma?" Chun Li asked, noting the odd look on her friends face. Ruy was usually a pretty stone faced guy and his face looked almost pale. Not the kind of pale of someone seeing a ghost or in shock, but the kind of pale that only someone beyond anger could achieve.

Ruy took a breath and struggled to regain his calm. He had truthfully not expected to see Saotome Ranma again. Certainly not in this type of environment. If anything, he expected the boy to have either become as evil as his father or to have been killed by someone his father had deceived in some manner. But from what he could sense of the youth, he detected no malice or wickedness. Just a general excitement for finding something he hadn't seen in a long time and a great swell of love directed to the powerful female presence at his side.

"A thief and a lowlife. I met him and his father about 4 years ago. I don't know how, but he persuaded me to train him. Looking back, I see that it was setup from the beginning. His fat fool of a father attempted to pick my pocket. He had some small skill, being able to mask his presence until he actually made contact with me. I was attempting to punish him, when this young boy, mostly skin and bones, but with a powerful aura, blocked my kick. It broke his arm, but he put up enough of a fight to impress me. It's not often that a boy his age could even block a kick from me without completely shattering his arms.

So after he explained about his fool of a father and asked to learn from me, I gave in. I taught him how to harness control of his aura. To be honest, he's one of the best and quickest learning people I've ever known. He learned how to throw a ki blast just from watching Ken and me sparring. It was weak at the time, but I didn't learn to do it until I was almost 25 and even then, his was stronger than mine was at the time."

Guile quirked an eyebrow. He'd only heard of kiblasts after getting involved with the assignment to infiltrate Shadowloo. For a boy not even half his age to pull one off was almost frightening. "So what happened that soured you on him?"

"Ken, Cammy and I were looking for Sagat and Vega. Ranma's father heard that Shadowloo had a price on our head's and sold us out. Ken amd Cammy got beat pretty badly before I was able to chase the thugs off. But it had been Ranma who had directed them to the warehouse they got caught in. I gave Ranma a warning and told him to leave. I also told him that the next time I saw him, I'd repay him for each of the injuries Ken and Cammy suffered."

Chun Li nodded. She could understand Ruy's reasoning. Though she was still curious as to what else had happened since then, she didn't want to press the issue with the moody warrior. Her companions weren't so tactful though.

"That doesn't explain what was going on. The way you jumped when you got to us . . . something startled you. Were you able to pull that trick Chun Li does and felt his aura from across the room?" Honda asked. Of all their crowd, he had known Chun Li the longest. He knew as much about her as anyone, and had learned his Thousand Hand Clap from watching her Lightning Kick, which she had told him her greatgrandmother had taught her as a child as a variation on an ancient tribe secret.

Ryu nodded. "His power level . .. I haven't felt anything like that in years. Not since the first time I ran into Bison. He's holding back a great deal, probably as much as he can and I can still feel his aura tingling against my skin. It's odd though. I'd have thought his father would have completely corrupted him by now, but I only feel a slight mischevious quality to his aura. It seems almost playful." Ryu hesitated to mention the sense of the youth's emotional presence. While he was quite adapt at locating enemies by their aura, he was still a novice at gathering people's emotional states.

Chun Li grinned. "Ryu's right. I could feel a powerful presence approaching even before we ran into you, Honda. I caught a glimpse of the boy when Ryu started staring at the elevators and I was hit by a sense of excitement and by a very strong feeling of love for the young woman he's with. His general mood is happiness, though he must have noticed you, Ryu, since there's a thread of worry. Strangely its not for himself, but for the woman and someone else. . . someone closs to them. I can't get a better sense. I'm not a mind reader, but it seems to me he's nothing like the father you describe."

"Maybe, but I still need to punish him. I made a vow and I need to go through with it or I would be no better than either his father or Bison."

"Do it in the ring, if you face him." Guile suggested. He looked up at the board above the center ring. There was a listing of all the fighters and the brackets. The name of Saotome Ranma was listed as having a by to the second level of fights, along with the names of Ryu, Guile, and Tendo Akane. He didn't recognize most of the names, and there were several others who had by's but he was surprised by the name of Tendo. It reminded him of something he'd read, but he couldn't quite place it. It was sometype of official report, but not one that immediately sprang to mind. "Look at the board. If you each win two fights, you'll be facing each other. Not quite as dramatic as if it was the finals, but still, it is center stage. You can defeat and humiliate him at the same time."

Ryu studied the board and nodded. "That sounds good. If I can. He's stronger than he was. Much stronger."

Honda snorted. "Shouldn't matter, brudda. He's still a boy. He's what, 15? 16? Not a lot of time to gain experience there."

Ryu shook his head. "You don't understand what his father's training style was like. He makes my sensei seem like a den mother. I don't know if I would have survived some of his training methods, let alone be sane enough to live near other people."

"I don't see what would have been so much worse than the way that old man taught you and Ken. Hell, because of his training, Akuma was created from all your darker impulses and anger."

"Yes, but he didn't resort to torture. Ranma's father taught him the nekoken. A powerful and deadly technique. In order to learn it, the student is wrapped in various seafoods and other goodies and tossed into a pit filled with starving cats. This goes on everyday, sometimes several times a day for weeks, until the student's mind finally snaps and he begins to act like a cat. At that point, he gains the ability to project his ki into claws around his hands and strengthen his teeth. He also at least quadruples his speed and strength. The only drawback is that the person has no concious control over himself. He is ruled entirely by his instincts. He heals at a visible pace. A cut that would kill or at least incapacitate a normal person would heal totally within seconds. You would be able to see the tissue knitting together. This makes it nearly impossible to defeat him since the only way to end the fight would be to kill him with one blow before it had time to heal.

But since he's ruled by instinct, he'd be easy to distract, just like any other cat. The only exceptions would be if you tried to take something he saw as his, either territory or food or even a mate, than he'd keep fighting until the enemy was dead. With the power he has now, I'd hate to think how strong his nekoken form would be."

Guile frowned. "So how does he snap out of it and what causes him to slip back into it if he has no control over it?"

Chun Li continued, having learned of the NekoKen from her Great Grandmother. "Fear. The student, because of the training method, will be deathly afraid of cats. If exposed to them for any significant amount of time, the fear will cause his mind to snap and the nekoken will take over. The only way to control someone in the nekoken state is for the trainee to trust you completely, even to the point of being willing to do things that seem totally insane on your say so simly because they trust that you will not harm them in any way. There's also an element of love, but that could be familial love or romantic. It's the trust that's the real secret to the control. They have to trust you to be able to control something that they have no control over."

"Enough of this. It's almost time to start. I have to get to the dressing rooms and get ready for my fight. I'm up against some guy named Ulaf." Honda stated. "Why don't the three of you go find a good spot to watch the match. It's in Area 2. That's the second ring. This arena is usually a soccer stadium. The center stage ring is Area 3. Area 1 is the home goal, Area 2 is middle of home territory, Area 3 is at midfield and so on. There are 5 rings in this field, and 5 more in another field. The arena has 2 full size olympic soccer fields and a sumo arena with 4 sumo rings. For the purpose of this fight, the rings we are using have a 35 foot diameter. The rules are you win by knock out, ring out, points by hits or submission. No killing, all weapons are blunted, and any lifethreatening injuries result in disqualification."

"So very different than the Street Fighter Tournaments. More room to maneuver and a strict rule system. What about a time limit?" Ryu asked. He had not bothered reading the pamphlets he had been given when he signed up.

"10 minutes. There are age limits as well, though exceptions are made for people of exceptional skill levels and for some schools. I've heard a rumor that there's even going to be some representatives of the Musabetsu Kakutou Ryuu." Honda stated. "I've been in town for a few days and I passed the register's office while he was on the phone with someone asking about getting 2 students of that school in."

Guile frowned. "Indescrimate School of Openhanded Fighting? Weird name."

Ryu grasped his friends shoulders. "Yes, it is. And they are here. Ranma's father is a master of the Musabetsu Kakutou Saotome Ryuu, and I'm guessing the girl he is with is this Tendo Akane who's on the board and that she's a member of the Musabetsu Kakutou Tendo-Ryuu."

Honda grinned as he split off from the group. "I'll look forward to seeing them fight then. I'll talk to you later." He made his way to the dressing room, wanting to get dressed for his fight and warm up.

"Good luck, Honda." the three wished their large Hawaiian friend while seeking seats near the center ring to watch the celebrity guests sparring match and opening ceremonies.


Chapter 17

Ryouga grunted as he was again tripped up by his opponent. He'd had little luck, despite his larger size and skill. His opponent was both older than him and more experienced at fighting stronger opponents. He barely felt the blows struck by the other's fists, but his foe was faster, and had the tail appendage which gave him a suprising edge. He was also stronger than he should have been for his size, but Ryouga put that down to his Gargoyle nature as opposed to humans. He knew that he could jam his finger's into solid stone without injury, but that was only after a long, painful training method.

No human could really do that without shattering all the bones in their hand. Yet all gargoyles did so as a matter of course. It wasn't solely due to the fact of the clawed talons instead of fingernails, but an inate strength of bone and tissue in gargoyle biology.

Physically, a gargoyle was several times stronger than a human of identical measurements would be. If it hadn't been for Ryouga's training, he would not have stood a chance against he small, green gargoyle called Lexington. The thought of facing the large lavender skinned clan leader was enough to frighten him silly.

"Enough." the giant being said, causing Ryouga nad the small green gargoyle to stop their session.

"Something wrong, Goliath?" the green gargoyle asked his clan leader.

The giant uncaped his wings and uncrossed his arms. "No. That was amazing, Lexington, Ryouga. It's just that it's almost sunrise and we need to get to our stations."

Ryouga chuckled a little at the praise from the large gargoyle. He'd been here in New York for a few days now. He'd spent most of that time either wandering the castle, amazing himself in not getting lost or sparring against the gargoyles, at their request after they'd seen him practicing some katas. He'd shared his story with him and his quest for vengeance, and he'd heard their own tale of misery and loss. Thanks to this, he no longer feared them and was only slightly nervous around the largest one, their leader they called Goliath, and the eldest of them, the one they called Hudson. He even felt more comfortable with the females of the clan than he could remember being around any female except his mother.

He was eager now to help these gentle people in any way he could. He could understand their need for the cursed waters of Jhusenkyo and would be honored to lead them there. The only problem was that Owen said it would take at least another week to prepare for the trip and to gather the tools together by which he'd be able to permantely correct Ryouga's sense of direction.

He wiped off with a towel while the winged beings went out the large door to take their places on the castle battlements. He moved to watch as the sun rose above the horizon, noting the positions they took as they turned to stone. Most assumed fierce expressions and stances preparing for attack, though the leader took a pose that was similar to one he'd seen in a statue by some famous artist somewhere.

A sound from the door caused him to turn. He was less than surprised to see the tall, lanky blond. "Ohayo, Burnett-san. How are you today?"

Owen Burnett's eyebrow cocked in a familiar manner. "I am well, Hibiki-san. I trust you are finding your stay with us?"

Ryoga nodded and grinned. "Hai. This place is amazing. I haven't gotten lost in days! Everytime I think I'm going to take a turn, I feel this shock and I'm still there. I've done a lot of thinking, and I realised that I feel a kind of shock or tugging everytime I used to look around and found that I'd gotten somewhere I had no idea of going to. Like when I was in Japan, turned around and found myself here, in New York."

Owen nodded. "Yes, I suppose you would. Your direction curse is just that, a curse. It is ancient and tied to your family line. I have been doing some research and found that I might have learned the originator of the curse. If I am correct, that will make it easier to cure not only you, but also your entire family."

Ryoga's smile widdened and threatened to split his face. "That's . .. that's so kind of you. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay you."

Owen's eyebrow rose as high as it ever had. "We are not being altruistic with our actions, Mr. Hibiki. You are here to provide a service. A service that you are the only one we have access too that is able to perform said service. There is no one else we were able to speak to who would be willing to aid Mr. Xanatos. The price for your aid is extremely little for what we will be receiving in return. It has become increasingly dangerous in New York for our stone friends, and the waters of Jhusenkyo might be the only means in which they will survive. Against the risk of losing them, what we are spending and what we will spend in order to aid you, is nothing. Mr. Xanatos has a great deal to repay towards them, and this is just a small step in balancing the scales."

Ryoga's face hardened. He had to stop thinking these people were friends. Just because they were helping him, didn't mean they cared in any way what happened to him. They needed something from him, and they had something he needed. It was a simple business arrangment. Nothing more, nothing less. Maybe one day, he could call these people friends, but not yet. Not until this business was over. "I will keep that in mind, Mr. Burnett. And I will fulfill my side of the deal. Just keep yours. I don't think you'd want me as an enemy."

Owen gave a feint smile. Inside, Puck was laughing wildly. Thanks to the Pheonix Gate, he had travelled several timelines. He knew the potential held in the fanged boy's powerful body and understood the truth of his statement in ways the boy would never come close to experience. For through the boy, who had a friend or two he refused to acknowledge as such, it was indeed true that Ryoga Hibiki was not someone you wished to have on the side opposing yours. There were two such friends currently in Japan who the boy was hunting for vengeance, and who's abilities would rival those of several of the fey. He looked forward to the opportunity to meet those two: Saotome Ranma and his soon to be wife Tendo Akane were watched most closely by those with any glimmer of the future.

The day would come when the world would know the names of Ranma and Akane Saotome and elevate them to the status of legends.


Chapter 18

Ranma and Akane cheered along with the rest of the crowd as the celebrity guests were introcuded. Jet Li, a martial arts movie legend would be doing a demonstration of a fight scene from his newest movie with his costar, Jason Stratham. The two were starring in a movie titled "The One." It dealt with dimensional travel and how every possibility that could happen did happen and branched off into different universes. Jet Li played several versions of the same character, the main ones being a homocidal maniac who was going from universe to universe killing all the other versions of himself, and the last of the versions left. Each time one version of someone is killed, the other versions get stronger, and now that they are the last two, they are extremely powerful. Stratham plays a universal police officer who is sent to hunt down and capture/kill both of the last of Li's characters.

Stratham was not really a martial artist, but he had shown a great interest in learning throughout the making of the film and had been continuing to learn more since the end of the filming schedule. He was due to begin filming his first international release film, titled "The Transporter" at the start of the next month, and he was in Japan on a promotional tour of both films.

The demonstration lasted about 10 minutes, with Jet tossing Jason around as easily in real life as he did with the special effects of the movie. The British actor performed with style the moves he'd learned, but he'd known that he had no chance and had wanted to show that he was trying to improve his skills so that he'd perform better and be more realistic as a fighter in his movies.

The crowd cheered both, eager for the release of the movies and for the beginning of the first match. The announcers gave the first list of the fighters in each arena and the screens hanging from the ceiling came to life so that anyone could check what was happening at the other rings aside from the one they were currently seated near.

The people for the first round came striding out into the converted field, joining their opponents at their rings. Before the matches began, a trio of figures came striding forth from the section of seats usually reserved for VIPS. The crowd quieted as the tall, green haired woman raised a lazy hand for their attention.

"Arigato, minnasan. I am Meaiu Setsuna, and with me are Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki Nobi. The Suzuki's are our gracious hosts and the owners of both the stadium and the hotel were most of the competitors are residing for this tournament. I am the manager of both the Stadium and hotel. I have been tasked with seeing that the rules for the tournament are followed and that any problems are resolved as soon and as painlessly as possible. I wish to pass on my good wishes to all those taking part in the tournament and I hope that it is a success, since we wish to make this an annual event." Her eyes scanned the crowd, stopping here and there as she recognized several of the competitors, including some she wished she could eject immediately.

"The rules are simple: Each match has a 10 minute time limit. You win by knockout, ringout, submission, points by hits at time limit or disqualification. All styles are welcome, though those with weapon styles will be fighting with blunted weapons. No dismemberment, or maiming. No killing. Accidents do happen though, and we are prepared to deal with nearly any situation that might occur. Should there be a fatality, the contestant is disqualified and an investigation will commence to vertify that it was an accident. Should there prove to have been any intent to kill, the person responsible will face criminal charges including a charge of premeditation. That is what this warning is concerning.

This is a test of skill, people, not of killing strength. We ask that those with the ability to kiblast or energy blast take in mind that there is a crowd here and that this is an enclosed environment and limit their blasts in size and strength. First prize in the tournament is 50million yen for the mens champion and 35 for the womans champion.

Should they be capable of continuing, the champions will be offered the opportunity to face each other for both prizes and an additional 15million yen for a grand prize total of 100million yen. There is a 1million yen prize for each of the final eight males and final four woman. The final 4 men receive an additional 4 million and the final 2 woman are also guaranteed 5 million yen, with the woman champion receiving the additional 30million yen."

She scanned the crowd until she came upon the forms of Saotome Ranma and his future wife, Tendo Akane. The pair were the only two to meet her gaze and she smiled wide and nodded slightly to them, pleased to see them return the honor with a bow. She'd watched these two grow from afar, crying silent tears at the torture they'd survived in the name of training. If it hadn't been for her own future self's banning her from taking action, she would have killed Saotome Genma a hundred times over for the harm he'd inflicted on the pair. In all her remembered life, spanning countless centuries, she'd never seen any being with the casual creulty Genma showed his child. When she'd asked herself how they could let Genma do that to his own child, let along incite his friend to commit the same acts on his daughter, her future self had grinned cryptically and said simply that Ranma's heritage would show through and to not worry about the horrible influence of the scoundrel Saotome Genma.

Still, that hadn't stopped her from exacting a slight revenge by causing him to start loosing his hair more quickly than he otherwise would have. It was petty, she knew, but it was all she could do to punish the bastard.

*Chapter 9*: Chapter 19 and 20

At long Last ,Chapter 19-20 of Two Tiger's Tail.

Due to popular demand, I have been inspired and have gone on a writting spree the likes of which I haven't experienced in years. You might have noticed that I've been posting new and updated chapters of my other stories, but there's been little progress on this one. Well, here is some progress. I have been writting, but my mind's been bombarded with ideas for the other stories and I've only slowly started to add in more for this one.

I am still hoping to get suggestions on possible matches. If any one wishes to see a specific match, remember to give a bit of background on the character and the styles/attacks they use so that I know what I'm talking about. Or alternatively, you can draft it out and I'll add it if it fits with the direction of the story. Or maybe, we can do a series of side stories about various matches.

AN: I can only write as inspiration hits me, and unfortunately, this is one of my older stories and as such, I've been out of touch with the inspiration behind it. Don't worry, I am still writting, and will continue to do so until I feel it is done, but the updates will be sporadic at best. I can promise this:

I will not force you to wait more than a month or at most 6weeks for new chapters. I know many writers often take several months to add new chapters, and I for one, promise to not make you wait so long. With your help in the ways of review and suggestions or even sidestories for the matches, we will get this done.

I hope to actually write up to the end of the tournament for this story. I'm not sure if I intend to continue the plotline further than that, but if I do, I can only say that it would involve Ranma's meeting the Clan, and possibly, Ryoga's further adventures running into the SF crew.

********************************************************* Chapter 19 Ulaf vs. Honda FIGHT!

The crowd roared as the announcement was made introducing the combattants for the first round of the tournament. Ranma and Akane cheered along with the rest, though they didn't recognize any of the other competitors in the rings. Ulaf was stretching in the ring, staring at the immense figure of the sumo Street Fighter, Edmund Honda. The crowd was familiar with the former sumo champ and was clearly partial to him and opposed to the giant Icelander fishing magnate's son. Ulaf strode to the start line, hefting the rubber hammer he'd been given. Though those fighters with weapons styles were allowed to figth with weapons, they were provided with rubber and wood versions of said weapons.

The exceptions granted were for when 2 weapons users were facing off, as in the case in the next ring, where an American naginatado student was facing off against a nunchuku twirling Chinese man of matching height. Neither Ranma nor Akane was interested in the match, seeing how they believed the use of weapons implied a weakness of style and strength in the wielder. So they chose to focus on the match between the massive, surprisingly muscular Hawaiian and the hulking presence of their friendly Icelander giant.

The match started slowly, as each tried to feel out their opponents. Ulaf was the more impatient, and lashed out first with a side swing of the warhammer. It was an exact copy of the hammer he usually used in battle, though made of rubber and hollowed to be able to adjust the weight and soften impact. It was still solid enough that a good hit could bruise or break bone, but soft enough not to kill or maim unless a blow landed on a weak point in the skeletal structure.

Ulaf's strike was blocked with a ham sized fist.The punch forced Ulaf's arm back in the other direction, and he turned with the blow, surprising the other man with his agility as he used the momentum to duck and perform a back handed sweep with the hammer, taking out the Hawaiian's legs.

Honda landed flat on his back, causing a shudder in the ring floor. He roled backwards, avoiding a follow up blow. He came to his feet and did a side kick, connecting solidly with his taller opponents ribs and sending him skidding back on the mat. They again faced off, each surprised at the other's speed and agility.

The second sequence was begun by Honda, as he lashed out him a palm strike that was blocked with a hard blocking move that might had shattered his forearm, if he were a lesser man. As used to fighting such people as Zangrief, Balrog, and the rest of Shadowloo's warriors, the impact merely number his fingers for a half second.

Using the block as a distractiong, he quickly kneed the Icelander in the stomach and hit him with a left cross, rocking him on his feet. He followed up with a short burst of his 'Hundred Hand Clap', punishing his opponents ribs. He kept it up until the man's hand gripped his head and lifted him from the ground, startling him at the shear strength the other man possesed. No few people had lifted him from his feet, but only a very few could do so one handed. He gripped the other man's wrist, trying to break the now crushing pressure the long fingers were exerting against his skull.

With both his hands occupied, he took several punishing blows to his ribs from the hammer. Realizing that he wouldn't break free of the grip in this manner, he brought both knees into the man's stomach, againt slamming the tender ribs. The grip relaxed, and Honda's feet were again on solid ground. Gripping the wrist holding the hammer, and placing his other hand on the man's chest, he pivoted to the left, knees bent and arms straining. He lifted his opponent off the ground, and using the extra strength of his legs, tossed him towards the opposite side of the ring, and hopefully, out of the ring.

Ulaf felt himself lifted into the air and allowed the other man to throw him, knowing he'd be able to stay in the ring. He landed feet first, completed a summersault to twist his body into position. He spun and threw the hammer, aiming for his opponents legs. The sumo dodged the throw and smirked, then noticed that the hammer was trailing a long length of chain. Ulaf grinned and used the first of his special attacks, whipping the chain in a peculiar fashion. The hammer, controlled by his ki that was transmitted along the length of chain, twisted and turned, wrapped the chain around the sumo's powerful legs. To finish the attack, the head of the hammer slammed into the small of the sumo's back, sending shocks of pain coursing along his spine.

Ulaf sighed as he noted the weakness of the attack. When he used his real hammer, he would sent a burst of electricity through the metal, and the strike to the back would include the flash of an electrical discharge, electrocuting his opponent. But the rubber of the hammer he was using, insulated agaisnt such a charge and he was forced to adapt his style to exclude his other attacks based on using the hammer and electrical force conducted throught the iron heads.

No matter, he thought to himself. He had other tricks up his sleeve. He yanked on the chain and started twisting in place, forcing the chain to started spinning. He was hoping to have the chain release his opponent and send him flying out of the ring. The chain released the sumo fighter as planned, but not with enough force to end up ouside the ring. He landed clumsily on his feet, across the expanse of the thin mat. Ulaf pulled back on the chain, bringing the hammer back to his hand. He hung the hammer from the chain on the belt hook he'd designed for the purpose. Seeing his opponent staggering, he decided to borrow a move from rugby, and charged at him, intending to smash him with a shoulder tackle.

Honda saw his opponent, or rather, several copies of his opponent, charging him. Being used to the disorienting effects of rapid turns, he quickly shook off the dizzyness and set himself to await the charging man. The impact was tremendous, sending a roar through the crowd as Ulaf bounced off of Honda's massive stomach and landed several feet away. Honda was not immune, as he slid back an equal distance on the slick mat, leaving feet drag indentations on the mat.

Ulaf lay on his back, recovering his breath after the huge impact. 'This might be harder than I thought', he thought as he scrambled to his feet in time to avoid a potentially stunning Banzai Drop from Honda.

The two began to trade punches and kicks, blocking and striking against each other. It was an exhilerating fight and soon they were the only ones left standing as the other matches finished rather quickly. They backed away from each other, each nursing forming bruises and checking for broken bones.

Ulaf glanced at the clock next to the ring and grimaced. They still had another 3 minutes to go in the 10 minute limit. He was more exhausted then he could remember being. He hadn't been so evenly matched since the last time he'd visited his cousin in Siberia. That was before his cousin had started serving that maniacal warlord, M. Bison and his terrorist army Shadowloo.

He had to find some way to knock his opponent off his feet and out of the ring. There match had already lasted almost twice as long as any other and the second round could not commence until the first was finished. People were waiting, some glaring impatiently at them, while others cheered them on. He looked across the ring at his opponent and met his eyes. He nodded slowly, and took up a stance. His opponent matched his gesture, and took his own stance. Either way, they each knew that they didn't have much left. So they started gathering their energy for a final attack.

Ulaf charged forward, reaching back with his hand clutched tightly around the handle of his weapon. He roared out a challenge to his personal god, Thor. He was half way across the ring in a only a few steps, running towards the mountain form of the sumo.

Honda gave a tight grin as he gathered his ki into his legs, preparing for his final attack. Seeing his opponent approaching rapidly, he sprung into the air, sending his body hurtling towards the modern day Viking.

The collision shook the stands and a roar went up among the crowd. A flash of light from the pair as they slammed against each other blinded the stands and when their eyes returned to normal seconds later, a huge cloud of dust and foam bits blocked their view of the ring. The fans recirculing the air in the stadium started to blow the bits of foam and dust from the ring, and an earsplitting cheer came over the crowd. No one could tell yet who had won, but it didn't matter. It had been the best match of the opening round, and the crowd appreciated their all out effort.

A large hand came out of the center of the ring, dragging the huge body behind it. Ulaf's head and shoulders came into view before collapsing on the mat. He slid forward on the ruins of the mat, and a second large hand was seen grasping his shirt and pushing him out of the hole. Both hands grasped the edge of the hole, and Honda pulled himself out of the minicrater. He rubbed his neck sheepishly, hoping that he hadn't put the ring totally out of commission.


Ranma and Akane clapped along with those around them. Even though they had been rooting for Ulaf, they had to admit that it was an excellent match. Honda and Ulaf had been evenly matched and both had fought a clean, fair fight. It could have gone either way, but on this day, Honda had proved to be hardier then his opponent.

The pair watched the replay of the first round on the overhead screens, while the stadium crew quickly replaced the destroyed ring. In 5 minutes, they had the ring replaced and ready, looking as though nothing had happened. The second set of fighters for the first round were announced and took their places in the ring, now more aware of what the fans wished to see than the rather staid and boring matches that had ended too quickly. They now had to contend not only with their opponents, but with trying to please the fans by putting on a good show.

Ranma leaned back in his seat and grinned. "That was a good fight! It's too bad they had to face off so early. It would have been good to see them against some of the weaker guys first."

Akane shook her head at her mate's statement. "What is it with you and seeing people pick on those weaker than themselves?"

"I didn't mean it like that, Akane. You know what I was saying. Sometimes it's more instructive to watch how a fighter treats those of lesser skill than to see him fight someone at their own level. If they are evenly matched skillwise, then it often comes down to who has the psychological edge. But if he toys with and taunts those weaker then himself with his superior abilities, than you know more about what kind of person he is than the false respect he might be forced to display to an equal. Even if he has no equal in his own mind."

Akane mooed at her mate. "I know that baka! I was teasing you. It was a great fight. Did you notice the match at ring 1? That one guy tossed the other around like he was moving in slow motion. What was his name? I missed it during introductions."

Ranma's face scrunched up as he thought back to the introductions. He hadn't really paid attention since he was focussed on checking out Ulaf's opponent. "I don't know the name, but I think they said he was representing some Western school."

Akane noticed a vendor passing their row and ordered a couple of packets of pocky. She kept hte regular flavor for herself and handed Ranma the shrimp. They chewed their snack noisily, watching for a drink vendor to pass by their row. Seeing none in sight, Ranma sighed and stood.

"I'll be right back Akane, " he stated, passing her the rest of his bag. He glanced at the rings in the stadium and the others up on the screens. None of the matches looked that interesting out of this group, and most were already over. He glanced at the board dedicated to the matchups and noted that the next series of fights were in the women's bracket. He could feel the aura's of many strong fighters, many of them females. In fact, jugding from the ki's and powers he could feel, the woman's bracket had the greater ratio of specialy skilled fighters than the men's. The men's bracket was mainly ordinary fighters. Sure, they might be all high ranking black belts or the equivalent, but compared to him and Akane, they were little more than children. He had earned his first black belt at the age of two, and Akane had gotten hers when she was five.

Shrugging, he went in search of a drink dispenser. He noticed a clock, and was surprised that it was already 8:10. He hadn't thought that much time had passed. He tried to hurry, but there was a small group of people blocking the pathway to the machines. Looking longingly at the drinks, he sighed and turned to look for a vendor. He spotted one just reaching the upper row, about thirty feet in front of him. Not wanting to waste anymore time, he judged the distance and the height of the ceiling. Seeing that he had enough room, he shifted his ki into his legs and pushed off, soarign over the heads of the people blocking his path. He ignored the gasps of amazement as he turned a double summersault before landing a good 6 feet in front of the group. He then walked the remaining ten feet to the vendor and purchased a pair of large iced teas.

He noted several people staring at him as he again leapt over the obstruction in the stairs. Smiling at them, he sketched a quick bow before turning and returning to his seat. He hand one of the plastic cups to Akane and took a sip of his own.

"What took you so long?" she asked as he placed an arm around her shoulder and stretched his feet.

Swallowing, he pointed over his shoulder at the group slowly making its way up the stairs. "Long lines."


Chapter 20

Guile grunted as he was elbowed by the person sitting next to him. He glared at the woman, who didn't seem to notice him. She seemed enthralled with the match going on a few feet from them, though he found it rather ordinary and dull. Grunting again, he shifted as far from her as the limited space of the seat would allow, gained perhaps an inch in clearence from her sharp elbow.

Hearing a faint chuckling to his other side, he scowled and turned his head to his friend. "What are you laughing at, Li?"

Covering her mouth with one hand and turning the chuckles into a series of blatanly fake coughs, the Chinese woman shook her head. "Only you would be able to be annoyed by something like this, Guile. Look around, people are enjoying the show. Honda won, though the other guy put on a great fight. My first match is soon, and so is yours."

Sighing, he looked back to the fight board. "Who are you fighting?"

Chun Li looked at the board, struggling to find her name spelled in the kanji the Japanese used. "I can't make out the name, but it looks like it's somebody from the Jeet Kung Do school. Isn't that the one Bruce Lee founded?"

Speaking for the first time since the conversation regarding the young man named Ranma, Ryu answered. "Yes. There seems to be a lot of people from that school here."

Guile nodded. Being the only American, he could better understand why this was so. Bruce Lee had revelutionized the martial arts and had brought them in the mainstay of American culture. His style had spread quickly and been copied and modified by thousands of American martial artists. The mysterious death of the first true international megastar only added to his mystique and furthered the desire of people to try and understand him by learning the art he loved so much. He himself had started learning the martial arts because of a wish to be like Bruce, and had later spread his learning to include other styles and forms.

"It and it's offshoots are the most prolific schools of martial arts in the US." he added, wanting to clear up Chun Li's confusion. "Most of the people here are from the states. There are some from other places, but have you noticed? There are very few Japanese invovled with the tournament. Less than a quarter of the contestants are Japanese, and considering that this is Japan, that's a very low ratio."

Chun nodded thoughtfully. "I wonder why? Are there not that many martial artists in Japan?"

Ryu snorted. "Most Japanese fighters consider themselves either samurai or ninja. They those two rarely agree on anything, both agree that tournaments such as these are unfit for their presence. The samurai because they feel it tarnishes their honor to fight simply to show superior skill, and the ninja because they don't like the public nature of a tournament." He looked around the crowd, taking a moment to read the auras of those he noted as combattants. "Actually, I'm surprised there are as many as there are. Aside from Sumo and wrestling, the Japanese tend to shy away from the spotlight a tournament like these represents."

"What do they represent?" Guile asked.

"Greed. Fame. Power. Three things most Japanese struggle hard to control in themselves. There's an old saying here: 'The nail that sticks up, gets hammered down.' "

"That sounds familiar. But what does it mean?"

"That anyone who tries to stick out, to be different from those around him, gets pressured to stay the line. To be like everyone else. A tournament like this, with all the media covering it and the huge purse, goes agaisnt all that. It's all about sticking out, about being different. That's why most Japanese tournaments are more low key, more about the actual matches than about the show and the crowd. The money for the winnings of this match sure aren't coming from the hosts pockets. It's coming from the concession stands and the media and TV coverage rights. Sure, 100 million yen sounds like a lot, but the TV and international PPV takings will be ten times that. Add in the radio rights, still shots for paper printings, Internet boradcasts, concession takings, betting, and all the rest. They stand to bring in at least twice that, which means at least 200 times what the winner will make."

Guile was impressed. That was a lot, even when converting to other currencies. "That's a lot of cash. Think there's going to be trouble? A place like this, could be a huge draw to some of our acquantainces."

Ryu snorted again. "Not even Bison would be stupid enough to attempt anything with the security they have here. He's bound to know who is here. He might be insane, but he's not a comlete moron. No one who can be traced to Shadowloo will risk incuring his wrath by attempting anything here. No, I rather suspect that he's got somethign else planned somewhere else. As far from here as he can get."

************************************************* "Deejay, has the squad reported in yet?" General M. Bison asked of his aid- de-camp. He was currently overlooking a holographic display of his next target.

The Jamacain merc glanced down at the report he held, searching for the information his leader requested. "Dey be landed in a few moments, Generale. Dey be in place for the attack as per your orders for tomorrow."

Bison turned to look the large black man in the eyes. His own burned with the inner fire of madness, though he prefered to think of it as inner peace. "Excellent. Tell Sagat and Vega not to mess up, this time. I want the place burned to the ground, and I want no survivors." He turned to glance down at the display. he punched a button and laughed as one of the buildings began to flash as explosives on each floor went off. He laghed as the building began to crumble, stone steel and glass raining down on the city below. Other buildings began to fall apart as well in the image, leaving a heap of ruins in their places. He moved his gaze from the destroyed buildings to the famous harbor and the islands dotting the area. "Xanatos shall be punished for refusing to aid my quest to bring order to the world, and what better way that to destroy the city he holds so dear."

Flickering holographic flames framed his face as he chortled maniacally over the ruins of New York City. *************************************************

*Chapter 10*: Chapter 21

Ranma ducked the heel kick and then jumped back out of range of a straight punch. He immediately reversed his momentum and leapt towards his opponent, knowing that they would not be expecting it given Ranma's shorter reach and smaller size. The man before him was a giant, nearly as large as both Honda and Ulaf put together, yet he had neither of their talent. He was all power and too little skill to ever be more than an annoyance to Ranma.

Using a gentle push against the larger man's outstretched arm, Ranma lashed out with his left foot, slamming it directly into the other's solar plexis. The other man lifted off the ground and back a few inches from the force of the kick, and then hunched over, grasping his ribs and trying to scream in pain while also gasping for breath.

Ranma calmly waited to see if his opponent would continue, and was not surprised when the dark skinned man stood up right and bellowed. Ranma made a point of looking as bored as he could, knowing long before he stepped into the ring that he had won this match. His opponent had only a rudimentary style, most likely from the underground world of shootfighting. He had neither the talent nor the power to be a threat and he could not see the man being asked to join the exclusive ranks of Streetfighters. He had a lot of raw strength, but had no knowledge except what little he'd seen others do that he was able to badly emulate. No flexibility and very low agility, his muscular frame was more of a hindrance in a fight than a help. Sure he looked powerful, and could probably do a lot of the strong man tests well, but in a fight, too much muscle was often more of a hindrance than an aid.

Deciding that he'd wasted enough time, Ranma chose his moment and waited for the inevitable charge. Men such as his opponent, who were used to fighting weaker opponents and bullying others through the intimidation of their sheer size always made the same mistake when facing a smaller, more skilled adversary who could hit as well if not better than they. They allowed the fear that was at the core of their selfs, the fear that was the true nature of all bullies, to push them into some stupid rash act, usually a near suicidal charge.

Unfortunately for this man, Ranma was far beyond the skill of anyone he had ever seen and instead of waiting for him to get within reach, leapt at the larger man, startling him into halting his charge. Using all of his skill to allow his more agile body to turn in the air, Ranma grabbed the man by both shoulders as he passed, upside down and over his head, a mild leap for Ranma, but an impossibility for most of those watching. He used the rotational forces added to his own strength and flipped the man into the air and out of the air. He made certain to use only a fraction of his true strength and watch impassively as the other man flew out of the ring to land in the stands, knocked out from the landing.

Ranma waited patiently until he was declared the winner before bowing to his opponent, the ref, and then the judges. He gave a cocky grin to the crowd, failing as always to note the effect this had on the female audience. A group of teenage girls were already making their way towards him, but he effortlessly leapt over them to land near Akane, who had snuck out to watch his match. Her next match was coming up in a few minutes in one of the other areas of the stadium complex, and they only had time for a short congratulatory kiss before she had to race off. Ranma would have followed, but his next match was at the same time as hers. He had a bye in the first round and was one of the last of the second round matches, but his was the first of the third round matches so he had no time to rest. Looking at the board, he noted his position and quickly made his way, wondering idly who among the crowd was Chibi Mamoru, his next opponent.

Akane winced as her opponent landed a solid blow to her short ribs. Her opponent was quick, accurate, and packed a mean punch. However she wasn't anywhere near as good as Ranma, nor was she even a match for herself. Akane had let the girl land some punches in order to guage her strength, as Ranma had taught her, and she now knew that though the girl could hit much harder than she expected, and had a more solid foundation than her wild stance and sloppy footwork showed, she was neither as skilled nor as powerful as she herself was.

Deciding that she had let the other girl lead long enough, Akane quickly grabbed the girl's incoming fist, smirking more to herself then her opponent at the telegraphed move. The girl might as well as told her what she was going to do, she thought to herself, remember how long it had taken her to learn to avoid falling into any discernible pattern. This girl was good, and in a straight karate point match, might have been a challenge for Akane, but this was a freestyle tournament, and Akane was the heir to the Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial arts, and had learned her lessons well.

Using the girl's arm as a lever, she turned in towards her in a classic Judo throw, but once the girl was airborne, snapped back and twisted the other way, reversing the girl's momemtum and nearly dislocating her arm before slamming her face first into the mat. The girl had not been prepared for such a move and her nose gave a frightening crunch upon contact with the thin rubber mats. The blood flowed smoothly down her nose and she twitched slightly, but made no move to rise.

Akane, as she had learned from many sparring sessions with her father, and Ranma's waited until the bell sounded before performing her bows to the opponent, refs, and judges. Glancing at the clock, she noticed that the match had only lasted a couple of minutes. With a sheepish grin, she bowed again to her opponent, who was being helped to her feet by a crowd of girls around their age, who were glowering at her menacingly. Deciding that she had time to catch Ranma's match, she hurried out of the sumo arena's towards the soccer arena where Ranma's match was being held.

Usagi muttered dark threats towards the bluehaired girl who had so casually defeated Makoto. She and the others glared as the girl bowed towards them with a smirk on her face before racing off towards the stairwells leading to the other rings.

Rae always glared angrily at the girl before turning to Amy. "Did you scan her? There's no way she's human. She was too fast and strong. Makoto hit her hard enough to dent steel, yet she looked like it didn't even tickle. And the way she caught Makoto's punch. Not to mention how easily she reversed that throw's momentum in midair? No normal human can stop and reverse a throw that easily!"

Amy sighed as she faced her fiery tempered companion. She was again struck by the thought that Rae was a fine example of her planet's history. "I didn't think to do so, seeing how this is such a diverse crowd. But I will certainly scan her next fight. I agree that she handled Makoto too easily, but I don't nessecarily belive that means she is a youma, Rae. She could just be a better fighter than Makoto."

Rae snorted, privately agreeing that her friend was likely right, but not willing to say it aloud. "Look, you get ready, I'm going to follow her and see what she's up to." Saying that, she took off after the other girl, shoving her way through the crowd like a linebacker through defensive guards.

"Vhaawt hpaaeened?" asked a groggy voice that drew Amy's attention from the emotional priestess to her wounded comrade.

Setsuna sighed as she felt the ripple of familar psychic energy rushing towards the glowing spheres that represented Tendo Akane and Saotome Ranma. She wished for once, that the high strung girl would just relax and not go looking for trouble. A thought occured and she stiffled a giggle, not wishing her subordinates who scuttled around her to hear anything remotely out of character for her current role.

'Rae goes looking for trouble in the same way that Ranma and Akane look to avoid it. Unfortunately for both, Rae usually succeeds and Ranma and Akane never do. I just hope that Akane doesn't treat the girl too harshly. She is only looking out for her friends, even if she has the ulterior motive of being an adrenaline junkie with a slight sado-masochistic need for battle.' Looking around, she spotted her assistant and sent the cowering man to fetch her some Advil and a bottle of Pepto Bismal. She could feel the ulcers forming already. 'Oh well, they'll sort it out. Akane won't harm her beyond the Princess's ability to heal her, and Ranma should have no problems taking them all on even if they go senshi form. They need the lesson in humility, lately they've grown too complacent on letting Usagi's powers growing and theirs have been declining. They need to all stay sharp, not allow their own strength to fade. There are evils ahead that will require all of them at peak forms. They will need help from others with power both beyond and near their own. The senshi are not the only guardians of this world and they need to learn to accept and request help for when they need it. And it wouldn't hurt Ranma to again be shown that woman are not weaker than men simply because they are woman. He might be able to hold his own, but I doubt even at his full strength that he could defeat all 9 senshi, and their allies.'

*Chapter 11*: Chapter 22

Sorry for the long delay, but RL took away my muse for a short time and then gave her back, only to make other problems pop up.


Round 3.


Ryu vs Miyagi

Ryu allowed his face to settle into an impassive expression as he studied the old master standing in front of him. He had watched the old man from the moment he had stepped into the ring for his first battle. He was impressed with the gentle nature and selfawareness he projected. Miyagi was an old school master, one who encouraged his students to expand their minds as well as their body. He gave respect to all, even those who refused to show him the respect he had earned.

Ryu did not have that problem. Though he could already tell that this battle would end in his favor, he knew that he would do his best not to humiliate the ancient master. For while Miyagi was not near his level of strength or skill, he was good enough to be given the respect granted to any master. His ki levels were remarkably high for someone who had shown no evidence of its use in his attacks during his two previous matches. He had demonstrated a slight gift for healing on what Ryu had noticed was one of his students, an American woman. From the board, Ryu had marked that Miyagi had several studetns, sond in the programs, he'd noticed that some of them had won a number of American tournaments.

While most in the underground streetfighting world laughed at what the Americans considered martial arts, Ryu respected the effort most of the trully passionate American artists put into their work. It was dishonorable to laugh at the Americans simply because they'd been indoctrinated not to believe in the somewhat mystical and spiritual side of the art. When masters first started training westerners, they'd agreed not to allow the true skills of ki manipulation and usage to be shared. Now, after several centuries of misleading westerners, Ryu could not help but feel someone sorry that the true secrets of the art had not been shared. For that was the goal of a true martial artist, after all. To become the best they could and to train others who, hopefully, would surpass your own skill. He himself, hoped to one day find a student to pass on the knowledge he'd accumulated over the years.

He did not fault the current masters, for save for a few individuals like Guile, most Americans simply refused to comprehend what they were being told. He suspected that Miyagi had had a little success for the two students he'd seen had shown little surprise when Miyagi had used his ki to heal their minor bruising.

Ryu was distracted from his thoughts when his opponent approached, causing a slight stir in the crowd. He bowed deeply to the elder man, wishing to show the man his deep respect for him.

Miyagi bowed back to his opponent and moved to stand near the man. "Ryu-san, I am honore to have this chance to face you. I do not often take part in these tournaments, but my studetns were invited and would not come unless I too took part. I also received a letter from Meaiu-san and the backers of the tournament requesting that I take part. I have great respect for Meaiu-san and the work she and her charges perform for our people. I am sure that you too, have seen that of which I speak."

Ryu nodded as the older man paused. "Yes, the girls she travels with have a particulary singular aura. I too received a letter from Meaui-san asking me to come and mentioning that there would be several reasons I would enjoy doing so. I believe that you, Miyagi-san are one of the reasons she mentioned. I believe it is no accident that we are in the same bracket, Sensei, and I am honored to have this chance to face a true master in such a . . . peaseful environment. I must admit, I am unused to this style of fighting. Usually, the fighting with which I am involved is more. . . brutal and much less sporting."

Miyagi nodded, a slight frown on his face. "Yes, I am aware of that which you take part in. While I can not say I approve, I must admit that if there are such . . . events, from what i have heard, you and those you choose to associate with are a much better choice for victors then those who seek to conquer you."

"I am honored by your words, Sensei. And I assure you, I will do my best to ensure the safety of all during my struggles against the dark."

Miyagi nodded and took a step back. "Shall we dance, Ryu-san"

Ryu smiled, the first true smile he'd demonstrated in a long time. "Let us show our audience what two masters of the art are capable of."

Miyagi returned to his mark and took a stance, facing Ryu. Ryu stretched and took his own boxer style stance as the referee approached. The ref dropped the flag, and Ryu began his attack, tayloring his strength and speed to match what he was reading from the honored elder.

The match went well on both part, Ryu being the aggressor for the most part and Miyagi dancing across the ring on the defensive. Neither landed many blows, though Miyagi surprised Ryu on several occassions with short increases in speed to land strikes and a couple of throws. Ryu smiled as he landed from one of the throws. Heh ad not enjoyed a match so much in years, and he knew that it would be a long time before he enjoyed another such match. He'd seen from the board that he was on a direct course to possibly face off with Ranma in the final match, if Ranma was able to defeat Guile and Honda, as well as the other opponents. And if he could defeat his opponents.

He exchanged another series of strikes with Miyagi-sensei, managing to land some through the elders surprisingly effective defense. A quick glance at the clock showed him that there was not much time left in the battle, but he was not concerned. He was more than happy to allow the match to go to the judges as he did not wish to use too much force and mistakenly injure his opponent. And he could see that Miyagi-sensei was also not adverse to such an outcome.

He paused his attack and backed a few steps away. He relaxed his stance and bowed to his opponent, waiting. He was hardly surprised that Miyagi-sensi also stepped out of his stance and assumed a more relaxed posture before returning the bow. Together they turned to the judges and bowed, then started some calming exercises. They were not concerned that there was more then two minutes left in their match, nor were they worried that their match had been more stylish and less acrobatic then the ones the fans had shown a preference for. They knew that they had demonstrated the best of what their art offered, both in terms of sportmanship and in the art itself.

The judges stopped the clock and confered for a moment. Neither participant was worried about the outcome, as both knew who was the winner of the match by the judges standards. The outcome, at least in both of their minds, had not been in doubt since the match had even been announced. They had participated in order to demonstrate their love for their mutual art and their respect for the traditions they both honoured.

The ref approached and stood between the two, with the flags lowered as he waited for the judges to give him the signal. The white flag rose and an appreciate clapping followed the call. Ryu and Miyagi faced each other, bowed, then the judges and another bow, before approaching each other.

"It was trully an honor to pit my skill against one such as you, Ryu-san. I am aware that you witheld the great bulk of your true strength and acknowledge your skills. I also thank you for the wonderful chance this match gave us to show our skills. It is rare that I am able to spar with someone of superior skill and you have taught me much about my art today. Thank you and good luck in your quest."

"Thank you, Miyagi-sensei, for allowing me to spar with you. You are a true master of our art, and it was a pleasure to spar with you. If you are willing, and I am ever in your part of the states, I would enjoy the chance to spar with you again and to perhaps study for a time under you."

Miyagi gave a small smile. "While there is not much that I could teach you, Ryu-san, I would be honor to host you at our training hall. Perhaps, you would be kind enough to demonstrate to our students some of your more advance techniques. At least, those that are within their realm of understanding."

"It would be an honor, Sensei." With a final nod, the two went their separate ways, Ryu going to his friends who were waiting to congratulate him on the win, and Miyagi to his students to accept their condolences on the loss.


Ranma applauded as he got the replay of Ryu's match on the overhead screen. It had been obvious from the start that Miyagi-san was outclassed, but he was pleased to note that Ryu had treated the older man with respect, something he himself would have done. His father, however would have seen it as weakness to downplay his own superiority, but Ranma had long since grown beyond the need for his father's approval. And he approved of the entire match, even the ending. A match like theirs could have ended no other way, with both given honor to each other and the traditions of the art they shared.

'Maybe Ryu's not the jerk I remember? He certainly seems a lot more human there. He'd never have taken it so easy on the old man when I knew him.' Ranma shrugged and hurried out of the arena, heading for the locker room. He had a match soon against a man who had been rather cruel to his previous opponents and Ranma wanted a chance to prepare himself for a more difficult encounter then his previous match. On the way, he passed a dark haired girl running through the crowd with anger almost burning the air around her. He recognized her from the group he'd spotted during Akane's match.

They'd been cheering on her opponent and had looked shocked at the ease with which Akane had defeated her. The girl, as well as the group of friends watching, had unusual auras, one he'd learned to recognize as being magical in nature. The blonde with the two long tails had one of the most powerful auras of nearly anyone he'd met, one pure and peaceful. Her aura seemed to be enhanced by something she was carrying, and each of her companions, for it was obvious she was the leader of the group even if she seemed too relaxed to have any authority, also carried an item imbued with magical properties.

Watching the black haired girl in the temple robes scanning the crowd, and the other girls trailing behind her trying to calm her, he realized that she was looking for Akane as some sort of revenge against he pain caused her friend. With a sigh, he paused and decided to try and calm the girl.

"Excuse me, miss" he called, managing to get her attention. He sighed internally as he noted the look of anger on her face change to confusion and then lust. "I think it would be best if you calm yourself. It would be foolish to allow your anger over your friend's defeat to cause you all to be banned from enjoying the rest of the tournament."

Rae frowned slightly as the handsome man spoke to her. She was so distracted by his amazing physique and the power of his aura that she could read that it took a moment for his actual words to penetrate the haze of her thoughts. "Huh? What are you talking about"

"Miss, I think you are angry that your friend lost her match. And that she was injured. You feel that she was disrespected by her opponent and wish to get revenge for what you perceive to be rudeness and poor sportsmanship on the other's part."

Rae stared at the man, her gentle emotions giving way to the anger she was famous for. "Who the hell do you think you are to tell me what I should do? What business is it of yours what I do to that harridan"

Ranma shook his head. "That harridan is my mate and the mother of my child. You will not speak of her that way." Ranma glared at the girl, his eyes flashing with his aura.

Rae gulped as the man's eyes flashed a dark red. He suddenly was projecting a sense of danger as strong as any she had experienced. She felt the aura's of her friends approaching from behind and was glad to have their backup as the power level coming from the man continued to grow until it dwarfed anything she'd felt before and to her amazement it was still rising. It wasn't evil, and didn't seem really threatening, but the sheer power was enough to frighten her into listening to the man.

"Who... who are you" she asked nervously, trying to control the quivering of her voice.

Ranma grinned and turned, ignoring the dark haired priestess to face the blonde with the odd hair. "My name is Saotome Ranma of the Saotome school of Anything Goes Martial Arts. Your brown haired friend in green lost to my .. . wife. I would like to extend my appologize for any damage done and ask for forgiveness on her behalf. Your friend is more powerful then she allows others to see and my mate was not prepared for someone of her skill and struck harder then she intended. She was, however, quite impressed with your friends strength and would like to extend an opportunity to learn with us at her family's dojo in Nerima. The invitation is extended to all of you, as I can tell that you are all much more powerful than the ordinary person, yet most of you know little of combat."

Rae opened her mouth to respond angrily to the man who'd ignored her, but a gesture from Usagi stopped her cold. It was not often that Usagi used her inborn gift for command and the grace of her position, but they al responded to it isntantly and without thought. Rae often wondered how such a ditz could also be the future queen of a solar empire, but moments like this always forced home that there was much more to her blonde friend then she showed. At times, she wondered if Usagi was simply acting as a ditz to fit with what people expected of her or if she trully was as immature and bratty as she came off.

"What do you know about it" Usagi asked, her voice not that of a 15year old schoolgirl. It was the voice of experience and command, the voice that she would use once she ascended to the throne that was her birthright twice over now.

Ranma grinned and smiled to the blonde, taking a moment to mentally mark the auras of all the girls he could see so that he could recognize them later. He also added their scents as he suspected that whatever magic they had would be able to alter their auras enough to hide from even his powers, but that it was almost impossible to completely change someones scent. "I know that none of you are exactly what you seem. You have an aura spiked through with magic, powerful and ancient magic. None of you are typical teens, and it's more than just your auras. You each carry powerful magical items, and just the fact that such a diverse group of you are together demonstrates that you are not just normal schoolpals." He cocked his head and turned it slightly to study the two oldest girls.

"The tall blonde there looks and acts like a boy, but she is most definetely a girl. A fighter, likely quite skilled. The green haired girl is like the mother of your group, trying to keep you working together. And she and the blonde are bonded as one in some way. You" he turned to Rae again, ignoring her angry expression. "Are a temple priestess and are quite skilled in reading auras and the use of ki. You" he faced the other blonde "project the aura of a starstruck sschoolgirl, yet you carry yourself like a battle veteran. You" he faced the blue haired girl who reminded a little of Akane"are quite obviously the brains of your group as the brown haired girl is the muscle." He then looked to Hotaru and Chibi-usa. "The pair of you are very different. The pink haired one is nearly as powerful as your leader, and the one in black is even more powerful then then. Yet both are gentle and seem incapable of violence. Your eyes and hair set the pair of you apart. Pink and purple are not natural eye colors, and yours are both filled with sorrow. You've both experience much pain in your lives, yet you travel on, seeking the light to end your darkness."

"What do you see of me, Saotome-chan" Usagi asked, her voice still in command mode.

Ranma grinned. "You have a great future ahead of you, if you survive what ever battles you are fighting. You are filled with love for life and for those you hold in your heart. You wish for peace, yet you know that sometimes peace must comes as a result of violence. In many way,s you remind me of me. You are willing to fight for those you love, but would much prefer to bring everyone together under a banner of friendship and trust. You lead. It is not something you wished for, but it is as natural to you as breathing. You draw powerful allies and enemies to you, without any apparent effort."

"What about you, Saotome-chan? What are you" Usagi asked, her voice as even and gentle as waves caressing ankles.

Ranma threw back his head and laughed. "I am nothing more or less than a student of the Art, princess. I am nothing special really, just someone who's spent his entire life learning little else but the martial arts. One day, I hope to be the best it is possible for me to become. I am a father and a mate, and am peaceful by nature. Like you, I do not seek trouble, but I am something of a magnet for chaos and am thrust into situations with wich I want nothing more than to avoid. I, like you, will do whatever it takes to protect those I care for, even if it means destroying those who threaten us."

Usagi nodded. She could sense the truth in his words and also the truth of his gentle soul. He was extremly powerful, and much more complex then he claimed, but she could tell that he was not a threat. He could be an ally in their fight, and while he knew a great deal about them, he didn't know exactly who they were and more importantly, who they had been and would one day be again. "I can tell the truth of your words, Saotome-san. And we accept the appology on behalf of your wife. As for your offer, it would be an honor, but we will need some time to discuss it before we accept. How may we get in touch with you"

Ranma bowed again. "I believe the dojo is in the phone book, onee-chan. There's just the one Tendo-dojo in the Tokyo area, so it isn't hard to find. Just ask for Akane or Ranma, and if neither of us is avalable, one of Akane's sisters will be glad to help you set up a time for your visits."

Usagi smiled widely and this time it was all teen girl. "Great! I'm not really into fighting myself, but some of the others are. You'll have to excuse us, but I think it's time we got Mako-chan to the aid station to check her nose."

Ranma turned to the indicated girl. "Again, I'm sorry for the nose. I'm sure it wasn't meant to be cruel or hurtful."

Makoto just waved the appology away. "Don't worry about it, Saotome-san. And tell your wife not to worry either. I knew what I was getting into when I stepped in the ring. Kami knows I've been in enough of these to know that stuff like this happens. I'll just get it patched up and cleaned and in a week or two it will be back to normal."

Ranma chuckled. "Ah, you have to love the benifits of enhanced healing. I myself have long appreciated being able to heal from near anything without any permanent damage." He looked up as the call over the loudspeaker announced the start of Akane's next fight. "Well, I have to go now, but it was a pleasure meeting you all. I'll look forward to hearing from you again." He nodded and strolled away, eager to watch Akane's next match and tell her that they might be getting some students in the near future.


Rae glared at the man as he walked away before turning to Usagi. "Usagi! How can you just let that idiot walk away! He knows too much about it and he and his wife are too dangerous to let run around loose. Someone that powerful is a potential danger to us. We have to find out what they're doing here and if they work for a new enemy."

Usagi sighed as she regarded her hot-tempered friend. "Rae, they aren't up to anything. They are not evil, or possesed or anything. They are just a pair of extremely powerful martial artists. They aren't a threat, in fact, I think they'll be great allies if we can convince them to aid us. I was only being polite when I said we'd have to tlak about whether or not we'd take lessons from them. We WILL be going, Rae, and I expect you to be on your best behavior. The youma we've been fighting are getting stronger and more dangerous. Some of the new ones are much smarter then the ones we used to fight, and I want us all to be able to defend ourselves, even if we are someone blocked from transforming."

"Why do we have to learn from them? Why can't we find someone else" she whined, not willing to give up so easily.

Usagi placed a hand on her friends shoulder. Rae was the aggressive one and Usagi knew that she didn't like to admit when she was wrong. "Rae, let it go. It was a legal, sanctioned match between two competitors who knew what they were getting involved in. Yes, the girl might have been a little too . . . assertive in the match, but from what I was able to sense from her, and from Saotome-san, she could have done much worse. I have no doubt that the girl . . ."Usagi frowned, not recalling the name.

"Akane." Ami stated as she came to Usagi's rescue.

"Akane. Right." Usagi nodded. "I'm sure Akane could have turned Makoto into paste if she'd trully wanted to. Heck, if Saotome-san had been less understanding, you might have caused him to lash out at you, and if that happened, we'd be forced to get involved, and then where would we all be? You felt his power, Rae. You know that he's stronger than any one of us, possibly even stronger than most or all of us working together. Even if we managed to beat him -and it is if, Rae, not when- what would be left of us? Or the arena? How many innocent people would die in that battle, Rae"

Rae blushed and looked away, unable to look her queen in the eye. She knew that USagi was right, that no matter the winner of the battle, the cost would be too high. But it was so hard to let such a show of disrespect go. Even worse, if the other girl was as good as Makoto and Usagi claimed, the nshe should have know better then to injure her opponent in that manner. She should have stuck to just the throw, not the snap back face slam. "I . . . I don't know, Usagi-chan. It's hard. The girl was just so .. .so . .. disrespectful. She should have known better than to do that move if she was so much better then Makoto. She should have thrown Makoto from the ring, or just hit her enough, lightly, to win on points or something. She didn't have to hit her so hard she broke Mako-chan's nose"

Makoto approached her friend. "Rae-chan, I know you're angry at her, but you don't understand. It was my fault that she did that not hers. Sure, she was stronger and better then me, but I wouldn't have stopped. I wouldn't have just let her play with me. I would have tapped into the power and used Jupiter's gifts to fight her. It might have made me a match for her, but it might not. Either way, the only way for her to win without accidently hurting me even more then this little thing. I've been hurt worse in matches, Rae, and I knew going into the match that i might be hurt. Granted, I was thinking more along the line of bruised ribs, or possible a broken leg and not a busted nose, but it's part of who I am and what I do Rae. I love martial arts. I've done it my whole life and it's a part of me now. This is nothing, compared to some of what I've seen and felt. Akane was very gentle with me, Rae. You might have felt her aura, but I felt her strength, and trust me, she could have slammed me into the mat hard enough to leave a greasespot. It was a fair match, and I'm looking forward to learning from her. If she can teach us some of the moves she used, imagine how much easier fighting youma will be"

Rae sighed, knowing she had lost and feeling the last of her anger slipping away. "Fine, but don't expect me to be her friend. I'll learn from her, but I'm going to keep my eye open for any sign of corruption, and if I see anything I don't like, I'm transforming and doing what we're supposed to do."

Usagi smiled and hugged her friend, glad that she had calmed down. "That's all we can ask, Rae. That's all we can ask."


In her office, Setsuna let out a huge sigh of relief and started sucking in the air. She'd held her breath through the entire conversation between Ranma and the scouts. And again as Usagi tried to calm the volatile fire senshi. She was just glad that the situation had not come to blows. While she was unsure if Ranma could survive a full out battle with all the senshi, she did know that such a battle would cause millions of dollars in damage to the surrounding area and likely cost the lives of at least a few of the senshi and quite a large number of bystanders.

She wondered if she would have time to join them in their studies under Ranma, but decided that for now, the less he saw of her the better. Who knows what he would make of the aura she projected. He might see her as a threat and react before anyone could reason with him. No, for now, at least, it would be best to limit her time with the boy to the ending ceramonies. Still, she wished she could tell her youngest daughter how proud she was of her and the mate she hate chosen.

*Chapter 12*: Chapter 23 Version 2 Updated

This is a reworking of chapter 23. I found it was missing a bit, and had stuff I didn't like that much and was too short, so I rewrote this. Actually, this started as Chapter 24, but I found myself rewritten a lot of Ryoga's part from ch23, so I desided to make this ch23v.2.

Here's a chapter for 2 Tiger's Tale.

This chapter starts mainly with Ryoga pondering the relevant knowledge he's gained from listening to the stories told to him by the clan and their associates. It's mainly a short recap of Gargoyles, with a few of my own interpretatoins of explanations for what's gone on with the characters. Demona has rejoined the clan, partly, and she's even got a love/hate relationship going on with Eliza. Sort of like Rita and Barbara Jean from the show 'Reba'. But with more ass kicking and darker aspects then that. She's started to see why Goliath fell for Eliza and it frustrates her when she realizes that many of the reasons were similar to why Goliath had loved her in the first place. But it's too late to go back, and she has to treat Eliza as an equal, considering how often the pesky human has gotten the best of her.

She finds her to be a bit of a goody-goody, but respects her abilites and determination, if not all of her views on certain less then moral matters.

I'm also going to try a bit more of Bison scenes, maybe just a unit from Shadowloo doing something in NY to test the waters before he puts his plan into action. And with the Gargs out of town, who'll stop him?

After that's all done, I'll go a bit into more details about the tournament, list a few fighters we haven't really seen, maybe a match or two. Next chapter, after this, will have Ranma vs. Darren Smith( the black guy you all hate so much from last chap, with a surprise), Guile vs. Edmund(more explosive and 'super' moves), Chun Li vs Cammy(catfight and jealousy!), and Akane vs. Uranus(tomboy vs REAL tomboy).

I hope.


Ryoga stared down at the scattered pools in fear as the helicopter slowly lowered towards the ground. He could just make out the form of the guide staring up at the loud contraption, and wondered idly if the old man felt fear at the sight. It was doubtful the man would be able to ttel lthat this was a passenger/cargo helicopter and not one of the PRA's attack chopters that occassionaly flew over the area to remind the distant population about the presence of their rulers in Beijing. He certainly would not recognize the logo on the side as belonging to Xanatos Enterprises. He likely though this was a troop transport of some kind.

He heard muffled voices coming from the cargo hold and was again reminded how glad he was that he had been sitting up front when the gargoyles had awakened from their stone sleep. He had hated seeing it in New York, and had feared seeing it in an enclosed space like the cargo hold. He glanced at the woman witting calmly in the seat next to him, wondering once again how she could be so accepting of the fierce creatures. Eliza Maza was a study in contradictions to the befuddled youth. At any given time, she was both protective and fierce. Loyal and disobedient. Strong and intensely vulnerable. There was an exotic beauty in her face and form steming from her mixed Native American/African heritage that drew people to her side. This beauty hid the incredible strength of will and body contained in her slight frame.

In his travels, Ryoga had met more classicaly beautiful women, as well as more aesthetically pleasing, but the detective was the only one he'd ever met who seemd to care nothing for her appearance or the appearance of others. This was proved by the fact the she had falle nin love with, and was technically married to, a creature that would give even the stoutest of men nightmares. Goliath was without a doubt, the most phyisically intimidating individual Ryoga had ever encountered. He made even the deadliest and most feared fighters Ryoga had faced look like children. It was more then his sheer size, or the immense strength or even his fierce countenance. There was a presence of barely restrained power that was constantly emitted by the giant body.

Goliath by nature was not a fighter. He was a philosopher. In ancient times, as a human or a gargoyle, he would have been a monk of the highest order, trained in both mind and body by the most skilled and wisest of his order. In his own times, he would have been a poet warrior. But today, more then a 1000 years since his birth, the world was a changed place and he was viewed as little more then a beast simply because of his none-human appearance. But his mind. Oh, his mind was a thing of true beauty. He'd done his best to adapt to the changes in the world, and had handled most of them fairly well. He'd read as much history and poetry as he could to get a grasp on the motivations of modern humans. And had learned a great deal to his sorrow of some of the attrocities man had committed on other men. It pained him that he and his clan had to hide from those they'd sworn to give their lives to protect, but it was the only way to ensure their survival. They were too few in the world to fight off the might of the purveyors of hatred and greed who would subjugate or kill his kind, and he'd been forced to appoint himself guardian of all gargoyles, as well as his own clan.

Ryoga blinked as a soft thump shook the heavy craft. Glancing out the window, he noticed that they'd landed. He nervously waited for the engine to stop and the spinning rotors to slow. The door to the cargo hold opened and the slim form of a redhaired gargoyle entered the luxury cabin.

"So we're here?" asked the gargoyle warrioress known as Demona. Demona had only recently rejoined the clan, and then only at the urging of her daugther. She was attempting to set aside her millenia of hatred towards humanity, though she still viewed them with contempt. Thanks to a 'curse' placed on her by the Third Race trickster Puck, she was forced during the day to asume human form. the transition from gargoyle to human and back was painful, but she had endured much pain in her 1000 years of life.

For while Goliath and his clan 'Slept until the castle rose above the clouds', she had wondered the earth, cursed by Puck's siblings, the Wyrd Sisters, with immortality. The price for her immortality was a connection to a human she hated, though she had once been attracted to. MacBeth, former King of Scotland, was very much alive and real. The curse that joined them stated that 'neither could die, except by the hand of the other.' Over the centuries, she and MacBeth occassionally worked together, but more often then naught, they had sought to exterminate each other.

For centuries, Demona had sough tout magical means to destory the humanity she felt had betrayed her kind. First with the betrayal of Harkon, and then with MacBeth turning his back on her. Time past, and as humanity spread across the continents, her kind was systematically destroyed, rendered to little more then myths. Several incidents early in her immortal life had occured where she'd had to defend herself from humans, and this had caused a survivor of her raids to form a line of people known as Hunters. The goal of all Hunters was the same: Find a gargoyle, Kill it. Find the Demon, Slaughter her. Nothing else mattered except continuing the line and preparing the next generation for battle. Since their formation, the line of Hunters was responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of innocent gargoyles, most while they were helpless in their stone sleep.

It had resulted in her seeking more and more ways to kill more and more humans. Her mind warped, but her goal had become to destroy all mankind. For a being who's very nature screamed out to protect life, this was a drastic step. She rationalized it to herself with platitudes about it being the only way to protect the few remaining gargoyles of the world. And since gargoyles had been here first, why should they perish when it was humanity who was destroying the world in its greed and quest for conquest and so called advancement.

It had taken several battles against her daughter, only recently arrived in Man's World from the mystic Isle of Avalon, to reawaken a sense of duty to the greater good in her. This was helped by her coming to terms of sorts with her eternal rival/suitor and a final battle with a trio of Hunters, the last of the line. Though one of the Hunters continued his families insane quest, she had made her peace with the other two, and indeed, had hired the sister as her pesronal assitant. She had needed someone trustworthy who would not run in fear during her twice daily transformations and Robin Canmore had been well qualified for the job she had once pretended interest in. Demona's company, Nightstone Limited, was a leader in computer and security hardware, second only to Xanatos Enterprises in most areas, even surparsing the multinational conglomorates headed by the insuffereably arrogant David Xanatos.

Xanatos himself had at one time sought the destruction of the very clan he know protected. He had helped Demona bring about the conditions required by the spell to awaken the seven members of her clan by having their castle brought over stone by stone and rebuilt in it's entirety upon the top of his corporate headquarters. In the early years of their reawakening, he'd sought several times to either recruit them to his cause of corporate domination or destroy them and use their genetic material in horrific scientific experiments. Even Eliza's brother had not been immune. From what Ryoga had bee ntold, he and several others had been genetically altered. They had been infused with a mixture of cat, bat, and eel DNA. This had mutated them into inhuman beasts with large, leathery bat wings, feline features and claws, and the ability to project electrical charges from their hands.

All had eventually been forgiven when Xanatos' son had been placed in danger by the King of Avalon and he'd needed to beg the gargoyles for their aid in protecting the child. While they didn't trust Xanatos, they could not refuse to aid such a request, for their own clan, the eggs of the last generation to breed, were still on the mystical Isle and if they failed, Oberon would seek to wipe them from the protection of his Isle.

Since that day, Xanatos had done all in his power to attempt to regain their trust, and slowly, managed to gain some measure of trust. Enough that they were willing to go along with his mad scheme to find the legendary Jhusenkyo Training Ground and it's cursed pools. For while their love knew no bounds of physical forms, Goliath and Eliza could not have children as they were, and both strongly desired a child. The only way was for Goliath to become human, or Eliza to become gargoyle. Neither was willing to allow the other to give up something taht was so intrinsical to their very nature, so when Xanatos had presented this option, they had desided to take a chance. Puck, though he had once changed each into their other forms, could not make a lasting change with the limitations on his power placed on him by his father and King. But he could alter the trigger of the Jhusenkyo magic so that instead of water causing the change in form, the coming of dawn or dusk would alter their shapes.

After much deliberation between themselves, and discussing it with those few that mattered in Eliza's life, she had decided to join her beloved's side at night. And he had agreed to take human form, giving up the healing stone sleep that was a gift of his kind. Together, they would glide the skies of Manhattan at night, protecting their city from the scum that surfaced in the darkness. By day, they would live and sleep as normal humans. They would want for nothing, though Eliza had contemplated a switch to day shift as she did not wish to be solely reliant on the generosity of David Xanatos.

Ryoga shook his head to clear it of the thoughts. They had all had their own stories to tell, during his stay with them in New York. He'd learned more about them in that short time then he'd ever learned about any one. During his time their, Puck ahd made sure he couldn't get lost, and so he'd marvelled at always being able to go exactly where he wanted any given time. He'd broken out into tears the first time he'd managed to make his own way to the bathroom on the very first try and he hadn't had to resort to the primitive port-a-potty he carried in his pack. And then he'd even made his way back to the kitchen where he'd been making his lunch in the ultra modern fully equiped food preparation facility. Seeing his meal, still warm from the slight heating he'd given before leaving, and ready to be eaten without having to be reheated had again caused him to loose control of his emotions. He hadn't been able remember the last time he'd managed to leave a meal he was preparing and find it in less then a few hours.

He hoped that the cure was permanent. Owen/Puck seemed rather assured that the spell he had cast with the help of young Alex would correct his problem. Or at least, give him some control. He just hoped that if he only got a slight bit of control, it would allow him to find a bathroom when he needed one or get back to a meal he was preparing if he left it for any reason. He didn't really mind travelling around the world, but it would be nice to get where he planned on going in a somewhat timely fashion instead of the usual months it took him. He did have to find that bastard Ranma and his bitchy girlfriend Akane. He owed them a lot, he thought as his hand crept to rub at a series of scars on his shoulder.


Alpha1 was smiling under the heavy riot gear mask he was wearing. He'd just finished setting the timer on the last of the explosives and was now waiting for Alphas 5 through 10 to report on their operation.

His team had been chosen by their great leader, Generalissimo Bison, to lead his attack on his enemies headquarters in the capatalist haven of New York. A city filled with degenerates and corruption. And now, in the heart of the city, he and his troops were preparing to strike a blow that would cripple a hedonistic capatalist fool and show the world that even here, in the heartland of America, in a place touted as the greatest city in the world, no one escaped the wrath and might of Shadowloo. Not even one as powerful as David Xanatos.

"Alpha 1, this is Alpha5. Mission is accomplished, my brother. Wire transfer has been completed and worms have been planted. We are clearing out. Over."

Alpha1 spent a moment to gloat over the success of his team. "Excellent work as always, Alpha5. The General chose well by assigning you to our unit. Despite your origins. Meet us at the site in 5. For Shadowloo, Alpha1 out." the comm unit clicked off.

"Praise Bison." Alpha5 grinned to his companions. They were the premiere hacker team in the entire Shadowloo army, hand-picked by him after he joined several years before. He gave a signal to the only female on his team, and the dark haired beauty grinned, typing rapidly onto the console before her. He and his teamates double checked their transmitters, making sure nothing was active. "So, Burn. Where you leaving the info this time?"

"Well, Z, I thought of a garbage file, in honor of our old friend Plaguey, but that's too common. I thought I'd hide it in the system registry with a command to release it back to the system in 34 hours. That way, Bison has enough time to confirm the transfer and set off the worms, but by that time, the system will have the antivirus's as well as the entire backlog of transfers and accounts that the money was sent too. Is everything else set?"

"Oh man, it was sweeeeet! Joey and I managed to convince the entire comp team to do a refit of the systems. They'll be offline for the next 3 days, except for Bison's personal network. The rest of Shadowloo is going lowtech fast. Real Stone age. Not even cellphones will be working on the island."

"Good job. What about you, Killer? How'd your end hold up?"

"Oh, it was wicked. Me and Nikon did a righteous work of the comm system. Nikon was able to switch the C4 with a weaker version, and I sent out false orders to abondon posts. By tomorrow night, the island's going to be crawling with Shadowloo stoogies."

"Then we'd better get the hell out of here and report in. Man, I still have trouble believing that we work for the government, after all that crap with Plague and the DaVinci Virus."

Acid Burn snorted as she finished shucking off the gear from Shadowloo, revealing a tight fitting outfit. She opened a bag she'd brought with her, and started handing her team mates their regular street clothes. "At least we don't work for the idiot secret service bastards.

Dade grinned as his wife started swearing about the incompatent special agent who had harrassed them several years before. "That would be too much." he agreed, accepting his patent leather bomber jacket while she donned her white and black zebra patterned jacket. The others were also dressing in their usual outfits while Serial Killer and Joey handed out their 'blades.

They took one last look around, and Nikon grinned, holding a small detinator. "Let's blow this joint." he stated and they headed down the tunnels away from the underground service area of the Eyrie building.

Three minutes later, several small explosions went off, reducing their used clothes and equipment to smoldering plastics and burnt fibers.

POV Break

Ranma frowned as he studied the match going on before him. There was a large, muscular black man who was toying with an older, smaller opponent. The black man was quite obviously superior than the shorter, white man, but he made no effort to end the match, instead striking only hard and fast enough to humiliate the elder competitor. Already, the older man's left arm hung loose, and the black man took his time taunting the other, and the crowd, enjoying the boos and evil muttering of the spectators while ignoring as the older man struck blows that might cripple a weaker person.

Eventually, with less then 10 seconds left on the timer and trailing the older man on points, he struck, a side thrust kick that sent the man flying into the crowd. Ranma winced as he heard the distinctive snap of bones breaking and his scowl deepened as the man laughed at the older opponent. The black man mocked the crowds anger, as paramedics rushed to aid the older man. The judges confered for several moments, then reluctantly gave the large man the win, as he had technically done nothing outside the limits of the rules for which they could disqualify him. Unfortunately, though he had only toyed with his opponent, he had not borken any of the rules. Injuries were expected and it had been clear that he had taken pains not to fatally injure the old man though he easily could have slaughtered him.

In a show of ultimate dishonor, the black man spit on his defeated opponet as he was carried out on a stretcher.

Ranma growled under his breath and the spectators near him backed away slighty. He was still growling when Akane reached him, having gone to check her next opponent's match while Ranma studied his.

"What's wrong, anata?" Akane asked upon reaching his side and taking in the barely controlled rage.

"That man, the large black one, just destroyed a respected dojo master and toyed with him like he was nothing. That wasn't bad enough, but he took great pains to injure his opponent just enough that he was hampered, but not enough to end the match. Dislocated shoulder, sprained wrist, pulled hamstring. But he let the old man land enough blows that he was far beyond on points. 10 seconds left, he kicked the man and broke most of the ribs and sent him flying out of the ring to land hard against the barrier, maybe breaking his back. Then, when he was being carried out by the paramedics, he spit on him!" Ranma was nearly spitting as the growl deepened in his chest. His aura was slowly growing into visible range, and the area of the seats around them emptied as people hurried to avoid attracting his attention.

Akane stroked Ranma's back, making soothing motions she'd learned with her daughter. "It's okay Ranma. You have him in your next match. Teach him what honour and respect are."

Blinking back the rage, Ranma leaned into her caress, enjoying the feel of her hands on him, something he hadn't felt in more than a year. "I will, love. I will." He took a moment and allowed himself to accept her calm. "What about you, who's your next match?"

"Apparently, it's the winner of a fight between a british woman and a chinese woman. I don't recognize the names, but I watched an earlier fight with the Chinese woman. She kicks nearly as fast as you, Ranma. She called it her 'Lighting Kick'. I think she must have had some training from the Amazons."

Ranma frowned. Why would an Amazon be taking part in this tournament. He was sure that the village could use the prize money and the prestige of winning the tournament, but the whole nature of this tournament went against the Amazon's warrior code. They would never allow the segregation of the woman from the male fighters. It would be a mixed tournament. Amazon's only separated their fighters for certain milestones in peoples lives. Otherwise, all fighters were welcome to enter a tournament, though few males ever lasted past the first round.


Bonus thanks in next chapter for any who can tell me who and where the Alpha team spies come from. It's pretty obvious, nothing too complex. Just had to put them in when I was writting about the Alpha team, needed to put other people working against Bison and just watched their cource recently.

*Chapter 13*: Chapter 24

Here's a chapter for 2 Tiger's Tale.

Special thanks and congratulations go to leroy for correctly guessing the movie Hackers where the spy team comes from. Hackers Rocks, rent it, buy it, watch it and live it.

Okay, this one has Akane vs Uranus and Chun Li vs Cammy. And a section with Bison learning about the sabotage. (Written Deejay's accent looks like Gambit or Rogue's from some Xmen stories or even Hagrid's from some HP fics. With mon and hey thrown in all over the place)

After that's all done, I'll go a bit into more details about the tournament, list a few fighters we haven't really seen, maybe a match or two. Next chapter, after this, will have Ranma vs. Darren Smith( the black guy you all hate so much from last chap, with a surprise), Guile vs. Edmund(more explosive and 'super' moves)

I hope.

On with the story.


Bison blasted the computer station as news of the betrayal of his premier hacking team reached him. He continued to rage for several minutes, destroying several millions dollars worth of computer equipment and killing three hapless computer techs who hadn't been fast enough to get out of his way. Deejay and Vega watched impassively, waiting for their leader to regain control.

His rage expended, Bison turned to his troops, eyes blazing with the inner fire of madness. "How could this have happened? I thought you're reserach into the backgrounds of all Shadowloo special ops concluded that these ... traitors had no love of the common rule of man? That they considered themselves above the laws of the pathetic nations of the world and held no loyalty to any agency but themselves? That they could be trusted to do my work so long as they were properly treated and highly paid? So how is it, Deejay, that these 6 people have betrayed me? That not only have they interfered with my plans for destroying Xanatos and levelling New York, but have managed to crash my networks and steal nearly 30 percent of Shadowloo's monetary assets? And also had all of our undercover agents leave their posts and return to our sacred land?"

Deejay gulped and took a step back, unsure of what to say that wouldn't result in his feeling his master's wrath. "Hey, mon. 'Tis not my fault. Sagat be the one choosin' who 'e want for de teams, mon. He be telling me to find 'im the best hackers and that I be doin'. Not my fault that Phreak, Burn, Crash, Nicon, Cereal, and Addict not be loyal. I be de one wantin' to test dem with de help o' de drugs and machines, but Sagat, he say he trust 'cause he know der past and can get 'em in trouble with all kinds of poleece an such."

Bison growled beneath his breath as the Jamaican's accent caused his head ache to grow. "Enough." he roared, sending a blast of electrical energy towards the muscular black man. Luckily for him, the man didn't move as the blast had been aimed to the side and would have struck him had me attempted to dodge it. "Get out of my sight. Have the network rebuilt, and send out our troops to rob several of the larger banks in some of the target nations. We need to replace our funds. Also, have some loyal teams sent to acquire replacement equipment for this mess."

The braided man nodded and left, eager to complete his task and hopefully avoid any future punishment for his failure.

Bison stalked over to the immense map, studying the glowing icons depicting his forces deployment. "Vega, I have an assignment for you. I want you to find these fools and bring me their heads. No. Wait. I want you to bring me their leader alive, but kill the others. I want to look into Dade Murphy's eyes myself before he dies. I want to see the knowledge of what his betrayal has cost grow while the light of life dims from his eyes."

The Spaniard nodded and silently left, privately wondering how to go about finding a hacker team skilled enough to have infiltrated the rigourous security of Shadowloo.


Cammy frowned as she entered the ring. She had hoped to fight one of those girls with the weird auras, not her somewhat friend. Sighing, she felt a surge of jealousy as she studied the Chinese woman limbering up across the ring from her. She and Chun Li had fought many times, both agaisnt each other and at each other's side. Cammy wasn't very fond of the woman, but that might have a lot to do with the fact that the woman had gained the heart of the man Cammy herself had desired for years.

She couldn't understand what Guile saw in the Asian girl. She was brash, arrogant and strangely prudish given the rather somewhat skimpy nature of the clothing she wore during the StreetFighter contests. Showing off her legs and cleavage as much as any street walker isntead of a street fighter. Cammy conveniently ignored the fact that she usually fought in an outfit just as, if not more, revealing as Chun's. Besides, she had more to show off then the gammy legged, flat-chested China Doll.

"Hey, Chun. Looking forward to the match?" She called across the ring, her British accent clear and strong.

Chun Li smiled widely to her friend, totally unaware of the jealousy her friend felt. "Hey Cammy. Am I glad to see you! I though I might have to face that blue-haired girl this round. Did you see her last match? It was brutal, but you could tell she was holding back a lot. I'm not looking forward to fighting her, though it looks like one of us faces the winner of her next match in the morning."

Cammy rolled her eyes at the excitment in her friends voice. She was here on official business, unlike the Chinese girl and their friends, who were on leave from the Global Forces. The British government were growing concerned over some of the rumors regarding powerful fighters appearing in China and Japan over the last few years. Fighters who held no ties to any official postings or agencies. They wished to recruit the fighters before they could be subborned into Shadowloo.

There were rumors of a pair of powerful martial artists who could take the form of tigers/human hybrids. People with the intelligence and dexterity of humanity, and the strength and agility of a tiger. And the rumors also claimed that they were being trained in a very powerful style of martial arts. She had been assigned to find any evidence of these beings and to make an offer on behalf of the British Government and the Global Defense Force should they prove aggreeable. If they refused, or showed signs of Shadowloo's corruption, she'd been granted permission to eliminate the threat by any means neccessary.

"Well, this should be fun. We've fought a few times, haven't we? Still, we should try and keep a lower profile then we usually do during our little contests. How about this, no energy blasts? Just physical martial prowess?" Cammy asked, knowing that she really should work on acquiring a counter to Chun's kisphere. Still, she was stronger then the girl, and as long as she could avoid the lightning kick and the Whirlind Strike, she should be okay. She just had to keep close and hammer the smaller girl with her fists and knees.

They took their marks on the start positions and bowed. The crowd had thinned as it was getting late and this was the last round of the evening. At the far end of the arena, another match was alos beginning, the one with the girl they had discussed and another, tall blond girl, holding a rubber version of a thick scimitar. Cammy focussed her mind on the person facing her as the bell started to open the round.

She had no time to ponder as she had to quickly duck a leaping spin kick from the faster and lighter Chinese girl. She managed to block three of the powerful kicks, but the fourth came through and struck her ribs, causing her to stumble to the left. She revoered as Cun had to wait to land and managed to slam a fist into the other woman's stomach, knocking her back. They each took a moment to regain their breath before starting to circle each other.

They exchanged some blows, neither managing to land anything, but still managing to bruise arms and shins with their strikes. Chun took a sudden leap back before jumping into the air in a thrust kick. Cammy, instead of blocking, went into a backflip kick, ramming her heel into the meeting of thight and buttock. This flipped Chun higher into the air out of control, and Cammy, once her feet touched down, leapt up, grabbed her around the waist and drove her down in a vicious powerbomb she'd learned from watching Thunder Hawk and Zangrief battle.

The light Chinese girl bounced off the mat and rolled for a few feet from the impact. Cammy did a forward roll to her feet, posing and throwing kisses to the crowd. She then turned back and started dancing around the ring like a boxer, slowly closing in on Chun Li who was shakily getting to her feet.

Cammy waited patiently for her opponent to rise and face her. Then she rushed in with a series of hooks and jabs that the other girl only barely dodged and blocked. They were nearing the edge of the ring and Cammy grinned tightly to herself, content with a ring out for the win.

However, just as she was about to land a kick to knock Chun out of the ring, the Chinese woman sidestepped then rolled forward towards the middle of the ring, jumping up to her feet and setting her self.

"It won't be that easy, my friend." the petite woman stated with a grin. "Let's step it up." With that she rushed forward toward Cammy.

Cammy grinned, enjoying herself. This wasn't a fight to the death or to worm their way into Shadowloo. Just a fight between friends. She moved forward to meet Chun, but was stopped as Chun let loose with a quick flash into her Lightning Kick. Cammy was struck by dozen's of blows. Blows which landed on her thigh, ribs, and which would have slammed her head, but she did managed to get her arm up to block those ones on with her forearm. She wasn't able to do anything else, as Chun was hopping forward on her other foot, staying with her as she tried to back away.

It was lucky that she was doing this, actually, as the hopping meant she wasn't able to land as strong a kick as she normally did. After a minute of this Chun stopped the series, and spun on her foot, trying for a reverse Roundhouse.

Cammy, seeing Chun twisting, set herself and waited. As Chun's leg swung around, she reach out and grabbed the ankle, slamming her elbow down on the thick quad muscles. Chun cried out in pain, while her body came down and she landed on her other knee.

Cammy ducked as Chun raised on her arms and tried to kick back with the leg she'd landed on. She then was able to grab the second ankle. Now Chun was in a dangerous position. Cammy was holding her legs up on her shoulders and Chun was holding herself up with her arms. It was a great deal like the picnic game of WheelBarrow Race.

Cammy held Chun's ankles, using her elbows to hold them in place while locking her hands together to add strength to the grip. Then she kicked out with one leg, while throwing herself backwards, using her chest and Chun's legs as a catapault. As her knee bent dring her fall, she released Chun's legs. Chun was thrown spinning out of control towards the edge of the ring. She landed on her back and shoulders, and flipped over , bouncing off the mat before sliding a few feet. Her legs and most of her body were out of the ring line. Luckily for her, a ring out needed to be a full body out of ring. Even if only your hand remained in the ring, you were still in the match. As long as you were able to pull yourself into the ring without that hand going out until your entire body was again inside the boundaries of the ring.

Chun pulled herself into the ring and to her feet. She was a little dizzy, her chest hurt from the kick that had sent her flying and her neck and back hurt from the impact with the mat. She was still sore from the first large impact a few minutes before. She could see Cammy approaching her, and tried to set herself, but her balance was off. It was all she could do just to rise to her feet.

Cammy smirked. She had the match won, she just had to push Chun out. Her ribs were sore, and she was limping from Chun's kicks, but Chun was worse off. She gathered herself and leapt forward, intent on kicking Chun out.

Chun barely saw Cammy come flying towards her. She as just abarely able to drop and roll aside, causing Cammy to miss and land painfully on her back. Chun flipped up and lashed out with her foot, catching the rising Cammy just under the chin and flipping her over backwards. Chun collapsed, all energy spent. She struggled to turn over to try and protect herself from Cammy's continuing attack, but paused as she noted that the officials were in the ring and the crowd was cheering wildly.

She glanced over to her friend and saw that her kick had flipped Cammy out of the ring. She had won. Great. Then she passed out.


Akane smiled as her open performed a kata with the sword she'd brought. Though she herself didn't usually use weapons, she'd grabbed a cavalry saber. It had a smaller blade then the hefty piece the blond was using, but it was a little more familliar to Akane, who was used to using a katana or wakasashi the times she did use swords. She was better with polearm weapons like the Naginata and the Bo staff, but since her opponent was obviously a swordsman, she felt it only fair to match in the same area of ability.

For her, the sword was more of a hinderance then an aid, since it would limit her strikes and blocks. She was more used to being able to hit and block from a wide variety of positions, and the use of the weapon limitted her it's range and heft. Her natural speed and resiliency was such that she could easily fight the other girl without a weapon with little risk to herself, as the rubber sword was not strong enough to damage her. Thanks to her training, her fore-arms were nearly as strong as steel beams.

She didn't want to hurt any one though, so using the practice saber would force her to limit herself more then relying on her instincts. It would make her focus more on the weapon in her hand and less on what her opponent was doing, taking away the edge of her enhanced senses and speed. She nodded to the other girl and took a few practice swings to get the feel of its balance.

Satisfied, she took to her mark, waiting for the round to start. Off to the left, she could feel the aura of the Chinese girl she'd seen in the lobby facing off against another fairly strong opponent. She looked up at the board and saw that the winner of her match would face the winner of that match, and grinned. She oped the Chinese woman won. She'd like to test if she was an Amazon or had Amazon training. But she could tell that even the other woman was a fair match for her and it would be a fun fight as well.

The match started slowly, as they tested each others defenses. The soft thud of the rubber blades sounded through their part of the arena. Most of the crowd had already left, and those that remained were watching the other match, so their end of the arena was nearly empty. Only Ranma, the judges, and this girls friends, the same group they'd met earlier- were watching. Ranma was lounging on one side of the stands, while the girls were clustered together across from him. The long haired brunnete was still throwing her dark looks promising pain, but Akane simply ignored her.

The pace started speeding and the blows came faster. It was obvious to Akane that the blond knew what she was doing. She swung the heavy blade like it was a foil or epee, using complex spinning twisting moves that were designed to confuse and intimidate an opponent. They failed against Akane, who saw the moves at about the same speed as if the girl was moving at normal speed.

Thanks to her unfamiliarity with the weapon in her hand, she couldn't really do anything but block, moving steadily around, forcing the older girl to spend the most energy. Akane was feeling pretty good. The match was fairly even, the other girl could move faster with the sword then Akane could, but Akane was reading her like an open book, blocking 95 percent of the strikes, and those that landed did no damage. She knew that she was loosing on points, as she hadn't landed any blows, while the other girl had struck her nearly 2 dozen times. They were weak blows that she easily ignored, but they were strikes that with a real blade would cause bloodshed.

Akane knew that her style was more linear then the other girl, who was circling constantly. She knew that if Ranma was facing the girl, her mate would be bouncing around like a jackrabbit on Red Bull, but she came from a more ground based style then the Saotome school. A style that relied on endurance and strength more then speed, agility, and aerial acrobatics. So stuck to her strengths, waiting for the other girl to tire while shurgging off blows that she could tell would seriously injure most people.

The girl broke her attack and danced back, facing Akane across the full width of the ring.

"You're good, Tendo-san." the girl called out. "I'm faster, but you can somehow read what I'm going to do and block most of them from landing. The few that are getting through aren't doing any damage. I'm surprised. Even with this rubber trash, I'm hitting strong enough to bend steel."

Akane smirked wickedly at the girl. "Years of training in ways most people would consider insane have made me pretty tough. My mate and I have learned things most consider impossible. Like this." Akane decided to show a little of what their training had accomplished. She gathered some of her ki into her free hand, and let a sphere grow.

She saw the astonishment in the other girl's expression, then lazily threw the weak ball towards her. She didn't bother calling out an attack, since this was really just a ball of surface ki, barely strong enough to singe a person's hair. The girl batted the ball away, and Akane watched as it flew off towards Ranma. She rolled her eyes at the look of fear on her mate's face as the ball approached, knwoing he was playing to the audience of the girls and the judges.

His little charade must have been successful, since the blond started running towards him shouting for him to move. Even her friends all looked torn, as they they were rstruggling wether to go after the ball, or vanish. They kept exchanging glances as they debatting something silently amongst themselves before all turned to the blond with the weird braids, who shook her head and motioned them to sit. They reluctantly did, and Akane made a point to talk to that girl later.

The other girl was still running towards Ranma, and was about to step out of the ring, so Akane leapt over and knocked her down, keeping her in the ring. "Stop fooling around Ranma. I don't want to win because this girl is worried about that weak thing hurting you.

Ranma sighed dramatically, and lazily reached out a finger to flick at the sphere when it reached him. His finger struck the sphere and there was a weak flash as the gathered gi was disipated into the air. He tossed his head back and made a show of yawning. "Hurry up and finish the fight, Akane. It's been a long day, and I've been waiting a VERY long time to sleep with my mate at my side." He gave his trademark grin, causing several of the girls to blush and giggle foolishly. Akane simply rolled her eyes, well aware of her mate's cluelessness in regards to his own attractiveness.

"Don't worry Ranma, I've been waiting as long as you have. I'd like to get to bed soon myself. I havent' sleep in your arms since the night Makoran was conceived." She gave a saucy wink to her mate before looking down at the girl who had still not gotten to her feet after Akane had prevented her from outing herself. (1)

The girl shook herself and rolled back, taking a fencing stance with sword held forward. Akane nodded and they came at each other again. This time, Akane had the upper had as the girl was rattled by the fact that she'd knocked what she'd thought was a dangerous blast towards an innocent (Hah, like Ranma was even innocent, Akane thought to herself) bystander and the force of Akane's lariat blow keeping her in ring. Her hands were shaking and the blows were coming slower, so Akane felt that the match had degenerated too much to be of any further fun.

She waited, then when the girl drew back for a powerful strike, she flowed forward, slapping the nerve bundle inside the wrist and causing her to drop the heavy sword. She then slammed the flat of the blade against the side of the girl's head, knocking her for a loop. She followed that up with a slam to the back of the knees, knocking her opponent down. She moved behind her opponent and held the curved blade to her throat, slowly drawing it accross to mimick a fatal strike.

The bell sounded and the match was over. Akane helped the woozy girl to her feet, and half carried, half dragged her to the seats near her friends. Ranma stood and stretched, and then used the seat in front of himself as a launching point to send himself flying the 40 meters from his seat to land easily and soundlessly next to Akane, who was checking the girl's eyes while her friends glared at her.

Seeing that the girl was beginning to shake it off, she smiled and glanced at the others. "Hi, I'm Akane, and this is my mate Ranma. I'm sorry about your nose, " she stated to the girl she'd fought earlier. "I wasn't trying to really hurt you, just end the match quickly wihtout seriously harming you. I could tell that you wouldn't give up and that you would keep coming unless I ended the match quickly, and that was the safest of the ways I saw to do so. And you, " she glanced at the blond, frowning for a moment. It had felt almost like the other girl had been checking her out. "I'm sorry if I hit you a little hard there, but you were way ahead of me on points. I'm not used to fighting with swords and couldnt' judge how powerful my hits were."

Haruka blushed slightly and smiled at the attractive girl, momentarily forgetting that her lover was only a few seats away. "Er, forget it. I've had way worse in training than that. Though I do admit, you hit pretty damn hard. And you can take a hit better then any one I've ever seen." She stared up admirringly at Akane, who was beginning to get uncomfortable with the appraising looks the girl was giving her.

"It was a good fight, though. I couldn't let you throw it away just because this baka was being an idiot. That ki sphere wouldn't have even singed your eyebrows. At most, it might have dried your sweat a bit, but that's all." Akane stated, throwing a false glare at her mate, who simply rolled his eyes and rocked on the balls of his feet, arms clasped behind his back.

"About that, how did you do that? I've never seen a normal person do anything like it. I've heard that the Sailor Senshi can do something similar with magic blasts, but I've never seen it done.

"That? Oh, it was nothing really. Just a weak ki sphere. I gathered a bit of the excess ki floating around us because of the fight and forced it to form a sphere. If I had wanted, I could have put some of my ki in, and then it would have hurt."

"I've heard that it's possible to do this, but that it takes decades to learn how." stated Ami. "I've read that ki masters can do all kinds of feats of strength and agility that seem like magic to most people. Sort of like the way... Ranma jumped across the arena like that. I've never heard of anyone jumping over 40 meters before. The longest jump on record is less then 30 feet, and Ranma, you just beat that by over 100 feet."

Ranma simply blinked and shrugged. "Like Akane said earlier, our fathers put us through some really stupid training to force us to reach levels decades faster then it normally takes. The level we're at is about equal to someone who'd trained, and done nothing but trained, for more then 50 straight years. They kinda compressed 60 years of training into the last 12 years of our lives."

The others gave them both looks showing how impressed they were by their stated prowess, but the pair shrugged it off. "Look, if you want to learn more, stop by the Tendo Dojo in Nerima. Me and Akane are going to be reopening the Dojo for students, and we've learned some shortcuts that are much safer then the ones our idiot fathers used for us. If you want, we could help you all improve."

They all exchanged glances, before looking at the spacy blond. "That seems like a good idea to me, Ranma-kun. We shall start taking lessons from you next weekend, if that is alright for you?"

Ranma silently asked his mate, who showed her indifference. "Sounds good. So next Saturday, after school. We'll see you then. Until then though, I really am tired, and I have an early match in the morning. So, it was nice meeting you all today, and we'll see you tomorrow?"

They nodded and the two left the girls who stayed behind while the tall blond took some time to gather the rest of her scattered wits.

They watched as the lover's made their way out of the arena, each blushing various shades of red as thoughts of what the two would do in the privacy of their hotel room crossed their minds.


1. sorry, couldn't resist putting this horribly pathetic pun. Akane and Ranma have no idea that Haruka is a a lesbian who most people mistake for a man.