Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction ❯ Wanderer ❯ Chapter 1

[ P - Pre-Teen ]
Imported From: RAAC
From: fherriot@yahoo.com

Two years ago...

"Are you sure about this?!"

Yumi smiles, nodding. "It's one of the best training grounds in all of
China, Saotome-san. Perfect to test one's balance and coordination. I've
enjoyed my several training trips there."

Genma nods, gazing at the beautiful ponytailed brunette before him. She
seemed a mere eighteen, but looks were deceiving. Her physical aura was unlike
anything the master of Musabetsu Kakutou-ryuu had ever encountered. There was
nothing at all "girlish" about Yumi Tachibana. Her soft green eyes spoke a
different story. This was a fighter, a warrior with much skill and experience.
Whatever her true story was, it was much more than the simple tale of an
orphan looking for a suitable soulmate.


"I see," Genma nods, folding the map and stuffing it into his gi. "Well,
thank you very much, Tachibana-san. And I'll keep my side of the agreement in

"I'm sure you will," Yumi smiles.

As the two part, they step outside the beautiful roadside restaurant.
There, a boy with raven hair in a tightly wound pigtail was busy practicing a
kata. "He has such wonderful skill," Yumi muses. "You must be very proud of

"I am," Genma nods. "He'll carry on the School for a long time to come."

*Much longer than you think,* Yumi smiles, her hand falling on the
beautiful garnet jewel hanging on an intricate necklace below her navel.
*Much, MUCH longer than you think...'Otoo-san'...*

* * *

by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****
Based on "Ranma 1/2," created by Rumiko Takahashi; "NoeL - La Neige," created
by Pioneer LDC; and "Major Raeburn," created by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****

NOTE: This is a rewrite of the original version of Part One, released to
r.a.a.c. in September 1998. The other parts will be heavily rewritten over the
next couple of weeks; please remove them from all archives. Certain elements
of this story are being redone to reflect comments and criticisms made by
readers in the wake of the release of Part Three. Given the complex situation
of Ranma's love life (does s/he have one?), it's hard for ANY fanfic writer to
satisfy all Ranma fans as to who will be with Ranma at the end, so if you don't
like the way this version comes out, I apologize.


1) Okay, okay, you haven't read anything on "Major Raeburn" just yet, but I
have hinted at the ideas stemming from that character for a while, mostly
through Nicole McTavish, the character I created for "Urusei Yatsura - The
Senior Year." I hinted at the Seekers in my SM story "Sailor Twins." This
story will expand further on the concept, act as a prequel to a future MR

2) For those of you who don't know about "NoeL - La Neige," don't be
surprised; it hasn't shown up anywhere in websites. The best place to go, I
believe, is Pioneer LDC, the company that created the game. The information on
Yumi, Ryou and Chisato was gleaned from the mook "Virtual Idol Collection"
(ISBN 4-7572-0036-6).

3) The beginning of this story is inspired in parts by Zen's "The Long and
Winding Road" and Nicholas Leifker's "Clothes Make The..." Maybe doing this
story will light a fire under them to get their excellent stories done!! (hint,
hint, hint)

4) The origin of the Nyu-che-zuu as related here, including the tale of
Jookoji-shima and Nini-Quan-Qi-Niang, was first proposed in my semi-lemon story
"Ranko: Abandoned No More."

**** **** ****



"Mail for Ranma Saotome! Mail for Ranma Saotome!"

Ranma blinks, looking up from his lunch as the deliveryman walks into the
school cafeteria. "Yo, right here!!" he waves.

"Ah!" the deliveryman nods. "Sign here, please. It's a registered

"Yeah, yeah," Ranma signs on the dotted line. then takes the envelope in
hand. "Now, what's this about...?"

As the deliveryman leaves, Akane and Ukyou walk up. "Hey, Ran-chan,
what's with the letter?!" the latter inquires.

"Search me," Ranma muses, then notices the post mark. "It's from
Kamakura? Who do I know there...?"

His fingers rip open the envelope, then he draws out a sheet of paper.
Unfolding that, he gazes at the message, then his eyes widen. "Oh, no, not

"What?!" Ukyou wonders.

Ranma sighs, then reads:

"Dear Ranma,
"You may not remember me, but we met two years ago prior to your journey
into Jusenkyou. During that meeting, your father made a profound promise to
me, one that directly involves you. To that end, I hope you're willing and
able to honour a debt your family owes me.
"Don't worry if you have other problems. They can ALL be taken care of.
I'll see you soon.
"Yumi Tachibana"

Silence falls. "Another one?" Ukyou rolls her eyes.

"Another one!" Ranma gnashes his teeth, dark thoughts about his father
seeping into his mind. "Geez, that's seven so far!! How many more does Oyaji
know about?!"

"Another fiancee?!" Akane snarls, then humphs, crossing her arms. "This
is your fault, Ranma!!"

"And how is it MY fault?!" Ranma snaps.

"What do you think?!" her eyes burn as a chi aura forms around her. "Are
you going to string her along just like you do Ukyou and Shampoo all the
time?!! How much more damage is the house going to take when she finally
arrives, huh?! Well?!!"

Ukyou shudders, her own aura flaring. "Look here, sugar, Ran-chan DOESN'T
string me along!!" she snarls. "It's because a dumb tomboy like YOU always
leaps to conclusions and blames Ran-chan for everything when half of it WASN'T
his fault that trouble occurs!! Is it any wonder why he DOESN'T like you at

The words hit Akane like a torpedo, silencing her as Ukyou's implications
sink deep. Ranma stares wide-eyed at his "cute" fiancee, surprised at the
vehemence of her attack. Ukyou grins as she presses the point home. "That's
right, Akane! He doesn't like you!! How could he?! You never trusted him
from day one!! All the reasons he fights for you is because of his family
honour, even when the honour of his family, MUCH LESS YOURS, doesn't mean

"Do you want to know who Ran-chan turns to when he wants to talk to
someone about his problems?! Not you; you won't listen to him and you don't
CARE about his problems! Not his father; he doesn't give a flying damn about
Ran-chan's feelings whatsoever! Certainly as hell not that stupid sister of
yours; she doesn't want to help Ran-chan deal with all the problems since she's
making a mint keeping things as they are and making Ran-chan's life hell!!
Sure as hell not that bimbo from the Nekohanten; all she sees in Ran-chan is a
prize to show her friends back home!!!"

A pause, then Ukyou points to herself. "He tells me, Akane! Because he
knows I care for him, I love him and I'll listen to him! And there is NO power
you possess that will change that fact!"

Silence falls as everyone stares at the three people in the centre of the
argument, wondering if things were about to change forever or if they should
get out of there before things started flying. Akane shudders, then gazes
expectantly at Ranma. He doesn't return her gaze; his eyes are turned to the
floor in silent contemplation. A shriek of pain then escapes her as she runs
out of the cafeteria, sobs stealing her voice. Ukyou watches her go, a touch
of pity in her eyes, then she gazes at Ranma. "Ran-chan?"

"Yeah?" he looks at her.

"Sorry about that," she sighs. "But the only real way you'll ever get a
message through to her is to slam her in the face!! I'm tired of seeing her
run ripshod over you like that! If you won't do something about her, then so
help me, I will!!"


* * *

After school, Ranma and Ukyou depart together. Akane had disappeared
right after the fight; most likely, she had ran home to be alone and avoid the
crowd. Silence looms over them as they pass the front gates, then turn towards
her restaurant. "Ran-chan?"

"Yeah, U-chan?"

"You might as well come to the restaurant," she stares at him. "I don't
think after earlier on, you might be too welcome at the Tendou home tonight."

"Yeah, you got a point."

Ranma falls in behind the chef, head turned to the ground. He was glad
that things hadn't ended normally when he had a fight with Akane; she braining
him with a sledgehammer and nothing getting solved, nothing changing. No
change. There was the problem! It seemed as if no matter how hard he tried to
make things better for those around him, something ALWAYS happened to smash
things back to the way they were. His fiancees, being unable to admit
everything to his mother, all the people wanting his head for one reason or
another, all the other weird things that happened around here because of him or
in spite of him. At times it seemed as if Ranma had even worse luck ruling
his life than Ryouga Hibiki!

Still...maybe it was finally time to change things. But how could he do
it? Atop being woefully ill-prepared to deal with social situations, honour
bound him to so many things, he couldn't make one turn without seriously
hurting others. The worst case was with Shampoo; if she went back to
Joketsuzoku empty-handed, she could be put to death, forever frozen in her
cursed form, or worse. Ukyou wasn't that much better off; despite what just
happened, she seemed totally willing to subvert herself for Ranma's sake. And
he had used that dozens of times whenever things got too tense for his liking
at the Tendou home, like they might be now.

Ranma sighs. Ukyou had lots of advantages as a future life-mate. She was
smart, reasonably well-skilled as a martial artist, independent financially,
possessed a skill that could keep her independent even at the worst of times
and she cared for him. A little too much, unfortunately. Then, there were the
downfalls. Ukyou really had no idea how bad Ranma's life could be from time
to time; she wasn't involved in things like the fight with Herb or the
encounter with the Seven Lucky Gods. Atop that, she had totally wrecked her
life to pursue Ranma and her father after they parted. He had some
responsibility to deal with the pains that unleashed on her. And there were
times he used their bond to his advantage, not letting her understand how he
felt for her. Oh, yes, he told her that she was his friend many times, but
those words never hit home.

Enough. It was time.


"Yeah, Ran-chan?"

"Akane was right about one thing, though."


He grimaces. "My stringing you and Shampoo along."

"I don't think so."

He stares at her. "U-chan...?"

"You think now that you've used me to your own ends," Ukyou stares at him.
"Believe it or not, Ran-chan, that's something we're all guilty of. We've
all used each other since we have our own agendas to press and we won't stand
for other people getting in our way. And since...a lot of our agendas concern
you, you get used a lot. So why shouldn't you do it in return?"

"It's not right..."

"Of course it isn't," she sighs, then smiles. "Ran-chan, please...tell me
the truth. Do you love me?"

"I..." Indecision seizes him, then he sighs. "You know, there are times
I wonder what love really is, U-chan. I care for you. If you're in trouble,
I'll be there for you, you know that. But...I...I can't see myself marrying
you, U-chan. Not now...maybe not ever. You...all I see in you is my best
friend, the one I played with when we were kids. I never knew this thing about
us being fiancees until you came back, remember?"

"Yeah, that's true," Ukyou nods. "For that, your father has much to
answer for...not to mention other things. Ran-chan...why won't you do anything
about Shampoo?"

"What could I do?" he muses as they step into U-chan's. "If I reject her,
things'll escalate to the point where someone could die. It could be her if
her tribespeople judge her that way. It could be someone here, especially if
the old ghoul goes ballistic; a lot of Shampoo's actions since she came here
were pushed by Cologne. I keep telling her I don't want anything to do with
her, but she normally nails me when Akane's nearby and..."

"And she uses that to give Akane the wrong impression about you, drive a
wedge between you two in hopes of making you break away from Akane," Ukyou
smiles knowingly. "Ran-chan, if you JUST had a choice between Shampoo and me,
who'd it be?"

"You," he stares at her.

"My point," Ukyou nods as she fires up the grill, then starts cooking. "I
think Shampoo doesn't really understand what love is, either. Her tribe
doesn't allow softer feelings to rule their lives. Their laws and traditions
won't let it happen. Personally, it's a wonder to me why people live in that
sort of situation."

"They live in China," Ranma wryly grins.

"Yeah, you got a point there," Ukyou muses. "I don't think the folks in
Beijing would like such independently minded people living in their country.
Maybe we could use that against them..."


Ukyou stops, then stares at Ranma. "There you go again."

"What do you mean?"

"Showing me why I love you so much."

Before he could respond, she leans over the counter, taking his hand in
hers and gently drawing it to her lips. Gentle kisses dance over his fingers,
then she draws one into her mouth to suckle it. Ranma blinks, stunned that
Ukyou was doing this, unsure if he should do something...and unwilling to
interrupt. Her lips trail into the palm of his hand, then she gazes intently
at him before leaning over.

The kisses are tiny pecks at first, soft as a breeze and so inviting.
Ranma gazes at her, then his own inhibitions start to fade as he begins to
respond, first with gently flecks of his own, then intensifying as he rises,
lifting Ukyou over the counter to the stool beside him. Their arms intertwine
as they hold each other, unsure as to where this might take them...and in
truth, uncaring, since the forces that are driving them now are in part more
primal than fragile emotions or cold logic.

Finally, they part. "Last time," Ukyou smiles.

"What...?" Ranma blinks.

"Ran-chan...something's happened to me in the last couple of days," she
sighs. "I...can't tell you what it is...not yet. But I can tell you this.
When I...go, I want you to come with me. It's time for you to make a decision,
Ran-chan. Do you want to leave your life in the rut it is now...or do you
want to finally say 'enough of this garbage' and get on with your life? In the
end, no one...and in some places, I've been guilty of this as well as the
others...really cares about what you feel, what you want out of your life.
Yeah, you may not really know what you do want, but isn't that your decision to
make at the end, Ran-chan? In my eyes, it is. And if the others can't accept
it, then I think it's high time for them to realize what that attitude'll cost

He blinks at her, then sighs. "Okay, I can accept that. I better get
home and face the music then."

"Take your time," Ukyou smiles.

With that, Ranma places a kiss on her cheek, then walks out...and promptly
gets splashed by a passing truck hitting a pothole by her front door! As the
transformed martial artist howls in anger, then trudges off, Ukyou stifles a
giggle, then heads into her small apartment. "Perfect!" she closes the door,
then walks over to her dresser, reaching into the top drawer to draw out a
beautiful necklace holding in place a glittering ruby-like jewel.

<<Must you keep me in here?>> a voice tickles her mind.

"Sorry, but I don't want to let the cat out of the bag yet, so to speak,
so you'll have to stay here until Ran-chan's ready," Ukyou latches the necklace
around her neck, then takes out a bag, drawing out a similar necklace. "Okay,
sugar, it's your turn!"

With a flash, the jewel vanishes...

* * *

Ranma walks along the embankment of the Shakujii-gawa, shaking her arms
dry from being soaked by the puddle, then she makes her way under a bridge, a
favourite place to relax and think. And right now, she needed a chance to
think. Was Ukyou right? Had Ranma so lost control over her fate that the time
had come to make some real hard choices, no matter what the cost to everyone
around her? Was it time to finally let it all go?

Take what just happened that morning. It seemed as if every month brought
out yet ANOTHER crazy woman wanting to collect on one of her father's
countless debts from their training trip. And the collecting of that debt
would doubtlessly lead to another bizarre challenge that would press Ranma to
the limit yet again. Tack that onto an original engagement with someone who at
times seemed to wish Ranma hadn't existed, another engagement to someone Ranma
viewed more as a best friend, a third engagement to the native of a tribe
whose laws and traditions were so harsh that the very concept of "compromise"
was obscene, a crazed gymnast who saw herself as yet ANOTHER fiancee, countless
rivals that flew out of the woodwork at every opportunity, being separated by
yet ANOTHER of Genma's stupid promises from her beloved mother...it was a
wonder if the only way out for Ranma was death itself!

"I just don't need this!" she mutters to herself. "What do I do? What do
I do?!"

A flash behind her illuminates the area under the bridge, though Ranma
doesn't notice, her eyes being squeezed shut as she tries to damn frustrated
tears. However, a curious warmth seems to flood over her, drying her clothes,
soothing her like no mother ever could. Ranma blinks as she looks up, then
sensing the light, turns...then her jaw drops open. "What the...?"

Floating at eye level is a beautiful glowing emerald, oval in shape, about
the size of a Canadian two-dollar coin. It is neatly embedded in an exquisite
necklace of silver and gold, something that could potentially fetch ten
figures on the open market. It seems to pulse for a moment, then it drifts
around to nestle itself in the crook of Ranma's breasts, the arms of the
necklace laying on her shoulders. Surprised yet not feeling threatened, Ranma
reaches back to secure the necklace's latch behind her neck, then takes the
glowing jewel in hand. "Now, what are you?"

<<A friend.>>

"You can talk!"

<<Telepathically, as you would consider it. I apologize for my sudden
appearance, but you seem...to need a friend.>>

"You can say that again!" Ranma snorts, not bothered that she was now
talking to a glowing crystal. "But...what exactly are you? I gotta admit,
I've never seen anything quite like you before."

<<Doubtful...lest you think of the Earth Guardian.>>

"Earth Guardian...?"

Images floods the woman's mind from memory. Black-and-white pictures
taken from the Greater East Asian War; World War Two to the outside world.
Warriors of great power, many choosing to hide their faces behind masks and
garish costumes to fight for justice against the dark side of human nature in
peacetime...and for their homelands when war came. The greatest of them all,
an orphan girl from a small Canadian city, who stumbled onto an abandoned cave
in 1938 and discovered a jewel...a Power Jewel...

"Major Raeburn...!!!" Ranma gapes, wide-eyed. "Masaka, you must be
a...you're a...but how...?!!"

<<I am,>> the Jewel in her hand replies. <<Like the Power Jewel placed
here for Deannette Raeburn to find, I was placed on another world to await a
worthy host so that I may aide her in the defence of her race against potential
threats. However, the world I was placed on to protect hasn't developed an
advanced culture that would provide an adequate candidate to be One with me.>>

"Then why don't you wait?"

<<Because if I wait...then soon, life would disappear from that world and
I would have failed in my mission,>> the Jewel responds. <<By your terms, my
planet's culture is at the level of technology you know as the Jomon age.>>

"That's three thousand years ago...whoa!!" Ranma whistles. "But...why do
you need someone now? I still don't..."

Images flood her mind. Primitive villages, subsistence-level agriculture.
A beautiful native population, humanoid though possessing mixed canine-equine
features. Still shamanist in belief, only beginning to discover a wider
universe beyond the veil of their world. One simple word for it could

Paradise aflame. Dark monsters, aeons worse than the martial arts masters
and magical entities Ranma had faced to date, slashing and ravaging the
landscape, laying waste to everything in sight, wiping out communities
wholesale. Age doesn't matter. Gender doesn't matter. All that matters is
living...and dying.

Ranma squeezes her eyes shut, the horror of it all bringing forth a worse
surge of nausea than Akane's cooking could ever provoke. Fates, could such
insanity actually exist somewhere in this universe?! Who could help them?
Who, what would be powerful enough to stop such monsters? Gazing at the
glowing crystal in her hands, she then sighs. Only a Power Jewel could. But,
as Major Raeburn revealed in a biography sometime before her mysterious
disappearance in 1945, a Jewel couldn't act without a human host.

"So why me?" Ranma wonders. "Surely, there must be others who would
better fit your purposes than me."

<<Not really,>> the Jewel muses. <<My creators, deceased for so many
billions of years, indicated three specific conditions for a potential Jewel
welder. One: the person must be physically or emotionally orphaned from her
birth family. Two: the person must have endured considerable hardship growing
up. And three...>>

"Must be a girl," Ranma bites her lip.

<<That would cause you considerable discomfort, wouldn't it?>>

"Believe me, it would," Ranma admits, allowing the Jewel to rest on her
chest. "But...I dunno..."

<<Perhaps I should let you ponder on that for a while,>> the alien
artifact seems to "smile." <<In the meantime, I will remain with you. I do
not wish to see you hurt while you're considering my offer. We are
granted...some leeway in selecting our future hosts and in my eyes, you are a
perfect candidate...if you would be willing to forever let go of your manhood.
You must admit, that would eradicate your paramour problems right then and

"Never thought of it that way," Ranma sighs, standing. "Well, I better
head back home. It's getting late..."

* * *


"Oh, Ranma-kun, there you are!" Kasumi looks up from her tea. "You missed

"I was visiting U-chan for a while," Ranma sits by the table, then notices
the pensive look on Kasumi's face. "Something wrong?"

"Akane-chan came home early; she hasn't been out of her room since she
came in," Kasumi sighs.

"Well, U-chan laid into her pretty bad at morning recess," Ranma muses.
"If Akane hasn't told you, I've got yet another fiancee from my training trip
on the way now. We might be in for some trouble over the next while."

"Another one?" Kasumi muses. "Oh, dear, that's a problem. But,
Ranma-kun, what happened between you and Akane-chan?"

"I did nothing," Ranma sighs. "Despite what your sister might have said,
U-chan was the one who did all the yelling. And a lot of things U-chan said
were right. The instant I mentioned this new fiancee, Akane decided it was my
fault as she's always done. How on Earth can it be my fault when I just found
out about it today?"

Silence falls as Kasumi considers the point, then grudgingly nods.
"Akane-chan does have a great problem in controlling her temper, Ranma-kun.
She has...improved over the last while. Please don't be angry at her over the
way she reacts to things."

"I'm not really angry at her, Kasumi," Ranma sighs. "In truth, I'm just
as bad when something weird happens, believe it or not. But for me, I tend to
speak before I think things through." *Whoa, what's making me say all this?!!*
she wonders to herself. "In truth...I'm just tired of all of this. The
fiancee thing, all the challenges, the thing with Mom, everything. No matter
what I do, where I turn, something happens."

"You're not all to blame for it, Ranma-kun."

"Thanks, Kasumi," Ranma smiles. "You know, you're the only one outside
U-chan who seems to want to listen to me."

"Why, thank you, Ranma-kun," Kasumi smiles, then sighs. "Um, could you
answer me something?"


"Do...do you love Ukyou?"

Ranma blinks, then sighs. "What is love, Kasumi?" she rises. "You know,
that word's been bandied around by everyone here ever since I came. And no
matter what, after all I've been through, I can't seem to get a straight answer
to that question. Anyhow, I'm going to make something to eat."

"Okay," Kasumi hums, watching the redhead walk into the kitchen, then
stares at her tea. Ranma seemed...different. As if something had started
tearing away the emotional shields she had placed around herself to protect her
spirit from all the pressures that had slammed into Ranma like the heavens on
Atlas' shoulders. What was going on? Much worse, what would it mean for

* * *

"Do you think I should ditch the pigtail?"

The Jewel mentally "hums" as Ranma stares at her reflection in the kitchen
window, a pot of ramen boiling on the stove. The soft Celtic music of James
Horner's "Back to 'Titanic'" played on the small cassette recorder over the
windowsill. <<Well, it would make you less recognizable to those you'd wish to
avoid for the time being,>> it muses. <<Perhaps this might help...>>

An image appears in Ranma's mind of a pageboy cut similar to Akane's,
tapered at the neck. "Hey, that's an idea," she muses. "No more 'pigtailed
goddess' as that dork Kunou always calls me."

<<As you wish.>>

An invisible hand reaches over for a pair of kitchen scissors, then the
device is opened, the sharp blade snipping the pigtail away above the dragon
whisker. However, the hair doesn't grow. "Hey, did you do something about the
dragon whisker, too?" Ranma muses, reaching down to toss the shorn pigtail
into the garbage.

<<Naturally. Having hair that grew so fast would be quite annoying, not
to mention a vulnerability in battle.>>

"These dorks are that powerful?"

<<Individually, no. As a group, however...>>

"I get the hint," Ranma nods, then sighs, gazing at herself in the mirror.
"Okay, if I decide to be a girl full-time, how would I do it without
resorting to the old crone?"

<<I've spent some time analyzing your 'curse.' That what you call 'magic'
is in reality a very complex form of psionic energy. The gifts I would give
you are of a similar nature; to most of your race, it would be considered
'magic.' All that would be necessary is to locate another one afflicted by
Jusenkyou, draw off his or her energy, then I would convert it to match the
matrix of your curse, then infuse it into your DNA. Once that happens...>>

"Good-bye, 'man above men,'" Ranma bites her lips. "That wouldn't please
Mom one bit."

<<Could I make a comment on that?>>


<<As I mentioned before, the first qualification of a Jewel welder is
being an orphan. Deannette Raeburn was orphaned when her parents and twin
sister died when she was just nine, then her uncle threw her out of her home.
You are an emotional orphan since your father would rather use you to press his
own ends than be a proper parent and your mother has placed such a harsh
condition on your reunion that you have no choice but to deceive her every time
she visits. If your mother cannot eventually accept what you really are, than
the only option for you is to renounce her.>>

Ranma blinks. "Yeah, she does have a peculiar sense of honour and
propriety, doesn't she?" she muses, taking the ramen off the stove, then
pouring it into a bowl. "And if I renounce the whole family, then all my
'engagements' fly out the window."

<<And by you becoming a woman full-time, you cannot be Nyu Xian-pu's
husband. By the stratified marriage laws of her clan, she couldn't mate with
another woman, could she?>>

"No, but then she'd be honour-bound to kill me, falling back on her
original mission," Ranma warns. "I really wouldn't want to see her dead, you
know. She may be a pain in the ass at times, but deep down, this whole thing
is Cologne's doing, not Shampoo's."

<<You may not have a choice. There is something else I'd like to talk
about: your sense of honour. May I note that it is that which has led you to
this point in your life.>>

"What does THAT mean?!"

<<Ranma, your code of honour never foresaw a situation like you possess
now. Yet, you have conscientiously chosen to remain within the bounds that
code forces on you, believing you would be totally lost, not worthy of life, if
you renounced those codes. Any code of honour in the end demands truth, total
truth. All you have had for the last twelve years are lies and
misinformation. Were you told of all your would-be life-mates? Were you told
of your mother's demand for you to be a 'man above men,' your life to be
forfeit if you failed those expectations? Were you told of Jusenkyou and what
it could do to you? Did you know Ryouga Hibiki would follow you to China, his
lack of directional sense placing him in your path to make him cursed? Were
you told of the mating laws of the Nyu-che-zuu? Of course not; all those
situations were just forced on you when the people concerned came to take you
to task on it. Where I come from, that is not the least bit fair.>>

Ranma blinks, then sighs, slurping her noodles. Strange as it sounded,
the Jewel had made very valid points. And calling on Major Raeburn's
experience, she knew no one in Nerima would have the power to stop her if she
chose to fully accept her new life, not even Cologne or Happousai. What good
were shiatsu points when the Jewel could raise a shield to stop a finger from
touching them...or even better, could alter or eliminate those points? What
good were energy attacks when Dean Raeburn once took a V-2 rocket in the chest
and was barely winded from the explosion? It would be so easy! And why not?
Wasn't Ranma entitled to some peace and quiet after the last year or so?

Eating her noodles, she sighs. Part of her wanted to throw away this
whole mad idea, reject renouncing her manhood and go back to the way things
were, despite all the problems she confronted day in and out. But that was
drowned out by a more deeper voice. The core of her sense of honour. The
honour that demanded that she follow the code of a martial artist her father
had drilled into her. Protect innocents whenever, wherever they were
threatened. And like it or not, there was now a whole PLANET of innocents
crying for some major league protection. The needs of the many far outweighed
the needs of the few...or the one. She would have to hurt people to get to
that point...no...

They would hurt themselves. Everyone had developed such inflexible
opinions towards Ranma, it would take a great shake-up to make them change
their minds. Akane saw her as the cause of EVERYTHING that happened in Nerima,
not willing it seemed to listen to Ranma's side of the story. Nabiki used her
as a very convenient money-source. Genma readily used her to further his own
ends. Nodoka had no idea what had happened to Ranma and no one knew how she'd
react if she learned the truth. Souun looked on her to continue the school.
Kunou saw her as the culmination of all his fantasies. Kodachi was the exact
opposite, seeing the female Ranma as her darkest enemy. Ryouga was so obsessed
on avenging himself for all the slights Ranma had done or supposedly done unto
him, he'd never rest. Happousai saw her as a convenient target for his lusts.
Cologne, Ranma was excellent breeding stock. Shampoo, a perfect husband to
show her clanswomen. To Mousse, the stumbling block to achieving his own
dream. It just went on and on and on...

Biting her lip, Ranma sighs. She hated to lose...but with all that was
arrayed against her, she would lose one way or another. Death seemed the only
real option left...until now. By shedding her manhood, becoming a Jewel welder
with all that implied, Ranma would remove the target of their quest, change it
in such a way that SHE would have a sense of control over the future direction
of her life. Of course, no one could really control their own Fate; what
happened to Dean Raeburn in 1945 demonstrated that too well. But at least it
would be for something positive. Those innocents on that faraway world,
Kaemal, would more than benefit.

<<So you've decided?>>

"Hai, I've decided."

And with that, Ranma Saotome died...

* * *

<<It's happened.>>

Ukyou bolts up from her futon, then tears well in her eyes as that
pronouncement hits home. "Oh, Ran-chan, I'd knew you do it..." she grins as
the pains of a decade-long quest to regain her honour, her very sense of self,
finally began to fade...

* * *

Next morning...

"Get up, you lazy boy!!"

Ranma's eyes flutter open as she feels her father's hands on her tunic,
trying to drag her to her feet. Fortunately, the Jewel was tucked under her
pyjama top so her father didn't see it. "Get your hands off me, old man!" she
snarls, grabbing him by his tunic and with a one-handed toss, sent him flying
out of the window to smash into the tree beside the koi pond!

"Ranma-kun, breakfast!" Kasumi calls out.

"Thank you," Ranma nods, heading off to get her toiletries.

A moment later, she jogs into the living room, towel and bath supplies in
hand. "Oh, my!" Kasumi gasps. "Ranma, your hair!"

"Oh?!" Ranma blinks, feeling her shorn locks. "Yeah, I decided it was
time for a change. Excuse me, please."

Kasumi watches her go, blinking. "Did he find a cure for the dragon
whisker?" she muses.

Ranma arrives at the bathroom, then knocks. "Anyone in?!"

No answer. Ranma nods, then heads inside to wash up...just as Akane steps
out, a towel barely protecting her modesty. The two freeze in place, then
Akane's face darkens. "You pervert!!!" she screams, fist lashing out...

...to ram into an unyielding wall! As Akane grips her wounded hand, Ranma
shudders. "IDIOT!!!!" she snaps, knocking Akane over. "I ASKED IF ANYONE WAS

Akane stares wide-eyed at the red-haired spitfire before her as Ranma
marches into the washing area. "If you can't control that anger of yours,
Akane, don't expect me to be your convenient target anymore!!" she snarls,
closing the drapes behind her.

Silence falls as Akane stares at the closed drapes, splashing water
echoing from inside the furo. Shuddering, she rubs her sore arm, then rises to
get dressed, trying to dam her tears. Having Ranma shout insults was one
thing. Having Ranma not raise a finger to defend her...having Ranma get REALLY
mad at her...was another.

She dresses, then shuffles out of the bathroom, fleeing to the safety of
her bedroom. There, P-chan relaxes on the bed, looking up as Akane staggers to
her dresser drawer, covering her damp face with her hands. Squealing cutely,
the transformed Ryouga leaps over to nuzzle against Akane's cheek, licking away
her tears. "He...he hates me, P-chan...!" she sniffs. "He hates me...!!"

The piglet's eyes widen. Ranma hated Akane?! Was that possible?
"He...he...yesterday, when Ukyou screamed at me, he just sat there, didn't do a
thing to stop her...he...he...I think he agreed with what she said..." she
rubs her face as she cuddles P-chan against her cheek. "J-just now...he came
to th-the bathroom...and we ran into...into each other...and when I got
mad...he...he yelled at me...! He hates me, P-chan..."

P-chan shudders, his eyes ablaze. How DARE that bastard do that to
Akane?! With that, he bounds off her, then races out of her bedroom. Akane
watches him go, then smiles. "Always out to defend me, huh...?" she sniffs,
then shudders as another wave of anguish slams through her, sobbing.

Skidding at the entrance to the bathroom, he leaps in...and in instantly
snagged by the bandanna by Ranma. "Hiya, P-chan!" she smiles at him. "Just
the person I'm looking for."

Growling, he tries to bite her...but fingers that could now shatter steel
lock on his spine, paralyzing him. "Relax," her eyes narrow. "Believe it or
not, my friend, your lucky day has come."

He blinks as Ranma places him down, then takes a towel to dry herself off.
At that time, he notices the beautiful necklace around her neck, the emerald
jewel at her nape pulsing with dimmed light. Squealing, he catches her
attention, then bounding to her shoulder, tries to bite the necklace off her.
"Hold it!!" she snares him again, then touches the Jewel. "You lay even a
piece of your skin on this, you die," she evenly intones. "That's no joke,
Ryouga, it's the truth. You will die. Understand?"

P-chan blinks. NEVER had he seen Ranma so serious before, so focused. It
was pretty intimidating, yet...he sensed that she really didn't mean him harm.
Deciding it was time for a talk, he wiggles his way out of her grasp, then
leaps into the furo. Ranma relaxes as Ryouga emerges, staring concernedly at
her. "What are you trying to do?!" the lost boy hisses.

"I'm trying to help you ditch your curse, that's what," Ranma sighs,
crossing her arms. "Ryouga, I admit that it was my fault that you wound up
cursed. I take the blame for it though I do note that I wasn't really in my
right mind at the time, seeing that I myself was just cursed and chasing
Oyaji...and only you can take the blame for your lack of direction putting you
into my path."

Ryouga shudders at her jab at his lack of directional sense, then blinks.
Ranma was accepting his responsibility for sending him into the piglet-drown
spring. Wasn't that really in the end what Ryouga wanted...? "Well, I suppose
after a change like that, I'd be pretty out of it myself," he chuckles,
rubbing his skull.

"Good," Ranma nods. "Okay, here's how it'll work. Your curse and mine
are magic. Magic in truth is a form of psionic, mental energy. No power in
this universe can destroy or create energy; it goes against every law of nature
there is. What I can do, however, is absorb the energy of your curse,
transform it into a neutral state, draw it into myself...and use it to augment
the energy of my curse. In essence, you would no longer be cursed..."

"And you'd be...frozen in your cursed form...!" his eyes go wide, the
scope of her plan overwhelming him. "Ranma...why...?"

"If you haven't heard by now, I've ANOTHER fiancee ready to come after me
sometime soon," Ranma sighs. "I decided the time had come to put an end to
this nonsense. And because my father is the author of a lot of this mess, then
there's really only one way out for this outside of committing seppuku:
renounce my family."

Ryouga's eyes widen even more at those words. "Renounce...?" he gapes,
then looks down. "Why...?"

"Why?!" Ranma sighs. "Try living with multiple fiancees and other whackos
breathing down your neck every day and see how you like it. Try living under
a death-threat from your own mother because you may not fulfil her pretty
narrow definition of 'man above men.' Try being seen as an object to aid
others to fulfil their hopes, being used and not respected as a human being
with his own wishes and desires. I have my faults, Ryouga. I'll not deny that
one bit. But if everyone is so fixated on seeing me in a certain fashion, NOT
WILLING to change their viewpoints because it'll inconvenience them or force
them to see their own faults, then I will not have anything to do with them

Ryouga blinks. "Like the way Akane blames you for everything that
happens," he looks down.

"Exactly," Ranma nods. "She has to learn how to curb that temper of hers
or find a more constructive way to focus her anger than lashing out at
everyone. I thought that not fighting back might help...but when you tack on
everything else that comes after me, that just made her worse, not better.
I've tried, Ryouga. So help me, I've tried. I admit that I tend to call
things as I see them. I've never dealt with many people except at the
receiving end of a punch before coming here. But it..." she shrugs.

Ryouga shudders, then rising and wrapping a towel around himself, he sits
beside his silent, transformed friend. "Ranma, I...that you want to help
me...well, you've always been that way, I guess. I...yes, I'll help you,
but...do you really want this? Do you want to be...without a home,

"I'm pretty well without one now," Ranma sighs.

"But still, your honour..." Ryouga balls his hands into fists. Why was he
doing this? Ranma was offering him a chance to be cured once and for all,
willing to sacrifice her manhood to see him whole! "Ranma, you can't just
throw your honour away like that!"

"Honour based on lies, half-truths and misinformation?" Ranma wonders.
"Honour based on fulfilling other people's desires and not having a moment's
peace, no influence whatsoever on my own life? That honour's meaningless,
Ryouga. Totally meaningless. Look where it's got me? The only real option
for me in that case, following that code of honour...is death."


"Hai," Ranma nods. "And by...destroying my male half, I am committing
suicide. I'm destroying that which I was."

Silence falls as they gaze on each other. "Ranma...has something come
up?" Ryouga wonders. "I mean...this is so sudden."

"Is it...and yes, something has come up," Ranma nods. "This is a Power
Jewel," she thumbs the alien device on her bosom. "We know about Major
Raeburn; we studied her in junior high, remember? Well, it was placed on
another planet, one that's at the Jomon stage of development...and is now under
attack by an evil...I couldn't put words to this, Ryouga," she shakes her

"Worse than Herb?"

"Oh, Herb's NOBODY compared to this!" Ranma snorts. "We're talking a
whole PLANET under threat, Ryouga! Whole villages and towns being wiped out.
For what, NO ONE knows! I...when I saw all that...and I compared it to what
we've endured until now...it's no comparison, Ryouga. None at all. I have to
go help..."

"But this being a Power Jewel, you have to be a girl," Ryouga shudders,
the full weight of what Ranma was about to confront finally sinking in.

"So that's why I need your help," Ranma stares at him.

Ryouga blinks, then takes a breath. How could HE call himself a martial
artist if he didn't in some way help these unknown people far away? Ranma
would be the point, the lance. But even if most of those she knew wouldn't
support such a decision even if they were to understand the full scope of it,
she would still need help.

"Okay, I'll help."

"Arigato," Ranma smiles, then gently takes his hands in hers. "Okay,
this'll just take a second."

A flash then fills the bathroom of the Tendou home...

* * *

"YES!!!!" Ukyou gasps as that flash of energy warps through Nerima,
resonating deep within her...

* * *

At the Nekohanten, Cologne's eyes narrow as she feels a sense
of...POWER...race through the air. Canting her eyes around, her inner senses
reaching out to target whatever it could be, she then sighs. That flash had
flooded the Nyu-che-zuu matriarch with raw, alien energy, but it had been so
brief that she couldn't get a sense of what it was, much less why it was here.

She returns to monitoring Shampoo and Mousse as they prepared the
restaurant for the day, vowing to look into it in the future...

* * *

"What was that?!" Kasumi looks up.

Souun hums as he reads his paper. Kasumi and Nabiki look upstairs,
surprised on sensing the pulse of luminance flow through the house. Genma was
still unconscious beside the tree outside. Akane was in her bedroom. A moment
later, Ranma descends from the bathroom, now cleaned and dressed in her usual
shirt and trousers, the Power Jewel sitting displayed around her collar.
Ryouga follows her, dressed and with backpack in hand. "Oh, Ranma-kun, there
you are!" Kasumi smiles. "Your breakfast is getting cold. Hello, Ryouga-kun.
Would you like something to eat?"

"Please," Ryouga smiles as the two sit down.

"Hey, where'd you get that sparkler?" Nabiki points to the shiny emerald
on Ranma's chest.

"Oh, it's something that found me yesterday," Ranma shrugs. "Don't want
to leave it around for some thief to try to fence it."

Ryouga blinks, then smiles as Kasumi lays out some cream soup and mixed
vegetables. Nabiki blinks, surprised by Ranma stating "it found me" instead of
"I found it," then returns to her meal. By then, Akane descends, now dressed
for school. "'Morning."

"'Morning, Akane-chan," Kasumi smiles.

Akane sits beside Ranma, then stares concernedly at her, then notices
their guest. "Oh, Ryouga-kun. When did you come in?"

"Ah, just an hour ago," Ryouga admits; that was the truth. "Sorry I
didn't announce myself."

"It's okay," Akane sighs, then gazes warily at Ranma. "You okay...oh, I
didn't notice your hair!"

"I'm fine," Ranma smiles. "Never been better, in fact."

"What about the dragon whisker?"

"All taken care of."

"Oh, that's good," Akane nods, feeling a surge of uncertainty well up.
Something was up, something really BIG was up...but how could she ask Ranma
what was going on? Would she answer with Nabiki in hearing range? "Well, we
should get to school."

"Good point," Ranma muses, then rises. "Thanks for the meal, Kasumi. It
was delicious. I'll get my things."

She jogs outside. Akane watches her go, then looks at her sisters.
"Doesn't Ranma seem...bothered by something?"

"She seems pretty happy for some reason," Kasumi muses. "Still, you
better get to school. You'll be late."

"Good point," Akane rises. "See you later, Ryouga-kun!"

"Yeah, see you!" Ryouga nods as she heads outside.

He then finds himself at the receiving end of a questioning gaze from
Nabiki. "What's really going on here?" she hums.

"I won't say," Ryouga returns her gaze. "I'll let Ranma explain that
herself when the time comes."

Nabiki blinks on hearing the feminine term used for Ranma, but says
nothing as she herself rises for school...

* * *

Ranma and Akane walk to school side-by-side, the former electing not to
practice her balance technique by walking on the fence. Besides, the fence was
the place where Shampoo usually caught her with her bicycle tire, so if the
warrior-maiden was heard coming up, Ranma would be ready for her.

Akane gazes at the woman beside her. Despite her outburst of anger in the
morning and her newly-acquired resistance to Akane's punch, she wasn't afraid.
Still, the radical shift of behaviour was as unnerving as Ranma shedding her
pigtail...or remaining a girl. Why hadn't Ranma changed back to a man by now?
What was going on here? "Ranma?"


"Are...are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Ranma sighs. "I know. I'm not acting 'normal' and you want
to know what's exactly going on and if I tell you and there's something you
don't like, you'll get angry, totally waste both our time and it solves

Akane jerks. Ranma had never spoken to her like THAT before! She then
sucks in her breath. "I...I'm sorry..."

"For what?"

"For...for yelling at you like that this morning..." she looks away.
"I...I should've said something when you asked if anyone was in the furo...I'm

"That's not enough."

"What does THAT mean?!" she glares at her.

"What about all the other times you've yelled at me?" Ranma evenly stares
at her. "What about all the times you've jumped to conclusions about what I've
been doing, never gave me the chance to explain my side of the story, never
tried to trust me. You don't trust me even now, you know that?! Well, fine!
If that's the way you want it, then that's the way you'll get it!"

Akane shudders. "Wh-what does that mean...?"

Ranma glares at her. "The engagement is over."

Silence. Akane stares in wide-eyed shock at the woman before her, stunned
that after all the times she had verbally declared their engagement "ended,"
Ranma would slam the door closed on the question so completely. Shuddering,
she looks down, tears flowing down her cheeks. "Why...?"

"Because I can no longer be a man, Akane," Ranma sighs. "You wondered why
I haven't asked for hot water anytime today? I froze myself as a woman. This
is the way I'll be until I die."

Akane gapes. No more gallant warrior coming to her aid. No more strong
chest for her to sink into whenever she needed to feel safe again. All...over?
"Ranma..." she stares at the other woman, stunned. "I can't believe...you're
giving up..."

"No, Akane, I'm not giving up. I'm ending my old existence in such a way
that will effectively eradicate everyone's need to come after me...BUT at the
same time, give me the chance to take back control over my fate. You know how
obsessed some are, Akane. So if I can't get rid of the fiancees, I had to get
rid of the target: me. I wouldn't marry one; I'm not ready for marriage and
even if I did, that decision would make the others come after me and make my
future wife's life total hell. I won't do that; it's not fair. By eliminating
my manhood...and since Confucian society doesn't in the least bit condone
relationships between two women...they can't do a thing to press a claim on me.
Quite simple, really."

Akane shudders. "How?"

"There's...someone who was cursed by Jusenkyou. I won't say who it is,
but it's not one of the ones you know. It was my fault that person was cursed.
I accepted my responsibility, then after discovering a way to transfer the
power of the curse from that person to me, did so. That person is no longer
cursed...and I am frozen in my cursed form," Ranma points to herself.

"And by doing so, you eliminated any hope for anyone to press a claim,
even Shampoo," Akane whistles. "Wow! I...gods..."

She looks down, fresh tears in her eyes. A hand falls on her, then she
looks up to see Ranma crying. "I'm sorry, Akane. It's the only real way we
can all walk away from this with something."

"But...wh-what about us?" Akane stammers.

Ranma's eyebrow rises. "Is there an 'us?'"

Akane tenses. All her words that had renounced Ranma, who she was, what
she was, their engagement...all come roaring back. Had those words...had they
hurt Ranma so deeply that...she decided that ending it, eliminating future
chances to repair the damage, build something better...was the only answer?
"Oh, Ranma, I'm sorry..."

"I am, too," Ranma smiles. "I care for you very much, Akane. If that is
a type of love, then yes, I love you. But...even if you and I get married,
even if we settle our problems, what then? Who will stop Shampoo? Who'll give
U-chan or the others Oyaji forced on me what they deserve? Who gets the old
lech off our back? Will Mom force me to commit seppuku if she finds out about
the curse? I'm sorry, Akane, but my life hasn't been under my control since
Oyaji took me on our trip. I don't want that anymore. And...while I made this
decision totally on my own...I would think that you'd want your life to have
some sense of control over it, too.

"This whole engagement business has warped our fathers so much, they'll
NEVER hear of our wanting to end it or even delay it. And even if I don't want
to marry you, they'll try to stick me with Kasumi (who already has someone
after her) or Nabiki (whom I can never trust and frankly, I'd probably want to
kill myself before I'd ever marry her given the way she loves to treat
people)," Ranma adds, then draws back. "Akane, I've...enjoyed being with you,
those times we weren't fighting. But at the rate we were going, I believe that
any marriage between us would have just made us both miserable. I won't be
the cause of making you more miserable."

"Oh, you...you dummy!" Akane sniffs, then stares at her.
"I...I...good-bye, Ranma."

With that, she runs off, sobbing. Ranma watches her go, then sighs.
"Good-bye, Akane," she looks down, then turns back.

She then pauses as a wave of power washes over her. Looking up, she sees
Ukyou standing there...her own Jewel glistening like a red sun on her chest.
"'Morning, Ran-chan."

"U-chan...!" Ranma's eyes widen as things suddenly fall into place. "Oh,

"It seems you and I've taken a commitment to the same place, Ran-chan,"
Ukyou sighs. "So, shall we get ready?"

Ranma blinks...

* * *

To be continued...

From: fherriot@yahoo.com

"Tendou-kun, where is Saotome-kun?"

Akane blinks, then gazes at Hinako Ninomira. "What did you say,
Sensei...?" she sniffs, her cheeks damp.

"Akane-chan, what's wrong?!" the child-teacher gasps on seeing her sorrow,
moving to comfort. "Did you and Ranma have a fight?"

Akane shudders, then sighs. Once Nabiki got wind of this, everyone'd
know...*and be much poorer for it!* she darkly adds to herself. Time to take
control. "Yes, we did have a fight, Sensei. A real bad one, too. Ranma...has
ended the engagement between us."

Silence. Eyes lock on the shivering woman in their midst, then travel to
the empty desk beside her. Hinako gapes, then sighs. "Oh, Akane-chan, I'm so

"Thank you," Akane smiles.

"But, still, that doesn't give Saotome-kun the right to skip classes..."
Hinako returns to the front of the class.

"Not unless she elects to leave the school as well!"

Eyes spin to the door to see Ranma standing there. "Saotome-kun!!" Hinako

"Hey, Ranma, where's your pigtail?!" Hiroshi demands.

"What's with the necklace?!" Daisuke adds.

"Please!" Ranma sighs, then pulls out an apple, handing it to Hinako.
"Here you go, Sensei."

"Um...why, thank you, Ranma-kun!" Hinako grins, then stares at her. "Um,
is it true that...?"

"It's over between Akane and I?" Ranma muses. "Hai, it is. Further, I'll
be renouncing my family, which will then end ALL the engagements my idiot
father forced on me. I'll have to deal with Shampoo on my own time, however.
And to make sure that no one gets it into their heads to come after me, I'll be
taking my leave of Japan. I was just with the principal withdrawing from the
school. I just came to tell you, then clean out my locker and go."

Hinako stops, gazing intently at the redhead before her. Ranma didn't
speak with her usual male brashness or the shy stammer she produced when
dealing with emotionally sensitive topics. Her voice was weighed with
conviction. "I see..."

"I will admit that you've made my life...interesting, Sensei," Ranma adds.
"I hope that one day, you'll find a cure to what Jiji did to you when you
were a kid. You don't deserve to be this way."

"I...thank you," Hinako smiles.

Ranma then faces the rest of the class. "Sorry to trip out on you like
this. Take care, everyone."

She bows, then calmly heads out of the room. Everyone remains frozen for
a moment, then bolt up to follow. "Sit down!!!" Hinako snaps as they storm to
the door, streaming outside...and stopping in their tracks. "What...?"

Hinako walks into the hallway, then looks both ways. It was quite a
distance to either stairwell to the lower floors; at Ranma's casual pace, she
would've remained in everyone's sight. "Where'd Ranma go?!" Hiroshi wonders.

"Man, I've never seen ANYONE move that fast!" Daisuke muses.

"Alright, that's enough!" Hinako sighs, drawing out one of her handy
fifty-yen coins. "Into the class, everyone! If Saotome-kun has made his
choice, then you have nothing to say for or against it! Back to your seats!!"

Seeing the coin, they quickly scoot to their places. Akane remains by the
door. "Sensei?"

"Yes, Tendou-kun?" Hinako gazes at her.

"You better say 'her' when you talk of Ranma these days."


"Because she...told me that she had frozen herself as a woman this
morning," Akane shudders. "She can never be a man again."

Hinako's eyes widen...

* * *

a fantasy crossover tale of Ranma Saotome
by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****
Based on "Ranma 1/2," created by Rumiko Takahashi; "NoeL - La Neige," created
by Pioneer LDC; and "Major Raeburn," created by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****

NOTE: This is a rewrite of the original version of Part Two, released to
r.a.a.c. in September 1998. The other parts will be heavily rewritten over the
next couple of weeks; please remove them from all archives. Certain elements
of this story are being redone to reflect comments and criticisms made by
readers in the wake of the release of Part Three. Given the complex situation
of Ranma's love life (does s/he have one?), it's hard for ANY fanfic writer to
satisfy all Ranma fans as to who will be with Ranma at the end, so if you don't
like the way this version comes out, I apologize.

**** **** ****


Morning recess...

"Where Airen?!!"

The smoke and dust settles in the school cafeteria in the wake of another
of Shampoo's smashing entrances, the displeased look on the warrior-maiden's
face clearly indicating her foul mood after missing Ranma on her morning
delivery run. Everyone stares at her, then returns to their own business.
Shampoo growls at their ignorance, then spots Akane. "Where Airen, Violent

"Gone," Akane doesn't look at her.

"Where?!!" Shampoo demands, slamming her hands on the table.

"Don't know. You know how that baka doesn't like to tell me things!"
Akane sighs. "Go look for him."

Shampoo shudders, then snorts. "Hmpth! Shampoo believe that Ranma
finally tire of putting up to stupid violent tomboy!! Once she find Ranma,
Shampoo will show who really loves him!"

"Your husband is dead."

Silence. Shampoo pales, then gazes again at Akane. "What Violent Girl

"You heard me," Akane icily smiles. "Your husband is dead, Shampoo.
Ranma WILLINGLY stripped HERself of HER manhood, froze HERself into HER cursed
form. I doubt even your idiot laws would permit you to marry another WOMAN,

Shampoo shudders, her eyes widening as the implication of Akane's words
hits home. She gazes into her rival's eyes, then fearfully gulps on seeing no
sign of duplicity. "You...no lie! Why...why Ranma do that...?" she stammers.

"What better way to get rid of you?" Akane muses. "I doubt that you'd
want to go back to your original task and kill Ranma, even if your
great-grandmother ordered it, Shampoo. And if you go back to Joketsuzoku
empty-handed, I can pretty well guess how your tribespeople will react. Either
way, you lose big time. Which is what you deserve for the misery and pain
you've brought unto us!"

Silence falls as everyone awaits Shampoo's answer. The warrior-maiden
looks down, eyes tearing as the possible result of THIS hits home. If Ranma
chose to become a woman full-time, her tribe could order her back on the
original mission which resulted from their duel at the tournament after Ranma
was cursed. And after all this time, Shampoo knew very well she couldn't kill
Ranma. Why? What had happened to make Ranma do THAT...?!

No! Ranma would NEVER become a woman full-time willingly! The only way
THAT could've happened was if something made Ranma take that choice. "You do
that to Ranma!!" Shampoo spins on Akane, her bonbori at the ready. "Stupid
violent tomboy hit Ranma on head, then make Ranma think he woman!! You

Akane bolts back as Shampoo's weapons fly at her skull...


Shampoo screams as her fighting chi is sucked into Hinako, dropping to the
floor as the teacher regains her proper adult dimensions. "Someone take this
idiot back to her restaurant and tell her great-grandmother that if she ever
comes to disturb the school again, it'll be the last thing she ever does!"
Hinako snarls, then looks at Akane. "Tendou-kun, have your sister come see me
as soon as she can. I think it's time we expel this twit and her clansmen back
to China where they belong!"

"Hai, Sensei!" Akane nods...

* * *


"Had any problems?"

Ranma shakes her head as she places her backpack, now stuffed with all her
possessions, by the door. "No. Oyaji and Tendou-san were at the district
hall; I think the people're complaining about Jiji again. Kasumi was off
shopping, so I had the place to myself," she saunters to the counter, then sits
down. "So..."

Silence falls as they gaze on each other. "You must think I rigged this
to make you come to me," Ukyou muses.

"The thought has crossed my mind," Ranma crosses her arms.

"Remember the conditions," Ukyou holds up a finger. "One: you're an
orphan, either physically or emotionally. That's what I am; I fit that profile
better than anyone here except Ryouga. My father wouldn't accept me back
unless I've avenged our shame on your family. I don't want revenge anymore,
Ran-chan, not when it concerns you; you've got enough problems as is. Two:
enduring hardship growing up. I qualify for that, both emotionally and
physically. Not as much as you, I suspect, but enough. Three: be a woman. I
was born that way, Ran-chan, so that beats out Ryouga."

"So...where did my Jewel come from? You said we got drafted to the same
place," Ranma muses.

"Hai, that's right," Ukyou nods. "There were five Power Jewels scattered
through Kaemal's home solar system. Don't ask me why the Seekers did it that
way; they just did. I got one. You got one. And I suspect we'll be meeting
the three others sometime soon; my Jewel told me that they were selected some
years ago and have been fighting on Kaemal ever since."

"So how did you get here?" Ranma stares at the alien jewel on her bosom.

<<The first Jewel Warrior dispatched I and Ukyou's Jewel to this system
sometime ago when this world's Praetorian Guardian indicated that there were
two probable candidates to bond with us,>> the Jewel replies. <<In fact,
Ranma, you were the first chosen; you gained the interest of the Praetorian
Guardian as long ago as your training in the Cat Fist technique. It was
choosing your fellow warrior which was the harder task.>>

Ranma blinks, her cheeks flushing. The Praetorian Guardian, trained by
another alien immortal race of superbeings, was the "mystery-man" Lord Ryasan,
who for the last 5000 years had been fighting an endless war against those
extra-dimensional beings ancient peoples worshipped as gods and goddesses.
Ryasan, who currently resides in a castle outside the Russian city of the same
name, was a friend and ally of Major Raeburn. "Brother, I knew I was good, but
to have *him* take notice...?!" she shudders.

"You earned it, Ran-chan!" Ukyou smiles.

"So what made you choose U-chan?" Ranma then stares at the ruby jewel on
the chef's bosom.

<<To be fair, I did an analysis of all four of your would-be life-mates,>>
it calmly replies. <<For the first condition, the ones who automatically
qualified were Ukyou and Kodachi; Akane and Shampoo have quite intact families
to fall back on. For the second condition, Ukyou and Shampoo qualified; Akane
is not well-skilled in combat and Kodachi is too pampered to have EVER endured
true hardship. Everyone of course made the third qualification. I then added
a fourth given the circumstances: their attitudes towards you. The results I
drew are this: Shampoo's cultural bias would force her to consider you more a
possession than a person; Kodachi is too mentally unstable to be a proper
fighting partner, plus you have to remember her hatred of your female persona;
Akane has no control whatsoever over her temper and seems unwilling to alter
her adversarial approach to you; and...Ukyou, while she now understands and
accepts that you've always see her more as a friend than a life-mate, certainly
seems to be the ONLY person who cares for your feelings. In the situation you
will soon confront, trust and friendship are the paramount considerations.
You'll need them.>>

Silence falls as Ranma considers that. "It seems that given the
circumstances...you won, U-chan," she stares at the chef.

"Part of me...wouldn't want it this way, believe it or not," Ukyou sighs.
"Ran-chan, when I...realized that deep down, given a choice between Akane and
I, you'd choose Akane...it hurt me a lot. I tried not to be overt in
persuading you to choose me, certainly not like Shampoo or Kodachi came after
you. I didn't feel it was fair to you. But...I blinded myself to your real
feelings. You're a hard person to understand, Ran-chan..."

"And I used you at times," Ranma frowns.

"Yeah, you did, but like I said yesterday, none of us are innocent in that
regard," Ukyou shrugs. "But when my Jewel came by and told me that YOU were
the first chosen...and that of all of Ranma Saotome's would-be life-mates, *I*
was the one who fit the qualifications to stand by her...that was the happiest
day of my life. And I'm not throwing it away, Ran-chan!" she grins.

"Y'know, some would say that I don't really understand what you've endured
day after day," she adds. "That's the truth. I don't understand what you've
had to put up to...and if I want to say I want to be the one special person in
your life, I BETTER understand it pretty damned quick. There was Akane's
advantage over me, admittedly. She lived with you full-time, so she was right
in the middle of it when things happened. I only got into it when I had the
fortune to on the scene; other times, I learned it second hand from you when it
was over. I'm not going to let it happen anymore, Ran-chan. If I say that I
love you, then by all the Fates in the universe, I'm gonna made pretty DAMN
sure I'm at your side when you get into the middle of something!"

Ranma blinks, then sighs. "It'll take some time for me to get used to
that, U-chan," she admits. "Part of me wishes Akane had been chosen. The
reason I...cared for her is that she was always willing to stand up to me, show
me what I did wrong. Yeah, she made mistakes, but she's human. So am I. You
always agreed with me whenever I said anything, U-chan. That's great for
friendship, but I don't think a relationship can work on that regard."

"Maybe...we should stow the talk about relationships for the time being,
Ran-chan," Ukyou muses. "Remember, I got the whole revelation about Kaemal
too. I know what we're getting into. I don't think we can afford to open our
hearts then, can we?"

"No, not really," Ranma shakes her head. "This actually might be a bit of
a cop-out on my part. Incredible! I tried so much to NOT be like Oyaji and
here I am running away from it all..."

"No!!!" Ukyou snaps. "Damn it all, Ran-chan, don't say that!! You aren't
running away from anything!!! You're just trying to take back what's
rightfully yours in the first place: your life!!! And if those assholes out
there can't hack it, tough!!!"

"They won't agree with your logic, U-chan."

"Too bad," Ukyou smiles. "They can't change it now."

* * *

Furinkan High School...

"HE LEFT?!?!?!"

Nabiki gapes slack-jawed at Akane as they meet in the school cafeteria at
lunchtime, the surprise the middle Tendou feels at the decision Ranma had made
without her even SUSPECTING something like it coming total. "Yes, he left,"
Akane sighs. "He called off the engagement, then announced at homeroom that
he'll be renouncing his family. And that doesn't count the fact that he's now
frozen himself as a girl."

"How'd he do that?!! WHY'D he do that?!!" Nabiki screams. "Akane, you
know as well as I do what his mother'd do...!!"

"Ranma won't recognize Auntie Saotome as his mother anymore, remember?"
Akane stares at her, her body shaking. "He rejects his father, he rejects her,

Silence falls as Nabiki shudders. Everything was flying out of control,
out of HER control most of all. Ranma had been the best money-making venture
she EVER had! Even discounting all the costs from the damages Ranma's presence
in the Tendou home had unleashed, Nabiki had made a handsome profit over the
last year. And now it had been totally stripped away! Staggering, she sinks
back into her chair. "So where is he...she?!"

"I don't know," Akane sighs, her eyes sullen. "And to be honest with you,
I don't care anymore!! If that baka decided to do all that, that's his...HER
choice! Let her go!!"

Nabiki sighs. "Akane, you don't really mean that, do you?"

Akane shudders. "What if I do?!"

"Bullshit!" Nabiki snarls. "You love Ranma with all your heart and soul,
Akane! Yeah, you fought with each other, but he was there for you when you
needed his help and damn it all, you were there when he needed your help!! It
was only your pride and what our fathers'd do if they ever found out how you
really felt that kept you and he silent! Right now, you better do something
really quick to get him back before news of this gets to Dad and Mr. Saotome,
much less everyone else!!"

"And what would that solve?" Akane rises. "You know, Ranma said something
to me this morning. She said to me that she didn't want to cause me any more
misery. She ADMITTED to me that she cares for me...and if that was love, then
yes, she loves me! She also said she wanted to give me my freedom of choice
back!! By ending the engagement and cutting herself away from her family, she
does that! Beside, you want to know what Ranma said about you?"

Nabiki jolts, shuddering, as Akane glares at her. "She said that she'd
rather KILL HERSELF than marry you! Doesn't that tell you something,
Onee-chan?! About how much YOU hurt Ranma with your USING hi-...her all the
time, extorting her, betraying her trust and making her life hell because it
was more convenient for you to make money than help Ranma try to have a
peaceful life?! I know why you want Ranma back; without hi-...her, you can't
make money anymore off Kunou and everyone else!! Well, get used to this,
Nabiki: not EVERYONE wants to be your personal money-puppets!!!"

Nabiki pales as Akane spins around and storms out of the cafeteria, the
door slamming shut behind her! Silence falls over the room as the middle
Tendou daughter gazes at the table, then sinks down, her eyes tearing. "Damn
you, Ranma, why...?!" she hisses, burying her face into her hands...

* * *

The Nekohanten...

"If what you said is true, Shampoo, we have a big problem."

Shampoo nods, now recovered from Hinako's power and sipping tea by the
bar. Cologne relaxes beside her. Mousse was trapped in a cage in duck form,
put there to keep him from taking advantage of that or glomping Shampoo. "What
we do now, Great-grandma?" Shampoo sighs. "Shampoo no want to..."

"I know, child," the elder warrior sighs. "Indeed, if Son-in-law has made
this choice willingly, then there is one other way to bring him into the
tribe: make Ranma your blood-sister."

"But Ranma might not want to come to village, Great-grandma."

"Yes, that's true. We now have to face up to our mistakes in our pursuit
of him, Shampoo," Cologne nods. "I doubt he'll ever fully trust me OR you for
that matter; our past actions in bringing him into the tribe would certainly
make ANYONE shiver. We also know he cares much more for the Tendou girl than
he...SHE lets on. And if Akane Tendou rejects Ranma as is, Ukyou Kuonji would
welcome her with open arms; she seems to be the ONLY one who accepted Ranma's
curse without any qualms, which speaks highly of her."

"Ranma always say Spatula Girl was his best friend," Shampoo sighs.
"Shampoo always...admire Spatula Girl for that; Ranma trust her. Still,
Shampoo may not want Ranma as blood-sister."

"Why not?"

"Great-grandma, Ranma then have right to choose successor as husband,"
Shampoo warns, then glances towards Mousse.

"Unfortunately true," Cologne wryly grins. "In fact, it would be epic
revenge on Ranma's part if she did just that."

"Do I seem that cruel to you?"

Both spin around to see Ranma at the doorway. Mousse honks. "Ranma!!"
Shampoo leaps up, then races at her. "Why?!! Why Ranma freeze herself as
girl?!! Why?!!"

Ranma stops her with a hand. "Put simply, I had no choice in the matter,
Shampoo," she sighs. "Now, if you don't mind keeping your hands to yourself,
I'd like to speak to Cologne, please."

Shampoo blinks, surprised at Ranma's calm words, then nods. Cologne is as
surprised, then her eyes focus on the glittering jewel on Ranma's bosom.
"Child, is that...?!"

"I assume you once met Major Raeburn," Ranma grins.

Shampoo gapes as the implications sink in, then stammers. "It not
possible! Only woman become Jewel Warrior..."

"Shampoo, what is Ranma right now?" Cologne hums.

Shampoo blinks, then slaps her forehead. "Oh, Shampoo stupid! Ranma
change into girl!! Why Shampoo no think...?"

"Believe me, it shocked me when it chose me, too," Ranma fingers the
glittering jewel, then sighs. "<<Elder Kun-lon. I'd like to speak to you
about the problem that now binds me to your great-granddaughter Xian-pu.>>"

Cologne blinks. "<<How did you learn Mandarin?>>"

"<<I'm trying out the translation function my Jewel has,>>" Ranma winks.
"<<Besides, given Shampoo's poor Japanese, I want her to properly understand my
reasons for doing this. It's only fair to her because I feel she will loose
much because of my actions.>>"


"<<May I also ask if Mousse can be reverted to normal? I'd like his input
into this as well.>>"


After Mousse is reverted to normal and dresses, everyone sits around a
table. "<<First of all, I'd say congratulations are in order, Ranma,>>" Mousse
smiles. "<<To earn the right to wear a Power Jewel speaks highly of your
skill as a warrior. Yet...if I recall the exact qualifications of becoming a
Jewel Warrior, I'm quite mystified as to how you could've succeeded. I'm sure
Shampoo and Cologne would ask the same thing.>>"

"<<You're right to ask, Mousse,>>" Ranma nods. "<<The third qualification
was easily taken care of. If you don't see Ryouga transform into P-chan
again, don't be surprised. I was the cause of his being cursed, so I wanted to
settle that. Despite his always crawling into Akane's bed and being her pet,
I always saw him as a friend, probably my best friend outside U-chan. The
second qualification...well, after what I've been through, I fit that. As for
the first, in all essence...I am an orphan now. Given the situation with my
family, not to mention all my fiancees, there was no direction I could choose
which wouldn't hurt someone at the end. Shampoo's bond to me was potentially
the most tragic given the harshness of your laws. What was I to do?>>"

"<<So what will happen?>>" Cologne wonders.

"<<I will...renounce my family,>>" Ranma sighs. "<<In the end, I have no
choice. I have EIGHT fiancees arranged by my father with the Tendou family and
over our training trip! Can you believe that?! And all of them have equal
claim on me! Who do I choose?! If I choose one, the others lose face and
that's not fair to them! Atop that, there's my mother to consider. If I'm not
a 'man above men,' she'd want my life for it! Yes, I want to know my mother,
but I sure don't want to live under a death-threat from her!!>>"

She then shrugs. "<<You know...with the way things were going between us
all...I was so scared that someone would get really hurt if things flew out to
control! I don't want that; I got enough on my conscience already! I'm sure
deep down you wouldn't want it either, Cologne! Yes, your customs are harsh by
my standards, but I know deep down how much you care for Shampoo, how much
you've sacrificed to see her happy. So...when my Jewel came to me and we
conversed, I realized that the time had come to settle this mess once and for
all, hopefully with everyone getting something out of it. I...don't care about
myself anymore. My being what I am, where I've been over the last few years,
has hurt enough people. What happens to me...doesn't matter anymore.>>"

"<<It has to matter, Ranma,>>" Shampoo sighs.

"<<Maybe,>>" Ranma stares at her. "<<Yes, I can never fully trust you or
your great-grandmother, not for a long time to come. I...don't love you,
Shampoo, not like I care for Akane or Ukyou. You are a friend and fighting
companion, a good one. Cologne, you are the finest teacher I've EVER had;
you're in a class way beyond my father or Happousai. While I may've groused
and complained, I certainly haven't regretted learning what you've taught.
Mousse, you're just as good in your Art. You ALL are really a tribute to your
village and if your fellow villagers choose not to recognize that, to hell with
them is all I'd say!>>"

The three Nyu-che-zuu warriors blush. "<<But...by my actions or inaction,
I've hurt you all, too. I wouldn't consider myself worthy of you, Shampoo;
there's too much pain and mistrust between us to overcome,>>" Ranma stares at
Shampoo. "<<In fact, I don't even consider myself worthy of being your
blood-sister...but if that is the way you can go home with your honour intact,
back to your family and friends, where I'm sure you really want to be now, then
I'll do it. It's what YOU deserve, Shampoo...and I want to help you get

"<<Thank you, Ranma,>>" Shampoo smiles.

"<<That's always been your most admirable quality, Ranma...and potentially
your greatest weakness,>>" Cologne muses. "<<You've always been ready to
suffer before others suffer. It speaks well of you. Indeed, NO ONE deserves
to live the life you had; in ways, you are worse off than Ryouga. You could've
walked away from it all...in many ways, you've long had the RIGHT to walk away
from it all...and with your determination matched to a Power Jewel, none of us
could've stopped you. But, you are here and it'd be an insult to you if we
don't try to reconcile this mess together.>>"

"<<Thank you, Cologne,>>" Ranma nods, then stares at Mousse. "<<So, if I
do become Shampoo's blood-kin, I would...consider you the best person to take
my place. You've stood by her side through a hell of a lot, Mousse. In fact,
the amount of abuse you've taken from Shampoo is worlds worse than what Akane's
heaped on me. But I'd like one question answered if you don't mind. Given
your skill in weapons, even with your bad vision, you could really mop the
floor with Shampoo in a formal challenge. Why haven't you?>>"

Mousse tenses, as if Ranma had sprayed acid on him, then sighs. "<<You
wouldn't know about how I feel, Ranma. Not even Shampoo or Cologne know of
this. But...there are many men in the village who...despise the law of
combat-for-marriage. I am one.>>"

Shampoo and Cologne gape. "<<Mousse, no...!!>>" the former pales,

"<<Why?!>>" the latter demands.

"<<Why not, Elder?!>>" Mousse wonders. "<<I love you great-granddaughter
very much, TOO much in fact! If that is a weakness in the eyes of others, so
be it! I accept it! What I DON'T accept is the fact that many marriages in
our village are forged out of what is tantamount to physical abuse! Wasn't
Joketsuzoku first formed to get AWAY from that Confucian nonsense about
servitude to ANYONE regardless of gender, orientation or wealth, Cologne?!
Have we forgotten that we're supposed to be a community which respects the
accomplishments of ALL, women and men alike?!>>"

He shudders, then sighs, his eyes sullen. "<<I...the very IDEA of raising
my fist against Shampoo, ESPECIALLY to earn her hand for marriage...?!>>" he
stammers. "<<Do you have any idea how SICK that idea makes me, Elder?! A
marriage won by challenge does NOT guarantee a happy home, not in my eyes! I
want Shampoo to be happy, to be strong and to be respected by her peers. I
want her to have a happy family, too! I would do anything to give her that,
but NOT when it's based on combat!! Even if...Shampoo does accept me after
saying this, I'm sorry, but I can't...hurt her, even if it's to win her hand.
I know how some'll sneer at her if we perform mock combat, how they'll say 'she
threw it' and insult her behind her back! Fine! If I must suffer in silence,
so be it!!>>"

Shampoo and Cologne stare at Mousse, stunned that this man, whom they
thought they knew so well, was actually so different. "<<Maybe it's time for
that law to be changed,>>" Ranma muses.

"<<You're right, Ranma, it's actually long past time it was changed,>>"
Cologne nods. "<<I do know of people like you, Mousse. Indeed, you have long
earned my respect even if I had to be harsh at you at times; I wanted Shampoo
to realize that on her own. But until the laws are actually changed, there is
only one way around combat-for-marriage...and that's where Ranma now comes

"<<If Shampoo agrees,>>" Ranma sighs. "<<The biggest problem we've all
had is the lack of acknowledgement we've shown for each other's freedom of
choice. I want Shampoo to have that.>>"

"<<Thank you, Ranma,>>" Shampoo smiles. "<<Mousse?>>"

"<<Yes?>>" he stares at her.

"<<Now...strange as this sounds, I find myself unworthy of your love,
after all I've done to you,>>" Shampoo shudders, her eyes tearing. "<<That it
was because of that choice you made, your being...One Who Suffers In
Silence...adds to my personal shame. I...if you want me, I would be happy to
accept. With Ranma's word, it can be done and you'd never have to break your
oath towards me. But...I need some time...to get used to this most of all.
I've seen you in a particular light for so long, it'll take me time...to
appreciate what you really are.>>"

"<<Cologne, do they have to marry right away?>>" Ranma asks.

"<<Not right away,>>" Cologne muses. "<<By your freezing yourself in your
cursed form, you are worthy of being Shampoo's blood-sister. By becoming
that, you have the right to stipulate BOTH who takes your place and how that'll
happen...and no one, not even I or my fellow elders, can question it.>>"

"<<Good,>>" Ranma nods. "<<Then let's make some arrangements. I've no
idea when the other Jewel Warriors watching over Kaemal will come by, so I'd
like this settled right away.>>"

Everyone blinks, surprised by her words. "<<Ranma...you're going to
another planet?>>" Mousse gapes.

"Hai," Ranma sighs. "<<There were five Jewels scattered in Kaemal's home
system. Three are taken, I was chosen as number four and there's a fifth also

"Ukyou?" Cologne muses.

"<<Why her?!>>" Shampoo wonders, trembling, then blushes. "<<I'm sorry.
I shouldn't think things like that now...>>"

"<<It's okay, Shampoo,>>" Ranma smiles. "<<Given the energy you've
expended over the last year to win me over, you'd still feel some jealousy over
U-chan and Akane. You're just as human as the rest of us. But...please
remember the qualifications to become a Jewel Warrior. You still have a family
to fall back onto...and now you can go back to them, thank the gods. Thanks
very much to my father and I, what happened years ago, U-chan can't claim

"<<I thought her father was still alive,>>" Mousse muses.

"<<Yes, he is, but he demanded that she'd do everything to avenge her
family's humiliation on my family,>>" Ranma sighs.

"<<The time for revenge is done.>>"

Eyes turn to see Ukyou standing at the doorway, a plate of piping hot
okonomiyaki in hand. "<<I see you caught onto this trick, eh?>>" Ranma

"<<Got that right, Ran-chan!>>" Ukyou smiles, walking up. "<<Here you go,
everyone! A little peace offering for you!>>"

"<<Thank you, Ukyou...and congratulations,>>" Cologne smiles as everyone
digs in.

"<<Actually, Cologne, you better say 'good luck, you'll need it,'>>" Ukyou
sighs. "<<The critters we're going to be fighting on Kaemal aren't gonna be

"<<Bad?>>" Shampoo wonders.

"<<They're worse than everything we've encountered to date combined,>>"
Ranma grimaces.

"<<That's bad,>>" Mousse shudders.

"<<Which means you better get some touch-up training before you two go,>>"
Cologne sighs. "<<Do either of you have any idea when your fellow Jewel
Warriors will arrive?>>"

"<<Not really,>>" Ukyou shakes her head. "<<I think they were going to go
all out on some groups...these things come from pocket dimensions around
Kaemal, by the way, sorta like the creeps the Sailor Senshi in Juuban
fight...so when they're wiped out, the others'd take pause and try to figure
out what to do next. How much of a pocket of time that'd give Yumi, Ryou and
Chisato, I've got no idea what amount of time...what is it?>>"

The three from China are pale. "Ukyou, say those names again, please!"
Cologne gasps. "Their full names!"

"Yumi Tachibana, Ryou Midorikawa and Chisato Kadokura."

Ranma jolts. "Yumi...Tachibana?!!"

"Ranma know her?!" Shampoo blinks.

"Yeah, she's the latest 'fiancee' thanks to Oyaji!" Ranma snarls, then
blinks. "Oh, gods...!"

"I was never your fiancee, Ranma-chan."

Eyes spin to the door as they behold three women, now dressed in coloured
sweatshirts with "NOeL" over white slacks. The tallest of them is a slender
beauty with long brown hair and brown eyes, an aristocratic air about her. The
shortest, about Ukyou's height, is a cute girl with a mischievous air, her
brown hair cut shaggy short at the shoulders, hazel eyes twinkling. Yumi
stands between them, her calm demeanour capable of making anyone feel at peace.
Barely visible under their collars were the intricate necklaces denoting the
source of their special gifts. "I trust we're not interrupting something
important?" Yumi smiles.

"Yumi, Ryou, Chisato!" Shampoo leaps up. "Why you come here?"

"Whattayamean you're NOT my fiancee?!" Ranma bolts up.

The shorter of the three smirks. "Well, Ranma-chan, love, you might say
that the 'agreement' Yumi-chan suckered your father into signing two years ago
actually saved your life!"

Ranma blinks. "Eh?"

Yumi chuckles as she walks up to Ranma, then gently embraces her. "Well,
Ranma-chan...say hello to your older sister."

"'Older sister?!'" everyone wonders.

"'Older sister?!!'" Ranma blinks, then shudders. "Excuse me, I wanna sit
down for a sec' here!! I don't get this!"

"You soon will, Ranma-chan," Yumi smiles...

* * *

The Tendou home...


Akane tenses as a wide-eyed Souun stares at her, the Tendou family and
their only houseguest relaxing around the living room table. "You heard me,"
she looks down, then hotly glares at Genma. "You can just kiss good-bye to
your child and all your dreams, 'Uncle' Saotome. He's frozen himself as a
woman and has told everyone in class that he...SHE...won't acknowledge any
relation to you anymore. I wonder what your wife'll say when she finds out!"

"Maybe 'assume the position!'" Nabiki darkly muses.

Genma winces as he interprets what "the position" could be, then jerks as
a sobbing Souun grabs him. "***GENMA, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT SON OF

Genma is blown out the door by the sonic boom, crashing into the koi poind
and transforming, passing out at the same time. "So now what do we do?!"
Nabiki crosses her arms.

"Akane!!!" Souun spins on his youngest. "You MUST find Ranma and bring
him back here!!! You can't let your fiance leave you alone and defenceless
like that?!! What's to stop him from running off with Ukyou or Shampoo?!!"

"But Father, if Ranma-kun disowns his family, then all the engagements
made by his father are nullified," Kasumi muses. "It still wouldn't solve the
matter with Shampoo, though..."

"And freeze himself as a woman," Akane crosses her arms. "And h-...she
said she was going to take care of Shampoo this morning, so something tells me
she won't be with that Chinese bimbo!!"

"So, no more fiancees, period!" Nabiki sneers. "Marvellous!"

"Too bad for you," Akane glares at her. "You can't play them like you
used to! Remember last Christmas?"

Nabiki jerks at her barb, then sighs. "Well, I might as well call
everyone else. I'm sure they'll like to know..."

"Pity I cut the phone lines," Kasumi hums.

Nabiki's face rams into the table. "Onee-chan!!!" she screams. "How
could you do that?!!"

"Nabiki-chan, please think," Kasumi sighs. "Ranma-kun left this house
this morning most likely despising the very IDEA of living any further with us.
While we did provide the first home he had for over a decade, the fact that
many of us simply didn't take the time to understand his many problems, in fact
HURT him even more, certainly must have contributed to his decision to

Silence falls. "Well, what was I supposed to do to keep us in the
black?!" Nabiki growls. "Do you think we could've lived with these two
freeloaders making our lives hell for more than a month without doing
something?!! What about all the damage between Ranma and Akane when they
fight, or when Shampoo or Ryouga came blasting by, or what have you?!! Honour
doesn't put food on the table, keep the house in good repair or the other
things we need to worry about day in and out, Onee-chan!!!"

"Nabiki, how could you say that?!!" Souun wails. "These are our

"'HOUSEGUESTS?!?!?!'" Nabiki roars. "Some houseguests these two twits
turned out to be!!! This lazy oaf couldn't give a shit about what OUR needs
and wants were!!!" she points accusingly at the still-unconscious Genma-panda.
"And Ranma didn't seem to care too much about what we needed, either...and you
wanted HIM to inherit the dojo and the house when he married Akane?!! He
didn't lift a damn finger to help keep the house going, just ate and fought and
dragged in all his stupid pals with all their stupid problems and it didn't
ONCE enter his little brain that maybe he had SOME responsibility to keep this
place intact!!!"

Nabiki then points to herself, angry tears in her eyes. "I had to work my
butt off to keep us in the black, keep food on the table and keep the house
and dojo in good repair!!! I had to be the one to do that because you won't
teach people at the dojo anymore; Onee-chan already slaves herself to keep us
well-fed and in good health, destroying her life along the way; Akane-chan's
too young; and THIS 'friend' of yours not caring a damn bit!!!" she points
again at Genma, then glares at Akane. "And now you say it's MY fault that
Ranma stormed out of here because I made money from his curse, all his rivals
and fiancees?!! Where do you think that money went to, Akane?!! Think of the
food you eat, all the bricks you smash in practice, all the repairs that get
done whenever you socked Ranma into orbit with that damn mallet of yours!!! I
paid for all that, so show some appreciation for what your 'mercenary' of a
sister's done for you and your grateful 'fiance!!!'"

Growling, she storms up to her room, the door slamming shut behind her!
"Oh, my," Kasumi covers her mouth.

Akane sighs, then looks down. "What a mess!"

"Then do something about it!!" Souun urges.


Silence. Souun pales as Akane rises. "If Ranma doesn't want anything to
do with us or his family anymore, then let him go, Dad," she sighs. "He...SHE
did this to give my freedom of choice back! And YOU will not take it away from
me again!!"

With that, she heads to her room, the door slamming closed behind her.
Souun shudders, then stares helplessly at Kasumi. "What can we do...?" he
hoarsely demands.

"I think it's far too late, Father," Kasumi sighs, then rises. "In the
meantime, I'll get dinner ready."

She heads into the kitchen. Souun shudders, then gazes at his passed-out
friend still in the pond. "Everything's gone...all gone!" he mutters, looking
at the floor...

* * *

The Nekohanten...

"YOU DID THAT?!?!?!"

Yumi nods, grinning, relaxing in a chair as everyone enjoys a smorgasbord
of Chinese and okonomiyaki dishes, Ukyou and Shampoo working the grill and
Mousse handling the waitering. "Yes, I did," she gazes warmly at Ranma. "As
soon as your father placed you in a 'life-threatening situation,' he
automatically gave up all legal responsibility concerning you, nullified all
engagements between you and anyone else, surrendered custody of you to my
family. I believe the instant you being a 'man above men' came into question
when you fell into Nyannichuan placed you in a 'life threatening situation'
with concerns to your own mother."

Silence. Ranma blinks, then gazes wide-eyed at the sheet of paper bearing
her father's signature, his agreeing to everything that Yumi just stated.
Once Yumi, who was acknowledged as having SOLE right to judge Genma's actions
concerning Ranma's upbringing, declared that Ranma was in a life-threatening
situation, then Ranma would cease to be Ranma Saotome and become Ranma
Tachibana. "Why?" she stares at Yumi. "Why did you do this for me?"

"Quite simple," Yumi smiles. "I'm sure yours and Ukyou-chan's Jewels have
told you about how soon Vladimir Russalovich took notice of your potential.
He...confessed to me one day how tragic your life could've turned if your
father's blind determination continued unchecked. The Neko-ken and Jusenkyou
wouldn't've been the end of it if Genma had his way, Ranma-chan. Who knows
what other horrors he could've stumbled onto in his determination to push you
to the limits! And what would've happened...if his desire to make you the best
martial artist of all...saw you killed?"

Cologne gazes at the elder Jewel Warrior, recognizing the usual given
names for Earth's Praetorian Guardian (his full name in modern Russian is
Vladimir Russalovich Taychesko). "You mean to say...that Ranma...was noticed
by Lord Ryasan himself?!!"

"Hai, Cologne," Yumi nods. "Incredible, huh?"

"Indeed it is," Cologne whistles, then stares at Ranma. "You indeed had
quite the guardian angel, Ranma. I doubt fools like Herb or Kirin would've
challenged you if they knew Lord Ryasan was keeping an eye on you."

"Several of them," Ranma muses, then looks at Yumi. "So what made you
word this like you did?"

"Ranma, your father wanted to find Jusenkyou like nothing else in the
world," Yumi shakes her head. "He had no idea whatsoever what he was getting
you into, nor do I think he would've really cared for what might've happened.
What might've happened if you fell into a spring other than Nannichuan?
There's Hunichuan, the fox-drown spring. What would've happened if you then
went into Joketsuzoku and someone thought you were a fox-spirit? Or the spring
your friend Ryouga fell into. 'Instant Sunday dinner;' isn't that the way he
liked to describe being a piglet? Or the grotesque thing Happousai's pathetic
creation Pantyhose Tarou transforms into; how'd you like that one?"

Ranma shudders. "I see your point."

"So I had to do something," Yumi closes her eyes. "I knew that if you two
fought on those poles, you would've fallen in. So I had to make sure Genma'd
knock you into the right spring. If you BOTH fell into Nannichuan, never
suffered the effects of a curse, who knew WHAT could've happened next,
especially since Joketsuzoku would've been your next stop. What might've
happened if you fought Shampoo as a man, Ranma? Where would that've left you?
So I had to give you an escape. Also, I admit I had my duty to Kaemal on my
mind. We needed a fourth Jewel Warrior and Vladimir was adamant that you'd fit
the bill if only you could be a woman. And since becoming a woman would cause
you lethal harm should your mother ever find out...and since I could make
Genma sign you away if Nodoka threatened to kill you...the only spring which
would've given you control of your destiny AND kept you safe..."

"Was Nyannichuan," Ranma blinks.


Everyone whistles. "Well thought out, Yumi," Cologne hums.

"So how did you get Oyaji to sign this?" Ranma wonders.

"I got him drunk, then convinced him to sign it, making him think it was
the usual engagement agreement he made with Ukyou-chan's father and all your
other fiancees," Yumi admits.

Everyone faints! "WHAT?!?!?!" Ranma gapes.

"Ye gods, I CAN'T believe that!!!" Ukyou whistles.

"Friends, we stand in the shadow of genius!" Mousse declares.

"Mercenary Girl no match for Yumi!" Shampoo asserts.

"Indeed, Yumi, you are to be congratulated!!" Cologne laughs. "Believe
me, when the others in the Tribal Council hear THIS, they'll be beside

"What do you mean?" Ranma blinks.

"Do you really think we've operated in a vacuum here in Japan, Ranma?"
Cologne muses. "Believe me, your father has MUCH to answer for! All your
fiancees like Ukyou here, their lives and honour ruined because of Genma's
greed and cowardice. Believe me, many in the Tribal Council see bringing you
to Joketsuzoku to be nothing short of common humanity, just to get you away
from him!!"

"If you'd've told me that sometime ago, Cologne, I might've come
willingly, Akane or no Akane!" Ranma muses.

Everyone laughs. "The one thing I don't understand, Cologne, is how you
know them," Ukyou cuts in, thumbing the three elder Jewel Warriors, then looks
at Chisato. "Did you visit Joketsuzoku when you met Ran-chan?"

"Right after that, believe it or not," Chisato sighs, then stares at
Shampoo. "<<I hope you recovered from what happened.>>"

"<<Of course I recovered from it, blood-sister,>>" Shampoo smiles, gently
grasping Chisato's hand. "<<I wasn't going to die on you without making sure
you had a family awaiting you when you come back from being a Jewel

"EH?!?!?!" Ranma and Ukyou exclaim.

Chisato sighs...

* * *

Two years ago, Joketsuzoku...

"So this is the Nyu-che-zuu village, huh?" Chisato muses as the three
Jewel Warriors gaze upon the tree-filled village. "Such a pretty place. Can't
believe the Chicoms leave it alone."

"What would one expect of short-sighted idiots like the ones in Peking?"
Yumi yawns, then stretches herself. "Well, let's rest here for a bit. I don't
think we'll be needed back on Kaemal anytime soon; Vladimir'll warn us if
something happens."

"Good!" Chisato nods. "I'm gonna get my paints and stuff. I wanna do a
landscape of this place."

"Take your time," Ryou muses as she relaxes beside Yumi.

Chisato reaches into warpspace (an inter-dimensional pocket created by the
Power Jewel to store personal effects, including civilian clothes when the
Jewel Warrior transforms into her fighting uniform, not to mention the Cat's
Claw sword which came with every Power Jewel) and pulls out a large canvas, an
easel of paints and her brushes. Setting herself up, she then starts a
watercolour. Ryou gets a small basket of persimmon fruit from her warpspace
pocket (the fruit was purchased in Shanghai sometime before), then hands one to
Yumi. "Do you think this thing with Ranma'll work out?" she wonders.

"It should," Yumi muses. "Thing with testosterone-charged idiots like
Genma Saotome is this: press the right buttons and they'll do everything you
want them to do. I just had to hypnotize him into knocking Ranma into that
girl-drown spring in Jusenkyou, then Fate'll do the rest."

"You hope."

"Don't forget, we've got a friend in a high place watching over him...SOON
to be her," Yumi winks. "Besides, we should worry about who'll be the fifth
for our little troupe."

"Good point," Ryou hums as she bites into her own fruit.

As Chisato continues to paint, voices are heard from behind them. Coming
out of the trees is Shampoo, followed by a pining Mousse. "<<Shampoo, why
won't you come out with me?!>>" he moans.

"<<Stupid Mousse, go away!>>" Shampoo snarls. "<<I don't like you,

She stops on seeing the strangers on the cliff overlooking the village.
Yumi and Ryou gaze quizzically at them while Chisato continues to paint.
"<<Who are you?!>>" Shampoo demands.

"<<Oh, are we intruding on your village?>>" Yumi wonders. "<<We'll move
if you want us to.>>"

Surprised that one spoke perfect Mandarin, Shampoo relaxes. "<<Um...well,
no, you're not in the village itself. The Elders won't mind if you stay up
here. Who are you?>>"

Ryou holds up her turquoise Jewel. Shampoo gapes on seeing the beautiful
alien device, remembering the tribe's many tales about Major Raeburn and her
visit to Joketsuzoku in 1943. "<<Do you know Major Dean Raeburn?!>>" Mousse

"<<No, we've never had that honour,>>" Yumi smiles, offering them some
fruit. "<<We became Jewel Warriors twenty years ago; in fact, we protect a
planet in another solar system some fifty light-years from Earth. We just came
back home to arrange for a fourth person to join our group.>>"

"<<Oh!>>" Shampoo beams. "<<Mousse, why don't you go down and tell
Great-grandma! The Elders should know about them being here; the whole village
would want to know!>>"

"<<Okay!>>" Mousse nods, running off...and because his glasses were on his
forehead, he slams right into a tree.

"<<Oh, stupid Mousse...>>" Shampoo shakes her head.

The three visiting Jewel Warriors stifle their laughter...then blink as
another tree smashes down, revealing a hulking male who seemingly could crush
the diminutive Shampoo like a twig. "<<I found you, Xian-pu!>>" he declares.
"<<Now, we'll make sure that blind fool Mu-tsu will NEVER take you away from

"<<You're even more stupid, Mao-wazi!!>>" Shampoo tenses, bonbori out.
"<<I'd have NOTHING to do with a oaf like you!>>"

"<<Oh?!>>" he grins, then lunges. "BAO-SUI-DIAN-XUE!!!!"

Shampoo screams as Mouthwash's fingertip strikes the rock at her feet,
causing it to detonate, sending her flying into the sky as the cliff collapses.
Yumi, Ryou and Chisato leap clear, their Power Jewels glowing as they
transform into their combat uniforms, gi-like robes coloured the same as their
Jewels, sheathed swords strapped to their waist. "<<HEY, YOU STUPID KLUTZ, I
WAS TRYING TO PAINT!!!!!!>>" Chisato bellows at Mouthwash.

"The girl!!!" Ryou screams.

Chisato looks down, then sees Shampoo land in a pile of rapidly collapsing
soil and rock. "OH, SHIT!!!!!!"

She soars down, landing in the path of one large boulder as her sword
leaps out, the neutronium-pergium blade shattering the rock before it could
squash Shampoo into paste, then she spins around to grab the dazed
warrior-maiden's hand before she could be forever buried in mud. Shampoo gasps
as Chisato leaps into the air, shielding the former with her body from flying
debris. "<<Relax, you're safe!>>" Chisato assures her.

Finally, the dust settles, revealing a swath of destruction cutting
through the rice fields almost to the village walls. Chisato then soars down,
placing Shampoo on the ground. "<<Here you go!>>" she smiles. "<<Another
quick rescue!>>"

"<<What's going on here?!>>" a voice demands.

"<<Great-grandmother!!>>" Shampoo beams as Cologne hobbles out the nearest
gate, followed by a small group of villagers.

By then, Yumi and Ryou have come down, both dragging a dazed Mouthwash.
Cologne gapes on seeing the Power Jewels on the women's clothing, then bows
respectfully. "<<Welcome to Joketsuzoku village, honoured ladies. May I
inquire what brings you here?>>"

"<<Personal business, Elder...that is, until this fool nearly buried your
great-granddaughter under a rockfall!>>" Yumi glares indignantly at Mouthwash.

"<<What happened, Xian-pu?>>" Cologne asks.

"<<Mao-wazi use breaking point technique to try to stun me so he could
marry me!>>" Shampoo snarls, then gazes thankfully at Chisato. "<<Were it not
for her, I would've been buried alive.>>"

"<<All in a day's work!>>" Chisato smiles...

* * *


"...so stupid Mouthwash was banished from tribe and Chisato and Shampoo
become blood-sisters," Shampoo completes. "Ryou is Chisato's lover, so she
Shampoo's sister-in-law. Now that Ranma become Shampoo's blood-sister and Yumi
being Ranma's sister, all Jewel Warriors of Kaemal now become part of

"Hey, what about me?!!" Ukyou demands.

"Spatula Girl, too!!" Shampoo smiles.

She then gets smacked by Cologne's cane. "Where are your manners,
Shampoo?!" the aged matriarch demands.

"Sorry, Ukyou," Shampoo blushes.

Everyone laughs...

* * *

To be continued...

From: fherriot@yahoo.com


A fist crashes into the brick, pulping it. Akane shudders as she pulls
her hand back, the rage and sorrow over the previous day's events thundering
through her. Rage at Ranma for abandoning her like he did, ensuring she could
never reconcile with him for a long time to come. Honour aside, there was no
way that Souun would condone Akane meeting that "traitor" while she still lived
in this house. Sorrow that Ranma had concluded that the only way everyone
could get something out of the mess which was his life was to cut all links to
everyone, then forever freeze himself as a woman.

"Do you want to be friends?"

Akane shudders as those innocent words spoken in the living room a
lifetime ago come back. She had been the only one who was friendly to Ranma
that hectic morning. Angry at her father over the iinazuke question, she at
least tried to make their strange houseguest feel welcome. Kasumi was acting
like she normally does and Nabiki was prodding the shy redhead in the bosom,
demanding to know why their father was forcing them to marry another woman.

"There's a pervert in the bathroom!!!"

Or so they thought. The instant Akane stumbled onto Ranma in the
bathroom, both in quite embarrassing positions...! Akane squeezes her eyes
shut as her initial reaction to his curse flows back. She just offered to be
Ranma's friend...and then betrayed those very words by calling HIM a pervert
when SHE was the one who walked in on him, didn't take the time to understand
what he was feeling. How would Akane feel if she had been cursed by Jusenkyou,
forced into a body she wasn't born with by the touch of cold water?

"I hate you!!"

It was so easy. Blame the whole mess on him. The engagement, all the
idiot fiancees, all the fights. It was all Ranma's fault! He always insulted
her, deplored her skills, said all those things about her cooking and domestic
skills...why SHOULDN'T she hate him?

Except...it wasn't true.

Nabiki was right.

She loved him.

"The engagement is over."

Words that destroyed her heart...followed by a pronouncement that
guaranteed it could never be healed.

"I froze myself as a woman."

Raising her fist, she concentrates on the next brick...then stops, the
sobs shaking her from head to toe.

"This is the way I'll be until I die."

No more last-minute rescues. No more gallant protector to watch over her
when things happened. No more...fiance.

No love.

"Ranma, why...?!" she gasps, collapsing to the dojo's floor...

* * *

In her room, Nabiki gazes at the ledger before her. With all the money in
savings accounts with high interest yields, there was no immediate danger of
the family facing bankruptcy. But without a guaranteed source of income, that
wouldn't last for long. Still, the situation wasn't all that bad. With the
primary cause of many of the added expenses gone, probably never to return,
additional funds wouldn't be as urgently needed. At least the family was
safe...though Nabiki doubted it would emotionally recover from the harsh way
Ranma stormed out of their lives.

"She'd rather KILL HERSELF than marry you!"

Nabiki winces as Akane's scalding words from yesterday storm back. Ranma
would've been her brother-in-law for heaven's sake! A part of the family. And
how did Nabiki treat him in return? She scorned him, didn't take into account
his own feelings over his life's many problems, then cashed in on his problems
like he was just a money-making machine! But what was so wrong with that?!
Ranma was just a freeloader, someone who didn't give a damn about what his
actions were doing to everything around him!

"Not EVERYONE wants to be your personal money-puppets!!!"

Nabiki squeezes her eyes shut, then covers her eyes with her hands. It
had been so easy. Ranma attracted so much attention, it was simple to
manipulate people into surrendering their money. The gambling spirit in Nerima
was something to behold at times and Nabiki had made the best of that spirit
to serve her family. She had to do it! Souun, still grieving over the death
of his wife Kimiko, just didn't care to be the family breadwinner, Kasumi
already sacrificed so much for their behalf and Akane wasn't ready to assume
any of her own responsibilities.

Only now, she realized that her zeal to earn money had forever earned the
contempt, the HATRED, of someone who meant so much to her younger sister.
Worse, Nabiki's actions had probably forever destroyed what trust Akane gave

"Some loving sister I turned out to be..." Nabiki hisses. "Oh,
Akane-chan, I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..."

* * *

"So quiet," Kasumi muses as she watches her cream soup simmer on the
stove. No hard exercise on Ranma's and Genma's part in the front lawn over the
koi poind. Ranma was gone and Genma, after recovering from the beating he got
yesterday, had staggered off with Souun to inebriate themselves at the
destruction of their dreams, their hopes for their families and the Art.

"I'm just tired of all of this."

Kasumi shakes her head. No one seemed to want to understand all of
Ranma's problems, all his fears and resentment at the harsh way life had
treated him...HER. There was a stunning concept! Ranma willingly surrendering
his manhood, then ensuring that HER mother couldn't take her to task for it by
renouncing her family. If Nodoka still tried to press the seppuku
issue...though deep down, Kasumi didn't believe she'd go THAT far...then Ranma
could fight her, KILL her if necessary and claim it was simple self-defence.
Shaking her head, she takes the boiling pot off the stove, then lets it cool
off by the sink.

"You're the only one who seems to want to listen to me."

Kasumi smiles. Ranma had trusted her. It was because of everyone else
that she altered herself, then left. What could she do about it? No, she
couldn't demand that Ranma come back, revert to the way things were. It
wouldn't be fair to Ranma and everyone else wouldn't learn a thing from it.
But at least there could be some attempt at reconciliation, a peaceful parting
of the ways.

Now, where could Ranma have gone...?

To Ukyou?

Kasumi nods. Ranma had told her that she was the only person who listened
to him...outside of Ukyou.

A little visit to U-chan's was called for...

* * *

a fantasy crossover tale of Ranma Saotome
by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****
Based on "Ranma 1/2," created by Rumiko Takahashi; "NoeL - La Neige," created
by Pioneer LDC; and "Major Raeburn," created by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****

NOTE: This is a rewrite of the original version of Part Three, released to
r.a.a.c. in September 1998. The other parts have been heavily rewritten;
please remove them from all archives. Certain elements of this story are being
redone to reflect comments and criticisms made by readers in the wake of the
release of the original Part Three. Given the complex situation of Ranma's
love life (does s/he have one?), it's hard for ANY fanfic writer to satisfy all
Ranma fans as to who will be with Ranma at the end, so if you don't like the
way this version comes out, I apologize.

**** **** ****


"Stop, thief!!!"

"You pervert, come back here!!!"

"Give our panties back!!!"

"He-he-he!! Gotta catch me, first!!!"

Ranma's eyes roll as she walks down the street towards the bathhouse from
U-chan's, her fellow Jewel Warriors beside her. "What's all this about?" Ryou
looks back as the ominous cloud of dust marking Happousai's attempt at fleeing
a storm of very angry high school students from St. Hebereke approaches.

"That pervert is my so-called 'master' at Musabetsu Kakutou-ryuu,
Happousai," Ranma muses, leaping up to balance herself on the fence. "C'mon up
here! Hopefully, he won't bug us too much."

"Hai!" the others nod as they leap up to join her.

Happousai grunts as he pours on the speed, then blinks as he spots a very
familiar pair of women, even if one had rid herself of a braided pigtail.
"Ranma, m'boy!!!" he bounds up. "There you are!! Come give your master a

Just as he is about to land on Ranma, an invisible shield forms around
her, nearly squashing Happousai into okonomiyaki and sending him falling to the
street! The five Jewel Warriors ignore his screams as the St. Hebereke crowd
gang up, smashing him with brooms and other weapons as they retrieve their

"Some places in this city are so loud," Chisato yawns.

"You get used to it after a bit, Chi-chan," Ukyou winks.

They return to street level as Happousai is left behind, now pounded into
paste and deprived of his pilfered silky delights. "Wha...happened...?" he
moans, then passes out.

"You have interesting acquaintances, Ranma-chan," Yumi muses.

"You can say that again, Onee-chan," Ranma rolls her eyes.


Ranma stops, her eyes widening as a familiar...and now somewhat
unwanted...figure appears before her. "Oh, no..."

"Uh-oh," Ukyou tenses.

Yumi falls in beside Ranma as Nodoka walks up. "Hello, Ranko-chan, how
are you?!" she smiles.

"Hello, Mrs. Saotome," Ranma stiffly replies.

Nodoka blinks, surprised at the younger woman's formality. "Ranko-chan,
there's no need to address me as that..."

"Correction, ma'am, there is," Ranma curtly answers, then sighs.
"Ryou-chan, Chisato-chan, U-chan, would you excuse us? Onee-chan and I'd like
to speak to Mrs. Saotome alone."

"Sure thing, Ran-chan," Ukyou nods as she, Ryou and Chisato proceed ahead
to the bathhouse.

Nodoka tenses. "What's wrong?"

"Forgive me," Ranma's throat dries, then straightens herself. "Mrs.
Saotome, you have been lied to for the past couple of months, ever since you
came to the Tendou home looking for your husband and son. The Tendou family
and I've been part of that, but right now, it's time for you to know the truth.
Even if you learn the truth and accept it, I warn you now, you cannot change
certain facts."

"And...what are those facts?" Nodoka suppresses a gulp.

"Ma'am...a decade ago, a promise was made by your husband concerning your
son's upbringing," Ranma sighs, closing her eyes, wishing there was another way
around this. "When they proceeded on their training trip, your husband vowed
that your son would return to you a 'man above men'...and if he failed to
produce a man above men, then both your husband's and your son's lives would be
forfeit through seppuku. Is that right?"

"Yes, that's right," Nodoka nods.

Ranma sighs, then gazes at Yumi. "Mrs. Saotome, may I present Yumi
Tachibana of Kadokura-shi," she waves to her adopted sister. "You better take
over from here, Onee-chan."

"Of course," Yumi nods.

"What is the meaning of this?!" Nodoka blinks, surprised at the passing of
the buck between them. "Will you please get to the point, Ranko-chan!"

"Be assured, Mrs. Saotome, there is a point about this," Yumi sighs. "Two
years ago, I met your husband and son while both were in China continuing
their martial arts training. When I got to know them, I was struck by how
well-trained and well-motivated towards his Art Ranma-chan was. At the same
time, I was horrified by the emotional harshness his father demonstrated
towards Ranma-chan. Your husband was so obsessed to make Ranma-chan the best
martial artist of his generation...he was, in my opinion, slowly but surely
killing your very own child."

"What...?!" Nodoka pales, then moves to a bench to relax. "How could
you've made that conclusion, Tachibana-san...and what does this have to do with

Yumi closes her eyes. "You really have no idea what your child has
endured over the last decade and more, Mrs. Saotome. What I will tell you will
shock you beyond belief, perhaps shatter all your dreams and hopes towards
your family. Certainly, it will destroy your faith in your husband's words.
For that, I am sorry."

Silence falls as the older woman considers Yumi's warning. "If you feel
motivated to tell me about my son's fate, if you really care for my son...then
I can accept whatever you say, Tachibana-san," Nodoka muses. "Please, go on."

"A year or so after your husband and son departed, your husband stumbled
onto a unique form of combat called the Neko-ken," Yumi begins. "It is...a
very dangerous technique to employ. It could, with the right conditions, make
someone unbeatable. At the same time, learning it...extracts a horrifying toll
on a person's very soul. To...learn the Neko-ken, one must wrap the student
in fish, then...the student is lowered into a pit of very hungry cats. The
trick of this for the student is to beat away the cats from eating the
fish...and most likely the student himself."

Nodoka turns sheet-white at the very IDEA of Ranma being in such a
situation. "M-my husband d-did that...?"

"Many times...until your son's sanity snapped and...he gained an incurable
case of ailurophobia," Yumi sighs. "Only at that moment did Genma, who had
taken his instructions from an old manual on the Neko-ken, turn to the LAST
page to see why the technique was outlawed. But it was too late. To this day,
Ranma-chan can't stand to be even CLOSE to a cat. If he is forced into a
cat's presence for long, or overwhelmed by many cats, he loses control over his
very sanity...and regresses into an anthropomorphic cat."

Silence falls as Nodoka shudders. "Oh, Ranma...I shouldn't've let you
go..." she sniffs.

Ranma gently grasps her mother's hand. "It gets worse," Yumi sighs.
"During the trip, your husband behaved in a manner more fitting to a common
street beggar than a martial arts teacher. Did you know that atop Ranma-chan's
bond to the Tendou family, he had at least SIX other fiancees bonded to


"It's true," Yumi nods. "Now, one of them, Ukyou Kuonji...you just saw
her, she's the one we called 'U-chan'...had her very DOWRY stolen by your
husband. To avenge herself and her family for the loss of honour, she plunged
into an insane training regimen of her own, disguised herself as a boy...and
destroyed her life for ten whole years until she caught up with Ranma-chan. It
is a miracle that she remembered their childhood friendship enough to set
aside thoughts of vengeance and reform a close bond with your child." A pause,
then, "I've no idea what the exact conditions were for the other fiancees
Ranma-chan acquired on the trip. Further, Ranma-chan was never told about his
fiancees, even Ukyou-chan...until they came to the Tendou home over the last
year to collect."

Nodoka shudders, covering her eyes. "Oh, Genma, why...?"

"That's not all, I'm afraid," Yumi sighs.

"What else could there be?!!" Nodoka hoarsely demands.

"The reason you may never see your son again," Yumi takes a deep breath.
"Over their travels, your husband learned of a remote training ground called
Jusenkyou; it's located in the Chinese highlands. What he DIDN'T know was that
Jusenkyou is filled with springs, each cursed. When one falls into a spring,
one is cursed to gain the physical form of whoever or whatever drowned in those
ponds over the last five thousand years. And since martial arts training
automatically implies the risk of accidents...the chances were low that your
husband or your son would NOT fall into one of those ponds...and wind up

Nodoka blinks, then stares at Ranma. "So...you're saying that Genma and
Ranma...are cursed?!"

"Yes," Yumi nods. "I am a telepath and empath, Mrs. Saotome. I can read
people's minds and sense their emotional states. There were enough warning
signs that should've convinced any normal person away from such a place. Your
husband didn't CARE about what they'd run into. All he cared for was making
Ranma-chan the best...even if that would have seen Ranma-chan dead. Even if I
tried to stop him, he would've gone around me and plunged right into it. Who
was I to him? Another would-be fiancee to freeload off of, then run away at
the last minute? So...I interceded."

"In what way?"

"I made your husband agree that if Ranma-chan was placed in what I...and I
alone...judged a life-threatening situation, then Genma would automatically
surrender all legal rights to Ranma-chan as his parent, renounce all marriage
and engagement bonds...and thus make Ranma-chan my sibling."

Nodoka blinks, then her eyes fall on the redhead beside her, realization
dawning as to where this conversation was going. "Oh, no...!" she gapes, then
gulps. "Tachibana-san, may I ask...if within these springs of
Jusenkyou...there is a...?"

"'Nyannichuan,'" Ranma sighs. "Girl-drown spring. Yes, there is. And
yes...I fell into it a little over a year ago."

Nodoka shudders, then looks down. "Oh, Ranma..."

"I'm sorry, Mom," Ranma looks away.

Yumi remains silent as the elder Saotome covers her eyes, the conflicting
emotions of the moment overwhelming her. The former Saotome, now Tachibana,
looks away, her own eyes tearing. Finally, Nodoka gazes at Ranma. "How could
he do that to you...?"

"I don't know," Ranma shakes her head. "I...I never even knew you were
still alive until that letter came the morning of the day you first came to the
dojo. And then...when I learned what Oyaji promised you...what he tricked ME
into promising you...what was I supposed to do? I was so...overjoyed to be
with you again...but then to find out that...if I revealed who I really was,
I'd have to pay for that accident...with my very LIFE?!?! What could we do?!"

Nodoka blinks, then looks down, sensing the hidden accusation in Ranma's
words. "You really believed that I'd...?"

"Yeah, I did," Ranma nods. "You may be my genetic mother, but you're a
STRANGER to me! I don't KNOW you!! All I learned about you came through your
husband!! What could I do?! Tell you the truth and potentially risk my
life...you never ONCE indicated if you'd back away from forcing that agreement
on us...or stay silent and break your heart?! What should I've done?!"

The elder Saotome sighs, then stares at her. "I...don't blame you for
doing what you did, Rank-...Ranma. I assume everyone at the Tendou
house...agreed to help you."

"Hai, they did," Ranma nods. "While I'm ashamed at lying to you...as are
they...we felt we had no other choice."

Nodoka sighs. "Genma has...much to answer for, indeed. As do I, I
believe. Ranma, I...when your father wanted to take you on that trip, he was
adamant on the matter. No matter what I tried to do, I couldn't talk him out
of it. Tachibana-san here is quite correct about Genma's obsession with the
Art. Believe me, now that I understand what has happened to you, I certainly
will NOT force you to the letter of that agreement. As for him, however..."

"Don't bother," Ranma grunts. "He's not worth it. I...lost my respect
for him a long time ago. Honour is all that bound me to him, to all the
promises he forced on me...but recently, I began to ask some pretty hard
questions of myself and where my life was exactly going. Where does family
honour end and personal happiness begin? When do I take control over MY life?
When do I have control over MY destiny? Even since the trip began, I've had
NO control over my fate...and I don't want that anymore. Until recently, I had
EIGHT fiancees, seven through your husband and an eighth with a woman of a
tribe whose laws DEMAND I marry her because I defeated her in combat...and they
don't at present allow ANY compromise on that. So what was I to do?"

"What have you done?" Nodoka wonders, dreading the answer.

"I...shortly after Oyaji and I were cursed...I ran across a former
classmate of mine from junior high school, Ryouga Hibiki," Ranma sighs.
"He...followed me to China. We...were both friends and rivals of a sort. He
wanted to challenge me due to a lot of misunderstandings while we were at
junior high school...and when we missed each over on the day of the challenge,
he followed me. And when he stumbled across me...he suffers from a complete
lack of directional sense, by the way...I, then going berserk over being cursed
and not seeing where I was running, knocked him into one of the Jusenkyou
ponds...and wound up cursing him."

"Oh, Ranma...!"

"So whatever friendship I had with him died that day," Ranma sighs. "He
vowed vengeance on me and he's been coming after me since that time. And I
hated the whole damn situation with Ryouga, a lot. So...not two days ago, I
came upon a way to...transfer the power of his curse unto me. To that end...he
is free...and I am frozen in my cursed form." She looks down. "Your son is

Nodoka shudders, then stares at her. "Then if I cannot have a son...I
shall have a daughter."

"It can't work out," Ranma shakes her head. "If you wanted to do that,
then I'd automatically demand you divorce your husband or force him to commit
seppuku for destroying my life and our family honour. There would be no
compromise on that from me. I will not hold myself to ANY promise he made for
me anymore, not to Akane Tendou, not to Ukyou Kuonji, not to ANYONE...and I
will not see your life and honour sullied anymore with his mistakes!"

"But by your becoming a girl, there can be no marriages...and I will
ensure that Genma never forces a man on you; you can't ask a man to adjust THAT
quickly into becoming a woman!" Nodoka muses. "And this other girl, the one
from that tribe...?"

"Shampoo...Nyu Xian-pu is her proper name," Ranma augments.

"Can't marry you if you're a girl," Nodoka completes, then smiles.
"Besides, you could still be bound to her through other means. I assume you
have made some arrangements to that end."

"It's been settled," Ranma nods.

"Then honour is preserved for all sides," Nodoka smiles. "In my eyes,
Ranma, you proved yourself beyond a shadow of a doubt by admitting your mistake
with Hibiki-san and freeing him of his curse, even if it cost you your
manhood. The one thing Akane and the others impressed me with the most about
you is your willingness to suffer before others did. And I...have made
mistakes on my own concerning how I presented the way I believed you should be
when we met again...and now I have to atone for them. Your father will have
very much to answer for when I see him next. Oh, by the way, when you were at
Jusenkyou, did he perchance fall into...?"

"'Shonmaoniichuan,'" Ranma grins. "Panda-drown spring."

"I thought as much," Nodoka sighs.

"Well, it seems that this matter is settled," Yumi sighs. "In the
meantime, would you care to join us at the bathhouse, Nodoka-san? I'm sure
Ukyou-chan'd love to meet you, as would my friends."

"I'd be honoured," Nodoka nods as they rise, turing toward the bathhouse,
mother and daughter walking hand-in-hand...

* * *

"Something's going on here...!"

Happousai scratches his head, now relaxing in his guest room at the Tendou
home. Nabiki and Akane had gone off to school just as he had staggered back
in, still dazed by whatever he had run into when he tried to grab Ranma. Souun
and Genma were passed out in the dojo after what looked like a night of VERY
heavy drinking. Kasumi left sometime later, having said nothing to him. And
one peek into Ranma's guest room revealed that his prize student had moved out
of the house lock, stock and barrel, most likely having moved in with Ukyou at
her place.

Puffing his pipe, he closes his eyes and thinks. Whatever he had run
into, it felt like some energy field. Okay, how did Ranma learn to generate
something like that? If he didn't find a way around it, then he couldn't cop a
feel from Ranma's female form anymore...and THAT idea displeased him greatly.
And if he was displeased, NO ONE had the right to be happy around him.

No one at all...

* * *

"Here you go, Mrs. Saotome!"

"Thank you, Ukyou-chan," Nodoka nods, then stares at the okonomiyaki in
question. "My, this is beautiful!"

"My pleasure," Ukyou returns to her grill.

Ranma is already eating her okonomiyaki, though trying her best to slow
down in front of her mother. Her mother! Finally, she could stop hiding
behind "Ranko Tendou" and revel in Nodoka's company without any fear of her
life ending too soon. Though she suspected there was some part of Nodoka that
would like to have seen what her child was like as HE had been born, it was a
relief to know that her mother had taken the explanation for everything pretty
well. Now all that needed to be told was the Power Jewel and Ranma's
commitment to Kaemal.

"How long have you practiced?" Nodoka muses.

"Since before the day Ran-chan and I first met," Ukyou smiles. "Then,
after Genma stole my family's yatai, cooking okonomiyaki and learning how to
use spatulas and other kitchen tools in battle became the only thing that drove
me for a decade."

Nodoka blinks. "Oh, Ukyou, I'm so sorry..."

"Don't apologize for your husband's greed and cowardice, Mrs. Saotome,"
Ukyou stares at her. "Or what happened to me after Ran-chan and I parted.
Ran-chan had no idea what my father forced me into until the day I came to
Nerima looking for him. And...part of what happened was my fault. I blinded
myself to revenge and nearly destroyed my life because of it. Then...when I
realized I wanted to love Ran-chan, it was pretty well too late; Akane was

"By most people's standards, Akane's claim on Ranma would take precedence
over yours," Nodoka muses.

"Which is why I had to do something to end it in such a way that everyone
could get something back, Mom," Ranma closes her eyes. "In your eyes and
Oyaji's, Akane's bond comes first since the agreement between us and the
Tendous was chronologically the first. But in U-chan's eyes, she comes first
because her dowry was taken; Akane still has the dojo awaiting her when she
becomes of age. In Shampoo's eyes, until yesterday, she was the ONLY fiancee
because her tribe's laws don't recognize other engagements when the target in
question is bonded to one of her tribe; rivals are obstacles and they're to be
eliminated by any means possible!"

Nodoka shakes her head. "It's a wonder that someone didn't die from this

"Believe me, I'm more than relieved that no one did."

"So, the question now should be raised as to how will the Tendous be
convinced that this is for the best," Yumi hums. "The bond of friendship
between your husband and Souun Tendou is a deep one, Nodoka-san."

"And there's the question of Akane's feelings," Ukyou muses.

"Yeah, that's true," Ranma slowly exhales.

"You really love her, don't you?" Nodoka stares at her.

Ranma blinks, then gazes at her mother. "I...care for her very much, Mom.
I...if that's love, then yes, I love her. But, if I do love her, did I have
the right to subject her to the insanity which has ruled my life and nearly
destroyed hers? Atop that, we...well, I suppose it was because of pride and
being forced into this by our fathers...fought a lot, over some of the most
idiotic things you could ever imagine. It started right from the instance
Akane learned of my curse...and...never seemed to stop..." A pained sob bursts
from her lips, then she leans down. "Damn me, why couldn't I've told her
straight up...?"

"Oh, Ranma..." Nodoka embraces her.

Ukyou gazes sadly at her best friend, her own eyes tearing. Yumi, Ryou
and Chisato remain silent. "Why couldn't I've tried to make it easier...?"
Ranma wonders. "Why couldn't I've tried to straighten things out...why did it
have to go this far...?"

"We all blinded ourselves, Ran-chan," Ukyou muses. "We're all at fault
here. It's not just you, y'know..."

"She understands, Ukyou-chan," Ryou sighs. "She just needs time to let it
settle in."

The front door opens. "Oh, Ranma...Auntie Saotome!!" Kasumi gasps on
seeing Nodoka.

"Kasumi-chan!" Nodoka beams, helping Ranma sit up. "Come in. I think she
deserves a sample of your cooking, Ukyou-chan."

"Hai, coming right up!" Ukyou nods.

"I don't mean to intrude," Kasumi apologizes, then gazes at Ranma.

Ranma grins. "Relax, Kasumi. She knows everything now."

"Oh, that's a relief," Kasumi exhales, then gazes at Nodoka. "I should
apologize for lying to you like that, Auntie."

"You acted out of concern for my child's safety, Kasumi-chan," Nodoka
smiles. "Believe me, there's nothing to apologize for. But in the meantime,
we best settle this business concerning Ranma-chan's bond to your sister Akane
right away."

"I don't think Ranma-chan will be welcome back at the house after what
h-...SHE just did!" Kasumi flushes. "Excuse me, it is still quite too early to
fully accept what you did, Ranma-chan."

"No way to change it back, not for a lot of people's sakes," Ranma shakes
her head. "Kasumi-chan, you might as well know that Shampoo won't be a problem
anymore thanks to my...decision. When one is cursed by Jusenkyou, there may
come times when they...elect to live the rest of their lives in their cursed
form. This is especially true of cross-gender transformations. Shampoo's
tribe has a rule that respects that. When I froze myself, I was freed from
marrying Shampoo, then became eligible to be her blood-sister. She can then be
free to marry Mousse; as is my right in that instance, I selected him to take
my place."

"Oh, that's a relief!" Kasumi nods. "I'm glad that Shampoo can go home
finally; she always seemed so sad here."

"I should see Shampoo's great-grandmother and make sure that nothing
untoward will happen," Nodoka hums. "Even if honour is acknowledged, we should
ensure there are no hard feelings."

"That might take a while, Mrs. Saotome," Ukyou warns. "You know, there's
a part of me that wishes that...Ran-chan didn't have to change, that...I
could've won him over without him having to hurt anyone, with him...still a
man. I'm sure Shampoo feels the same way. How's your sister been taking it,

"Not good, I'm afraid," Kasumi sighs. "She understands Ranma-chan's
motivations, but...she's been swinging from anger to sadness ever since she
came home yesterday and told us what had happened. I...I really don't know
what to do to make her come out of it."

Ranma shudders. "I hurt her..."

"And if you didn't make a decision?" Yumi asks.

"I would've still hurt her, Onee-chan," Ranma shakes her head. "I hurt
her no matter which way I turned...!"

She buries her head into her arms, quiet sobs escaping her. Everyone
stares at her, then sigh. "Forgive me, but...did Ranma-chan actually call
you...?" Kasumi stares at Yumi.

"'Onee-chan,'" Nodoka smiles. "Oh, speaking of family..."

"Your husband is still passed out at the dojo," Kasumi warns.

"That's good," Nodoka rises, her hands grasping her katana. "Then it's
time for that deadbeat fool to realize how much he has to atone for the pain
he's unleashed! Please watch over Ranma-chan, Yumi-san. I shouldn't be

"Of course," Yumi nods.

They depart. "So when do we spill the big news?" Ukyou asks.

"When Oyaji's out of the way," Ranma sniffs, rubbing her eyes. "If he
learned about my having a Power Jewel, much less that con-artist Akane calls a
sister, who knows what could happen!"

The others hum, nodding...

* * *

Furinkan High School...

"Akane Tendou!!"

Akane looks up from her lunch as Tatewaki Kunou walks up, Nabiki right
behind him. "Can I help you, Sempai?"

"I have heard from some of your classmates that scoundrel Saotome has
permanently taken his leave of you," the kendoist relaxes beside her. "Is this

Akane sighs. "No, Sempai. It is far worse than that."

"Pray tell me what has happened."

"Ranma has committed seppuku."

Kunou's jaw drops. "I...beg your pardon?! He actually..."

"He felt he had no choice, Sempai," Akane relaxes, falling on her drama
training to sound convincing. "You made a mistake when you believed the
pigtailed woman also named Ranma Saotome was his slave. You are wrong. They
are brother and sister, but bound together with nefarious magic not of
Ranma-kun's doing sometime prior to their coming to Nerima. This
magic...constrained Ranma-chan, the one you loved, body and soul to Ranma-kun,
the one you despised, truthfully for all the wrong reasons. He...never wanted
his beloved sister to endure such suffering...so he decided that the only way
for Ranma-chan to be free...was to end his life."

"I see..." Kunou blinks, then looks down. "Is there another reason that
the male Ranma would do such an honourable thing?"

"Yes, there is," Akane frowns. "Ranma-kun's father treated his child like
a prized bull at times, having him engaged to nearly a dozen women over the
years of their training trip. I am one of his many 'fiancees,' as is Shampoo
and Ukyou Kuonji. Could Ranma-kun actually marry ALL those girls at once?
Certainly not. Yet if he chose one..." she sniffs, wiping her eyes, then
nodding as Kunou hands her a handkerchief, "...the others' honour would be
gravely damaged. Ranma-kun didn't wish that to happen, so...he elected to
eliminate the problem by denying us all...him."

Sitting nearby with several other classmates, Sayuri winks at Akane,
giving her the "OK" sign; it was a masterful performance. Then again, as
Nabiki had oft proved, Kunou could be a gullible jerk. "I see," Kunou rises.
"I once believed Saotome to be an evil sorcerer out to beguile all around him.
It appears I was mistaken. I'm man enough to admit such. I can also see that
you cared for him, Akane. I will leave you to your time of mourning. May I
at least know where the pigtailed one might be found?"

"She too requires a time of mourning, Sempai," Akane sighs. "Her love for
her brother was profound. Ranma-chan...has left my home. I have no idea when
she may return, if she'll return."

"Understandable," Kunou nods. "Again, my profound thanks, Akane Tendou.
Excuse me, please."

He walks off. Akane watches him go, then sighs. "Nice performance,
Akane-chan!" Sayuri winks again.

"Thanks!" Akane nods.

"What are you trying to do?!" Nabiki demands.

"What does it look like?!" Akane glares at her. "Ranma went out of
hi-...HER way to give me my freedom of choice back! I'm doing the same thing
for her! Got a problem with it?!"

"Yeah, it's not like you've skimmed ENOUGH money off Ranma-kun's problems
already!" Yuka sneers.

Nabiki jolts, then marches away. "No offense, Akane, but that sister of
yours can be such a cold bitch at times!" Hiroshi sighs.

"Not really. She actually means very well; she just doesn't take the time
to understand the fallout that occurs every time she tries to make money to
keep the dojo and the family out of bankruptcy," Akane sighs, rubbing her

The others blink surprisedly. "Well, given that there hasn't been any
students at your dojo since I first met you, I suppose she's got a right to do
that," Sayuri hums.

"So what happens now?" Yuka inquires.

"Dad's forbidden me from trying to track Ranma down," Akane announces.
"I'm not sure what could happen next; last I saw him and Mr. Saotome, they were
passed out in the dojo after raiding a few bars last night."

"Doesn't surprise me," Hiroshi shakes his head. "All their dreams were
pinned on you and Ranma-kun getting hitched. When Ranma did what he...SHE did,
that got blown out of the water!"

"How did Ranma do it, anyway?!" Daisuke muses.

"Do what?" Akane wonders.

"Freeze himself as a girl?"

"Well, shortly after she and her father got cursed, Ranma bumped into
someone close to Jusenkyou and got him cursed, too," Akane muses. "She...felt
it was only right to do that for him since it was her fault."

Unnoticed by any of them, one of Nabiki's assistants sitting at a nearby
table perks up, then blinks as she considers the matter. *The boss'll
definitely want to use this!* she muses, rising to put her food tray away, then
head back to class.

"Ain't that Ranma for you?" Daisuke shakes his head, sadly sighing.
"Always willing to go out to help others before helping himself. What a guy!"

"I can't believe you just let him slip through your fingers like that,
Akane-chan," Yuka muses.

"What does THAT mean?!" Akane growls.

"Akane-chan, you have to admit that even if you and Ranma-kun fought all
the time, he was ALWAYS there when you needed help!" Yuka holds up a finger.
"And don't you start with all the garbage about being able to handle things on
your own! You know quite well you couldn't've tackled the likes of Shampoo
without Ranma-kun being around, much less those creeps from China who kidnapped
you that one time you had a marathon chase around town..."

"And that other one who froze Ranma-kun as a girl with that soup ladle;
remember him?" Sayuri adds.

"And what about the time that Dojo Destroyer came by to shut your school
down?!" Hiroshi muses.

"You gotta admit, Ranma helped you a lot," Daisuke shrugs. "And what
happens now? You still got that old lech at the house; without Ranma around to
slow him down, what's to stop Happousai from making your life a real hell?!"

Akane shudders, a denial hanging on her lips, yet no sound escapes her as
their words hit home. While Ranma had indeed caused all his problems...

*Did he?*

...he still always strove to solve them. In fact, he seemed to go out of
his way to make people more comfortable.

*Including you.*

*That's not true!*

*Oh? Remember when you first met? You were the only friendly person in
the whole house. Who said 'let's be friends,' then betrayed those very words
not a hour later? How would you've felt if you were the one cursed, wondering
why this was happening to you? Then when you started insulting him, he
insulted you right back...and it never stopped! What did you expect from him?
He grew up with no friends whatsoever, never knowing a single place to live
for ten years! He was so socially immature, he didn't know how to act. The
only friends he ever had that whole time were Ukyou and Ryouga...and he was
dragged away from them both. How else would he've acted? He didn't know how
to act around people, especially someone who could've been his wife!*

*He should've known better...!*

*YOU should've known better!! When he came to the house, he never knew a
SINGLE thing outside martial arts! The only other interests he acquired, he
acquired them while he was living at the house...and that usually was because
YOU prodded him into it! Even after all the fights you had, he trusted YOUR
judgement about a lot of things. When you cooked, he at least tried what you
made, even if it nearly killed him every time! Yuka's right, you know. You
could've done so much for Ranma...but YOUR pride got in the way, YOUR anger
kept you apart...until it was too late. Happy now?*


* * *

"Are you sure that's what Akane said?!"

"You got it, Boss," the girl nods. "Ranma-kun got himself stuck as a girl
by drawing off the power of someone else's curse and augmenting that power to
his own curse."

"Thanks," Nabiki nods, then relaxes in her chair as the girl heads off.
"Well, well...who could that've been, I wonder...?"


Doubtful; given the amount of effort the warrior-maiden had poured into
winning Ranma over during the last year and more, she'd NEVER agree to that,
even if her losing her curse very much guaranteed Ranma wouldn't succumb to the
Neko-ken conditioning around her when she got soaked!


Oh, THAT would be choice revenge. Given the amount of time the
weapons-master spent as a duck in punishment for his glomping Shampoo all the
time, it would be the perfect slap in the face to Shampoo and Cologne to steal
their means of keeping him repressed. It might not've helped if all that was
needed was to give him a new curse, though Nabiki once heard from Toofuu Ono
that once one was cursed by Jusenkyou, one couldn't be cursed again even if
they found a way to ditch the curse. There was a possibility.


Nabiki laughs. Not a chance!

Nabiki's eyes then widen. "Of course!!" she gasps. "Ryouga!"

Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Ranma always got into fights
with Akane over her pet pig. Not only would Ranma restore his friendship with
Ryouga, he'd still cover Ryouga's tail when it came to the secrets surrounding
P-chan...and give Ryouga a clear road to winning Akane over once Ranma was
forever out of their lives! Ryouga loved Akane, yearned for the chance to win
her love...and Ranma had just given him the chance to do just that.

Shuddering, she rises to get things set into motion to locate the lost
boy...then stops. "Why am I doing this?" she hisses, sinking back into her
chair. "Ranma'd never come back..."

What would happen if Ranma DID come back? Souun would NEVER allow the
"traitor" through the front gates even if he did realize how much a good thing
Ranma was to the Tendou family. Sometimes, her father had no idea how much he
allowed personal and family honour to get in the way of reality.

Even if that problem was overcome, Ranma would never again want to live
anywhere close to Nabiki. He...SHE...might be an idiot, but she learned fast
from all her mistakes...and she had made it pretty damn clear to Akane the
previous day that there was no way that she'd live under the same roof as
Nabiki Tendou.

Even if that was overcome, what then? Weirdness followed Ranma like a
dark kami; it had been a factor in everyone's life since Ranma came. Would it
all end even if she remained a girl, was free of her commitments to all her
fiancees and that? Would it be worth the aggravation, all the hassles about
repairing the house and dojo, the extra food bill...the reminders of what was?

Nabiki sighs. The chasm separating Ranma from the family that had
supported her for a year was too wide now. Even if some peace could be
achieved and maintained, there were things that could never be forgiven by all
sides, especially Ranma. Reconciliation was possible in some places,
especially between Akane and Ranma. Trying to get some vengeance on Ranma for
the pain she caused them now was not just reckless, it was suicidal! Now as a
woman, Ranma was practically free of her old-fashioned warrior's code, which
meant that Nabiki, someone who hadn't seen the inside of a dojo for quite some
years, wouldn't stand a chance if she forced her into a challenge to recoup her
financial losses. Words only went so far and she couldn't reap the rewards if
she was crippled or worse.

"Looks like you won this fight, Ranma-kun," Nabiki sighs, leaning on her
arms as people begin streaming into afternoon classes. "You not only won the
fight, you won the war, too..."

* * *

"Welcome home, everyone!"

Nabiki and Akane sigh as they step into the Tendou home, looking around.
"Where're Dad and Mr. Saotome?" the former wonders as they drop their bookbags

"Father's in bed right now," Kasumi smiles. "He's still quite upset over
what happened with Ranma-chan. Mr. Saotome's gone."

"Typical of that coward..." Nabiki sneers.

"Not exactly, Nabiki-chan," Kasumi shakes her head. "Auntie Saotome came
by earlier on and dragged him off."

"WHAT?!?!" Akane exclaims. "Wait!! Does she...?!"

"She knows everything now," Kasumi nods. "Even better, she wholeheartedly
accepts Ranma-chan as she is now."

"You're kidding me!" Nabiki shakes her head. "So what's going to happen
to that lazy jerk?!"

"I'm not sure what will happen to Mr. Saotome, but things might be
decidedly cool at their home from now on," Kasumi muses. "Ranma-chan has
stated that she will NEVER accept Mr. Saotome as her father again; if Auntie
Saotome wants Ranma-chan to come home finally, Mr. Saotome must be thrown out
of the house or else commit seppuku for destroying Ranma-chan's life."

"Ai-owch!!" Nabiki winces. "Boy, Ranma's got the old fool on the hot
coals this time, huh?!"

"True," Kasumi sighs. "Oh, you'll all be happy to hear that matters
between Ranma-chan and Shampoo are settled."

"How?!" Akane demands.

"Well, there do come times that Jusenkyou-cursed people decide they like
spending the rest of their lives in their cursed forms," Kasumi muses. "This
is especially true of cross-gender changes. If they're engaged to one of
Shampoo's tribe and they make this decision, they're no longer bound to marry
them and are adopted as one's blood-kin. In fact, Ranma-chan now has the right
to choose his own successor as Shampoo's fiancee."

"I bet he chose Mousse," Nabiki smirks.

"Indeed he did," Kasumi nods. "I went over to the Nekohanten this
afternoon to see how they're doing. Things are quite fine, in fact. It turns
out that Mousse is part of a sect in the Nyu-che-zuu who violently disapprove
of the combat-for-marriage law...the 'Ones Who Suffer In Silence' as they're
called in Joketsuzoku. He in fact took an oath that if he EVER raised his hand
against Shampoo in anger, he would kill himself. Cologne and Shampoo were
quite surprised when they heard this; they never suspected Mousse was like
that. So Shampoo has a lot of thinking to do."

"What does this mean for their marriage?" Akane prods.

"Well, Ranma-chan has the right to set the conditions of how Mousse and
Shampoo can wed," Kasumi smiles. "She stipulated that Mousse and Shampoo were
to be given the chance to build a new sense of confidence between them before
they wed...and no one in their tribe, not even the elders, can stop that from

"That's good," Akane sighs. "At least Shampoo gets something out of this.
So where's Ranma now?"

"She's staying at Ukyou's place," Kasumi muses.

Eyebrow twitch. "Why doesn't that surprise me?" Akane snarls.

"Akane-chan, despite the problems forced on them because of their
engagement, Ukyou is Ranma-chan's best friend, remember?" Kasumi frowns,
causing the youngest Tendou to wince under her disapproving stare. "Believe it
or not, they're getting along quite fine. Besides, by doing what she did,
Ranma-chan helped Ukyou get what she was after when she first came to Nerima;
the complete destruction of Mr. Saotome's family."

Silence falls. "I should go see her..." Akane smiles.

"I think that'd be a great idea, Akane-chan," Kasumi nods approvingly.
"Oh, by the way, if you see three strange women there with them, don't be

"Why's that?" Akane blinks.

"One is Yumi Tachibana," Kasumi muses. "When you see her, she'll be the
black-haired girl with the ponytail. She supposedly was the latest 'fiancee'
Ranma-chan learned of."

"Oh, her!! So what's she doing here?!"

"Well, it turns out that Tachibana-san was NEVER Ranma-chan's fiancee,"
Kasumi smiles. "When she met Mr. Saotome two years ago, she was so horrified
at what he was doing to Ranma-chan, afraid that it could've eventually led to
Ranma-chan's death, she tricked him into signing an agreement which states that
if Ranma-chan enters a life-threatening situation, Mr. Saotome surrenders all
legal custody over Ranma-chan to Tachibana-san, thus making Ranma-chan her
sister. Atop that, all marriage agreements would be automatically nullified,
the fault of which..."

"Being recognized as falling on 'Uncle' Saotome's shoulders!" Nabiki's jaw
drops open in stunned disbelief. "Ye gods, that is sheer genius!!!"

"That is something I can't believe...!"

Eyes turn to see Souun standing there, slack-jawed at his eldest
daughter's revelation. "Oh, Father!!" Kasumi gasps.

The ashen-faced Tendou patriarch staggers up to them. "You mean to say
that this woman made Saotome-kun sign an agreement that gave Ranma away to
her..." he stammers, "...AND destroyed all the marriage agreements at the same
time, including...?!"

"The one to our family," Kasumi nods. "Yes, Father."

"Which means our family honour is quite intact," Akane adds. "Your
so-called 'friend' stabbed you in the back when he got Ranma hitched to Ukyou
and everyone else...then REALLY let you have it when he gave Ranma up to
Tachibana-san. After all, by knocking Ranma into Nyannichuan, that conceivably
would've put Ranma into a 'life-threatening situation' concerning his own

Souun shudders. "How...how could you do that to me, Saotome-kun...?" he
gasps, his eyes tearing. "How could you sign such a devil's agreement in the
first place...?"

"Well, Tachibana-san said he was drunk when she made him sign it," Kasumi

"Then it has no meaning!!!" Souun then asserts. "Saotome-kun was tricked
into signing it...!"

"On the contrary, Father, it has meaning since Ranma-chan and Auntie
Saotome recognize it," Kasumi interrupts. "Further, there is no way Mr.
Saotome can refute it or attempt to destroy it. Ranma-chan has placed a
non-negotiable condition on her finally returning to the Saotome family:
Auntie Saotome must divorce her husband or force him to commit seppuku for
destroying Ranma-chan's life. Mr. Saotome has no leverage on Ranma-chan
anymore. Until Auntie Saotome does either of those things, Ranma-chan will
be...and most likely remain...Ranma Tachibana."

Souun shudders, then spins on Nabiki. "Nabiki, you must find this
Tachibana woman and force her to surrender Ranma!!!"

"I can do nothing, Daddy," Nabiki shakes her head. "Ranma-kun made her
choice pretty clear. Besides, even if we got Ranma-kun to come back...which I
doubt she'd ever want to do willingly...how are you going to try to change her
back to a boy to marry Akane?"

"We'll just go to Jusenkyou, find Nannichuan water and change him back!!!"
Souun asserts.

"You can't do that to Ranma-kun, Daddy," Nabiki sighs. "If you don't
believe me, you can ask Toofuu-sensei if you want. Once you're cursed by
Jusenkyou, you can NEVER be re-cursed and expect it to work, which is what
finding Nannichuan water from Jusenkyou would do. And Instant Nannichuan won't
always work."

Souun staggers, then straightens himself. "Then we must learn how
Ranma-kun froze himself as a girl and get him to reverse it."

"The way he froze himself in the first place was to absorb the energy of
someone else's curse!" Akane asserts. "And seeing as how Ranma HONOURABLY
accepted her responsibility in cursing the poor fellow in the first place, it
would shame her further to force the curse back onto him!! Daddy, how can you
say YOU are an honourable man by forcing Ranma to do THAT to someone and
dishonour himself even further?! Besides, as a girl, you can't force an
engagement between us anymore, which suits ME fine!!"

Souun wails. "Akane, where is your sense of duty to your family?!!" he
pleads. "You can't let this end like this!!!"

Akane hums, turning away. "Well, maybe I could talk to Ranma and make
some agreement about it..." she muses.

"Yes!! Yes!!!" Souun nods.

"Oh, okay, I'll go," Akane shrugs. "But don't be upset if I come back

She walks out. "Oh, I have such a dutiful daughter!!" Souun wails,
falling to his knees and bawling his eyes out.

Kasumi and Nabiki sigh. "Pathetic..." the latter muses.

"It won't change a thing," the former sighs.

"Yeah, but it'll give them the chance to part peacefully," Nabiki mutters.
"I hope..."

* * *

To be continued...

From: fherriot@yahoo.com

"Well, this should tide us over for a couple weeks."

Ranma and Ukyou gape at the pile of Japanese yen and Canadian dollars
before them. "How the hell did you manage to save all this money while you
were busy on another planet, Onee-chan?" the former gazes quizzically at Yumi.

"Quite easily, actually," Yumi smiles. "Swiss bank accounts come in very
handy. The bank in question was given a blood sample from me twenty years ago,
prior to our leaving for Kaemal. I claimed I was Yumi Tachibana's daughter
but I didn't have any other means of identification, so I asked for a blood
test to be done. Once the DNA tests matched up, then I had access to the

"What type of bank does that sort of thing?" Ukyou wonders.

"Well, as you've seen in the big fight they had with Holocaust survivors
and descendants, you know how tight the Swiss banks are when it comes to the
money stored within them," Yumi muses. "All I did twenty years ago was make
sure that the bank tellers would demand the right means of identification,
means *I* stipulated. Once the criteria was met, the rest was easy."

"We'll show you how to do it when we go over to deposit the money from
your restaurant over there," Chisato adds. "We never know when we can come
back to Earth, so it's good to have something waiting here in a place where it
can't be stolen. What better place to do that than a bank?"

"Especially a Swiss bank?" Ryou smiles.

"Good point," Ukyou hums. "You know, I never thought actually leaving for
another planet would entail so much work."

"Well, we made lots of mistakes when we went out there," Yumi sighs. "We
just want to help you make the transition easier. For Ranma-chan, it'll be
really no big problem since she's lived on the road for so long. Matter of
fact, that wouldn't be so much of a problem with you either, Ukyou-chan."

"I never camped out on the road like Ran-chan did," Ukyou admits. "But as
for living alone, yeah, that's been my lot in life for quite some time. Won't
be too much of a problem, I think. By the way, what's the food situation on
Kaemal? I don't want to end up accidentally poisoning myself or Ran-chan."

"Actually, it's not too bad," Ryou smiles. "The food cooked there doesn't
have all the preservatives and other chemicals that're put in foods here, so
it'll be a bit bland unless you take advantage of the local spices. They're
actually very nice once you get used to them. I always find Earth food leaves
me dissatisfied taste-wise whenever I've come back here for a quick visit."

"We won't have much to worry about there," Ranma smiles. "U-chan's one of
the best cooks in Japan."

"Aw, Ran-chan!!" Ukyou blushes, then hums. "I just thought of something.
Given how horrible Akane cooks at times, I think if she went out to Kaemal,
she'd actually do good."

"Why do you say that?" Ryou wonders.

"When Akane's in the kitchen, she grabs everything she can get her hands
on to throw into the recipe without looking at what she's grabbing," Ranma
sighs, remembering her ex-fiancee's many culinary disasters. "You gotta stand
over her with a hammer to make sure she doesn't get hold of drain cleaner or
rat poison by mistake."

Silence falls as Ranma leans on her elbows, depression sinking over her
like a shroud. "You miss her, don't you?" Ukyou muses.

"Hai," Ranma nods.

The front doorbell rings. "Well, speak of the devil and you see her
horns," Ukyou hums on seeing who it is.

"Eh?!" Ranma looks up, then turns to see Akane standing by the door.

Ryou walks over to open it. "C'mon in, you're missing the party," she
waves Akane inside.

"Um...th-thanks," Akane blinks, staring quizzically at the tall woman,
then notices the two others with Ranma and Ukyou. Her eyes then lock on Yumi.
"Um...I take it you're Yumi, right?"

"You must be Akane," Yumi rises, gently grasping her hand. "A pleasure to
meet you. Ranma's already told us a lot about you."

Akane blinks, then stares suspiciously at her former fiancee. "Oh, what
did she say?"

Seeing her look, Ranma wordlessly rises and heads upstairs. "Nice going!"
Ukyou sighs. "You really know how to hurt someone!"

"What did I say?!" Akane blinks, stunned at the cold shoulder.

"It's what you implied," Chisato hums. "Because you're so used to
Ranma-chan insulting you to other people behind your back, you automatically
suspect she said something bad to us about you, which in your eyes gives you
the 'right' to brain her with a mallet without taking the effort to understand
what Ranma-chan said."

Akane winces. No one had ever made comment on her behaviour towards Ranma
like THAT before. Well, actually, Ukyou and Shampoo strongly questioned it,
but never once had anyone told her right to her face what she did wrong.
*Actually, Ranma did...* she then sighs. *And what did I do? I hit hi-...HER
all the time. No wonder she doesn't trust me anymore! Swift, Tendou, real

"Why aren't you doing something about it?" Yumi wonders.

Akane blinks, then sighs before heading upstairs to the small apartment
over the restaurant. There, Ranma relaxes on the floor gazing out the window.
Akane bites her lip. "Ranma?"


"I'm sorry," Akane looks down.

"It's okay."

"No, it's NOT okay!" Akane snaps. "Damn it, Ranma, I had no right to
question what you said to them. Personally, after what I've done to you over
the last year, you've got every right to call me a sexless, uncute tomboy..."

"Why are you doing this to yourself?"

Akane stops as Ranma gazes questioningly at her. Tears brim in the
redhead's eyes, causing her heart to scream with rage. "I...because it's my

"Is it?"


"No, it isn't," Ranma reaches down to grasp her hand, then draws it to her
cheek, gently kissing the palm. "Believe it or not, Akane, everyone has a
share of the blame in this mess. You do, I do, our fathers do, everyone else
does. But...right now, I'm tired of blame. We've been poisoning ourselves
with blame, you know that? Accusing other people...all that's done is made
everyone shield themselves, wall themselves in. How do you break the walls
down, Akane? How can you finally make people trust each other again? You
can't, not after all we've been through."

"We can try," Akane smiles.

"Maybe," Ranma sighs. "But look what I just did. I was in a situation
which had me so trapped, there was no way out save death or dishonour. I
didn't want to die and my honour was stretched to the limit and beyond...so
what could I do? I wanted to end this so everyone could walk away knowing
their honour was intact...but it hurt them...I hurt them...I hurt you...I hurt
you most of all..."

"Ranma..." Akane shudders, her eyes tearing.

"I could've stayed at the house," Ranma sighs. "I could've tried to push
U-chan and Shampoo away, say that it was you that I really wanted...and what
would that've done? It would've put you and your family in danger because you
were an obstacle in their eyes and obstacles had to be eliminated. All because
of me..."

"Oh, Ranma..."

"So the only way that could've worked for all of us, including me...was to
freeze myself as a woman and stay frozen," Ranma closes her eyes. "And that
broke your heart...and hurt you..."

She doesn't resist as Akane draws her into an embrace, sobs stealing her
voice. Akane closes her eyes, herself crying...

* * *

a fantasy crossover tale of Ranma Saotome
by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****
Based on "Ranma 1/2," created by Rumiko Takahashi; "NoeL - La Neige," created
by Pioneer LDC; and "Major Raeburn," created by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****

NOTE: The legend relayed here in this story may NOT be the actual legend
surrounding Perseus and Andromeda; in truth, what was used here stems from the
plot of the Harry Hamlin/Lawrence Olivier movie "Clash of the Titans." For
those who know the proper details of Perseus' myth, I apologize if that wasn't
accurately relayed here.

**** **** ****


"How is she?"

Akane descends from the apartment, then smiles. "She's asleep right now,"
she relaxes by the grill as Ukyou starts cooking, then looks down. "She's a

"Yeah, I know," Ukyou sighs, then stares at her. "She loves you, you know

Akane blinks, then feels her cheeks redden. "I know. I guess I've always
known. No matter how angry I got at Ranma, she always was there for me,
always ready to protect me. I just wish that our pride didn't always get in
the way of our admitting that...not to mention our fathers and everyone else."

"There's one thing I've always noticed," Ukyou hums. "You always stood up
to Ran-chan, Akane. You always told her what you thought. Deep down,
Ran-chan admired that. I guess...maybe that's the reason she...she never could
love me like she did you."

"She still cares for you," Akane muses.

"Yeah, I know, but it's not what you've got," Ukyou sighs, then flips the
okonomiyaki onto Akane's plate. "You really got something there, Akane.
Treasure it; you'll never have it again."

"But what happens now?" Akane sighs. "Father won't allow me to see Ranma
if Ranma's turned her back on her family. He knows about this thing between
Ranma and Yumi."

"Then he better start blaming it on the right person for a change," Ukyou
shakes her head. "You wanna know something, Akane. There are times I really
pitied you. Your father's as much a coward as Ran-chan's. Instant something
happened, he'd turn around and demand you settle it all for family honour!"
She then spits out. "Well, 'to hell with family honour' is all I say!! Look
where it got me; hell, look where it got Ran-chan?! Forced out of our homes
and living on our own, that's where!"

Akane blinks, then sighs. "Yeah, that's true, isn't it?" she starts to
eat her okonomiyaki.

Ukyou gazes at her. "I really wish you could come with us, Akane," she
smiles. "You're a really good person underneath it all and Ran-chan'd want you
to be with her."

"Come where?!" Akane tenses.

The chef sighs. "Okay, you might as well hear the rest of this story.
There's a lot more going on here, but there's no way that we'd spill it all at
once with that con-artist sister of yours and everyone else in hearing range."
She then fingers the Jewel on her bosom. "You recognize this, Akane?"

Akane blinks, then stares closely at the Jewel. "Yeah, Ranma has a
necklace like that...it looks expensive..." she squints, a spark of memory
flashing in her eyes.

"Remember our history classes?" Ukyou smiles. "When we studied the
Greater East Asian War...?"

Akane blinks, then her eyes widen as the image of something similar to
what Ukyou and Ranma now wear comes back to her. In that case, it was worn by
a pilot from Canada...

"Ukyou, what have you done...?" she gasps.

Ukyou purses her lips. "Akane...about five days ago, my little friend
shows up, telling me he had come here to ask ME to go to this other planet, a
planet named Kaemal. About fifty light-years from here. Right now, they're
being torn apart by critters the likes of which you couldn't begin to imagine.
I'm a martial artist, just like you are, Akane. I know the code. Help those
who can't help themselves. So I accepted. Yumi-chan, Ryou-chan and
Chisato-chan are the other Jewel Warriors for that planet; they've been
fighting these things for TWENTY years, Akane! I had to go. Staying here
longer wouldn't be any good for me, wouldn't get me Ran-chan, so what did I
have to lose? Nothing at all; I've already lost a lot. What I gained was a
lot of my self-respect back."

Silence for a moment as Akane absorbs those words. "So how did Ranma get
chosen?!" she wonders.

"Same deal," Ukyou nods. "On my word of honour, I had nothing to do with
it. In fact, believe it or not, Ran-chan was chosen to become a Jewel Warrior
BEFORE me, even with the fact that she was born a boy! And because she was
chosen, one of us had to be chosen to go with her." She sighs. "We know what
are the qualifications are to get one of these. Ran-chan quoted them to the
class the day we covered this, remember? You've got a family, Akane. I

Akane sighs. "I...can I still come?"

"And risk your life?" Ukyou stares bleakly at her. "Have Ran-chan weep
over your grave? Akane, please, will you stop trying to justify yourself all
the time? It's okay here, but this isn't like you fighting Herb or the Seven
Lucky Gods. Your martial arts skills won't mean SHIT in this place! These
fuckers won't care who you are. In fact, because you're the life-mate and
soul-mate of a Jewel Warrior, you'd be a legitimate target in their eyes.
Yumi-chan, Ryou-chan and Chisato-chan've had to keep themselves isolated from
the natives because they know what could happen if one of these things tried to
take advantage of them that way."

Akane shudders. "I could try..."

"No, you can't!" Ukyou hisses. "This ain't a game anymore, Akane. It's
real life-and-death! People've died by the HUNDREDS on Kaemal...and that's
just a single raid on one village!! Imagine having to do something about that
day-in-and-out for TWENTY years?! They hit without warning, come from NOWHERE
to destroy everything in their path! No chivalry, no code of honour,
NOTHING!!!! Even after twenty years, Yumi-chan and the others've had little
luck in trying to predict when these jokers're planning to come out!! Do you
REALLY want to risk your neck in a place like that?!!"

She then sighs. "And I know for the fact that Ran-chan wouldn't like it
one damned bit, Akane!! Yeah, you've got a right to be annoyed at her
shielding you like that, but this time, the difference in sheer power between
you and these things CAN'T BE BRIDGED!!!! Fates, Akane, HAPPOUSAI and COLOGNE
wouldn't last ten minutes there!!! Do you think Ran-chan'd risk having you
come when the two best martial artists she's ever known wouldn't survive?!!"

Silence falls as Akane feels a cold hand grip her heart. "I want to
protect her, too..." she bites her lip.

Ukyou sighs, then smiles. "I know you do. I know you want to pull your
weight, Akane. It says a lot about you, sugar, it really does. But this time,
things're all going against you. Ran-chan ended it between you...between her
and all of us...because she didn't want to hurt us anymore. After all she's
done, do you think she'll let you walk into a warzone all just to be with

"No..." Akane sighs.

Footsteps. They turn to see Ranma standing there, a sad look on her face.
Akane rises, then walks over to her. They gaze at each other, then Ranma
bows her head. "I have to do it, Akane."

"I know," Akane sniffs, then sighs. "I...I gonna go back home. I need
some time to think about this."

"Un," Ranma nods.

Akane turns to leave, then stares at her. "I'll...do you want me to tell

"No," Ranma shakes her head. "All that'll do is cause a lot of
unnecessary grief for a lot of people, especially if Nabiki or your father get
wind of it. I'm dangerous for you to know now, Akane-chan. I won't have what
I am endanger you anymore."

"I...I understand," Akane smiles, then opens the door.

"I love you."

Akane blinks, then gazes at her. "I love you, too, Ranma."

The door closes behind her. Ranma sighs, then staggers to the bar,
accepting Ukyou's warm embrace. "I should've told her," she sniffs, rubbing
her eyes.

"You would've fumbled it with her, Ran-chan," Ukyou sighs. "She needed
the truth without it being whitewashed with emotion. We aren't allowed that
sort of luxury anymore."

"I hurt her again..." Ranma sighs, then covers her face...

* * *


"Father, we can't allow this to happen."

"And what is wrong with that?"

"Isn't it obvious?! She loves her! She'll move the heavens themselves to
be with her. You insisted that Ranma Saotome was worthy to become a Jewel
Warrior! Can't we do something to give Akane Tendou the same chance?!"

"We cannot. The Seekers were adamant on the matter when they scattered
their Jewels across the universe. I will not ignore their wishes or desires
concerning their heirs, much less desecrate their memory, by making Akane
Tendou a more desirable candidate."

Silence. "And Ranma's heart remains shattered."

"Unfortunate, but unavoidable."

"Not so."


A bemused snicker. "If Akane Tendou can't become a Jewel Warrior...what's
to stop her from becoming one of us? In the end, it means the same thing,
doesn't it?"


* * *

Akane sneezes. "Someone's thinking about me!" she rubs her nose as she
steps into the house. "Tadaima!"

"Did you see Ranma-chan?" Kasumi wonders from the kitchen.

"Hai," Akane sighs, relaxing by the table.

"And how is she?"

"She's...hurt," Akane looks down. "She didn't know any other way to solve
this other than killing herself. Too many people were involved. There was no
way to resolve this without destroying what was left of Ranma's honour, not to
mention their own."

"There is!" Souun declares.

"Oh, how?!" Akane stares at her father as he walks in.

"He was to marry you as was agreed to long ago!" Souun sits after
descending from his bedroom. "The others engagements have no relevance in this

"Oh?!!" Akane growls, bolting up as her battle aura flares around her.
"You want to know something, Dad?! Ukyou's right! You ARE as much a coward as
that useless friend of yours!!"

Souun's jaw drops open as Akane storms upstairs, then wails. "Oh, my
daughter hates me!"

Kasumi sighs. Akane steps into her room, then sits on the bed. "Oh,
gods, Ranma, how could you...?"

She tenses, then bolting to her feet, tip-toes to the door, then sneaks
over to peek into Nabiki's room. Sure enough, the middle Tendou daughter has
earphones on, listening intently to her network of microphones laid through the
house. "ONEE-CHAN!!!!"

Nabiki screams as she hits the roof, then collapses to the floor, rubbing
her skull. "Itte...!"

"ARE YOU TRYING TO SPY ON ME?!?!?!" Akane snarls, reaching down to grab
Nabiki by her shirt collar, then yanking her to her feet. "WHAT'S THE BIG

"What does it look like?!!" Nabiki stammers, shuddering as her sister's
battle aura flares. "I'm trying to find out what the hell happened between you
and Ranma, that's what...!!"

"So you could SELL that to every idiot in sight and really make Ranma's
life hell, right?!!" Akane growls menacingly, then tossing Nabiki aside, grabs
hold of her tape machine and yanks it out of the wall before breaking it over
her knee! "You really are a piece of work, you know that?!" she glares at
Nabiki. "My own sister!! I'm trying to rebuild some trust between Ranma and
me and I CAN'T do that with you trying to cut me off at the knees!! Now, get
this through your head finally: LEAVE...US...ALONE!!!!!!"

Nabiki is blasted down by Akane's shout as the youngest Tendou storms out
of the room. A moment later, Kasumi stares into the room. "Are you alright?"

"Does it look like it?" Nabiki mutters.

Meanwhile, Akane places herself in the middle of the dojo, sitting
cross-legged as she tries to calm down. "Damn it all, it never stops...!" she
hisses, then her eyes narrow. "You are really pushing it, old man!!" she
growls, her aura flaring.

"He-he-he!" Happousai snickers as he tries to crawl onto her back. "Why
don't you give your master a hug...?"

A hand grabs the aged warrior and yanks him away. "I think not," a woman
softly muses.

"Sweeto!!!" Happousai gapes on seeing the diminutive lavender-haired
beauty with the bright gold eyes who had come to defend Akane, then lunges...

...only to smash face-first into a forcefield around her! "You really are
clumsy, aren't you?" the woman muses, then reaches down to press two fingers
into Happousai's skull. A flash of energy later, she draws her hand back.
"There! That'll make you respect other people's personal space from now on."

"What did you do?" Akane wonders.

The woman smiles. "Touch him and see for yourself."

Akane blinks, then touches Happousai's head. Smoke billows from the
contact as the skin ignites, yet Akane feels no heat. For Happousai, it is as
if he had been doused with acid; he runs out of the dojo screaming! "That
should be instructive," the woman muses.

"What did you do?!" Akane repeats.

"I created an energy field which is now mated to his life-aura that would
cause his skin to burn every time he comes into contact with any part of a
woman's body," the woman responds, shrugging. "That also includes the skin
fragments and secretions which linger on women's underwear after he steals

Akane pales. "You mean...he can't come into contact with ANY woman at
all, not even their panties...?!" she gasps, then grins. "Oooh, now THAT'S
torture! But what's to stop him from using his pipe or a stick to try to hit
someone's shiatsu points?!"

"That would require me to alter his clothing, but what's to stop him from
buying new clothes?" the woman muses. "Manipulating energy patterns like that
always has its downfall."

"I guess so," Akane sighs. "Um...so, who are you? Why are you here to
see me?"

The woman gently adjusts the ankle-length silver cape draped over her
shoulder, barely covering the full-sleeved button shirt, tuxedo vest and
slacks, all white. "I am Svetlana Vladimirovna Taychesko. If you wish, you
may address me as Lady Ryasan. I am the daughter of Earth's Praetorian
Guardian, Lord Ryasan. As for why I'm here, Akane Tendou, I have come to help
you achieve that which your heart now desires: to spend the rest of your life
fighting at the side of your beloved, Ranma Saotome."

Akane blinks...

* * *

"DAMN THAT WOMAN!!!!!!" Happousai howls as he stares at the burn mark on
his forehead. "Who gave HER the right to do that to me?!! Why, I

"You look in pain, Sensei," Nabiki muses, peeking into the master's guest
room after hearing his screams from her room. "What did you do to piss
Akane-chan off THIS time?!"

"It wasn't Akane, Nabiki, but some other woman!!!" Happousai snarls, then
smiles on seeing his collection of silky delights. "Oh, did my little babies
miss me...?" he gently coos as he draws them into his arms...

...then screams as fire burns across his arms and face as his skin comes
into contact with the lingerie. Nabiki bolts back as Happousai races out of
the house and leaps into the koi pond. "Now, there's something you don't see
every day!" she hums, then savagely grins. "But I'll bet every girl in the
district'll love to hear about THIS little change!!"

With that, she races to the telephone...

* * *

"To be...with Ranma...forever...?"

Akane gapes at the pale-dressed woman before her. "Is that what you want,
Akane? What you REALLY want?"


"Akane, you may lie all you wish to everyone else, but don't lie to
yourself...especially not when the chances are good that once Ranma and her
fellow Guardians leave for Kaemal, it may be the last time you'll ever see them
in your lifetime."

That did it. "What?!!"

"You may not know this, Akane, but when one becomes a Jewel Warrior, one
becomes practically immortal," Svetlana crosses her arms. "Yumi Tachibana,
Ryou Midorikawa and Chisato Kadokura were all seventeen when they became Jewel
Warriors two decades ago. They haven't aged a day. The same thing will happen
to Ranma and Ukyou Kuonji. Do you want that? Do you want to grow old and die
while Ranma...remains forever young?"

Akane blinks, then looks down. "But I never can be a Jewel Warrior," she
sighs. "I have a family..."

"That's true," Svetlana nods. "To be fair, the Seekers were wise in
placing that stipulation over the Power Jewels to ensure that the right sort of
person becomes a Jewel Warrior. With the level of power Ranma now possesses,
what's to stop whoever becomes her enemy from targeting those she loves? The
Praetorians, the sponsors of my family, aren't so...strict on that matter.
Look at me. I was born before my father became Earth's Guardian...and because
he became one, I was eligible to become one, too."

Akane gapes as the implications sink in. "Then that'd mean...you'd be
over...5000 years old...oh, gods...!"

"That's right," Svetlana nods. "While my father was busy here defending
Earth, I was with the Praetorians training, improving my abilities and
mastering the powers necessary to assume such a role. The time...is fast
approaching when my father will desire to be relieved from his task. I will
assume his place."

"So how could I learn to be a...Praetorian?!" Akane wonders. "It took you
thousands of years..."

"Agreed," Svetlana nods. "But Father was forced into his role within a
year real-time of gaining the power necessary to be Earth's Praetorian
Guardian. And because of that, he made a lot of mistakes along the way in the
first thousand years he was 'on the job.' He didn't want that for me, so I
spent that time training, moving from planet to planet and learning from
Praetorian Guardians protecting other worlds. That is...what will happen to
you if you accept my offer. You will gain the power right away, much like
Ranma gained her Jewel and the power that came with it. But be warned now,
Akane...you will have to spend a LOT of time learning how to use that
power...and learning when NOT to use it. Your greatest moral and emotional
weakness is your tendency to leap to conclusions and you always expressing your
anger when things go against you. In this task, you can't do that. If you
do...the disaster that could follow would be unimaginable."

Akane gulps, feeling the blood drain from her face. To gain the power
necessary to be at Ranma's side...as shown by the example of Dean Raeburn and
Vladimir Taychesko, Seeker Jewel Warriors and Praetorian Guardians seemed
destined to work hand-in-hand...would make all her dreams come true. But to
achieve that, she would have to change years of bad habits, achieve a level of
emotional control that had eluded her for so long. She would have to put a
reign on her anger, anger that burst forth at the death of her mother,
sustained her, kept her psychologically shielded from the insanity of the
outside world. She would have to possess what Ranma was when she employed the
Hiryuu Shooten-ha. A soul of ice.

"That scares me," she admits.

"I was scared when I took my first step, too," Svetlana nods. "You have
the potential, Akane. You have the drive. You have a powerful sense of what
is right and what is wrong. Despite your many mistakes with Ranma, you do give
people a chance to prove themselves. Atop that...you love Ranma. But right
now, Ranma has been elevated to a power level that would force a chasm between
you and her, a chasm you could never breach in your lifetime. Put simply,
Akane, you need a lucky break. I'm here to give it to you...if you let me."

Akane nods. "But...why are you so concerned about me?" she muses. "I
mean...put simply, I'm nobody special..."

"Oh?" Svetlana hums, her eyebrow rising. "To Ranma, you are special. The
most special person in her whole life. Doesn't that matter more than what
other people say?"

Akane flushes. "I guess so..."

"Besides, my father had a hand in seeing Ranma became a Jewel Warrior,"
Svetlana adds. At Akane's shocked look, she sighs. "He noticed Ranma's
potential as early as the time he endured the Neko-ken training. At the same
time, he had a request from Yumi Tachibana to locate a potential Jewel Warrior
candidate. When Ranma's father first learned of Jusenkyou, Father knew one of
two things could happen: Ranma would achieve his full potential and become one
the greatest warriors of the modern era...or he would be doomed because of his
father's many mistakes. So, remembering Yumi's request, he conceived of a
plan that would allow Ranma to achieve that potential...and much more."

"Who can argue with Lord Ryasan?" Akane whistles.

"But...Father can also be quite emotionless when dealing with people,"
Svetlana adds. "In my eyes, that's wrong. Emotions are as much part of the
human spirit as logic; to ignore them creates as much pain and evil as cold
rational thought. In fact, it creates more. How many wars have been fought
over love, hate, racism or simple jealousy? Father...didn't really care what
would happen to those who were emotionally close to Ranma when her time to
become a Jewel Warrior came. In his eyes, the equation is quite simple. The
needs of a whole planet striving to gain control of their own destiny far
outweigh the needs of a small group of people interested in controlling the
destiny of one."

"He has a right to feel that," Akane then nods. "All of us here in Nerima
never took the time to look at the whole picture when it came to Ranma. All
we wanted was the chance to get what we wanted. The others didn't matter. If
the decision went against us, we'd go over the edge and do who knows how much
damage. Ranma knew that to some extent, which is the reason she...hesitated on
making a decision...until Fate and your father forced her hand."

"Good," Svetlana nods. "At least you understand it."

Silence falls for a moment, then Akane takes a deep breath. "I'm ready.
What do I have to do?"

"Pass a simple test," the Praetorian warrior winks...

* * *

The phone rings. "Hello, U-chan's Okonomiyaki!" Ukyou picks up the line,
then sighs. "What do you want, Nabiki?!"

Ranma looks up from her dinner as the chef takes the message. "Someone
put a spell on Happousai?!" Ukyou blinks. "He catches fire every time he comes
into contact with female things?! You're kidding me! Couldn't've happened to
a nicer jerk...eh?!" she pauses. "Oh, alright, I'll tell her. Bye."

"What did she want?" Ranma muses.

"Someone really did a number on the old fool," Ukyou shrugs. "She wanted
to know if you'd be by to get your licks in."

"Nabiki thinks she's so smart at times," Ranma shakes her head, then sips
her tea. "All she wants is to catch me in a corner and demand to know what's
going on! Too bad I'm not biting."

"Good for you," Ukyou nods.

<<She doesn't know the whole story, Ukyou.>>

"Eh?!" Ukyou blinks, then looks at her pulsing Jewel. "What do you mean?!
What's going on?!"

<<There is a Praetorian Guardian at the Tendou home now. At the dojo to
be exact...with Akane Tendou.>>

"You mean like Lord Ryasan?!!" Ranma bolts up, then shudders. "Oh, shit,
what's she getting into now...?!"

* * *

"WHERE ARE WE?!?!?!"

Akane finds herself in the lower side of a cloudbank floating over some
mountainous terrain. "Sorry for the switch of scenery, but I didn't want us to
be interrupted by your sister or anyone else, even Ranma and Ukyou," Svetlana
floats beside her, then points down. "Welcome to Greece."

"Greece?!!" Akane spins on her. "What are we doing here?!!"

"I haven't finished yet! Remember your temper."

"Urk!" Akane tenses, then sighs. "Sorry."

"It's okay," Svetlana nods. "Now, you should've also asked WHEN are we?
I time-slipped us back three thousand years, back when the Greek gods were
pretty much at the peak of their influence in the eastern Mediterranean.
Father was ALWAYS busy down in this part of the world; if there was any race of
'gods' that needed constant watching over, the Olympians were it!"

"I...don't know much about them," Akane admits.

"Alright, time for a mythology lesson, Praetorian-style," Svetlana sighs.
"First, you have to understand the relationship between a 'deity' and his or
her worshippers. The basis of all religious power is faith. Faith, Akane, is
energy, a specific form of psionic energy not so much different from the chi
energy you use in martial arts. Because it is energy, it can be manipulated to
a certain degree depending on circumstance and environment.

"Now, here's where it gets interesting. If enough people believe in a
certain spiritual concept, the energy they produce through their devotions
coalesces into creating a being that is a reflection of the expressed faith. A
god, a goddess, a divine spirit, call it whatever you will. Synergy then
comes into play. With all that faith energy coming together, it then magnifies
a million-fold into creating a power that under normal circumstances could
never be defeated by normal 'mortal' means."

"Wow!" Akane whistles. "You mean...for me being Japanese, if I believe in
Amaterasu O-Mikami, then my faith gives her power?"

"Exactly," Svetlana nods. "Now, no ONE person can give a god the power to
change the world. But multiply that in the thousands, then concentrate and
focus that faith energy. And make sure there is NO way that faith energy can
be diffused into something that isn't spiritual, like technical or scientific
knowledge. That's why the gods were so powerful in this age, Akane. People
didn't know any better but to give their faith to the various deities; there
was little scientific knowledge about the universe and those who did understand
some things could be counted on your fingers and toes. Lack of literacy helps
out here, too."

"So when knowledge changes, the amount of energy changes, too, right?"
Akane muses.

"Right. Now, change is a part of human nature. But the gods
subconsciously understood that if social or religious change occurred too fast,
had too much of a negative effect...say to the point where the faith of a
whole nation was wiped out...their power would be cut off and they'd cease to
exist. To that end, out of self-preservation most of all, they enforced some
pretty strict rules dealing with their worshippers."

"But change occurred. Look at the evolution from the old shamanist faiths
to the modern religions," Akane muses.

"Exactly. But faith is a powerful force, Akane. It takes CENTURIES for
it to be changed. The Olympians, in both their Greek and Roman
personifications, had influence over the peoples of the Mediterranean basin for
about three thousand years, until the Roman emperor Constantine enforced
Christianity. The Asgardians had control over Scandinavia for two thousand.
Look even now to the modern religions. Christianity is on the wane in this day
and age as people discover new forms of spirituality, so the divine spirits
that drive that faith are now slowly losing power."

"I see," Akane hums, crossing her arms. "So, how does your father fit
into this? What's his exact job?"

"There...come times when the gods tend to overstep their bounds when it
comes to their worshippers," Svetlana sighs. "As I said, the Olympians were a
pretty awful lot. That's because the Greeks who gave them power wanted their
gods to have human faults. Father was on their case a lot; believe me, he was
glad to see them gone finally. We intervene in such a way that allows the god
or goddess to remember that they are most of all the SERVANTS and CREATIONS of
those who worship them. What we cannot do is directly step into the affairs of
the worshippers. We walk a fine line here, Akane. We don't want to make
normal people worship us. That's not what we're about. We want them to
eventually, over the generations, learn where true spiritual power lies."

She then taps her own heart. "Within ourselves," Akane muses.

"Exactly. I have my faith, Akane. I know there are powers far greater
than me; it's because of those powers that I am the way I am now. I give them
respect, but I don't give them obedience. The Praetorians don't want that,
believe it or not. It happened once in their billions of years of existence
and it's something they don't want to see repeated. That's why we exist."

"So what's the test?"

"Okay, the test is simple," Svetlana waves as they descend to the ground.
"We're at the time of one of the more interesting stories of ancient Greece.
The Olympians, as I said before, were a pretty wild lot. Biggest problem with
them was their willingness to mate with everything that passed in front of
their eyes...and the biggest perpetrator of that lot was Zeus, Olympus' king."

"He's Hercules' father, right?" Akane muses.

"'Heracles' as he was called here; Hercules is his Roman name," Svetlana
nods. "Zeus was also the father of a young fellow by the name of Perseus. You
may have heard of him..."

"Oh, I know him!" Akane nods. "He's the one who slew the girl with the
snakes in her hair and saved another girl..."

"Good! The woman he slew was Medusa, a former priestess of Aphrodite, the
goddess of love. The other girl eventually became his wife, Andromeda. Now,
here's where the story begins. Zeus took notice of Perseus' mother and decided
he wanted to have a son through her. So, he disguised himself as the woman's
husband and seduced her. Guess who her husband was? The king of his own
kingdom. And they had a rule, approved of by the gods themselves, that stated
that adulterers and any children born of such matings were to be killed,
usually put to sea and left to drown."

"So what happened?" Akane urges.

"Zeus, to his benefit and detriment, had one good quality. He cared for
ALL his offspring. All the Olympians were like that, in fact. He arranged for
his brother Poseidon, the sea god, to have Perseus and his mother brought to
an isolated island so they could live in peace. Here's where things get
interesting. In punishment over that king hurting his child, Zeus ordered the
destruction of Perseus' home city by unleashing a monster called the Kraken, a
byproduct of the second generation of Olympians, the Titans..."

She looks right. Akane's eyes turn as she realizes that they were now on
the shore near a beautiful classic Greek city...now being wiped out by a scaly
humanoid monster the size of Gojira! "Gods...!!" she gasps. "THAT'S the

"Yes, that's him alright," Svetlana sneers. "Ugly, isn't it?"

"Where're Ranma and Ryouga when you need them?!" Akane sighs.

"Anyhow," Svetlana waves Akane to a nearby boulder, then sits down.
"Let's skip ahead a few years. Perseus grows up, very nice, strong and
athletic. Your typical Greek warrior-type. At the same time, there lived a
fellow named Calibos. He was also a half-god, his mother being the sea goddess
Thetis. Well, one day, Calibos really got Zeus mad...desecrating a temple, I
believe...and Zeus turned around and deformed him to the point where NO ONE
would want anything to do with him. In vengeance over Zeus hurting her child,
Thetis had Perseus teleported into the city of Joppa, which was one of the
centres of her personal faith."

Akane notices that both she and Svetlana were now in the market place of
another city, though the sudden switch of scenery didn't bother her too much.
Clearly, Svetlana knew what she was doing. "Ai-owch!! What next?!"

"Well, Zeus naturally didn't want to leave his son unarmed, so he had some
special arms created for him. No problem there. Then Perseus takes notice of
Andromeda. Look there," she points.

Akane pales on seeing some poor fellow being burned on the stake in the
middle of the square. "What's wrong?!!"

"Calibos decided to put a spell on Andromeda," Svetlana sighs. "Since she
was the daughter of Joppa's queen, Cassiopeia, she was naturally the target of
many would-be suitors. However, Calibos had Andromeda put a condition on
their winning her hand. They had to answer a puzzle, which always changed each
time the suitors came forth...and if they guessed wrong..." she nods to the

"You're kidding me!! How did Perseus get around that?!"

"It turns out that Calibos had Andromeda's spirit whisked away to a nearby
swamp near here every time a new suitor was about to show up," Svetlana
crosses her arms. "Perseus followed, using an enchanted helmet to render him
invisible and a winged horse named Pegasus, and he overheard the latest puzzle.
Well, he tried to get back, but Calibos caught onto it. They fought and
Perseus sliced off his hand, then made it back to Joppa. Next morning, he met
Andromeda in the court, guessed the right answer for the puzzle, exposed
Calibos' part of it, then they were engaged."

"Calibos was a real jerk!" Akane spits out, then stares at Svetlana. "But
something tells me he didn't want to let this go!"

"In that way, he was like your would-be paramour Kunou," the Praetorian
nods. "Well, the day after that, Cassiopeia announced the engagement of
Perseus and Andromeda...but thanks to a slip of the tongue, the queen insulted
Thetis. Remember, Joppa is in the heart of Thetis' personal domain...so when
she found out, Thetis intervened...and ordered that Andromeda would be
sacrificed to the Kraken in punishment...and if she wasn't there..."

"Joppa would be destroyed instead," Akane shudders. "What a bitch! I get
insulted all the time! What was her problem?!"

"Vanity...and not respecting those who gave her the power she had,"
Svetlana smirks. "Like I said before, the gods tend to forget these things
since normal people don't want to be masters of their own lives, so
they...overstepped their bounds."

"I assume Perseus went out to save Andromeda, right?"

"Right. That's where Medusa became involved. Her gaze could turn anyone
into stone, so he bet on using her to transform the Kraken into stone and save
Andromeda and Joppa both. Since she wouldn't've come willingly, he had to kill
her, then made it back in time to confront the Kraken. Calibos tried to get
in the way and was killed by Perseus just after Perseus killed Medusa."

A sly smile crosses her lips. "Now, the legends say THAT is what
happened. Legend and history don't ALWAYS coincide, Akane, especially where
we're concerned. Father intervened on that end. Now, you know the situation.
What would you have done?"

Akane shudders, then sighs. "Well, first of all, I'd love to get rid of
the Kraken. If Zeus didn't have enough personal honour to respect laws he
approved of, he had no right to destroy that city Perseus' mother comes from
just because of what happened to his son. The king had laws the gods agreed
to. Why couldn't Zeus let it go? Perseus was safe a long distance away. Why
did people have to die?"

"You can't destroy the Kraken yourself," Svetlana cuts in. "Remember, we
can't be too overt in our actions."

"Okay, so I'd have to make a situation where someone else would've killed
that thing," Akane bites her lip. "So that's where Perseus comes in...but he
needed Medusa to pull that off...and that wouldn't be fair to Medusa! How did
she get that power, anyway?"

"She was having some fun with Poseidon in one of Aphrodite's temples and
Poseidon made the mistake of saying Medusa was more beautiful than Aphrodite,"
Svetlana sighs.

"Another one?! What a bunch of thin-skinned idiots!" Akane snarls, then
sighs. "Okay, there's where I'd directly intervene! Change Medusa back to
normal...wait a minute; that isn't going to help Perseus a bit...!" She
crosses her arms, then blinks. "Okay, Thetis was the one who demanded the
Kraken be unleashed, right?!"


"So...the threat has to be turned back on Thetis," Akane hums, then
smiles. "Calibos. He started the whole mess in the first place because he
made Andromeda order the deaths of all those guys who wanted to marry her.
So...what I'd do is find Calibos, have him altered to look like
Andromeda...water from Nyannichuan'd definitely work here...then at the last
moment, have him subbed for her. Then..." she grins, "THEN I'd yell up to
Olympus and tell Thetis that the Kraken was about to kill her own son! Once
she found out, she had a choice. Watch her son die before her eyes or destroy
the Kraken. Could she've pulled it off?"

"Yes, she did," Svetlana nods, then looks up. "Well, Father? What do you

Akane jolts, then spins around as a man's shadow falls over her. "It
appears that she has the potential," the silver-haired and moustached Lord
Ryasan hums.

"S-s-sir," Akane stammers.

"Relax, Akane," Svetlana places a hand on Akane's shoulder. "You passed
the test with flying colours. In fact, believe it or not, what you said
should've happened DID happen."

"So what happened to everyone?"

"Perseus and Andromeda married and were very much left alone by the
Olympians for the rest of their lives," Ryasan sighs. "Thetis was drained in
her battle with the Kraken and those who worshipped her turned their backs on
her over the years. Calibos and Medusa escaped, then because neither would've
lived long if Zeus or Aphrodite had anything to say about it..."

"We went elsewhere."

Akane turns to see a handsome couple standing there. The man has a
chiselled face with brooding eyes and slowly balding hair. The woman is
unbelievably beautiful with long green-tinted black hair. Both of them have
golden eyes, which seemed the norm for Praetorian Guardians.
"Calibos...Medusa?!!" she gapes.

"That's us," Medusa smiles, walking up to gently grasp Akane's hands.
"Welcome to the Cosmic Praetoriate, Akane."

"Th-thank you...!" Akane stammers, then notices their clothes. Like the
Taycheskos, Calibos and Medusa elect to wear a button shirt, vest and slacks
with a cape, though their colours are different (for him, a ruddy red-brown;
for her, a lime green). "I really can't believe this. Um...do you work here
on Earth...?"

"No," Calibos shakes his head. "Like Svetlana here, we had to go to other
worlds to better master our powers."

"That'll be your role, too," Medusa adds. "You'll first go to Kaemal to
fight with Ranma and her friends, then wherever Fate and duty direct you. It's
quite interesting. No one could ever explore all the worlds of the Universe
in a hundred lifetimes, so you won't have to worry about being bored."

"I guess so," Akane nods, then gazes at Lord Ryasan. "I've been told you
were the one who believed Ranma to be the best suited to become a Jewel

"I recommended that," Ryasan warns. "The choice in the end was Ranma's
Jewel...and Ranma herself."

"Thank you."

"Why do you thank me?"

"For saving Ranma," Akane smiles. "I'm ready now."

"So be it," Svetlana nods...

...as Akane Tendou dies.

* * *

"AKANE!!!!!!" Ranma bolts out of bed.

She pants, patting her chest as Akane's shriek on having her mortality,
all her conceptions of her place in Creation, all her beliefs in herself and
her friends, shredded. Rising, the Jewel Warrior staggers to the window,
gazing out in the direction of the Tendou dojo. "Akane..."

<<You cannot interfere, Ranma,>> her Jewel glows.

"Will she be alright...?"

<<We must wait and see.>>

Ranma shudders, then looks down. "Akane-chan..."

* * *

<<What is this place...?>>

Before the Guardian, galactic spirals fill her vision, stars dancing
around her as they continued their endless journey through the cosmos. Her
vision then focuses, zooming up at transwarp speed to gaze upon lonely flashes
of light and energy in the midst of a black void. Connecting them all, from
every quantum particle to every quantum particle, atom to atom, molecule to
molecule, on through the higher forms of Existence...was energy.

Reaching out, the Guardian feels the energy flow through her, dancing from
one point to another. She then zooms out her vision, watching each atom form
their own strands, then build into larger blocks, each filled with energy.
Energy was everywhere around her, fuelling the tiny bits of matter, the
combination of both forming the fundamental, necessary parts of the great All
called Existence.

Even if something died, a planet was destroyed, a sun gone nova, the
energy lived on, transforming to newer forms as it combined with other matrixes
in fresh patterns. Sometimes, the energy patterns would be right to create
the spark of that which the Guardian knew was Life. From the simple
single-cell beings to multi-cell protein machines. From the seas onto land and
into the air and beyond. Sometimes, the energy would become so complex that
it would not only support Life, but Thought.

And from that remarkable change, there arose the concept of Sentience.
The endless questioning of Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. At times, the
questions have easy answers. Other times, the questions could only be solved
by guesses. And from that came Faith, a belief in something that couldn't be
proven by Thought. And from Faith arose a belief in something beyond
Existence. A power that controlled...and yet was forever enslaved.

It made such sense now, the Guardian realizes.

Those beings, those deities, she once would've called on to invoke a
prayer, hope or a ripe curse...they were a reflection, a shared dream among
thousands, millions just like her before she was a Guardian. A dream
postulating where Sentience would eventually evolve over time. And time was
counted not just in years, but in centuries, millennia...which in the face of
the All of Existence, was just a blink, a heartbeat, a spark of energy...like
the spark in each atom, in each quantum particle that formed Existence.

And that energy had its own purpose. It could never truly be directed by
Thought. It was BEYOND Thought, beyond the Sentience that sprang forth from
Thought and Life. Yet Faith and Knowledge, the other child of Sentience, could
affect that energy if given the right motive and opportunity. Her task as a
Guardian was to ensure that such opportunities would not snuff out the Life
formed by that energy, so that Life, Thought and Sentience could, over the
aeons, finally combine as one thing...one All...

* * *

"Ran-chan, you can't do anything for her now."

Ranma blinks, then stares at Ukyou. Both now sit by the stove in
U-chan's, draped in nightgowns as they anxiously await the events at the Tendou
dojo. "I guess not..."

A flash of energy at the doorway cuts off her words! Ukyou and Ranma
tense, their Jewels glowing as the flash becomes matter, forming into a
familiar person, now draped in a white shirt and a crimson red vest, slacks and
cape. The only other change with Akane was her eyes, now a beautiful bright
gold instead of their usual sullen blue. "Akane!!!" Ranma screams as she leaps
up, racing over to fiercely embrace the newest Praetorian Guardian.

"Hey...wwwhoulf!!" Akane gasps as the breath is knocked out of her, then
smiles as she cups the others woman's chin, gazing deeply into her tearing
eyes. "Were you worried about me?"

"I'm always worried sick about you, you kawaii angel!!!" Ranma sniffs,
then smiles. "How are you?"

"Like...suddenly discovering you were blind all your life and then getting
the chance to really see," Akane shakes her head. "Ranma...oh, my dearest
love, you can't believe what I've seen, what I've come to understand now..."

Ranma looks down, then gently kisses her. "Teach me."


"Teach me...teach us," Ranma looks back as Ukyou comes up to add her
embrace, "...everything you know now. These Jewels give us power, but
they...also screen us from what you now find is so easy so we can concentrate
on the here-and-now. If...if we're going to be together as a group, as a team
of EQUALS...we have to understand each other more implicitly than we ever did

Akane blinks, then nods before gazing on Ukyou. "I don't want to fight
over her anymore, Ukyou-chan. If we never had the question of who'd marry
Ranma-chan over our heads, we'd be the best of friends. Please,
Ukyou-chan...U-chan...I want that."

"So do I, Akane-chan...A-chan," Ukyou smiles.

Another group hug follows, then the three proceed upstairs...

* * *




"My pleasure, Yumi," Lord Ryasan sighs as he watches his latest student
join Yumi's fellow warriors in their bedroom, then gazes at the beautiful night

Yumi notices his stare, then sighs. "It's okay to say you miss her, you

"Can I afford to admit that?" he muses...

* * *

To be continued...

From: fherriot@yahoo.com

"Kasumi?! Where's Akane?!"

Kasumi looks up from her stove. "I haven't seen her this morning,

Souun hums, then walks into the living room. "Nabiki?! Have you seen
Akane anywhere?!" he calls upstairs.

"Akane?" Nabiki walks up to the upstairs landing, looking down at her
father. "No, I haven't seen her at all. I think she went out last night and
didn't come back."

Souun jerks, then tears jet from his eyes. "Oh, no!!! Akane-chan's run
away from home...!!"

The phone rings. "Hello, Tendou residence," Kasumi answers from the
kitchen line, then giggles. "Oh, good morning, Akane-chan. Where were you
last night?" A pause, then a hum. "I see. Alright, I'll tell him. Have a
nice day. 'Bye."

"Where is Akane?!!" Souun gasps.

"She stayed over at Ukyou's okonomiyaki shop, Father. I think she was
trying to establish some future rapport with Ranma-chan."

Souun shudders, then collapses to the floor. "Oh, please bring Ranma-kun
home, Akane-chan...!" he moans...

* * *

"'Establish some future rapport?!'" Akane snarls, glaring at the
telephone, then sighs. "I was making love to her, Kasumi-onee-chan, not trying
to make a business deal!"

"A-chan, forget your sister and come back to bed, please," Ukyou mutters
from the pile of sheets, arms and legs behind her.

"I can't, U-chan," Akane sits on the bed, rubbing her temple. "Oh, boy, I
did it now! Once everyone gets wind that I'm one with the Cosmic Praetoriate,
it'll hit the fan for sure this time. Atop that, what happens when I leave
with you guys?! It'll devastate my father and sisters most of all! How do I
solve that?!"

Strong arms wrap around her as a tender kiss flecks at the base of her
spine. "We'll figure it out, love," Ranma draws Akane into her embrace. "We
always do, no matter what we're up against. Besides, this is a wish-fulfilment
of sorts for your father."

"We are united," Akane muses, then nods. "Yeah, you're right about that,
Ranma-chan. Meantime, I best get to school."

"You sure you want to go to school?" Ukyou wonders. "A-chan, I hope
you've seen yourself in the mirror this morning!"

"Mirror...?" Akane blinks, then slaps her forehead. "Oh, Fates, my eyes!!

Ranma's hand gently draws her hand away as her other hand passes over
Akane's face, her Jewel glowing. "Hold still."

Akane blinks as she feels an energy matrix form over her eyes. She feels
the outside light refract more from the gold shade of the visible light
spectrum to the deeper blue shade which was her normal eye colour. "There you
go," Ranma smiles.

"I could've done that on my own, you know," Akane muses.

"Yeah, I know...but I can't help myself at times!" Ranma winks, projecting
an impish grin. "I always want to do things for you! What type of fiancee
would I be if I didn't?!"

"Well, just as long as you give me the chance to do it in return, I'll let
it go this time," Akane sighs, then mentally wills her clothing back to her
normal street clothes. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do," she waves as she
races out.

Ranma sighs, then relaxes on the bed. "U-chan?"

"Yeah, Ran-chan?"

"Is this what you had in mind when we became Jewel Warriors?"

"Actually, no...but I'm not complaining."

Ranma smiles...

* * *

a fantasy crossover tale of Ranma Saotome
by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****
Based on "Ranma 1/2," created by Rumiko Takahashi; "NoeL - La Neige," created
by Pioneer LDC; and "Major Raeburn," created by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****


"Ni hao, Akane!"

"Ni hao, Shampoo," Akane nods as the warrior-maiden hops off the fence,
then steps off her bicycle. "You look cheery today."

"Actually, Shampoo still sad that Ranma soon go away and Shampoo no can
follow," Shampoo admits. "Akane lucky that she can go with Ranma and Ukyou to
other world."

"Eh?!" Akane blinks. "How'd you know...oh, Cologne!" she then nods
understandingly. "She must've sensed it."

"Yes," Shampoo nods. "Lord Ryasan may be powerful, but his energy aura
stick out like sore thumb at times. Shampoo not sure if she should be envious
of Akane or wish her good luck."

"The latter," Akane sighs. "I may have the power, but I've only barely
BEGUN training. This is a lifetime commitment unlike anything we could've
imagined before. The ultimate training trip, so to speak. The person who
indoctrinated me into the Praetoriate herself's been training for five thousand
years and only NOW is she considered ready to take her father's place here."

"Shampoo glad," she muses. "Shampoo...when she think about it, Shampoo no
want power Akane or Ranma have now. Shampoo not want to abandon family or do
other thing to become Jewel Warrior or Praetorian Guardian. Shampoo must seem
simple to Akane..."

"Don't degrade yourself, Shampoo," Akane sighs. "Given your society,
upbringing and experience, you're as complex as the rest of us. You know,
before this whole mess began, all I ever really thought of was to resolve
things between Ranma and I, then maybe get married and try to have a normal
life despite the insanity which seemed to haunt us all the time. But...to get
to that point would've meant the destruction of so much, potentially the death
of several of us. No thanks. It was solved in a way which allows people to
gain control over themselves. That matters more."

"Is good," Shampoo hums. "But what happen when Akane go with Ranma? How
Kasumi and Nabiki react?"

"I haven't told them yet!" Akane shudders. "Ranma hasn't even told her
mother about being a Jewel Warrior."

Shampoo hums. "Shampoo may have idea. Ask Great-grandmother first. Come
see you at school later?"

"Okay," Akane nods.

Shampoo races off. *What a change six days makes!* Akane muses as she
turns down the street. *Six days ago, it was the same grind. Then U-chan gets
her Jewel, finds out that Ranma-chan's next on the list, then rigs it up so
Ranma-chan gets the chance to make her decision without any of us getting in
the way. Ranma-chan freezes herself as a girl, then disowns her parents to end
the engagements and all that. She even becomes Shampoo's blood-sister of all
things! Not only that, I've become someone just as powerful as Ranma-chan and
I could potentially destroy my family when THAT news gets out! Eternity Above,
I think the Seekers had the right idea about wanting orphans to be Jewel
Warriors; Nabiki-onee-chan'd cheer me on all the way, but Dad'll NEVER accept
this and Kasumi-onee-chan's heart'll be broken because of it!*


She stops, then looks back as Nabiki runs up. "'Morning, Onee-chan. How
are you?"

"Pretty okay," Nabiki nods.

Akane sighs. "Look, I'm sorry about blowing up at you last night, but...I
wanted the chance to resolve this whole mess with Ranma-chan on my own,

"'Ranma-chan?!'" Nabiki's eyebrows rise knowingly, then she leers. "What
happened, Akane-chan?! I want details!"

"Fine, then," Akane sighs. "Ranma-chan and U-chan, believe it or not,
were selected to become Jewel Warriors, just like Major Dean Raeburn back in
World War Two. In a couple weeks, they'll be leaving for another planet to
fight a war with three other Jewel Warriors; one of them being Ranma-chan's
newly adopted sister Yumi Tachibana. I couldn't become a Jewel Warrior because
the Seekers, the race that scattered the Jewels around the universe, wanted
orphaned girls to be Jewel Warriors. However, the Praetorians, who sort of
work hand-in-hand with the Seekers protecting races like ours, decided it
wasn't fair for me to be separated from the person I love and her best friend,
so they gave me the chance to become a Praetorian Guardian. That's what
happened." She then grins. "Oh, after that, Ranma-chan, U-chan and I decided
we wouldn't be virgins anymore, so we...took care of business!"

Nabiki blinks, then crosses her arms. "Sure, sis, tell me another one..."
she muses, then all of Akane's words hit.

Akane sighs. *Sorry, my love,* she passes a hand over her eyes, then
opens them to reveal their new gold pigment.

Nabiki's jaw drops, the unreality of the moment hitting her like a
typhoon. "Akane, why...?"

"Why?!" Akane crosses her arms. "Oh, what was I supposed to do, then?!
Let Ranma-chan and U-chan run off into a war and not be there to help them?!
What do you think I am, anyway?!"

Nabiki shudders, then shakes her head. "No, no, this is not happening!"
she then stares hopefully at Akane. "Geez, we've been through more than enough
in one year, huh?! Don't you think it might be time to settle down and
relax?! Now you're telling me that you're going to run off with Ranma and
Ukyou to another planet to go fight a war?!! HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO

Akane sighs. "You said it yourself, Onee-chan. I love Ranma-chan. When
you're in love, you tend to do crazy things."

"Yeah, but 'crazy' includes getting into fights and keeping the competing
fiancees and your idiot fathers away, not practically becoming a demi-goddess
who's the lover to two superheroines!!!" Nabiki snaps. "Akane, that is way
past what I'd call 'crazy!!' 'Totally insane' is more like it!!!"

Akane chuckles. "Relax, Onee-chan. I'm trying to figure out something to
make sure you'll be okay when we go. But...I'm sorry, Onee-chan. I have to
do this. Besides, I'd think you'd be rooting me on, not trying to hold me


"Aren't you the one who always likes to buck tradition all the time?"
Akane hums. "Aren't you the one who frowns on following a code of honour when
it doesn't guarantee basic survival? Nabiki, of all of us, you were the most
independently minded. You're the one with the brains and skills to succeed on
your own. Don't you want me and Kasumi-onee-chan to do the same thing?"

Nabiki blinks, then smiles. "Yeah, I do," she sighs, then stares at
Akane. "Um, you better do something with your eyes..."

Smiling, Akane closes her eyes, then opens them. Normal blue instead of
bright gold. "That has got to be such a neat power to have," Nabiki smiles as
they head off.

"Don't tell anyone about it, either," Akane sighs. "I don't think we need
any more trouble than what we normally get; instant news of this gets to
certain ears, trouble's bound to follow."

Nabiki hums. "Might cost you!"

Akane smirks. "Oh, maybe it's time I try out some of my other powers.
You volunteering to be my guinea pig?"

Nabiki jerks; after Akane's disasters in the kitchen, putting a Praetorian
Guardian's power in her hands was a guaranteed recipe for Armageddon. "Forget
I said anything!" she innocently whistles.

"Thought as much."

* * *

"There, that'll do it!!" Happousai shudders.

The aged master is now swathed from head to toe in specially treated
bandages, enchanted to ensure that he could still absorb the life-energy from
women without risking touching them. "I may look like King Tut's grand-uncle,
but this'll give me a chance to get some control over this mess!" he growls,
glaring at himself in the mirror, then he slips on his gi and runs off.

He didn't know how it was happening, but with Ranma and Ukyou having gone
off on their own, Shampoo planning to go home finally and some strange woman
wanting Akane, several of his favourite women would be all out of his reach
before the week was out. And that wouldn't be allowed. He was the master
here, not them...and if they didn't like it, that was just too bad.

* * *

"Good morning, class," Hinako Ninomira sighs as everyone takes their
seats, then stares at Akane. "Tendou-kun, is there any news on Saotome-kun and

"They're alright, Sensei," Akane nods. "They'll be leaving within a week
or so; they'll be staying at U-chan's for the time being. As for when they'll
come back, I can't say."

"A pity," the child-teacher sighs. "While Saotome-kun had more than
enough reasons to want to be rid of his family, he shouldn't be ignoring his
education for much longer."

"I'm sure Ranma-ch...Ranma'll take care of that along the way, Sensei,"
Akane smiles, then mentally adds, *Yeah, she'll be going back to school,
alright...the School of Total War.*

With that, classes begin. Akane relaxes as Hinako begins her lessons,
part of her mind drifting off to do a casual pass around the classroom. It
wasn't a telepathic probe; she didn't want to invade their privacy and she
wasn't sure if her mind would wind up doing inadvertent damage even if she only
wanted to do a "passive" probe. Still, it was so neat just to watch the
energy forms dance from student to student, then try to figure out what it all

Hinako's energy aura was interesting on its own. Bands of dark, unnatural
energy surrounded each of her DNA strands, each forming strands of
power...shiatsu lines?...to certain points around her left shoulder. Ah,
that's right, that was the place where Happousai had told Ranma to hit to
reverse her chi-draining ability. Alright, maybe she could do something about

*Whoa, Tendou, stop now!!* a part of her mind cuts in. *You don't know
the whole story about her! It could make it worse!!*

Akane tenses, then relaxes as Hinako begins asking questions. Good think
she could sub-divide her conscious mind so that part of her could pay attention
to things while the other parts were off doing an investigation. Sure enough,
Hinako's questions come her way. She answers, then relaxes as her mind
returns to scanning Hinako's energy aura to figure out the rest of her

Interesting. Hinako's chi-absorbtion power was a separate energy pattern
on its own right...in fact, it definitely was a natural gift. Its potential
was explosive if she had no training to control it. No problem there; with the
amount of delinquents she dealt with every day, experience would've come in a
matter of weeks. Okay, so how did that factor into her growth and age
regression problem?

*Ah, so THAT'S what Happousai did!*

Akane shudders on seeing the bands of energy connect the lines controlling
Hinako's gift to her curse. Naturally, Hinako's body would burn off the
excess chi energy without any physical changes. Happousai reversed that by
forcing excess chi into energy patterns which regressed her age, then locked it
into place. The only way to overcome that power...temporarily, that is, since
her body still burned off excess chi that wasn't committed to keeping her
locked in a child's body...was to infuse a lot of new chi energy all at once.
Okay, so by removing the links, that should free Hinako.

Biting her lip, Akane closes her eyes as she mentally reaches out, finding
the shiatsu lines locking her homeroom teacher into a child's body and
snapping them, allowing the chi to funnel back into Hinako's cells. A shield
is placed around her to prevent her body from burning off the chi before she
could be properly restored. Then, when the last is burnt off, Akane relaxes.

Hinako shudders, blinking surprisedly as she feels her body grow, her
voice deepening as she assumes her adult dimensions. Behind her, everyone
gasps on seeing her assume her proper physical age, then quickly quiet down as
Hinako spins on them. "Quiet!!!" she snaps, then stares at herself. "Well, at
least the clothes weren't ripped when this happened," she muses.

"You okay, Sensei?" Sayuri wonders.

"I...I seem fine," she hums.

Akane smiles, then bites her lip. Better have an expert on shiatsu lines
check this out. "Sensei, do you want me to call Toofuu-sensei and have him
come down to examine you just in case?"

Hinako blinks, then nods. "A good idea. Go ahead, Akane."

"Hai!" she nods, then runs out of the room.

As she doubles towards the secretary's office, a woman's voice speaks from
behind her. "First try?"

"Medusa!!" Akane smiles on seeing the ex-priestess/gorgon secluding
herself by the lockers, then nods. "Yeah!"

Medusa winks. "Proud of yourself?"

"I am. But I better make sure it was the right thing to do just in case.
Talk to you later!" Akane nods, then runs off.

"She's learning," Medusa nods, then vanishes...

* * *

"Well, Hinako, you're free," Toofuu Ono nods as he relaxes. "How does it
feel to physically be what you're supposed to be?"

"Wonderful!" Hinako sighs as she straightens her clothes, then rises from
the diagnostic bed in the nurse's station. "Any idea how this happened to me,

"I wish I can say," Toofuu sighs. "All I can say is that someone or
something went into you and literally cut out the damage Happousai unleashed in
the first place...and did it with such skill, there'll be no physical

"What about my...power?" Hinako wonders.

"That's not affected, but I think you won't be needing it as much these
days," the doctor sighs. "Certainly, as a self-defence measure, it's perfect.
But I hope you won't think of..."

"I...well, I don't know," the teacher sighs. "I need that power to keep
some of the rowdier people in line in this place. I just hope I'm not addicted
to absorbing other people's chi."

"I doubt it," Toofuu nods. "Now, there might be some sense of dislocation
within your mind as you adjust to this. Your mind's been on an emotional
roller-coaster since this began, so it'll need time to adjust. Don't force
yourself and you should be fine."

"Thank you again, Sensei," Hinako sighs, then walks out of the nurse's
station, where everyone from her class patiently await. "Well, I am going to

"What about your power and all that?" Daisuke wonders.

"If you decide to misbehave, Daisuke-kun, you'll still be in a lot of
trouble," Hinako warns, then sighs. "Look, everyone, for years, I've been
fighting what Happousai did to me, both in my body and up here," she points to
her head. "It'll...take me a while to properly adjust to what I am now.
I...don't want to be harsh on any of you, but if you see me...act odd, don't be

"Hey, it's cool!" Hiroshi snorts. "Besides, you're a lot nicer to look at
now than before, Sensei!!"

A fleet of sledgehammers slams him down from every girl around him.
"HENTAI!!!! HIROSHI NO BAKA!!!!!!" they scream out.

Hinako laughs, then makes everyone head back to class. Akane remains near
the edge of the crowd, shaking her head. *Damn, damn, damn!! I should've
thought of the psychological damage she's taken over the years because of what
that old fart did! I just hope I didn't hurt her too badly; she doesn't
deserve that!!*

<<Cause and effect, Akane.>>

<<Medusa?!>> Akane jolts.

<<Your first big lesson,>> the former priestess hums as Akane heads back
to class. <<Everything you do to someone else has an effect, both positive and
negative. Believe me, your teacher was just like me when I was changed from
being a gorgon.>>

<<I'd think you'd be relieved most of all!>>

<<Don't bet on it,>> Medusa hums. <<When Aphrodite had her way with me,
she not only physically changed me, she mentally regressed me to the equivalent
of a cobra. All I cared about was hunting people, shooting them or freezing
them into statues. In fact, Perseus nearly nailed me by using his shield as a
mirror; you know how snakes react when they see their image. Believe me,
recovering from going through all of that wasn't a treat.>>

<<Yeah, that's true,>> Akane nods. <<But you had Calibos around to help
you recover, too.>>

<<She has a point there, love,>> Calibos chuckles.

Medusa giggles. <<And Hinako-sensei has my dad,>> Akane adds. <<Maybe
it's time to start playing matchmaker for them!>>

<<Be careful, Akane-chan,>> Medusa hums. <<Remember: cause and effect.
Even if you don't use your powers, everything you do in life affects someone in
some way. Analyze what you can do and postulate what effect it will have on
everyone, both body and spirit. When you weigh it all in, THEN make your

<<Hai, hai,>> Akane nods.

"Akane, are you alright?!"

"Oh, Sensei!" Akane smiles at Hinako. "Um...actually, my mind was a
little distracted."

"Well, we do have class," the teacher warns.

"Hai!" Akane nods, then stares at her. "Would you like to come down for
dinner tonight?"


"Well, you are in love with my father, aren't you?"

"I..." Hinako blushes.

"Hinako-sensei, my father's been alone for a long time, ever since my
mother died," Akane sighs. "My sisters will soon head out on their own, as
will I. Who'll be there for Dad when we go?" She then leans up to the
teacher. "Who'll be there for you?"

Hinako blinks as she considers the point, then nods, a celestial smile
crossing her face. "Well, if your sisters won't object, I certainly won't. In
the meantime, we've got class to worry about now, young lady. Let's go!"

"Hai!" Akane nods as they head off...

* * *

Lunchtime rolls around. Akane smiles as she heads in, then takes her
place at a table. Nabiki is quick to join her. "I hear you were a little busy
today," the middle Tendou daughter winks.

"Eh?" Akane blinks.

"What happened to Hinako-sensei," Nabiki smiles. "I overheard someone who
heard what Toofuu-sensei said about her. Now, there's only ONE person here
now that can pull something like THAT off! Fess up, sis; what did you do?!"

Akane takes a cursory glance around the room, then lowers her voice. "I
just went in and cut out all the damage Happousai did to her when she was a
child," she explains. "What he did was to layer her DNA with shiatsu lines
that kept her regressed as a child. All I had to do was remove the layer and
*poof!*" she makes a bursting wave with her hands, "...she's back to normal for
the rest of her life." A frown then turns her lips. "What I didn't take into
account was how her mind now needs time to adjust to that sort of change.
Don't forget, she emotionally swung from being a little girl to a grown woman
every time she changed."

Nabiki crosses her arms, whistling. "Not bad, sis. Not bad at all. Your
first try?"

"Hai," Akane nods. "Now, all I have to do is find some way to get Dad
interested in her."


"Nabiki-chan, what happens when we all leave home?" Akane stares at her.
"Sooner or later, Kasumi-onee-chan will marry Toofuu-sensei. You've got your
career pretty well mapped out and you now know what's going to happen to me.
Who's going to be there for Dad when we're all gone?"

Nabiki trembles. "Akane...much that I understand why you did this, don't
you remember what Dad wanted in the first place? Who takes over the dojo, the
school? That's his dream, remember? That you and Ranma would've married and
run the school."

Akane frowns. "I know..."

"Ni hao!!"

Nabiki and Akane look up as Shampoo walks in. "Oh, Shampoo, ni hao!"
Akane smiles. "What brings you around?"

"Great-grandmother ask Shampoo to have Akane and Ranma come down to
Nekohanten," Shampoo smiles. "Great-grandmother have idea as to settle problem
with Akane's father."

"Okay, tell her we'll be by after school," Akane sighs, then leans up.
"Shampoo, PLEASE do not tell anyone about this," she whispers. "If word of
this gets to the wrong ears..."

"Shampoo understand," Shampoo nods. "Oh, Shampoo also saw old pervert run
around wrapped in bandages. Who make old pervert burn every time women touch

"Svetlana...Lady Ryasan, Lord Ryasan's daughter," Akane hums, then smiles.
"So, he's trying to escape his punishment, eh? We'll have to make him see
the error of his ways soon enough. Shampoo, please ask your great-grandmother
if she'll be willing to lend some advice towards that end."

"Shampoo guarantee solution Great-grandmother have will make everyone in
Nerima real happy!" Shampoo smirks. "See you!"

"'Bye, Shampoo," Akane waves as the warrior-maiden heads off, then sits
down. "Eternity, that is such a relief!"

"It's something to get used to," Nabiki muses. "You and Shampoo actually
getting along."

"Well, it's like the problem with Ranma-chan and me," Akane points to
herself. "As long as the formal engagement existed, we felt constrained. The
pressures made us lose control of our tempers. As long as the formal
engagement existed between Shampoo and Ranma, she had no choice but to see
U-chan and I as the enemy. Eternity Above, this is such a relief! Now that
everything's changed, we can finally relax."

"Until you go."

Akane notices the frown on her sister's face. "Nabiki-onee-chan, I have
no choice now."

"I...I know you don't," Nabiki stammers, wiping her eyes. "But...damn it,
Akane, you're my sister. How'm I supposed to watch out for my little sister
when she's off fighting a war?"

Akane smiles. "We have to grow up sooner or later."

"Yeah, that's true..."


Akane jolts, then spins around just as a storm of black roses races at
her, echoed by insane laughter as a lithe form leaps through a window.
"Kodachi!!" she snarls. "Just perfect!!"

"I'll get Ranma!" Nabiki runs off.

"So, THERE you are, you murderous trollop!!!" Kodachi snarls, her eyes
ablaze as her whip twirls ominously around her. "You're the one who killed
him, aren't you?!! You killed him because you hated him and wanted to make

Akane leaps for the rafters as the whip leaps out. "Fates, doesn't this
idiot have a clue?!" she growls, fists cocked as she prepares to pound Kodachi
into protoplasm.

<<Akane!! Remember!>> a voice barks in her mind.

Akane tenses, then sighs, her mind sub-dividing itself as part of it
concentrates on beating Kodachi back and the other part works on analyzing the
gymnast's energy field to probe for weaknesses. *Remember, cause and effect!*
she chants in her mind as she ducks a baton, then delivers a punch to Kodachi's
abdomen before dancing away. *Everything you do has an effect! Make sure you
analyze all the possible outcomes before acting! Think, Tendou!!*

Kodachi growls as she charges, her batons flying at the woman before her.
Akane backpedals, practically moonwalking clear of the explosives. "Man, you
ever see Akane move THAT fast before?!!" Daisuke gapes, staring at Hiroshi.

"Not in a million years!!" the latter nods.

"Get her, Akane-chan!!!" Sayuri yells.

Akane vaults to the rafters as a ribbon snakes past where she was, then
her eyes narrow as she gets a clearer look at Kodachi's energy patterns.
*Altered shiatsu points...shit, she's been drugged, too!!* she bites her lips.
*Can't risk a psi-probe...*

<<Let me,>> a male voice insists.

<<Bless you, Calibos!>> Akane nods as she flips down, then delivers a side
kick into Kodachi's stomach.

The gymnast is slammed into the wall, the rage in her eyes burning even
more brightly now. "Bitch, you'll pay for that!!!" she howls, charging.

By then, Ranma and Ukyou run into the cafeteria. "Akane-chan!!!" the
former gasps, then snarls on seeing Kodachi. "That tears it!! This bitch is

"Don't, Ran-chan!!" Ukyou's hand cuts in front of the redhead's bosom.
"Let her handle this!"


"She can mop the floor with this dork now," Ukyou smiles.

"<<But what if she accidentally reveals what she's become?>>" Ranma
counters in Mandarin.

Ukyou's eyes widen. "I'll be fine, Ranma-chan!!" Akane calls out as she
ducks Kodachi's clubs. "Be there in a second!"

"Okay," Ranma sighs, relaxing by the door.

Everyone blinks at this change in Ranma's attitude towards her ex-fiancee.
"You aren't going to help her?!" Yuka gasps.

"She's got it handled," Ranma smiles.

"You are a fool, Tendou!!!" Kodachi shrills. "Do you think you can evade
me for long?!!"

"I can keep this up all day, slowpoke!!" Akane devilishly grins as
information pours into her mind. "Can you?!"

"Watch me!!!"

A storm of roses flies at her. Akane dances over the tables, the roses
exploding in her wake as students scatter for cover. "Missed me again!!" she
laughs. "Then again, what would you expect from an out-of-shape has-been like
you, Kunou?!!"


"You heard me!!" Akane cartwheels to the other side of the room. "Look at
you! There's more fat content in your body than in Genma Saotome!! It's no
wonder people can mop the floor with you!"

Kodachi roars. "HOW DARE YOU?!?!?!"

Akane leaps over her ribbon, then delivers a knee into the gymnast's chin,
sending Kodachi crashing into a table. At the same time, her mind reaches out
to start disintegrating the drugs now warping her mind, restoring the shiatsu
lines that were driving her into such a frenzy back to normal. *Happousai will
die for this, slowly and painfully!!* she vows as the last is burned away,
then backs off.

Kodachi shakes her head, then blinks confusedly as she wobbles to her
feet. "Wh-...what happened...?" she murmurs, then her short-term memory comes
back. "What made me...?"

"You were most likely drugged, Kodachi," Akane sighs, still tense. "Do
you remember exactly what brought you here?"

Kodachi rubs her temples. "Yes...Onii-san just told me that
Ranma-sama...killed himself to save his sister...I got very upset
and...then...something happened..."

"Most likely, someone took advantage of you, drugged you and hypnotized
you into thinking I killed Ranma-kun," Akane sighs.

"Did you?!" Kodachi demands.

Akane shakes her head. "No. Ranma-kun died by his own hand. Believe me,
even after all the times we fought, I would've NEVER wished for him to do

"<<What's going on here?!>>" Ranma turns confusedly to Ukyou.

"<<Maybe A-chan told Kunou that your male self killed himself to save your
female self,>>" the chef shrugs.

"Pigtailed girl!!!"

Ranma moans as Kunou appears behind her. "Hello, Sempai. What brings you
around here?"

Kunou blinks, then notices Ranma's shorn locks. "Wh...what have you done
with your hair...?"

"I cut it," Ranma snaps. "And by the way, my name's 'Ranma.' Would you
mind calling me that instead?!"

"I...I apologize, Ranma..." he stammers, then gently grasps her hand. "I
cannot beg your forgiveness for all the errors I made concerning you and your
brother. Please, accept my sincere condolences at your tragic loss."

Ranma blinks, then sighs. "I...in a sense of the term, I haven't seen my
brother in over a year, Kunou-sempai. It...still hasn't hit me yet. Please, I
need some more time alone."

"Of course," Kunou nods. "Are you well, Koda-chan?"

"It appears someone has taken advantage of my grief over Ranma-sama's
death to make me attack Akane Tendou," Kodachi leans against a table.
"I...still don't know who caused it..."

"Most likely Happousai," Akane snorts. "He's the only one who loses out
big-time with Ranma-kun gone and Ranma-chan soon to go."

"Indeed, where is the lecherous little troll?!" Kunou snarls. "I shall
smite the beast with my trusty blade for all the trouble he has forced upon us

"Just look for the little ball of bandages running around," Ukyou snorts.
"That's his way of trying to get around someone's spell that makes his skin
burn every time he touches a woman."

"Indeed, Ukyou Kuonji?" Kunou blinks, then laughs. "Whatever kind
sorcerer who performed such an act deserves our eternal gratitude if not more
for punishing the troll for his misdeeds."

<<Cause and effect, Svetlana-chan?>> Akane muses.

<<No comment.>>

* * *

"Damn it all, what happened?!!" Happousai snarls as he watches Kunou and
Akane walk Kodachi to Toofuu's clinic. "After warping that cutie's mind
around, she should've mopped the floor with Akane-chan!! At least, it should'a
made Ranma-chan come running to the rescue like she's always done!!! What's
going on here?!!"

"We're tired of having you manipulate us, that's what!!"

He spins around to see Ranma and Ukyou standing behind him, arms crossed
and very displeased looks on their faces. "Ranma, m'love!!!" he howls, leaping
at her...

...then smashes into a force-field around the redhead, falling dazedly to
the concrete! "Sorry!!" Ranma yawns. "Not interested!"

"Let's just make sure this twerp doesn't cause much more trouble!!" Ukyou
draws one of her throwing spatulas, then lunges.

Happousai is too dazed to resist as the sharp edges rip through his
protective bandages, then he does a good imitation of a top as Ukyou yanks
what's left off him! "There, that should make him think twice about bothering
us again!!" Ranma snorts. "Let's go look in on Kodachi, U-chan!"

"Right behind you, Ran-chan!!" Ukyou smiles.

"Hold it!!!"

Both sigh, then gazes at Happousai, whose battle aura now burns brightly.
"What now, Jiji?!" Ranma hums.

"I'm gonna show you respect!!!" Happousai snarls, then starts tossing off
his pineapple grenades. "HAPPOU-DAIKARIN!!!!!!"

Ranma and Ukyou dance away from the explosions, both assuming positions to
either side of the aged master. "Missed us!!" the latter smiles, drawing her
combat spatula.

"Now you gotta kiss us!!" the former taunts.

"My pleasure!!!" he lunges at her.

Wolfishly grinning, she aims on target. "MOUKO TAKABISHA!!!!"

"Ran-chan, no...!!!"

Ukyou leaps clear as the ball of chi, presently magnified to levels of
power undreamt of before thanks to the Jewel tucked under Ranma's shirt, roars
at Happousai. The aged master gapes, stunned at the power Ranma was throwing
off in a single attack, equal to HUNDREDS of Ryouga's Shishi Houkoudans...then
the ball consumes him, the explosion sending him into orbit with a scream, the
blast wave nearly wrecking Furinkan High School along the way!!!

As the smoke clears, Ranma blinks, lowering her hands, stunned at what she
just did. "Oh, Fates...!" she gapes, then immediately runs into the blast
zone. "Is anyone hurt?!!"

"Relax, Ran-chan!" Ukyou drops down beside her, then stares at the huge
hole in the ground the redhead made. "But remind me never to get you angry at
me ever again! Wow!!"

"Oh, Fates, I should've remembered...!" Ranma shudders.

<<Sorry,>> her Jewel pulses. <<But you did want to be rid of that
creature, didn't you?!>>

"Yeah, sure, but..."


"Mom!" Ranma turns as Nodoka runs up.

The elder Saotome gapes on seeing the destruction her daughter just
wrought, then stares at her. "Um...what happened? I heard you scream
something, then an explosion occurred..."

"Ran-chan's final attack," Ukyou explains. "But she just put a little too
much juice behind it!"

"'A LITTLE too much juice?!'" Nodoka blinks.

Ranma giggles embarrassingly at her mother's knowing stare. Ukyou smiles.
"Regardless of which, I don't think Happousai'll be around anytime soon...if
he doesn't wind up drowning after being blasted into the Pacific by that

"I aught to have better control," Ranma sighs.

Ukyou pats her shoulder. "You'll get it, Ran-chan! You always get what
you set your mind to!"

"Thanks," Ranma smiles, then stares at Nodoka. "Um...what brings you
around? Something wrong?!"

"Yes, it's your father!" Nodoka sighs. "Try as I might to make him see
reason, he insists that since you are technically no longer in mortal danger,
the agreement with Tachibana-san has no validity...and he's accusing you of
cowardice by freezing yourself as a girl and renouncing ties to the family! In
fact, he's been trying to contact Souun so they could force you to restore
your manhood and renew your engagement to Akane-chan. In fact, he's even gone
so far as demanding that you re-curse your friend Hibiki-san and show him how
to undo the curse on himself!"

"And it all starts again!!" Ranma snarls, crossing her arms. "Once I do
that, then the engagement to Shampoo's back on...and it's not fair to her...or
Mousse for that matter!"

"I know," Nodoka sighs.

"Why don't you just wave your katana around his neck and make him see the
error of his ways?!" Ukyou wonders.

The elder Saotome shrugs. "Just as I couldn't really hurt my child...how
could I hurt my husband?"

"Why did you marry him, Mom?" Ranma wonders.

"He has his many faults, Ranma-chan...but I still love him," Nodoka sighs.
"I know it doesn't sound right, certainly would strain honour to the
limits...but as you yourself said, personal happiness must take precedence
sooner or later."

Ranma sighs. "I can't, Mother. He doesn't have the right to demand I
re-curse Ryouga and he certainly doesn't have the right to force me together
with Akane-chan against my...OUR wills! If Akane-chan and I're going to form a
lasting relationship, it will be for US, not for him and Mr. Tendou!
And...there's something else as well. Simply...I...can't be the one to
continue the Art."

"What...?" Nodoka blinks. "Ranma-chan, what's wrong...?"

Ranma and Ukyou exchange looks, then the former reaches into her shirt to
pull out her glowing Jewel. Placing her hand over the alien device, Ranma
closes her eyes and concentrates. Energy bursts from the device, shredding her
clothes and remoulding them into a beautiful green gi-like loose shirt and
pants trimmed in red and decorated with alien glyphs. A sword belt wraps
around her waist, the buckle decorated with a yin-yang symbol. A scabbard then
appears, sheathed within it a katana-like sword with four cat-claw like
projections around the haft below the handguard. The energy then fades as
Ranma's eyes open. "This is why."

Nodoka blinks, stunned at the transformation, then her eyes fall on the
alien device that made it possible. "Ranma-chan..."

"I am now what is called a Seeker Jewel Warrior," Ranma sighs. "If you
want to compare me to anyone in history, do so with Major Dean Raeburn; she was
the Jewel Warrior chosen to protect Earth. This Power Jewel comes from the
solar system of another world, Kaemal. As we speak, the Kaemali, people who
possess no technology and are at a cultural level equivalent to our Jomon era,
are now under attack by alien creatures who seem bent on destroying the planet
and all on it. On the recommendation of Lord Ryasan and at the request of Yumi
Tachibana, herself a Jewel Warrior who, with her friends, has fought these
beings on Kaemal for twenty years, I was selected to become a Jewel Warrior.
To be one...demanded that I renounce my manhood once and for all; only women
can become Jewel Warriors. I have accepted that fact and within the
week...will go forth to perform the duty Fate has placed before me."

Silence falls as Nodoka takes that in, then looks down. "Why, Ranma-chan?
Why did you say 'yes?'"

"Because of something good Oyaji taught me, Mom...something I've always
believed in," Ranma smiles. "Because it is the duty of a martial artist to go
out and protect those who can't protect themselves. That's a code I've always
adhered to, for all the good and ill it's done me. But...in this case, even
warriors such as Happousai or Cologne could never survive in battle against
these things. I needed an edge...but to get that edge..."

"You had to adhere to the stipulations the creators of these Jewels
placed," Nodoka nods, then sadly smiles, her eyes tearing. "I was hoping for
the chance to finally know my child. Now it's been stolen from me again...once
and for all..."

"I'm sorry, Mom..."

"Don't be," Nodoka sighs. "If I was in your position, I probably would've
said 'yes.' It's not only the honourable thing to do...it's the right thing
to do, too."

"Thank you," Ranma smiles, then wills herself back to normal before
embracing her. "I'll make this up to you, Mom," she smiles. "One way or
another, I'll give you what you want!"

With that, Ranma turns and heads off. Ukyou remains still for a moment,
then turns to follow. "Ukyou-chan?" Nodoka hums.

"Yeah?" Ukyou looks back.

"Did it...?"

Ukyou draws out her Jewel. "I got mine three days before Ran-chan got
hers," she admits. "But be assured, I never had any influence over Ran-chan's
choice. As a matter of fact...you might say that...Ran-chan's choice
influenced my being chosen."

"But what of Akane?"

"Akane-chan...she has a family, Mrs. Saotome," Ukyou sighs. "I don't
thanks to your husband's actions ten years ago...and at the time she got her
Jewel, Ran-chan practically had no family to call her own, either. Even if you
and Ran-chan reconcile, the decision's been made and can't be reversed. For
that...I'm really sorry, Mrs. Saotome. You're a good person and you deserve
much better than this, but Fate can be a really cruel, inhuman thing at times.
We gotta take the hand we're given and play it."

"I see," Nodoka nods. "I'll have to think about this, then. Who does
know about this...?"

"Akane-chan knows, as do Cologne, Shampoo and Mousse," Ukyou hums.
"Please don't tell your husband or Mr. Tendou about this. They've been...so
warped by their dream of marrying Ran-chan and Akane-chan, anything, ANYTHING
that threatens to destroy their dream'll set them off and all it'll end up
doing is hurt people who don't need to be hurt or who've been hurt enough.
Ran-chan's and Yumi-chan's plan...while it hurts, is the best for all involved.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna keep an eye on her...because her
decision's hurt Ran-chan as much as everyone else."

"Of course," Nodoka nods, then as Ukyou turns away, looks at her.


"Thank you."

"Don't thank me, Mrs. Saotome," Ukyou smiles. "When it comes to Ran-chan,
I'll always be willing to help."

* * *

"Are you alright, child?"

Ranma looks up to see Cologne staring concernedly at her. The redhead was
now relaxing in the Nekohanten, the CLOSED sign at the door keeping the
curious away. "Yeah, I'll be fine," she wipes her eyes, then smiles. "It's
just that...I told Mom about this..."

"She should be proud of you, then. I certainly am."

"Thank you," Ranma sighs. "And I suppose part of her is proud. But...at
the same time, she'll never be close to her child again. Thanks to Oyaji's
obsession, my mother never saw anything of her child for ten years...then when
she came by to look for us, all she saw was 'Ranko Tendou,' not the child she
gave birth to. Now, with the truth out...in a week's time, she'll say good-bye
to me...and maybe never see me again in this lifetime. Oh, damn it all, why
didn't I think about what'd happen when she found out...?"

"Cause and effect, Ranma-chan."

Ranma looks as Akane steps in, then leans back as the guardian begins to
rub her shoulder. "Everything you do has an effect, either positive or
negative," Akane sighs. "Look at me. I became a Praetorian Guardian, but that
decision could shatter the hearts of my family...just like your decision will
shatter your family."

"Yeah, aren't we both a pair of bakas?" Ranma smiles. "It must've rubbed
off from me to you, Akane-chan. Now you've got the 'run off and save the
world' bug!"

Everyone laughs. "I think congratulations are in order for you, Akane,"
Cologne smiles. "Not only for your becoming a Guardian, but for what you did
to that poor child Hinako. Of all of Happy's victims, she's the one who needed
the help the most."

"Yeah, I just have to watch out when I want to help someone the next
time," Akane sighs. "I never took into account all the psychological trauma
she's suffered thanks to that old goat. By the way, Ranma-chan, nice job with
that lech this afternoon."

"It wasn't so nice, Akane-chan; I nearly destroyed the school after the
Jewel made my Mouko Takabisha make Ryouga's Shishi Houkoudan look like a New
Year's firecracker!"

"It comes with time and experience, Ranma," Cologne smiles. "I've always
been impressed by you kids. The way you learn from your mistakes...why, in a
few years, you'll be really unbeatable."

"Yeah, but now the learning curve's become more dangerous," Ranma frowns.
"One false step on our parts and people could die."

"True, but you should do well," Cologne nods, then smiles as Ukyou comes
in. "Ah, you're just in time, Ukyou."

"Something wrong?" the chef wonders.

"Not really," Cologne looks back. "<<They're here!>>"

Stepping out of the kitchen, followed by Shampoo and Mousse, is a wizened
woman older than Cologne, bearing a beautiful staff and sigils marking a high
leader. Akane, Ranma and Ukyou brace themselves as she hops onto a table,
Cologne relaxing beside her. "So, this is the one who's so entranced young
Shampoo here," she stares at Ranma, then glares at the warrior-maiden. "How
could you let such a catch like this slip through your fingers, child?!"

"Shampoo did many things that not impress Ranma to marry her instead of
Akane, Elder Mist," Shampoo admits.

Mist nods. "Yes, it is sad that your determination could've become your
downfall. But even in defeat, lessons are learned, not just for you, but for
all the tribe."

"Ranma, may I present my friend, the leader of the Council of Elders of
the Nyu-che-zuu of Joketsuzoku, Nyu Miz-tzu," Cologne begins. "Elder, my
great-granddaughter's fiancee and heiress of the Saotome School of Musabetsu
Kakutou-ryuu, Ranma Saotome."

"A pleasure, Elder," Ranma bows formally, then switches to Mandarin.
"<<For Shampoo's convenience and your own, would you be willing to converse
this way instead of Japanese?>>"

"<<As long as all can understand it,>>" Mist smiles at the gesture, then
gazes concernedly at Akane. "Though I do wonder of the young Praetorian
Guardian with us today."

"You mind?" Ranma gazes concernedly at Akane.

"I said I'll do it next time, Ranma-chan," Akane winks, then bows formally
to Mist. "<<It's quite alright, Elder. Thanks to a fellow Praetorian
Guardian, I've come to recently master the energy forms necessary for language
translation. Please, go ahead.>>"

"<<Thank you,>>" Mist nods, then gazes at Ranma. "<<The day you came to
our village, Ranma, you were totally unaware of our laws and ways...and through
the selfish actions of your father, you were forced into combat with our
village champion. As you were a girl at the time, your death was warranted by
our laws, which began quite an odyssey for yourself, Xian-pu and Kun-lon, not
to mention Mu-tsu, Akane Tendou and Ukyou Kuonji. In essence, we were all
trapped, Ranma. We, by laws which have, despite their harshness, served the
Nyu-che-zuu well over the last three thousand years. You, by your father's
reckless actions and your own desire not to see anyone hurt because of who and
what you are.>>"

A deep sigh. "<<We have had to learn from being trapped like that,>>"
Mist continues. "<<After Kun-lon appraised us of the sheer numbers of problems
facing you, many of which were forced on you because of your father, we
considered it basic humanity to welcome you as one of the tribe. Yet...we were
stymied by the love you expressed to Akane Tendou, a love that has seen you
endure much over this last year. Sadly, Kun-lon and I...couldn't do anything
to help you. Our Council is filled with elders of many opinions, including
those who saw you not as a person, but simply as perfect breeding stock to
create a new generation of warriors which would've guaranteed the survival of
the Nyu-che-zuu for years.>>"

"<<I don't know whether to be flattered or frightened,>>" Ranma muses,
shaking her head.

"<<Indeed,>>" Mist nods. "<<However, your solution has indeed served all
around you. By accepting and adopting your cursed form as your permanent body,
you cannot be Xian-pu's mate. At the same time, you eliminate the other
engagements, preserving the honour of those unfortunate women your father
abused...and gives you control of your destiny, which is what you deserve.
That you also have become a Jewel Warrior, that you soon will go forth to the
world which has been defended by Xian-pu's blood-sister Chisato Kadokura and
her gallant friends for so long, can only bring pride to us all. Even if you
cannot marry Xian-pu, you deserve to be one of the Nyu-che-zuu, Ranma
Saotome...and that is what will happen!>>"

"<<I accept the honour, Elder Miz-tzu,>>" Ranma bows. "<<I am pleased to
do so even if part of me...feels unworthy to be adopted into Xian-pu's family
after the many misunderstandings between us. I am relieved that my soon-to-be
blood-kin can finally return to her home with her honour intact and be with
those who must miss her dearly. As I have...wandered for so long learning my
Art, there have been many things I have missed. A full and loving family, for
one, especially my beloved mother Nodoka...who now knows of my fate and
now...has to face the fact that after finally learning of what happened to me,
she may...never see me again after I depart for Kaemal with my fellow Jewel
Warriors. But that is something I must resolve on my own, Elder Miz-tsu.
Right now, I think it's time for my friend Xian-pu to have her life back.>>"

"<<So be it,>>" Mist nods. "<<Nyu Xian-pu, your fiancee has been forced
by circumstance and choice to forever assume her cursed form. Do you accept
her as your blood-kin?>>"

"<<I do, Elder,>>" Shampoo bows.

"<<Then, let it be done!>>"

Shampoo draws a knife, then stares at the Jewel at Ranma's bosom. "You no
mind this?"

<<Don't make the cut too deep,>> it flashes.

Everyone smiles as Shampoo gently draws the blade over her palm, then
Ranma's. As their blood flows, their hands come together. "<<Blood of my
blood, flesh of my flesh, family of my family. You who were once my fiancee,
you who have chosen of your own free will to assume a woman's form forced on
you by the springs of Jusenkyou to fight the good fight on another world far
away, are now my sister in blood,>>" Shampoo intones. "<<To that end, I give
you the name all in the tribe will from this day forward address you as...Nyu

"<<As I was your fiancee, so shall I now be your blood-sister, Nyu
Xian-pu,>>" Ranma smiles. "<<Though fate now takes me to another land, if ever
one raises a hand against you or your kin, I shall be there to protect you as
one of my own flesh and blood.>>"

Shampoo beams as they embrace. "<<So it is done,>>" Mist smiles.
"<<Luan-ma, as is your right and duty, you must now choose one to take your
place as your blood-sister's husband.>>"

"<<So I shall, Elder,>>" Ranma bows, then indicates Mousse. "<<May I
present Nyu Mu-tsu. As you may well know, he has long desired the hand of my
blood-sister, but could not because of my blood-sister's bond to me.
Further...I must now reveal that Mu-tsu is One Who Suffers In Silence. He
gladly, without a care to the ridicule such a decision would force on him, took
a vow that if he EVER raised a hand against Xian-pu in anger, his own life
would end by his own hand. Despite his vision problems, his unwillingness to
challenge her, he has willingly stood by Xian-pu's side over the last year. He
has proven his bravery, loyalty and love for Xian-pu to me and my friends many
times over since we first met.>>"

"<<So you have chosen,>>" Mist nods, then gazes at Mousse. "<<I thought
you would've taken such an oath, Mu-tsu. While I admire you for your decision,
many in the village would not, even if Luan-ma has decreed you will stand in
her place.>>"

"<<I am prepared to endure whatever is necessary, Elder,>>" Mousse bows to

"<<Given that Xian-pu has only recently learned of Mu-tsu's oath, Elder, I
must, for their sake, place one condition on their bonding,>>" Ranma sighs.
"<<Xian-pu and Mu-tsu need time to forge a proper, loving bond, one that will
respect both sides' desires and dreams, one that would provide a nurturing home
for their children. As one who comes from a shattered home, my greatest
desire is to see their children grow up with both mother and father caring for
them, teaching them the ways of the Nyu-che-zuu. They need the chance to truly
learn about each other, Elder.>>"

"<<As it shall be, then,>>" Mist nods, then sighs. "<<Well, that's
finally settled.>>"

"<<Only with us, old friend,>>" Cologne muses. "<<Even if this goes by
the letter of the laws, some might...give Shampoo and Mousse problems in the

"<<Oh?>>" Ranma's eyebrow rises. "<<Cologne, do me a favour, please. If
anyone tries to hurt Mousse or Shampoo or force them to break up, warn them
this: I am but a few hours flying time away even on Kaemal and if they're hurt
because some thick-skulled idiot can't abide by what I've done for them, then
they'll answer to me...and this,>>" she taps her Jewel. "<<I want my friends
and family to be happy...and that is what'll happen.>>"

"<<I'll do that,>>" Cologne savagely grins, then sighs. "<<Friend Mist, I
have a great favour to ask of you.>>"

"<<By all means ask, friend Cologne,>>" Mist nods.

"<<Given...the bond that existed between Ranma and Akane, the desires of
their fathers to unite the schools of Musabetsu Kakutou-ryuu...and given the
terrible burden now forced on them, which will forever force them away from
Ranma's beloved mother Nodoka and Akane's loving sisters Kasumi and Nabiki...I
request that...Ranma and Akane be permitted to travel at once...to
Jookoji-shima...and immerse themselves within Nini-Quan-Qi-Niang!>>"

Everyone blinks...

* * *

To be concluded...

From: fherriot@yahoo.com

"Oh, Ranma-chan, why...why...?"

Nodoka sniffs as she slips the kimono off, then her underwear before
stepping into the bathing area. She came to the bathhouse near Furinkan High
School right after learning the stunning truth behind her child's
transformation. While part of her surged with pride at the thought of Ranma
being chosen for such an important task, the other parts of her shrieked at the
thought of her never being able to see her beloved child ever again.

Sitting down before a wash basin, she sprays herself with water before
soaping herself down, trying not to break down and weep at the destruction of
her family; there was a sizable crowd there today. But it was so hard. The
tears started after she parted from Ranma and Ukyou. They hadn't stopped no
matter how much Nodoka tried to rationalize everything. It was made worse
because her "adherence" to the contract her husband made with her concerning
Ranma was partially to blame for her child's ultimate decision to spend the
rest of her life as a woman.

"Excuse me...are you Ranma's mother?"

Nodoka blinks, then stares at Sayuri and Yuka, both draped in towels after
a soak in the furo. "Yes, I'm Nodoka Saotome," she dabs her eyes. "Who are

"Sorry, but we're two of Ranma's former classmates," Sayuri kneels beside
her, then tenses on seeing the flash of pain in the older woman's eyes.
"Oh...you know what Ranma did..."

"Yes, I do," Nodoka nods, suspecting that these two weren't told about
Ranma becoming a Jewel Warrior. "It doesn't really matter. My child is alive
even though she's become a girl now..."

"I'm glad," Yuka smiles. "I mean, yeah, Ranma and Akane-chan fought all
the time, but you could tell they cared a lot for each other. It's sad that so
few others took the time to see it..."

"Yes, that's true," Nodoka nods, soaping herself down.

"Um...she said in class that she was going to disown her family," Sayuri
bites her lip.

"Well, she amended that," Nodoka muses, a smile touching her lips. "She
said if she was going to come back home, my husband has to be thrown out of the
house or adhere to the contract he made with me before taking Ranma-chan on
her trip."

"Given what that lazy ass jerk did to Ranma, I don't blame her one
bit...oh, I'm sorry!!" Yuka gasps, covering her mouth.

Nodoka chuckles. "That's alright, dear. I suppose after what Genma put
Ranma-chan through, people would say things like that."

"So what are you going to do?" Sayuri muses.

"I don't know," Nodoka sighs. "I really don't know..."


"Oh, Yumi-san, hello!" Nodoka beams as Yumi walks in, then notices the
older woman beside her.

Sayuri and Yuka quietly withdraw as Yumi relaxes beside the Saotome
matriarch, her companion sitting to Nodoka's other side. "Were we interrupting
something?" Yumi wonders.

"Oh, they were just two of Ranma-chan's friends coming by wondering what
was happening," Nodoka muses, then gazes quizzically at her. "Why did you do
it, Yumi-san?"

"Why what?"

"Why did you choose Ranma to come with you?"

Yumi sighs. Nodoka knew now. "Truthfully, I didn't choose Ranma-chan,
Nodoka-san. She was recommended to me by Lord Ryasan. When I met her before
Jusenkyou, I saw the logic behind Vladimir's proposal and made the
arrangements. But the choice in the end was made by Ranma-chan herself...and
her Jewel."

"Yumi-chan, that's enough," the other woman scolds. "It's still hard for
her to accept what happened. It was the same thing for me when it happened to
you, remember?"

"Hai, Mother, you're right about that," Yumi sighs.

Nodoka blinks, then gazes at the older woman, who had Yumi's green eyes
and short-cut wavy brown hair, physically the same age as herself. "Excuse me,

"Sayoko Tachibana," the other woman confirms. "Yes, I'm Yumi's mother.
Pleased to meet you, Nodoka-san."

Nodoka blinks, then gazes questioningly at Yumi...

* * *

a fantasy crossover tale of Ranma Saotome
by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****
Based on "Ranma 1/2," created by Rumiko Takahashi; "NoeL - La Neige," created
by Pioneer LDC; and "Major Raeburn," created by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****


"So what do you think?"

Akane hums as she and Ranma proceed toward the Tendou dojo. "About what
Cologne proposed?" she muses. "Well, it would be a good idea for me, I guess.
It'd make sure Nabiki-chan and Kasumi-chan weren't hurt when we leave. But I
don't think one of those poor girls would appreciate being forced into your
shoes after what you just did with your family."

"Hai, that's true," Ranma muses, then sighs. "Still, it would be a way
for Mom to get the chance to know me..."

"Ranma! Akane!"

"Ryouga!!" Akane beams as the wanderer walks up behind them. "What brings
you around here?!"

Ryouga sighs, then notices Ranma's Jewel prominently displayed on her
shirt. "Oh...I take it you know what's happened to Ranma now," he gazes at

"Hai, I do," Akane blinks, sensing his nervousness. "What is it,
Ryouga-kun? You look...bothered by something."

"Well..." Ryouga flusters. "Um...th-there's something I've got t-to
confess to you, Akane..."

Ranma tenses. "You sure you want to admit *that* now?"

He shrugs. "Got no choice."

"Okay...but don't say I didn't warn you."

"What?!" Akane stares at Ranma, then Ryouga. "What's going on

Her eyes widen as her mind scans Ryouga's energy pattern. *Oh, shit,
could she still sense it?!* Ranma panics, not wanting to get into a fight over
P-chan with a Praetorian-powered Akane even if she had a Power Jewel to defend
herself with.

Akane blinks, then shudders. "No wonder you get lost so easily," she
shakes her head.

Ranma faints! "Eh?!" Ryouga stares at her.

Akane sighs. "Okay, let's see what we can do," she reaches up to touch
his chin, her eyes reverting to gold as she concentrates her power on the dark
bands of energy flowing through him.

"H-hey...ow!!" Ryouga yelps as Akane's energy probes lance into him,
destroying the dark chi flow wrapped around his mind and nervous system, then
blinks as the sharp pain fades to a dull ache as she pulls her hands away.
"What did you do...?"

"Guess that was a real curse you had," Akane whistles.

"What curse...?" Ryouga demands, then stares quizzically into the
guardian's golden orbs. "Akane, what's with your eyes?"

"Oh...oh!!" Akane blushes, then laughs. "Oh, darn, sorry about that,
Ryouga-kun! I should've told you..."

"Ranma, what's going on here?!" Ryouga spins on Ranma.

"Well...ah, you see..." Ranma stammers, then sighs. "Simple. She's now
to me...what Lord Ryasan was to Major Raeburn."

Ryouga pales. "Lord Ryasan...?!" he gapes, then stares at Akane. "You
mean you're...?!"

"Hai," Akane tenses, sensing the wave of disappointment and disbelief
emanating from the wanderer.

Silence falls as Ryouga takes it in, then he sighs resignedly.
"Um...well, c-congratulations, Akane. I guess that means you'll be going with
Ranma to Kaemal..." he stammers.

Akane blinks as a sharp pain echoes through her from Ryouga, then feels
her face heat on realizing what that pain hinted at. "Ryouga-kun!!!" she claps
her cheeks, looking away.

"A-a-akane...!" he shudders, gulping.

"Baka!!" she playfully bats his nose.

"What?! What?!!" Ranma stares at her, then him.

"You should've said something, you know!" Akane humphs.

"W-well...!" Ryouga chuckles.

"I'm very flattered by your interest, Ryouga-kun," Akane hums.

"Um...ah...y-you see...well, you have shown me a lotta kindness since we
met..." Ryouga stammers, then shrugs.

"Yeah, I guess I did," Akane muses. "Anyhow, I gotta run back home. I'm
arranging a little dinner between my dad and Hinako-sensei. Pop by U-chan's
later and we'll talk there. See you later, Ranma-chan!"

"Hai," Ranma and Ryouga chorus as Akane runs off, then the former blinks.
"Akane-chan, your eyes!!"

Akane waves at them, her eyes back to their normal blue, then runs off.
Ranma and Ryouga watch her go, then both breathe out. "Oh, man, I would've
been in for it for sure if she found out about you being P-chan!" the former

"YOU would get in trouble?!!" Ryouga spins on her. "Hey, what about ME,
huh?! When did SHE become a Praetorian Guardian?!!"

"Last night," Ranma sighs. "C'mon, man, let's go to U-chan's. You gotta
get updated on a whole bunch of things."

Ryouga nods as they head off. Unseen by either, Akane stands just out of
sight past the corner, her eyes wide as their words roll through her mind.
*Ryouga...was P-chan?!!* her jaw drops, then silently, she heads home...

* * *

"You're immortal, too?!!"

"Pretty much so," Sayoko smiles as she enjoys a pleasant lunch with Nodoka
and Yumi in a cafe down the street from Furinkan High. "You see, the Seekers
weren't so heartless to give a Jewel Warrior that level of power without making
provisions to ensure that they wouldn't be totally alone when they set off to
work. So, a Jewel can bestow a special 'gift' on someone the Jewel Warrior
elects to be her live-in companion. That gift is the ability to live as long
as the Jewel Warrior herself."

Nodoka blinks, then points to the younger Tachibana. "But if you're her
mother, then that means Yumi-san didn't properly qualify as a Jewel Warrior
because she still had family..."

"Yes, that's true," Yumi nods. "But at the time I received my Jewel, I
was...technically an orphan. Emotionally orphaned, that is, just like
Ranma-chan was when she became a Jewel Warrior."

"What happened?!" Nodoka wonders.

Sayoko shakes her head. "It was a silly thing when you get down to it,"
she sips her tea. "Twenty years ago, Yumi-chan and Chisato-chan were
classmates at a senior high school in Kamakura. Ryou-chan attended a private
girl's school nearby. That Christmas, they elected to spend winter vacation
skiing in Aomori. Now, you have to remember, few women their age did things
like that then...without parental or other male supervision."

"While we were on the slopes, a bad snowstorm came on us," Yumi adds.
"Prior to that, we had crossed paths with a fellow named Kyuusuke Nakamura. So
all four of us had to take shelter in an abandoned cabin on the slopes to wait
out the storm." She shakes her head. "So there we were. Four people, cold,
scared, hungry and wondering if we'd get out of that situation alive. So we
did what we could to keep warm through the night."

"In that situation...things could've happened," Nodoka muses.

"Well, they didn't," Yumi asserts. "By the time the rescue people came
along, we were so cold, we dared not even THINK of taking one item of clothing
off. So nothing happened...that is until we got back to Kamakura. Kyuusuke's
brother Masato was a classmate of mine at school; he was Chisato-chan's
boyfriend at the time. He hears what happens and his imagination decides to
run away with him. And before we knew it, people were spreading all sorts of
crazy rumours about us!"

"Oh, dear," Nodoka covers her lips. "That's awful!"

"The worst was yet to come," Yumi closes her eyes. "Kyuusuke, bless his
soul, was a decent and honourable man. He tried his best to dispel the rumours
before they got back to our families. Sadly, he failed. Chisato's and Ryou's
parents threw them out of their homes and mine were on the verge of doing the
same to me. When he found out, Kyuusuke was so ashamed that he couldn't've
stopped us from being hurt...he committed suicide."

Nodoka winces. "I take it that didn't help matters."

"Not at all," Sayoko gently squeezes her daughter's hand. "I was unsure
as to what happened...but Kyuusuke-kun's action made so many believe that my
daughter's virtue had been...violated. My husband was ready to disown her then
and there. And when Yumi-chan came to me and pleaded that we take Ryou-chan
and Chisato-chan in until things cooled off...my husband overheard it and
he..." she stops, a flash of deep pain in her eyes.

"There's no need to say it," Nodoka shakes her head.

"But...shortly after that...that very night, in fact...we encountered
Vladimir and got our Jewels," Yumi smiles, her hand touching the alien pendant
around her neck. "So in the long run, things weren't desperate. He arranged
through the KGB to get us special bank accounts made in Switzerland and Canada,
then saw us off to Kaemal. We decided to wait a year, then come back for a
quick visit to see if things had cooled down so we could at least reconcile
with our families."

"What happened?" Nodoka urges.

"Well...for Ryou-chan and Chisato-chan, nothing had changed," Yumi closes
her eyes. "For me, Mother was unsure about the whole thing and my younger
sister was heartbroken over it. So when I walked in that day, Father went
ballistic. He attacked me with a bokan stick, so I..." she chuckles.

"Drew her Cat's Claw, poised it over my husband's neck and said 'YOU are
the one who disgraced our family, not me!'" Sayoko completes, then starts to

"I'd hardly call that a laughing matter, Sayoko-san," Nodoka muses.

"Well, it certainly wasn't seen as such nineteen years ago," Sayoko muses.
"Given hindsight, the whole situation was utterly ridiculous. It's amazing
how blown out of proportion things can be if people don't keep a level head."

"Sort of like the way things were between you and your family," Yumi

"True, I suppose," Nodoka hums. "Anyhow, whatever happened to
Nakamura-san's brother?"

Yumi hums. "Chisato-chan confronted Masato at his university one day in
full uniform with the Cat's Claw, then after she trashed his dorm room and
threatening his life, she left him with a cut on his cheek...after telling him
to his face that Kyuusuke's death was HIS fault, not ours. We haven't heard
from him since."

"But I don't believe he's as quick to jump to conclusions like he was
before," Sayoko adds.

Nodoka nods. "So I assume your daughter bestowed you her Jewel's gift,"
she gazes at Sayoko. "Was there anyone else?"

"Just Mai-chan, Yumi's sister," Sayoko reports. "Ryou-chan was kind
enough to do that. We waited until she was old enough to enjoy it; she was ten
at the time Yumi-chan left home. Chisato-chan has kept hers in reserve, just
in case. Now that we have both your daughter and Kuonji-san, we could bring
you along, plus one or two others."

"Akane-chan would best fit that role," Nodoka hums.

"Oh, you don't know?!" Yumi's eyes widen.

"About what?!"

"Akane-chan becoming a Praetorian Guardian."

"Eh?!!" Nodoka gapes.

"I thought Ranma-chan told you!" Yumi chuckles. "I arranged for it
through Vladimir a couple days ago when I discovered that she still had pretty
strong feelings for Akane-chan."

Nodoka shudders, her head spinning at the storm of revelations she just
received. "So..." she shakes her head, then sips her tea, "...if Ranma-chan
gives me her Jewel's gift..."

"Then you and she can make up for all the time you lost when she was gone
training with your husband," Sayoko smiles. "For people like us, who've missed
a lifetime with their children, it's a dream come true. There were times I
missed being with Yumi-chan and Mai-chan, a lot of times. Even with Yumi-chan
busy on Kaemal, I haven't wasted it."

"Do we live on Kaemal?"

"No!!" Yumi shakes her head. "You may have the extended lifespan, but you
don't have any other means to defend yourself, not in a combat situation like
that! There's an...abandoned Seeker base near the galactic core that the Jewel
Warriors in the Milky Way use where all our companions and relatives reside.
We call it Sanctuary. Sort of like a country cottage for all of us."

"Think of it as something like your average salaryman job," Sayoko muses.
"You're minding the home while your relative is out doing her job. She tries
to come back when matters permit it."

"It hasn't been often, unfortunately," Yumi sighs. "We've been just too
busy fighting those things on Kaemal. As soon as we try to steal a couple of
days with Mom and Mai-chan, something new comes up and we've got to go back."

"But there's no urgency to it since we have so much time before us,"
Sayoko muses.

"I...see," Nodoka sighs, folding her hands under her chin. "It's quite
the temptation to say the least of it...but what on Earth do I do with my

"That...is up to you, I'm afraid," Yumi sighs. "I don't envy you that
decision, Nodoka-san. It was easy for us to leave my father behind since he
just wouldn't listen to a thing we said. Chances are good that given how much
energy he's devoted to the fulfilment of his own dreams..."

"Not to mention ignoring the damage he's caused all those years," Sayoko
darkly adds.

"Hai, Mother," Yumi nods, then stares at Nodoka. "Genma might decide that
he will do ANYTHING to see Ranma-chan brought back under his control. Do you
really want that for your child?"

Nodoka sighs...

* * *

"It was a good dinner," Nabiki smiles.

The Tendou sisters stand in the kitchen, ears attuned to the muted
conversation in the living room. "Yeah, it was," Akane hums. "I think Dad's
starting to see all of Hinako-sensei's good points."

"Hai, he is," Kasumi smiles.

"And once things settle down, you can finally get back on Toofuu-sensei's
trail," Nabiki winks at her older sister.

Kasumi flushes. "Nabiki-chan!!"

They laugh, then Akane sighs, gazing out the window, sadness creeping into
her eyes. Nabiki gazes at her, then walks up and places her hand on her
sister's shoulder. "You okay?"

"Uh-huh," Akane nods. <<Not really, Onee-chan.>>

Nabiki blinks, startled to hear Akane's voice deep inside her mind, then
realizes that her sister wanted to keep the conversation muted until Akane had
a chance to convince Kasumi of her future intentions. *Who taught you that
trick, sis?!*

<<Svetlana did,>> Akane smiles at her.

Kasumi steps out of the kitchen at that time. The other sisters breathe
out. *Keep to psi-speech,* Nabiki insists. *What's bugging you, Akane-chan?*

<<How I'll miss this place when I go, I guess,>> Akane muses as she pours
herself some tea. <<I'm going no matter what...but part of me wishes it didn't
have to wind up this way.>>

*Things'll be fine,* Nabiki hums. *Keeping Dad distracted with Hinako's a
perfect idea. It might give him time to consider Ranma's reasons for doing
what she did.*

"You still don't like what happened, do you?" Akane muses.

"Well...I dunno," Nabiki muses. "I suppose if I sat back and thought
about it, maybe Ranma has a right to be angry at some of the things I did. His
dad never taught him any responsibility when it came to interacting with
others, so he didn't know what to do."

"You know, all you had to do was ask him, explain the problem to him...and
I bet he would've gladly helped," Akane gazes at her. "Maybe if you told him
the money from the photos when into paying for food and the property bills, he
would've done anything that was necessary...within some limits."

"Yeah, that's true," Nabiki sighs. "But like it or not, when it comes to
business, you gotta be ruthless at times. There was a market for pictures of
Ranma-chan. The person wanting them was prepared to pay millions for them.
For the sake of all of us, including Ranma-chan, I had to take it."

"True," Akane muses, then chuckles as she sips her tea. "You know,
Onee-chan, you've got the right sort of mentality to be a Praetorian

Silence falls as Nabiki stares wide-eyed at her sister. "You...you mean
it...?" her voice drops to a squeak.

"Hai," Akane smiles. "So...you want to take the Test?"

* * *

"Delicious!" Chisato grins.

"My pleasure," Ukyou nods as she starts collecting plates. "Well, the
real estate agent should be here tomorrow, so we can get things settled, put
some things in storage with Cologne and her family, then move out."

"You'll miss this place, won't you?" Ryou muses.

"Yeah," the chef nods. "You know, even with the problems with Ran-chan
and A-chan and all that, I had some very good times here. It'll be so weird
not working for a living anymore."

"Wandering's the only life I've ever known," Ranma sighs.

"Yeah, I guess that's another reason you couldn't've pushed it past the
friendship stage," Ryouga hums.

"Well, it doesn't matter anymore, thank the gods," Ukyou nods. "We all
have an understanding now."

"Yeah, some understanding," Ranma winks at Ryouga. "I have to submit to
both their sexual urges whenever they get horny!"

Ryouga, Ryou and Chisato laugh as Ukyou swats Ranma with her hand. "You

"And I thought starting a relationship with Chi-chan was hard enough,"
Ryou muses.

Everyone stares at the tall woman, then her lover. "How did that start,
anyway?" Ranma muses. "Neither of you strike me as the type."

"It was a mistake on my part, Ranma-chan," Chisato sighs, her eyes sullen.
"We weren't there more than a year when I became lovers with a native."

"I remember Koloss," Ryou shudders. "He was such a wonderful man. Always
asked us questions about Earth, wishing the day would come that...Kaemal would
advance enough so our races could finally make contact and all that..."

Both frown. "He was killed, wasn't he?" Ranma muses.

"Hai," Chisato shudders. "It had almost come to the point where I was
seriously considering giving him the Gift..."

"They attacked his village that night," Ryou sighs. "We later learned the
attack was arranged to ensure Koloss would die...all to break Chi-chan's
heart. A hundred people died just to ensure one person died, Ranma-chan.
That's what these monsters are like."

The others shudder. "So we vowed never to take native lovers again,"
Chisato sucks in air through her teeth. "But...hey, what the hell, you all got
needs, y'know. So...since there were few guys on Sanctuary to

"We drifted together," Ryou shrugs.

"That's hard," Ukyou hums.

"Hai, U-chan, it is," Ryou sighs. "Especially when all the guys who are
safe on Sanctuary are already taken."

"Yeah, especially Gioo-kun!" Chisato laughs.

"Who's Gioo?" Ranma wonders.

"Gioo Shigozei," Chisato smirks. "You see, there're these twelve girls.
Like us, native girls who got tasked to protect other planets when they became
Jewel Warriors. But, it turns out all of them were in love with Gioo-kun!"

"They made what happened between you two, Akane-chan and Shampoo look
tame, believe it or not," Ryou snorts as Chisato starts to laugh. "Well, one
of them gives Gioo-kun her Jewel's gift, then he gets dragged off to Sanctuary.
And to this day, he's still trying to make up his mind which one he wants!"

The others howl as they imagine twelve girls leaping all over one guy.
"Pity I couldn't've asked him for some advice when it came to my fiancee
problem," Ranma snorts.

"What problem?" a voice wonders as the door opens.

"Oh, Akane-chan, you're just in time!" Ranma snorts as Akane walks up.
"Ryou-chan and Chisato-chan were telling us about this guy on Sanctuary who's
got TWELVE Jewel Warriors all over him trying to be his girlfriend!!"

Akane blinks, then shakes her head. "I don't want to even THINK about
something like that anymore!" she sighs.

"How did things go with your dad?" Ryou wonders.

"Pretty good," Akane nods. "I guess sometime soon, Hinako-sensei will
become the second Mrs. Souun Tendou."

"Your dad deserves it, Akane," Ryouga smiles.

Akane stares at him, then sighs, a neutral look crossing her face. Ryouga
blinks, then shudders as realization dawns. Ranma notices the pensive stares,
then braces herself, understanding what was about to be blown wide open

"Why?" Akane sighs.

"I..." Ryouga stammers, then bows his head. "Akane, I..."

"He said it himself, you know," Ranma muses.

"I can't believe you're defending him!" Akane glares at her.

"Hey, I was the one who cursed him, you know!" Ranma rises, staring Akane
in the eye.

"And you took responsibility for it," Akane nods, then stares at Ryouga.
"But I don't see you doing the same thing!"

"I..." Ryouga sighs, then gazes helplessly at her.

"You have some responsibility here, you know."

Akane and Ryouga stare at Ranma. "What makes you say that?!" the former

"He said it himself," Ranma crosses her arms. "You are the first person
to show Ryouga any real kindness. Yeah, he was P-chan when you and he came
together, but that still doesn't change the fact that YOU, of ALL the people
Ryouga's met over the years, gave him some place he could feel safe. You gave
him a place he could, even for a short while, call home...just like you gave me
a home."

Akane blinks, then feels her cheeks colour. "Ranma..."

"Ryouga, when was the last time you saw your parents?" Ranma stares at the

"Um...about five years ago, I guess," Ryouga muses.

"What about your brother and sister?"

"Who knows," Ryouga shakes his head.

Akane pales. "You mean his whole family...?!"

"Hai," Ranma nods. "When I was travelling, I had Oyaji with me, despite
all the hell that caused me. Ryouga's had NOBODY he could turn to whenever
he's needed companionship! No one at all, Akane!! And even though you just
eliminated his direction problem, the chances are slim to nil that he might
find the rest of his family since THEY suffer that curse, too! Put yourself in
his shoes, Akane. You feel as if the whole world is coming down on your neck
for reasons you can't understand...and someone, a kind person...offers a
helping hand, a warm home, offers herself to be a friend. What would you do?"

Silence falls as Akane considers Ranma's words, then gazes at Ryouga. A
year ago, she had taken in a wandering piglet she had found in a rainstorm. It
was love at first sight admittedly. And that piglet gave love back, listened
to her problems, offered her companionship whenever she needed a special
friend. Even more so, P-chan...Ryouga...didn't invade her privacy too much.
Every time she undressed, he either turned away or was overwhelmed by seeing
her without anything covering her. She doubted he had told anyone her secrets,
though it was obvious he may have used what he heard to continue prosecuting
his vendetta against Ranma.

"You really did...care for me, did you?" she hums.

Ryouga blinks, then sighs. "Hai."

Akane shakes her head, then stares at Ranma. "I'm sorry I didn't take
time to listen to you."

"Hey, it's okay," Ranma shrugs.

"But you still should've told me!!" Akane growls.

"I tried, believe it or not," Ranma crosses her arms. "Even with my
promise, I tried so many times to clue you in. All I got for it was your
damned hammer and a 'Don't pick on P-chan!!'"

"Hai, that's true," Akane blushes, then stares at Ryouga. "Now, will you
two FINALLY stop fighting each other?!"

"Hey, I ain't THAT crazy!" Ryouga shrugs.

Everyone laughs...just as a flash of light illuminates the door outside.
They turn as the door opens to reveal Nabiki. "Can I get something to eat,
please!" she calls out.

"Nabiki, you too...?!" Ukyou's jaw drops.

"Hai," the now golden-eyed Nabiki smiles, feeling the collar of her shirt.
While Akane had chosen red as her colour, the middle Tendou daughter had
chosen a bronze-coppery colour which matched the shade of an American penny.

"How was the Test?" Akane muses.

"Well, Vladimir said to me that my solution to the problem was...unique,"
Nabiki muses. "But considering that Tethis was about to kill Zeus' future
daughter-in-law, making Perseus take Andromeda's place would've been poetic
justice, not only for the people of Joppa, but the people of Perseus' home

"You mean you had Zeus fight the Kraken?!" Ranma gapes; Akane had told her
and Ukyou about the Test right after the youngest Tendou had become a
Praetorian Guardian.

"Hai," Nabiki nods, then feels a stab of guilt rush through her as she
remembers her conversations with Akane. "Ranma, I..."

Ranma blinks, then smiles. "Forget it, Nabiki."

She heads off. Nabiki blinks, then stares at her sister. Akane winks.
"Like I said...all you had to do was ask."

Nabiki flushes as everyone laughs...

* * *


Genma howls in shock as Happousai's voice thunders through his
sleep-dulled mind, bolting up to prostrate himself before the grand master.
"Please, please, Master, I'll do anything for you! Please don't hurt me,
please don't hurt me!!"

"Shaddup!!!" Happousai snaps, still scarred from Ranma's mega-charged
mouko takaibisha and sopping wet from his unwanted dip into the Pacific Ocean.
Eyes ablaze, he grabs Genma by his gi top and glares into his eyes. "Are
there things you haven't told me about my student yet, boy?!!"

"Wh-what things...?!" Genma stammers.

"Things like forming a chi field around herself to keep my hands away from
her virgin, voluptuous body, much less giving his chi attacks so much power
that I was shot five hundred kilometres away by one blast?!" Happousai growls.


"So...you were trying to TRICK me into thinking Ranma was inferior to your
master, eh?!" Happousai grumbles, twirling his pipe. "Probably hoping your
boy might turn around and really hurt your master, eh?! You little worm, did
you honestly think you were going to get away with it?!"

"Um...well, you see...!"


Happousai blinks, then turns, staring neutrally at Nodoka. Sayoko and
Yumi stand behind her. "What is it?"

"What are you doing in my house, Happousai?" Nodoka gently thumbs her

Happousai snarls. "I am trying to get my student back!!! Whattaya think
I'm doing?!"

"Student?" Nodoka blinks, then gazes at the younger Tachibana. "Oh, you
must mean Ranma. Yumi-san, was there anything in the agreement stipulating
that Ranma would still practice Musabetsu Kakutou-ryuu when she became your
adopted sister?"

"Actually, no," Yumi admits, "...but since my family doesn't acknowledge
any links to a school created by a pervert like this so-called 'master,' then
whatever links Ranma may have to Genma's school were dissolved when she became
my sister."

"***WHAT?!?!?!***" Happousai and Genma bellow.

"Very well, then," Nodoka nods. "Happousai, do not come to this house
again. You do not HAVE a student anymore."

The aged master growls. "You have no right...!!"

"We have every right to refuse a slime like you," Yumi walks around
Nodoka. "You do nothing save cause trouble and laugh whenever your 'students'
get into trouble whenever they try to stop you. It's no wonder Ranma-chan
doesn't respect you, Happousai...if she EVER did. She learned a lot more from
her great-grandmother-by-blood...and despite what happened before Ranma-chan
and Shampoo-chan became blood-kin, Cologne'll ALWAYS have Ranma-chan's respect.
Can you honestly look at yourself in the mirror and say the same
thing...'Master?'" she barbs the word with an ocean of contempt.

Genma grabs Yumi by her shirt collar. "Are you out of your mind?!!" he
pleads, eyes wide with panic. "Do you have any concept of what the Master will
do to you if you resist him?!!"

Yumi stares at him, smiling. "You don't get it, do you? Ranma-chan is
still in a life-threatening situation because of your master," she leans into
his face. "The deal still stands."

With that, she shoves Genma away, causing him to collapse on Happousai.
The aged master catches the larger man with his pipe, then sends him into a
wall before walking over to glare into his student's spiralling eyes. "What
'deal' is this lady talking about, Genma?!" he growls. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE

"I...I...I...!" Genma moans, then collapses on the floor.

Happousai shudders, then turns. "So why don't you...eh?!!"

There is no sign of Yumi, Sayoko or Nodoka. "Where'd they go?!!" the aged
master blinks, then muttering something under his breath, grabs Genma and
drags him out of the Saotome home. "C'mon, you!! We're going to find Souun
and have a little chat!"

As soon as the door closes behind them, a cloaking field vapours,
revealing Yumi, her mother and Nodoka. "He doesn't seem very pleased, does
he?" Sayoko muses.

"No, he doesn't," Nodoka sighs. "And that always leads to trouble."

With that, she heads for the phone. "What are you doing?" Yumi wonders.

"I'm warning Souun about this," Nodoka picks up the receiver. "Even
though he is that freak's student, he doesn't have to put up to this, much less
his daughters."

The Tachibanas nod...

* * *

"So now that we have a place where we can relax and rest up between
jobs...not to mention a power we can use to bring those closest to us along for
the ride...what now?" Ranma muses.

Everyone relaxes in U-chan's. "We have to decide who else comes with us,"
Ryou muses. "Nodoka is automatically included since she deserves a chance to
reunite with her child. That's one. Who else should we bring?"

"Kasumi?" Akane muses.

Nabiki hums. "I dunno, sis. I mean, if we use the Nyu-che-zuu's
mudspring to create clones of you and me, Kasumi will still have a family to
take care of...until she finally gets the nerve to solidify things between her
and Toofuu-sensei."

"But she could potentially sense something was wrong if the clones act any
differently than the real person," Chisato warns. "It could still lead to
heartbreak, especially if your dad's as emotional as Ranma-chan's told us he
can be."

"True...but I don't think Kasumi deserves to be condemned for who knows
how long minding our residence on Sanctuary while we're off fighting on
Kaemal," Nabiki shakes her head. "She's already ruined her life enough for us,
Chisato-chan. I say let her have her life back."

"She's got a point," Ranma nods. "Believe me, I know what it means to
totally subvert one's whole life to a single purpose. It hurts in one way or
another sooner or later."

Ukyou nods. "Well, we should make her a probable, then," Akane hums, then
stares at Ryouga. "What about you?"

"M-m-me?!" the wanderer jolts, then feels his cheeks heat. "Um...ah,

The women laugh. "Baka, and I thought *I* had terminal foot-in-mouth
disease?!" Ranma slaps Ryouga in the back.

The laughter increases. "Thanks," Ryouga snorts, then shakes his head.
"No, I don't want it."

"You sure?" Chisato muses.

"Yeah, I'm sure," Ryouga nods. "All this 'gift' offers is a very long
lifespan. I'd go stir-crazy on Sanctuary not being able to do anything.
Personally, I'd prefer to be with you on Kaemal fighting these monsters...but
after my experience as P-chan, I don't cherish the idea of being forced through
what Ranma's gone through. As for the other way...naah, that's not me."

"Ryouga?" Ranma gazes at him.

He smiles at her. "All I want to do now is find my family. You asking
about them earlier got me to thinking, Ranma. I want my family back now."

The women nod. "Well, maybe I can prepare something for you before we go
just in case," Akane muses.

The phone rings. "U-chan's Okonomiyaki," Ukyou answers it, then blinks.
"What is it, Mrs. Saotome...WHAT?!?!" she gasps. "Oh, shit, no...!!"

"What is it?!" Ryou demands.

"We'll be there," Ukyou nods, then hangs up before facing the others.
"Happousai's gone ballistic. He's on his way to the Tendous right now dragging
Genma along for the ride. Instant he sees Hinako all grown-up full-time, he's
gonna know someone's been messing around with things he's been involved

The others sigh. "Let's go," Akane rises...

* * *


Happousai stares wide-eyed at a grown-up Hinako Ninomura, now relaxing
beside Souun. While the Tendou patriarch is trembling, prepared to do anything
to please the aged master, the teacher is not impressed. "What does it look
like, Happousai?" she muses. "I am enjoying a pleasurable evening with a good
friend. Now, kindly take that child-abusing student of yours off the property
and don't come back...EVER!!!!"

Happousai shudders, his chi aura flaring as this revelation sinks home.
Someone was messing around with ALL his students, giving them the chance to
break away from his influence and chart their own lives. Who DARED do that to
him? HE is the master around here...he and he ALONE!! "Souun...!!"

"Wh-what is it, M-master...?" Souun stammers.

"Enough, Souun-kun," Hinako gazes at him. "There's no need for you to bow
to this lech anymore!"

"WHAT?!?!?!" Happousai howls.

"Hinako-chan, are you mad?!" Souun spins on her. "If you defy the Master,
we're ALL doomed!!!"

"Who says he's MY master?!" Hinako snorts.


"What is it?!" Hinako glares contemptuously at Happousai.

"Is that the way to speak to your elders?!" Happousai hums, taking a
threatening step towards her. "Is that the way you thank me for what I did for

"'THANK YOU?!?!'" Hinako shrills. "Oh, yes, I can thank you, alright, you
old freak!! Thank you for RUINING my whole life, forcing me to be a little
girl long after my friends grew up and got on with their lives!! Thank you for
making me ENJOY absorbing people's chi energy!! All THAT was because you
needed someone to cover for your sorry ass when you were panty raiding one
day!!!" She points accusingly at him. "It's no wonder Ranma-kun left that
twit behind you!! Some influence YOU were; he just turned around and took it
out on his son!! I won't be the LEAST bit surprised if when this is all over,
the ART itself dies! Who wants to practice it when it was created by an
honourless FOOL like you?!"

"***WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?!?!***" Happousai's battle aura flares.

A brick smashes him down from behind! Happousai shudders, then spins
around to see Ranma standing before the koi pond, arms crossed, a confident
smile on her face. Her Jewel was tucked under her tunic. "You bothering these
people, Jiji?!" she muses.

"There you are!!!" Happousai laughs, bounding out to lunge at her. "Come
to your master's arms...!"

Ranma dodges left, allowing Happousai to drop into the pond. "No, thank
you," she saunters over to a clear space by the dojo's entrance. "Besides,
you're not my master anymore, Jiji...not that you ever were...!"

Genma appears behind her. "What are you doing, boy...?!!"

*WHACK!!!!* The Saotome patriarch drops to the ground thanks to Ukyou's
combat spatula. "She's not your boy anymore, old man!!" the chef snorts.

By then, Happousai has emerged from the pool, shuddering with indignant
rage as chi leaks from every point on his body. "Boy, you will be taught some
RESPECT!!!!" he howls as his battle aura balloons to the size of the whole
Tendou home!

Ranma yawns as she stares contemptuously at the aged master. "Is that
meant to scare me?" she muses, turning away.

Roaring, Happousai lunges at her...and smashes into Ranma's forcefield!
He drops to the ground, his eyes spiralling as Ranma walks away, none the worse
for wear. "Brother, you are so boring these days, Jiji," she stares at her
fingernails. "I can't believe I actually allowed you to get away with all you
did! Hey, U-chan, do you think I should start colouring my fingernails?!"

Ukyou blinks. "Suit yourself, Ran-chan!" she shrugs. "You look good in
any colour!"

Happousai staggers to his feet, then spins on the chef. "Why don't you
come to me, pretty...?!" he lunges...

...and smacks right into her forcefield! "What was that, anyway?" Ukyou
looks confusedly around as the aged master again eats dirt. "A mosquito?! We
near a swamp or something?!"

"Search me!" Ranma snorts.

"We in time for the barbecue?" Nabiki wonders.

Ranma beams as Nabiki, Akane, Ryou, Chisato, Yumi, Sayoko and Nodoka step
onto the property. "Oh, we have guests!" Kasumi then appears beside Souun. "I
better get some tea ready."

She heads into the kitchen. "Ah, Akane-chan, my love, come to your
master's arms...!" Happousai bounds at the youngest Tendou...

...and smacks right into HER forcefield!! "A piece of paper!" Akane looks
confusedly around. "Somebody actually threw a piece of paper on top of

[With apologies to Bill Cosby!...F.H.]

Happousai moans. "What's goin' on here...?" he sways to his feet, then
leaps. "Ah, Nabiki-chan...!!"

Once again, he eats dirt. "Brother, this dork just doesn't get a clue,
does he?" Nabiki muses.

Akane notices something. "Your eyes, Nabiki!" she hisses.

Nabiki blinks, then jerking on realizing that someone could see her and
probably deduce what is happening, closes her eyes for a second as she restores
them to their normal brown. Happousai is now trying to advance on Yumi. "Ah,
there you are, my dear..." he slurs. "Now, why don't you tell...me what deal
you...made with that idiot Genma there...?"

He smacks into her forcefield, then sinks to the ground. "Well, the deal
is quite simple, actually," Yumi sighs. "You see, if anyone comes around and
threatens Ranma-chan's life for any reason, then Genma surrenders all legal
custody of his child to my family and she becomes my sister. Quite simple,

Hearing that, Happousai's eyes widen. "***WHAT?!?!?!***" he bolts to his
feet, then spins on the passed out Genma. "***YOU IDIOT!!!! HOW DARE YOU SIGN

Leaping over, the aged master flips Genma into the koi pond! As soon as
the panda emerges from the waters, Happousai is all over him, jabbing him at
various shiatsu points, including one painful place on the back. As soon as
the Cat's Tongue takes effect, Happousai bounds to the porch, grabbing a cup of
tea from the serving Kasumi was laying out, then splashes the hot liquid on
the panda's snout. Genma howls with pain as he leaps out of the pool, making a
four-point landing near Ranma! OUCH!!!! he signs, then flips around. THAT

"So what?!!" Happousai leaps over to glare into the panda's eyes. "What's
this about you signing MY student away to this lady here whenever Ranma gets
into trouble?!!"


"No 'buts,' you!!!" Happousai snaps. "Now fix it!!!"

He tosses Genma at Ranma. The Jewel Warrior dodges the flying beast,
allowing Genma to smash head-first into a tree! Genma moans, then standing,
spins around to glare Ranma in the eye. WELL, BOY?! he signs. DO

Ranma blinks, then stares at Ukyou. "Hey, U-chan, get a load of this
panda here!!" she thumbs. "Ain't it cool that it can draw on signs and all

"Shouldn't pandas be in the zoo?!" Ukyou muses. "After all, they are an
endangered species, you know!"

"True," Ranma muses. "Hey, 'Biki, you think we aughta call the animal
control people and get this fella into a cage?!"

"Good idea," Nabiki nods. "I'll go call them now."

Genma lunges over to place himself in Nabiki's path. HEY, WHO SAID

Akane concentrates on a large tree branch over the panda's path. The wood
snaps, the branch dropping down to belt Genma in the skull! As the beast
collapses, Nabiki walks around it. "Maybe I should call a circus instead," she
muses aloud.

"Nabiki, you can't be serious!!!" Souun wails.

Nabiki ignores her father as she heads inside and upstairs. The Tendou
patriarch shudders, then he lunges at Ranma. "***RANMA, HOW DARE YOU BRING
DISHARMONY ONTO THIS HOUSE?!?!?!***" he screams, his demon-head filling the

Ranma yawns, staying perfectly still as Souun crashes into her forcefield,
then collapses to the ground, the special effects fading as quickly as they
appeared! Happousai shudders, then lunges over to kick Genma on his side.

Genma moans, then staggers over to Ranma. BOY, THIS HAS GONE ON FAR
ENOUGH!! he signs, glaring into the redhead's eyes. NOW CUT THIS OUT AND

Ranma stares at him, then looks away. "What makes you think you have the
right to tell me what to do?"


Ranma's eyes fall on him, a sullen rage burning deep within those blue
orbs that causes Genma to quiver, the sign dropping from his paws. Ranma
closes her eyes, then looks away.

"I have no father."

A wind whips through the yard as Genma stares blankly at the red-haired
woman before him, the finality of her statement hitting home like a torpedo.
Beside him, a slack-jawed Souun stares at Ranma, eyes wide.
"Ranma...y-you...y-you can't mean that...!"

Ranma sighs, then stares at the Tendou patriarch. "I do this because I
care enough for YOUR family's honour to ensure that never again are you or your
children plagued by problems your 'friend' never had the courage to deal with
himself," she declares. "Good-bye, Souun Tendou. We will never meet again in
this lifetime."

With that, she bounds over the fence and disappears. Genma watches her
go, then staggers over to Nodoka. DO SOMETHING, DEAR!! he signs. WHAT'S GOT

Nodoka sighs, then looks away. "And who are you to make such demands of
me concerning Ranma?!"


Nodoka shudders, then stares at him. "I have no son."


"My husband killed my son."


"And because of that, my husband is dead to me."

Genma stops, staring blankly at Nodoka as she turns away, taking the
wrapped bundle in her arms and unravelling it. "You are no longer a member of
my family, Genma. As my *daughter* just so declared to Souun...we will never
meet again in this lifetime."

The bundle opens all the way, allowing the shattered bits of the Saotome
honour sword and its scabbard to tumble onto the ground at her feet. Nodoka
then plants her foot on the haft, forcing it into the soft earth. "This sword
will no longer be the symbol of the Saotome family," she declares. "The dreams
it represents are now dust. The Saotome School is no more. People will never
again hear the name Saotome concerning either myself or Ranma."

With that, she walks out the front gate. Genma remains frozen in place as
Sayoko follows Nodoka. Yumi sighs, then walks up to him. "I hope that from
this day forward, every time you hear your stomach grumble, you'll curse that
sound for the misery it brought unto others...and now has been heaped ten-fold
on you. Let's go, girls. Our job here's done."

"Hai," Ryou and Chisato chime as they walk off the property.

Genma blinks, then collapses on his forepaws as a shadow then falls over
him. "I wouldn't've actually minded it if I married Ranma," Akane sighs. "But
you had to drag in all those other people you used and abused all those years.
You had to ruin so many lives just to make your 'man above men' to impress
Nodoka! Well, I'll tell you this, Genma!! I'd rather love Ranma as a WOMAN
than help you fulfil your sick dreams!!! ***NOW GET OFF THIS PROPERTY AND

A chi-charged Mallet-sama appears in her hands as she drops it HARD onto
the panda's skull, the shockwave from the blow rocking Nerima to its
foundations!! A pained moan escapes Genma's lips as Akane draws back, the
mallet vanishing as she walks away from him. <<Don't you think that was a
little hard, A-chan?!>> Ukyou wonders.

<<Nope,>> Akane winks at her. <<I charged it enough to blow out every
higher brain cell he's got in his mind. Come first thing tomorrow morning,
he'll be nothing more than a simple panda.>>

<<Too bad,>> Ukyou snorts.

"How dare you...?!"

They turn to Happousai, who now glares at them, his fists quaking. "You,
too, old man!" Akane thumbs behind her. "You've long outworn your welcome
here!! Git!!!"

Indignantly roaring, he lunges. Akane remains in place as Happousai comes
into range, then both her hands slam into the sides of his skull. His skin
automatically ignites as Akane applies the pressure, keeping him frozen in
place. Happousai's pained scream nearly shatters every window within a
kilometre as chi explodes, bursting harmlessly into space as Akane
telekinetically directs it away from inhabited areas. Finally, the screams
fade as the fire slowly winks out, leaving behind a burned husk that harmlessly
falls away from Akane's hands.

Akane sighs, then notices her father staring slack-jawed at him.
"Akane...?" Souun gasps.

"Why couldn't you've done something about this idiot?!" Akane wonders as
she heads towards the house, the wail of sirens filling the night sky...

* * *

Ranma, Nodoka, Ukyou, the Tachibanas, Ryou and Chisato watch from the
shadows of a nearby alley as the zoo keepers drag Genma off the Tendou property
for his final journey to the Tokyo Zoo. The ambulance had left sometime
before with Happousai for the local hospital. According to one of the
paramedics, the aged master had less than a three percent chance of survival.
"He got so pissed that he lost track of his chi levels when he was trying to
grab onto us," Ukyou muses. "Man, I'll give A-chan's friend this; when she
sets out to punish somebody, she don't kid around."

"True," Ranma muses, then feels her mother's hand on her shoulders.

"About a lot of things," Nodoka sighs, then warmly embraces Ranma. "At
least we ensured no one can be hurt by Genma again. That's more than enough
for me."

"There must be more to that, Nodoka-san," Sayoko hums.

"Not really, Sayoko-san," Nodoka admits. "It's been over ten years since
I last saw him. Over time, the ache I felt at his not being there just faded
to the point where I wondered why I even cared. That contract I signed...in
the end really meant nothing other than to ensure my child came back to me.
And she did."

Ranma smiles. "Well, now we can really get ready to go."

"Hai," Nodoka muses.

"Ranma-chan, aren't you forgetting something?" Yumi hums.

Ranma blinks, then nods. "Right!"

She turns around, cupping her hands around her Jewel. The alien artifact
glows as a ball of energy forms between her palms. She then holds it out
before Nodoka. Her mother holds out her hands under Ranma's as the energy is
allowed to flow into her. Nodoka gasps as her body glows for a brief second,
then breathes out as she stumbles into Ranma's embrace. "I'm home, Mom," the
Jewel Warrior sniffs, at last one with her family.

"Welcome home, Dear," Nodoka squeezes her eyes shut, unable and unwilling
to dam her own tears. "Welcome home..."

*** The End...For Now ***

**** **** ****
WRITER'S NOTE: I'm ending this story at this point due to lack of interest,
real life and loads of other fanfic projects. It doesn't mean, however, that
if those of you out there who just might be tempted to continue it can't. For
those who would be tempted to continue this storyline, contact me at
<fherriot@yahoo.com> or <fherriot@hotmail.com> for more information...F.H.
**** **** ****