|Ah! My Ranma One Half!
Author: Ozzallos PM
The battle with Saffron causes an instabiity in the Yggradsil, and with it, some minor changes to Ranma's file, namely an upgrade to that of Goddess of Luck First Class! Ranma copes, changes and gets into trouble. 6 parts eventially.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Drama - Chapters: 5 - Words: 76,900 - Reviews: 329 - Favs: 644 - Follows: 513 - Updated: 06-03-06 - Published: 09-10-05 - id: 2574629
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Oh My Ranma ½!
The Temporary Goddess
It was late, and Skuld was bored. Not just bored, excruciatingly bored. It was one thing to stalk the bowls of the Yggradsil, sending errant systems bugs to their certain doom with the gratifying thud of her hammer. It was, however, quite another to defrag a portion of Creations largest super computer, whose storage capacity stretched into, well, eternity. The diminutive teenage girl yawned sleepily. Sure, she realized that reality had to be kept running smoothly and long access times were not exactly desirable toward that function, but what she really needed right now was ...An ice cream Sunday. Yeaaaah... With hot fudge. AND cherries! Skuld's daydream was just taking shape when-
"Surface Intercept. Anomaly detected."
The dark-haired goddess whipped around at the announcement, studying the transparent display in front of her. Few things would have separated Skuld from her ice cream daydream, but any anomaly in the Yggradsil couldn't be taken lightly and she was, after all, a debugger. She typed a few keys on the on the floating keyboard. Mortal realm, Skuld noted as the data poured out in divinities script.
Skuld's eyebrow furrowed as she leaned forward in the stylish floating chair. "Trace anomaly."
"Co ordinance 301187.666499/A661.00 Locale, Jusendo, China," her terminal complied.
China, again! Skuld gripped her hammer tightly. She loved debugging as much as the next goddess- well, probably MORE than the next goddess -but she was getting tired of stomping bugs in THAT part of the Yggradsil! I might have to petition for a serious upgrade to that section sooner or later, Skuld thought. Probably nothing a bit more RAM wouldn't fix.
The terminal thought for a moment, isolating the source of her annoyance. "Abnormal power spikes recorded, physical location junction 51866311-2301b, memory access point 100056111g000 x 00199991111000."
Skuld hefted her Hammer with renewed enthusiasm. It was bug stomping time! "Reroute function and isolate the access point from the rest of the system!" Bring em on!
"Complying." Even as the as the young goddess turned toward the door, the entire room was bathed in a deadly red glow. Skuld froze.
"WARNING! Reality point 301187.666499 /A661.00 unstable! Critical failures detected at junctions -2301c, d,e,f,g...," She listened to the growing litany of critical failures with ever widening eyes "...Data corruption detected at memory access points..."
Skuld burst out into the hallway with only one thing on her mind. "BELLLDAAAANNNDYYYYY!"
Two combatants raged in the maelstrom of supercharged Ki and energy, locked in an epic battle that would determine life and death. One of those combatants was a god, with a destiny to rule an entire civilization. The other was mortal, whose first duty as a martial artist was to protect those incapable protecting themselves. Today, one of them was going to die. Every element came to witness this battle as the fighters danced within a lethal typhoon. Earth crumbled. Fire raged. Wind ripped and water boiled. And unbeknownst to either, reality began to buckle under the weight of their battle. But both fighters were too broken, bloodied and spent to even notice anything beyond their dance of death, focusing on the final blow.
The god died.
And from the calming tempest and rain emerged arguably one of the greatest martial artists the world would ever know; one of his hopes literally eraining down around him while the other was cradled in his arms, alive against all odds.
"You really screwed it up this time, didncha, squirt!" A lithe, white haired woman complained as she frantically blasted another half dozen bugs from existance.
"I told you this wasn't my fault, Urd!" Skuld complained. "And be careful where you aim!"
Belldandy touched another with her staff, causing the wayward bug to poof in a mildly explosive manner. She winced as the bugs reminded her too much of Earth's furry little rabbits. Mutated, six legged rabbits beat with an ugly stick, but such attributes didn't make the task any easier. "Of course it wasn't your fault. Urd, be nice!"
Urd was just about to retort when the computer cut in, "Power returning to nominal levels."
Skuld was stopped mid-swing. She really didn't want to even ask the next question. "System integrity report?"
Again, the Yggradsil churned for a moment. "Extensive file corruption detected in memory access point 100056111g000 x 00199991111000. Invalid partition size. Invalid files. Suggest running Divinity Disk Doctor for emergency data recovery."
The youngest goddess weary sighed. She was really beginning to hate this section of the Yggradsil.
The word seemed to follow the pigtailed boy's footsteps like some obnoxious force of nature, whipping up trouble and chaos with wherever and whomever he went. That same word had done wonders for his relationships. Even after being officially betrothed to one another, the glow had only lasted a week before the reality that surrounded Ranma reasserted itself. Homicidal fiancées. Extorting sister in-laws. Conniving fathers. And of course, Mallet-queen herself, which was why he was now on the roof at night instead a nice cozy futon or something. It was in these quite moments that Ranma would take an introspective look at himself and admit that he wasn't always the easiest person to get along with. He was socially inept. He incited trouble at times. Could be rude. A general pain. But a mallet a day? If not that, a burning "die, Ranma, die!" attitude. Fun stuff, he mentally snorted. They were gonna have to try something different if this was gonna work out at all.
"Dinner's Ready, Ranma!"
Kasumi calling up to him. Sure. Why not? It's not like I'm going to turn down her cooking or anything, Ranma thought. After all, don't know when Akane will take a shot at the kitchen next.
Skuld turned from her terminal and glared menacingly at her accuser. Of course, Skuld just couldn't project a burning stare of intimidation, so she settled on a something close to a comical sneer instead. "I already told--"
"Ok, ok. It's not your fault. What do we have left from that partition?"
Slightly mollified, Skuld turned back to the transparent terminal. "Eliminating most of the bugs was easy. It was the data reconstruction that was harder." Urd nodded and she continued, "We were able to repair 99 of the damage, but the remains of two files in particular have me worried."
Urd was leaned in closer. "What sort of files are we talking about?" With the kid on repairs, she had been pulling sysadmin lately and this was potentially need to know information.
"Well, there were two entities in the zone of corrupted data at the time," Skuld explained, pulling up what remained of the files. "From what I can tell, the power spikes were cause by a battle between these two, one mortal and one deity." Urd's eyebrow arched slightly. "Unfortunately the file associations are so mixed up that most of the data is missing on both. Heck, I was lucky to get the name of just one of them!"
"Fighting one of us?" Urd breathed incredulously. "Somebody was looking for a swift kick in the--"
"AHEM!" Skuld nudged her sister impatiently. "The reconstructed data says one of those files has a terminal header."
"Ow." Urd frowned. A fancy way of saying 'dead as a doornail.'
Skuld shook her head. "Listen Urd, we know that the entity that left the area is alive. The Yggradsil probably buffered it to emergency holding until we could perform a recovery, but that will eventually be overwritten. What we don't know is his position, status or anything else. He's probably wandering around the system as we speak unchecked!"
Even her older sister had to admit that was a bit troubling. "How about the other one?"
"Don't know." Urd stated simply. "Most of the information I have was pieced together from the remains of these two files. Heck, I'm not even sure what information came from where..."
"Ok, let's focus on what we DO know."
Skuld shrugged, "Ok, the entity who walked away from Phoenix Mountain is named Ranma Saotome. The other fighter is unknown." Urd nodded, prompting her to continue. "I think this data is indicating that the Deity was a Class 1 Category 1, we just don't know which it was or the details."
"Ranma Saotome... Now where have I heard that name before?" Urd wondered aloud. "Can you pull his--" Skuld pointed at the screen of jumbled data. "...file. oh. right." Then it hit her. "HA! I think the answer is staring us right in the face kid!" Skuld looked confused. "Face it. We're talking about a mortal who picked a fight with one of us. Who do you think is gonna win?"
Skuld's eyes lit up suddenly. "I see! So the deity is..."
"Ranma Saotome, of course." Urd proclaimed with smug satisfaction. "That's why I recognize the name. Probably an old drinking buddy of mine or something!"
"So all I have to do is combine the data we have into one file and let Divinity Disk Doctor rebuild it!" the sister concluded.
"Exactly." Urd confirmed. "Once triple-D has enough data, it should be able to recover the details. We'll just fill in any blanks once we restore his status to the system."
"Sometimes you're smarter than you look, onee-chan!"
"GRRRRRWHATDIDYOUSAY?" the youngest of the Tendo sister raged.
Ranma backed away from the table. He knew what was coming. If the weatherman had a forecast for the day, it would read partly cloudy, a high of fifty with a ninety percent chance of mallets. "Come on, Akane! It was a compliment!"
"NOT SO MUCH OF A TOMBOY STILL IMPLIES..." She took a menacing step forward, "...THAT I'M A TOMBOY!" With that, Ranma watched her bring a familiar shape to bear on him. Make that a 100 chance, he revised mentally. Damn weathermen never get it right. Even if he hadn't seen the mallet, all the tell tail signs were there. Her two older sisters, Kasumi and Nabiki had already cleared the strike zone, while his father Genma Saotome and the Tendo's father, Soun were pulling the food away from the table. The only question now might as well have been which side of his face he should let her mallet.
The right side, as it turned out. He also noted her aim was getting better. Normally it was a parabolic arc that would take him well outside the neighborhood, which was a blessing in itself. Now she was actually targeting things out of spite. What, did she practice in her spare time? And on who? The very wet female Ranma flipped her red ponytail off her shoulder and was about ready to step out of the koi pond when time seemed to slow down to a crawl. She watched even as the Tendo household ground to a halt, color draining away from the world.
"Maybe she hit me harder than I thought..."
"Let triple D have a crack at it." Urd directed from her younger sister's shoulder.
"Loading up." Skuld watched as the progress bar from the display in front of her crept from left to right, the utility scanning every bit of data it had been fed for errors while correcting what it could. Two minutes later, Divinity Disk Doctor prompted them with an intact file, if not entirely complete.
Area of Influence: Error
Transport Medium: Not Found
Weapon: Not Found
The tan complexion of the older sister's face reflected her annoyance. "That's a whole lot of unknowns. We can't reinstate a file like that. It's not even linked to Ranma yet."
Skuld nodded, "But at least we have an intact file. This part will be child's play compared to the recovery." Urd cocked her head inquisitively. "Terminal! Synchronize File: Ranma Saotome. Last known location: 301187.666499/A661.00!"
Data flowed across her screen. "Found. 2118513.122200/C883.01 Locale, Nerima, Tokyo, Japan."
"Yes!" Skuld cheered excitedly. "Terminal, real-time update!"
Area of Influence: Error
Transport Medium: Water
Urd nodded. "Well that's a bit better. You said the corrupted data indicated she's a class 1, Category 1?"
"I think so." Skuld nodded and typed the relevant information in. "Limited or Unlimited?"
Urd concentrated for a moment on the name before her. So familiar... "Let's just go with unlimited for now." Skuld cocked her head in silent question. "It's simple kid. First, you normally don't go one-one without going all the way. It's almost a gimmie. Second, we don't want to go offend a one-one by giving her a lesser status. If she is limited, we can always go back and bust her down later."
Again, Skuld nodded. Made sense to her, so she typed in the relevant data. "How about the rest? The file can't be uploaded without them..."
Again, Urd look minorly annoyed at having to be bothered with inconsequential details. "Sigh... Letsee, Area of Influence..." And evil grin spread across her face. "Sex!"
Skuld shot her a glare. "Seriously now!"
"Ok, ok... Geez, no fun at all." Urd rolled her eyes. "How about Luck for now. As in, she's lucky we saved her personnel file." Skuld typed it in. "Affiliation...US!" Her sister shot another glance up at her. "HEY! She is LUCKY after all, right?" Skuld sighed and continued. "No weapon? What fun is that?" The elder sister rolled the thought over in her head a bit. "Let's say... Um, uh.. Staves. Like it matters at this point." Skuld put the finishing touches on the file.
Area of Influence: Luck
Transport Medium: Water
Recovery mode. Commit changes: Y/N?
"Looks good, kid!" Urd patted her sister on the back. "Hit her!"
And with one simple keystroke, Skuld blasted the Daylights out of one Ranma Saotome.
Nabiki walked up behind her, mirth evident on her face. "Honestly, Akane. How many times can you expect to hit the boy before something up there fina--"
Both sisters were blown ten feet back in a deafening roar as a shaft of divine light impaled the young martial artist from on high. Even as the two recovered from the stunning event, the pig-tailed girl was yanked from her station and pulled from the ground, muscles hyper-extending, body rigid. Her head was lift skyward, dilated eyes now registering more than just the holy pillar she was now trapped in. The beam pulsed and fresh points of light radiated from Ranma's face. Two of the points instantly formed blue triangles beneath her eyes, while the other concentrated on her forehead, etching two tight vertical ovals into a figure-eight. Gravity began to lose it tenuous hold on the pond water below, causing sparkling mist to spiral and cascade around Ranma's transformation.
Another pulse of light hit her, and the traditional Chinese garb she had been wearing melted into something akin to a flowing body wrap accompanied by matching arm wraps and fingerless glovers while loose silken streamers flowed around her as if they had a mind of their own. The transformation continued and the pigtail unbound itself, allowing her flowing red hair to grow several lengths before returning to it's previous binding. It too wrapping around her person, flowing to the super natural breeze. Finally, the twin ovals etched upon her forehead merged into one tight vertical eye, blazing in supernatural glory into the sky before fading with the pillar itself.
Peace flowed back across the Tendo Dojo once more.
The entire household had now emptied itself into the courtyard, only to find themselves gaping at an impossible sight-- an ethereal red headed beauty, feet drifting inches above the koi pond and bathing the general vicinity in a soft glowing aura. Her head rested on her shoulder as if she had drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
The Tendo's gaped. Genma's eyes stared in disbelief. Any and all logic had been washed from their brains as they stared at what had only moments ago been a simple pig-tailed girl.
"R-R-Ranma?" Akane stuttered, as one was likely to do after witnessing such an event. Ranma barely stirred at the sound of her name. "W-What should we do..?"
Nabiki knew exactly what to do. "He's you're fiancé. YOU wake him up."
Akane turned to the others in a plea for support, only to find she had been unanimously elected to the task by the disturbing lack of eye contact. She took in the sight once more. "Uh, ok then...?"
Her trepid walk to the koi pond took nearly five minutes as she edged closer to the water's edge and further into Ranma's peaceful glow. The mist continued to float around her, though in lesser quantity, tracing lazy flight paths around a center of serenity. Akane could feel it too. Peace. Calm. She almost didn't even want to disturb the moment. Ranma nuzzled her own shoulder contently. Ok, here it goes... Akane steeled herself for the event.
"Um, Ranma?" She tugged at the pig-tailed girls hand, barely able to reach it from the ponds edge and her ground locked vantage point. Ranma stirred. "Ranma, can you hear me?" Eyes fluttered and Akane's world dissolved. Such blue eyes... Unending. Peaceful... Wrapping around her...
Ranma blinked groggily, the first thing coming into focus being the intense gaze of Akane Tendo. Ranma let a small smile escape her lips, at least until she realized something was slightly amiss. Why was he looking DOWN at her? And where was that glow coming from? And why am I floating above the koi... pond? Ranma twitched and wiggled her feet. Air. Then she found the rest of the household... Staring. She looked down once more, beyond her feet and into the waters reflection below. She was... It was... Her clothing...
And with that, Ranma Saotome, Goddess of Luck first class, category one, unlimited... passed out.
Ranma blinked groggily, the concerned faces of Akane, Kasumi and surprisingly his mother, Nodoka Saotome filtering into view. While the latter two were obviously concerned, Akane was concerned... And a bit dazed as well, if he was were any judge. Near as he could tell, he was flat on his back in the Tendo living room. And it was morning? Besides wondering what exactly had happened, a more pressing matter came to mind.
"Akane..." The fiancée leaned closer, obviously unsure what to expect at this point. Silently Ranma noted his voiced carried that of his feminine alter ego. "Don't ever use THAT mallet on me again."
Akane stiffened slightly in surprise, the dazed state finally broken. "B-Baka!" her cheeks flushed, though there was little anger behind her retort.
The redhead sat up a bit and found the rest of the family gathered around her in much the same condition. "So... What'd I miss?" Nabiki simply point to her person and Ranma glanced down. What could she be…? Her clothing! Ranma flinched visibly, noting the drastic change to her wardrobe. His three care givers stepped aside as Ranma stood up, wondering who the wise guy was. She looked at the elegant robe she now wore and the streams floating gently around as if carried by the wind. "You've got to be kidding me…" Ranma thought aloud, taking in the changes. She immediately crossed every male she knew off the potential prankster list. The robe was just too elegant to be a guy's practical joke. Somebody like his father or the old pervert Happosai would sooner fit him to a brazier than something like... This. That, and he didn't know any females that would go through this level of trouble just to dress her up so dramatically. Ranma's facial expression clearly indicated she was at a total loss. Even her ponytail had lengthened its glowing cord of red hair, highlighted with an elegant white ribbon.
"Do you remember the light?" Nabiki asked tentatively. She had absolutely no clue what had happened even after seeing it herself, but regardless, there could be quite a bit of profit involved in the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts Designer Fashion arena if she did.
Ranma blinked, the question triggering hazy memories. Nerve endings on fire... The pure light coursing through her entire body... The feeling of total peace... Changing... But into what? "I… I remember... But it's all hanging just out of reach..."
Nabiki described the entire sequence in great detail as Ranma tested his footing. "I even took a few pictures, but the light totally washed them out," she observed with dismay, handing him one of the blighted photos. "We're pretty sure the floating bit was an optical illusion."
"Er, floating?" She watched the entire family- save Nodoka who had arrived too late to witness the event -nod in confirmation. "Eh, right. I think I'll go outside and get some..." Kasumi Tendo halted Ranma mid sentence by silently handing him a mirror. It took less than a second to find the triangles that had taken up residence directly beneth her eyes and the hollow oval imbedded into her forehead. Her fingers traced them tentatively. They were actually a part of her. She could feel them. "Maybe I'll just take a nice long bath first, then." Like I'm going to be able to just wash them off, Ranma mentally huffed.
The bath, as it turned out, lasted less than ten minutes.
The household had just started to sink back into some semblance of a normal breakfast routine when the bathroom door slid open unexpectedly early. Everybody paused, including Kasumi, who was just laying out dishes for breakfast. To a visitor, the problem wouldn't have been obvious. Ranma now had on her favorite Chinese shirt and pants, though the markings still adorned her grumpy expression. That, however, was not the problem. The entire household recognized it immedietly, however.
"Um, Ranma..." Akane started hesitantly, only to be finished by the slightly more direct Nabiki Tendo.
"Why are you still a girl?"
"I was wondering the exact same thing," she grumbled, light sarcasm rolling to no one in particular. Genma Saotome gaped. Nodoka leaned forward in concern. No male Ranma meant no wedding. No wedding meant no Dojo. For Nodoka, it also meant the irrelevance of her vision for Ranma becoming a Manly Man Among Men, and the grip on her ever-present katana did not go unnoticed. Ranma simply grabbed a roll from the table. "I think I'll be taking that walk now."
A block later and two sisters in tow, Ranma tried to sort things out. Akane had followed out of sheer concern. Ranma still a girl AND skipping breakfast? Warning lights lit up all over the place. For Nabiki, it was the chance to observe her cash cow a bit more closely. An answer was bound to turn up sooner or later. Ranma, however, was in deep thought. She had known the moment she stepped into the bathroom only an hour earlier that it wasn't going to work, just like she had known the markings on her face simply wouldn't go away. Normally the situation would drive her up the wall as it had in the past, as Ranma knew all too well what a permanent stay in her girl-type meant. But the towering resentment of shame just wasn't there this time, as if she knew deep down that this was the natural order of things. That alone was annoying the snot out her beyond anything else, not the fact that she was trapped as a girl for an unknown amount of time. Just knowing stuff without rhyme or reason was very--
"Oh look, 500 yen!" Nabiki stopped short, finding the little treasure on the ground. Ranma and Akane stopped as well.
Ranma's eyes widened and glanced to what her next step down the sidewalk would have been if not for Nabiki's find. A familiar old lady had just seen fit to dump an entire bucket of cold water out into the street, the contense of which now drained at Ranma's feet. Ranma looked at it incredulously as Nabiki secured her find.
"What's up with you?" She asked the entranced little redhead.
"It NEVER misses."
Nabiki shrugged and flipped her newfound fortune into the air. "Lucky break for the both of us then."
Akane nodded and pulled Ranma along. "Let's get you to Tofu. You're acting too weird for your own good."
Small wonder, Ranma thought. Not that the water would have done anything to him in girl-form anyway, but...
"WE" Urd closed the door behind the exuberant girl, "...fixed it."
Keiichi blinked. "Fixed what?"
"The girls had a small problem with the Yggradsil last night," Belldandy supplied with a smile. A beautiful smile, Keiichi noted. "But apparently everything turned out ok!"
"Yeah!" Skuld agreed with glee, "Ranma owes us BIG for saving her file!"
Belldandy stopped short of her next sip of tea. "Ranma?"
"The One-One unlimited we restored." Her big sister Urd finished. "We're gonna have to iron out a few of the details in the interview today, but overall, not bad work for me and the little Squirt here."
"HEY! Who's a little Squirt?" the youngest of the three goddess fumed, locking horns with her sister.
"You are, OF COURSE!" Urd flashed back, nose to nose with the aforementioned Squirt.
Even as Keiichi stepped in to break the two up, he noticed his beloved, deep thought evident on her face. Keiichi stepped back and knelt down beside his fiancée with an unspoken question.
"I haven't heard of a goddess named Ranma." Belldandy answered the silence.
"Heaven's a big place, right?" Keiichi theorized, throwing out the possibility that maybe she just hadn't run into her yet.
She shook her head. "Not when you're a Class one, category one unlimited. It's a small circle of deitis that hold that title."
Keiichi nodded. If anyone would know, it would be his Bell-chan. "Well, Urd mentioned an interview. We could always tag a--"
Keiichi sighed. "Be right back." The young man made his way across the dining room, taking great pains not to be sucked into the escalating conflict taking place between youngest and oldest sister. "Hello?" Keiichi's eyes widened as the voice on the other end spoke. "Uh, of course!" Belldandy watched him curiously. "Kami-sama. For you."
All hostilities instantly ceased, Urd and Skuld declaring a truce as Belldandy took the phone from her future husband. "Yes, Father? Uh-huh? Of course. I love you too. Bye!" Keiichi noted that conversations with God tended to be very one-sided. With a light click, Belldandy set the receiver down on the hook, looking up at her fiancé in amusement. "He approves of your idea."
"Maybe you should give it back..." Akane whispered hesitantly.
She was rewarded with the arch of a sisterly eyebrow. "Give it back to who, exactly?" Akane shrugged. "Exactly. If somebody wants to leave money lying around on the street, who am I to argue?"
"2000 yen's worth!"
"ESPECIALLY 2000 yen's worth," Nabiki confirmed. Be that as it may, she realized Akane had a point. Either everybody had holes in their pockets today or she was on one massive streak of good luck.
Ranma retained his silence. Weird stuff was a foot in a very obvious manner. It wasn't the weird stuff that crept up on you from the shadows, like so many other events in his life. This weird stuff was tap dancing all around her today. It was very unnerving, especially after what she'd been through so far. She turned to continue their walking and the fence on her left exploded outward in a sheet of dust and splinters. Ranma took a tentative step back. Ryoga stood there in a striking stance, as if expecting somebody's head to be occupying the space his fist now resided. If that had hit... the consequences flashed through her mind. She had gotten off ...lucky? Something resonated deep within Ranma, flowing inexplicably through her being.
Ryoga blinked, astonished to find the female Ranma inches removed from his attack. To his credit, the Lost Boy recovered quickly. "CURSE YOU SAOTOME! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH AKAN--" Ranma pointed back at the two sisters, who had observed the entire exchange. "Ryoga-kun!" Akane exclaimed and pulled him into a hug. "Where have you been! We missed you!"
"Some of us, at any rate." Ranma quipped, earning bonk on the head from her fiancée.
The jibe blew right past Ryoga. Somehow, he had stumbled across his rival Ranma Saotome and found Akane Tendo all on the same day. The odds of him finding such specific people at specific times given his propensity for misnavigation were astronomically long.
As Akane and Ryoga caught up with one another, Nabiki walked with Ranma. "So... What's going on?"
Ranma instantly knew what she meant. The word 'coincidence' just wasn't covering a day like today. "I was hoping you could tell me."
"I'm not the one found floating above a koi pond."
"True." The redhead conceded. "But at east I got those marks to go away," pointing to her forehead. At least his hard earned concentration had earned her something.
"Anybody you know?"
"Anybody I know?"
Ranma smirked at the Lost Boy. Eternal rivals they may be, but the two lived and died by the exact same martial arts code, which in this twisted universe made them brothers. Or brother and sister, in this particular case. "Beats me, but whatever they are, they're powerful and reek of deadly intent."
Ryoga focused on the area around him, detecting noth-- Wait... He could feel the faintest trace of their opponent creeping in. Chatting with Akane, he would have never felt it period. But Ranma had. A full ten seconds before him and without having to focus. "Got em. Barely. If I'd have continued chatting they'd be all over us before we knew it."
Ranma nodded. She would have been in close to the same position if not for the changes she was still trying to define. If she could nail down the position...
Ranma and Ryoga spun around and found themselves facing... Dogs. Or some sick parody of them, their primary features being lots of horns, razor sharp talons and drool. Lots and LOTS of drool. Ryoga had no trouble feeling the lion sized beasts now. Infact, their power was bleeding all over the place. This wasn't going to be pretty. "What have you dragged me into this time, Saotome?"
Ranma gave him a toothy grin. "Hey, I didn't punch through a wall to find you, remember?"
The hairless animals began to circle opposite one another while Ranma and Ryoga took point, Akane and Nabiki pressed against an apartment wall.
"Ranma, I can--!" Akane quailed, only to be cut off.
"No! They're way out of your league." Ranma stated bluntly. Sure, it would probably hurt her pride, but better that than risk her life to what was for all intents and purposes a killing machine.
The animals tensed to strike. Ryoga beat them to the punch.
The point of his finger hit the ground, ripping concrete from the street in a storm that consumed the first animal, followed by flurry of razor sharp bandanas for good measure before launching into the cloud himself. Ranma's hellhound charged at that very instant, the pig-tailed girl meeting it head on with her Tenshin Amaguriken technique. The beast not only took the hundred fist attack, but took it head on, breaching the technique and slashing the girl sideway. She turned the aerial tumble into a graceful landing and knew she had given better than she got in the opening round, but the beast was built like a tank. Even as the monster shook it off and reared its ugly head, the other was thrown from Ryoga's cloud of dust and into the neighboring wall with a satisfying crunch. Ranma spared a glance at her partner, who already was already breathing heavy. The red bamboo umbrella came off his back and the battle rejoined. Again, Ranma's hound charged, this time meeting a ball of ki energy courtesy of her Moko Takabisha as the girl stepped it up a notch. Blowing the creature back 20 feet did nothing to dissuade another bestial charge. This time, Ranma wanted it in close.
Ryoga was able to get in three savage strikes with the super dense umbrella before his monster caught the weapon in its jaws, snapping the thing in half. The Lost Boy got in another pulverizing fist to the dog's mid-section before being brutally gouged by its horns, forcing him to break contact. Ryoga knew he was getting through, KNEW he was doing damage, but the thing just kept coming back for more. Normally he didn't have any doubts about his ability to withstand punishment, but this beast was taking that concept taken to an entirely new level. Another charge. "Shinshi Houkou Dan!" and dog was blown back by Ryoga's own energy blast.
Ranma too, was getting bloodied as she took her animal hand to hand. Normally she would have pulverized it with a variety of attacks at range like any other animal, but even though she had been doing that, it just wasn't enough. She needed to know what made this thing tick and where to best hit it, and the only way she could do that was by learning the hard way. Avoid the razor jaws. Deflect the rapiers. Sense the chi-flow through its body... CRACK! Ranma was against the brick wall having taken its club tail to the stomach. Now it was her turn to shake it off. That's when she realized that the only way to beat these things was to go all out. Time was not on their side, and while she'd be more than happy to lead the hateful creature into a spiral of death, she needed open space. Two non-combatants and neighborhood jammed with apartment wasn't the place for that move.
"Ryoga! We need some room!" Ranma called out as she blasted the Dog away with another ki-blast.
Ryoga puzzled for a moment before the reason snapped into place. It was perhaps Ranma's biggest strength, but in this situation it was his biggest weakness. Their opponents were overpowering in hand to hand and even their best mid ranged attacks merely stunned the beasts. To take them out for good, Ranma was going to have to rely on his impressive arsenal of super-moves, which were the equivalents to Martial Arts weapons of mass destruction... Great to be used on some remote mountain in China but very VERY bad news for a neighborhood in Nerima, Japan. With that in mind, Ryoga began blowing the street apart with his Breaking Point technique in an effort to herd his animal into a side street and ultimately a nearby field while Ranma did the same with her ki blasts. The tactic worked for all of about twenty seconds. Sure, they could start the process, but as soon as they strayed too far from the Tendos', the beasts would take advantage of that defensive weakness and attempt to maul the girls. Whether it was tactics or simply an instinctual anchor, the dog's unflinching position ensured they would threaten every piece in this game while limiting Saotome's offense.
The pig tailed girl's head pounded for a solution even as she slid in for another attack. Ranma was tough. Ryoga was tougher. But these things were tanks with legs. The dog's overall damage wasn't that spectacular, but when combined with their insane stamina and ability to soak up damage, the odds were heavily weighted against the home team. She was sure she could take them down, but only by flattening every building in the area and in all probability killing their occupants. Again, it was only a matter of time before they'd have to make some unpleasant decisions based on their dwindling reserves. Then the animal was all over Ranma now, its weight pinning her down as the girl struggled to keep it's snapping jaws at bay.
Something in the back of her mind began to creep forward. It was leaking out from behind the mental barriers she had been using to suppress "it". It was something too strange, too alien to allow free reign around her mind and body, so she continued to push it back. Ryoga stumbled and the beast had his arm, shredding flesh and muscle. They were the only things that stood between the monsters and the Tendo sisters, who were all but paralyzed in fear. The last line of defense. Period.
"Awww, I'm going to SO regret this..!"
Mara's eyes lit up. "Oh!"
"MMMMMmmmm... Awwwww... Iccceee creeeeeeeammmm..." Skuld moaned with delight, the colors of several different flavors plastering her lips.
"Can we PLEASE get on with our search?" Urd huffed in annoyance. Besides, what was the big deal about ice cream, anyway? Sake, yes. Ice cream, no. Of course, you could combine the two... Wait. She had tried that once. The result was less than desirable.
Skuld simply stuck her tongue out and took another spoon full. Nothing could separate her from her ice cream n--
"Oh!" Belldandy exclaimed suddenly.
Urd nodded "I felt that too."
Skuld's spoon halted its ascent as she watched her two older sisters suddenly grow serious. "What?"
"Demons." Belldandy frowned.
"Back on the clock, Kiddo!" Urd stated, yanking the spoon from her hand, dragging the teenager out the door and into the air while Belldandy led the way. The trio flew through the sky, homing in on the foul source of energy. It took nearly 15 minutes to localize the source and they arrived just in time to find the hellhounds all over their prey.
Belldandy took quick stock of the situation. For mortals, they had done a credible job hold the hounds at bay. She could even see the monster's Chi had taken a severe beating, but the mortals were in the same boat and had a lot less staying power.
"We're going to have to intervene, Sis." Urd stated evenly, a demeanor of ice descending across her facial features. Belldandy nodded and powered up for a surprise attack. Skuld pulled out a complex looking bomb from the folds of her yellow raincoat, ready to lend fire support. Urd's own hand began to glow, a small menacing ball forming in her palm. "Alright, let's do th--!"
Before she could finish, the strike zone abruptly flared to life.
A hound had recovered, resuming its attack on Ryoga. The newly minted goddess made her displeasure felt. Ranma had no idea as to the extent of her power now, but the energy blast that reflexively departed from her outstretched hands at high speed was a good indication. Before it could leap on the distracted Ryoga, her ki blast blew a large chunk out of the animals side, sending it down range and into its very own smoldering crater. Amazingly enough, the creature lived ..In a significantly reduced fashion. The other hound made its move and Ranma let it come, narrowly avoiding it's viscous lunge with ease while tapping one of the creatures jagged horns ever so lightly as it flew by. The angular momentum from that simple tap sent the monster careening out of control at high velocity and into the opposite wall where it too made a crater. The Goddess winked at the dumbfounded Ryoga. "You just gonna sit their all day ...P-Chan?" Even her voice sounded more feminine, she noticed with irritation.
That snapped him out of it. Not that he was any less amazed and dumbstruck, but the jibe had succeeded in bringing the Lost Boy back into the world of combat awareness. He stared at one recovering hound, then the other. Ranma had just reduced twenty minutes of life and death struggle to mere child's play!
"DAMN YOU, SAOTOME, WHY THE HELL DIDN'T YOU DO THAT SOONER?"
Ranma's smile disappeared. Would he even listen? Realize the conflict that still raged within her? She didn't even know what she was, let alone what was happening to her. And he could be damn sure that once they were done with these monstrosities, she'd stuff whatever it was back where it came from! She was still considering Ryoga when the beasts stirred once more to form a flanking maneuver on the helpless sisters. But they were slow. So slow to her...
And before she could blast them herself, the hellhounds disappeared in a volley of fire and light, ripped apart by firepower from on high. Strangers? No. Familiar somehow. Not that Ranma knew too many people that could just up and hover 100 feet off the ground like these three did. Ranma blinked. Another piece to this twisted little puzzle, maybe?
Mara took the lord's name in vain. Several times, in fact. Granted, the hellhounds were just a gage of the Goddess' ability, but that ability had proven to be quite substantial. Now she was convince that this one had just been showing off by fighting the Hounds in mortal form for so long. Mara ground her fangs together in disgust as three familiar Goddesses descended on the area. Regardless, her mission was done. Time to get the heck out of Dodge before they found out who precipitated these events.
Urd nudged her youngest sister as the trio floated lightly to the ground. "See? I KNEW I've seen her before!" Granted, she still couldn't place from where, but she definitely knew that face...
Skuld stared at the redhead in amazement. "S-Sugoi!" It was the first time Skuld had really seen anything like her fighting style. Urd was plenty powerful, but she was a bar room brawler. Belldandy could bring out the big guns, but only with great reluctance. Ranma, however, was an artist. Her grace in combat was only matched by the efficiency with which she employed her technique, something she doubted either sister could come close to matching. Even as a mortal, she had been holding her own against the Hellhounds and the step up to goddess had only augmented those attributes. The hounds' fate had been sealed with or without their help. A glance over to Belldandy told a different story. Her peaceful smile was in place, but Skuld knew her well enough to see that she was... concerned. There wasn't any reason for her to have even accompanied them, but now the youngest sister was thinking maybe that wasn't the case.
Skuld wasn't the only one sizing up the redhead. Urd gave the puzzled girl a once-over and approved. Attractive, but in top form. An excellent brawler and if she were any judge and somebody who wouldn't take crap from anybody. To the surprise of the mortals behind Ranma, Urd stepped up and pulled Ranma into a hug. "It's wonderful to see you again, Ranma! How long has it been?"
Ranma's transformation had been amazing enough. Three girls falling out of the sky only increased the weirdness factor by several magnitudes. But one of them hugging Ranma with absolute familiarity? Akane snapped.
"You've got to be kidding me!" She instantly became the center of attention for two mortals and four goddesses. "JUST HOW MANY FIANCEES DO YOU HAVE, PERVERT?" Urd twitched. Fiancées? A familiar shape rose into view and Akane swung for the fences.
Her over-swing sent her tripping between Ranma and Urd, who effortlessly disengaged from each other before the mallet found its mark. Nabiki blinked. Ranma? Avoid Akane's mallet? Of course, she was of the opinion that normally Ranma just didn't care enough to avoid the dang thing as his skill easily eclipsed her younger sisters, but now Ranma showed no hesitation in displaying just how effortless the act was in reality.
Ranma was about to try to calm his fiancée down when he looked at the three newcomers who were themselves wondering what was going on now. She stopped. She couldn't. She couldn't explain a dang thing to the enraged girl, Ranma suddenly realized. What was she going to say? "It's not what you think?" Ranma mentally laughed. Heck, she didn't even know what was happening, let alone who these women were or why one had hugged her as if she where long time friend. So in place of an explanation, Ranma let out a tired sigh.
"RANMA SAOTOME, YOU ENEMY OF WOMEN!" Ryoga's temper boiled over as the women he cared for was set to rage. He looked as if he was about to attack, but something held him in check, namely the smoldering remains of two dog monsters and the three women around the pig-tailed girl. Somehow, she fit right in with the three.
Ranma's head dropped. Couldn't anything EVER go right?
The black haired girl was tenacious, Skuld noted as Akane Tendo attempted another few swings at the goddess they had come to talk to. She'd probably have made an excellent debugger with that mallet of hers ...if she weren't so emotionally unstable. Whew! Imagine that sort of temper running around the Yggradsil!
Finally out of breath, the angry girl set the mallet aside and settled for a spiteful glare. "Hmmmf!" and with that, took an equally angered Ryoga in hand, "WE'RE going back to the Dojo! You can do whatever you want with your new girlfriends!" stomping off. Nabiki simply shrugged and followed them.
Urd poked Ranma. "Are they ALWAYS like that?" Mentally exhausted, Ranma simply nodded. "Even Skuld isn't that bad."
The teenager was just about to go off when Belldandy stepped in. "Maybe we should choose a less public place to conduct the interview." Skuld glared, but was defused. Ranma's attention focused. Interview? Urd had noticed the attention the destroyed side street was gathering as bystanders stopped to gape.
"Well, how about the Dojo?" Ranma offered. First, it was familiar ground, something she so desperately needed at this point. Second, it had food. Third, she owed these strangers. "I'm sure we can get Kasumi to whip up something to eat while we sort out this mess."
"Sake?" Urd asked hopefully. Ranma smiled.
"Sure." Maybe she should have some too after today.
"Ice Cream?" Skuld's eyes lit up.
"Uh, I guess." The girl was entirely too eager for a frozen treat.
Belldandy smiled at the kind offer. There maybe something wrong with this case, but the offer was sincere enough to take a liking to the unknown girl. "We would be happy to accept."
The sun was setting just as the four found the Tendo household, Ranma sliding the door open to find...
"HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO MY POOR LITTLE GIRL?" The spirit of Soun Tendo raged, growing out of control. "You're supposed to marry MY AKANE, not some Fiancée of the week!"
Ranma was just about to straiten things out when his father stepped up beside Soun. "Use some common sense, Boy! You can't go making fiancées everywhere you go! After all--"
Genma Saotome never finished. Ranma twitched violently. "I can't...? THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE TRIED TO SELL ME TO SO MANY OF THEM!" ...And removed his father from the scene by gripping his Gi and flipping him into the koi pond. The result was predictable. The three sisters only registered mild surprise as a wet Panda broke the surface with a sign labeled "Spoiled brat!" Skuld snorted. Jerk. Ranma turned to face the angered Tendo, who she felt a twinge more respect for. "These women ARE NOT fiancées. They're..." She hesitated for a moment. Yes, she could say this honesty, even though she'd never seen the women before today, "...good friend." Belldandy smiled, Urd produced a mischievous grin and Skuld waved happily. "I assume you heard about the incident today?" Soun's anger was instantly transformed to intense concern and nodded silently. "My friends here were instrumental in helping us out of a tight spot."
With that announcement, Soun Tendo's demeanor shifted 360 degrees. "Well! If that's the case, come right in! Have you eaten dinner yet, young ladies?"
Kasumi had heard the commotion and had taken her place beside her father, bowing to the new guests. Contrary to what she'd heard from Akane, she seriously doubted that any one of these three were Ranma's fiancée, especially given the fact that their dresses mirrored that of Ranma's transformation so closely. If she thought on the fact long enough, the four almost looked like... Sisters? And Ranma seemed genuinely pleased to be in their company, something she had only seen rarely and not for a while now. Kasumi had no doubts whatsoever that these were Ranma's friends and she made the observation clearly known, if not for Ranma, then for the rest of the family in the background. ESPECIALLY for a bitter little sister. "Any friends of Ranma's are always welcome! Come sit down with us."
Ranma bowed her head in silent acknowledgement of Kasumi's support and she smiled in turn. If there were two people that were the most misunderstood in the entire household, it was them. Kasumi knew that Ranma was not the lecherous, unthoughtful cad he was continually portrayed as and Ranma knew that there was all sorts of intelligence ticking away beneath Kasumi's peaceful demeanor, which was continually underestimated simply because she was content with her station in life. While sparks had never ignited between the two, there was a solid mutual respect, deeper than the rest of the family probably suspected. Three more guests would create more work for her, but she knew Ranma, and he- no, she -would find a way to pay her back in the future, even if she never requested the help.
The three sat and Ranma made introduction as Kasumi passed around plates. With the heads of the household firmly in support of Ranma and her new friends, Akane loosened her hold on the anger she'd carried for the last half hour. Nabiki, already somewhat familiar having observed the three, made easy introductions. Genma eyed the four wearily and Nodoka simply smiled with curiosity. As predicted, Belldandy and Kasumi made fast friends, Belldandy quickly moving to help Kasumi with dinner.
With the food distributed, everybody dug in and Ranma refraining from her usual display of gluttony in deference to the company. She watched as the grip on her father's chopsticks changed and shot him a menacing glare. Genma froze as those super-natural azure globes swirled with warning and anger. Her look made it obvious that the stealing of food would NOT be tolerated tonight and that she had the firepower to back that silent ultimatum up. Genma shrank back in shock and returned to his own plate, sufficiently cowed. Ranma knew the household. Knew her life, and knew the longer she waited, the higher the chances some chaotic storm of events would blow through and remove her only sources of information on what was happening. She couldn't afford to wait any longer.
"So... About the file?" She started off, catching the attention of the three goddesses.
Urd nodded. "I assume things have been a tad odd recently?" Ranma nodded. "Well, you can thank Jusendo for that."
Ranma's eyes widened, as did the rest of the household. . Jusendo. The battle for his life. The place where Akane died and was reborn. "What does Jusendo have to do...?" Her voice trailed off in wonder.
"Somehow, your activities in the area destabilized the Yggradsil," Skuld explained. Yggradsil? "causing an overload and massive loss of data. Your file was damaged and the Yggradsil shunted your essesance to emergency storage until we could find and repair it."
Overload? Data? Emergency storage? Ranma looked to Nabiki, who was usually up on modern technology for a clue. The sister gave him a barely perceptible shrug. None at all.
"You were lucky, Girl." Urd nudged Ranma. "We couldn't even recover the other guys file."
Belldandy's eyes widened suddenly. A piece of the puzzle had just fallen into place. "You knew Saffron?" Ranma could see the recognition in her eyes and nodded. "And what... happened to him?"
Ranma's eyes flashed with anger then softened. All eyes were on her, but she couldn't answer.
"He killed him." Ryoga broke the uneasy silence. For Akane. It was nothing to be ashamed of in his eyes.
Urd and Skuld nodded in agreement. "So that's who the terminal header belonged to..." Skuld finished.
"Well regardless," Urd carried on. "we recovered yours and synchronized it to you, so there should be no further problems. We just need to get a few details out of the--"
"Stop." Urd and Skuld twisted around to their sister's direct order in surprise.
"Yes." Belldandy stated firmly and turned to Ranma and bowed low to the table. "You must accept our most profound apologize... We had no idea of the trouble we have caused you."
"It was just a standard file recovery, Sis. No real--" Belldandy cut the youngest sister off uncharacteristically.
"Your recovery has gone terribly wrong, Sister." the eldest stated directly. "Saffron was the God."
Both Skuld and Urd froze, the implications of what she just said sinking in.
"So Ranma isn't..."
Urd's gut had turned to solid ice and Skuld looked to be on the edge of passing out. "But that would still mean Ranma--"
"Yes." Belldandy confirmed, already knowing her train of thought. "Saffron died that day on Phoenix Mountain and Ranma escaped the Yggradsil crash."
"Oooh boy, Kami-sama is going to have our butts for this one." Urd breathed with trepidation.
Ranma cleared her throat softly, getting their attention. "So what does all this have to do with me?"
Belldandy decided to let her sisters continue to sort things out and explain. It was perfectly obvious to her now just what had happened, and why Kami-sama had thought it a good idea for her to come along.
"As Skuld mentioned, your activities in China caused a massive destabilization of our system, creating wide spread data loss. The loss was so bad that your file was damaged, as was Saffron's, which became unrecoverable." Ranma nodded as Belldandy put more pieces into place. "When it came time to recover your file, parts of Saffron's files were mistaken for your own and when you were restored to the system, you were restored as..." She took a deep breath, as if not believing it herself.
"...Ranma Saotome, Goddess of Luck First class, Category One, unlimited."
"You've gotta be kidding me..." Ranma breathed incredulously. She wasn't sure what half of that meant, but the word "goddess' was more than enough.
"A GODDESS?" Nodoka blurted suddenly. "He can't be a Goddess! He's a manly man! He's..."
"..Got an engagement!" Soun Tendo joined in. "The two houses must be joined and he WILL marry my Akane!"
"I do NOT want to marry that PERVERT!" Akane exploded as the obligations of her parent's life crashed down on her.
"DAMN YOU, RANMA!" Ryoga chimed. "Why are you always breaking sweet Akane's heart?"
"What about your obligations, boy! Be a man!" his father balked.
Ranma's head pounded. And pounded. The arguments continued as he was verbally tugged between parties, the Goddesses watching with a mixture of amazement and horror as chaos erupted at the dinner table. The pressure continued to mount on the redhead, who already had way too many of her own problems to deal with. And when she couldn't take it any more ...She disappeared.
She floated over and knelt next to the resting woman who looked very much like a goddess at the moment. "We are very sorry for the mistake ...And that," she indicated the commotion down stairs.
Ranma chuckled. "THAT is not your fault," she corrected. "What you saw down there happens nearly every day to one degree or another. Don't get too close or you might get sucked into my chaotic life as well."
It was Belldandy's turn to chuckle. "I think it's too late for that warning."
"How did you find me so quickly anyway...?" Ranma wondered aloud, then silently wish she hadn't stuck a foot in his mouth. She's a goddess, duh.
"Kasumi told me," Belldandy winked. "And made me promise not to tell anybody else."
"Good, because then I'd have to find a new hiding spot." she retorted with humor.
Belldandy grew serious for a moment. "Is you life really like that all the time?"
Ranma snorted and rolled over to face her. "More so on average." Belldandy's eyes widened. "If you don't mind a tale of comedy and tragedy, I could use somebody to talk to right about now."
And so Belldandy listened to how Ranma Saotome had been set on his martial arts destiny at age five, sold for some rice and two pickles, wrapped in fish sausage and tossed into a pit of starving cats. But that had only been the beginning. There was China. Jyusenkyou. A certain curse. More training. Homicidal Amazon warriors. The forced engagement to Akane. The engagement to said homicidal Amazon. The engagement to a childhood friend. Being chased by Love struck Kodachi. Having to be on continual vigil for no less than four alienated suitors who despised him for the multiple engagements, the continuing congo line of villains, finally ending with Saffron. Belldandy rested a hand on the girl's shoulder to comfort her as the tale came forth and Ranma's emotions swung from anger to misery, finally stabilizing in determined resignation.
Even as she finished, a sobering realization came to Ranma. "I killed a god." Belldandy nodded noncommittally. "You and your sisters are goddesses." Again, Belldandy simply nodded. Ranma sighed once again. "I'm in big trouble, aren't I?"
Belldandy smiled easily. "Not exactly... He will be reborn. I can't give you all the details, but lets just say you've helped some very important people out in that--"
Skuld hopped up onto the roof, interrupting Belldandy's explanation. "Well, we have a minor problem." She called her terminal into existence, causing Ranma to arch an eyebrow. Neat trick. "We've tried to revert Ranma to a mortal but can't."
Belldandy asked the obvious question before Ranma could. "Why not?"
"We're locked out!" Skuld huffed. "The only reason we were able to change her file in the first place was because we were in recovery mode and the data was corrupted beyond belief. Now that the file is intact and recognized by the Yggradsil, it's safeguarded against tampering; especially tampering that would change a person from deity to mortal. That's high level stuff right there."
"So what can we do for Ranma?"
Skuld thought for a moment. "The only way I know to bypass that lock is to hard-copy HR and get all of the department heads to sign off on it. Once Heavenly Resources ok's the request, it's forwarded to -gulp- Kami-sama for final approval." The girl paled with that last bit.
Belldandy nodded thoughtfully. "That will take a few days..." Skuld nodded in agreement. "Well, Ranma, it looks like you'll have to stay a goddess for a bit longer," amusement evident in her voice
Ranma smiled grimly, remembering the old saw that had helped her remain sane over the years. It could be worse. I could be stuck as a duck, piglet or kitten...
Not a Goddess. Whatsoever. Urd thought it was impossible, but Bell-chan rarely asserted herself in such a manner. She was certain, which meant Ranma was what she was: Mortal. That still didn't change the fact that she knew Ranma from somewhere. Absolutely and without a shadow of doubt. And the fact that she's taken out a God... The entire situation bordered on insanity and Ranma was taking it surprisingly well. Of course, if tonight was any indication as to the rest of her life, she might have built up a healthy immunity to insane situations. But they had screwed up. Royally. Skuld and I have just pushed a mortal to one-one unlimited without approval or preparation, she thought morbidly. And now they have to submit the reversal through HR and ultimately Kami-sama. I'll be lucky to hold Class Three Apprentice at this rate. Urd downed the glass of sake Kasumi had so kindly set out for her earlier.
Belldandy, Skuld and Ranma made their way into the living room where Urd was drinking it up, Belldandy instantly offering her new friend Kasumi to help with the remaining dishes while Skuld simply yawned, plopping sleepily into a soft chair. Urd was steadily avoiding eye contact with the redhead until a hand rested lightly on her shoulder. She looked up into those azure eyes and a smile.
"Aw, don't worry about it," Ranma reassured the seldom guilt ridden goddess. "This happens all the time."
She succeeded in putting a dent in Urd's depression. "Being changed into a goddess or the random chaos?"
"Mostly the chaos," Ranma smirked. " Though I have to admit that this is the first time I've been a goddess."
Urd laughed openly this time. Her life was about starting to sound like mine, she thought. Some days she couldn't beat the chaos off with a stick, truth be told. "So what do you think of your test drive?"
"Honestly?" Ranma asked, Urd nodding. "I'm scared... I've been purposely holding back some elements of the change because I just don't know enough... I'm scared I won't be "me" anymore... As if being 100 girl isn't unnerving enough."
The bronze goddess tilted her head. "100 girl?" Ranma explained the Jyusenkyou curse. Urd siged. "Yeah, that's our fault too. When we synchronized your file to your body, it must have found you as a female and locked you in as one once the update occurred. The curse information might be somewhere in the your bio still, but it's been superceded ...For now at least."
Ranma didn't like the fact that Urd was sinking back into her depression. She liked her, just like she was fond of Belldandy and Skuld in such a short period of time. They had accepted him... and her, for what she was as if it happened every day. Ranma retrieved the bottle of sake from the cupboard and slapped a glass on the table for the goddess, breaking her mood abruptly. "It's only a minor inconvenience after what I've been through!" Urd smiled broadly at the cheerful redhead's enthusiasm. "And woe be anybody who blames you for saving my file from certain doom!"
With that, two unlikely friends laughed together through the night, trading stories of misfortune and chaos over sake.
"EEK! AkAN-- er, SKULD?"
Skuld lept back, plainly horrified. "I'mSorryI'mSorryI'mSorryI'mSorryI'mSorryI'mSorry!" she pleaded and begged for forgiveness, grovling on the dojo mat. "IthoughtIsawabugandyouwereabugandtriedtomashyouand I'mreallyreallysorry!"
Ranma sighed and pulled the tearful girl up. The she did something very unRanma-like. She gave her a little kiss on the forehead and wiped away the young goddesses tears with a finger and a smile. "Accidents happen, right? Don't give it another thought."
Skuld blinked away further tears with difficulty. "Y-Y-You're sure it's Ok?"
Ranma picked up her mallet and handed it back to the girl. "No problem at all, but your swing could use a bit of work!"
That was all it took to banish the last vestiges of guilt from the girl. "It.. It does?"
Ranma nodded. "You've got considerable power there, but you need to learn control." Ranma took the hammer from Skuld, who willingly gave it away. "Since your center of gravity is all the way at the block, you're going to want to use the power you put into it as efficiently as possible... Watch."
Skuld watched as the temporary Goddess of Luck took to the mat and gave the hammer a mighty swing. The arc was perfect and it cracked the floor hard before rebounding back skyward on it's own energy. The younger goddess gasped, and Ranma pulled the hammer into a tight horizontal arc, spinning it from hand to hand and then around her waist. She took several light steps to the left, allowing the hammer to extend fully out before using her bodyweight to pull it back in and shift it in another direct, cracking it to the floor once more. Skuld gaped, intent on the motion. Ranma just wasn't practicing, she realized with a start. Each movement was connecting with an invisible target, whether in the air or on the ground! It was amazing! Ranma's ponytail flipped around gracefully as she changed positions, allowing the neck of the hammer to be her striking implement for the next few arcs, combining the movement with several foot combinations before reversing the hammer back. Looping the hammer skyward, she used its momentum to help carry her jump higher before bringing the hammer down in successive strikes, touching the ground herself only seconds later. Ranma recovered from the position gracefully and walk back to the mat's edge.
Skuld was barely in any condition to receive her own hammer back as she simply stared at Ranma in awe. "S-s-s-sugoi!"
"Like that did ya?" Ranma asked, smile creeping across her face. Skuld could only nod yes. "Well, I normally don't do this, but if you want somebody to pr--"
"YES!" Skuld beamed with excitement, not even letting the redhead finish. "I DO I DO I DO I DO!"
"Ok, ok!" Ranma scruffed the teen's hair. "I'm not saying it will be easy and you've got some work ahead of you... Think you can handle it?"
Skuld nodded vigorously and tackled Ranma with a crushing hug. "THANKYOU ONEE-CHAN!"
With that, Ranma watched the Goddess of the Future bounce out the door in excitement, eager to share her good fortune with the world. Why not, Ranma thought. Besides, it will keep me bus--
"Wait... Did she just say 'Onee-chan'?"
Urd had to know. "What's up with you, Squirt?"
The 'squirt' part went completely unnoticed. "Onee-chan is going to teach me how to use my hammer!"
"onee-chan? Hammer? Ranma?"
Skuld nodded excitedly.
"Onee-chan!" half the table asked simultaneously in disbelief.
Ranma produced a weak smile and shrugged. The Onee-chan part wasn't her idea, and she just didn't have the heart to tell the kid otherwise, but the hammer... "Yeah, she has some potential with that hammer... I only offered to help polish her technique."
Urd thought on the matter for a moment. Her little sister would be hard pressed to find anyone better after yesterday's display, she realized, and it would give her something constructive to do besides build those bothersome little machines that invariably turn my life upside-down. She cracked a grin. "Just don't break her during practice... Ran-chan!"
Belldandy smiled through the exchange. Could Ranma possibly be the unifying force between the two polar opposites that are my sisters? She wondered in amazement. As unlikely as it seemed, she had heard the ruckus Ranma and Urd had caused last night and now Skuld was absolutely stuck on her as well. Perhaps this trip wasn't going to be all bad news after all.
Unfortunately, not everybody at the table saw things her way.
"Your going to teach her WHAT!" Akane turned a withering gaze upon Ranma, who winced. This time it had nothing to do with a potential fiancée, but pride. Ranma had offered to help her exactly one time and that session had ended in feud. And now to rub salt on that wound, he was going to teach this little brat!
Akane was just about to lay into him once more, but missed a crucial development in their argument dynamic-- Ranma now had allies.
"LISTEN YOU BAKA, I--"
"Don't get mad at my Onee-chan!" Skuld leaned across the table in Ranma's defense, radiating intensity. "She was just being nice!"
"Well he's MY fiancée!" Akane leaned over the table, escalating the situation.
"Then MAYBE you should start TREATING her like one!" Urd forced a cup of juice down onto the table hard and stopped Akane cold.
"Yeah!" Skuld chimed in, rounding off the proclamation.
Akane pulled back in shock. The table was silent. In an instant, the entire focus of the argument had shifted from Ranma being a thoughtless cad to her being a cranky witch, and for the first time since her introduction to Ranma, Akane found herself on unfamiliar debating ground.
Nabiki, who had started to pull back from the table to avoid the routine escalation and property damage, decided to stay out of sheer curiosity. Ranma Saotome, who would never attempt to defend himself from his first given fiancée had somehow found people to champion him against Akane's verbal abuse. You just don't make friends like that overnight unless she'd underestimated Ranma in some critical way. The biggest surprise, however, came from Kasumi. Nabiki would have probably missed it entirely if not for a casual glance over to her sister, but there on her face was the impossible- A nearly invisible smile trying desperately to look like a mask of concern. Nabiki blinked and it was gone, submerged entirely from view beneath that carefully constructed facade. Apparently Ranma wasn't the only one she'd been underestimating.
In that time, Akane had managed to recover at least some of her wits, at least enough to not risk angering Ranma's support any further. With a final "BAKA!" Akane was up from the table and out of the dining room. Even as she crossed the living room threshold, a sobering thought hit her: She had just gotten done arguing with goddesses. She turned back to the dining room to find the glare of Skuld and Urd still on her. And now she was on their bad side. Akane's remaining anger evaporated abruptly, deciding some dojo practice was in order to clear her head. Ryoga decided to quickly join her before he said anything that would cause Urd to put him to sleep again.
Nabiki caught Kasumii in the kitchen as she was fetching more milk, cornering her. "How long have you...?"
"...Known that Ranma was more than an insensitive womanizing jerk?" Kasumi finished. Nabiki nodded in mild surprise. "Oh, for quite some time now."
"But he's just a martial arts jock..." Nabiki stated certainly. Or was that hopefully now?
"Maybe." Kasumi shrugged, slipping by her sister with milk in hand. "But guess who helped fix your breakfast this morning?"
The look of total surprise on her sister's face was priceless.
"Hmmf." Urd grumbled. "SHE'S the one who had it coming. And for a long time by the sound of things."
"She's a meanie, Onee-chan! How can you be engaged to marry HER?" Skuld ask bluntly, a huge sweat drop forming down the side of Ranma's head.
"It's not always bad like that..." Ranma stated weakly.
"But do the good times outweigh the bad times?" Urd pressed her. Ranma remained silent. "Then she'd better get her act together before someone snaps you up!" Ranma tripped face first into the ground, but Urd wasn't done. "In fact, I can help you with that minor little detail, Ran-chan! We'll get you a real hottie! I am, after all, the Goddess of Looooove!"
"Urd, what has Kami-sama told you about the potions...?" Belldandy asked the rhetorical question. After hearing Ranma's story last night, something told her that the last thing she'd want would be another entanglement.
Ranma decided a tactical change of subject was in order. "So, what do beautiful Goddesses such as ourselves do for fun?" 'such as ourselves!' Ranma mentally chaste himself. Where in the world did that come from?
At that very moment, the sputtering of a motorbike found it's way to the front entrance of the Tendo courtyard. Belldandy smiled with delight and answered, "They give Keiichi a kiss!" Urd rolled her eyes.
Ranma noted that the boy who got off the bike was about slightly older than Ranma and nearly her girl-type's height. He was also presumably Keiichi, since he was the one to receive Belldany's kiss. They made a cute couple, Ranma thought with a mixture of bitter happiness. Ranma's further observations were cut short by Urd's scheming.
"I've been working on those two for a while now..." She whispered conspiratorially. "I've almost got them to the point where they can share the same bed without Kei-chan freezing up!"
Ranma simply shook her head. That was just too much information. Thankfully, Skuld saved him from any further love schemes by dragging her over to the couple.
"Keiichi, meet Ranma!" Keiichi shook her hand lightly, as he would have a girl. Which she currently was. Obviously he didn't get the memo, Ranma thought, mildly amused.
She decided to throw him a curve ball just for kicks and grins. "Temporary Goddess of Luck First class at your service!"
Keiichi's eyes popped open in surprise, but he recovered nicely. "Very nice to meet you, Ranma, but I'm topped off on goddesses for the moment."
"Forgive me then if I don't take Bell-chan up on her offer to kiss you." Ranma deadpanned, but Keiichi was already onto her, chuckling in amusement while the cutest blush glowed across Belldandy's face. It would have all been so carefree if she hadn't noticed Nabiki stalk into the Dojo, a place she normally avoided like the plague. Scheming, scheming everywhere.
Akane wiped the sweat from her forehead. "How much is it going to cost?"
"Consider this one your freebie for the week." Nabiki replied and cut strait to the chase. "You're losing him."
An uncomfortable silence ensued.
"So?" Akane brushed the fact aside, attempting to stonewall her sister. "Why should I care what that Casanova or his fiancées do?"
"Because you're not losing to him as a fiancée this time," Nabiki corrected her. "You're losing as a friend, and in some ways, that's considerably worse."
Nabiki cut her short. "No butts. He's making friends who don't seem to care about his curse and don't let it get in the way of their friendship. I suspect that when YOUR friendship is measured against that, every single problem you and he face becomes that much more. It then becomes a simple matter of whose opinion counts more- Yours or theirs."
Akane took another breath to speak, but Nabiki held up her finger in silence once more. "Frankly, I don't care what you do with Saotome, or how you're going to do it if she's remains a girl." Nabiki revised quickly. "But you're my sister and I don't want to see you hurt. This is your fair warning wake-up call."
Even as she turned to leave Akane to her thoughts, Nabiki add one last thing. The bombshell. "If you decide to pursue him, I'll help you wherever I can, but if Kasumi steps in to claim him, all bets are off."
Akane's head jerked upright in shock. "K-Kasumi!"
"Who do you think helped her make breakfast this morning?"
"I need a donut."
The entire group stopped in front of produce store, not sure if they had heard the young red head correctly.
Skuld blinked. "Did you say..."
"Infact, I need a box of donuts." She didn't have an honest to God clue why she was craving donuts so suddenly, but Ranma needed donuts and she needed them now. "Jeez, I sound like Skuld and her ice cream..."
For Belldandy and Urd, the reason for the craving snapped into place instantly on hearing that. "That would figure," Urd reasoned with her sister. "She's been a Goddess for about 48 hours now, been involved in one battle and tons of stress... Of course she needs a donut."
Belldandy happily filled Ranma in on the missing details. "As goddesses, we each have our own unique energy sources. Mine, for example is sleepsugoi
. Urd craves sake as hers and Skuld..."
"...loves icecream." Ranma finished, winking at the kid who was glowing with delight at the mere mention of the frozen treat.
It was at that moment Keiichi's stomach grumbled loud enough for the group to hear, and Belldandy felt a sudden pang of guilt. "Oh Kei-chan! I wasn't there to fix you breakfast this morning!"
Keiichi was trying to downplay the fact to his fiancee when Ranma had a wonderful idea. "Raman or Okanomiyaki?" Actually, now that he thought about it, that probably wasn't one of her better ideas after all... Both locations just happened to be fiancée free fire zones. Behind door number one: A smothering uninhibited Amazon warrior and her manipulative grandmother, while behind door number two: An alienated childhood best friend turned fiancée. Man, I SO need a donut now.
"We haven't had Okanomiyaki in a while..." Keiichi mused, and Ranma silently praised the Lord. Of the two choices she had presented, Ucchan's probably held the least chance of exploding in her face.
A box of donuts and 10 minutes later found them stepping inside Ukyo's Okanomiyaki restaurant, the owner of which instantly recognizing her fiancé.
Ukyo was around the counter in a flash, pulling Ranma into a hug. "Ranma honey! Good to see you! What would you like me to..." Then she noticed the box of donuts. "...Fix you?" That caused her to take in Ranma as a whole. Overall, the goddesses had been running stealthed, walking around Nerima in everyday attire and no marks on their faces as not to attract undue attention, but Ukyo knew her fiancé and knew him well. First she was a girl and not wet. Second, she seemed to glow invisibly and in an indescribable manner. Third, her pigtail was no longer a pigtail, but a full-length ponytail braided in gold. Finally, there were his guests. Three more women ages 15-19, each with a similar aura and one guy, obviously the oldests' boyfriend given the way they were attached at the hip. Ranma bringing in guests was odd enough. Ranma bringing in people who were obviously friends was a notable event in itself.
"Care to introduce me to your friends?"
Ranma noted the emphasis and smiled. Of all the fiancées vying for his attention, Ukyo was probably the sharpest, and her new friends most likely weren't the only observation she made. "Let me introduce sisters Belldandy, Urd and Skuld. This is Belldandy's fiancé, Keiichi. "Everybody, this is Ukyo Kuonji, Okanomiyaki master!"
Ukyo blushed madly at the compliment but noted with a pang of remorse that the descriptive "fiancée" was nowhere to be found for her. Still she was relatively sure neither the striking tanned women or the younger teen weren't in that category either. Even though it still cut, it was somewhat comforting to know that the thought of playing around behind her back hadn't even crossed Ranma's mind. He was just too honorable for that, and she was sure when the time came, everybody would receive fair and equal notice as to who had finally won his heart.
Everybody settled around the counter and Ukyo began grilling their lunch with ease, it's aroma wafting across their noses. Even as she flipped an Okanomiyaki, curiosity was eating her alive. She could ask him point blank why he was still a girl, but she had more tact than that and he probably had a good reason. Granted, she still wanted to know what that reason was, but she decided on a more subtle approach. "The braiding is beautiful! You decided to grow it out?"
Ranma could see the real question in her eyes and appreciated the fact that she was giving her a way out of what would undoubtedly be a sticky explanation while maintaining his confidence. For this particular fiancée, however, there was no need for subterfuge. "It's a long story, but the long and short of it means that I can't change back for the time being."
I might just have to take a break and hear this story, Ukyo thought. His friends hadn't even raised an eyebrow at the ambiguous concept of "changing back", which meant they knew all the details of Ranma's curse. And they were still his ungrudging friends; something Ranma had darn few of in her opinion. She finished the groups' dishes and handed her spatula off to Konatsu, sitting beside Ranma. "Ok, Ran-chan, spill it."
"Alright, Ucchan, but you ain't gonna believe this one..."
In another time and another place, those two would have made an excellent couple, Urd noted as Ranma shared the story with his childhood friend. Still might if the girl plays her cards right. Urd fought down the urge to proceed with some divine intervention concerning the two. It was tough, but she had gotten Belldandy's earlier rebuke loud and clear. Four fiancées and a slew of jealous suitors combined with the normal chaos in Ranma's life that all but mirrored her own was enough to make ANYBODY walk on eggshells. The dynamics of her relationships alone were enough to make my head... hurt?
Oh no. A memory crept out of the darkness and to the forefront of Urd's mind and it suddenly became clear. She looked at the redhead again. It WAS her! Horror slowly consumed her. Kami-sama, I swear I had no idea...!
With that last thought, Urd bolted upright out of her seat, bringing a halt to all conversation. "Uh, I have to go... To check on something. Don't wait up!" And with that, Urd was gone.
This is the first fanfic I've written in a while, so I hope you enjoyed it so far. I've decided to divide the 'book' into three chapter segments for easier reading.
About Special moves;
Once or twice saying something like "Kachu Tenshin Amagurican" is fine for dramatic effect, but after that, I'm simplifying it to the English versions in most cases as not to overly disrupt the flow of the story. Likewise, I'm not going to say mushi-mushi every time somebody picks up a phone. Of course, "Flying Dragon Ascend to Heaven strike" just sounds silly, so there are always exceptions.
Since the timeline is after Jusendo and Saffron, it's assumed he's hooked up with Akari Unryu (end series love interest). I would also assume that his protectiveness for Akane just wouldn't die away, nor his suspicions of Saotome's worth concerning her, thus the continued friction between the two. I consider him Akane's big overprotective brother' now.
It's kind of tough marrying the two timelines, especially when OMG seems to have deeper character development than Ranma ½ in my opinion (not that I don't love them both). Case and point, Skuld has developed from a brat to a teen a sense of responsibility where Ranma characters remain pretty static in nature from beginning to end. Even the OMG visual style continues to evolve. Given this disparity, I type-casted her somewhere in between-- as the young, impressionable teen genius smitten with Ranma.
I've always gotten the impression that she's a person with plenty of acquaintances, few friends and even fewer good friends, the latter she's very possessive of. The fact that Ranma And Urd both have 'take crap from nobody' attitude and lead chaotic lives seems like the perfect match for two people to just "click" with one another. I'll develop this further in 4-6.
Why is he a girl? Why can't he change? Well, besides the obvious answers (ie; "just because"), I wanted to detail the effects on his psyche, his mind dealing with real gender change, new power and a balance between all the different directions he's being pulled, from internally to his fiancées. I've left the back door in there to add the curse later, but playing with his and fiancées minds is so much fun I don't know if I'll use it.
I've always liked the idea that there is actually a powerful thought process hiding underneath her domestic demeanor. No special reason for this, just artistic license.
To Ián B for proof reading and catching some of my more obvious errors.
Miscellaneous stuff-- Neither Ranma ½ nor Oh My Goddess are my creations. They are the owned by their repective artitists and publishers. I'm simply taking their ideas and plot and combining them into a comedic/dramatic mash. All text therein, however, is the sole property of Ozzallos, but may be freely distributed as long as it is done so without alteration.
Finally, special thanks to all noted in Part 3, Chapters 7-9