Eye Yi Yi!
"Choose one and she'll be your new wife," Soun offered, as Ranma blinked and realized where and when we was.
Cue girls pawning off engagement and Akane bitching.
"The wife of a martial artist has to understand and follow the dictates of honor," Ranma said, pausing to take a sip of tea. "The eldest unmarried daughter has the duty of taking up the engagement, but as you can see, Kasumi Tendo apparently does not hold family honor in high regard, nor does Nabiki Tendo."
As expected everyone at the table drew in a deep breath to yell, but with a simple ki enhanced word he froze them in place. "Silence."
After taking another sip he sighed. "This is very good tea, my complements. Now to finish what I was saying, Akane Tendo has shown the same disdain for family honor as her elder sisters, at any rate this agreement was to join the schools and not only have you failed to raise a proper wife to offer for the arrangement you lack a proper heir to the style as well."
Soun and Genma paled as they realized what this meant and where Ranma was going with it.
"You have failed to hold up your part of the arrangement, I'm afraid I have no choice but to declare it null and void, however I will agree to let the next generation meet and decide for themselves whether to take up the engagement, provided there is a proper Tendo heir at that time."
Soun paled like he'd been shot, all the life seeping from his eyes, while Genma found he was frozen in place, as Ranma had tapped several paralyzation points on him.
Ranma rose to his feet. "Thank you for the hospitality, but I really have to be going. Goodbye."
His time with the Tendo's the first time around had subjected him to far too much idiocy and abuse for him to willingly do it again. Besides a good hard look at what they were would probably benefit them. Kasumi was a good natured doormat out of touch with reality. Nabiki was a callous hustler out for some quick yen and didn't care about collateral damage. Akane… needed a good shrink, because even her issues had issues.
Ranma dodged Akane's attempt to hit him with the table effortlessly. "Attacking a guest from behind without warning," he replied, placing a food on the table to prevent her from trying again.
"You, bastard! How dare you say that about my family!"
"Your actions show the truth of my words," Ranma said calmly, as Akane struggled to lift the table he had his foot on. Reaching down he picked up a chopstick and shaped the end with a thumbnail before he touched it with a glowing finger, setting it on fire.
Everyone stared as he took his finger away and blew on the end, putting it out before he flicked it at Akane, who smirked as it missed only to screech as it bounced off the wall behind her and struck her in the small of the back.
"I consider that suitable punishment for your actions," Ranma said calmly before turning to take his leave again.
Akane struggled but couldn't lift the table and was reduced to cursing whatever he'd used to glue it to the floor as he left.
Ranma left the Tendo's less than an hour after he'd arrived, just like he had two years and a number of months in the future, with everything he owned packed in weapons space and minus his father, but with a lot more optimism and a few items that Happosai had left lying around. If fate wanted to give him a second chance he had no problem taking it and he sure as hell wasn't going to waste it making the same mistakes he had last time!
He was wise enough to know he was going to make all new mistakes this time, which at the very least would be even more entertaining because they were new.
"I see you before," Shampoo declared in broken Japanese as she entered his camp.
Ranma looked up from the stew he was making. "Yes, you are chasing the red headed girl, but since she is no longer traveling with the panda you are having a much harder time tracking her," he replied in her native language.
Shampoo looked overjoyed to find someone who spoke her language and quickly pocketed 'The Chinese Guide to Making Out in Japanese'. "Thank the spirits! I swear I must sound like an idiot in Japanese considering the looks I've been getting."
"It makes you sound adorable, but not that bright, which is the purpose of speaking that way, since the book you're using is designed to teach you to pick up guys in Japanese. It'd certainly make people underestimate you, but for serious conversations we'll have to stick to Chinese."
"Thank you," Shampoo beamed at him. "I really do appreciate the courtesy you've shown me. What can you tell me about the red headed girl?"
Before Ranma could answer Shampoo's stomach growled loudly, making her blush.
"How about we have some dinner while we talk?" Ranma suggested, whipping out a couple of bowls and filling them.
"I'd say you read my mind, but my stomach was speaking aloud," Shampoo joked as she accepted the stew.
The first two bowls went quickly and Shampoo found that even as hungry as she was she ate like a dainty little girl compared to a Saotome.
"You are an excellent cook," Shampoo said eying Ranma in a new light.
"I'm also engaged to be wed," Ranma replied.
"Well she is a very lucky girl," she flirted playfully.
"Who thinks I ran out on her years ago, thanks to my idiot father, but I know how to make it up to her. Now let's talk about the red headed girl."
"What do you know?" Shampoo asked hopefully.
"I know you are chasing her to force her to prove she's worthy to join the tribe."
"How did you…I mean what do you mean by that? I'm chasing her down to kill her!" Shampoo claimed.
"And if I said I was on a quest to end her existence?" Ranma asked curiously, only to find himself battling a suddenly attacking Shampoo.
"I won't let you hurt her!" she snarled, bon-bons trying to smash him flat.
Ranma held her off with a little effort, as his body reminded him in dozens of ways that while he may have come back in time, his body had not and he had a ways to go to get back into what he considered top shape.
"I was just proving a point," Ranma said calmly to the panting Shampoo, who was shocked at a boy being able to keep up with her and wondered if the stew had been drugged.
"I won't allow anyone to hurt her," Shampoo swore as she caught her breath.
"Why?" Ranma asked, having had this conversation before, but knowing Shampoo needed to come to the realization herself to solve her problems.
"Why?" Shampoo sighed. "Do you know what it's like to be alone in a crowd? To be surrounded by people, but have no one to talk to? There are women twenty years my senior who have seen actual wars and have experienced things I haven't lived long enough to even think about…and I defeated all of them without any real effort."
Shampoo sat back down in the sand next to the fire, her entire posture screaming that she was bone tired and just short of giving in to despair. "I'm skilled beyond my years and have talent that is rarely seen in any generation, but it's separated me from everyone else in the tribe. I've lost any friends I had to either jealousy or admiration and I can't tell which is worse, being hated for something you were born with or being put on a pedestal too high to reach."
"And how does that connect to the red headed girl?" Ranma asked gently, handing Shampoo a mug of coco.
Shampoo sipped her coco and sighed, feeling inexplicably better. "She is as skilled as I am if not more so. If anyone can understand me it'll be her."
Ranma nodded, glad Shampoo had gotten it off her chest and knew what she wanted. "I'll introduce you to her in the morning," Ranma promised. "But first let's get some sleep, my sleeping bag is big enough for both of us if you don't mind close quarters."
"Is this a trick to seduce me?" Shampoo asked before yawning.
"Nope. I make a habit of not seducing emotionally vulnerable girls."
"Aww," Shampoo said disappointed. "That's too bad, cause it's probably the time we'd most appreciate it."
Ranma led Shampoo into the tent. "Sex is much better when you aren't so tired you can't keep your eyes open."
Shampoo woke up alone, but heard the sounds of someone making coffee. Following her nose she found the red haired girl pouring a couple of cups of coffee. Taking the cup she was offered, Shampoo inhaled deeply, the smell doing more to wake her than drinking the coffee probably would.
"Ever heard of Jusenkyo's cursed springs?" the red head asked suddenly, startling Shampoo, who had been trying to think of what to say.
"Everyone in the village knows of the cursed springs and to avoid them at all costs," Shampoo replied, trying to figure out what the springs had to do with anything and overjoyed the girl spoke her language.
"Wandering martial artists who don't speak Chinese don't," she grinned. "And they get cursed."
"You speak Chinese very well," Shampoo pointed out.
"Yeah, now I do," she agreed.
"You got cursed?" Shampoo asked, wide eyed.
"I got cursed," she chuckled. "And not being able to read Chinese I followed my cursed father in eating from a table we thought was for the people watching."
"Your father turns into a panda?!"
"And I turn into a girl," Ranma finished, splashing himself with a cup of water he had ready.
Shampoo's eyes rolled back in her head and she fell over backwards, but strangely enough she didn't spill a drop of coffee.
"Heh, never expected that," Ranma said, before starting breakfast.
The smell of frying bacon and eggs brought Shampoo around. She sat up, pretending she hadn't fainted and sipped her coffee.
"Switching sex, in stories is usually portrayed as a wonderful opportunity to learn about the opposite sex, but I'm betting in practice it's a pain in the ass," Shampoo said after a minute's thought.
Ranma laughed. "Yeah, that about covers it. I don't think there is anything more that I'd care to learn about being female, so I'm going to get cured and save the island kingdom of Togenkyo in the process."
"I think learning to control it would be more beneficial," Shampoo suggested tactfully, knowing no one had ever managed to get cured in Amazon lore.
"That is even more difficult to do than curing it," Ranma said with a sigh. "It requires an amount of control even Cologne would say was crazy or…"
"What are you thinking?" Shampoo asked curiously at the look on his face.
"Well, I know a place where worlds touch and I've stepped across and spent a couple of hours looking around. They aren't all that modern, but magic is common enough that I saw quite a bit of it in the short time I was there."
"Nope. I know of several places in Japan alone. Any place that has had entire villages vanish usually has one nearby. It's part of the whole 'grass is greener' mindset most humans carry."
"How do you mean?"
"People always figure that new areas provide new opportunities and that it'll be better than what they already have and in the short term they are usually right. It's more dangerous and exciting than settled lands, generally appearing in wild, unpopulated areas meaning lots of untapped resources."
"How is that only short term?"
"In the long run, most cultures simply turn it into a copy of where they came from, so long term is about the same as what they left behind."
"How do you know so much about it?"
Ranma grinned. "I made a study of them. After you've gone through three or four you become attuned to how they feel and find them easily."
"You talk casually about things I only know of from legends," Shampoo sighed.
Ranma grinned. "I spent a decade wandering the globe and investigating those legends."
"You don't look that old," Shampoo frowned.
"I'm not. Stick with me for a year and I'll tell you my secret," he promised.
"Gladly," Shampoo agreed. "We'll have to see that world where magic is so common first, because as long as I send a couple of magical trinkets back, the village will be satisfied that I'm doing something valuable enough not to jog my elbow."
"Well let's start off by sending them these," Ranma said pulling a bracelet and mirror out of his sleeve.
"What are they?'
"Two Amazon treasures stolen by Happosai, part of his revenge for Cologne rejecting him as a suitor because he was unable to stop being a big perv."
Shampoo's eyes lit up. "That'll leave me free to travel for years before they even ask me to visit!"
"Yep," Ranma agreed readily. "So we mail these off, track down my future bride and go search out the mysteries of the universe. Yeah, that should keep us busy for a couple of weeks."
Typing by: The Last Primarch!