I don't own Highschool DxD or Ranma 1/2
Yeah, like I said my Wild Wolf story one the poll by a landslide, but my work has decided to not go with my proposal, and as such have decided they don't need to pay me any longer. I've already set out a lot of resumes to a few companies, put my resume on a few websites, but no one has bit just yet, so I had some time this past week while my chapters for a Third Path and Wild Wolf were already out and to the beta. I could have used the time to finish Horse of the Dead, but I am seesawing between showing and telling if you can see what I mean. I've put in some time and effort (can't say a lot in comparison to A third Path or Chaotic space or Warrior's way or…) and I want to end it on a high note. So should I just tell, summarize (tell) the problems they run into, or show how they run into and solve the problems they do, as well as how Kasumi joins Ranma and his current girls? Tell me in your reviews if you have an opinion one way or another, and I will gladly take them into account.
But don't expect this sort to be updated often, unless I don't have a job for a long time which… well would be a major problem, no matter how much fun it would be not to have to work. Again, this is something I just threw together to give you all an idea of the style I will be using for this story, so don't expect it to match the quality of the chapters of my other two stories.
In other news, Is there any good Harry Potter Sailor Moon crossover – one that makes fun of Sailor moon or gives Harry a harem for preference? I read a oneshot from Rorschach's Blot that had that cross, it was really funny. How about one wehere a male character from another section comes in, gets Usagi, and points out how much a lose Tuxedo Kuno is? And no, that was not a typo.
Also, just FWI, under no circumstances will Ranma EVER become a devil. Nor will Saeko or Asia. They will all stay human.
Chapter 2: Meetings and Greetings
The end began when Genma Saotome came back to the Tendo household after an evening out drinking with Soun. They had spent the evening making plans to head out after his foolish son. After all, that purple haired wench was dangerous, he had noticed a time or two the looks they exchanged after training together, and even if Kasumi was a better bet than Akane, which she certainly was (that girl could cook, that alone made her better daughter-in-law material than Akane, how could he not have seen it earlier?) Genma wanted to do what he could to make certain that nothing happened between the purple-haired sword wielder.
Of course it had been a little under a week since Kasumi and his misbegotten son and *shudder* wife had left. Some progress should've been made by now, and if there hadn't, well they'd be there to push things in the proper direction. His eagerness to go after his son had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that neither father had a decent home-cooked meal since Kasumi left, absolutely nothing at all to do with that or with getting away from Akane's attempts. Akane had tried every day at one meal or another to eat, and for some reason neither Genma nor Soun could get away from her once Akane had her hands on them. And every-day without fail, he and his friend had to have their stomachs pumped. It was getting so bad they had gotten a preferred customer discount. Though why the emergency crew always arrived in hazmat suits, he didn't know, nor why they were always eager to take samples of Akanes… creations.
The part-time panda lumbered through the dining area to the sitting room, then paused noticing a large envelope had been left on the table. It had his name on it and he frowned wondering what was. I hope that's not from those martial art tax collectors, those bastards are hard to get rid of once they find their target. Luckily, they were too used to using computers and electronics to track their prey these days, and Genma had never put anything on a computer in his life. That made him extremely hard for them to track. On the other hand, their accountants were damn good. Three of them had nearly cornered him a few years ago when he was traveling with Ranma, and had beaten Genma soundly before he could distract them enough to get away.
With trepidation he moved forward picking up the envelope and opening it. When no gas or booby trap went off, he pulled out the papers and quickly read the contents of the first one, then screamed out in fury as the words registered. "Divorce?! Restraining order!? Nodoka!"
He barreled out of the house, not even registering his friend face, nor really having any real clue as having how to find the ungrateful boy and the foolish woman. They had never told him or Soun where they were going after all. Still, Genma was a surprisingly adept tracker, and he felt he could find them soon enough.
Almost as soon as he was out the door however he was snagged in a net. Before he could try to break out he found himself surrounded by five men in very expensive looking suits, all of them having placed briefcases on the ground next to them. From each the men had taken a variety of nasty looking weapons. "Genma Saotome, you have evaded paying your taxes for over twenty years now, but we have caught you at last. It is time, Genma Saomtome… to face the audit."
"Nodoka!" Genma had but a moment to scream again before they were on him, and soon he was thankfully sleeping into unconsciousness.
Nodoka paused, about to open the door to her new family's new home, smiling faintly. Ranma looked at her quizzically and she shook her head. "I suddenly thought I heard the voice of the certain panda screaming out before it was silenced."
Ranma laughed then pushed past her to open the door, whistling appreciatively as they moved inside. The new house was sort of like his mom's old one that had been destroyed in one of the frequent battles between his fiancés. It was a smallish two-story house, which had a living room on the first floor along with a guest bedroom, a laundry room and the kitchen. The second floor had two small bedrooms, somewhat smaller than the room Ranma shared with his old man at the Tendo house, but still nice. Then there was the master bedroom which in keeping with the theme was smaller than the one at the Tendo place, but still very nice.
It was however the backyard which was the main draw for Ranma and Saeko. Apparently this property had been supposed to be part of two different properties but the second house had never been built, allowing the first house to claim the property that was supposed to go to its backwards neighbor for its own. The former owners hadn't done much with the landscape, simply putting in a few trees along the edge of the surrounding fence, but it was still a big, nice area, and would do very well for a training area.
Saeko's house had been more like the Tendo place in this, so she was more impressed with the backyard as well. "It is a very nice place, though I could have wished that it came with more furniture."
Asia smiled happily however moving in behind them to look around. "Our home," she said a little wistfully. Despite the fact that she had spent several weeks on board the ship and had a room of her own there, the idea of owning a place like this and having her own room was still new and exciting to her.
"I'm sorry," Nodoka said shaking her head, "I wish we could've gotten a bigger place, but this was the limit of my funds."
Kasumi smiled gently, already making a mental list of the things they would need to make the place really comfortable. The kitchen at least had all the appliances. "Its fine Nodoka-san, it looks very nice actually."
"I just wish we could have gotten it without delving so deep into my funds," Nodoka muttered. "Between buying this place and the first months utilities bills, I'm completely strapped for cash now."
"No worries mom," Ranma said smiling and pulling her into a hug. "I've got an interview with the local police set up at 10:30 this morning for a job."
Kasumi smiled as well. "And I have a job interview lined over at a local kindergarten as an assistant teacher. I've always wanted to work with children, I hope they hire me. If that doesn't work, I can always get a job somewhere cooking." If there was one thing Kasumi was confident about, it was her cooking.
"I'm sorry to be so much trouble," Asia said pouting and pushing her fingers together. "I wish I could get a job too."
"No," Nodoka said firmly. "You're going to complete your high school education young lady, it's already been set up and thanks to Saeko's father both you and her are already paid for through this year." In point of fact she had been given enough money to pay for Ranma's remaining year of high school as well, but she had decided to put off that conversation until she could get him alone, but that hasn't happened yet. And it was also true that the house would probably require Nodoka, Kasumi and Ranma to get jobs. After all, they had to buy furniture, and the monthly bills would be pretty steep in this area.
"In fact," she said looking at her watch, "Shouldn't you to be going? We don't even know where the school is from here, do you? And you don't want to be late on your first day do you?"
Saeko glanced up at the time and cursed. "We'll have to roofhop to get there in time. I didn't realize it was already eight."
The group all trooped back out to the realtor who was smiling brightly having stayed outside while the group did their final inspection of the house. Nodoka had been in the area for a few days before this and had okayed most of it, but the others hadn't arrived until just then, having spent a few days simply wandering Japan randomly in an effort to throw off Genma's inevitable search for his son. Ranma had been all for the divorce when Nodoka had told them about it, but had also warned her that his father wouldn't take it, or the restraining order, lying down. He had no real hope of the old man never finding them, but anything they could do to slow that down would be a good thing.
"I take it you found everything to your satisfaction?" The realtor asked.
"Indeed," Nodoka said, handing the man the final papers. "I would've preferred that the former owner had left some of their furniture, but again that is not any fault of yours or the house."
The man nodded smiling happily at the sale. The commission from this job would be one the largest he'd had in several years.
Ranma nodded shook the man's hand firmly and smiled leaning over to kiss Kasumi and his mom on the cheek. "I'll see you two in a bit, I'm going to drop Asia off, Saeko can't carry her and roofhop at the same time. I'll come back to drop you off at your job interview before going to my own Kasumi."
Kasumi and Nodoka smiled at him, then went back inside already discussing what they needed to get and what their priorities in that area should be, since they were so strapped for cash for now.
The realtor looked a little confused, wondering what roof-hopping was, but Ranma didn't notice this. He turned to Asia and lifted the younger girl into his arms. "Ready to go?" he asked looking over at Saeko.
Saeko wasn't very good at roof-hopping just yet, though her balance was very good, it was the timing of the jumps between roofs that through her off. She was still a very competitive woman however and she smirked. "I'll race you there," she said and then without warning jumped straight up to land on the roof of the new house before jumping to the next one and away.
Ranma laughed, then waited a full minute before jumping after her easily catching up to her but not passing her just yet.
Rias Gremory was one of the two Great Ladies of Kuoh Academy, one of the premier schools in the region that had become coed the year before. The Great lady appellation alas had more to do with her looks than her personality and grades, though her grades were high and her personality was one that drew people to her. Her looks however were the main selling point for the majority of her schoolmates. Rias was very buxom, blessed with the second largest bust in the school, fair skinned with red hair cascading down her back to her knees and vibrant blue-green eyes.
She was used to the adulation of the crowd, which as she entered the school was at its height because she was walking with her best friend Akeno Himejima the other Great Lady of Kuoh. Akeno was even more buxom than Rias, having the largest bust in the school, and indeed the city, with very long black hair and violet eyes. Her hair was tied in its normal long ponytail the end of which fell to her knees, with an orange ribbon keeping it in place. In fact it was so long if it was let loose it would actually touch the ground. She had two strands sticking out from the top of her ponytail and sloping backwards.
Akeno gave off the impression of a Yamato Nadeshko, a perfect Japanese maiden. Rias had been Akeno's best friend ever since they were children, and knew that the truth was quite a bit different. Yet the crowd didn't know that.
"Oh, there's Rias sempai! Her red hair is so beautiful!" shouted over a dozen voices at once both male and female.
"Kyaahhhh, it's Akeno-onee-sama!" squealed a young sophomore girl.
"AH, the two great ladies are walking together so magnificent!" a boy yelled.
"God look at those oppai! God Motohoma, tell me their numbers again!" shouted a crude male voice. This was a thought the majority of male students would agree with, but only three students would be so crass, open, and above all proud of their perversion.
The speaker was named Issei Hyudou a sophomore of average height with short brown hair and light brown eyes who had nothing about him that truly stood out except for his lewd expression and the drool coming out of his mouth.
The boy addressed as Mahotama, a shorter somewhat more nerdish boy with large glasses. "Rias-sama has amazing measurements of B39-W23-H35! That waist, that bust, so wonderful! But, as always, Akeno-sama beats her out in the most important area, B40-W24-H35! They've both gone up a size since last year, amazing!"
"Hmmph, that's nice and all, but I'm telling you flat is where it's at! Where is my darling Koneko-chan? Isn't she supposed to start here this year, but, but I don't see her!" The name of this boy was Matsuda, a somewhat taller and fitter boy than his two acquaintances, though the large ears and his perverted expression took away from that. So did the fact he was a self-described lolicon.
"God why don't you all just shut-up! Your perverted bastards aren't even worthy of breathing the same air as Gremory-sempai!"
"Yeah, go away, you're dirtying them every time you look at them!"
"If you ever try to even touch Koneko-kouhai I'll break every bone in your body!"
These were the reactions of the crowd of girls around them. Despite the school being coed there were far more girls than boys, and perversion of any sort was responded to with brutal force. This particular trio of boys however refused to learn from this, responding by shouting back at the girls around them.
That was actually normal for the three of them, outside of them none of the three were very interesting, to normal senses anyway. Rias had begun to feel something odd about Issei however in the last few days of the year before, and now that she was near him again it was even stronger. There was definitely something off about him.
Of course, that could be also said for her, Akeno and for the class president Shitori Sona, or rather Sona Sitri. For you see, all three of them were devils. In point of fact she and the class president were heirs to two of the most powerful devil clans, and her older brother was in fact one of the Four Great Satans one of the four primary rulers of Hell. But being devils didn't automatically mean they were evil, far from it really. Sona and Rias were both interested in becoming more personally powerful, but they weren't interested in souls, acting against humans, praying upon their dark sides or anything like that. The system devils used to become stronger had moved on from such biblical beginnings, and Rias for one was very happy for that. If they were still dealing with souls, sins and war, Rias doubted she would have made a very good devil at all.
She frowned at that thought. While officially she still had half a year before the engagement with Riser became permanent, she wouldn't put it past that, that… asshole to jump the gun. She had to get more people into her peerage, had to get them strong enough. There was no way in hell she was going to marry Riser, no way! Rias was never going to marry anyone who saw her merely as an object to be won or used. And that was precisely the way, Riser saw every woman, even his own sister if rumors were to be believed.
Akeno's whispered voice broke her out of her momentary thoughts. "Rias-sama, look over there."
Rias looked where her friend and queen was looking and noticed something odd was going on. To one side of the gate to the school grounds was Sona the student president, who was usually already inside the building and working on something at this point. She was standing to one side with her queen and the captain of the kendo team Murayama Shiratori. In fact the entire kendo team was standing arrayed behind their captain, all of them wearing their formal kendo garbs.
Akeno smiled, her eyes glinting with a hint of interest. "Mah, I wonder what's going on over there." Rias smiled at her queen, and the two of them turned their footsteps that way.
Sona was one of Rias' best friends, but that didn't mean they weren't also rivals so she asked one of the kendo people rather than her what was going on. "Oh Rias-sempai!" The girl turned and smiled happily at being talked to by one of the two Great Ladies. "There's a transfer student arriving today, and she is a very big name in kendo circles. We're all out here to greet her as is proper."
"Really, what's her name?" Rias asked interestedly. She wondered if maybe this girl could be added to her peerage at some point, if she was actually worth anything at any rate.
"Her name is Saeko Busujima," said another one of the kendo team members. She almost sounded like a fan girl as she went off. "Saeko-sama's won every singles kendo competition she's entered since age ten, and has won several dozen team Competition almost all by herself for the last four years! And most of the singles competitions were mixed gender, including the national kendo championship six times, beating all previous records!"
Rias plaintiffs, and smiled faintly. This is looking better and better.
The class president moved through the crowd of people to her side and murmured, "I take it I'm going to have to play a game with you before I can claim this woman?"
Rias smiled faintly. "Of course. She's a new student, which means she's fair game for both of us. If you want to call her, then you have to beat me at chess."
That was a tall order, since at the moment their record against one another was standing at 298 wins for Rias, 297 wins for Sona and 300 draws or interrupted games. Still, Sona didn't back down from the challenge and smiled, pushing her glasses up on her nose. "Challenge accepted."
The three of them waited talking quietly mostly about school related issues, smiling faintly as Kiba Yuuto came through the gates, much to the consternation of the boys and the gratification of the girls.
Kiba was a blond boy with classic bishonen looks, taller than most with a kindly air about him, who was known as the prince of the school. Yet also a certain strength. Kiba had volunteered several times to help the kendo club, but he was in no way a member. He was also Rias' Knight, the member of her peerage focused most on attacking and speed.
A moment later Koneko arrived. The white haired young girl was not just a hit with the lolicons like Mahotama, but everyone who liked cute things, because Koneko was extremely cute. She had been the mascot of the middle school, with her white hair, her expressionless yet cute face, her slim, lithe body, and her incredibly cute love of all sweets. She was also Rias' Rook.
Unlike Kiba, Koneko didn't particularly care about the crowd, she simply brushed through the other students, uncaring of the stares or shouts of praise for her cuteness. She made a note of the people who said she should become their little sister however, especially the ones with a certain tone of voice to them. "All perverts should die," she muttered under her breath before swiftly entering the main school building.
Rias exchanged tiny, nearly unseen nods with both the younger members of her peerage murmuring out of the side of her mouth, "So, why is Busujima-san transferring? It's the appropriate time for such of course, but there must be a reason."
"Unknown." Said Sona, tapping one finger against the rim of her glasses. "I can speculate, and it might be because she prefers actual competition. According to rumor she's been dominating every competition she's entered, and our kendo team is one of the best in the nation."
Murayama had overheard them and leaned in nodding. "She beat me a few years ago soundly, and again this past year. If anything she became far better between our two bouts. No one can touch Saeko-san in singles competition, save for this one crazy boy from somewhere near Tokyo. Even then that's only because of the amount of damage he can soak up. But we were able to beat her team last year despite Saeko trouncing half our team. She could only face five opponents, and the rest of her team was nowhere near our level."
"Hmmm…" Rias muttered, then looked around frowning faintly as did Akeno, Sona and her queen, Tsubaki Shinra, a slightly taller, bustier girl than her king wearing glasses much the same as her king. She was the vice-president of the student council, and in all ways Sona's right hand woman. Rias looked at her in particular knowing that she was slightly better than the rest of them at analyzing auras. "Can you all feel that?"
Sona too looked at her queen who shrugged, pushing her glasses up her nose, heterochromatic shifting from side to side as she tried to localize what she was feeling. "It… I think I've felt something similar when I was younger, but I'm sorry, I can't bring it to mind, Sona-sama. There are three auras though."
The others all nodded, trying to concentrate even more on their senses, but none of them were able to get even that until a few second later, when the three beings that Tsubaki had felt came into view.
A young man dressed in martial arts pants and a Chinese silk shirt appeared on the roof of a building near the outer wall demarking the school's property. He was carrying a young blond girl wearing the uniform of the Academy in freshman colors.
As they watch he jumped easily from one roof to the other laughing at gravity. He came to the end of the roof before the wall surrounding the Academy and easily leaped over it landing lightly on his feet, to the gasps and astonished shouts of the crowd of students that were still milling around outside. He set the girl down on her feet and stood there, smiling down at her as she took his hand, looking around seemingly in awe. Rias could also see bit of trepidation on her face, possibly at the number of people around her.
"Holy fuck how did he do that?" shouted one boy.
A girl yelled out, "It's got to be some kind of trick, smoke and mirrors, or wires, yeah! It's got to be wires!"
"Who cares about that?" a boy muttered, staring at the boy's somewhat handsome, though in a wilder way than Kiba's bishi looks. "I'm just glad he's not a student. We don't need another damn pretty boy here."
"Ohh pooh, I think he'd definitely liven things up here, I love his wild looks! And look at the body on him, yum, yum!" One senior girl said to a friend, who nodded her head in agreement.
"So nice, I want to be carried like a princess too!" Shouted a freshman girl.
"I'm in love!" shouted two of the three Perverted Trio. "Oh my god that girl is so cute!" Issei gushed.
"Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about, moe-loli rules! And she's a foreigner to boot!" shouted Matsuda.
"Hmmff, I don't see how she's so good looking, I…." Mahotama paused, staring.
A young woman with purplish black hair and a truly magnificent figure, almost rivaling that of the Two Great Ladies, had just jumped into sight along the rooftops. A moment later she landed just as lightly beside the boy, huffing a little with her exertions.
"I win," said the boy happily flicking the girl on the forehead, utterly ignoring their audience. "Though that was a lot closer than I thought it would be Saeko, you're doing great! You're learning roof hopping way faster than I thought you would, and with a lot less bruises."
"Flattery will get you nowhere Ranma," the girl, evidently the one the kendo club was here to great, replied. Even so, she smiled faintly.
While the rest of the crowd began to mutter, wondering what the hell they were seeing Sona frowned, looking at Rias who shook her head. Whatever the three were, they weren't devils or fallen. The young girl felt almost holy, but she was no angel either. She might have a sacred gear of some kind, this is so amazing, another gear user here! I need to figure out some way to get close to her, and the other two are interesting too. How can humans move like that? I don't snese any magical potential in them so…
The name Saeko had broken the grip shock had on the kendo captain however, and she came forward. "Busujima Saeko-san?" she asked.
When Saeko nodded, she bowed her head formally. "I am uncertain if you remember this unworthy one, but we have crossed swords several times in singles and team tournaments. It is an honor to have such a well-known onna-bugeisha here!"
Behind Murayama her team echoed her action, bowing from the waist. "'Tis an honor!"
"You didn't tell me were famous?" Ranma said, shaking his head while Asia stared out from behind his back at the kneeling girls in surprise.
"Please rise." said Saeko, smiling faintly. "I remember you, Murayama isn't it? You performed admirably in the women's only tournament this past summer."
"Praise that I do not deserve," Murayama responded humbly. "You beat me soundly. Can I presume that you will be joining us?"
Saeko nodded. "You presume correctly." Before she could go on a loud shout from the crowd interrupted their greetings.
"Oh now that's what I'm talking about!" Issei shouted, having finally got control of his drooling. "Good god would you look at those oppai! They aren't nearly as big as Rias-sama or Akeno-sama, but god they are the perfect shape and so perky looking! Mahotama, do your thing!"
"Oh my good they are perfect, bullet train shaped oppai!" The spectacled member of the trio responded, his glasses practically gleaming. "Bust: 83 cm, Waist: 56 cm, Hips: 86 cm!"
The others turned to look at him for a moment, nonplussed. "Why the heck did you give it in centimeters, you usually use inches?" At their looks Mahotama merely shrugged, not understanding why his superpower had used centimeters rather than inches either.
"Who cares!" Matsuda shouted, going back to staring at the newcomers and Asia in particular. "Moe beats fat any day, no matter the shape of it! Blondie-chan be my little sister, I can teach you all sorts of things!"
Matsuda wasn't the only one having such thoughts in the crowd. At the perverted looks she was getting Asia ducked behind Ranma. She was still somewhat traumatized by the look she had gotten from the devil who tried to add her and Kasumi to his peerage. The look of somehow disgusting lust had gotten to the sheltered girl, and she'd had a few nightmares about it after.
Ranma had helped her through those nightmares and he frowned angrily, leaning down to pick up a stone to throw at the most vocal boy in the crowd. Before he could however Saeko had turned. Suddenly her hand was filled with bokken which she swing forward, faster than almost anyone there could follow. The bokken created a thin wave in the air which sliced towards the perverts.
It impacted in the ground right before the lolicon digging and gauging a furrow there. Saeko smirked as all three of the gauche little boys yelled and scream falling on their asses. "I would be careful of who you direct such comments towards from now on. Consider myself and this young lady with me off limits. If you do not, I am afraid I will hand out punishment that truly fits the nature of your crimes."
She smiled, and it sent a shiver down the three perverts' spines as well as more than a few of the surrounding crowd. Akeno on the other hand simply smiled the same sort of smile and laughed. "Hohohoho! Oh my, I think she and I will get along famously."
Tsubaki merely smiled faintly, her mind elsewhere as she stared hard at the young man. There was just something about him, something that was niggling at her memory for some reason.
Rias and Sona had simply been staring at what they had just seen, a human creating a localized blade of air pressure like that. Neither had ever even heard of a human that could do something like that, though back in the civil war there had been stories of a little perverted gnome of a human who could perform superhuman feats, and there were the rumors of someplace in Tokyo, but no-one really believed them.
Still, Akeno's words broke them out of their stupor and they said as one, "That's absolutely terrifying." The two shared a glance then laugh quietly.
Ranma didn't notice this side conversation and merely laughed. "What she said," he said flipping a rock in his hand. "Since when was this place become coed?" Ranma asked, looking at the kendo captain.
"It happened last year, though it hasn't been advertised as such. Why, did you come here expecting it to be all-girls?" the captain asked, looking at Saeko quizzically.
Ranma and Saeko both looked at Asia. "You think you'll be able ta handle the guys Asia-chan?"
After a moment's hesitation Asia nodded. "I'll try Ranma-nii."
Reaching down, Ranma ruffled Asia's hair before pushing her gently toward Saeko. "Watch out for her okay?" he asked looking over at Saeko. "I've got to get going, I still need ta drop off Kasumi, then get to my own interview, and I got no idea where either her kindergarten is or the police station."
Saeko nodded, placing a gentle hand on the younger girl's shoulder as the bokken in her other hand disappeared into her weapons space. This caused even more shouts of shock and surprise from the crowd around them, but Saeko ignored it. "You may count on me."
Ranma nodded leaning in to whisper. "I'm getting some really weird vibes from the crowd, can't tell from who or what though, just be careful." Saeko nodded and Ranma turned slightly.
He paused looking over the crowd staring at Rias, shock written all over his face. Seeing his glance Saeko and she too stopped and stared at the redheaded girl. Asia looked between the redhead and Ranma almost confusedly then sighed in relief. "Her eyes are different," she said.
Ranma shook his head. "Weird. Very Weird." He looked at Saeko. "I'll be back this afternoon to pick you two up, unless of course you get us permission to use the kendo room."
Saeko smiled, and once more it sent a shiver down several people spines. I'll try to make it so. I doubt we'll be able to go full out, but it has been a several days since we last sparred."
The pigtailed martial artist laughed and with a final wave of his hand bounded off, leaping from a standing start up onto the roof of a nearby building and away as easily as someone else could hopscotch. For a moment the entire crowd stared after him, and then Murayama turned to Saeko. "May I ask? What is he?"
"He's Ranma Saotome, you might have heard of him." Saeko said rather airily. "From my own observations over the past few weeks, the rumors about what goes on in the Nerima district of Tokyo do not do the place justice, and he is most definitely the premier martial artist of our age. Such things like that," she said waving her hand at the rooftops "is rather immaterial to some of the other things I've seen him do."
Rias and Sona exchanged a glance. "If you wish to research or try and recruit Saeko, I'll let you approach her first if you allow me to go after Ranma first?"
Sona preferred to have girls in her peerage, it wasn't a personal preference, though there was a bit of that, she felt that boys were more trouble than they were worth. There was a sophomore she had her eye on that she'd be breaking that rule for already, so wasn't willing to go after Ranma anyway. "Very well, I will start researching Busujima-san. For now, we need to get to class."
The redheaded Gremory heir nodded, but still stared over the rooftops where Ranma had disappeared, still wondering how a human could do that, and what his being here meant.
Ranma raced over the rooftops and despite the smile on his face was thinking hard. He had been using ki sight just in case when he dropped off the girls, but he had run into a problem, the sheer number of people had muddled up his ability to discern individual auras. Only a few had stood out through the jumble. One of whom had been his female body's look alike. That was a damn shock, I mean yeah her hairs longer, the eye color is different, maybe she's little bustier than I am these days, but still she's so close to my female form she could be my female body's twin. With all of that it'd only take a little work for her to by my body double.
The blue haired girl next to her had the same sort of aura, and the black haired girl with an even bigger bust had a very odd one. That one looks like a mix of fallen and devil. The fact that the first two were devils was easy to see, yet at the same time their auras had a different feel than that asshole who had tried to attacked Kasumi and Asia back in Nerima. That one not only felt dark (it was the only feeling that came to mind), but reveled in it, almost like someone who had figured out how to use emotion based ki and overused it, but not quite.
The two girls at school felt as if they had begun as dark, but were tending to the light if that was the way to put it. A person's feelings and actions affected the way their aura appeared in a way, though the ability to see them was a relatively new addition to Ranma's repertoire. Akane read as angry and childish, Kasumi read as gentle and kind, the fallen had read as almost diseased and tainted. The devil had read as naturally evil, that was the only way to put it and these two read as just wrong, as if they were supposed to be evil but… weren't. There had been that one guy in the crowd who had an equally odd aura, almost like the devil but not quite, and Ranma wondered if he should maybe invite Cologne around.
She'd be able to figure them out, but nah, I bet Shampoo'll show up eventually, and Cologne will follow quickly enough, same as Mousse. That old bat wouldn't want to miss a single moment of the entertainment that is my life. That thought would have brought with it some irritation a while ago, but so many good things had happened to him lately that he couldn't begrudge the old witch her simple pleasure.
Ranma quickly covered the distance between the school and their new house, landing lightly in the backyard before opening the back door. "Tadaima! Kasumi are you ready to go?"
"Just a minute," Kasumi's voice said from one of the room ones the second floor. Unlike Ranma and Asia, Kasumi and Saeko both had luggage, mostly clothing and a few odds and ends. Despite the fact that they didn't have any furniture, Kasumi wasn't going to let that stop her from organizing her clothing again.
"Before you go I want to talk to you Ranma," said Nodoka moving from the sitting room where she had been working on measuring the rooms and noting down how many electrical sockets there were. Luckily a few rooms had overhead lighting still, but the whole house needed a lot of furniture before ti felt anything but empty. And the white walls were also rather depressing at the moment.
"That sounds ominous," Ranma said looking at her a little worriedly. "Er, you don't have any skeletons in the closet or anything like that ta tell me, no, er, issues that might come home to roost, rivals, girls who think they need ta marry me fer any reason or anythin' like that?"
Nodoka laughed. "Good grief no, none of that, though I can of course see why that idea jumped out to you. But come my son, we do need to talk." She moved into the kitchen with Ranma following her, still looking worried.
Nodoka smiled faintly at him, amused he looked so worried, but her voice was firm when she spoke. "Ranma, I realize that you wish to get a job to help with the household expenses, and I am all for that. Yet you did not finish high school, and I do not want you to neglect your education and your future to help us now." She held up a hand forestalling any protest. "Ranma, you need an education at least of a high school level to be taken seriously in this world. You don't want to be a lay-about like your father do you? He quit high-school to train under Happosai, and never went back."
That brought Ranma up short but he replied gamely. "But I… I don't do well in school mom! I just can't sit still for that long, and all the bookwork is boring as all hell!"
"I realize that, but I still want you to go to school. We'll find a local school for you, and make what arrangements we can for you to take just the courses you need to graduate. Your language scores were actually very good, as were your history scores. I'm certain with a little effort you can test out of those, which will only leave the language arts and science as well as math."
"I don't know mom," Ranma said rubbing at his pigtail thoughtfully. "The teachers never liked me showing up at all fer physics or any science classes like that, they said something about me breaking the laws of science every time I moved or somethin'."
Nodoka burst out laughing at that, shaking her head with a smile. "I can easily picture that my son, nonetheless, math at least you need to get by in this world as well as language arts. How you communicate with other people will help them realize what a lovely young man you are rather than the rather gauche, arrogant person you sometimes come off as."
Ranma frowned then. "Yeah, but you said it yourself mom, you need more than one or even two jobs to pay for the upkeep of this place. We'll also need money for furniture and stuff. I don't want us to rely on Saeko's family for that kind of thing."
"Saeko has some furniture for herself arriving in the next few days, but yes we will need more money coming in, and I can probably ask for dispensation for you, especially if you get a job with the police. Now, under those circumstances would you be alright with going back to school?"
"Fine ain't the word I'd use to describe my current feelings," Ranma said dryly. "But ya hit below the belt when ya compared me ta the old man, mom. I'll go along with it under one more condition."
"I'll remember to leave such for only the most dire of circumstances," Nodoka replied smiling. "But what is this condition of yours?"
Ranma hid a triumphant smile with difficulty. "I'll go back to school only if you can enroll me at the school Saeko and Asia-chan are going to, Kuoh Academy. It's coed now for some reason, and that way I can be on hand just in case." He smirked internally, there was no way with his grades his mom was going to get him into Kuoh. While the place wasn't the tip top in terms of education, they were still close, and his grades at Furinkan had been really low, despite what his mom said about his grades. His math, reading, science scores were all really low even at Furinkan, anywhere else he would have been forced to retake them.
Nodoka nodded agreement at that, after all, it made sense. "Very well, I will look into it."
At that point Kasumi joined them, dressed in a very nice skirt and blouse combination, smiling happily at the idea of getting a job, something she had wanted to do for a while but had not had the time to do while taking care of her family. She still worried about them occasionally, but Nodoka had been blunt about the idea that Akane and Soun would never change if Kasumi was there to take care of them. "I'm already to go."
"You look very nice my dear." Nodoka complimented, then nodded at the two young people. "I will see you back here tonight, I'll be picking up some food and some utensils, I have enough money still to pay for that."
Ranma nodded and the two walked out the door, walking this time as Kasumi didn't want the wind to mess up her hair. As they walked, Ranma took the time to look around town, and was happy with what he saw. It was much more modern than Nerima, though of course that was because it didn't have to worry about anywhere near as many destructive fights everywhere like Nerima did. There weren't any empty abandoned lots anywhere he could see, though there were few buildings that looked a little rundown they passed on their way to the kindergarten where Kasumi had set up a job interview.
The pigtailed martial artist walked his surrogate sister to the front entrance of the small school. "I'll pick you up later Kasumi-chan, I have to get going to my own job interview."
Kasumi nodded and smiled happily at him. "Thank you for this. I don't know if I would ever have broken out of my mold without some exterior force forcing me to, and this is much nicer than what the demon had planned."
Ranma shrugged. "No problem Kas-chan, everyone needs a little push now and then. There was no way I'd a let you Back in Nerima after it turned out demons or whatever might be after ya."
With that he left her there, leaping off onto the rooftops. Behind him, unseen by Ranma and unfelt by his ki sense, was a small bat, odd since it was still daytime, flitting from shadow to shadow as it could, following him. Rias was not one to let her curiosity lie fallow, and she was very curious indeed about all three of the newcomers. From what she sensed the young girl had a sacred gear of some kind, though what kind she didn't know. The other two felt human, but their physical skills were well beyond anything that she had ever seen before. So whether or not they were generally human or just playing at being human was something she wanted to discover, and she had set out her familiar to start the investigation.
Ranma soon found himself at the police station for the town, and walked in directly. An older, rather fat policeman was sitting at the front desk, reading a magazine with a montage of sports scenes on the front. Ranma tapped on the wood of the desk saying politely (or as politely as he ever got for strangers) "Yo, I'm here for a job interview."
The man pulled down his magazine to stare over the top of it lazily. "Yeah good joke kid, you don't look like you could even be out of high school. Where's the truant officer, this is the first time we've had a kid playing hooky actually walk into the station and give himself up."
"Er, no look, I'm Ranma Saotome, from Nerima? I called ahead and set up a job interview."
"Oh please, according to the stories, if he's actually real, Ranma's supposed to be this giant of a man able to perform all these amazing feats, not a little punk kid." Another police officer came in at a button the man behind the desk had pushed, and moved to take Ranma by the shoulder. "Now, why don't you go with this officer, he'll take you back to school, and maybe you won't get in too much trouble."
Ranma had just about enough of the man's condescending attitude. He reached forward quickly, grabbing the side of the desk and lifting it easily into the air, almost as if it weighed next to nothing. He stared at the shocked and angry face of the fat officer and stated simply, "I am Ranma Saotome, a martial artist from Nerima. If ya don't want me here just say so, but I've had about enough of your attitude, dude." Four more policemen charged out of the back room at this, only to stop and stare.
"Ah, there's the bull in a china shop response I've not missed at all," said a rather drawling voice.
Ranma looked up in surprise at the semi-familiar voice. "Kento, what are you doing here?"
The man who had walked into the reception area had the tabs of a police inspector, even though he was younger than the majority of the other policeman in the room at the moment. He looked around sighing faintly as he saw his fellow officers had pulled out their truncheons. "Put those away please, I don't think you really want to know what he'll do with them to you if you don't, and to Ranma we're all about as dangerous as so many toddlers. Ranma will put the desk down gently, won't you Ranma?"
The policemen who had rushed into the waiting area did so only reluctantly, but Ranma complied dropping the desk back to the ground gently. The man then turned to the man at the desk and said mildly "I told you Ranma was coming, I told you what he looked like as well. Why'd you try and make trouble?"
The man grumbled and looked away and Kento sighed. "I know none of us like the idea of bringing in a specialist, but I also know all of you realize that there is something strange going on in this town, and when it comes to strange you need a martial artist."
"That why got a real interview so quick? I figured there was something going on there." Ranma asked shrewdly, moving over to join the man at the door.
That and I think my captain was ecstatic about the idea of actually employing a martial artist of your caliber rather than try to clean up after you. His brother is a former Nerima officer, and they've shared stories."
Ranma nodded then walked with Kento as the man indicated he should. Kento was a former Nerima police officer, one of the ones that had worked well with the martial artist community. Of course if you didn't work with the martial artists in the area you wouldn't last there for very long outside of the hospital bed. Very few policemen had the training necessary to take on even the fighters on the low end of the scale in Nerima. So instead, the policeman took a more pragmatic view of things and simply worked with the martial artist community to police it as well as they could, and more importantly to control it as much as possible, making certain fights happened where people wouldn't be inconvenienced of hurt. Ranma had been one of the few who went along with that idea, though Shampoo and Ukyo were both in on it at times as well.
That was part of the reason why regular crime of any sort was so extremely unusual in Nerima. Those who don't care for the laws do care for their own safety, and there are many things that a martial artist who doesn't have to obey the law will do that a policeman wouldn't. Regular crimes of any sort had been very few and far between before Ranma got there, after he arrived they became absolutely nonexistent after a few examples were made.
Ranma was particularly proud of the example he made of the first would-be rapist that he had come upon after arriving in Nerima. After interrupting the man as he was about to do the deed then took the rapist and the girl to the local zoo dragging the man by 1 foot the entire way. Then he'd tied some meat to the guy and tossed him into the bear cage with the end of his feet wrapped around with rope, the end of which Ranma held. It only took a few moments of 'fishing for bears' for the man to get the point that maybe he should really think about turning himself in for his own safety, turn over a new leaf and promise to be a much nicer person for the rest of his life.
Kento had been one of the officers assigned to that case, and one of the few who didn't have a problem with the way Ranma had handled things. He wasn't Ranma's friend by any means, but nor was he blind to the fact that Ranma had honor and was one of the best martial artists alive today. Now, he led Ranma to the captain's office and entered after getting permission.
The captain was sitting behind his desk working at a computer but he looked up as the two younger man entered. He was an older sort of man, one that looked prematurely old in point of fact, with graying hair disappearing on his head yet a young seeming face, though it was lined with care. "Is this the one from Nerima? You're file makes for an interesting reading, kid."
"My life makes for an interesting existence, like the Chinese curse," Ranma quipped back smiling briefly. Then he got down to business. "When I applied for a job here, I thought that you guys'd use me as, you know, a pointed reminder to people ta be nice or something, maybe loan me out ta the fire brigade a few times or somethin', now I find that you guys were thinking of hiring me because you have supernatural or martial arts related stuff going on?"
"We think we do." The captain replied, sighing faintly. "There have been a few incidents where people report large cases of memory loss, one or two were worrying to us, but really that isn't the main concern. Those occurrences are so few and far between, and they don't seem to be connected to anything else. No, the main problem we might need your help for is a few odd happenings in the past few days in the district as a whole. They haven't really occurred here in town yet, but we're afraid they might."
He leaned back thoughtfully and decided to give the young man some background. "We don't normally get a lot of crime here. We're not a port city, so we don't get much in the way of contraband like drugs or weapons or anything like that. We have a few local dealers of course, but they keep it low-key and they don't sell anything but marijuana so we let them keep going and they know it, and they pass on any info about someone else moving into the area. We have a few gangs of course, the normal sort of bullies and suchlike, but as most of them are minors, our hands are tied in the majority of cases. I can't remember the last time we had a murder, and I've been here for 15 years, or a kidnapping. Molestation and harassment are much more normal, unfortunately. That's pretty much the rule throughout the district, we're a nice, quiet area for the most part, nothing major. And here in town, with Kuoh Academy here, it helps. Most of its students are well-connected and very bright. They also police themselves to a certain extent, so we don't normally have to step in."
"That's what makes this so disturbing." The captain punched a few buttons on his computer then turned the screen around so Ranma could see. On the screen were a dozen pictures of various people ranging in ages from 12 to 30, all of them men and boys and all decent looking, though Ranma wasn't the best person to notice such. "There've been over a dozen missing persons' cases in the past six months more than in the previous four years. What's worse, is that none of them have turned up again. There've always been cases where someone's reported missing it's just a spouse running away from them, or a child trying to run away from home or something like that. All of the previous cases in my years here were found and either returned or allowed to go on his or her way in regards to the runaway spouses. But this is different. Not a one of these people have turned up again, nor have their faces been reported in any other city in the district or even outside it."
Ranma frowned. "Is that all you've got ta go on? I don't know any martial artist who'd be kidnapping people, that leaves the supernatural sort of thing, and I'm not nearly as well-informed about that kind of thing. I can shut it down easily enough if we find the perp, but other than that," Ranma shrugged. "I've got a sort of technique that will let me see if someone isn't totally normal human, but that won't tell me if one of 'ems doin' this, and if they ain't well, I'm the last person ta bother someone just because he or she ain't normal."
"Police work always comes down to trying to catch the perpetrator in the act, frankly. Much easier to get them tried and convicted that way," the captain said. "However some of these people have been missing for so long without any sight of them we're probably dealing with a murderer rather than a kidnapper. Nonetheless, if we find any hints of this can we count on you to step in?"
"Not a problem," Ranma said grimly. "I've got no truck with murderers."
"Or rapists," Kento murmured dryly. Ranma grinned at him, not taking any umbrage at it.
The captain nodded. "Good. Your salary will be that of a regular beat patrolman, though that'll go up if we call you in on this. Hazard pay will do that. Other than that, I'd like you to just patrol the town. I understand you can roofhop or something? If you're wearing a uniform and people see you doing that then it'll probably cut down on crime, and warn whoever is behind the mass memory losses an the few other low-key things we've noticed that maybe they shouldn't be doing anything."
Ranma grimaced a little at the idea of wearing a uniform but he shrugged. "Yet that'd be fine. He hadn't mentioned the fact that his mother was trying to force him to go back to high school because A. that would be embarrassing as all hell, and B he hoped he wouldn't happen. With his little addition to her demand it was to be hoped that she wouldn't be able to get them in. And of course if she couldn't that wouldn't be his fault would it?
At the same time Ranma was dropping Kasumi off at her job interview Saeko was introducing herself to her new classmates. As a senior she was in 3-A, her grades were fair to middling for the most part, though her Japanese history grade was very good, allowing her to join the best (in terms of grades) class. She smiled pleasantly at the class after the teacher called for her to come in. "Hello, my name is Busujima Saeko. My likes are Japanese history, kendo and practicing the art. My dislikes are perverts, men who objectify women, men who think that women can't be martial artists, and people who assume that gossiping is the most important thing the world."
She went on before the teacher could speak. "I should also warn you that I am a sort of surrogate onee-chan to young Asia Argento, the new freshman I arrived with this morning. If anyone bullies or teases her with malicious intent they will have to answer to me and if any boy hits on her I'm afraid I'll have to turn them over to the young man I showed up with this morning. Beyond his little display outside, he muttered something this morning on the train about using chicken wire on the perverts that hit on his little sister, so you might wish to bear that in mind and pass it on."
Saeko smiled at the only two boys in the classroom, thought since the school had only become coed this year that made sense. Both boys blanched at her conversational tone of voice and the semi-evil smile on her face deciding that not only was this Asia girl off-limits but Saeko was too damn scary to approach.
Akeno, Rias and Sona all shared this class. Akeno smiled behind one hand, restraining herself from chuckling with difficulty. She really was going to get along with this girl.
The teacher was a stern old man, who easily controlled the class and halted any questions that the students might've asked their new classmate, though the curiosity simmered in the air throughout the class until lunch, whereupon Saeko was quickly ambushed at her desk.
"Busujima-san, is that really your natural hair color, it's so pretty!"
"So are you going to try and take the captaincy away from Murayama?"
"Are you really as good at kendo as they say? Does that mean you're like famous or something?"
"Who was that hottie who showed up with you this morning, is he your boyfriend?"
"How did you do that anyway jumping down from the rooftops like that, was there a spring or something up there?"
"Did we really see that guy jump up 2 1/2 stories? There's no way that was real right, it was some kind of trick right?"
Saeko smiled briefly then said firmly, "One at a time please." The girls around her retreated slightly and she went on. "Yes this is my natural hair color, thank you for the compliment. Yes, I am as good as they say. I don't really care if I'm famous or not, though it seems I am in certain circles. The young man's name is Ranma, and we are both martial artists, extreme as it says in my file at this point, I should think. It was not a trick, it is simply a skill, an ability that we can do with enough training. You have to devote your life to it to get as good as we are, but it is fulfilling."
"And is he your boyfriend?" one girl asked excitedly.
"That is private," Saeko responded sedately, a small smile on her face. "Now, if you'll excuse me I wish to check on Asia."
"Before you go, can I speak with you? I am the student body president Sona Shitori. "If you do wish to challenge the kendo captain for her position, there are several forms you'll both have to fill out first."
"I will do so after school, if that is all the same to you?" Saeko said firmly looking at the shorter girl. There was something… off about her, and similarly about the redhead sitting at her desk pulling out a bento, but Saeko couldn't figure out what. It was just a feeling, a sixth sense, telling her she was in the presence of someone more than they seemed.
"That is acceptable, though I will ask you to think about whether or not that is the only club you wish to join, and if you wish to be part of the student counsel as well, your grades are certainly good enough, and we could use another sports rep."
Rias frowned slightly, not liking the way that Sona had jumped so quickly to try and recruit Saeko. Still, something told her the Saeko wasn't going to be easily recruited one way or the other, so she was willing to wait, and she had first dibs on getting to know the pigtailed boy from this morning anyway. However, getting to know Busujima and Argento-san could help me get closer to him. With that thought she stood up quickly, moving to Saeko side. "I'll show you to where Asia's classroom is. I'm Rias Gremory by the way."
Saeko looked at the other girl smiling internally at her poise. It wasn't so stiff as Sona's, but again there was something that wanred Saeko she was more than she appeared. And the fact that she looks almost as if she could be Ranma twin is odd as well. "That would be most helpful, thank you. I love your hair by the way, where are you from originally? With the hair and your skin which is gorgeous as well I must say, it's pretty obvious you're not from Japan."
"That would be telling," Rias responded, laughing a little at the other woman's bluntness. "Oh, this is my friend Akeno. The two of us are president and vice president of the occult research club, which deals with more than just the occult hence why I'm sort of interested in you."
Saeko laughed. "There is nothing supernatural about my abilities, what I can do is just the result of hard work and time. While I wouldn't say that anyone given sufficient training can become as good as I am, it isn't something inexplicable." She smiled pleasantly at Akeno smiled back, the Saeko for one was not fooled by her smile. She saw a glimpse in Akeno's eyes, a glimpse of something that Saeko sometimes saw in her own in the mirror after a particularly bruising spar.
"What does Saotome-san have planned for perverts that involve chicken wire?" Akeno asked, sounding amused, but also showing a bit too much interest in the idea.
Saeko shrugged. "I don't know, and I would not wish to imagine anyway. He is extremely inventive with his punishments."
"Have you known each other long?" Rias asked casually, subtly interrogating the girl.
Saeko didn't notice this, and answered readily enough. "We've only known each other for a few weeks actually, but we've had several adventures in that timeframe. Other than that I won't say."
"And Argento-chan is really his younger sister? I only ask as someone who looks unusual myself, I know that she's, what Italian going from the accent I heard this morning?" Asia was another one Rias was very interested in. She'd felt the power in the girl, a Sacred gear for certain, but what kind she didn't know.
"Ranma sort of adopted her after another adventure. You have to understand that a person's skill in martial arts is directly proportional to the amount of trouble one finds. At least going by what Ranma has said at any rate. I had a few adventures before running into him, nothing to compare with his or the ones we've had since."
The conversation continued as the trio of gorgeous girls walked down the hall, ignoring the glances, whispers, and lustful looks from both girls and boys.
Asia had a very nice time of it. Despite the fact that she stuttered her way through her introduction, she had made friends readily enough of the girls. After the initial round of inquiries however, the questions turned to Ranma and Saeko. "So, what's you're relation to the pigtailed boy, he was really cute, in a wild sort of way. Nothing like Kiba-sama of course but still cool looking."
"O-oh," Asia squeaked, blushing a little. Then she recited from memory, the story they had come up with. "He and I met in Rome when he was there on a trip and I had just left the convent I grew up in. He saved me from some shady characters and decided to adopt me as his little sister."
"Shady characters?" Several people asked, but Asia merely nodded not giving them any more information than that. Another girl asked, "So nice, I'd love to have a nii-chan like that. But what about Busujima-san?"
"Um, she and he sort of bonded over martial arts, and she's stuck around because he's got a lot to teach her," Asia replied, much more honestly this time.
"So do you like the food here in Japan?" asked one girl.
"Oh yeas, I love the sweets, and the soups and, um, those stands on the street, I don't know the word for them, those little octopus thingies and the, the oden I think it's called? Um, Nodoka-kaa-san and Kasumi-nee both are really good cooks and everything they make is really good."
The other girl, who had short blue hair and a sort of permanently deadpan face asked eagerly. "Yeah that's nice and all, but are Busujima-san and the hottie together?"
"NO!" shouted Asia, then she squeaked and blushed hotly. "N-no, Saeko-san sometimes flirts with him, but I, I don't think Ranma-nii is interested in having a relationship right now." At least Asia hoped so. Ranma hadn't begun to flirt back with Saeko at least, though there was a certain closeness there. She felt that if the two ever got together, Ranma wouldn't be able to spend so much time with her, and she refused to let that happen. Ranma was her first friend, and she didn't want him to be taken away from her like that. It had nothing at all to do with her little crush on him, nothing at all.
The questioner smirked, leaning forward eagerly. "Ooooh, do I sense someone has unsisterly feelings for her nii-chan?"
"Hey," barked the girl who had asked Asia about food. She had long black hair falling loosely down her back and a kindly expression, though right now that was in abeyance as she glared at the other girl. "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. Now, since you're new to the city, do you know any of the sights or anything? What do you do in your spare time?"
"Hey, if you're new to the area I can show you around." One of four freshman boys who had come over to Asia's desk said. They had been waiting until they heard enough about Asia before moving in. "If you want, I could show you a good time."
Before any of the girls around Saeko could take umbrage at the boy's smarmy tones, Saeko's voice rang out from the doorway where she stood, smiling in a somewhat chilling fashion. "Ara, I had assumed that gossip and rumor would carry the penalty for flirting with Asia-chan here before I arrived." She looked at the four boys smiling pleasantly despite her cold tones. "This is your one warning," she said happily, her tone and face belying the danger in her words. "No perving on Asia-chan or you won't be able to perv anymore, I would have thought that my display this morning would have squashed any urges in that direction."
Rias smiled pleasantly as she moved around Saeko, smiling at the looks of awe and the shouts of 'Kya! It's Himejima and Gremory-sama!' looking cheerfully at Asia. "If you haven't started lunch yet, would you and your friends like to eat lunch with us?"
There was only one response to that question from one of the Two Great Ladies, especially since the other Great Lady was with her.
So the meal became several freshmen girls plus Rias Akeno and Saeko. Rias was a master of steering conversations and she did so, smiling pleasantly and discussing with Asia and Saeko any topic that came to mind along with the other girls, simply getting to know the two girls, probing gently to see if she could figure out anything interesting about them, especially Asia, searching for a clue as to the Sacred Gear Asia possessed.
She realized halfway through lunch however that she liked both girls. Asia was a sweet young girl, and seemed to have the same sort of fascination with Japanese culture that Rias had, at least when it came to manga and food. Not anime alas, which Saeko strangely enough was into. Saeko was a fascinating, intelligent girl with a wicked sense of humor, and she and Rias bonded over jokes and anime, along with Akeno.
Yet for all of that Rias was a little frustrated at being unable to figure out Asia's Sacred Gear. As fun as this was, Rias knew that she was working under a time constraint, sort of like a sword of Damocles hovering over her head with her marriage to Riser coming up. She hoped beyond anything that Asia could help her, but for now, was willing to take things slow despite her fears.
Her queen too had fun. Akeno tried to continually put Saeko into a position where she let out the inner sadist had glimpsed a few times. Yet for some reason it had faded now, and Saeko refused to respond as she should, which frustrated Akeno's own inner sadist a little.
Asia knew nothing about the undercurrents going on. She was ecstatic having made so many friends on the first day of school, something she had dreamed about for most of her life. Saeko was a quite a bit more wary, but even she enjoyed her time.
The fallen angel Raynare moved through the crowd of school people frowning thoughtfully. Being here at all was a danger, but that wasn't why she was frowning. She was confident in her illusion, her papers and her acting skills. Yuuma, the name she was currently using was real enough, and had a real paper trail if anyone checked. She was also confident that even if they spotted her, none of the devils here were going to start something unless they really had to. All of them were young and very inexperienced, after all that was why they were here in school in the human world in the first place.
No, the danger wasn't what she was worried about. What Raynare was worried about was the fact that her associates were supposed to have arrived by now, and she hadn't seen hide nor feather of them. She wasn't worried about them, but Raynare was worried about whether or not she would be able to succeed in her mission without them.
There was also the fact that a new Sacred Gear user had arrived today. Young Asia Argento definitely gave off the vibes of Sacred Gear user, moreover one who had fully activated her Gear. But Raynare didn't recognize her from any of the files she had on unaffiliated users, those few individuals that had activated their Gears without any aid from one of the three factions. That meant she was probably already affiliated with the Devils or the Angels.
On the other hand, if she's somehow independent, she thought to herself smiling now than the prizes here are well worth the danger. How to approach the girl however, that is the question, approaching the boy won't be hard at all, the little pervert.
After a moment's thought, Raynare decided to put off approaching the boy for a few more days. While she was confident that none of the Devils had spotted her, they might have spotted him and be watching. Having backup to at the very least draw their attention away for a moment or two would be a good idea.
The second half of the day passed uneventfully for everyone in the odd family. While Saeko and Asia were at school, Ranma familiarized himself with the town by roof-hopping all over the place. This set up some interesting urban legends, though strangely enough people here seemed to disbelieve their senses more than Ranma was used to when out and about in Tokyo. Of course Nerima was part of the Tokyo district, and so was the Juuban district, which meant they saw odd shit a lot more often than here. Still, Ranma was certain they'd get used to it eventually, and if they didn't it was no skin off his back.
He clocked out at around three, and was on hand jumping down from the rooftop again as the school let out.
This was the start of club time, and he frowned as he didn't see Saeko in the crowd. Asia however was walking towards him excitedly chatting to a few other girls. He moved over towards Asia, who smiled and waved at him while the girls around her giggled at something. "Hey, Asia-chan, did you have a good first day at school?"
"Hai," she said excitedly, "it was great! Oh, um these, these are my new friends." At the word friends Asia's already excited face became even more ecstatic, practically glowing. "This is Misa and Rin." Misa had long straight hair falling loosely down her back and was of normal height for their age (the same size as Ranma's female form, which hadn't grown in terms of height since he got his curse). Rin was almost as tall as Ranma's male body, and rail thin, with short-cropped brown hair.
"Pleased ta meet you two." Ranma nodded at them then turned back to Asia. "Do ya know where Saeko this, I wanted to see if she got permission for our spar and when I should show up fer it."
Asia nodded. "I think she's with the kendo team right now, I can show you where she is, though I don't know if she got permission for your spar." When Ranma nodded, she waved farewell to her friends and began to lead the way towards where she knew the gym to be.
Halfway there Ranma stopped, frowning as he heard something that sounded like giggling, with rather perverse overtones. Motioning Asia to stay where she was, Ranma moved in that direction, hands twitching a little.
Moving around the side of the gym, Ranma found a small, almost invisible area between the girls changing room, or at least he thought it was a girl stay here judging by the giggling he could hear through the wall, and the gym. It was hidden almost entirely by several tall bushes, all of which Ranma could see had thorns. However someone had somehow levered a small hole between two of them, allowing access to the alleyway.
From within three males voices sounded out, whispering excitedly to one another. "Oh my God, did you see the size of that one's boobs!"
"And that ass on the team captain," said a second voice, before giggling excitedly.
"Oh my god, this is the promised land! So awesome, this was well worth the time spent trying to get in here!" said a third voice.
"SHH! Here comes Saeko-chan! OH my god…."
By that point Ranma was standing behind three boys. They were all sophomores, or so he assumed by their uniform colors, and Ranma recognized them from this morning as the ones who perved the most on Asia and Saeko. The idea of these boys looking at Saeko like that made Ranma's blood boil for some reason.
"I think if you're going to find," he said almost conversationally as he cracked his knuckles. "That the toll for goin' ta heaven is damn high!" His voice was loud enough to grab the attention of the girls inside, who all began to shout in consternation.
All three of the Perverted Trio, but before they could move Ranma had them all three held immobile. Two of them were lifted off the air easily by hands around their throats, the third was pinned to the ground by a foot.
A voice inside grabbed his attention before he could do anything more. "Ranma, is that you?"
"Hey Saeko," he said genially. "I came by to see when you wanted me to stop by for our spar then found a few perverts out here. I'll give you lot two choices," he said looking back at three of them. "One, I can turn you over to the kendo team for their punishment, or I can give ya mine."
"Yours!" One of them and shouted, the boy with the glasses that Ranma was basically stepping on the moment. "Anything but turning us over to them!"
Normally they would try to protest their innocence, or say something about how Ranma couldn't understand them being such a pretty boy, but the fact that all three of them were so helpless in his grip at the moment had thrown that out of their minds. "Anything is better than what they do to us! They take their bokken to our boy bits! We need those!"
"Anything?" asked Ranma ominously, letting a little of his ki appear in his eyes for a moment.
All three boys look at one another their eyes wide and afraid, then said as one, "You know what, we'll go with the kendo team."
Unbeknownst to him, Issei, who was being lifted by the front of his jacket as easily as he would a book, had a force inside him, a Sacred Gear. Though it had yet to fully activate, it was sentient enough to feel it when someone was threatening its container. At the moment it felt the container being under more of a threat than it had ever been before. In response the dragon almost roused itself, but it wasn't quite strong enough yet. Still, its consciousness was roused and when it did activate, the response would be quite a bit more than it would otherwise have been.
By this time a few of the girls had been able to pull on their clothing, and Saeko led the way outside, all of them holding their bokken. Their faces were all thunderous, and Saeko's eyes in particular were glinting dangerously.
Ranma dropped the two boys he was holding on to the third and stepped back "All yours girls."
"Thank you Ranma," Saeko said primly, before shaking her head sadly. "In regards to our spar, I'm afraid that isn't possible. There are safety and liability rules that Sona-san, the student body president, is unwilling to waive to allow a non-student to use the school's facilities."
"Well, that sucks," Ranma groaned. "You told her how good we are right?" Saeko nodded somewhat glumly. The backyard of their new house was nice, but it wasn't set up yet for them to use it as a sparring area, not without the neighbors complaining about the noise anyway. They still would eventually, but not yet. "And she still didn't want to let us use it, man that's really stupid. I hate people who think rules are so damn important they override common sense."
Elsewhere on campus a certain blue-haired student body president sneezed, and wondered why she suddenly had the urge to slap anyone with a pigtail.
"To be fair," Saeko said, smiling slightly despite privately agreeing with Ranma. "Common sense would argue against believing you are as good as you are, Ranma, and your idea of common sense does not match the norm. IN any event, I'll be working with the kendo team for the rest of the day, after they are done chastising these three of course." She shot a look full of scorn and contempt at the trio of boys before turning back. "I wish to get to know my new teammates, so I will be here until six or so, and the team might go out to eat together tonight. If so, I will call the house of course."
"Make sense," Ranma said nodding. "I'll take Asia home now then. Have fun you lot." he said smirking evilly at the boys then knelt down in front of them. "Also, Saeko's my friend. Asia is my little sister," he said waving his hand to where Asia had come forward to see what was going on. "If any of you perv on the two of them again, I will give you my punishment. It involves chicken-wire and being hung from a very high place. I haven't decided yet what body part you'll be hung by, just so you know."
All three boys shivered, then shivered again as the kendo team closed in around them. "Not the face!" Issei yelled.
A moment later Mahotama shouted "Wait, yes the face no, not there! No, not the bokken, have mercy on my future children!"
Soon their voices merged into one yowling in pain. "AIEEE!"
Ranma was walking away the sound of a brutal beating going on behind him. He stepped in front of Asia's view, knowing it would bother the gentle girl. "Let's go home," he said simply, ignoring the sounds of violence with ease. Perverts had a life force all their own after all, they would bounce back soon enough. Kuno, Happosai and those idiots from the former marry Akane brigade were proof of that. Without looking back Ranma scooped Asia into his arms, and a moment later they were in the air and away.
Two roofs later Asia asked hesitantly, "Ano, Ranma, um, do you think we could look for a church before we head home?"
Ranma cocked his head. "Sure I suppose, but why'd you want to find a church?"
Well even though I …um… I don't, I mean I'm not part of the church anymore I know that, but um, I still believe in God, and I would like to go and pray. It's been a few weeks. For some reason there wasn't a church in Nerima, and we didn't find one while we were moving around. The last time I prayed in a consecrated place was on the Princess ship."
"Oh yeah," Ranma chuckled. "Fer some reason Christians really don't like Nerima. Probably has something to do with them calling all the martial artists there demons in human clothing. Puts a damper on their welcome ya know? In fact I think I remember Ryoga demolishing a church on purpose at one point. He said something about being splashed a few times with holy water and then being called a 'demon pig.'"
Asia chuckled. "I could definitely see that happening, but can we?"
Ranma looked down as he flew along from one roof to the other and realized that the young girl was actually very serious about this. "Sure Asia, we can ask around, though I haven't seen one yet."
He hopped down from the roof easily, startling more than a few people as he landed in among the regular street goers. Ranma looked at the closest person and asked, "Excuse me, do you know where a church is?"
The answer to that was a stuttered, nigh incoherent negative, and Ranma moved on. Eventually they got directions to a church, but were also warned that it was run down and dilapidated. Still, Ranma and Asia once more took to the rooftops, again shocking passerby, before racing on in the direction of the church.
A few minutes later, they arrived in the neighborhood with the church, where Ranma stopped, both of them looking at the church from afar. It certainly looked dilapidated, the caution tape and keep out signs on every possible entrance was a clue. "I don't think that going in there is a good idea Asia-chan," Ranma muttered. "That building looks like a good sneeze could knock it over, and with my luck…"
Asia sighed sadly. "Maybe there's another one somewhere," she said, though Asia was beginning to get discouraged. She hadn't really realized how few actual Catholics there were in terms of population. There just weren't that many actual churches around. In point of fact, only about one percent of the Japanese population practiced any form of Christianity. Most Japanese would tell you they didn't practice any religion really, and what there was, was dominated by a mix of Shinto and Buddhist called shinbutsu shugo, where every individual took the bits and portions of both religions and practiced what they wished. Holidays of other faiths were widely practiced, but more because the Japanese liked them than any real belief in the beliefs behind them.
They searching for another 40 minutes or so by roofhop, but eventually Ranma realized Asia was once more getting motion sick and sighed, halting their progress in a park within a housing area. "I don't think we're goin' ta have much luck Asia-chan," he said finally, setting the girl on her feet and looking around as he caught a flash of red out of the corner of one eye. He looked back quickly thought. "Why don't you just pray here?"
"It's not the same Ranma," Asia said sadly. "This isn't consecrated ground, praying here doesn't have the same weight as it would in a church."
Ranma scratched at his pigtail thoughtfully for a moment. "I don't know about consecration or anything like that, but from I understand, yer God is supposed to have created everythin' right? The whole seven days thing?"
Asia nodded, and Ranma went on. "Well in that case, wouldn't any place be as important ta him as one place or another? I mean if he created the entire world, then doesn't that mean he'd be able ta hear yer prayers wherever you are? Why should it matter if it's in a church or consecrated gound or whatever." He reached out a hand to gently rub Asia's head, smiling faintly. What I know is, the whole kicked out of the church thing doesn't matter, you obeyed the laws of your religion, no matter the outcome. You're a good girl, yer faith is strong, and there's no chance if he exists that God'd be unwilling to hear the prayers of someone like you just because you're not a prayin' in the right place."
Asia's eyes began to water, and she roughly embraced Ranma around the middle for a moment. "Thank you, onii-chan." With that she moved away going down to one knee by a tree and putting her hands together closing her eyes in prayer.
Ranma let her to it, moving back slightly and took to the side so that he was by a specific tree. He looked around it to spy of redhead who had stopped momentarily apparently seeing Asia praying and not wanting to intrude for some reason. She winced for a moment, and Ranma asked "You okay?"
Rias had personally been in the area trying to trail a strange aura that she had felt in one of the sophomore girls. She was a little suspicious of the girl, one Yuma Amano, and wanted to see where she lived, but she had already assigned her familiar to following Asia Argento, and Akeno had volunteered to go and see if the new swordswoman at school was as good as both she and the kendo team seemed to think (volunteered was putting it mildly actually). So she'd been forced to do her own legwork. It was pure luck that put her here when Argento and Ranma arrived. "I'm fine, just a mild headache. May I ask," she went on hesitantly, waving one hand over at the young girl, plying for information even now. "She looks a little distressed, and it's the job of the senpai to watch over the kouhai, may I ask what's wrong?"
Ranma chuckled at that, then shrugged. "She was a little distressed that there ain't an open church around here. The only one here looks like a safety hazard waitin' ta kill someone. I convinced her that if there was a God, he'd be able to hear her wherever she prayed."
The redhead jumped on the chance to ask a very pertinent question of this young man, who she was rather interested in. His physical skills were extremely good for human, and she was getting the impression that she hadn't seen anywhere near all he could do just yet. "And do you follow the Christian faith as well?"
"Not a bit of it," Ranma replied, laughing quietly so as to not disturb Asia. "I've seen too much weird stuff and just stupid, weird ass shit to believe that God really exists. If he does," he said looking at her and winking "He's an asshole."
Rias giggled a little at that, hoping that God was listening. She wasn't certain if the god could here everything that happened around someone praying to him, but she really hoped he could at that.
Up in heaven Gabriel had once again tuned her viewing crystal to Asia, and she sat there, crying softly as the voice of this girl, whose pure innocence was simply amazing to see, sent her prayers up to a god that had turned his back on her. Gabriel shook her head, wondering if there was any way Heaven, and her in particular, could ever prove worthy of that devotion. She also looked at Ranma even more closely, since, as a man who professed to not believe in God, he seemed to have an understanding of faith that was surprising in one so young, even if he derided god.
She looked over at where she knew Michael sat on his throne, albeit with several walls between her current position, listening to the prayers of the faithful. Swiftly she stood, moving in that direction, entering the throne room to listen to Asia's prayer, smiling sadly as the girl thanked God for her friends, for her family, and for sending Ranma to defend her from the Fallen. Then, as Gabriel stood there, she went on to pray for peace between the factions to continue, and for peace in the world, thanking God for making it so beautiful, and for making it such a fun place to live in.
"I wonder what she would say if she knew that her God had refused to act to keep her from being kicked out of the church?" Gabriel said whimsically, her hands crossed under her voluminous chest. Her hair, the same color as her brother Michaels, cascaded down freely over her shoulders in golden curls. Yet for all her beauty, there was a biting edge to her tone that Michael had never heard before, certainly never directed at him.
Michael was an almost dopey looking bishonen man, with hair down to his shoulders, the same blonde as his sister. His face had hardened somewhat over the centuries since he had taken the place of their Lord in the Heaven System, yet he was still generally a kindly man, if far too hidebound at times. He was also, unfortunately, much more interested in the big picture than individuals. "I have never questioned Asia Argento's faith Gabriel, but it was not her faith nor her general goodness that caused her to be expelled from the church, it was that she healed a devil. The church could not allow her to remain within its environs after such."
"Yet you could have stopped it!" Gabriel said back, only her habitual manners keeping her from shouting in Michael's face. "You could have told them not to kick her out, not to judge her so harshly for a minor mistake."
"It was not a minor mistake," Michael said sternly. "If her Sacred Gear truly was from god, then it should never have been able to heal that devil in the first place. Healing a devil showed that it was not from God."
"But the Sacred Gears were truly created by our Lord God," Gabriel countered. "Or are you saying that perception and the need to make certain the church remains naïve and reactionary is so important?"
"Not naïve, nor reactionary, unsullied. The church must remain, large and small, dedicated to the words of God. Nothing that gainsays that word can be allowed." Michael's voice was weary now. This was an argument that had gotten old in the past few days between them, and he wished dearly that Gabriel would let it go. "Please, Gabriel, you know I am right. The power of the Faith is what sustains the Heaven System and Heaven itself."
Gabriel sighed wearily as well. "I know that Michael. I just…" she couldn't finish that thought, not certain what she was going to say. Gabriel knew Michael was right in a way, but she hated the fact that it had cost Asia so much, and that so much of that Faith was built on a lie. "I just wish things could be different."
In the background, Asia's prayer began to wind down, and Gabriel turned away, sighing again, deeper and more sadly, knowing that the girl whose faith was so pure could never truly be welcome by the followers of her god ever again.
Rias stopped giggling, noticing that Ranma was staring at her. He'd done the same thing that morning when he caught sight of her in the crowd, but it wasn't one of the normal look boys had while staring at her. It wasn't 'oh my God she's so hot', or even 'wow red hair', or even, and in her opinion this was the worst, 'good God those boobs are huge', she hated that look, as if her tits were the only reason she was attractive, objectifying her like that, like that bastard Riser did. No, this was a look of wonder and amusement. "Why are you staring at me like that?"
"Oh, sorry its just, wow, you really do look a lot like," he paused "um, another redhead I know." Ranma wasn't about to blurt out his curse to anyone after all. "You might meet her around town eventually, but you could be her twin almost."
Rias laughed at the very idea. "That would be rather amusing really, I'm looking forward to meeting her. Is she going to go to Kuoh Academy as well? And can I ask, why aren't you in school young man?"
Ranma shrugged, smirking. "Young man, I'm at least yer age, maybe a little older. And Right now my family needs more money comin' in, so I'm getting a job. My mom wants to continue my education but I don't really care one way or the other." He laughed. "I don't really want ta go back so I told her I would but only fi she got me inta Kuoh, and with my grades that just ai'nt happenin'."
Oh, I wouldn't want to bet on that, Rias smirked, which Ranma noticed but didn't understand. If Ranma's mother was trying to get him into Kuoh, then she was going to do all she could to get him in. That way she would have more time around him to help her figure out how he could do the things he could as a normal seeming human.
"Now I gotta a few questions of my own," Ranma said smiling back at what he thought was a smile at him. "One, what's your name, and two, do you know of an ice cream store near here? We just moved into the area and I think we could use a housewarming gift for ourselves."
Rias smiled. "My name is Rias Gremory, I'm the president of the occult research club at Kuoh Academy." For some reason this caused Ranma to smile, though Rias didn't catch it this time. "As for ice cream, I know just the place actually. There is an ice cream store about twenty blocks in that direction," she pointed to the right from where they were standing in the park. "You'll have to look for it though because the sign is kind of small. The shop itself is actually pretty good. The entrance way is almost as small as the sign, but it's the best ice cream around."
By this time, Asia had finished praying, and she stood up. She dusted herself off then moved over to where Ranma was talking to Rias.
"Thanks for the info," Ranma said nodding. He moved over to Asia and picked her up again before looking back at the redhead. "I'll see you around devil-chan."
Rias gaped at him, watching as the pair jumped off through the woods and out of the park. "How did he know! What is he?" She frowned thoughtfully. Being that close I could feel some kind of tightly controlled energy from him, but it was one she had never felt before. Oh, that close she could also tell there was some magic, but it wasn't the magic of potential, but rather some kind of spell or other woven into his very being. Whatever it is, its powerful, very powerful. But the spell doesn't have anything to do with the energy I sensed in him, but rather the spell is overlaid his physical form. What's worse, it's not a spell I'm familiar with.
She chuckled. I like a good mystery, and this one looks to be very interesting indeed. With that she turned back toward Kuoh, forgetting about the suspicious transfer student for a moment, determined to do what she could to pave the way for Ranma's mother to get him into Kuoh.
Asia and Ranma had traversed about half of the distance to the ice cream store before pausing as Ranma heard a voice shouting from the alleyway directly below him. Setting Asia down Ranma stared over the edge of the roof to what was going on.
There was a crowd of six boys all high school age or older, who looked as if they wanted people to think they were tough. They had piercings and bleached hair, sort of like poster children for punks. In the center of the group was a girl that looked about Asia's age, with white hair and a petite body which looks built for speed or agility. She wore the same uniform as Asia, even the same color, which indicated she was in the same year as Asia at the Academy.
As they watched, she said something, staring at one of the boys, her voice a monotone. Yet Ranma could detect a little anger there. "Give it back."
One of the punks was holding what looked like a package of some kind into the air, the kind of package that a street vendor would use to put sweets in. "Not until you apologize for walking into that us like that you little bitch! That really hurt you know."
Ranma couldn't stop himself. "Seriously? People actually use that line?"
His voice caused all of the people below him to look up and gape at him. With a single step Ranma dropped straight down to land lightly on his feet. "Yeah this is just stupid guys, just go away before you embarrass yourselves further. This is so lame it's not even funny."
Though the sight of Ranma dropping and landing easily from a four-story height had startled the group of teenage thugs, his words made them so angry they ignored it. "Why don't you pull your nose out of our business!" The man holding the package shouted at Ranma, "Otherwise you're going to get hurt!"
Ranma sighed sadly. "You are what we would call in Nerima an evolutionary dead end."
Nabiki was the one who'd come up with that phrase after Ranma, Shampoo, Mousse and Ukyo had hammered a Yakuza gang's attempt to move into the area by simply rounding up every member of the gang, no matter where they were, then tying them all together and beating them with baseball bats supplied by Mousse. Up until they had begun to beat on them many of the Yakuza had still been making threats, as if they really didn't understand the position they were in.
After sighing Ranma moved forward towards the group, and when one of them took a swing at him simply caught it and tossed the guy over his head as if he weighed next to nothing. The next man caught a kick that literally blew him out of the alleyway onto the street. Two more had their heads smashed together with an almost negligent ease before the leader pulled out a knife and tried to stab him. Ranma sighed sadly again, caught the knife between two fingers then snapped it. "Good grief, you really are an idiot." With that he smashed the man aside with a slap to the face that slammed him into the side of the building, where he slumped to the ground, crushing the package he had tossed there under his ass.
The pigtailed martial artist reached down and picked the man up in one hand then slapped him across the face with the other, not hard at all even for a normal person, but definitely humiliating. "Now," he said conversationally. "I'm not going to be a bully about this or anything," with each word slapping the man in the face. "I don't like gangs, and I really don't like bullies who gotta have all their friends with 'em when they try ta pick on someone younger and weaker than them." A slight sound from behind him made him turn slightly and look at the white-haired girl, but she didn't make any more noises and he turned back. "Now, I'm gonna let you lot go, sort of a catch and release thing. I'm releasing' ya ta tell your friends that there's not going to be any more of this punk gangster crap. The next group I find they ain't gonna be so lucky, kay?"
"God stop hitting me! I get it I get it!" the man moaned, his will broken for now.
"Good." With that Ranma let the man go and the punks all ran off. As the last one fled Ranma, turned to the little girl then paused. "Huh, you know I was going ask if ya were alright, but now I'll just say sorry I took yer prey. What would you have done to 'em anyway?"
The girl blinked at him, but Ranma didn't look away and something told the young girl that he could tell more about her than she could about him. "Just beat them up," she mumbled looking away and sighing sadly at the fact that her sweets had been crushed when the man dropped them in his rush to pull out his knife. And she'd lost the chance to make some easy cash too…
Ranma reached down and picked up the sweets. "Yeah sorry about that, didn't notice they were there when I threw him." He looked up suddenly as the girl came closer.
Koneko was rather conflicted at the moment. On the one hand this boy had interrupted what could've been an amusing few minutes, on the other hand he had done so to help her and had apologized for when he somehow realized that she didn't need the help, though she didn't know how he realized Koneko was much stronger than she looked.
What was more, he gave off this feeling. It was sort of the feeling of a big alpha cat, yet not quite. Sort of also like a summer day, all full of life and energy, yet somehow not. There was an energy in him, yet it was so tightly controlled she couldn't tell what kind it was, which was very odd, but she had decided that she liked being near him.
He looked up at Asia and said "Be up in a sec." With that he bounded up to her, picked her up and then dropped back to the ground.
Once on the ground, Asia nodded at the girl. "Hello Koneko-san, I hope those bullies didn't do anything before Ranma-nii scared them off." She looked at Ranma and wagged a finger in his face admonishingly. "Did you have to be so hard on them?"
"Oh, I didn't hurt any of 'em Asia-chan, just scared 'em. Don't worry none and threw them around, they'll all be alright in a bit. So, do you two know one another."
"UM, not really. Koneko-san is just in my class at school." Koneko nodded.
Ranma nodded. "Gotcha. Hey, ya know where there's an ice cream shop is around here?"
The girl's eyes widened. She immediately turned to look up at him, her eyes wide and soulful as she pouted just I tiny bit.
Ranma grimaced. Did every girl know how to do the puppy dog eyes attack? Though for some reason, Ranma was struggling to call it that in this girls case. "Fine, if you show us, I'll buy you a bowl too…"
The girl nodded, grabbed his hand and pulled him along eagerly.
Asia pouted a little then reached forward, grabbing his other hand and following along.
Ranma didn't know why, but his instincts were going a little haywire. Something about this young girl screamed 'danger' to him, above and beyond the skill he could tell she hid in her small frame. It was almost as if she was a cat, but not quite. Asia's healing hadn't been able to do anything about a purely mental issue, though she had healed quite a lot of the damage from the neko-ken episode, all the small tiny scars that had covered Ranma's back and forearms were gone. Still something about this girl was screaming cat to his senses, and that portion of his brain didn't like being near her at all.
Yet at the same time his martial arts instincts were getting no sign of threat from her. Oh, she was good, but she wasn't radiating any danger to him, and it she wasn't really in his league anyway.
Soon enough they reached the ice cream stand, and the sign really was small. Once they got past the entryway however the place was pretty nice, with several small decks inside up single steps with booths on them, with nice lighting and the entire back wall filled with the menu.
As they walked into the ice cream café, Asia did not relinquish her grip on Ranma's hand, pouting a little as she looked around his body at Koneko. Though she didn't know it, Asia was feeling slightly jealous. She already had to share Ranma with Saeko and his mother (though of course she didn't really begrudge Nodoka) she'd be darned if she'd share with another little girl the little sister position especially since they just met! "Ranma, how are you going to pay for the ice cream? I thought you and Saeko gave Nodoka-san all of your money for food?"
Ranma smirked down at her. "You're about to see one of the most hallowed secrets of Anything Goes school of martial arts, the dreaded mooch-fu. Now, what kind of ice-cream do you both want?" Asia and Koneko read the massive list and answered after several minutes. Ranma nodded. "Got it, now, you two go sit down, I'll be back in a bit."
Koneko and Asia let go of his arms (rather reluctantly for both) and moved over to one of the raised booths. It was one in a corner, which allowed them both to look around at the rest of the store. After a few moments of awkward silence Asia tried to break it, her feelings of jealousy gone now that Ranma wasn't around to fight over. "So, um, w-what were you doing when those bullies tried to pick on you?"
"Getting sweets" Koneko answered.
"Oh, what kind?" From there the conversation delved into different kind of sweets, and Asia found that she and the white-haired young girl had a lot of in common in terms of what kind of candy and sweets they liked. Neither of them liked anything remotely spicy, and simple was best, though neither liked coconut. Halfway through Asia had invited Koneko over to try Kasumi's pancakes. "Trust me," she said "you'll really like them, they're sweet and tasty and filling too!"
Koneko nodded eagerly, she was always happy to eat sweets, but then she looked up and startled gasp came from her mouth. She was about to stand up from her chair when she sat down again, head cocked to the side and a quizzical sound coming from her. "RRRHMM?"
Asia turned as well and said "Oh, why is Ranma in his female form?"
Koneko glanced over at her, head still cocked to one side. But Asia wasn't looking at her, still staring at Ranma wondering what he was doing in his female form. She knew that Ranma didn't particularly like to spend that much time in his female body not just because of how people reacted to it back in Nerima, but because he hated adding up the time spent in it, Ranma's periods were the stuff of nightmares for anyone around him.
Ranma ignored Asia and Koneko for the moment, striding forward, swaying her hips. The dreaded mooch-fu had to have the right part of course, but Ranma had noticed the moment they entered the ice cream shop that it was entirely manned by pimple-faced teens, along with one old man who didn't have a ring on his finger. In other words, targets acquired.
Ranma was sort of two different minds about his curse. He was actually okay with it, and had been for a while, but it had was people's reactions to it, especially Akane's and those influenced by her back in Nerima that made it so irritating. At times like these however, it proved its worth. She had changed her clothing at all, that would've been pointless. She was still dressed in martial arts pants, which hugged her hips nicely, and the silk shirt she had worn was now quite a bit tighter over her chest.
While Ranma's female form hadn't gained anything in terms of height since he had been cursed two years ago, she had gained quite a lot in the chest area. Where before she had been a solid B cup, possibly as high as a C, she was now a high D-cup, nearly as big as the redhead she had met earlier today who looked like she could be her twin, Rias.
Ranma had also unbound her hair from its normal pig tail, letting it fall to her shoulders loosely. For some reason his female form's hair was also a little longer these days, he couldn't understand that part at all but didn't care either.
The moment she came back into the shop all eyes were on her, even those of a few couples sitting around the store. Ranma smirked internally as she strode towards the targets at the back of the shop. A brief glance up told her what flavor she wanted, and she leaned over the counter her breasts bouncing a little, she never wore bras unless her mother was around, her hands folded under her. "Hi," Ranma said, making her voice breathy and sexy. "I would like Three tubs of Honey caramel, pistachio and lychee flavored ice cream to go, and a Rocky Road, a Death by Chocolate, and a Sweet Strawberry please, all mediums for here, please."
The pimply-faced youth on the other side of the counter nodded convulsively, turning to shout the order but the two other workers behind him were already scrambling to put the order together. He coughed as he tapped the order into the register, and then stuttered. "Th-that, that'll be 2, 2270 yen, p-please."
Ranma made a show of patting herself down, exaggeratedly patting yourself on the chest and then her flatt stomach and down to her thighs, amused by how the boy's eyes tracked her hands. "Oh darn, I seem to have left my wallet in my other pants, I guess I'll just have to come back later…"
"N-Nonsense," the older man said, stammering a little from where he had been trying and failing to look like he wasn't staring at Ranma's breasts. "We can't ask you to disrupt your day like that, besides we know the Gremory clan is good for it."
Ranma frowned a little at that. Usually she'd have to flirt a few minutes more and more outrageously to get the price of the ice cream down.
Evidently however, she looked enough like Rias to be thought of as her relative or something. Though the use of the word 'clan' was odd, and it sounded like the Gremory name was really important or something, but Ranma wasn't going to comment. Free food was free food after all.
What she didn't realize was that the manager had seen Koneko, whose friendship with Rias was well known, enter the store, and he assumed that the redhead was with her. There were no other redheads other than Rias and her mother (who showed up occasionally) in town after all, so it wasn't exactly a leap of logic to assume that this new redhead was part of their family. The old man hadn't heard of Rias having a sister, but that didn't mean it was impossible after all.
A moment later Ranma was moving back towards the two little girls, carrying a tray in one hand with their chosen ice cream and in her other holding the bag with the gallon sizes she got for Kasumi and the others. "Here you go," she said cheerfully, sitting down next to Asia.
Asia got a little bit of a superior smile on her face at that, and let her head rest against Ranma's arm for a moment before digging into her Sweet Strawberry.
Koneko reached forward and took her bowl of Rocky Road, holding it close, but she didn't eat it just yet, opting instead to stare at Ranma. Her face was still not very expressive, but Ranma could read it a bit, and he thought he saw a little bit of shock there as well as something else. "How?" The younger girl asked.
"That's a secret," Ranma said biting into his Death by Chocolate, and nearly moaning as the taste bitter taste buds. After she recovered, Ranma took pity on the young girl. "It's a curse, I picked it up at this place in China called Jusenkyou. It changes my body from male ta female, and that's it, it doesn't change my mind or anythin' like that."
Most of the time when faced with his curse, someone would have questions, or simply not believe it until they saw him change a few times. Koneko however just simply took it in stride and concentrated on something else. "Pervert," she said then turned to her own meal.
"Nope," Ranma replied smugly. "I'm not a pervert, I'm taking advantage of perverts, there's a difference."
Koneko seem to think about that for a moment then shrugged and nodded. She was still getting that feeling of being near a powerful sunbeam or something like that, and she was a little sad that the redhead hadn't sat next to her. Still, she was close enough to feel it and it made her nearly purr aloud.
Of course Ranma finished his ice cream first, though Koneko was right on his heels with her Rocky Road, while Asia was lagging behind. Asia was still not used to ice cream and things like that so took her time eating and enjoying every bite to the fullest. Not to say that Ranma and Koneko didn't enjoy every bite, but they didn't linger on them.
"Okay," Ranma said standing up. "Put a lid on that Asia-chan, I think it's time for us to head home before the ice cream I got for mom and Kasumi starts ta melt. "I want to drop you and the ice cream off before I head over to pick up Kasumi."
Asia nodded and put the remainder of her Sweet Strawberry into a take-out container that Ranma had brought along just in case.
Ranma nodded looking over at the younger white-haired girl. "Well it was nice meeting you Koneko, I hope you and Asia keep getting along."
The white-haired girl nodded, standing up as well. Asia grabbed onto Ranma's arm, hugging it fiercely, looking almost challengingly at the other young girl. "Yes Koneko-san I hope we can get along, but my onii-chan and I need to go."
For some reason Ranma felt there was little some kind of undercurrent there that he wasn't quite getting, and he watched as one eyebrow twitched on Koneko's face. Koneko was in fact irritated. This boy just gave off the feeling of a big, happy alpha cat, as well as a sunbeam, it was just really nice being around him, and here was this girl trying to hog him. Still, she simply nodded for now, and the trio separated after leaving the café.
Ranma once more picked up Asia in his arms, and swiftly took her home over the rooftops. Nodoka opened the door and frowned a little at seeing the package of ice cream. "I hope you didn't spoil your…" she paused, then shook her head. "Who am I kidding?"
Ranma laughed, kissed her mother on the cheek and went inside to grab some hot water. Asia laughed as well, and then when asked about her day began to excitedly recite what happened at school, as well as the fact that she had made new friends. Soon Ranma came back and waved at the two. "I'm heading out to pick up Kasumi, Saeko said she'll make her own way home or might go out to eat with her teammates."
Nodoka nodded. "That's nice dear, but I do hope she does come home. I'm making sukiyaki for dinner tonight."
Her son's stomach growled at the very idea and he leaned over giving her another kiss on the cheek. "Lookin' forward to it."
Nodoka chuckled as Ranma race off. "Let that be a lesson to you Asia-chan," she said, taking young girl by the hand leading her into the kitchen where dinner was simmering even then. "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, most particularly when you're talking about a martial artist."
Asia laughed, and when asked went back to describe her day as she watched Nodoka moved around the kitchen preparing dinner, a sense of happiness filling her.
Saeko smiled, pulling off her helmet and shaking out her hair from under the headpiece. "Well, that was exciting! I have a good read on all of your skill levels now. I also know what you all will need to work on going forward."
There were forms to fill out and regulations to meet when changing captains, rather than having one captain succeed another upon graduation, but for the kendo team there were also traditions. One such tradition was that if someone wants to be captain, they had to prove that they were better than the other individuals in the club. Saeko had done this by the simple expedient of challenging the entire club to one-on-one matches, and trouncing them.
She had actually taken it quite easy on them, not wanting to embarrass or discourage any of them. After all, that kind of thing was bad for morale. She had taken actually made the matches with the freshmen and sophomores into learning opportunities. She taught them a few moves and tricks, mostly footwork that allowed for greater speed and strength in their strikes, as well as warning them of their tells, the signs she could read to figure out their next moves. All of them come out of it with a bit more skill than they had going in.
In terms of the captain and the other seniors however, Saeko was much blunter, especially when one of them invited in a sophomore who practiced kendo on her own but didn't want to be part of the team because she was already part of the student counsel.
The girl was introduced as Meguri Tomoe, and she had shoulder length reddish-brown hair and brown eyes, with a fit, athletic looking body. She asked to join the 'exercise,' and proved to be the most interesting of the bunch.
"that is fine with me," Saeko replied to this question shrugging, "though it is a little unusual." With that, Tomoe smiled and moved over to put on the armor.
Saeko sighed a little. "I could wish we do need all of this heavy armor, it slows me down, but safety first of course." She didn't truly believe that about the safety first thing, but she did have an image to uphold.
A moment later Tomoe stood across from at her. The two exchanged the obligatory bow then suddenly Tomoe zoomed forward, faster than Saeko had expected.
But one of the tenants of the Busujima School was reading their opponents moves, so she was prepared despite her initial surprise. She ducked underneath the blow, showing quite a bit more speed herself in the kendo armor then was normal. Saeko's blade struck out quickly, but Tomoe danced aside around it to come back with a swirling slash at shoulder height towards Saeko.
Again Saeko dodged, and their blades clashed in midair. The swordswoman smiled inside her mask, feeling the first stirring of interest move through her, her pulse beginning to pound faster, her juices starting to flow. With that smile still on her face, she pressed forward, pushing the younger girl back.
Tomoe seemed a little shocked to find herself being pushed back and disengaged quickly, moving back two steps before swirling in again, trying to take Saeko from the side.
But Saeko blocked or redirected the series of blows easily, pushing them to the side reading the woman with surprising ease. Young Tomoe seems to think that her speed and striking power means that she doesn't have to worry about telegraphing her moves, but for someone like me who has been practicing against Ranma, she isn't nearly fast enough to flummox my ability to read her body.
Saeko's blade knocked the other girl's blade just a little bit out of position, and then suddenly Saeko was on the attack. Tomoe found herself being pressed back hard. For all her speed, Saeko wasn't giving Tomoe any hint of where the next blow was coming, she kept her movements economical and sharp, whipping her sword back and forth with an ease that astonished Tomoe. Her own return blows became more and more panicky, yet Saeko seemed to just absorb them into her own assault and keep coming.
In actuality Saeko was trying quite hard to keep up with the other girl's speed, and she would be feeling it later. But having sparred with Ranma she was well used to that. Even in his male form Ranma was blindingly fast.
Saeko also had one more thing going for her above and beyond the fact that the other girl telegraphed her moves. Tomoe was, simply put, an amateur! She had none of the forms, none of the skills necessary. Her wrists weren't as strong as they should be for swordswoman, her footwork and ability to recover from a reposted or redirected blow just wasn't there. It was almost as if she was used to simply overwhelming her opponents with her physical speed and hadn't really trained with the sword.
Saeko said as much aloud, and with an almost contemptuous flick of the blade disengaged from their latest lock, moving back slightly.
Tomoe took the bait and lunged forward. Saeko again redirected it just slightly, throwing her balance off Bloc then in the same movement, brought her blade around to tap lightly against the protective gear over Tomoe's neck.
"You cannot rest on your laurels," Saeko said sharply. "If you are truly a swordswoman, you must devote time to the art, you cannot simply assume that you will be able to overwhelm your opponents with natural ability. Let me tell you, there are some true monsters out there, and you cannot think that your physical skills will always be enough to carry the day. Skill is needed with the blade."
Tomoe lowered her head, looking a little shocked at her loss but she seemed to take Tomoe's words to heart. In actuality, Tomoe was very good in terms of normal people. She wasn't as good as Kiba, and tended to rely more on her speed, that was true, but against a normal opponent, even most of the really good swordswomen in the world, her skills would have been more than enough to face them on an even footing even without calling on her devil given powers. Saeko was simply on a whole other level, and her ability to read Tomoe gave her a major advantage.
"If you do become captain, I think I'm going to have to join the kendo team full-time to learn from you," The girl muttered, shaking her head. "Sona-sama will understand."
That was an understatement. Once Tomoe reported back to Sona about how badly she had been schooled, Sona would jump at the chance to get Tomoe closer to Saeko.
"Do you want to go and fill out the paperwork for that now? I know that Shitori-san is still here after all." Tomoe nodded at that suggestion from Murayama, eager to get her master and Saeko-san to meet, especially in the environs of the student council, which was Sona's territory.
Saeko regretfully shook her head. "I don't think so, I will simply take a shower and head home think. We can talk about that tomorrow."
All the girls bowed to her respectfully and Saeko smiled faintly returning the gesture. With that the team all began to clean up before heading to the showers.
Elsewhere in the gym Akeno was hidden under an illusion spell sitting quietly on one of the boxes used for equipment, frowning thoughtfully, almost petulantly. Saeko's skill is incredible for a normal human, she'll make an excellent devil for either Rias-chan or Sona-san. With the power up that would give her, Saeko would become truly formidable.
But that wasn't what Akeno was frowning about. What the sadist queen was frowning at was the fact that only once or twice in the bout against Tomoe had she tasted that feeling of being near another sadist that she had gotten earlier that day.
It seems as if Saeko is more of an combat junkie, such a pity. It was obvious that she enjoyed the actual fight more than inflicting pain, though she seemed to like that a little at least. The sadism this morning then was simply because of the perverts she was dealing with. So disappointing, ah well, time to report to Rias-chan. Though, I wonder why she's back on campus?
Nodoka had been true to her word, about pushing for Ranma to go back to school. The moment that Ranma had left the house she had been on the phone with the principal at Kuoh Academy. Her initial discussion with the man however had not gone the way she wished. The principal was nice about it, but told her that Ranma's scholastic records did not meet the academy's standards, though he had given her a few other names of other schools around the area.
This hadn't really helps Nodoka, knowing that if she couldn't get Ranma into Kubo then he was fully prepared to simply not go at all, just like his condition had stated.
She had been gearing up to argue with her son and try to get him to go to one of the other schools in the area when the phone rang. Nodoka frowned, wondering who would be calling her at this house already and picked it up with a bit of trepidation. "Yes? This is the Murayasa residence?" After divorcing Genma she had taken back her old name, though Ranma was still on the Saotome roster for now.
"Nodoka-san? This is the principal of Kuoh Academy. "I've taken a further look at your son's records, and I've realized that maybe we can help one another here. If Ranma-kun wants to go here, he'll have to maintain a grade point average and be on academic probation, but we are willing to let him come here so long as he is willing to help our male sports teams. Because we only became a coed school last year our male sports teams are nowhere near the level we wish them to be. We can work out the particulars after he takes a few tests to give us a better idea of his scholastic levels than we can get from the spotty records we can see from Furinkan."
"I'm certain I'll be able to talk him into agreeing to that," Nodoka said with a wide smile. "Thank you very much for this opportunity, I'll have Ranma stop by tomorrow morning to fill in any paperwork."
"That would be agreeable, I look forward to meeting him." Nodoka smiled, and after a few minutes of pleasantries hung up the phone. Then she laughed and raised her fist in the air in victory. No son of hers wasn't going to finish high school, not if she had anything to say about it!"
In the principal's office the principal set the phone down and looked at the redhead who was leaning against his desk. "Is that what you had in mind Gremory-sama?"
"Perfectly," she said happily. "Ranma-san is an interesting young man, and I need more time to get to know him."
"You realize however, that I will have no choice but to expel him if his grades do not meet the minimum academic probation level?"
"That's fine, the first grading period is a few months in the future after all, hopefully by then I'll figure out all I want to know about Ranma." Such as whether or not he can help me against Riser, Rias thought, but did not voice aloud. With that she turned and exited the principal's office, heading home, only to be interrupted by Akeno with her report about Saeko.
Dinner was a convivial affair for the strange group, despite the fact that they were all forced to eat on the floor. Asia dominated the discussion, talking animatedly about her day despite having talked Nodoka's ear off about it while she was preparing dinner.
Kasumi too was ecstatic about her job, giving off an aura of happiness that affected everyone in the room. "Oh, the children are so cute! And they also love my food. I've got a job as one of the caregivers, and the other teachers are so kind and helpful. I think I'm going to have a lot of fun there."
Saeko nodded. "I like the school as well, coming here seems to be working very well." She looked over at Ranma. "Yet you said something about odd auras, care to elaborate?"
The others all turned to him and Ranma shrugged. "I didn't spot any while I was on the job, I saw a few at school, though they were so muddied by the crowd I couldn't get much out of 'em. One though, me an' Asia met up with later, a redhead name of Rias Gremory."
"Ah, I share a class with her, she's one of the Two Great Ladies of the Academy whatever that means," Saeko said shrugging. "She is friendly enough, and has a rather wicked sense of humor. Why, was there something odd about her?"
"She talked to me at lunch time too, she's nice," Asia said, nodding her head.
"Sure she is, but Rias is also a devil." All of them gasped and Ranma shrugged. "Like I said, I wasn't certain this morning, but when we met up later her aura was a lot easier to read. I'm not saying that she's a danger or anything, just something to be aware of. There are few others at school that I couldn't quite make out because of the jumble, but Rias is definitely a devil. Above and beyond that, she's still a good person that's not an act she's putting on for you. It's pretty clear in her aura that she's a caring a sort of person, whatever her ancestry."
"Good to know, but we can't make the assumption that everyone else with a similar aura will be so kind. But you said you didn't feel any odd auras as you were roof-hopping?" Nodoka asked.
"Pretty much," her son said, nodding. "I looked for them before I picked up Asia-chan, but I hadn't felt anything before that. The police have a few cases they might want to call me in for, but other than that they're just going to have me pop around town being visible in uniform. No, whatever supernatural stuff is going on, it seems ta be centered on the students of Kuoh."
"Speaking of school," Nodoka said slyly. "You remember telling me about your condition for going back to school, Ranma?"
"Yeah?" Ranma responded hesitantly.
"Well, the principal called me back after initially saying that your grades were not nearly good enough to get in. However, as you've all mentioned, the school is now coed. It's been so for only a year, ergo their sports teams need a lot of help. So long as you're willing to step up for those and meet the academic probation requirements the school is willing to let you in."
Ranma's face blanked for a moment as he wondered how the hell that had happened, he'd been so sure that he'd never get in! For some reason however his mind went back to the discussion they had just been having about Rias. That made him remember that little smirk she had gotten when he mentioned how he didn't want to go back to school and would only go if he could get into Kuoh. "That little….. Oohhh I'm going to make her pay…."
In her house, Rias sneezed, wondering who was talking about her. She chuckled quietly as she thought about how interesting it would be to see Ranma's face in the morning. Life had certainly taken an interesting turn lately, and she was eager to see where it went from now on.
Oh, god, I had an amusing problem writing this chapter. For some reason, the voice to word software I used messed up on the word history – it came out as pussy. So when Saeko had her introduction it was, My likes are Japanese pussy LOL
To the people who don't like the inclusion of Saeko in this work, I have included her in this story because I wanted a human marital artist who could be both a love interest and back up Ranma, one that he didn't have any previous baggage with. That meant Saeko or a woman from some other work, and I love Saeko. I also thought that having her forge a frenemy relationship with Akeno and Rias would be interesting. Plus this means I can possibly use a few other HOTD characters eventually. Trust me, I have plans in the future for her and for other parts of HOTD.