Authors Notes: I don't own Ranma 1/2 , though there are a few characters running around here that I DID invent.
Ranma strode into the gaping hole that had formerly been a door, only to pause when he found an elderly woman standing over the unconscious Shampoo, Akane, Ukyo, Himeko, Shi, and Stephanie. He paused. "What's going on here?"
We're giving you what you want." The woman, Ranma assumed she was a witch or something, replied. "It occurred to us that kidnapping them, tainted as they may be by anything you taught them, was a foolish risk. That includes making an unnecessary enemy of you. We hope this will mean we can go back to ignoring one another from now on. Take your women and go."
Ranma frowned, but leaned down and lightly slapped Shampoo's cheek, waking her up.
"Hunh… wha… SHI!"
"She's here. Start waking the others." Ranma ordered, stepping around the pile. "It can't be this easy." He accused the old woman.
"You fought through an army of Ninja's, and call this easy? Your life must be truly intriguing." The woman observed, pouring herself a glass of wine only a slight shaking of her aged hand showing her concern. "But as you like it, it can be this easy. Continued conflict benefits no one."
Ranma frowned, his ears catching a young girl scream from down the ornate hallway behind the sorceress. "So that's it? I just go."
"Ranma?" Akane spoke, the last "Adult" awake. "We can't get the girls awake."
"They are young, so more susceptible." The witch said quickly, seeing fire in the pigtailed man's eyes. "It will wear off in another hour or so."
"Take them and go." Ranma ordered.
"What about you?"
Ranma didn't turn to look at Akane, instead stalking towards the witch. "You still have girls down there." It wasn't a question.
The witch made the mistake of thinking it was. "No one you know. Take your women and go." The pigtailed martial artist could see her sweat.
"No." Ranma's hand lashed out, knocking the wine out of the woman's hand, his other striking a pressure point in her neck rendering her unconscious.
"I'm going after the other girls. Take them, and her, and go."
"I'm going too…" Ukyo said, but stumbled when she tried to stand.
"You're all still foggy from whatever they did." Ranma said. "And this ritual is poison for girls anyhow. Go. I'll be right behind you."
Ranma ran ahead, grabbing the decanter of wine as he shot forward.
Lord Shimaka finished christening the crying girls with the blessed water, setting it on a wooden pillar behind him. The girls were chained, the lever to release them near his hand. He would unlock the girls, let those not chosen flee, while the possessed writhed in a hopeless battle for her own soul.
The water was so, when she lost and her soul was pushed from her own body, the girl might find a reward more suited than the life she had led till then. Shimaka wasn't any stranger to guilt; he just rationalized it away with his rituals.
He was a monster, but he didn't think he was evil.
"Stop whatever you're doing, and let the girls go."
He whipped around, to find Ranma glaring at him from the chamber door.
"Take your women and go Saotome. You do not want to interfere."
"Yeah, cause that will convince me." Ranma growled. "Let them go. Your fairy chick won't choose them anyhow."
Ranma poured the wine bottle over his, now her, head, tossing it aside as realization dawned on the wizards face. "Cause now I'm the most powerful woman in the room."
The girls found Mouse, Ryoga, and a horde of unconscious ninja's at the bottom of the fire stairs. "Where's Saotome?" Mouse demanded.
"He's saving the other girls. They had more and some glowing crystal." Akane replied.
"Some demon trap." Ryoga replied. "I'll go help him. Get the girls away, Mouse."
"Hibiki, you'll get lost!"
An explosion echoed down the stairs. "Naw, I'll just follow the noise." With that he ran up the penthouse stairs.
"Not if you die first." Shimaka snarled, hurling green balefire spheres at Ranma.
The Martial artist dodged easily, moving closer with every passing green orb. "You're too slow to hit me, old man." The pigtailed man mocked, only to gasp in surprise as he slammed backwards, into a wall and pinned.
"You can't dodge what you can't see, boy." The wizard snarled, rearing back with a lightning charged hand. The sound of cracking, from the crystal behind him broke his concentration.
Ranma flared his Ki, breaking the mystical bond and drawing his attention back. "How!" The wizard demanded.
"Figured there had to be a reason you used ninja's." Ranma replied. "And those martial artists drew her so well. Glad I was right."
Ranma surged forward, only to get blown back by a burst of wind, the wizard backing up further away to launch another fireball.
The Redheaded girl, realizing she was right next to the girls, rolled forward to meet it "Mouko Takibasha!"
Fire and Ki met, and then exploded, setting the carpet, podium, and roof alight.
It also destroyed the lever. "No!" Ranma yelled.
Before he could dive for the chain, to try to shatter it by hand, she was caught in another telekinetic grip, even as the flames moved closer to the scared children. She flew to the wizard, gasping as the field crushed her. "You've doomed them all, Saotome. Playing hero. Now they'll burn to death rather she possesses them or not! How does it feel, hero!"
Ranma gasped, struggling. She tried to focus her Ki, to break free, but the frightened screams distracted her, sapping the confidence she relied on. "How's it feel, knowing you failed."
A clink and the sound of chain being dragged away stopped his rant. Both Ranma and the wizard turned to find Ryoga tossing the broken chain aside as the girls ran away. "Need a hand, Ranma?" Ryoga asked mildly.
"Naw. I'm good." Ranma's ki flared, causing Ryoga to back up and breaking the field that held him apart. He charged the wizard, slamming him into the wall. The Crystal cracked again. "You're dead, anyway, Saotome. The Widow will possess you… GIRL."
Ranma smirked. "Naw. She likes powerful women."
"But you are one!" he gaped out.
Ranma produced the pink vial he stole from cologne, pouring some of the cursed water onto the wizard, turning him into a teenaged girl. "Whoa, really is the spring of drowned young girl." He noted.
"What?" The wizard, now a witch, asked, eyes widening at her soprano voice. "NO!"
Ranma released the new girl, kicking her across the room. He strode forward, pausing at the wizards own podium and revealing a thermos. "Nice magic trick, huh? Hidden weapons." The pigtailed girl said, as she changed herself to a he. "Sorry, no more for you."
"That's just cruel Ranma." Ryoga observed. "Nice touch."
The crystal exploded, and light flooded into the wizard. Ranma and Ryoga watched impassively as the man writhed on the floor. "Ryoga, go get the girls away from here."
"Just in case she bails the old wizard, I'd rather they weren't to close by." Ranma replied.
"What about you?"
"I'm ending this."
Ryoga nodded, and slowly backed out of the room, before turning and running.
The writhing stopped, and the witch stood up. Something, Ranma couldn't quite say what, had changed in her. "Oh… it feels so good, being free." She moaned, an almost sexual sound which caused Ranma to shudder.
It reminded him of some of Kodachi's crap.
The Fey girl turned, her eyes locking on Ranma, and her lips twitching out, licking them moist. She began slinking towards the Martial Artist. "So I have you to thank for my freedom."
"In a manner of speaking." Ranma replied guardedly. "Look, if you just go… I'm fine with it. The guy kind of earned his fate. We ain't got no beef with each other."
"No… but I owe you a reward!" The girl surged forward, faster than even Ranma could see, and latched onto him with a glomp that would do an amazon proud. Ranma groaned, his life force being pulled free. "Maybe I should make you my husband!"
"Sorry…" Ranma groaned, dropping to one knee. "This is no time for fiancée's." He wrenched one arm free and smacked the bowl of holy water from its flaming stand, the now steaming water spilling over both of them.
Svelte, female arms became old and wrinkled. Breasts disappeared and a beard returned. "No! What have you done?"
"Jusenkyo… And you aren't taking over any more bodies either, you bitch."
She, body regardless even Ranma knew it was a woman in there, grabbed the pigtailed man by his throat, lifting him off the ground with inhuman strength. "I can use this body long enough to finish you, then I'll find another! No man can stop me!"
"I… bet that hurts… huh…" Ranma gasped around the grip on her throat. "You look like… it hurts."
"Disgusting masculinity… why can't any of you accept you're just FOOD!"
Ranma's hands came up, the most basic technique to shatter a choke hold, just as effective for a Master as a student. "Have a good meal then!" he yelled, pulling the fey possessed man close, his hand going around the back of his head. "YANG POINT!"
The explosion was titanic, Ranma finding himself thrown through the wall and into the wider hallway next to the door. Gasping in pain he crawled towards the door, and watched.
The Fey possessed wizard was writing again, with the mystic light mingling with the Ki-Aura. She was trying to escape, Ranma could tell, but she couldn't. Her power, so geared towards the destruction of men was over whelmed by the raw masculinity of it. Ranma rose and stepped to where the fey could see him.
"It was a gamble, right? No way to know if it'd work." He said, gripping his ribs as the Widow fell to the ground. "But Cologne said we all have to have male and female parts… Humans are like that, she said."
"But you ain't human, and after I saw how much it hurt to be the guy… I knew I was right. Otherwise, why didn't you possess a guy to get them off your trail?"
"I'll… Kill you!" She snarled, before gasping and curling up into a ball.
"No… I'm real sorry… but I think you've been dead for a very long time." Ranma watched as the body stopped writhing, and then stopped breathing. The ki-storm stopped as did the mystic lights. "Now, maybe you can rest."
Ranma turned, and trudged out of the room, ignoring the burning roof as it caved in.
Ranma, his ribs bandaged, watched the mess of girls in the Tendo backyard playing. Many of them still had the hesitant, frightened look whenever they made to much noise but Himiko, Shi, and weirdly Mr. Tendo was having wonderful luck getting them out of their shells.
"Who knew he'd be so good at this." He observed.
"Father raised three daughters, Ranma." Kasumi observed. "He does know a bit about them."
Cologne chuckled next to the boy. "It's been good for him. Who would have figured finding people more emotionally dented up than him would have done such good?"
"Especially once you drove Happosai off." Ranma muttered.
"Well, Happi was being a bit over protective."
"He wanted to take them all out to get training bras!"
"I didn't say what he was trying to protect." Cologne conceded, cackling. She didn't perceive Happosai as being as much of a threat as everyone else, but then she'd always been able to kick his ass nine times out of ten.
Stephanie, sitting at the table asked. "So what are we going to do with all of them?"
"Protective Services are trying to find out who their parents… or even their home nations… are." Kasumi replied. "Those we can find family for will go home. Those who can't…"
"Those who can't, I protect." Cologne replied. "A few other women and girls from the village are coming here. We'll set up a satellite village, for lack of a better term, until their ready to move on or go to their new home with us. And don't worry, Son-in-law… they know you're already taken."
"Thanks loads." Ranma lay back, frowning at the ceiling. "Do you think I did the right thing?"
"Shimaka had extended his age with dark magic, at the expense of the innocent." Cologne replied. "And the Widow… Amazons have myths about beings like her… possibly even the actual creature herself. Destroying them was more than justified."
"Still. I killed him… both of them."
"One was long past the point he should have died." The ancient amazon stated, ignoring the irony some would see. "And the Widow wasn't truly ever alive."
"You did what you had to do, Ranma." Kasumi said in support of this. "They made their choices, you were just… the wages of sin."
"Just don't get moody like you did after Saffron." Cologne sighed. "We're warriors. Sometimes we'll have to fight things evil enough they have to be destroyed. Just be glad the girls were saved, and no more will be hurt that way."
"Yeah… but the way it looked."
"It's good you did. It's good you remembered." Cologne gestured at the girls, causing Ranma to watch them, laughing and running. "But you took a future that shouldn't have been and gave it to those who deserved it. Personally, I'd take the handful of nightmares and pint of guilt in exchange."
"Hey, Ranma… come play!" Himeko yelled out.
"Yeah 'old man'. Or are you to old!" Shi teased, scandalizing the other girls.
"Me too, Granny." Ranma replied, as he got up. "I'm coming, but your years too take me on!"
As the girls' dog piled Ranma, Kasumi giggled. "He'll make a good father." She observed.
"Bah, he already is one." Cologne replied. "Now… how to get him to do it the RIGHT way. Who's the pool showing in the lead?"
"Shampoo. She's more forward." Kasumi replied, retrieving the spare notebook Nabiki left her when she'd gone out. "But Ukyo's a close second. Feline grace or something like that."
"Put my money on Akane. She was always the dark horse, but she's SO territorial." Cologne laughed. "And won't a BABY just put Ranma into a twist!"
"Indeed." Kasumi replied, giggling.
AN: Not sure this is the end, but I wanted to give the story a sense of closure at this point. Finally, after so long, it's complete! Now to work on the next one… and finish it too!
Then, after I edit some things on the old fics… perhaps I shall return to this universe. Who knows.