I don't own Sekirei or Ranma. Can't draw that well, and don't think that arguing with someone means your romantically involved with them.
Since my HOTD muse has not been fed enough to come up with a real plot for my Wizard of the Dead notion, here is the story idea that garnered the most votes after that one. This chapter is sort of like the first version of Herd in Space chapter 1 I put out. If I take this story up full time, I would probably go back and add another 5,000 words or so to it, and makes some changes possibly, especially in the few combat scenes, adding more detail. But it should still give you all an idea of where I am going with this concept. Hope you all enjoy, and Happy New Years!
Anything Goes Game Changer (Temp title)
Ranma scowled, kicking the ground irritably. His lunchtime matches with his sort-of-friend Ryoga were fun, interesting, and often times the only real exercise he got these days. His old man was usually busy with his job, despite always pontificating that true martial artists should only care about the martial arts and be willing to make do with the clothing on their back. Funny how that stops the moment he ran out of sake money and I ran into a truant officer.
Of course the fact that Ranma had sort of accidentally knocked out said truant officer and then been given a rather stern talking to by the police had nothing to do with it. How was Ranma supposed to know that he was supposed to be in school anyway? They did say something about it only being for another two years, but it's so boring! Why the heck would anyone want to sit inside for so long and listen ta boring teachers drone on about boring subjects when ya could be learning martial arts? Still, at least the teachers at the school they sent me ta are understanding.
The teachers at Fujimori Correctional School knew that fighting was simply a part of what they had to deal with given the students sent to their school, though Ranma and Ryoga's fights were at a far higher skill level than most. So they had made a deal with Ranma. In order to keep their 'play fights' from being interrupted, Ranma had agreed to show Ryoga to each class, and of course to school and back.
At first Ranma thought it was a joke, but that was before he watched Ryoga walk around a corner in the school's second floor hallway only to disappear from sight despite Ranma being just a few steps behind him. Ryoga didn't show up for a week after that then when he did, he had a tan and sand in his boots.
At first Ranma had wanted to make fun of the boy and would have if one of the teachers hadn't told him that both Ryoga's parents had the same directional curse. No one knew why, but it certainly was a real affliction. Ranma didn't know what it was like to have a mother, whenever he asked his Oyaji about it Ranma was simply told she was gone, and not to worry about it. But having to deal with a father who could disappear the moment he left your room, that would've been weird and very sad too. It also gave Ranma more respect for Ryoga on many levels.
So he had agreed to the conditions, and for over two months now had walked Ryoga around the school and to and from the other boy's home. Today however it seemed as if that wasn't going to happen. Ryoga knows he's not supposed ta leave the house without me here! What the hell man, I know you're prideful and all but face reality!
"You must be Ranma, my son's notes have mentioned you a time or two. I'm Toro Hibiki." Said a deep voice as Ranma made to turn away from the back door to the house.
He turned, seeing the door opening and then looking up and then up again at the monster of a man who was slowly moving out of the doorway holding onto it for a moment as if afraid it would disappear if he let go. He had kind features, a full head of hair, and a long, twirling sort of mustache that looked like it was supposed to be from some Disney villain or other. He wore dust stained clothing, a T-shirt and jeans, which did nothing to hide the man's monstrous physique.
I know my Oyaji's strong, but even he might look at this guy and back off. Still, if he's as slow as his son, maybe all that strength wouldn't matter. Ranma knew he was a little bit weaker than Ryoga, but he was so much faster that it didn't matter. "Er yeah, I'm the student assigned ta make sure Ryoga gets ta class. But I think he tried to leave before I got here today…"
"Yes, he left a note saying that we were out of food and he was just going to hop down to the store." The man rolled his eyes and Ranma groaned. "Hold on a moment, let me see if he's anywhere nearby." Ranma cocked his head quizzically watching as the man closed his eyes bringing his hands together in front of his face for moment as if he was praying. A moment later Ranma felt something waft over him like a warm breeze, but the breeze kept going on as whatever it was spread out.
A moment later the older man opened his eyes shaking his head sadly. "No, I can't sense him or my wife anywhere." Toro looked to the side muttering under his breath. "Probably just as well, I could've sworn I heard movement in our bedroom, and my wife's got a very shrill tongue on her when faced with little surprises like that."
"What was that thing you just did?" Ranma asked, his brows furrowed as he looked around. "What do ya mean 'sense'?"
The older man's eyes went up in surprise. "You actually felt that, that's very impressive for your age. That was a sort of 'echolocation' I suppose you could say. It's a ki technique that my family developed to allow us to sense other sources of life energy in the area, which can let us hunt eachother down if we're close enough. I can tell who it is by understanding the reading, sort of like a sonar analyst, though that takes more practice."
Ranma's face brightened up. "Ki, I've been learning about that lately, though I haven't heard 'bout anything like that!" His Oyaji had begun to teach what ki was, and had told him that some martial artists could take their own life energy and use it to attack or defend, but that it would take decades for Ranma to be able to do the same thing.
What Genma didn't say was that Ranma had been doing the former for years. Genma had never held back against Ranma, which forced Ranma to develop the ability to toughen his body up physically as well as via his ki. But that wasn't a conscious use on his part, simply something Ranma's body did automatically.
"This is a sort of family specialty, though Ryoga hasn't learned it yet. It would be normally be years, possibly ten or more before he's got enough ki to make it." Toro frowned looking down at Ranma, his eyes speculative. "Tell you what kid, if you know what ki is, you think you can learn it?"
"I'd love to give it a try!" said Ranma practically hopping up on his feet excitement at learning anything about ki.
"Good." the Hibiki patriarch gestured him inside. "Remember though this is a family technique, I expect you to try and teach it to Ryoga when you see him. It's be nice if he could finish Junior High on time, something my wife and I couldn't do. And you're not to teach it to anyone else without my permission. I'm trusting on your word of honor for this."
Ranma nodded quickly, understanding his point. Of course family techniques were important, stealing them outside a fight was dishonorable in the extreme. Nor did he have any issue with teaching Ryoga, since it might help get the baka to stick around if he could learn it.
"Come on then, let's do this now before I find myself somewhere else again. Stupid family curse." He shook his head, before smirking. "Still, we wouldn't be nearly as rich as we are if we didn't have it."
Ranma shrugged. Not having his father's predilection towards drink, Ranma didn't really care about money per-se. It was nice he supposed, but his Oyaji had taught him how to live off the land, even if that land wasn't wilderness but cities, and where to steal food and everything else. One thing Genma had passed on to Ranma was that food wasn't something anyone could own if you were hungry. Some of his other lessons Ranma was beginning to question during this long stay in one place though.
Looking around, Ranma smiled slightly. The inside of the house was an odd affair with several dozen different interior designs shown, including a Greek pillar in one corner, a picture of the American Wild West, and a pair of sofas the origin of which Ranma couldn't guess at. When he'd first seen it Ranma had been surprised by it, but since then he'd simply seen it as a sign of the Hibiki's turning their curse to their advantage in a way, which Ranma respected.
"Wait there, I'll find something to drink." The Oyaji said, moving in the direction of what Ranma saw was the stairs up to the second floor rather than the kitchen.
"I'll get it," Ranma said quickly moving past the man. "Don't worry, I know where everything is."
A few moments later Ranma had made them some tea, and sat down across from the man in one of the sofas. After taking a sip appreciatively, Toro looked at Ranma closely. "So, do you do any meditation?"
Ranma nodded. "Some, concentration and mental organization stuff."
"Good, that will give us a starting point. Mind you I doubt you'll be able to learn this all in one go, but I'll give you the general gist of it and you can see how far you get on your own time."
The basic premise of the technique was simple. You basically took your ki, and pushed it out in a very thin wave in every direction around you. The wave could go as far as you had energy to power it. But the mental control over your ki was the most important part. Especially to Ranma since he understood it was the start of learning to do a lot more with his internal ki than just this one technique.
Ranma was able to visualize the act that first day, something which surprised Toro. But it took Ranma over two weeks to actually produce a wave, and even then it took him longer to figure out how to understand what he was seeing. Since Toru had unfortunately escaped his house at some point and disappeared, Ranma had done this through trial and error, helped by the fact that Ryoga came back.
"What do you mean you know one of my family's techniques?!" Ryoga growled angrily his hands clenching and unclenching as if to reach forward and grab the slightly less built youth in front of him.
"Easy Ryoga!" Ranma said holding up his hand specifically, having just told Ryoga about the technique as the two of them waited for homeroom to start. "Your father was at home a few weeks ago when I stopped by to get you and he taught me it so I can find you. He wants you to graduate on time you know, and apparently you can't do that if you keep on missing large chunks of the school year." Ranma shrugged. "I don't get the point of graduatin' really, but it seemed important to yer father, so I suppose you should probably look into it."
Ryoga rolled his eyes. "You know, there's more to life than just martial arts."
"Sure there are." Ranma said with a shrug. "It's just all of that craps boring, that's all. Anyway, you want to learn it or not?"
From there the two of them fell into a pattern, with each lunch starting with Ryoga trying to learn the technique for half the lunch period. But he had a lot more trouble with the visualization aspect than Ranma did. For one thing, he hadn't had any meditation training, something Ranma had surprisingly learned from Genma, as well as a few monks during stays in monasteries while they were on the road. For another, Ryoga had yet to develop the admittedly meager ki reserves Ranma had already. Angry at his failing, Ryoga would try to take it out on Ranma, starting their lunch fight.
This sequence of events continued over the next few weeks, though Ryoga insisted on paying Ranma back for the trouble of making certain he got to school and to all his classes by helping Ranma bring his own grades up. Ranma found himself actually enjoying history, though obviously more about the wars than about anything else, but still it was interesting stuff. Ranma also proved to be good at reading and writing with enough incentive. Foreign languages as well, which both of them excelled in, so much they were near to the college level in English, with Ryoga knowing several more languages, and Ranma knowing a smattering of a few Asian languages.
One day this cycle was interrupted however. Ranma showed up at Ryoga's house, knocking on the front door, but did not receive a reply, nor did he hear any sound of movement from within. "Oh, you've gotta…" Groaning aloud, Ranma moved to the back yard, jumping over the fence easily with a wave to a neighbor, an elderly woman who lived there with her equally elderly husband.
She waved back shaking her head sadly. "I don't think they're home, any of them."
Ranma paused flipping to grab the top of the fence and holding himself there in midair with an ease even Olympic-caliber gymnasts would have found hard to credit. "Do you know when Ryoga left?"
The woman's equally elderly husband came out of the house behind her, shaking his head sadly. "He apparently had a book out from the local library, and the library is just down that way." He pointed down the road. "Only a few blocks away, he must have wanted to try to get there on his own." The old man shrugged.
"I get it, thanks." Ranma nodded shaking his head sadly. He'd actually come to respect Ryoga's unwillingness to give into his directional curse. But frankly whatever his willpower, there was just some things Ryoga couldn't overcome, which was depressing when Ranma thought about it.
Damn it, and I thought he'd be here, I was lookin' forward to our fight damnit! Well I suppose I can see if he's still in the area. Ranma thought without much hope as he flipped back off the fence. He'd learned that the more time that passed between when Ryoga disappeared and when Ranma found him, the greater the area Ryoga could cover.
After a moment Ranma shook his head letting his hands fall back to his sides. Nope, though my pulse can't cover that much territory, about four blocks or so in every direction, so he could still be somewhere in the city. Ranma didn't know, but that range was actually remarkable for someone so young. Then Ranma suddenly smiled. The teachers're always angry when I show up without him, and I do have a method to search for him if he's within the city somewhere… With that Ranma 'reluctantly' decided it was his duty to skip class for the day to see if he could find his friend.
An hour later he'd decided to give up, it was obvious that Ryoga was nowhere within the city. But Ranma was in no rush to head back to school just yet either. Pausing on a roof, he frowned thoughtfully. I wonder how far I can push that technique now, I've just been using it over the same area I used the first time, but can I push it out further now that I've practiced it so much? Thinking that, Ranma found a handy rooftop and sat down on the top of it, crossing his hands in front of his face.
Breathing in deeply he then let it out slowly expelling ki from his body out in the echolocation maneuver at the same time. A few minutes later he gasped, not only feeling it go much further than the first time, but also because he had gotten a huge reading from it. It was like the first time he'd felt his Oyaji's ki signature, only a million times more! Wow, I didn't know there was a martial arts master of that level nearby! hell I didn't know anyone could have a ki signature that powerful! Ranma grinned suddenly. I wonder if he'd be up for a spar? I'll probably get my ass kicked, but meh, wouldn't be the first time.
Ranma had been feeling a little antsy lately. He and Ryoga hadn't done nearly as much sparing as they used to and his Oyaji wasn't around to give a challenge. This person though, if they're as good as that energy says they are, they'll give me all I can handle and then some! The thought was a cheerful one, and Ranma bounded to his feet, moving off over the rooftops towards the north of Tokyo proper.
Miya Asama, newlywed wife to Takehito Asama, sighed looking down at the list that she had compiled, going through Takehito's old property. It had been left to him by his parents, but he had been away at college at the time. Then he'd moved on with his then-friend Minaka and others, traveling out to Kamikura Island where they eventually met. He stayed there for several years before coming back and living in the bachelor's quarters of the new tower that was being built in central Tokyo until he and Miya married.
For all these reasons no one had lived in the old inn for years, save his friend Seo occasionally when he was in town, and that just wasn't enough. A lot of problems had piled up in that time, hence her sigh. Half the floor boards need repair, if not outright replacement, two of the doors are broken, we might have an infestation of rats on the second floor. The water and electricity are working, but the kitchen appliances could all be replaced.
She sighed again. I've studied how to cook extensively, but I didn't realize I should also be studying carpentry, plumbing and all the rest. Darn it, this means that we'll have to rely on Seo.
She scowled at the very idea, disliking the other man intensely. He was a layabout, a pervert, and an all-around horrible individual, whose only saving grace was that he could pretty much turn his hand to any menial task that was on the offer. I dread having him nearby when Take-chan and I are going to start sleeping together, ugh, that makes me feel dirty just thinking about it.
Suddenly Miya's eyes narrowed, a feeling coming over her as if a sensor Sekirei was practicing her powers. It wasn't the first time she'd felt that, though the epicenter of this one was much closer than the other few times. I wonder what's causing that? I thought there were only the Disciplinary squad free of the tower at this point, did Yume add a sensor type? She'd be very young, but still a useful addition.
With a sigh Miya turned away from that problem going back to her original one. I suppose I should also check the backyard.
There she added a few more items to her list. One tree needed trimming desperately and several of the shingles on the roof and the surrounding wall at the back of the property needed replacing. Weeds had also conquered the grass throughout the garden, though some of the vines growing along the walls were rather pretty.
She was just about to turn and go inside when a loud boisterous voice said "Whoa, this place is really run down, there's a martial arts master here, really? Dammit I sure as hell hope he ain't like my Oyaji."
Miya turned quickly, surprised at where the voice had come from because it had come from the roof of a nearby building. There stood a young boy, around 12 or so perhaps, standing there on the edge of the rooftop without a care in the world. From his expression though he looked a little irritated.
Before she could say anything the boy leaped off the edge of the roof. Gasping in horror at what she assumed was a suicide attempt, Miya made to dash forward but stopped in midstride as he bounced off the outer wall of the garden and landed neatly on his feet by the tree. He stared at her, then around before asking hopefully "I don't suppose you'd know if there's a martial arts master here?"
"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about." Miya said, frowning. "And has anyone ever told you shouldn't suddenly jump into someone else's property?"
"Yeah lot's a people, but if there was a martial artist here, well, that kind of thing'd be normal." He frowned staring at her than around. "Coulda sworn the signal was comin' from this area…"
He closed his eyes bringing his hands together and a second later Miya felt it again. It's coming from the boy! But, but he's human, isn't he? There were those other ships that should've been sent out, I suppose he could be a descendent of one of the other ships, though even so, he's a bit young.
She watched as the boy's eyes widened and locked on her. "Riiiiight…" he said drawling the words. "No martial artist master here, suuuure."
Feeling a sudden urge to tease Miya held up one hand delicately to her mouth covering her mouth as she chuckled. "Hohoho, I have no idea what you're talking about, I am just a normal newlywed wife."
"Pull the other one lady. You're the first female martial arts master I've met, but…" He shrugged. "That technique doesn't lie. My name's Ranma, and I'd like a match with ya please?" the boy said actually bowing his head, one fist clasped against his other palm formally below his chest as he did so.
"As I said I don't know what you're talking about." Miya said, narrowing her eyes of the boy. "Could you please leave now?"
Ranma frowned, moving forward quickly and getting in her face. A hand flashed out, and Miya automatically moved aside, her other hand coming up as if holding a sword but thankfully for the youth she wasn't. Even so her palm caught the boy in the forearm and he laughed, moving with the blow easily twisting away to come to a stop a few feet from her. "A normal newlywed, hah! Now, I have been nice so far, but I've been bored out of my gourd for weeks, and I want a match!"
"You are a rude little boy aren't you?" Miya said shaking her head sadly, but her brown eyes were glinting dangerously at his 'attack' on her. A probing attack true, but still technically an attack. It had absolutely nothing due to the fact Ranma wasn't treating her respectfully, nothing at all…
"I've been called worse." Ranma said with a laugh. "My Oyaji says that you have to continually strive to be the best, but he's so busy lately, and my only other sparring partner's been busy too, and just went missing today. Stupid Ryoga and his stupid pride." He muttered under his breath before turning his attention back to Miya. "Frankly I'm goin' stir crazy, and I want to challenge you! How am I supposed to get better with no one around ta spar with?"
Oh I'll give you a challenge, I'll give you all you can handle you rude little twerp! She thought angrily, irritated at the boy his attitude, the fact he was so persistent, yet could feel her ki and still thought he had a chance against her. "Wait here." She said abruptly, pointing at the ground underneath him. "I will be right back."
A moment later she returned, holding a sheathed blade. Ranma frowned at it. "Hoh?" Miya laughed. "Someone doesn't look as confident anymore."
Ranma shrugged. "Whatever, fighting someone who uses weapons is good exercise too." With that he cracked his knuckles and assumed a stance across from the woman. "Ready, set, go!" With that he tapped his feet hard on the ground, launching himself forward into the air. A kick flashed out, but Miya blocked it easily, moving far quicker than Ranma had expected. His pivot leg was grabbed, and suddenly Ranma found himself flying through the air.
To Miya's surprise however the boy actually used that to his advantage, bouncing off the trunk of the garden's tree and coming back on the attack swiftly. Even so, he was moving in slow motion to her senses and she batted his attack away easily.
She riposting swiftly, bringing up her sheathed sword for the first time smacking the boy's outstretched hand then quickly stepping into his guard bringing Herb but up into his chest. The boy grunted, yet somehow was able to get a hand in between his chest and the point of her sheathed sword pushing off it at the same time as she struck. He also for some reason stayed in the air, moving here there and everywhere around Miya using the power of Miya's strikes to remain there.
He's surprisingly good, Miya thought after a few moments of this. I'm limiting myself tremendously here, after all I don't want kill him but even so this is surprising, especially for one so young. He's almost as good as some of the higher numbers. "Tell me," she said conversationally, not showing any sign of exertion, despite the last few moments of hectic combat. "Who trained you?"
"My Oyaji for the most part." Ranma said grunting between each word and trying desperately not to lose control of his anger. The fact that the woman was handling him so easily was a blow to his pride. I knew she had a lot of energy, but come on, even my Oyaji works ta beat me!
"Interesting." Miya said then suddenly her hand flashed up faster than she had previously moved, grabbing Ranma's arm behind the wrist and pulling Ranma out of position before her sheath smacked into the side of his head sending him crashing to the ground.
She pressed the advantage and Ranma desperately backpedaled, trying to get back into the air where his mobility was more of an advantage. Very few opponents were able to handle aerial styles, which negated grappling and take downs for the most part as well as kicks. Kicks were almost impossible to aim properly with enough power against someone who was moving around in the air, especially against someone like Ranma who could easily redirect your strikes, using your own power against you to remain in the air.
Yet Miya didn't seem to be using kicks at all, instead she mostly used her sheathed blade with an occasional grab or palm thrust tossed in. Being handled so easily was actually disconcerting for Ranma. He'd sort of expected it given her ki, but it was bizarre to feel it actually happening. Yet Ranma still didn't give up, coming back and trying different moves to try and get an advantage.
All the while Miya handled him with kid gloves. She began to actually enjoy it, it was odd but fun to fight someone who was obviously enjoying the challenge but not taking it personally or out to really kill her.
And is it just me, or is he getting better as this battle goes along? He seems to be anticipating my attacks slightly now. He still nowhere close enough to my speed let alone my strength to be able to do anything about them, yet even so, it is interesting. Quite an extreme learning curve the youth has. Though honestly, I probably should've expected that given his age and that sensor technique he used. He really must be related to a Sekirei, though I wonder how far back. He's certainly well beyond human norm.
In fact Miya estimated that young Ranma could have easily defeated most of the soldiers that Miya had interacted with in the past. He was far faster, far stronger than his build suggested and durable. Miya was still holding back tremendously of course, but at least in speed she had been forced to step it up slightly several times. His speed seems to be adapting far faster than his strength or durability, but his style is even odd. It's almost as if he was trained for midair combat, but why?
Several moments into the fight Miya realized the answer to this, and gave a very, very grudging nod of approval in the direction of whoever had trained him. Of course it does not make up for his general attitude, he is far too pushy and disrespectful! Hmmpf, the nerve of him, making a newlywed wife get out her blade once more.
With a faint hum Miya smacked Ranma back once again. This time he landed harder than normal since his foot tripped on a root, and he leaned against the trunk of the tree for a moment, knowing now that Miya wouldn't come after him, instead simply standing there like an immovable mountain.
Before he could attack again a voice from the doorway into the inn spoke up. "Miya-chan, can I ask what's going on here?"
Miya turned quickly, her head flying up to her mouth as she pouted, embarrassed at having completely lost track of time. "Dana-sama, I'm sorry I didn't hear you, that is, this boy, he…"
"My fault!" Ranma said with a laugh, flipping himself to his feet with ease, cracking his neck explosively before looking down at his body with a wince at the welts that covered both on his forearms. Those continued underneath his shirt and along one side in particular. "I got this new technique ya' know, and it allowed me to find your wife's ki, which is really monstrous, so I came and I sort of forced her to fight me."
"Really?" Takehito asked looking over at Miya in shock.
Miya shrugged her shoulders but nodded, indicating that the boy had pretty much told the truth but that she still understood she was at fault as the adult here. "He was rather rude, jumping into the backyard as he did, and well, I felt it necessary to chastise him somewhat, though I think that simply gave him what he wanted."
For a moment Takehito didn't know what to think about that really. A young child, a normal human by all appearances, able to not only feel what Miya was but actually challenging her? That was beyond bizarre in his opinion. He almost visibly set that aside for a moment, to return to something he could understand. "I see, well did you at least finish going through the house?"
"I did, and I'm not exactly happy with its condition husband." Miya replied, slipping into wife mode quickly. "Living here is a fantastic idea on many levels, but we have a lot of work ahead of us to make this place actually livable."
For a moment Ranma was forgotten as the two went over the list Miya had made, but both of the adults realized he was still there when he spoke up again. "Ya know, I could help out with a lot o' that."
"What do you mean young man? And what's your name?" asked Takehito.
Miya blushed a little realizing that she should've introduced the two of them. She stepped forward to do so but Ranma spoke up quickly. I'm Ranma Saotome, and I've learned a lot of different martial arts, Martial Arts Construction is one of 'em. Can't say I'm a master at it, but I'm good enough ta do most jobs."
Takehito laughed, thinking it a joke. "Martial Arts Construction? Where in the world did you get an idea like that?"
"It's a real school man, I studied it at this place down on Kyushu somewhere. I heard they were going to be opening a branch here in Tokyo in a few years, but I'm not surprised you haven't heard of it." Ranma said with a shrug, not realizing that no one but another martial artist would've even considered so esoteric a style as anything but a joke. He grinned pointing at Miya. "I'll make you a deal lady."
He winced suddenly as Miya's thankfully still sheathed sword came up smacking him upside the head. "That is Asama-san, or if you must Miya-san."
"Just because you are a martial artist does not mean you should forget your manners young man." said Takehito nodding his head.
Ranma blanched a little. "What're manners good for in a fight? I'd rather learn more techniques than spend time on that kind of stuff."
"Yes, but being able to relate to people might keep you from having actual enemies rather than sparring partners." Takehito said quickly, shaping the reality of the world to fit Ranma's apparent worldview with ease. The youth didn't seem mean-spirited or stupid, just too concentrated on one thing, and his manners were atrocious.
"Take now for instance. From what you and Miya said you basically had to irritate Miya-chan enough for her to agree to fight you. But if you had opened with the offer to help around the house maybe you could've gotten a free spar without irritating her so much that she went out of her way to leave some permanent reminders on your person."
Ranma shrugged looking down at his injuries again, laughing. "These are just part of the price ya gotta pay to be better. Still I can see what ya mean about gettin' off on the wrong foot an' all. How about I show you that I really do know about construction, and then you two can decide if Miya wants to continue ta spar with me."
"Teach." Miya said firmly, her brown eyes narrowing. "If you really do know anything about construction I will teach you. There is quite obviously much I have to teach you, not just about martial arts."
Ranma scoffed at that but nodded, willing to take the good with the bad while Takehito looked at her in surprise. While Ranma raced into the inn, He looked at his wife quizzically. "Are you sure about this Miya? I thought you wanted to leave violence behind entirely."
"I wanted to leave the Disciplinary Squad behind, it and your employer." she said her lips thinning as she mentioned that man. She suspected that he was not going to prove as trustworthy as she had hoped when she had woken up. But as yet she had nothing to base that feeling on, save for a certain uneasiness that had begun to develop within her whenever she was within the tower.
"Yes. The boy is a natural Take-chan, and judging by his strength and speed I believe he has some Sekirei heritage in his background. If that is the case, then in a way he is my responsibility as a Pillar."
Takehito rolled his eyes. "You know that's not true Miya, even before you stepped down as the Pillar it wouldn't have been true. Still, I suppose if he's as good as his word it'll be cheap at the price. Seo got back to me about working here, and we'd have to both put him up, feed him and pay him a stipend for his work. My friend's recently had a run of bad luck at the casinos unfortunately."
Miya stiffened and he held up a hand. "I know, I know you don't want him here. I don't particularly want anyone here either, at least for, oh, a week or so…" he said giving her a very direct stare that set her to blushing. "Though I would say that this place isn't exactly set up for the honeymoon I had hoped to give you."
Before Miya could formulate a response Ranma was back. "Okay, I fixed a bit of the floor in the living room and the table, just to show ya what I can do."
Dubiously the two adults followed him in, only to stop and stare. Where before the table set into the sitting area looked like it was about to fall apart, three of its four legs had been fixed while the fourth was being reinforced by several small loose pieces of wood. Several of the floor boards which had looked almost rotted had been replaced, and more than one loose floorboard had been repaired. "You did all that in just, what 10 minutes?" Takehito asked incredulously.
Ranma shrugged, waving his hand in the air swiftly, so fast Takehito had trouble tracking it. "I'm very fast." he said dryly.
For a moment the young couple shared a glance then Takehito turned to Ranma and nodded. "You're hired."
Two weeks passed. Every morning Ranma would check and see if Ryoga was back, then go to school. Much to his irritation Miya refused to let allow him on the Inn's property during the normal school day, and somehow figured out how to tell when he had skipped but not come over.
Actually there was nothing mystic about it. Takehito had looked him up on his home computer, then called and talked with Ranma's homeroom teacher. The man had been grateful for any aid in controlling Ranma's wayward attitude, and leaped at the chance to ally with someone else equally determined to make the young man, who despite his attitude was obviously very intelligent, to stick with school.
At lunch and after Ranma dropped Ryoga off at home however was fair game. During the lunch period Ranma would come over to work on the house, making plans for what he'd do after school and buying anything he'd need for it thanks to a stipend from Takehito. For his first job he took apart the floor, replacing most of the floorboards that had rotted on the first floor. This was well beyond what Miya had found, since she didn't know how to test the flooring except by stepping on the boards and listening to the noises.
And after school, Ranma would continue on that until around four then train with Miya until around eight before breaking for dinner, which Miya set for then since it was the time Takehito came home. Over dinner Takehito would ply Ranma with questions about his education, the places he'd been and the esoteric martial arts schools he'd learned. The youth was bright, observant and quick, but getting him interested in anything but martial arts was like pulling teeth.
Ranma's training normally began with Ranma and Miya sparring, then with Miya showing Ranma several katas. Many of these were for a swordsman, but Ranma was more than willing to learn them, since, while he hadn't trained on weapons much, he did have some grounding in them. It was just that using weapons upped the ante in a fight that made him leery of becoming dependent on them. Miya also began to train Ranma in several strength and durability exercises.
The results of this training began to influence Ranma's skill almost immediately, to the point where Ryoga confronted him barely two days after returning from his latest lost trip. "Damn it Ranma, what the hell have you been doing lately?" He growled, punching Ranma on the shoulder while the two of them were making their way between classes. "And where the hell do you keep disappearing to during lunch anyway?"
"Yeah, sorry I've not been around for our daily fights man, but look at it this way, at least now yer able ta get the last melon bread." Ranma smirked as Ryoga scowled at him, but it was kind of true. Ranma always used his aerial ability to snag the last bread roll after the lunch lady threw it into the air. That had been the way they'd first met, and Ranma's habit hadn't gone away since.
"I got a job usin' my Martial Arts Construction skills at this Inn, and the owner's wife is a master swordswoman. She's been trainin' me, and as you can tell, it's made a major impact. Her husband, Takehito, he's also been helpin' me with my schoolwork."
"Huh." Ryoga grunted, then smirked. "Well, I suppose you need all the help you can get there." He was almost tempted to ask if the woman would be willing to train him as well, but he didn't know any Martial Arts Construction techniques. He knew some cooking and far more weapons skills than Ranma, but not those. And Ryoga was far too proud to go to the same teacher as his rival. I'll have to open up my parent's room and get out some of their training scrolls if I want to keep up with Ranma. I just hope that raccoon family which moved in a few years ago hasn't eaten them…
Ranma showed up at the inn later that day, bounding over the wall like a grasshopper, grinning as he saw Miya putting out some of the linens. "My sparring partner's started ta notice how much my skill's advanced under yer training Miya-nee! After only a few weeks too, that's incredible!"
Cocking her head, Miya narrowed her eyes. "What did you just call me?"
"Miya-nee." Ranma grinned at her. "Yer too young and pretty ta be a ba-san, and yer not my ka-san, so nee-san."
"Hmmfff, I think I'd remember having a younger brother as disrespectful as you." Miya huffed, thought behind her hand she was smiling slightly. Ranma grew on you sort of like the vines on the outer wall, as she had put it to her husband the other day. And his skills in martial arts was inspiring in one so young.
Although if I ever meet his father he and I will have… words. Miya though grimly. Ranma had shared several tales of his training under his 'Oyaji' while on the road, and Takehito had briefly contemplated calling in the authorities on the man for child abuse. Ranma however simply saw it as good training, so the newlyweds had reluctantly decided to leave it be. But if Genma ever showed up here, he would be fair game for Miya.
"Now, I believe you will be completing the second floor today, correct?"
"Yep, two walls need ta be repaired, then a few of the electrical outlets, and two of the hallway lights need ta be replaced. After that, there's the roof and the outer wall ta work on, plus the garden if ya want me to."
"Sounds very good indeed Ranma, though can I ask you to not come by this weekend, or even until next Wednesday?" Miya smiled, her eyes gleaming with something that Ranma didn't have words for just yet. "My husband and I wish to have a few days to ourselves."
Seeing Ranma's blank look, Miya sighed. "He and I are newly married Ranma, and we haven't had much time to ourselves since."
Ranma shrugged. "Don't see the point, but whatever, sure. If ya can give me some exercises ta do on my own that'd be great. Heck, if I try I might be able ta finish everythin' but the garden before Friday."
"That sounds lovely, thank you." Miya said smiling and ushering him inside to where his supplies for the day had been placed.
Another few weeks passed, and with the work on the inn completed, Ranma's training under Miya began in earnest, producing even more results quickly. More than that, her cooking for him every night had a marked effect on his body. Ranma grew like a weed, adding several inches to his height, becoming as tall as Ryoga, amongst the tallest in their age group. Even his shoulders began to expand, and his previously wiry muscles began to grow as well. He would never be as heavily muscled as Ryoga, but he would be close.
Even though he wasn't home very often, Genma began to notice these changes in his son. At first he put it down to having a rival his own age to contend with daily, but after a time, Genma realized Ranma's skill was growing too quickly for that to be the true reason. And worse, in their last spar the boy had come close to actually winning! That wasn't supposed to happen for years yet!
The very next day instead of heading to work, Genma staked out his son's school from a nearby rooftop, then followed Ranma while he dropped off Ryoga and then went deeper into Tokyo proper.
Genma blinked in shock. The boy's fighting some, some kind of landlady? NO, no way can that be the reason he's gotten so good lately. His shock increased as the woman with purple hair dealt with his son with seeming ease, calling out corrections and instructions as she did so. Who, who is this woman? I've never heard of a woman that was this good at martial arts! Damn it, this messes up the Plan entirely! If the boy decides to follow her style rather than our own, the Plan to unite the schools could be ruined!
Worse Genma thought, while the two below continued their spar. My authority over the boy is almost entirely based off my being his teacher, ever since the neko-ken incident he's stopped looking at me as a real father. I need to step up my game, and maybe get him away from here quickly if I'm to retain my position of authority over the youth. Damn it, those truant officers said they would send out an order for my arrest if the boy didn't finish the next two years of school, that would mean stopping somewhere else quickly, too quickly to get far enough away for the boy to not make his way back here. But there needs to be some kind of solution…
He continued to watch the two spar and train, feeling a very grudging respect for the woman's strength and skill. Hmmm… I wonder who would win in a battle between her and the Dreaded Master? He had a feeling it would not be the diminutive grandmaster of Anything Goes.
Miya frowned suddenly, looking away from Ranma and up at a roof nearby. Then she turned back to dueling with Ranma for a few moments until she trapped Ranma's arm under her own, smacking him along the side of the neck with her sheathed sword in what would have been a killing blow. "That is enough for the moment, I think. Could you look at the sink for me Ranma? The water doesn't seem to be heating as well as it should."
"Sure Miya-nee, but after that, I want ta keep sparring okay?" Ranma asked.
"Ufufufu, perhaps, or perhaps we will come back to it after another lesson on manners and how to speak properly, himm?" Miya laughed, and Ranma blanched before going inside, his head held low and a pout on his face.
Miya laughed again at his overacting. But the moment Ranma was out of sight, Miya turned, leaping the distance between where she had been standing in the center of the backyard to the roof where she had spotted something shining. She landed in front of an older, rather rotund man dressed in a dirty white gi, with a bandana on his head and small circular glasses.
She glared at the man. "I was thinking you were some unusual sort of pervert, but your son describes you rather well. Genma Saotome I presume? Might I ask why you are here?"
Genma scowled at her, getting to his feet from where he had fallen on his rear in shock at her sudden arrival. He tried to loom over the woman intimidatingly but the slight, purple-haired woman stared at him unflinchingly. "Yes, I'm his father and sensei, and as his sensei I order you to cease training the boy. He's already got a primary style, he doesn't need you and your soft teachings!"
"Soft?" Miya mused aloud, her brown eyes glinting dangerously. "Really, soft? Is that why he has already become faster, stronger, more dexterous? Or are you talking about my husband and I teaching him those things you should have, like the need for manners, the need to speak properly, to understand another person's point of view, the importance of anything outside the martial arts!? And don't think my husband and I haven't made Ranma share some of your training methods!"
A aura of dread and terror had begun to spread out from the woman, a black sort of miasma visible in the air, reminding Genma of a similar technique his master had used one time when his 'precious pretties' had been damaged. Only this technique wasn't done.
As Miya continued to speak, a hanya mask materialized alongside her head. It had black hair, seemed to be made of white porcelain, and its fangs and horns gleamed menacingly. It's eyes were deep pits carved out of the halls of hell, and they seemed to suck Genma in as the mask solidified.
"Now, you listen to me, you miserable excuse for a human being, it is only my wish to not alienate your son after making such progress with him that keeps you from dying on the point of my sword or at best in jail! You will leave, and not try to keep your son from coming to see my husband and I, or I will hunt you down, kill you and make your corpse into some kind of tasteless piece of furniture. Do we understand one another?"
At a small cafe a few blocks away from where MBI tower was being built, Takehito suddenly smiled, looking off into the distance. "Ah… I sense that Miya-chan has finally used the Hanya Technique properly. Exxxceeelllent…."
Across from him his long time friend and confidant Seo Kaoru twitched. "Yay, great, whooppie, remind me to not come over for dinner for a few days. Maybe she'll forget how to use it."
"Not likely." Takehito said brightly, before taking a sip of coffee as Seo slumped in his seat.
Genma trembled, using all his self-control to not run away screaming like a little girl or piss himself where he stood. "I, I understand… I, I'll stay away from this place, I promise."
Miya smiled coldly. "See that you do." With that, the hanya mask disappeared, and she blinked as Genma disappeared, fleeing away from her with a speed well beyond even Sekirei norm. "Oh my." She smiled faintly, falling into her role as housewife easily, though a certain gleam in her eyes gave her role the lie. "You'd think something had scared him, the poor man."
OOO Eight months later OOO
Unfortunately, while Genma had been utterly terrified by Miya, and remained so for far longer than even his master had ever accomplished, eventually Genma overcame it enough to realize he had to get Ranma away from Miya's influence. He took his time however, training himself back up to his peak, and even adding a few new skills to his repertoire in order to keep ahead of Ranma. And then, as Ranma was waiting for Ryoga outside his house for a challenge match during the summer., ambushed him, dragging Ranma away and back on the road.
Ranma scowled as he came back from sending off a postcard at the local pot office, feeling the fact he had no cash left in his pocket rather keenly. Calling back to Ryoga's house and leaving a message cost me all the cash I had left on my phone card, and sendin' a postcard to Miya-nee . Stupid long distance calls, still with that and with the message I left before my Oyaji cold-cocked me Ryoga shouldn't worry. With a sigh he moved over to where Genma was leaning against the wall waiting for him scowling irritably at the necessity. "Well Oyaji, where do we go from here?"
"We'll follow the shore for now, hit up a few of the port cities and see if any of their dojo's have anything worth learning, before heading into Vietnam and then up to Tibet. You've come a long way in your ki manipulation, so maybe we can find someone to give us some instruction there. Then we'll head back into China through the Bayakala range before turning back to Japan. Now come on boy, you've gotten soft this past few months, so we're going to push the pace!" Genma growled, then raced off, causing Ranma to scowl but follow him.
Xian Pu raised one of her chui in victory over her head, listening to the adulation of the crowd. This marked the third time she had won the coveted young adult competition among her people. Wining three times would allow Xian Pu to start challenging those older than her, even blooded warriors which would normally not be allowed. It will be good to start challenging people who can give me a challenge without taking it personally or treating me like a youngster like grandmother always does. Xian Pu thought sardonically, pulling her dark purple hair out of its ponytail and letting it fall loose down her back as she leaped off the challenge log.
She was met by a few of her friends, who congratulated her for yet another victory. Her rival Cot Ton did not of course, though she nodded in Xian Pu's direction. Xian Pu nodded back, reflecting that Luck often played a part in combat. Cot Ton had been done in by Luck, her sandal's straps coming undone and throwing off her footing just enough for Do-Wel to land one of her monstrously powerful but slow blows.
Even Xian Pu couldn't stand to take a punch from the monstrously powerful Do-Wel, and Cot Ton had been knocked straight off the challenge log. Even so Cot Ton had tried to regain control of her body midair, and had almost but not quite managed to catch at the log's end. When next we meet in combat it should prove interesting, it's obvious that she's been practicing some new styles.
Suddenly there was a commotion to the side and one of her friend's voice shouted and angrily "Stop that panda! It's eating Xian Pu's prize!"
Xian Pu turned in that direction along with her other friends, quickly moving towards the victory table. There sitting as calmly as you please and eating the food she had just finished earning was a giant panda. Now, Xian Pu wasn't a gourmand by any means, but it was the principle of the matter. That food and the ability for her to decide who sat at the victory table with her mattered a lot to Xian Pu, one of the symbols of her primacy over the other girls in her age group. She growled angrily moving forward her chui in her hands shouting, "Stupid panda, I make you into a fur rug!"
When it heard her shout the animal looked up at her with something approaching human intelligence. It quickly pushed away from the table in an almost human maneuver standing on its back legs and growling. Yet it continued to stuff its face with its front paws.
"Stupid panda!" Shouted a voice in Japanese, a language that Xian Pu had begun to learn rather reluctantly a few months ago. Turning towards the voice, she saw a redheaded girl about her own age and somewhat similar in build (but not quite as busty Xian Pu was happy to see) race through the crowd of villagers followed by an outsider male who Xian Pu had seen before around the area trading for food.
The panda turned, his hands going up into what looked like some kind of stance, but before it could raise them the girl was in its face, a fist lashing out faster than Shampoo could track, catching it in the jaw. Seconds later the panda was down and unconscious, and the redheaded girl was looking mournfully at the table. Pulling from a net from her backpack, it threw the net over the panda, tying it up and then moving the panda's body this way and that until it made a ball inside the net.
While it the redhead was working on this met Xian Pu strode up to her shouting angrily. "Was that your panda? It ate my prize! I should challenge you for that!"
The girl turned to her and in very bad Putonghua answered. "It not panda, it man. Cursed man."
Xian Pu scowled, but crackling elderly voice interrupted her. "Do you mean to tell me you and the panda went to the Jusenkyou girl? Oh and you may speak Japanese, I can understand the tongue of Nippon well enough." Xian Pu turned, watching as her great-grandmother hopping her way forward on her staff. Many of the youngsters in the village thought was a pogo stick, and there had been an actual competition to see who could get close enough to steal it at one point, but no one had been able to.
Ranma was not having a good few days. Oh, the past few feet years had been okay, though Ranma felt he would've still learned more from remaining to train with Miya. While he hadn't learned any techniques during that half a year, his strength, speed and his ability to read his opponent had all improved under Miya's tutelage, and he also had learned some of Miya's own sword style, though he preferred not to use it unless pressed.
He'd begun to realize that might have been the reason why his Oyaji was so insistent that they set out, Genma was becoming intimidated by Ranma's progress. Nowadays it was a very rare spar where the Oyaji was even able to challenge Ranma. He no longer fell for most of the Oyaji's tricks to get him angry, and Ranma's 'base stats' as it were gave him an undeniable edge.
In response Genma had taken to actually learning from the same masters Ranma did during their trip, hoping to bridge the gap, something which had begun in Tibet. Now both of them were able to use ki attacks, small ones admittedly, though Ranma's were quite a bit better than his father.
But that changed when his Oyaji had the idea to go to Jusenkyou. At first it seemed like a normal training ground, a place where you went to train dexterity, footwork, and above all midair techniques. A place perfect for their family style in other words. And then Ranma had smashed his Oyaji into a pool only to watch a panda jump out.
And of course the old fool, since he was so fat and heavy anyway didn't notice the God damn change. Ranma scowled, staring down at the two protrusions from his chest which were the sign of much of his anger the past few days. After Ranma had been smacked into a pool in turn, his Oyaji had run off not listening to the guide. Ranma however had stuck around and learned that hot water changed them back to normal. Then of course it had rained for two days straight.
Stupid whether, stupid curse, stupid Oyaji! I need to get a handle on this form, I need to go back home. Ranma didn't know when on this journey Izumo House had become home to him, but it had and he was eager to see his nee-san again. If anyone can help me figure this form out, and the do's and dont's of it, it'll be Miya-nee. I better get used to it now, there might not be a cure after all, since for normal people the pools curses merge rather than cancel out! And now, when Ranma finally arrived at the village where the guide said he might find someone able to point him to some sort of cure, his old man had beaten him there and made a bad impression.
He looked at the gnome on the stick, using all the lessons Miya had drilled into him about watching what he said to control his tongue for a moment. "Yes we were, and my fool of an Oyaji fell in." Ranma said, ignoring the fact the gnome had called him a girl. "Look, I'm sorry he let his stomach do his thinking for him, it's a hell of a lot smarter than what he has up here, ya know." he said tapping his forehead. "But I don't have enough money to pay, and I'd really rather not, you know, stay around and work for it."
At the word Oyaji Xian Pu blanched. "Grandmother am I right to say that she just said that panda was his father? As in he's both a human male, and old enough to be his father?"
"Yes granddaughter that's what she said, aren't you glad you didn't challenge it? If you had lost…" Cologne paused for a moment. Wanting to drive the lesson home she turned to Ranma and asked, "What does your father look like in human form, child?"
"About as tall as in panda form, about as fat, bald and with glasses. He's strong but slow, stupid lazy, good for nothing but martial arts, and even then, he only does as little as he can get away with!" With that Ranma finished pulling the net around his father in panda form, smiling as he nodded at the panda ball, happy with his work.
For her part Xian Pu blanched a pure white at Cologne's translation. There went any thought of challenging the panda for eating her prize. And I can't challenge the redhead, not only would I have nothing to gain, but it wasn't her fault and she's showing remorse for it anyway. I'd look like a bully!
She looked up as suddenly the panda ball rolled to a stop in front of her. Looking around it to the redhead, she saw the redhead wink at her. "Soccer?"
Xian Pu looked at the ball. Soccer was well known in the village, and excellent calisthenics exercise as well as training for working together, or so the oldsters tried to convince themselves. To the youngsters it was just a fun game, and more than one teen laughed at the idea of using the giant panda as a ball.
So Xian Pu smiled and nodded, racing away and shouting over her shoulder "kick to me!"
Swiftly the young adults around her moved into two teams, and Cologne sighed sadly, moving up over to the side of the field where she would act as referee. I wonder if it will occur to my granddaughter to ask a few questions about the girl…
For about an hour the panda was smacked between them. The redhead and Xian Pu each led their own teams, more often than not meeting in 'personal combat' their speed and dexterity a cut above most of them with only Cot Ton coming close.
The game only ended as the sun was beginning to set, and more than one warrior was holding her stomach eagerly talking about dinner. With the prize ruined, they would all have to head home for that, but still they all had a lot of fun today, not just the tournament but the impromptu soccer match with the giant blowup ball of a panda. Which was looking much the worse for wear after so long. It had woken up a few times, but been unable to break out before being knocked unconscious again.
Xian Pu sighed contentedly stretching her arms above her head and cracking her neck. Her team won in the end, thanks to Cot Ton taking the redhead's legs out from underneath her when she tried to intercept Xian Pu as she was going in for the final score. "Good fun!" She said nodding her head at the shorter girl. "Are you going to stay in the village for the night?"
The youth shook her head. "Best get on way, this one recover too quick." she said smacking the panda ball earning a grown from its battered occupant.
Xian Pu nodded, as Cologne and hopped up beside her. "Good luck on your travels then." she said shaking the other girl's hand.
Now next to her granddaughter, Cologne smirked internally, finally able to ask the question she probably already knew the answer to. "By the way child, you went Jusenkyou and it is the very unusual for anyone to go there and not get curse. What did you get cursed with?"
Ranma grinned, tapping his chest causing his new protrusions to jiggle and he glared at them irritably. Dammit, if only these things to jiggle like that so much, I could've one that soccer game! Two days had not been enough for Ranma to figure out the differences in body weight and center of gravity, though she was close. How do girls deal with the jiggle, what the hell? "This form my curse form."
Xian Pu blinked. "Wouldn't that mean there was no change?"
Cologne groaned. "Granddaughter, while you sound like a bimbo when you speak Japanese, that is no reason to act like one! Would you like to change forms before you go?" she asked politely. Inside however she was cackling evilly. This could be just another lesson for her young charge, one that might well stick even more than the other about looking before you leap and always looking at the underneath.
"Sure." Ranma said with a nod. "Trying to get used to this form, but it still not fun." He blinked as he watched Cologne pull a warm thermos out from a voluminous sleeve. "That interesting trick." he said dryly.
Cologne cackled. "When you get to be my age young man, you pick up more than a few interesting tricks."
"Grandmother, why are you calling her a…" Xian Pu stuttered to a halt as Ranma dumped the contents of the thermos over his red hair, which swiftly changed to black.
Tall, was Xian Pu's first thought, followed by Humina-humina! The short redhead, which and only barely been up to her neck, now was a young man who stood at least 3 inches taller than her. Broad shoulders, broader than nearly any man in the village save the blacksmith's sons. Despite his wide shoulders he was lean and muscular, the muscles of speed and endurance rather than pure power matching his female form perfectly. The blue eyes were the same, though staring up at them was a very different experience than staring down into them had been. And where the smile on the redhead had been cute, on the male's face it set Xian Pu's pulse to racing.
"Well anyway, thanks for the water, and I'm sorry again for my old man, but we gotta get going." So saying in Japanese the youth turned, nearly causing Xian Pu to squeal at the sight of the most perfect male ass she had ever seen as he leaned down and picked up the panda with ease.
With a final nod towards Xian Pu and a bow towards Cologne Ranma said "Drop by if you're ever in Japan, I'd tell ya our exact address but we don't have one just yet." With a laugh, Ranma took off, racing out of the village ignoring the odd looks from the women and especially the young girls all around, who had stopped and stared at the transformation.
"I told you which several times child that going to Jusenkyou is to simply get a curse, and if she was a girl now, with the rain we've had, surely it should've occurred to you that that youngster was a man to begin with? And attractiveness carries over to the other form, as I have also told you. Remember the tale of Clip Per and her panther suitor? If you had, I might've allowed you to challenge him! A kiss of marriage could have easily solved your little suitor problem with Mousse. Too late now."
She looked at Xian Pu and noticing her shocked gaze stopped talking and began to cackle. The cackle broke Xian Pu out of her momentary stasis, and Xian Pu reached up to her head and started to curse of the top of her lungs.
Ranma scowled internally as he tried to keep control of his face. He hated this. He hated being judged by his curse. The middle daughter, Nabiki, at least had been happy to see him, until she found out that the 'he' she'd been expecting wasn't a 'he' at the time. And now that she'd found out about the curse she was trying to push Ranma onto the youngest sister, something which Kasumi, the oldest one, had jumped on.
I don't really blame her or Kasumi, but this is still a raw deal for me. I mean sure Akane's got the fact she seems to think she's a martial artist, but she's not a very good one. And given her ranting now and the fact she was about ta kill me for her coming into the bathroom when I was already in there, I don't think we're going to get along very well. So much for being friends.
"Now hold on." he said holding up a hand as Akane stopped complaining to her sisters. "Your old man said it was my decision right? That means whatever you three decide between you doesn't matter, I'm the one that's got the final say!"
Nabiki winced, while Kasumi looked a little thrown off. Soun laughed. "Yes of course, but it's obvious that you and Akane have more in common than you and my other two daughters so…"
"We've only known each other for a few hours, I'm not going to make a decision that's going to affect the rest of my life that quickly." Ranma said firmly.
"Now see here boy!" Genma began to say, only to be cut off as Ranma's fingers flashed until they were right up against his larynx.
"Shut up Oyaji, the adults are talking. Now," he said turning back to the Tendo family. "I'm not going to decide who I want to marry right now, or even if we're going to marry. Yes there is some kind of honor promise between you two ta unite the houses, but that's not enough, since there was another condition to it."
"How dare you!" said Soun glaring angrily at him from across the table. "That oath is a bond of honor! Do you have no honor!?"
"Yes I do, which is why if I ever marry I'd prefer ta marry someone who I could live my life with happily with rather than someone I was forced ta marry. Or are you saying you don't care about your daughters' happiness."
"Are you saying you wouldn't make them happy!?" Soun growled, trying to turn Ranma's words around on him.
Kasumi and Nabiki however exchanged a glance as did Akane, who nodded her head slightly. Nabiki spoke up. "He's got a point daddy, while the idea of arranged marriages is still used, making it formal so quickly isn't. There's always a courting period, to see if the two people who are going to marry are compatible." She gave a brief nod towards Ranma, who nodded back. "How much time do you think it would take you to figure out if you're compatible with one of us?"
Ranma shrugged. "Well, I'd say at least a year, no two years. I'm 16, so two years and I'd be 18 we could marry then I suppose unless that;d get in the way of any future plans you all have?"
"Two years!?" both parents shouted. "Now see here!"
"That's actually perfect." Nabiki said with a nod. "Your 16, so you'd be what, a freshman in high school?"
"Sophomore I think." Ranma said with a grin. "I can pass any language requirement right now. I can speak English like a native, decent enough Putonghua, Guoyu, and both standard and formal Tibetan." He grimaced a little. "My Vietnamese isn't anything to write home about though. My reading and writing skills are better than sophomore level. My hard sciences are kind of bad though, I barely passed the last test I took. Really I'm just guessin' on the sophomore thing."
Nabiki's eyes widened in astonishment. Learning languages was incredibly difficult, and being able to have learned several languages while on the road for most of his life, that showed a very high intelligence. "Interesting," she said aloud. She was still very freaked out about the fact that magic was apparently real, but that didn't mean she was blind to the fact that it in either form Ranma was quite the catch.
Kasumi however was cocking her head thoughtfully. "You said that a marriage between our houses had a condition. While I understand, respect and even approve of your stance on its making the individuals in question happy, that actually wasn't mentioned in the marriage agreement apparently." It took all of Kasumi's willpower not to glare at her father for that. "What exactly was the condition you mentioned?"
"Well the fact, that there'd have to be two schools of martial arts coming together. No offense to Akane, but I didn't see any moves from her in our spar that looked like a distinct school, mostly I saw Judo, with some karate here and there."
That caused his father's brows to knit together and he closed his mouth mid-harangue. "Really?" He turned to his old friend. "Soun, haven't you been training your heir as you said you would?"
"How could I train my precious daughter?!" Soun bawled, looking as if he was about to burst into tears or attack Genma for the very idea.
Akane however looked a little interested. "Daddy, you know I'm a martial artist, I can take some punishment! If this has to be a union of schools that means we have to show our worth!" in response her father looked about to tear up again, and she shook her head in disgust.
"I think you two need to work that out on your own." Ranma said standing up. "So are we agreed on the two year thing? 'Cause I got a place I want ta get to."
Soun and Genma both turned back at that, looking like they wanted to object for a moment, but Kasumi and Nabiki beat them to it agreeing quickly. "Agreed, we'll talk to daddy about it."
Kasumi cocked her head. "May I ask where you're going?"
"I have a few friends I want to look up your in Tokyo."
"It's Shin Teito now." said Nabiki. "The name was changed a few months ago."
Ranma shrugged. "Yeah I heard about that, some company having bought practically all of the land under the city. Don't know why the government allowed that, but whatever."
"Boy I told you to stay away from that woman!" Genma growled. "She's made you soft!"
"Soft!? Her training is the reason why I can kick your ass old man, despite you taking me out on the road for so long." Ranma laughed.
Akane looked interested and Ranma shook his head. "No, I'm not going to introduce you to her, I don't know you well enough just yet."
Once again putting one of Miya's lessons in manners to use Ranma looked over at Kasumi cocking his head to one side. "Since I'm going out anyway, is there anything ya want me to pick up on my way back?"
Kasumi actually smiled at his thoughtfulness, tapping her finger against her lips thoughtfully. "Let me check on the condition of the guest room's linens and futons. We haven't used them in years, so I haven't aired them out for quite a while. And if there's anything you like in terms food…"
"We're both easy about that kind of thing." Ranma said with a grin, slapping his hand over his father's mouth before he could interject anything.
He knew Genma wouldn't have asked for anything for specific, just for a lot of everything. But frankly Ranma had looked around the house and he wasn't certain the Tendos could afford to feed the two of them without at least Genma getting a job. It was a very nice house, but there hadn't been any evidence of students using the dojo in a long time. And while everything was clean and orderly, they didn't actually have a lot of modern appliances.
Not that they need it, Ranma thought, reminded of the bathroom. That area reminded him greatly of the bathing area in Izumo House, after he had finished repairing it anyway. Speaking of that… he raised a hand quickly. "Before I forget, I've got some martial arts construction experience I learned years ago. So if you need anything around the place repaired, don't hesitate ta ask."
Nabiki and Kasumi both smiled at him, while even Akane looked grateful for the offer. "That's very thoughtful of you Ranma," Nabiki said. "Thank you, that'll help on the expenses around the house." She shot a little glare at her father for that one, but that was an old argument between them.
"Cool," Ranma replied, standing up fluidly. "So let's find those linens, and then I can head out and see Miya-nee again."
Genma watched his friend's eyes narrow, and waved his hand frantically. Soun subsided, waiting. Kasumi and Ranma quickly left to go up to the attic while Nabiki had headed back to her room, shaking her head and muttering about why the hell magic was real, and how it spoiled everything.
Now that they were alone Soun stared hard at all the Genma. "You're not concerned about your son going to see this, this woman he calls nee-san? What if she's interested in him, what if he's interested in her! That would totally derail the agreement between our families! And your son is already much more independent than I expected."
Genma scowled angrily. "Hmmpf, that's the witch's fault, but don't think she's a normal woman by any means." He shuddered, remembering the one time he had met the woman, and that aura of absolute terror she'd called up. It had utterly terrified him at the time, even more than the master had at his worst.
"BRrr, b-but she's a married woman, and is not interested in him in that fashion. If anything they are more of a master and student relationship, with a hint of older sister and younger sibling as the boy's nickname for her shows." He smiled suddenly, wrapping his arm around Soun's shoulder. "Don't worry old friend, the union of our families will still happen! The boy's shown no interest in the female form, even now that he has one! Now that we're here however, one of your daughters is sure to catch his eye. They're all quite attractive after all."
A moment later Ranma and Kasumi returned, with Kasumi smiling. "The bedding and the extra futons are fine father, though I've asked Ranma to pick up a few more bags of rice for us. Can you think of anything else we need?"
Ranma held up a finger pointing at his father. "And that doesn't mean extra sake for you fatty!" Genma growled angrily, and Soun frowned dropping his own hand down when Kasumi looked at him with her saintly smile on her face. Somehow speaking up in the face of that smile for the sake of more sake was impossible.
With the two older men silenced Ranma turned to Kasumi, gave her a little wave and hopped out of the open door to the backyard, then out and away over the outer wall. Watching this Kasumi chuckled shaking her head. "It's been years since I saw someone roofhop. Why don't you do that anymore, father?"
Under his friend's suddenly narrowed eyes Soun coughed uncomfortably then looked away. "Ahem, yes, well, I'll get out the shogi board shall I old friend? It's been forever since I faced another practitioner of Anything Goes Shogi."
That made Genma smile eagerly and Kasumi sigh while Akane, who had come down to grab her bookbag from the living room scowled slightly, jealous at the sight of Ranma bounding away. Showoff.
But her heart wasn't in it. Instead Akane sat down to her father, leaning in eagerly. "So daddy, since this whole agreement thing is about the two schools uniting rather than just the two families, are you going to start training me again?"
Soun coughed uncomfortably, looking away again. "Not right now daughter, Genma and I are going to play Anything Goes shogi, we'll talk about restarting your training this weekend. Or maybe the next…" he petered out under his youngest daughter's glare, and he quickly fell back to his staple defense, blubbering aloud. "Wahh, my daughter's angry with me, waaaahhhh!"
It worked. Akane scowled, pushed herself away from the table and stomped off angrily. Genma however stared at his old friend, wondering at how out of shape his old friend was. Not realizing how his friend was looking at him now, Soun triumphantly got up to get the shogi board without answering any more difficult questions.
Ranma leaped around Nerima, then out into Tokyo proper. Immediately he noticed a difference in the architecture, and frowned, wondering what that was about. Well that and the sheer number of empty lots back there was just weird. I wonder if that means there are a lot of martial artists around? For challenge matches and things like that those lots'd be a good idea actually.
In the rest of Tokyo however he noticed something else. What the heck, what's up with all the cameras scattered everywhere?
Every roof he stopped at had at least four video cameras. They weren't all pointed outward either, many of the cameras covered their own roofs or that of the neighboring buildings. Some of 'em could serve as security cameras, but the others? And there's too damn many of 'em. I wonder if it's a… what's that bigass company's name, the one Takehito worked for and apparently bought out Tokyo, MBI, I wonder if it's an in MBI thing, I don't think it can possibly be a security thing.
In MBI tower, a video operator frowned as he looked at his readings. "How many male Sekirei are there again?"
The on-duty manager looked over at him. "Two or three I think, why?"
"That's what I thought but… he's gone again."
"Whose gone again?"
"Nevermind, I think it might've been my imagination, too many hours staring into this thing."
But that wasn't the only unusual thing that Ranma noticed as he raced over the skyscrapers and other buildings. No, that was the fact that there were several dozen other people going about roof-hopping and most of them were women. One or two of them stopped and stared at him, but Ranma was moving faster than any of them, and he simply waved at them as he raced nearby. One of them shouted something, but he didn't hear it, moving away as he was.
At one point Ranma saw a woman dangling off a girder sticking out of a half completed skyscraper. She was dressed sort of like some of the women he had occasionally seen hanging around the wharfs in some of the cities he and his old man had stopped in, or at least her costume hugged her body the same way, Ranma wasn't close enough to see more than that. Still when the she looked at him Ranma waved, and saw her wave back, a bottle of sake dangling from one hand as she did.
I don't remember there being this many martial artists in Tokyo before, is there some kind of convention all woman's convention or something, going on? Hell, I didn't even know there were this many female martial artists in all Japan that could roofhop. Not one of them that he had seen so far had been a man.
Putting that aside for now Ranma stopped for a moment, trying to get his bearings. There were a few new buildings around and several older ones had been pulled down since he'd last been in Tokyo, which threw off his memory of the city. Is it straight north from here, or should I head a little further towards the east first?
His thoughts were interrupted by a shout from on high. "Thou Dishonorable louts! No mere monkey will ever wing me, it matters not what numbers thou dost bring against me! I am the strongest, and I will never submit!" That shout was followed by a sound resembling that of a fast moving waterfall for some reason, followed by a curse from someone else.
Ranma frowned, looking up at a skyscraper next to the small outlet store on whose roof he had stopped on. That doesn't sound good, though what the heck is winging? Figure that out later, for now I think I just found a fight. He smirked eagerly, then leapt upwards, easily ascending the outer wall of the skyscraper before jumping up to its roof.
Arriving on the roof Ranma found himself to the side of a fight between two opposing forces. On one side stood four women, facing one.
One had wild green hair with a long staff, wearing a blue and white tight top, long gloves and stockings held up by what Ranma thought were some kind of suspenders for legs over her bloomers and thigh length white boots. Next to her stood a younger girl that had short blonde hair. She wore a black leather top which showed off her belly, bloomers and stockings just like the other one, only a different color. From her fingers there were long whips, though Ranma wondered how the heck they could be considered a weapon. A third wore what looked like a kimono style dress, sort of the thing a kunoichi would wear, with no sleeves and white gloves. She had long black hair done up with a ribbon.
The fourth woman wore what looked like a priestess outfit, and had dark black hair done up in two ponytails. She had two long triangle shaped blades in her hands, and a almost panicky expression on her face.
This increased as she dodged to one side, letting out a small, quite cute "Eeek!" as an attack aimed at one of the others nearly hit her. She was still hit by it slightly, losing one of her blades but redirecting the torrent of water just enough for it to splash Ranma, turning him into a her for now.
The woman on the other end of that waterspout had to dodge an attack from the woman with the whips, cursing as she noticed Ranma. "So thou hast brought a fifth cur to do battle 'gainst me, it will avail you not!" She was a blonde-haired woman, wearing a black and white blouse of some kind. That was about all Ranma could tell before the two close combat specialists closed with her while the other two women looked at Ranma, frowning, since they knew the redhead wasn't with them.
Ranma grinned cracking her neck and shoulders for a moment. "Y'know, I like a fight as much is the next person, but four on one just doesn't seem fair. Mind if I join in Blondie?"
"My name is not Blondie, but if thou dost wish to address this imbalance, be my guest!" The embattled woman said, ducking under a blow from the staff that would've taken her head off then having to twist to one side as the kimono-wearing girl nearly caught her in the shoulder with a palm strike.
"Stay out of this Red! You'll get your turn soon!" said the green haired girl, not turning away from her opponent. "if you're not already winged I'm certain our master will oblige you."
"No idea what that means, but since Blondie gave her permission, let's go!" Ranma said, charging forwards.
The whip wielding girl turned to him, snapping her weapons at Ranma. "My Sekirei-sister told you to butt out bitch!"
Ranma shook his head grinning evilly as he leaped into the air propelling his body forward like he was diving and twisting in midair, dodging between the whips as they flew past. His fingers lashed out, grabbing the whips before landing, rolling and pulling in one smooth motion.
"W-gahh!" As Ranma had expected, the whips were connected by a grip in the girls hand, and she hadn't tried to let go of it before Ranma had pulled her off her feet. One second she was standing there attacking, the next she was in midair, squealing in shock as she was launched out into midair with such force she lost her grip on her whip's handle and went cartwheeling away through the air.
Ranma jumped over a blow from the blade wielder tapping his feet against her outstretched arm, propelling himself into the air and over the girl, still trailing the first girl's whips, kicking out and almost catching her in the back while she let out another cute "Eeek!" and launched herself forward.
Not letting up Ranma pressed her sharply, pushing her back into the fight around the blonde girl, who was being pressed hard by the last two. She seemed a long-range combatant by preference, using that weird water technique, which frankly Ranma was amazed by now that he thought of it, but she didn't seem to have very good hand-to-hand skills.
Her opponents on the other hand were very obviously close combat experts. The blonde girl was now bruised and battered, though showed no sign of slowing down just yet.
When the girl he was fighting over-extended in a desperate attack Ranma smacked a palm thrust into her chest, flinging her backwards into the staff-wielding woman fighting the blonde girl, then as that one staggered Ranma twisted to one side lashing out with a high kick that the staff-wielder barely redirected. Even so the staff shattered, and one of its bits caught her in the cheek. "God damnit! Who the hell are you Red!?"
"Names Ranma, remember it!" Ranma laughed, taking the staff-wielders legs out from under her while the blonde pressed her advantage against his original opponent and the unarmed girl, who had tossed the broken bits of her sword aside and attacked with her fists and legs now. "Suiryu!" She shouted some kind of technique for moment, and a blast of water slammed into the unarmed girl's chest with enough force to carry her into the knife-wielder then smash them both through the roof's guard-wall and off the roof entirely.
Realizing she was alone now the spear-wielder disengaged from Ranma, leaping across backwards to another rooftop. "Another time Red, Blondie!" With that she jumped down and away.
Turning to the supposed victim in this affair, Ranma cocked his head. "Why exactly were they attacking you anyway, Blondie?" he asked turning to the woman.
He found himself drenched suddenly as the woman held up a hand. "I am not Blondie stranger, I am Tsukiumi, Sekirei zero-nine." She then calmed down, put one hand on her hips as the other raised to move through her hair as she looked away, somewhat sheepishly. "I am… grateful for thy assistance. Four on one, especially when two were such skilled opponents, would have been hard to handle even for one as skilled as I. Yet who art thou? I have not seen you before though, that matters not. I had met very few of my sisters before we were let out for this farce."
There was a lot in that sentence that Ranma didn't understand, but he shrugged off for now, trying hard not to stare at the girl. She was a few inches taller than him, possibly as tall as his male form and she looked about two years older or so, maybe more. But it wasn't her height or her apparent age that caught Ranma's attention. No, now that the fight was over Ranma realized that she was an astonishing beauty. The other girls were good-looking, but this one!
Long black boots with black stockings framed long, firm, powerful looking legs that seemed to go on forever under a long black coat open at the front with a very short, white under dress over what Ranma could tell was a hard, muscled stomach which segued into the largest chest that Ranma had ever seen. Seriously they were almost impossible for him to ignore despite his usual disinterest in such things, but here it was actually easier because her face was also drop dead gorgeous. Firm high cheekbones framed lips lifted into a faint smile at the moment without a hint of make up or lipstick anywhere. Azure eyes locked on Ranma's own, lighter and brighter than Ranma's, at least in his opinion. Her Blond hair flowed down and around her body in waves, which given her power was fitting. Blessed Amaterasu, she is gorgeous!
Looking away forcibly, Ranma was grateful that the girl hadn't noticed him staring. "um, I, I'm Ranma, and I heard you shouting at the beginning of the fight, I think, and decided to see if you need any help." He shrugged normally. "I wouldn't butt into someone else's fight, but since it was four-on-one I figured it'd be okay. How do you do those water techniques anyway?" Ranma was actually a little jealous, he had felt some kind of ki splash from Tsukiumi when she used her techniques, but nowhere near enough to figure out how she was doing whatever it was. Maybe she pulls water from the air and condenses it, but that's well beyond any ki technique I've ever heard of. Elemental control like that sounds more like magic than ki! Although, I do know magic exists, so maybe that ain't as far-fetched as it sounds.
"I too very much prefer even fights, one-on-one is the only true test of a warrior." Tsukiumi nodded. "As for my powers, I am the Sekirei of the waters. All water is under my control." She threw her head haughtily back smirking at him. "That is why I in the strongest!" She frowned then. I presume that thou art un-winged as well, but why dist thou not say your number? Tis only courteous to do so."
"What is this number thing you keep talking about?" Ranma asked. "And whats' winging anyway?" I'm not one of your sisters or whatever you're thinking of."
The girl's eyes widened. "Though dost not think though art a mere human? Impossible!"
"Hah, I didn't know there was anything else to be but 'mere human' Ranma said laughing and holding up his fingers making quote marks as he said the words 'mere human' . I'm not 'mere' anything Tsukiumi get that out of your head! I'm a martial artist!"
"I have seen martial artists in movies…" she said dubiously, "though I thought they were simply special-effects." Tsukiumi was actually wondering if the redhead had taken a blow to her head at some point, and simply forgotten that she was a Sekirei. It would be odd, but not nearly as odd as a human being able to fight Sekirei. That would just be impossible, wouldn't it?
"Most of them are, but there are real martial artists out there that make that Hollywood crap look stupid as hell." He looked up at the sun frowning. "Look, I gotta go, I need to say hi to an old friend and I don't know if I'll be able to find where I'm staying once the sun goes down." He held out his hand, and Tsukiumi shook it. "I'll see you around I guess."
Tsukiumi nodded. "Thank you once again for your aid. It might not have been totally necessary, but it certainly made things easier." She added hastily
"Yer welcome, it was fun. Er…" Ranma paused looking at her hopefully. "I don't suppose you can heat the water in your attacks can you?"
"I'm afraid not, why, dost thou want another bath?" Tsukiumi laughed.
Ranma laugh to shaking his head. "Nah nothing like that, though I guess it'd be easier to show you, but some other time. Like I said, I gotta go." With that Ranma turned and leaped away landing on another roof and heading north.
Behind the redhead Tsukiumi cocked her head to one side. I wonder what Ranma could show me with hot water that she could not with my normal tepid water? She was very skilled though, it's so sad that she seems to have had a head wound at some point. Tis always nice to meet one of my sisters who is not enamored of this game in any event, whatever her reasons. She was also cute for such a little thing…
Tsukiumi blushed as that thought hit her, shaking her head. While that wouldst be better than being attracted to a hairless monkey, tis not that much better.
In any event, I need to find a place to stay for the night. She frowned hopping up onto a rooftop nearby as she stared around looking for a hotel. Say what you will about MBI, at least they have some knowledge that we need to be able to look after ourselves, she thought as she pulled a black credit care out of the small pocket of her skirt. And after that exercise I think I deserve a treat. I'm thinking French tonight. Pity, if Ranma was willing to stay around I would've treated her for aiding me today. I dislike being indebted to someone, even if that someone doesn't seem to realize the depth of it.
It was silent in the video control room, as the overseer frowned frantically searching through the Sekirei database. "I'm not getting any hit on a short buxom redhead named Ranma, what the hell!?"
"Well, either the records have been altered, or something interesting has been added to the game!" said a voice from the doorway. They all turned President Minaka there, his cape flying out behind him as he stood, one arm thrust out dramatically. "The game of the gods needs to have some wildcards in it after all!"
He smiled, pushing up his glasses which gleamed in the light of the computer screens and the overhead lights. "Still, extend the research out to include national databases, and any public sightings of a redhead matching that description. Just because someone acts as a wildcard does not mean they can be unknown to the game keeper."
As the computer specialists all nodded obediently, Minaka turned away, but he paused, looking back over his shoulder. "Oh, and please don't share this development with Takami-chan. She's busy enough as it is, no need to bother her with something so minor is there?" Despite his bland tone, his eyes and face made it clear that was an order, and everyone in the room nodded obediently. He nodded back and left, laughing as his cape once more billowed behind him, dramatically, of course.
About thirty minutes after leaving Tsukiumi behind, Ranma finally began to recognize houses from his time training at Izumo house and smiled excitedly. Pausing for a moment he looked around to see if he could find somewhere to get some hot water. Seeing a convenience store he popped inside, asked for some hot water from the tea dispenser and went outside dumping it over his head turning back to his normal body.
Can't show up on Miya's doorstep in my new body after all, I got no idea how Miya-nee's gonna react ta that. He smirked suddenly. Except for maybe pushing her over the edge and getting' her ta hunt my old man down and turn him inta a rug. Ranma had no problem remembering how furious Miya and Takehito had both been when informed of some of the training Genma had put Ranma through, and he hadn't shared the worst stories either.
Now in his male form Ranma once again took it to the rooftops. That's odd he thought after a moment. I don't see as many cameras in this area, is that because it's mostly a housing district, or somethin' else? Weird.
Seconds later Ranma was looking over Izumo House from the roof of a nearby house. He paused there, debating internally whether or not to go to the front door and ring the doorbell, or hop into the backyard for old time's sake. It has been a long time, I suppose I should go to the front door. Nee-san likes those kind of manners I suppose.
With that in mind, Ranma leaped down to the road, and made his way to the front door of the inn, where he quickly rang the doorbell. For a moment there was no reply, and he pushed it again.
"Yeah, yeah, just a sec!" Said a female voice, but it wasn't Miya's.
They could've had a kid in the time I was gone I guess, but sure as hell not one that sounds that old. They did say this was an inn, so I guess that could be a tenant, though I never thought Takehito'd actually open it up to other people really.
The door opened, and Ranma blinked in astonishment, looking away quickly. "What the hell woman! Who answers the doorway dressed like that!"
The girl was a brunette who was almost as good looking as Tsukiumi with even larger breasts which before this moment Ranma would've said was impossible. She was in just as good a shape as Tsukiumi, which Ranma could tell because she was currently wearing only panties and a tight white shirt that barely covering her chest, leaving her stomach exposed.
"Hah, don't talk like you don't like it kiddo, you'd have to go a long way to find a sexier girl than me! What can we do for you anyway?"
"But some clothing on first." Ranma growled, still looking away.
He blushed hotly when the girl suddenly reached out, throwing her arms around her his back and breathing into his ear. "Oh come on, you can look at little old me."
Realizing he was being teased Ranma let one hand fall to his side right next to the girl stomach and began to move his fingers, tickling her. The girl giggled and jumped away, her face flushed for a moment.
Ranma glared at her, keeping his eyes on hers with difficulty. "How the heck did Miya-nee and Takehito-san let someone like you stay here?" He grinned suddenly, his mood shifting quickly. "Do you have some dirt on them or something?"
The girl laughed, shaking your head. "I like the way you think, but no nothing like that, we're just old friends and she lets me stay here for old time's sake."
"Uzume, what has Miya told you about answering the door like that?" said a male voice, though it wasn't Takehito. a tousle-haired older gentleman, around 25 or so, with silver hair and a bishonen face appeared behind the girl in the doorway, rubbing at his hair. He looked as if he had been in the shower, and he stared at the younger man with the ponytail, his brow furrowed. "Who are you?"
"You another tenant?" Ranma asked. The man nodded still looking at him somewhat suspiciously and Ranma shrugged his shoulders. "I'm Ranma Saotome. I'm here to see Miya-nee. I've been away for a few years, but she and I used ta train together, so I figured I'd tell her I was back."
The man's eyes widened and so did Uzume's. "Train together, really?" The two exchanged glances. "Are ya sure you have the right inn?" Uzume asked.
"Dark purple hair down to the small of her back, brown eyes, likes ta dress like a housewife complete with apron? Takehito and her can both summon up these masks tha, are like made of terror?" Ranma asked, smirking.
Uzume blinked. "Yeah that's them, I think…" Again she looked at the unintroduced man, who shrugged. "You seem to know Miya so I suppose it's all right. Kagari, could ya show him into the sitting room, I'll go get change before Miya show's up and uses that damn mask on me again."
With a sigh the now-named Kagari gestured Ranma into the Inn, and Ranma entered, leaving his shoes behind and moving forward smiling as he noticed the interior hadn't changed. "When was the last time you saw Miya-san?" Kagari asked.
"About 3 years ago or so I think, on the road you're not exactly able to keep track of time most of the time, especially when you're in the boonies." Ranma replied.
So this isn't some Sekirei that escaped earlier than Uzume or Matsu, Homura, the Sekirei of fire thought. Interesting, but why would Miya of all people agree to train him?
When he asked that question aloud, Ranma laughed. "I challenged her ta a match when I was younger, came by because I was looking for someone to fight. my oyaji was busy with work at the time, and I'd had this new technique to find large ki signatures."
He looked at Kagari's blank face and shrugged. "Er, life energy, ya mighta seen it described as chi, or chakra in animes?" Kagari nodded, having understood it the first time, simply not understanding how a human boy could have developed anything like what Ranma was describing. Ranma went on. "Miya-nee's frankly a monster in comparison to anyone else I've ever seen."
Kagari nodded, understanding that was simply the honest truth, and setting aside how the youth was able to use ki himself for now. Then he frowned, wondering if Ranma was using that technique now somehow. If so in all likelihood he and Uzume would have shown up as beyond human norm as well. The boy didn't seem to be though, so maybe their secret was still safe. Then something Ranma said struck him. "Wait what do you mean you challenged Miya-san?"
Ranma laughed remembering. "I hopped over the outer wall, and asked ta fight the martial arts master who I thought lived here. When I realized it was Miya-nee, I challenged her directly, and when she tried to put me off didn't take no for an answer. It was fun!" He then rubbed his head "And painful."
"That I can believe a least." Kagari replied, still looking at him faintly confused. Though Kagari's emotions were nearer to shock and disbelief than confusion. He challenged Miya-san like that, and survived? Okay, he was young at the time, but still…
"I just want to be clear on this," Uzume said from behind them, giving voice to Kagari's thoughts. "You challenged Miya, and actually try to hit her? And you're still alive?!" Uzume was also wondering how the hell the young man could get away with calling her 'Miya-nee' too, but that was a smaller thing.
Ranma turned, grateful to see that the girl had changed though blushing still at how good she could make a pair of jeans and a regular T-shirt lock. What the hell are they feeding the people in Tokyo these days!
"Er, yeah. It was touch and go for a few minutes there, but I offered to help fix up this place in return fer trainin' and she and Takehtio-san agreed to that Takehito was nice too, and understood how much money I was saving them. Is he still working for MBI by the way? What's he think about them actually buyin' the whole city and renamin' it? I think that's a crappy move myself."
The two tenants exchanged a glance. "That I think you'll need to talk to Miya about," Kagari said delicately.
Ranma frowned at his tone, but before he could ask about it, there was a clicking sound as the front door opened. Realizing who it must be Ranma grinned, leaping up from where he had been sitting at the table he had fixed all those years ago, hopping out into the hallway.
"Guess who's back Miya-nee!" Before Miya could register his presence, Ranma was already within arm's reach, lifting her up and twirling her around in a big hug.
"Ranma!" Miya said staring down at him, trying to frown but failing miserably, a small but very warm smile forcing itself onto her face. "Put me down!"
Ranma did so still grinning at her while behind him Uzume and Kagari both stared at him. The girl too was grinning. He really call Miya nee-san! Oh that is too good!
For her part Miya had begun to poke Ranma in the chest. "Three years! Three years without a word from you, and not only that but you left so abruptly! One day I hear that you're not going to come around because you are waiting for your poor friend to show up, then four days later I get a message from China! From China! Telling me that you're fine and not to worry but that Genma wanted to take you on a training trip to other countries. You could've called me at some point!"
"We're ya worried about me?" Ranma asked the grin.
Which ended abruptly as her ladle, which had not been in her hand, Ranma had make sure about that before picking her up, suddenly appeared and smacked him upside the head. "What do you think?" She asked coldly.
Rubbing at his head he glared at her a little, but subsided quickly. "I couldn't call ya, sending ya that postcard used up the last o' my cash, and my old man kept us movin' all the time after that, couldn't stop and earn more. And most of the time we were so far out in the boonies there weren't any phones in the first place ! And I couldn't come by to tell you I was going, 'cause I didn't know I was going. Oyaji decided we should leave, then when I refused he coldcocked me from behind while I was waitin' for Ryoga to show up for our match. It was all I could do to get away when we hit China ta send you that card."
"That does sound like him from what little interaction I had with him. I would've thought that my lesson to him would've stuck more than that though."
"In everything but martial arts my old man's a very slow learner, though ta be fair, ya scared him straight for a nearly a year, that's a hell of an accomplishment. Y'know what though, I think it's one of those balancing things, he can learn and teach martial arts to a high degree but everything else is you know, bottoms out." Ranma said gesturing with one hand way above his head and the other down to the floor.
"Or perhaps he's just an idiot." Miya said tartly. She sighed faintly, then put her arms around Ranma in a firm hug. "Still it's good to see you again Ranma." She smiled, stepping back from him. "I assume you've kept up your exercises?"
"What do you think?" he said smirking challengingly at her. "I also learned a heck of a lot on the trip too. Oyaji was feelin' the pinch before we left, and he pushed himself and me hard the entire time. Ya wanta see what I've learned?"
"No fear!" said Uzume from behind him, shaking her head. "You gotta have balls of steel bro, honestly."
"What have I told you about language like that Uzume-san?" Miya said cocking her head to one side as a hint of her hanya mask began to appear.
"Not to, not to sorry!" Uzume said backing away hurriedly. To one side however Ranma had whipped out a notebook, eagerly leaning forward.
Seeing this Miya glared, the technique dissipating. "What have I told you about prying into a woman secrets?"
"But that's not a secret!" Ranma protested. "It's a ki technique, and you learned it from Takehito-san anyway! I don't see why I shouldn't learned it, I'm a student of yours aren't I?""
"Only a part-time student," said Miya , shaking her head though she slowly began to frowned at the mention of Takehito.
That frown deepened when Ranma looked outside frowning as he noticed that the sun had begun to set. "I'd love to catch up, but I'm sort of under a time limit. I don't think I can find where my old man and I are staying once it's night out, so do you think your husband's going to be back by then? I'd love ta say hi ta him too."
Miya sighed. "Perhaps we should go sit down Ranma, I have something to tell you…"
Quite a bit more raw than my other prologue chapters, but as I said, I think it gives you a good idea of the tone of the story, and where I might be taking it. Please tell me what you think, and again, have a happy New Years!