Kami no ko wa kami

chapter one: "A fifteen minute indiscretion"

To disclaim or not to disclaim, that is a question. Whether tis more noble to proclaim that these characters are not mine and merely a speculative muse on the part of one metroanime@mindspring.com or to simply get on with the story and leave such obvious commentary off... aye, there the rub. For in this dream of Reality, who (Descartes argument to the side) can truly say who is the dreamer and who the dream? The title of this piece is from an old Japanese proverb.

"There's actually a logical reason for this. Give me a moment and I'll figure out what it is."
- L.Costello

---------

Toltiir watched. For him, the past was easy to watch as the present. The future he *could* view, but preferred not to. Knowing what was going to happen was *boring* whereas a surprise could be unpleasant but at least provided some break from ennui.

One of the times where he hadn't even left an essence fragment at the Well of Mimir had proven to be... interesting.

Toltiir still wasn't sure about where Kami-sama was going with this Heaven stuff. Maybe it hadn't been going on long enough, and the result would be easier to discern after a few more eons. Toltiir could wait.

Like a mortal megapolis, the version of Heaven currently being visited by the Elder was composed of several sections which had grown together over the centuries. Each was presided over by an essence fragment of the One. As was usual with long seperated fragments, they often manifested seperate personalities.

Such was the case with the Olympian essence fragment. Aka: Zeus.

This particular god had visited the Well, choosing a time when Toltiir was absent, knowing that the frequently feline Elder would not time travel in Heaven. (One of the differences between being a god of Mischief and a god purely of Chaos was that Mischief often operated by rules. Not that said rules had to make sense.) Zeus had made his own entry, changing a decision by a group of Dutch traders from "don't get involved in local politics" to "help refugees as they may be future customers."

A visiting kunoichi spirit guardian had thrown a tiny stone that had little consequence, it being a change of one tiny chromosome during fetal development, therefore a girl named Kodachi Kuno was born with a great heart and love of life. This cheerful and optimistic girl went on to become the darling of Saint Hebereke, and while she never won a gymnastics match had a much happier life than was usual.

Unfortunately, said action drew the attention of Zeus, who had gotten tired of Hera going through one of her frigid periods again. (Gossip placed Hera as "dallying" with Artemis and some nymphs again, which would have thoroughly scandalized any number of mythology students.) (On the other hand, it was well known among certain areas that while Zeus was fond of certain things, some of Hera's tastes were a little ...odd... even by the standards of a jaded Greek.)

Zeus, while chasing the female ninja around the Well, took notice of a scene within the Well of a lonely young woman who was pining for her husband. A husband who was out on a training mission with a perverted martial arts master named Happosai. Realizing that the kunoichi had used the moment of distraction to use the Art Of Stealth, Zeus turned his attention to this other target.

Toltiir winced as Zeus resorted to old habits and took the form of the comely young wife's husband and commenced a seduction. While the young lady had some suspicions, as apparently her real husband never having heard of (much less practiced) foreplay, she was sufficiently hopeful and lonely that these weren't enough to raise an alarm.

Zeus then added a reward by finding the young husband while he was training, and managed to whisk him from a campsite in Hokkaido to his home in Juuban. A year earlier than he would otherwise have done so.

Toltiir was *not* surprised to learn that Nodoka Saotome was pregnant. Likewise, he was not surprised that Nodoka kept any suspicions to herself. Especially as Zeus had neglected to alter Genma's memories or garments. ESPECIALLY when the child was born with blonde hair and blue eyes, a year prior to when their first/only child would have been otherwise birthed. Definitely *not* a pureblood Japanese.

Toltiir looked around. "Letsee, a crossover timeline. Non-canon. Well, watching this by myself isn't *nearly* as much fun as it would be with someone to chuckle with. Hmmm. Ed? No, he's off with Kiyone again. Edema? Busy. Grey? Nah, he's on those Labor thingies. Skysaber, god of Crossovers? Hmmm. Maybe... Ah, why not?"

*POP!*

"What do you want, Puck? My time is valuab... A son?!"

"So what Gift will you give your child?" The feline being inquired of the Greek. Toltiir *was* a god of mischief, after all. Besides, he really wanted to avoid meddling in that Grey fellow's Labor. This time. "Strength, courage, perserverence, a few magical items to tide him over?"

"I've done that. Hercules, Perseus, Ulysses, William Florence..."

"William Florence?! Never heard of him."

"Unfortunately Hera did. Called off a tryst with a couple of nymphs to 'attend to the problem.' The results were pretty much what usually happens." Zeus shrugged. "American born in 1901. Died in 1906 due to a storm surge."

"Have you considered using protection?" Toltiir was not referring to protecting the child.

"That was *with* me using protection." Zeus shrugged, understanding the Elder's reference. "Cold showers don't cut it after a few decades."

"Ahem." Toltiir didn't comment further. Zeus was of a time where lusty was considered a virtue, and not everyone managed to adapt to changing times. Or bothered. "So, no Gift?"

"I made that mistake with Henry, Hera still found out about it and took 'measures'." Zeus scratched his beard and looked thoughtful. He didn't really intend for there to be 'issue' from these things, but it rankled that Hera tended to overreact (in his estimation) to these little reminders that birth control was not 100% effective all the time. Zeus' daughters didn't fare too well either. "Courage, perserverence, honor, these and more the child will get from his mother. No doubt he won't get some of the martial arts talent from Genma just due to environmental influences. How did this timeline end prior to the change?"

"This timeline originally ended in 1993 when all life was exterminated. One of those Moon Kingdom timelines where something went wrong and the Senshi never develop." Toltiir looked it over critically. A darkline. He didn't care for darklines at all. Hard to find humor in a cemetary. Not impossible, but there were easier audiences.

"Explain, Puck." Zeus' voice didn't contain any humor.

Toltiir nodded. When one of his kids was involved, Zeus normally got really up on giving the kid a fair shake. He may have been a perverted and lusty old Aspect but he also had some good qualities that could shine through when his children were involved. "The SM timelines all involve a Silver Millenium, usually involving a Moon Kingdom. In most of them, the kingdom falls due to a certain unrequited love affair and the presence of a Class III (subclass: Vampiric) Entity named Metal'la. There's a major juncture point in these SM timelines where the Silver Crystal is first used to gather up the various heroes and send them forth to be reborn in another millenium."

The cat's tail flicked and an image appeared over the Well. The image depicted certain sailor suited warriors of love and justice fighting youma. "Roughly seven out of ten will have the wording just right so that the forces of darkness and light are basically in the same roles they were back at the end of the Silver Millenium. This is what usually happens: sentai magical princesses versus one set of vampiric or minor demonic opponents."

Another tailflick. Another image, this one showing the same girls, but wearing very different costumes and fighting similarly clad foes. "Out of a hundred, ten will have it so that the groups are still heroes and villains reborn - but neither Dark Kingdom or Moon Kingdom. Those are the ones with superpowered teenage mutants or more Western style superheroes as opposed to the mystic sentai-style types of the Moon Kingdom."


Another tailflick produced a third such image alongside the other two. This one showed the girls, but wearing normal clothing and engaged in normal pursuits. "Another ten percent, roughly, will have the Silver Millenium champions be absolutely normal people. In those, if their opponents show up their world ends shortly thereafter or other champions arise.

"This is one of those timelines where they were sent forward in time, but they don't have the henshin sticks or magical powers. No Luna or Artemis to act as guidance counselors, but also no hidden agenda."

"Hmmm." Zeus hmmmed. "What of the remaining ten percent?"

"Real weird stuff, caused by a miscasting of the spell or the terms being lousily set," Toltiir confided. "The Millenium Crystal, after all, is essentially a device to grant wishes, with the emotional or spiritual strength of the user being the battery it draws on. And you *know* how wild wishes can get. So in some: the Senshi are superpowered vampires, or Princess Usagi's birth gets thrown off by a decision to freeze the fertilized ovuum until the Tsukino family gets their finances under better control, or they're children of the gods, or something *really* bizarre like the one where they're superpowered android teenaged girls, or even the one where they're pokemon. Pokewomen. Whatever."

"I don't think I want to even consider it," Zeus considered with a shudder. He disliked pokemon but he typically disliked sentai series as well. He liked the short skirts though.

There were, a quick glance at the Well now that he knew to look for the patterns, revealed hundreds of non-sentai Senshi timelines. Some of which looked as if they were thriving quite well. The thought of his son romantically linked to a fair number of these Senshi was attractive. In some ways, Zeus' ideas of what constituted manly meshed very well with Nodoka's own concepts. "I think something special is called for."

"You're kidding... No, you wouldn't kid when one of your kids is involved." Toltiir grinned, just *knowing* that this could turn *interesting.*

--------June 3, 1977--------

Genma presented the paper to his wife. "...and so I have to take him on a long training trip, otherwise your maternal influence will leave him weak and girlish!"

Little two year old Ranma wanted to play, but neither adult was paying attention. He grabbed Genma's ankle and tried to get noticed. "BAM!BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! BAM!"

"Dearest?" Nodoka looked at where her husband had been lifted by the right ankle and repeatedly slammed into the floor. "When you're able to talk again, be sure to tell me exactly HOW my influence is weakening Ranma or making him girlish. Ranma, put your Daddy down, dear."

"Bam!"

"Mmmfhf!" Genma mumbled from where he had been imbedded into the floor.

------August 3, 1981---------

*BOOM*

Ukyo looked around nervously. The time was right. "I-I-I won't let you down, pappa!"

*BOOM* *BOOM*

Pebbles danced. Windows rattled. Cursing from a French restaurant down the street as a souffle expired prematurely.

*BOOM* *BOOM* *BOOM*

"Pa-pa?!" The five year old squeaked and gripped her spatula tightly. Ukyo faced the appropriate direction, though her trembling knees gave away that she wasn't as brave as she was trying to appear.

"Ah, they get along so well," Akira Kuonji confided to the woman next to him.

*THOOM!* *Boomboomboomboomboom*

Genma glanced over at the two others sitting at the yattai and wondered about this. He didn't miss the glance Akira sent his way.

"I was surprised to learn that your husband had originally planned to abandon my daughter." ~Also pissed as hell, vengeful, and wanting to pound him flatter than a breakfast crepe.~

"When Ranma told me about the joke he'd played on his father: of jumping off the yattai, grabbing his old buddy and hiding 'him' to introduce 'him' to me," Nodoka said shaking her head, "I was naturally quite curious. A few inquiries turned up that my husband had made a deal that he should not have. HE is not the Head of Clan, after all, that responsibility - along with details of the family treasure and the family sword, is mine."

Genma stuck his head up at the phrase "family treasure" but wilted under the combined glares.

The booms settled down into a steady rumble, Ukyo started tracking it, realizing that Ranma was circling the area to come in at a different angle. More, he was deliberately stomping to give away his position. She swallowed nervously. Ranma was her friend, her very best friend. She liked him a lot. She knew he liked her a lot.

Silverware clattered. Buildings lost pieces of brick. Water sloshed in the nearby lake.

Ukyo liked Ranma a lot more when she wasn't trying to keep him away from the food. Or the two had been told that Ranma could only eat if he managed to get past Ukyo. No, *defeat* Ukyo. And Ranma had a problem misjudging his strength.

Ukyo whimpered, feeling very much like a little girl who was about to try and stop a freight train with a training spatula.

"Why *were* you so anxious to arrange this marriage? Ranma is only six, your own daughter only five." Nodoka considered the girl who looked like she was about ready to wet herself and felt her heart go out for the child.

"Saotome-san, I am dying," the okonomiyaki chef confessed. "It was my fervent wish to see my daughter cared for."

Ukyo whimpered again as she remembered Ranma vs the Gambling King. All she'd had to do was yell that the older man had hurt her. She'd never seen the Gambling King come down and Ukyo could well picture the King still orbitting the Earth, a little comet trail of marked cards behind him. It didn't take much more imagination to picture herself in the same position.

It would be nice to participate in a Japanese space program, but she'd prefer to go in a spaceship or something.

Though Ukyo would quite quickly say that she didn't need some boy defending her, there *was* something comforting in the thought that if she did get hurt - a certain someone could not only avenge her but likely cause the sort of destruction one normally needed explosives for.

"Ah," said Nodoka thoughtfully, understanding the rationale of Mr Kuonji. And certainly, Ukyo and Ranma got along well. Most of the time. She reached out to steady her cup of tea before it could rattle off the counter.

"Hmm," said Genma, his thoughts turning to family treasure again.

"Eeep!" Ukyo said as Ranma came speeding down the path, wild grin in place. There was a clank as the terrified girl dropped her spatula. "...papa..."

"I think I see a solution," said Nodoka as she watched Ukyo fleeing in terror, spatula forgotten as she tried to avoid being hugged or otherwise embarassed.

"AAAAAAaaaaaaAAAAA! Umf! MMMMFfffff!" Ukyo's arms and legs, the only parts of her visible, waved frantically from where Ranma was hugging her.

"Needs to work on her speed and evasion tactics," noted Genma.

---------December 24, 1984-------

Genma threw the eight year old into the pit, calmly walked to the control box, and slapped the large red button with only a moment of hesitation. The grinding noise revealed that the car crusher was working as designed. The yowls of cats within the pit increased in volume dramatically.

A blur of motion revealed that the blotch on the Saotome name was moving forward to interrupt the child's training.

"Foolish boy! If you interfere, Ukyo will never learn the Cat Fist!" Genma smiled at seeing Ranma hesitate. "You know how much she wants to be able to hold her own against you!"

"I CHANGED MY MIND! I DON'T WANNA LEARN THE CAT FIST!" Ukyo screeched as claws and jaws bit at her, as the pit walls came closer, as the gag finally came out of her mouth, and as she envisaged a near future where she was considerably flatter and mixed with liberal amounts of cat protein. The beating her pride took trying to spar with Ranma seemed not so bad anymore. "HELP! RANMA!"

Ranma again blurred into motion, ducking within the hydraulic press.

Genma frowned, but touched the button that lowered the lid into place. The manual (Advanced Martial Arts Training For Idiots, 500yen, Hera Publishing) was quite clear on things like this. Only by doing his best to kill his son would cause Ranma to reach his full potential. Ah, the sacrifices a martial arts father had to make. And if Ranma failed to master the training, then it was obvious that it was because Ranma was not really Genma's son! Any child of *his* loins would be able to master this Iron Skin technique.

The grinding became a whine as the walls slowed and gradually stopped. The panicked meowing within the pit continued, which made it impossible to hear anything else.

Except that something WAS happening. The lid exploded off the car crusher, coming down in scattered slices a moment later.

"Meeeoooowwww!" Ukyo announced to the heavens before hissing at the box holding her litter-mate. A few deft movements of her hands left the shredded remains of one of the walls falling down.

Genma was quick to point out to Nodoka how Ukyo was now faster and had some impressive chi abilities from the Cat Fist. That she apparently turned into a near-berserk animal whenever her brother was threatened, well, Genma felt that was a small price to pay for such an awesome technique.

Nodoka nodded sagely and continued knitting the sweater while she waited for the nurses to continue Genma's IV medication. All those sutures made her husband look more manly. Well, sort of.

---------November 12, 1986-------

"Well, Ranma? Ukyo?"

The eleven year old boy spoke first, grinning and spreading his hands wide. "Well, other than Ukyo, she was my first student. So I was wondering..."

Ukyo cleared her throat. "Besides Ranma, she's the only one I've found who can calm me out of the Cat Fist technique. I guess because we get along so well."

Nodoka looked at the nervous little girl. Eight or so, if she recalled correctly. Her parents were often gone on business trips. "What happened to your parents?"

"They... died in a plane crash last week... I... don't know what I'm gonna do... I mean..."

Nodoka smiled at the girl's effort to be brave. Kokoro no samurai. The heart of a samurai. Immediate physical threats were easy, an uncertain future somewhat more difficult. "Well, I suppose she can stay here for a little while."

"All right!" Ranma high fived Makoto and Ukyo, though the ten year old and the eight year old were sufficiently shorter than him that he had to do his "high fiving" at chest level. That was OK, though, as he was taller than kids his own age too.

"Mind you, this is just temporary!" Nodoka cautioned. She was sure that such a darling child had other relatives she could stay with.

-------April 1, 1989--------

Genma grumbled. He griped. He complained. He even whined.

Nodoka was phased by the histrionics not in the least. She had two children of her own. Ranma (not Genma's child, and the current guess was a transformed dragon) and Kyoko. She had adopted others, to Genma's continual frustration. Ukyo Saotome, Makoto Saotome, and now Hotaru Saotome.

Genma tried to reason against it. He had enough trouble training those currently there. Without help from Nodoka's family, they couldn't possibly afford another child.

Nodoka didn't bother pointing out that the children were training each other. She didn't bother to point out that she had received a sizable sum shortly after Makoto's adoption, or another fair amount of gold coinage with the name of an orphan named Hotaru Tomoe.

None of which mattered. Nodoka had discovered after adopting Ukyo that she took a great deal of delight in having children around. Having children (particularly girls) around had slowly diluted her view of what constituted manly behavior. (That Ranma *was* manly was not in doubt, any boy who had as many girls pursuing him as Ranma did, *had* to be manly.)

So Nodoka smiled a little smile, but neither backed down an inch or raised her voice. Hotaru's adoption was well underway, and she was being brought into a loving household where she was quite welcome. And if Genma didn't see things Nodoka's way, she had ways of persuading him to cease his protests at least.

Hotaru had been orphaned recently, her father having died in some laboratory experiment gone horribly wrong. Still, Professor Tomoe's daughter had been rescued when Ranma had seen the exploding building, and there was something of that old Chinese philosophy. Now that he had saved her life, Ranma felt somewhat responsible for the girl with the weak constitution.

------January 12, 1990--------------

"I see, so you are friends of Makoto?" Nodoka bowed and waved the guests in. "She is currently sparring with her sisters in the back."

"Ah," said one of the girls, a blonde with a red bow in her hair.

"Oh, and Ranma's there as well," Nodoka added as if just thinking of it. The sudden wind from the girl's passage whipped Nodoka's kimono slightly. Two of the other girls gave quick bows before rushing after, while the last one bowed a little deeper and stuttered an apology for the others' behavior before rushing off herself. Nodoka raised an eyebrow and smiled, amused.

Nodoka crossed to the door and noted that the young ladies in question were, in fact, largely fixated upon her son's performance. Feeling pride anew at her son's obvious manliness, Nodoka spent a moment watching the children play.

Makoto was using her newest developed skill (Genma's odd training methods proving effective if fairly lunatic), which was a ki enhancement of strength and sparring with Kyoko using the same technique. Hotaru was learning a bo staff kata from Ranma. Genma was passed out nearly in the center of the yard, resting in a small crater.

"So, how did you meet Makoto? Those school uniforms are from all over." Nodoka said after the third group sigh. All the same age, Nodoka thought, likely from the uniforms and particular accessories that they were all the same age as Makoto: twelve years old.

"Well, it's because of Ranma..." The girl abruptly realized something. "OH! I'm sorry. I'm Minako Aino. I met Makoto because of that martial arts tournament last month! I'd heard that there was a guy participating who was... special."

"Good euphenism," whispered the short haired girl, who switched to a more normal speaking volume. "I got to know Makoto also through Ranma. He gets consistently high scores in a number of subjects, and so I considered him a rival briefly. My name is Ami Mizuno. I believe you know my mother, a pediatrician."

"Ah, Mizuno-sensei," Nodoka nodded. Yes, she was familiar with Doctor Mizuno, who sometimes covered for her own family physician.

"Rei Hino, mother!"

(Elbow Jab) (Glare) Minako subtly indicated her displeasure to Rei.

"Ouch! I had several fire readings that involved Ranma."

Usagi looked up from her manga. "I thought you said we were all there to check out this guy who was supposed to be this major hunk." She shrugged, ignoring the glares. "At least that's why *I* went."

"Ah," said Nodoka with a nod. Yes, the Ranma Fan Club as her daughters frequently teased their brother about. (Though actually, ever since that Tsubasa person had started showing an interest in Ukyo, she hadn't teased Ranma nearly as much on the subject.)

--------February 12, 1992---------

Four parents looked around the town and wondered how they could turn this stop to their advantage. Three because they wanted to get *their* daughter something that the daughter in question desperately wanted.

One (1) Ranma Saotome. A seventeen year old, 6'6", 255 pound, very muscular, young man who attended juku regularly. The very same young man who was taking his younger two sisters into a small weaponsmithy to get them some souveniers.

Nodoka Saotome was there mainly to keep an eye on her baka husband. Said husband may have been a baka, but *everyone* (including Genma) knew that Ranma wasn't his son. The tall, buff, exceedingly handsome, young man resembled Genma about as much as a purebred and immaculately groomed Arabian stallion resembled a... panda. However, Kyoko *was* his daughter and didn't resemble him either. For which she was inordinately grateful.

Doctor Mizuno watched the way Ami's eyes never left the form of her study partner and wondered anew at how Ami kept her grades up. Yes, even though Ami was two years younger than Ranma, the two made an interesting couple. There weren't many who could hold Ami's interest, but this was one.

Mrs Aino got a glimpse of the starry-eyed look in her own daughter's eyes and concealed a smile. She remembered when *she* had been young. All right, admittedly Ranma's sister Makoto was one of Minako's friends, and they'd met that way. Admittedly, Minako was fourteen. It was a bit odd that one of Minako's other friends was also in attendence, but as soon as Mrs Aino got a chance to explain the situation with Mrs Saotome, she felt that the engagement could be formalized.

Hino-san wasn't a parent, not exactly, but he *was* the legal guardian of Rei. And Rei Hino would tell people that she'd done a fire-reading that had revealed her in a wedding dress standing next to Ranma Saotome. This got her quite a bit of animosity from some people. Not from Nodoka, who merely admired the girl's pluck.

Usagi-chan wasn't interested in Ranma, she just wanted to hang around her buddies and get a break from school. It was an unhappy break for her that a private tutor, named Setsuna Meiou, was along on this trip.

Michiru was there specifically because she knew Haruka would eventually show up to "avenge herself" against Ranma. While she found Haruka attractive, her current obsession with "getting even with that boy" wasn't appealing at all.

Nodoka was rather proud of her son. Tall, strong, muscular, an accomplished scholar and warrior. Manly, if a bit shy but that was inconsequential. Just the women who had staked an interest in her son was proof to Nodoka that her son was *quite* manly. Ami was one of the nation's top scholars. Minako, a perky (if a bit odd) girl filled with vitality. Rei was quite talented, and a Shinto shrine priestess could have other benefits. Michiru was a bit odd, but a talented musician. These were the among the "finalists" in Nodoka's view, though all were three years younger than Ranma!

Nodoka further mused that any number of others *could* be a close third. Excitable Yui, cool and calculating Yuki, delicate Misa, fiery Rei, mischievous Kotono, clumsy Usagi, enthusiastic Yoko, the tall tomboy Harumi, the somewhat perverted Ayame, even bubbly Megumi. Later in the pack were those girls who seemed to just want Ranma for something *other* than a romantic relationship. Girls like Kaori and Noriko who hoped for profits in Ranma's wake, who saw a financial use for Ranma. Girls like Etsuko and Michiyo who saw in Ranma a trophy of sorts. Girls like Miho and Yumi who just wanted Ranma for the effects he might have on their careers. An age range from fourteen to (if she read Setsuna's body language right) the mid-20s were interested in her son. Certainly, this was more than ample evidence of her son's manliness. Even that Haruka girl who kept showing up to challenge Ranma to fight.

Never mind all the girls who treated him much as a popular idol singer. Those could be safely lumped together as "also ran." Most of whom wouldn't have any idea what to do with him if they had caught him. Nodoka thought it a pity that more of the "Ranma Fan Club" (as she mentally labelled them) hadn't come along. Not only would this help Ranma eventually overcome his shyness, but it was interesting to see the way Genma twitched at some of the antics.

The Amazon Tournament was just finishing up when disaster struck in two seperate locations.

Ukyo began apologizing immediately, noting the spreading stain over the other girl's trousers and the now-empty mug.

The girl growled and pulled a spear out of nowhere, stabbing forward with the butt towards the Outsider woman who had dared bump into her.

Ukyo blocked with her spatula. "Well, if you're not going to accept an apology, I'm *sure* not gonna let you hit me with *that.*"

"She apologized, let her alone!" Makoto stood to Ukyo's left in a show of solidarity with her adopted sister.

"No use laughing over milled silk!" Minako stood to Ukyo's right.

"That's 'no use crying over spilled milk' Minako-chan," Ami commented, weighing the odds. Makoto and Ukyo were very talented martial artists, Minako was roughly average, and she'd never fancied herself a front line fighter. Nodoka was a good martial artist, Mister Saotome was supposed to be quite good. Against an entire village of women now sporting martial arts weapons, Ami wasn't sure.

Ranma came running up, setting aside all the little toys that Kyoko and Hotaru had insisted on.

Several formal challenges were thrown. Some were aimed at the girl with the spatula, some at those women flanking the girl with the spatula, and the vast majority of those remaining were aimed at the Outsider male with the full intent of *losing* the resultant fight.

Ranma stood in front, flanked on one side by his sisters Makoto and Ukyo. Genma and Nodoka to the other side. Rei insisted on her place in line, and Minako quickly decided not to be left out of this.

Ami and Setsuna had their hands full keeping Hotaru and Kyoko from getting in the fight. Neither Usagi or Michiru particularly wanted to get involved.

A young girl on the suspended log finished off her opponent, leapt off the log, and proclaimed something in her language to all concerned.

Setsuna frowned. Her command of Mandarin wasn't that great, but it sounded like she was saying that as she was the Champion she had first dibs.

--------------------------

Sweating, scratched up, tired, and in a bad mood, Haruka Ten'ou snuck into the village. Her quarry was near, and soon she would strike from ambush. It would be a fair fight and she would at last prove that SHE was a better fighter than some boy with a freakish strength. SHE didn't need any tricks to beat the fellow, and the previous instances where he had defeated her would be revealed as cheating!

For the humiliation of being defeated in school tournaments, for pain and suffering, for revealing her true gender before a bunch of males, Ranma Saotome would be PUNISHED!

"-What kind of idiot Outsider Male sneaks across an Amazon bathhouse?-"

Haruka looked up to see a number of girls bathing, looking curiously in her direction. One had an odd gleam in her eye as she sloshed towards the girl-in-guy's clothing. "Uh oh, hey, I didn't realize this was a ..."

Cabinet threw a punch at the boy, who grabbed the arm and pulled as he ducked to the side. Cabinet felt the slick stones underfoot as she lost her balance and fell.

Haruka backed up away from the fallen naked girl, glad that Michiru couldn't see this. "Heh. Now I can go deal with that Saotome!"

Cabinet got up slowly as the boy left the room.

"-Cabinet, that Outsider male just defeated you!/i" Due to Haruka's current mode of dress and hairstyle, nobody had figured out that the girl was actually a boy. "iAnd he was kinda cute. You gonna do it?-"

Cabinet smirked. "-Shouldn't take me long to give him the Kiss Of Marriage, but don't wait up.-" There were a few giggles at that comment.

When Cabinet stepped outside the bathhouse, however, she wondered if someone was playing with the catapult again. There seemed to be Amazons being launched from somewhere near the Tournament area.

------------------

"-How dare you defeat my Shampoo!-" Mousse attacked by hurling four throwing axes towards the short-haired girl. Two directly, the other two apparently wild shots. The target squeaked and flinched satisfactorily.

As Mousse had planned, the male stranger came racing to her rescue. The two "wild" throwing axes chopped through supporting ropes. The challenge log came down.

The short haired girl shot out of harm's way as the Outsider male grabbed and tossed her. There was a resounding thump as the log came down.

Mousse grinned. Yes, he had proven he was the best male fighter in the village. All the talk about him being a half-blind fool was now proven wrong.

Mousse could hear the Outsiders calling to their fallen member. There was likewise some shock and dismay from most of the Amazons, but that was too bad. Sure the Outsider had proven strong, and from some of the comments, Mousse guessed that the women found him comely. Whatever was left under the log would not prove to be very attractive.

Why was everyone gasping? The challenge log was moving?

-------------

Haruka ran. Not that she was afraid of this Amazon pursuing her. Certainly not! It would merely interfere with her quest for vengeance.

OK, maybe she was a little afraid of what Michiru would say if the Amazon *did* manage to kiss her. She had *not* been pleased when she had found Haruka in that water closet with that cheerleader. Uhm, or that time with that martial artist from Nerima. (She'd heard that the girl hated boys, and that rumor had been enough to tickle her fancy. Naturally Haruka had wanted to return the favor.) Hmmm. Michiru also hadn't been too happy about the time she'd walked in and Haruka had been...

Haruka *really* didn't want to be caught with anyone else until she'd had the chance to make up with her soulmate. They were destined to be together, everyone else was just play. Couldn't she see that?

---------------

Cologne (among a fair number of other Amazons) was still coming up with nasty things to do to Mousse when several tons of wood started lifting into the air.

The Outsider male, fingers digging *into* the wood, was snarling and shifting the entire weight of the log up over his head. He was also quite obviously looking for something. It looked as if he barely noticed the weight.

Cologne was gratified to see the sense of most of the Amazons, who had abandoned their plans of punishing/scaring the Outsiders. Instead, the crowd seemed to melt like slag away from Mousse. Mousse, predictably, stood and stared as the Outsider lifted the log up, then threw it.

Several Amazons fainted as they realized that the log had just been tossed outside the village, a distance of several hundred feet. Amazons of this culture often found men who acted swiftly and decisively to be attractive. Amazons of this culture found men who possessed self-restraint to be attractive. This Outsider had just shown both qualities. Women of Nichieju also found strong men to be *very* attractive.

Cologne noted that the ones who had not fainted were watching this male and had the silliest grins on their faces. Decisive, disciplined, strong, and apparently intelligent males were something of a hot commodity. Those Amazons of the type that liked handsome, strong, males were in the process of discussing whether the Outsider male was available.

Of course, the Amazons who found docile, weak, easily dominated males to be attractive still wanted to punish the Outsider women. They had just found reason to practice caution if not abandon those plans entirely.

Mousse launched a barrage of chain weapons. The Outsider moved quickly, far faster than one would expect from such a muscular youth, grabbing the chains and pulling Mousse closer. A loud meaty thwack announced the point where the Outsider man's fist met Mousse's head.

Cologne nodded at the expected vision of Mousse hitting the ground. She nodded again thoughtfully as Mousse slid a good 25 feet from the point of impact.

Cologne then froze as she realized enough Amazons had caught her motion, and that said gesture had been freely interpreted as permission to play a quick game of "first come first served."

Only that the Outsider obviously didn't understand kept him from being dogpiled immediately. It took almost a full minute. When the dust began to clear, it was apparent that it was Shampoo who was busy giving the Kiss Of Marriage.

Much to the consternation (from Ranma's side) and disappointment (various Amazons) of those watching.

Michiru smiled at the sight, turned to the side and saw something that caused the smile to vanish entirely. There was Haruka over there, dressed as a guy as usual, and *KISSING ONE OF THE AMAZONS*! (1) But she'd said that it was all misunderstandings and coincidences, hadn't she?

---Feb 13, 1992---------

"I won't take it easy on you, Ranma," growled Genma, who still was trying to find a decent way to bring up the Tendo-Saotome alliance but wasn't too sure it was even appropriate. The deal had been, after all, between "his child" and "Soun's child" and to join the family therein. Obviously Nodoka's suspicions of some shapeshifting supernatural creature wearing Genma's face (revealed about the time Ranma had started benchpressing cars) had proven to be correct. He'd tried a few times to remove this embarassment, but it remained. Now he'd pretty much settled down to accepting it.

"Like you ever do," responded Ranma. "The bit with the car crusher to 'toughen my body' or weighing me down in chains and tossing me in the ocean to 'improve my stamina.' Oh, how could I forget you 'chumming' the water to draw sharks..."

"You whine like a little girl!" Genma said. He was hoping that these 'Cursed Springs' would at least prove interesting. No one had any idea how difficult it was to provide the necessary element of danger to training with his son and Ukyo's Cat Fist. Anything further was cut off by Minako using her rapidly improving "tag Genma Saotome in the head with a thrown blunt object" skills. It wasn't enough to knock Genma off his pole and into the Spring Of Drowned Child, but it was close.

"Yeah, so what's wrong with being a girl?" Makoto lighted on one of the poles.

"Ah, he's never had a clue 'bout nothing." Ukyo insisted from her own pole. "Is this like the time you tried to train all three of us in Advanced Breakfall by blowing up that ledge and sending us to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?"

"Or that Speed Training where you threw Mako-chan into that river in South America," reminded Ranma. "The one with the pirahna? Or that time you brought an avalanche down on Ukyo to get her over her problems with cold weather?"

There were several feminine blushes as certain individuals remembered being trapped inside a hastily made cave with hundreds of tons of snow outside and a warm Ranma inside. They'd had to cuddle together for shared warmth.

Genma merely noted that this training was obviously not strenuous enough as the students failed to respect him properly. "Were you not prepared to sacrifice your lives for the Art?"

"NO!" Ranma, Makoto, and Ukyo said at the same time.

"AHHH! Sirs what you do here?!" The Guide had finally found his camera and put the hot water on. "You no want to train here. Is very cursed place."

"It is? Shampoo must have slept through that Lore class..." Shampoo leapt to a pole, fully prepared to save her airen from stupid not-the-pappa.

"Cursed?!" Three mothers said as one.

"Dearest said that he'd given up trying to kill Ranma..." Nodoka finished, eyebrow twitching.

Makoto dodged Genma's flying kick by leaping to another pole, just regaining her balance enough to avoid falling into Spring Of Drowned Black Piglet.

Ranma took the opportunity to get under Genma's flight plan and use a volleyball manuever to send the man rocketing straight up over Spring Of Drowned Pervert.

"Cursed Springs?" Nodoka asked politely of the Guide, the other two mothers giving most of their attention to the Guide as well. This surprised the Guide quite a bit, as *no one* ever listened to him until AFTER getting their curses.

Ukyo leapt over Spring Of Drowned Doll to draw her BAS (big ass spatula, called BAS because Nodoka didn't approve of her daughters using such language) and prepare for Genma's landing.

"Oh no," said Ami rushing forward.

"We've got to stop them!" Minako cried as she started towards them at the same time.

Ukyo's spatula sliced air as Genma managed to twist-kick and produce a change in his angle of descent and velocity. Genma landed on the pole over Spring of Drowned Chinese Bandit and blocked Makoto's thrown warfan attack before it could knock him into Spring Of Drowned Amazon Warrior.

Ukyo fired off two throwing spatulas, causing Genma to leap over Spring Of Drowned Mad Scientist and precariously land on the pole next to it. (Spring of Drowned Virtuous Man.)

Genma looked around warily. Ranma hadn't attacked again, which meant... *Poom!*

Genma landed very close to the Spring Of Drowned Rat, then leapt back to a pole. "Maybe you're right," he admitted. "This does appear to be a lame training spot."

"Yeah, come on, if we're gonna train, let's try those poles they set up over that hot springs a way back. That way at least Mom and them can get a hot soak while we get our practice in," Ranma leapt off.

"Yeah!" Several people voiced their immediate approval of that idea. Genma grumbled. The book said that he had to put Ranma's life in peril, that only through surviving almost certain brushes with death could one's true potential be unlocked. It just wasn't that easy anymore.

================

(1) This sort of thing usually happens to Ranma, doesn't it? Why *not* hit someone else with that sort of luck?

Weird concepts i wanted to explore: Everyone goes to Jusenkyo. Nobody gets cursed.

Well, this is the rewrite. Back to things getting ever weirder when chapter 2 is finished.

===============