This fic contains major spoilers for all games in the series!
Quarrel for no Reason
The first harbinger of incoming adventures was a monkey. Of a vibrant purple color. Who was chasing Happousai across rooftops with irritated "Ki-ki-ki-ki!"
Ranma blinked in confusion as he watched them fade into distance... Then he hurried to school: it was a test day. On average, the life in the Tendou house was much more monotonous that someone from the outside could've thought. Training; pickling your brains at school; training; pickling your brains with homework; going to sleep / waking up; training; pickling your brains at school... Wash, rinse, repeat until your life becomes such a drag. Every big fight felt like holidays, happening once, maybe twice per month.
One monkey, even nontraditionally colored one, wasn't looking like much of a fight, alas.
The day that followed was full of calculus, literature and other things purely perpendicular to a martial artist. Well, English was at least marginally useful.
The interesting times came at evening when the entire jointed family was sitting in the living room, its walls fully opened, drinking tea. A shout in a painfully familiar voice reached from the street, then a girl with long purple hair landed in the yard, dressed immodestly in scarlet silk pants flaring at the bottom and a scarlet bikini top.
Only that girl wasn't Shampoo at all.
Shampoo landed a second later, sporting a short to a fault scarlet silk dress. She immediately started squabbling, stepping in the stranger's way as the unfamiliar girl made for the house.
Genma kept a stone facade, sipping his tea as he admired the asymmetric symmetry of forms: two beautiful girls with long purple hair, both scantily clad in scarlet. But Shampoo was pleasing the eye with her long, athletic legs (had probably been coming to woo his good-for-nothing offspring) while the stranger was showing off graceful, slim waist of a dancer, her top not much more than a ribbon with a golden loop in the center.
And both the exotic beauties were squabbling in some rubbish tongues alien to a Japanese ear.
Ranma have noticed the symmetry as well, but he was trying to not think in that direction lest the uncute one feels something with her woefully imbalanced sixth sense.
Akane jerself coudn't decide how she was feeling about this. On one hand, half-naked wenches in the house. Again. On the other hand, both too busy with each other and... It was entertaining, at least. I want pop-corn, decided Akane making herself comfortable but keeping an open route to quickly dodge fast moving projectiles.
"Do they even understand each other?" Nabiki asked rhetorically, not bothering to hide that she was having fun. "Those are different languages."
Truly, Shampoo had slipped to Chinese, forgetting herself in the heat of verbal battle. The unfamiliar girl was shouting in some utterly unfamiliar language. Not English, not Indonesian, not French, not Chinese - it was a strange critter of its own kind.
The purple-haired duo, meanwhile, was descending to wild hand gestures, their shouting becoming more and more heated. Souun winced feeling family finances spasm: one didn't need a fortune teller now to predict property damages.
Ranma had noticed the stranger having obviously pointed ears. A youkai...? She looked the part of an exotic dancer, but held herself too boldly to not know how to fight. What was her style? Capoeira, maybe? The flat shoes with pointy ends curling upwards weren't looking like practical fighting footwear, but appearances could be utterly deceiving. The golden bracers were quite functional, but the ridiculously long hair... Gathered at the back of her head with something akin to a golden hub into a billowing pony-tail that tapering to a pointy end almost reaching the girl's calves... it was basically `grab me' invitation! Even Shampoo's hairdo was more practical, barely reaching her... He cast a wary side glance at Akane. ..lower back.
The stranger's attemts to go around Shampoo finally set the Chinese girl off. Growling something menacingly she pulled her maces from a subspace pocket.
The dancer immediately took a combat stance, aaaand... And Ranma and Genma realized there's something they failed to understand. It was clearly a combat stance: the girl was bouncing on slightly bent legs, shifting her weight from foot to foot. But who holds their hands down and to the sides, almost relaxed? The long tail of purple hair was swaying rhythmically with her bouncing.
Shampoo was taken aback as well. Then she attacked with a sharp cry, one mace rased, the other one pulled back.
The stranger bent supply, gyrating with her entire body like she was holding whip with her head. Which the ponytail worked as one, accelereted with the energy of all her muscles. And more! The mace was deflected to the side with a metallic clang, Shampoo being even pushed back a bit. The effect was as if the hair weighed about twenty kilograms - a definite and undeniable ki-reinforcement.
The Chinese girl froze in a defensive stance, re-evaluating her opponent.
The dancer kept bouncing, her feet hadn't moved a centimeter.
Shampoo attacked again, clearly intent of taking the hair strike on one mace the finishing the fight with the other. Whip-Clang! The stranger displayed ability to slide back ignoring friction. Whip-Clang! And spin her hair whip very fast, not losing momentum from the previous swing. Whip-Clang! And change direction of the slash suddenly, moving her hair so freely like it was a well trained snake.
Shampoo switched defense, having trouble reading such unconventional style. Then, after backing in such matter all across the yard and having some paint scraped off her maces - this hair obviously wasn't some common hair - the Amazon finally found a weakness. Which turned to be the rhythm, a bane of all styles based on whips and other non-rigid weapons. The stranger's style, however exotic it looked at first, was in fact very limiting.
Shampoo tried to wedge into the rhythm between hair strikes. She almost got hit with a power kick for her troubles when her opponent kicked upwards so hard she tumbled back head over heels... For anyone else such hole in their defense would be their undoing, but the hair whip covered it neatly. The stranger then used the extra momentum to go on the offensive, converting the energy of her landing into an especially fierce hair slash.
For a time Shampoo was forced into deep defense again as she worked to adapt for the new combinations of hair slashes and pirouette kicks.
"She'll run out of tricks soon," Genma noted prompting a curious side glance from Akane.
Ranma grunted in agreement. The stranger's style was powerful and very economical: even considering pirouettes she wasn't moving much, unlike Shampoo who was dashing back and forth waving her maces around. Against opponents less skilled than the Chinese Amazon, the unfamiliar pointy-eared girl could mow down an army, fighting for hours if needed. But her style's Achilles' heel, its low variability, had already made her defeat a concluded matter.
Seeing the motions of the hair whip limited to the horizontal plane or so, Shampoo tried to slip under, showing great flexibility of her own. But the stranger simply slid back dropping to all fours and continued whipping low to the ground, sacrificing mobility and power but not speed. Her work with hands and shoulders was a sight to behold! Also, her posterior was wobbling funnily. Ranma cast a cautious side glance at his fiancee, then returned his attention back to the fight after making sure the horizon was clear.
Shampoo tried going from above. The stranger displayed a matching ability to jump three meters up, keep her balance in the air and keep whipping. The strikes weren't coming any slower, the Chinese girl strained to block them all. The opponents rebounded off each other landing springily, then paused gauging each other up. The danced stopped her windmill but kept bouncing.
The maces were all in strips of chafed off paint, Shampoo was sweating a bit, but that was all. The amazon could easily block any strikes of the stranger.
"Either we see her secret ultimate move, or she is finished," said Ranma.
Both opponents, it seems, were thinking along similar lines. The girl in flaring pants flowed suddenly from a combat stance to a... dancing one?！ She started an enticing belly dance, her waist flexing, her hips swaying. Her arm movements were appropriate for a dance as well, not for a battle.
Ranma's eyes narrowed.
Soun felt his spirits lift: were property damages being cancelled?
Shampoo grew livid as she took the dance for mockery. She went for a straight-on attack. A silent flash! A fraction of a second later her maces slammed into a... little elephant sliding at her with all the grace and subtlety of a freight train.
The amazon's frightened yelp was cut short with the rumble of collapsing fence: even as the elephant was only a meter and a half high, it outweighed the Chinese girl several times over. She was simply swept off her feet.
An another silent flash, and there was the belly-dancer standing in place of the elephant, rubbing a bruise on her bare shoulder. Shampoo was draped over the rubble showing to the world that yes, her panties were white. The maces rolled away from her flaccid hands. The victor poked the loser carefully with the point of her shoe, causing a small twitch and a slurred "aiyah, who remember the number of that truck". Then she turned around to face the inhabitants of the house... Smiled nervously... Glanced back to the elephant-sized hole in the fence... And began apologizing - judgling by her tone - profusely.
"Poor Shampoo," said Kasumi as she went to unroll a spare futon.
The stranger was the first to help carrying her bruised opponent.
"Why were you fighting?" Ranma grumbled, not hoping for an answer, after he made sure the Chinese girl didn't have any fractures.
The girl let out a frustrated sigh, making convoluted gestures and babbling something in her Unintelligible.
Ranma was studying her close up - veeeery unobtrusively, with all the caution of juggling a rotten egg. Because Akane was right next to him.
The fathers kept close as well - just in case.
There wasn't much to discover. Her height was on par with the local girls like Shampoo or Ranma. Her skin tone was darker, but nothing outside of someone liking to sunbathe. Yes, her ears were pointy, time and a half longer than human's. So what? Her neck under the dark grey choker was slim but wiry - quite naturally. Her bangs were supported by a golden M-shaped tiara with a blue jewel in its center. The golden hub holding her ponytail together looked heavy and utterly monolithic. How does she geit it off and on? Finally, the stranger smelt vaguely of exotic herbs and quite noticeqbly of river mud, like she had taken a dip in the Neriman rain channel.
Also, this girl was trying to explain something to them with convoluted gestures causing confusion and practically gritting her teeth in frustration.
"I wish she'd could talk normally," noted Nabiki, "What if she saw someone sneak into and hide in our house? Or even worse, some magical thing?"
The stranger froze at these words. Then she turned slowly, to stare at the middle Tendou.
Ranma and Akane tensed.
"So, do you understand us or not?" Nabiki asked, still casually leaning against a wall without hint of concern.
The exotic girl slowly raised her hand, then suddenly snapped her fingers. The sound was deafening, the white spark causing it rolled away in a wave of white light. Lavender sparkles whirled dancing around her, then suddenly all dove into her head and she huddled with a pained "It hurts!" in pure Japanese.
"What was that just now?" Ranma inquired as he unobtrusively moved to shield Akane. The last thing they'd need in their home was a sorceress with a few screws loose.
"Ow-ow-ow... I just fulfilled a wish," the stranger replied, massaging her temples. "She wish..ed I could speak yours.. your tongue," she pointed at Nabiki, "and I felt it, in some mysterious way. And had a hunch to fulfill it... Ow... Now that doesn't feel like a good idea... Nails, stop having a party in my head..."
"A wish?" Nabiki perked up. "Are you a genie or what...? And where are the other two? Or how does it even work?"
"Dream on, girlfriend." The dancer snorted straightening up carefully to not disturb her head. "It was the second time in my entire life now as I fulfilled someone's wish! And how could I know how it works? I'm a half-genie raised by humans. Oww, my head..."
"What are you doing in this house?" Ranma asked her.
"Ranma...!" his fiance berated him. Then she turned to face the stranger who was picking her ear with a wince: "I'm Tendou Akane, glad to meet you!" — Of course you're glad, thought Ranma, this girl cooks mean tenderized Shampoo steaks — "You were trying to tell us someth—"
"Right!" the half-genie dancer jumped up. She immediately winced clutching at her head. "It's urgent! There's a wrinkled dwarf hiding in this house, he stole an item of pure evil!"
"Sounds like Happi," Ranma mumbled. Then it dawned on him: "Hey! You are that macaca who was chasing Happousai this morning!"
"Yes, it was me!" the girl agreed making Akane's descending fist freeze millimeters from Ranma's head. "And you are the guy who was walking on top of a fence...! Wait, Ha-po-saee? Do you know him?"
"Unfortunately, yes! So what was the thing the old lecher stole?"
"It's..." The girl fell silent, suddenly unsure, glancing around.
"We will help!" Akane reassured her. "Right, Ranma?"
He reluctantly grumbled something vaguely confirming. Tangling with the old coot again, for who knows what reason...
"It's a... lamp," the genie girl decided to trust them. "It can suck your magic out and enslave genies. Once, I was... Risky Boots stole my magic and released it from the lamp in the form of an evil twin! I barely managed to defeat that.. nightmarish... She turned up very, very strong even as the magic was the same as mine... It must be strong, the dark side! But the evil twin unraveled and I was left without my magic, staying human for a long time."
"I go warn Great-grandmother," Shampoo groaned standing up with difficulty.
"Should I help you?" the guest offered at once. "You are not living here, aren't you? Why did you then stand in my way?"
"Not important," the Chinese girl waved her aside as she hobbled towards the exit. "Do not help: warrior's pride. You fight good, though! Dirtily! I come for a rematch later," she promised ominously.
"Psst, Kasumi-san," whispered Ranma. "Lend her a broom or something, all right? I can't." He pointed at Akane with his eyes.
The kind eldest sister hurried with a broom after the amazon: hobbling with the help of a stick is always much easier.
"Hmmm, a rematch? But we have to return the lamp!" insisted the half-genie girl as she turned towards the ones remaining. "It's a mightily useful thing when you run around cleaning islands of dark magic, sucking it out of mutated beasts. But in bad hands it's something terrible!"
"Well, say, we can protect you," Ranma tried to jump off the hero train. "Other than that... It doesn't sound that bad. There are lots of cursed people around who'd jump at a chance of magic being sucked out of them. Ain't I right?"
"I was thinking," Nabiki drawled with exaggerated slowness, "what if Happi releases the curse sucked out of you in the form of an evil twin...? Oops, my bad. In his hands the girl-twin would turn up perverted."
"What happens if he sucks in a youkai like that Mao Mao Lin?" Akane raised yet another loaded question
"He'd get a meow-meow-lung slave then, utterly bent to his will," the guest slammed the answer home.
"We will of course do anything we can to take that lamp from him!" Ranma burst with sudden drive, shuddering from images that flashed before his mind's eye. "Right, Pops...? But the old master is dodgy and powerful, you can't defeat him head on. Every time we have to take something from him it's a siege with the whole lot of us, often for several days... But we'll make it!"
"Talking business is nice," reminded Nabiki. "But how do we call you? `Hey, you' would be awkward."
"Shantae," the pointy-eared girl said with a smile. "Call me Shantae."