Ranma 1/2



"And this is where you're experiencing your largest asset leak," the professional investment agent stated to the couple on the other side of her desk, "What we would do for you, is completely pay off your debts. When that's done, your payments would be made to us in much smaller increments in much less time, with the difference being made through investments in our private investment firm that only we have access to, and we are proud to admit that has yet to suffer any loss since its introduction into the Japanese market. From the profits made from our investments, you are entitled to thirteen percent right off the top, which we can either set aside for you, or give you up front."

With an air of confidence that was infectious, the woman sat back in her chair, as if the deal were already closed, "No other consolidation company offers our perks, and you'll be able to retire much sooner, with a larger gain in less than twenty years. Many of our clients have begun enjoying their golden years as soon as five."

The middle-aged woman tapped her pen against her chin, allowing the information to sink into the heads of her potential clients. They were a young couple, but they had almost no experience in managing their own funds when they had married. It was something Nabiki had seen many times in her many years of employment of her current vocation. They would marry, believing that all will be right for them from then on, and that if they just worked honestly for it, they would reach their dream's fruition with a little patience.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality was that problems occur, and accidents happen. Cash that had been set aside for optimistic things had to be allotted to fixing the new car they had bought because the problem fell outside of warranty, to repairing the roof of their new home after that unexpected and powerful storm, or paying for the emergency operation for an unexpected ailment.

Murphy's Law set in, and the security they had felt with one another would become jeopardized. Sometimes their marriage would end abruptly; sometimes they end up in what equated to indentured servitude. Many other times, they end up at one of the many consolidation and investment firms that have been popping up within the last decade or so, like the one Nabiki was currently employed at.

Nabiki herself never had to suffer such problems, but had gained experience of them from the plights of her clientele. While still fresh of college, she had been approached by a friend for what sounded like a pyramid scheme. So her friend wouldn't be alone at the three-hour long seminar, Nabiki attended, and just as she thought she would, found nothing of interest. Instead of taking it as a waste of her time, she amused herself by asking questions about the program they offered, looking for loopholes that would make some of the other attendees reconsider what she felt was a farce.

Apparently, she had made an impression on the local manager of the firm, who had been overseeing one of their newer trainees giving his first seminar. When she was asked about considering employment, she had taken it more as a lark than anything else. It seemed like a good job as long as it would last, and it gave her the opportunity to manage other people's money.

Eight years later, she was still doing it, and a regional manager herself. She still took clients, as she liked to deal with the people side of things, but had many others working under her now.

She had grown extremely well off, with a nice home, car, and healthy account that she didn't foresee running dry anytime soon, even if she went on an exorbitant spending spree every so often. In fact, it was only two years ago that she had taken a three-month tour through Europe. Unfortunately, even with her financial status, Nabiki still yearned for the security the man and wife before her gave one another, even if that yearning's edge had been dulled over the years.

"It... it does sound too good to be true," the husband, Mr. Hashiyama, responded, before turning to his young wife for her opinion.

"I don't see where we have much more to lose," Mrs. Hashiyama replied, though her voice still had a touch of wariness in it, "Are you sure this would work for us?"

"Mrs. Hashiyama," the business woman leaned forward on her desk, allowing a wry smirk to cross her face, "I wouldn't be talking to you right now if I didn't think it would."

Nabiki enjoyed her work, especially with clients like the two in front of her. They wouldn't always immediately give their full trust, but when the results started to show, they always thanked her, pledging their undying gratitude.

"Well," she replied, returning a somewhat hesitant smile, "I guess you would know, if anyone..." The two looked at each other, and their smiles widened, "We'll do it."

"I'm happy to hear that," Nabiki replied, standing, "Welcome to the first step of becoming debt free. I'll have my secretary schedule another meeting later for us to discuss the more elaborate details of what will be involved."

"Thank you," Mr. Hashiyama bowed, with his wife following quickly, "We didn't know what was going to happen to us."

Nabiki gave the two a warm smile, "Well, I'm glad to take that concern away from you."

As the young couple had left, Nabiki sat back down at her desk, and turned to look out the window of her seventh floor office. The space was leased, but of course, there was no danger of her losing the space. Not having much else to do, and not really wanting to play with any of the electronic or office toys at her disposal, she sorted through the mail that had accumulated for the past few days. It wasn't that she didn't even want to read her mail, it just never appealed to her all that much. None of it was ever of any personal importance, other than a few bills that weren't automatically withdrawn from her accounts. She regularly paid them regardless of the formal monthly or annual reminders.

The middle-aged woman raised an eyebrow, as she came across one letter that was actually personal, from her father in fact. With a snort and a small smile, Nabiki opened it, wondering what her dear Dad was up to. She kept in touch with him regularly, but their replies were almost less than an accumulated five or six a year, not including visits. Her old man was rather traditional, and steadfastly refused to learn 'e-mail', so she humored him with standard letters every so often.

Her slightly aged and matured face scrunched up slightly, as she read the letter. It was rather terse, as usually her father had a lot to talk about, from neighborhood council meetings, to the latest problem his old master had got him into.

"I need you to come home

for a few days on family business.

I expect your arrival on the

seventeenth of this month

-Your Loving Father"

Nabiki rolled her eyes, hoping her father wasn't doing another will re-write, and lamenting about what remaining days he had left. It always ended up with her on the spotlight, being compared to her sisters. She was probably the most successful of the three, with only Akane's career in film being a rival, but she was the only one that hadn't married, although Kasumi did go through a rather messy divorce with Dr. Tofu.

She checked her calendar, it was the fifteenth. She turned on her desk phone, opening it to the inside line, with the intention of having her secretary reschedule any appointments of that time.