The Great Crossover Crisis

Discalaimer: Ranma and company are not mine. I think that says it all. What? You were expecting a grand production?

[" "]: Chinese Language
: Thoughts
(* *): Computer responses

D-Ranma: Dragon Child (Draco)

P-Ranma: Fist of the Pikachu (Trainer, Ash)

T-Ranma: Ranmatech (Prototype, Tekno)

Kojiro: Cat Fist Fury

B-Ranma: Fighting Blind (Koga)

Ranma: The original

DD-Akane: Akane from Dual Destinies

Chapter 12

Making Some Changes

KABOOM!

"There they go again." T-Ranma sighed as he and Draco were stranding on the sidelines of the main training area. They were watching Koga and Kojiro leap at each other, each trying to outperform his opponent.

"This is their... what, one thousandth sparring session since they met?" Draco asked.

"One thousand and twelve." Prototype replied as he glanced over his shoulder and saw Trainer and Ranma walking toward them. Both were rubbing their eyes after awakening. As always, the Pikachu was perched on Trainer's shoulder.

"Hey guys. What's up?" Draco greeted.

"What's with all the racket?" Ranma asked. Usually, he could sleep through an earthquake, but with his senses attuned to ki energies, he was quickly awakened when Koga and Kojiro started throwing multiple blasts and used advanced techniques. It had been a week since he had been invited to stay with his counterparts in the complex. Naturally, Genma had voiced out his disapproval, but with a few... convincing arguments from the other Ranmas, the panda soon came around to their way of thinking. Not that Prototype or his look-alikes gave him much of a choice.

It didn't take long for Ranma to move into the complex. He was all for living with his other selves, and it would be a welcomed change of pace to be with people who actually understood him. Then again, they were him after all. However, to his disappointment, they had yet to teach him any of their techniques, nor was he able to get a hold of Trainer's Water Stone Pendant. Whenever he asked about it, the Pokémon trainer and martial artist would just change the subject. Ranma didn't give up though. He was almost one hundred percent certain that the pendant was the key to solving most of his current problems. The trick was how to get his hands on it. He had considered sneaking into P-Ranma's room and just take it, but that idea did not have much merit. For one thing, though he had considerable thieving skills from his ten-year training journey, he wasn't very keen on stealing, especially when he later learned that those so-called innocent games that Genma had taught him were against the law and totally wrong. When he was young, his father had told him to take things from people and have them chase after him, as part of his training regimen. If they couldn't catch him, then whatever he took was his for the keeping. When he grew older and learned that what he had done in the past was criminal, he came to realize that he was actually hurting people and stopped playing those 'games.'

Ranma was no saint. Though he never stole outright from others since then, he had done a few things in the past which would cause one to question his morals. He had sunk to very low levels when he tried to con and later steal that magic wishing sword from Kuno. Then there was that so-called waterproof soap of Shampoo's and that instant nannichuan. Then there was that map to Japan's Spring of Drowned Man. During those times, he had rationalized his actions, saying that Kuno and Shampoo had deceived him and caused him a lot of grief, so therefore they did not really count. The same thing went with Ryoga. But, when he later thought about it, it was... deceitful and would probably be what Genma would have done.

The thought of him becoming just like his father often gave Ranma the willies. Genma was a greedy, self-serving idiot, who would and HAD sold out his son on many occasions to get what he wanted without earning it. He was also not above letting his son take the consequences and didn't think far enough ahead, being only concerned with the quick fix and instant reward.

At that point, Ranma remembered back to what his other selves said about how they felt about that panda and did not bother to hide their disgust about how Ranma had never gotten away from his father. Well, all except the oldest member of the group, who was polite and mature enough to keep his distaste of Genma to himself. At that moment, he began thinking about his future. Did he really want to end up like his father? At present, being anything like Genma was hazardous. Ranma's father had been receiving a series of beatings since the five other Ranmas came, but he had to admit that his father had been asking for it.

That time he tried to break into Prototype's ship should have been enough of a warning to Genma not to trifle with them. However, like the moron that he was, Genma just had to keep pushing it. He tried to get two of them engaged to Kasumi and Nabiki, which also met with extremely painful consequences. His most recent bonehead maneuver occurred just two days ago...

----------

Flashback...

"PIKA... CHUUUUU!"

ZZZZAAAAAAPPPP!

"MACHOP!"

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

"GOLDUCK!"

SPLOOSH!

"NEIGH!"

FWOOSH!

"PIDGOOO!"

"YOW!"

"SLASH!"

RIP! TEAR! REND!

We now see a bruised, frazzled, smoking, and very badly mauled panda lying on the floor as a couple of businessmen ran off with their briefcases of money. Surrounding the battered idiot of a martial artist were P-Ranma's Pokémon, all of which were powering up their auras for a second barrage. At that moment, Trainer stomped toward Genma, waving off his Pokémon to stand aside as he picked up Ranma's father by the front of his gi and shook him back to consciousness.

As soon as Genma opened his eyes, Ash shouted in his face while continually shaking him like a rag doll.

"NOW LISTEN HERE! I KNEW YOU WERE AN IDIOT, BUT THIS TIME YOU WENT TOO FAR! IF YOU TRY TO SELL MY POKÉMON JUST ONE MORE TIME, THEN I'LL STUFF YOU INTO A POKEBALL! THE HARD WAY!"

There was a huge explosion of ki as P-Ranma used his Hyper Beam to send Genma soaring into the stratosphere. Half the roof was blown off, but by that afternoon, Care-Bot Unit Seven had it repaired. As for Genma, it took him until early the next morning to get back to Nerima.

End of Flashback...

----------

Ranma shuddered as he remembered how angry Trainer was when someone tried to take something of his. That was the second reason why Ranma did not try to steal the Pendant as of yet. P-Ranma was pretty powerful in his own right and his Pokémon were extremely protective of him and his property. Though Ranma had battled Mousse, Kuno, and Ryoga on a regular basis; and had even taken on more powerful foes such as Cologne, Happosai, Pantyhose and the dragon prince of the Musk Dynasty, Herb, the fact was that Trainer was no pushover.

Ranma winced as he remembered the pain he felt when Ash nailed him with that Thunderblast Bomb attack of his. The Pokémon trainer had also displayed a wide array of different techniques and seemed to always be creating more. What Ranma didn't know was that during the trip through dimensions, P-Ranma had been constantly battling and training with the others. His skills had substantially improved since joining up with his other selves. With every new challenge appearing nearly every day, the five Ranmas had no trouble with keeping their skills up and improving on them.

Ranma sighed as he thought back to how was going to get at that pendant. Stealing it was out of the question. It would feel like stealing from himself and he could understand how any one of the Ranmas would be upset if one of their own betrayed their trust. The fact that they insisted that Ranma stay with them in the complex said much of their faith in him.

The pigtailed martial artist did enjoy their company, but he would always feel uneasy when they started giving him advice on how to act and encouraging him to go out with the other girls. The situation between Akane, Ukyo and Shampoo was already volatile and he didn't want things to explode any further, but his other selves just wouldn't give up. And it wasn't just his girl problems that they kept on addressing. They seemed quite determined to educate him in things that did not involve the martial arts...

----------

A few days later...

"I don't know about this Koga. I mean, should we really be going to the Cat Cafe?"

The blind fighter shrugged and replied. "Pardon the pun, but I really don't SEE why not. It's lunchtime and I'm in the mood for some good ramen. In any case, you don't have any lunch with you. That is, unless you were actually planning to EAT that lunch that Akane tried to hand to you this morning. Well, were you?"

Ranma winced as he remembered the lunch that Akane had whipped for him. Emphasis on the word 'whipped' as she had beaten and slugged the gooey mass into the bento before holding it down while tying it up. His father and Soun were instantly on his case when he tried to turn down the meal, holding him down and shouting at him to eat whatever his fiancee had made for him and like it, even if it killed him. In this case, it probably would have.

----------

Flashback to that morning...

Koga had just emerged from the complex and his sensitive nose instantly caught the odor of something extremely nauseous. His sense of smell was more acute than a shark's and could pick up scents as faint as one part per trillion. It was also developed enough to distinguish between different chemical compositions. It was like having a chemistry lab in his nose.

Judging from what he could tell Akane's lunch was composed of, Koga realized that if Ranma ate that, then even the famous Saotome iron stomach and the blind fighter's impressive healing skills may not be able to save him. Sushi for lunch wasn't unusual, but blowfish? Akane should have known better than that. And the poisonous seafood was only part of the toxic concoction that the Tendo girl had created for her fiance. When his nose analyzed the rest of the lunch, Koga winced. Eating the blowfish toxin would probably be much safer than the rest of the bento. He had to act fast to save his counterpart.

The blind Ranma had to make it look like an accident, so he quickly made a tiny dart appear in his hand. He then reached out with his senses for the weakest point in the bento box. He charged up the dart with ki, and with a quick flick of the wrist, hurled the projectile toward his target. The dart was no bigger than a toothpick, but with the Delayed Breaking Point, it became a very effective weapon. The point of the dart made contact with the bento and delivered its payload of ki into the box, disintegrating into powder a moment after hitting it.

Just as a smiling and proud Akane was handing her reluctant fiance her masterpiece of culinary delight, it suddenly sagged in the handkerchief and a cracking noise was heard. Akane cried out as the bento broke open and the gelatinous mass erupted from within, causing her to drop it.

"Oh no! The lunch! I worked so hard on it!" Akane sobbed as she bent down to try and salvage it. However, the blob wanted nothing more to do with her and oozed away into the yard.

Ranma sighed in relief as he saw that he had been saved from a face worse than death. "Aw that's too bad. Well, no use crying over spilled lunches. Oh, look at the time! I'm going to be late for school. Guess I'll have to wait until next time Akane, see ya!"

Without another word, Ranma bolted from the scene, breaking out of the stranglehold that Soun and Genma had him and left a trail of dust in his wake.

"Ranma no baka!" Akane shouted as she chased after him with the mallet.

Koga sighed as his senses tracked them both. Akane's mallet was painful to swallow, but his counterpart would at least live through that experience.

----------

End of flashback...

Ranma shuddered again as he recalled how narrow an escape it had been. Since then, he had been avoiding Akane to allow her time to cool off. However, he was now faced with another dilemma. He was broke and his stomach was growling. Fortunately, B-Ranma had offered to treat him to lunch. However, when he realized that his sightless other self was leading him to the Cat Cafe, Ranma suspected that something was up.

"I really don't know about this. If Akane finds out that I went to Shampoo, she..."

"I can't understand why you're so against it." B-Ranma said with a smirk. "We're only going to have lunch, that's all. Besides, she can go without seeing you for one hour. You see her every day, so what's the problem? Besides, Shampoo is quite pretty, from what my fingers tell me and she is technically your fiancee as well."

"That crazy chick ain't my fiancee! It's only because of those stupid Amazon Laws and because that old ghoul of hers..." Ranma suddenly stopped short when he felt an icy sensation wash over him. He looked at Koga and though his eyes were unchanged, his brows were furrowed and his mouth straightened into a hard line. His arms were crossed and he was giving him a cold expression that made Antarctica look like a tropical paradise. "Er, I mean... ah, well, I didn't... you know... ah, heh, heh. I ... I..." His voice trailed off as he realized that he had insulted both his counterpart and people that Koga regarded with great respect.

Koga took a deep breath and remembered back to what Prototype said about the people in this universe being different than the ones in his own. "Just for today, I'm going to let that one pass. However, I will not stand by and let you address Elder Cologne or Shampoo with anything less than the proper courtesy. It IS considered good manners, after all. Did Genma teach you nothing of social skills? As I recall, Cologne has done much for you, and she does have more than two hundred and eighty-four years of experience than you do. You could learn a lot from that kind of experience."

"Well, I..."

Koga held up a hand. "As I said before, I'm going to let this one transgression pass. Remember though, her name is not 'old ghoul'. It is Cologne and my cousin's name is Shampoo, not 'crazy chick.' Understood?"

Ranma couldn't believe the intensity his other self was radiating and could only nod as they continued on their way to the Nekohanten.

----------

"Ah! Son-in-laws!" Cologne greeted as she hopped on her cane to the front door. As per usual, the Nekohanten was bustling with business as it was a popular spot to come for lunch. At the moment, Mousse was out on an errand. Shampoo waved to the two and bounced her way toward them. She was so ecstatic of seeing two images of her beloved that she leaped up and glomped onto the both of them.

"Airen!"

Ranma winced as he tried to push away from the Amazon's embrace while Koga chuckled a bit. When they finally disengaged, he spoke to this world's version of his cousin in Mandarin. ["It's good to be here again, Shampoo, but remember, I only LOOK like Ranma. I'm Koga, remember?"]

Shampoo nodded as she apologized. ["Sorry about that, but I can't help it. You're just as cute as my darling here."] Actually, you're even cuter. Shampoo silently added as she led them to a booth.

Ranma sat down as Koga addressed Cologne. ["Honored Elder, if you don't mind, I would like to have a private word with you."]

["But of course, Son-in-Law."]

Koga wagged a finger at her. ["Ah, ah, ah. Koga, remember?"]

["Heh. Well, you can't blame an old woman for some wishful thinking, can you?"]

Koga gave her a warm smile as he addressed Shampoo. ["Shampoo, Ranma is starving and he could really use your best ramen. I'll be back in a few minutes to eat, so you can serve him first, okay?"]

The purple-haired girl nodded as she bounced off.

----------

A minute later, in the a small room behind the kitchen...

["So what can I do for you, Son-in... I mean, Koga?"]

["Honored Elder..."]

Cologne held up a hand. ["Please. You can drop the formalities. As much as I enjoy being called 'Honored Elder,' instead of 'Old Ghoul,' I would very much appreciate it, if you were to just call me Cologne. You are after all, Jasmine's son and in a way, you are a part of my family."] She then added to herself, ["So what is on your mind?"]

["What was your first impression of Ranma when you first met him?"]

Cologne paused for a moment as she remembered back to her first encounter with Ranma. ["Well, I will admit, he was not quite as I expected. He was young, cocky, brash and seemed quite sure of himself. However, I also sensed some serious potential within him and he did surprise me on a few occasions."]

Koga nodded as he began explaining. ["Elder, I mean... Cologne, my counterparts and I have observed your Ranma and, well.. .to put it bluntly, there's not really much about him that one could be proud of."]

["What do you mean? He's an excellent and talented warrior and is of a very strong bloodline. He'll make a welcome addition to the tribe and..."]

["Oh, I'm not saying that he's lacking in the martial arts department."] The blind fighter interrupted. ["I sensed great potential within him as well and he's destined for much greater things in the future. However, it seems that martial arts is the only thing that he thinks about. The only thing that is important in his life, and I fear that has made him woefully unprepared for the other aspects of the real world. I have a feeling that his upbringing under his father had a lot to do with his present behavior. When he becomes faced with something that is outside of the fight, he's about as ready to handle it as a fish is to mountain climbing. I'm certain that you are aware of his lack of social skills and his inability to be subtle?"]

["Well, Son-in-Law does tend to... express himself a lot."] Cologne replied reluctantly.

["In other words, he shoots off his mouth a lot, correct?"]

Cologne sighed and nodded. ["Yes, he is... quite rude."]

["And I take it that he has little to no experience with girls, despite the fact that he's half-girl himself?"]

["Well, I wouldn't say that..."]

["What would you say? From what the others have observed, Ranma seems to cling to outdated, chauvinistic ideals about manhood and about the opposite gender. He thinks of girls as weaker and won't cry. I also believe that this behavior is due to his upbringing under Genma. I on the other hand, do understand the strengths of others, regardless of gender. And crying is not unmanly if one sheds tears for a good reason. That's what my mother Jasmine had taught to me, for which I am thankful for."]

["You seem to have much insight for one who is lacking in sight."]

B-Ranma nodded as he continued. ["In any case, I would think that Ranma might benefit from gaining the same kind of insight. He is sorely deficient in much of the kind of education a person his age should have. He ignores the 'signals' that his body is giving him, thinking them as perverted and not fitting in with his narrow-minded views."]

["Signals?"] Cologne asked with a knowing smile.

B-Ranma nodded. ["He is far TOO immature and thinks that any thoughts that are.... ahem, shall we say of an intimate nature toward girls to be perverted and is to be avoided. With so little experience in dealing with the... 'facts of life,' his father's influence, his girl curse and all the troubles he has now, it is no wonder that he is so against thinking of girls in any kind of..."] The blind fighter blushed as he tried to think of a way of explaining. He then said in a very low whisper, ["Well, I'm going to have to say it.... sexual content."]

The elder chuckled at Koga's obvious embarrassment over such a delicate subject. ["And I suppose you are more... educated in things of that nature?"]

The blind fighter's cheeks reddened even more as he replied while scratching the back of his head. ["Well, let's just say that I am quite aware of the... er, differences between males and females, both physically and emotionally. In any case, you have to admit that Ranma has not been exposed to any good role models or had any favorable experiences about that subject. You probably know more about Happosai than I do, and having a female body half the time would make Ranma unsure about his manhood. Then there's Akane and her abusive treatment of him whenever she sees him with Shampoo, Ukyo or any other girl. She's also calling him a pervert and inflicting severe physical injury whenever Ranma tries to be nice to her or has any intimate or sexual thoughts about the opposite sex.. Then there are the other suitors like Ryoga, Mousse and Kuno who keep attacking him whenever they see him with Akane or Shampoo. With so many negative results, I can understand why Ranma would prefer not to get involved with a girl. However, I can sense a great conflict that is occurring within him as all those repressed emotions are causing a heavy strain on him."]

["What do you mean?"]

["Well, Ranma is past the age of what people call puberty, but he is actively resisting the feelings and reactions, which goes normally with the changes his body is undergoing. I think it is because he is so afraid of what might result and the fact that he's half-girl, that he just pushes all those emotions aside and focuses only on the martial arts. That is not helping him in his current situation. He is totally at a loss when dealing with situations that don't involve a fight and he is especially unprepared when it involves girls. Have you ever wondered why Ranma has not responded to Shampoo? I mean, she is a beautiful girl and any other boy would be falling over himself to be near her. So why hasn't he responded? The answer is simple. He doesn't know how and he's afraid of what might happen if he does respond."]

["I see..."] Cologne had sometimes wondered why Ranma always acted so childish and immature. Back in the village, Shampoo had more than her fair share of admirers, and one did not have to mention Mousse. In Japan, several of the customers had asked her for dates. However, whenever Shampoo tried to any romantic overtures toward Ranma, the Saotome boy would cringe away from Shampoo as if she was carrying the plague. Now that she thought about it, Koga's words made sense and it was quite unhealthy for Ranma to keep such emotions bottled up for too long. ["Exactly what are you suggesting?"]

["Well..."] B-Ranma thought for a moment. ["I think Ranma would have an easier time if he were taught that thinking of girls in a more sexual content is not entirely wrong and that it's only natural. I'm not suggesting that we force him to go on panty raids or some such nonsense, but it would help him be more comfortable around girls if he knew that the word S-E-X is a part of life and that he shouldn't shun it, just because of the few bad examples that he has seen. In other words, he needs to be... educated more on the relationship between males and females. Furthermore, my counterparts and I believe that Ranma should spend less time focusing on the martial arts and more on his other social skills. He's got to get out more often and be away from such influences like Genma and the Tendos. They are NOT helping him in his development either. Soun Tendo is only concerned with uniting the schools. Kasumi, (bless her kind heart), does tend to ignore the bad things about people, but that in turn does not make any problems go away. The Nabiki in this dimension has yet to learn that her mercenary actions are hurting Ranma, and you already know about Akane. What my others selves and I agree on is that Ranma needs some time on his own to sort out his life."]

["Hmmm, that does seem like a good start. But, exactly how would this benefit Shampoo and I?"]

["I was wondering when you would ask that question."] Koga said. ["My counterparts and I have agreed that Ranma should be given the choice of which girl he wants to be with. Though we all have our own preferences, (personally, I would think that Shampoo would be his best choice), Prototype has reminded us that this is RANMA'S life, not ours. We are only here to help him grow, and I think that's what Ranma's needs the most, the chance to actually grow. That was the reason why we invited Ranma to stay with us in the complex. We are also going to give the other girls, including Shampoo, equal opportunities to spend time with Ranma, without anyone else interfering. That is the main advantage Akane has over the other girls, since Ranma lives at the Tendo home. Now what I want Shampoo to do is to ease back on her affection and let Ranma gradually get used to such emotions. I promise that she will have a good chance to catch him, just like all the other fiancees. IF she plays her cards right, then she might the one walking down the aisle beside him."]

Cologne nodded as she considered the blind boy's suggestions. So far, all of her other schemes to get Ranma to marry Shampoo had ended in dismal failure. It couldn't hurt to try it this way. In any case, she had nothing better in mind and this venture was feasible.

["Very well, Koga. I will admit that Son-in-Law does need to learn a few things about life and this may also help Shampoo grow as well."]

["Thank you, Cologne. Oh, and one more thing. I would suggest that you refrain from calling him Son-in-Law. Technically speaking, he isn't your son-in-law as of yet, and it is very clear that the name makes him uncomfortable. His name is Ranma, so please use it. I have already asked him to stop referring you as 'Old Ghoul.' It's only common courtesy that one addresses another by his or her proper name."]

["All right. If he calls me Cologne or Elder, then I shall call him... Ranma."]

----------

Meanwhile...

As he had no classes to teach that day, Tekno found himself with some leisure time on his hands and decided to show the eldest Tendo daughter a good time. Care-Bot Unit Seven was already taking care of the daily household chores, thereby giving Kasumi a chance to actually go on her first, honest-to-goodness... date.

Naturally, the shy and demure Kasumi tried to turn down Prototype's generous offer, but the technological Ranma wouldn't take no for an answer and was determined to get Kasumi to enjoy her freedom from the daily drudgery that had become her existence after her mother had passed away. Before she could protest, he gently nudged her into the mechanical hands of the other Care-Bots, instructing them to spare no expense in helping Kasumi prepare for an outing. He even had his Care-Bots create an entire new wardrobe for her, which contained articles of clothing that were a far cry from the housedresses and frilly aprons that Kasumi usually wore.

At that moment, Kasumi was strolling down the street while holding onto T-Ranma's arm. She was dressed in a simple, pale-blue frock with a sash around her waist. The skirt came down to below her knees, but still showed off a good portion of shapely legs. She had on her feet, low-heeled pumps which accentuated her calves, but were specially designed not to put any undue pressure on her feet. (I can never understand how women can walk in those things!). The new clothes easily molded to her body, hinting at lush curves, while still maintaining a sense of decency and modesty. It was just as well. If Kasumi had opted for the dress that T-Ranma had given to her that first time she was in the complex, she would have caused a stampede of male suitors.

Her hair was tied in a luxuriant, lush tail that was drawn over her right shoulder. The Care-Bots had catered to her every need in preparing her for her date with their master. She had been given a soothing bath that had special enrichment minerals, which caused all the calluses, dryness and wrinkles from years of housework to vanish, leaving only smooth, unblemished and healthy skin. Her hands, which had borne the brunt of her hard labors to care for her family, became especially smooth-skinned as the Care-Bots worked their magic. Her hair had been treated with a special revitalizing shampoo that removed all tangles and knots, as well as giving the strands a healthy sheen. She had been given another expert manicure and pedicure as well, and for the first time, was actually wearing make-up.

The Care-Bots had introduced her to a wide variety of exotic cosmetics and perfumes, some of which could not be found on Earth. Instead of making her look gaudy and over-made up, the Care-Bots instead went for a more natural look and only applied enough make up in the proper proportions to fully emphasize Kasumi's serene, yet angelic beauty. On her neck and wrists, they had applied a floral fragrance from a botanical planet that specialized in perfumes. The simple, plain and unassuming Kasumi that we all know and love became the beautiful and vibrant Kasumi that we all knew was there, but was reluctant to come out.

Kasumi had become overwhelmed by the attention she received and was more than nervous when she emerged in front of T-Ranma in the new ensemble. Prototype however, gave her an assuring smile while offering her his arm.

The two had gone to a very fancy restaurant for lunch, and then to a movie theater. The looks and remarks that they received from other people made Kasumi even more embarrassed, as some would comment on what a lovely couple they made. To their eyes they saw a very beautiful girl on the arm of a tall, handsome and dashing man. Those who knew Kasumi did a series of double-takes as they passed by. Several could not believe that beautiful and enchanting vision of loveliness was the same Tendo girl who passed by them everyday on her shopping trips. They were unaccustomed at seeing her without her arms full of groceries or in her usual attire of a plain housedress and perhaps an apron. Many men liked what they saw and wondered how they could have missed such exquisiteness in Soun's eldest daughter. As for female watchers, they became jealous at seeing the Tendo girl hanging onto the arm of her handsome escort.

Kasumi couldn't believe that all this was happening and she felt a stirring of special feelings that she never experienced before. A feeling that everything was actually right and what she was doing was the most natural thing in the world. It was such a simple, ordinary act of going out with a companion, to eat, see a movie and now strolling down the streets. However, to her, it was a time of wonder. To be able to partake what other girls took for granted. And it was all made possible because of the boy, no... the MAN who walked beside her.

Kasumi gazed at her escort with a sense of amazement and curiosity. How could this person be Ranma? He was taller, older, broader of shoulder, charming, well-mannered and most importantly, far more mature than his native counterpart. And yet, when she looked into those blue eyes of his, she could see a small part of the Ranma she knew within Prototype. It was that love of life and devil-may-care attitude that sometimes scared her, yet also kept her fascinated. His face bespoke of great strength, integrity, and maturity. but still retained that spark of youthful mischievousness and rebellion that she found so endearing. It was if someone had taken out Ranma's best character traits and placed them into a more seasoned body. He was the dashing swashbuckler, the perfect gentleman, the heroic white knight and the lovable rebel without a cause, all rolled into one. He was like all those heroes in those trashy romance novels she secretly read when she was alone. Did Prototype represent what Ranma's utmost potential could attain in time?

Kasumi was still contemplating on this when T-Ranma pointed to a nearby dance hall. Naturally, she tried to resist, saying that she wasn't much of a dancer. However, when the technological Ranma began pouring on the charm and compliments, she melted like butter and let herself be led toward the dance floor.

----------

Meanwhile, in another part of Tokyo, in a secluded area of the park, a small portal shimmered into view for a moment, allowing a lone figure to step through it before it faded away into nothingness. The woman was tall and had long, black flowing hair. She was dressed simply in a blue and white kimono with matching sandals. She surveyed the area in which she had arrived in this world and nodded as she ascertained that no one had seen her entrance. She then began walking in the direction of the Tendo Dojo as she thought about the purpose of her being in this reality.

DD-Akane knew that this was not going to be easy as she remembered back to her own youth. She had not liked change or criticism, and it had been quite simple for her to deny everything when it did not suit her. She knew from what the Ranma twins had shown her that the native Akane of this world was petty and easy to enrage. She wasn't afraid to gloat when she had the upper hand and would ignore the plain truth when things did not go her way.

The alternate version of Ranma's fiancee sighed as she wondered just how she was going to make this world's Akane change or at least consider that her current behavior was unacceptable. For DD-Akane, she had to lose Ranma to her two greatest rivals, die and then be tortured by demons of the Dark World before she finally realized that acting the spoiled and abusive brat was not the way. Occasionally, she had nightmares about that experience. However, with the passage of time and the support of a loving husband and family, those bad dreams had gradually lessened in intensity. They still made her shiver, but she had found the strength from her experiences afterward to face them.

The Akane of this world had not endured any of that and rarely, if ever had to suffer the consequences of her actions. She had not taken anywhere near as many lumps as Ranma had and would add more every day. There were the times, in which Akane had acted decently and made DD-Akane proud, but compared with the amount of punishment she had given to Ranma because of jealousy, lack of trust and compassion for her fiance's troubles; that was a trifling sum. Akane took Ranma for granted, thinking that no matter what she did to him, he would always remain loyal to her. Well, even a martial artist with an insane amount of patience had to have a breaking point, With the way things were now, it was only a matter of time before that limit was exceeded. Even now, the alternate versions of Ranma were giving their counterpart new ways of thinking.

Recently, Akane's sister had told her about the theory of the Emotional Bank Account. DD-Akane had learned from Nabiki that a relationship was like maintaining two separate bank accounts. One could think of it in terms of deposits and withdrawals. A deposit could be like a smile or giving a person the benefit of the doubt. A withdrawal would like hitting him, name-calling or getting mad. Though she and Ranma did that to each other many times, Ranma didn't do it nearly half as much as Akane did. And he had also made several huge deposits into his account, such as defending her, saving her almost every other day, letting her hit him to vent out her anger instead of fighting back, eating her atrocious cooking to make her feel better, and, even giving up a few chances to be cured. His account was firmly in the black.

DD-Akane sighed again as she remembered back to her relationship with Ranma. She wished that she had not wasted so much of her account. She shook her head as she remembered that she had made more withdrawals than deposits in her emotional account, therefore invoking penalties for going into the negative. Penalties such as Ranma ignoring her, going off to be with other girls and insulting her. The biggest penalty of all was when he was split into twins, with love for Shampoo and Ukyo, and none for her beyond friendship. That was when the account was canceled.

The alternate Akane knew from what she had observed of her native version's life up to this point, was that her emotional account was dangerously deep in the red. She had yet to even say the word, 'I'm sorry' to Ranma. The native Ranma had thrown in a huge balance for Akane when he arrived since he was so desperate for friends after a long and lonely training trip with only Genma for company. Bonuses were also thrown in, such as family honor, and the support of the family, but all of that could only go so far to cover Akane's expenses of abusing Ranma. What good was it to offer ten yen when you had to pay a hundred yen and then start the process all over again? Even Ranma could only stand so much. It's a miracle that he was able to hold it in THIS long without exploding.

Yes, it was plain to see that with the alternate versions of Ranma giving their native self a boost, and with the native Akane remaining unchanged, it was likely that the account that Akane had would be so deep in the red that it would be canceled soon. Though the Ranma twins had assured DD-Akane that those other Ranmas would not interfere with him making a choice of whom to marry, the older Akane still wanted to see her younger self get a better chance. However, if the native Akane were to lose her chance, even with the advice and lessons that DD-Akane planned to give her, then she would have no one to blame for her misfortune but herself.

*** ---------- ***

Author's note: I took this idea of an emotional bank account from Skysaber's story Mirrors Multiplied. Now that was a great idea! One that I agree with totally.***

----------

Later...

"Are you kidding?!"

"Oh come on, Ranma. Why not?"

"Because I wanna live to see the next day!"

Koga paused to take a deep breath as he and Ranma walked back to Furinkan. "I don't understand why you're so up in arms about this. I only said that since Shampoo IS your fiancee and..."

"Only because of that STUPID Amazon Law and..." The cold look that the blind fighter gave Ranma made the brash martial artist stop in mid-rant and calm down. "Sorry about that, but what you're suggesting is just ASKING for trouble!"

"So what's wrong with taking Shampoo out on a date?"

"WHAT'S WRONG?! HAVE YOU GONE NUTS?! Do you realize what Akane and Ukyo will do if they see me with Shampoo?!"

Koga cocked his head to one side and then replied, "All right. So take Ukyo out on a date too. She won't have anything to complain about then, right? Come to think of it, since Kasumi and Nabiki are technically included in the pledge to unite the schools, it wouldn't hurt to take them out either."

"What about Akane?"

"What about her?"

"Huh?"

"Ranma... the reason why I suggested that you take Shampoo out is simple. She's your fiancee, yet she does not get to see you often. The same thing goes for Ukyo. They deserve to spend some time with you. I can tell that they really do care about you. And my counterparts and I all agree that they deserve THAT much, especially with all the sacrifices they've made for you."

"Sacrifices? What sacrifices?"

Oh boy! He can't be THIS dense, now can he? "Ranma, Ukyo had been acting like a boy for ten years and lived only for revenge against you. She still forgave you and lets you eat at her restaurant for free. She thinks the world of you and despite all those times you've treated her as just an old friend, she still hopes that it will be more. She's so hopeful that she'll be the one that you'll marry, she won't even consider looking at another guy. She's pinned her entire future on you. Now if you don't call that a big sacrifice, then I'm REALLY worried about you. And as for Shampoo, she's already made a lot of sacrifices and broken quite a few laws for you."

"Huh?"

"Ranma, do you remember when you told Shampoo that you were really a girl? She should have killed you, but she didn't! She simply left to go back to the village in disgrace! She received a Jusenkyo curse! She could have easily killed Akane, but since you cared so much about her, she instead used the Xi Fang Gao Shiatsu technique! She stood by you when Ling Ling and Lung Lung were hunting you. She helped you when Mousse tried to turn you into a duck! Open your eyes, Ranma! She CARES about you! It's a wonder if that concern is deserving!"

"Hey! Now don't you tell me about her! She's used potions, tricks, and blackmail on me and..."

"ONLY because you don't give her as many chances as you do with Akane."

"Huh?"

B-Ranma took a deep breath and said in a serious tone. "Ranma, the reasons why Shampoo did all those bad things is because she believes that those are the only ways she has to win you! She wouldn't even DO those things if she wasn't sure that you were worth it. Take it from me, I can sense it in her. No matter how many times you've brushed her off, she still cares a LOT for you. I'm surprised that you never noticed that."

"But..."

"Ranma, I don't mean to be insulting, since I KNOW you weren't born stupid. Did you just learn to be an idiot from Genma or did you just get brain-damaged from all those hits from Akane's mallet? Ranma, the signs were all there, but you just chose to ignore them all. Now I know that I'm sounding biased, but think about it. If you give Shampoo some respect and understanding, then perhaps she might lay off on the tricks and be more honest with you."

"Maybe..." Ranma said slowly. "But taking her out on a date wouldn't work! I just know that something will happen to spoil it, not to mention that Akane's dad and my Dad would get in the way and stuff."

"Don't worry about that!' My counterparts and I have discussed it and we agree that you should spend more time with the other girls to get to know them better. If you do take out Ukyo and Shampoo, then we'll make sure that no one will interfere. Prototype has even offered to foot the bill for dinner, dancing, movies, the works!"

"But how about Akane?"

"Well... you can take her out, IF you want to, but she sees you everyday and you live at the dojo. That's the main advantage she has over the other girls. I KNOW you're not staying there for her cooking or the daily blows to the head. That's the reason why we invited you to live with us. We wanted to give you some freedom and teach you to make your own decisions and lead your own life."

"Hey! I get to choose what I want to do with my life!"

"Oh really? So I guess the pledge to unite the Schools of the Anything Goes was your idea, right?"

"Well, no..."

"And choosing Akane as the your fiancee was also your idea?"

"Hey! That's not what I..."

"And having all those troubles that your father had caused, by selling you, was part of your plan, right?"

"Wait a minute! My old man did that and..."

"Precisely. In other words, for the last sixteen years or so, you've been living by what GENMA had set out for you. All his plans, all his arrangements, all those promises that he had made and broken on your behalf had NOTHING to do with what you wanted or planned. So exactly WHAT decisions have you made, have had any real importance to your future? The answer is... NOTHING! A big, fat zero! From what I had learned from your past, you've been content to let that idiot of a father run and RUIN your life! And it's never going to change unless YOU do something about it!"

"Hey! It's not as easy as you think!" Ranma protested.

The blind Ranma nodded as he said, "True, but life is never simple! However, like the old saying goes, the kami only help those who help themselves! If you're just waiting for things to get better and just take whatever garbage that comes your way, then you're going to be up to your neck in crud for the rest of your life! Ignoring the bad things will just make it harder to handle when they get bigger!"

"So what are you saying I should do about it!"

"What I'm saying is that you should take long, hard look at your life and think about what you really want in your future. Are you certain you want to married to an abusive person who does not give you the benefit of the doubt nor listens to what you have to say? Do you want to constantly have to take punishment every time you wake up? Do you want to keep paying for your father's mistakes? Or do you want to take control of your life?"

"Well..."

"Ranma, I can't tell you anything else, except for this little bit of advice that I once heard a great space captain say during our journeys. He said for us not to live by other people's rules. Do what YOU want, the way YOU want it."

"Who said that?"

"His name was Justy Ueki Tylor. He was the captain of a space destroyer that we ended up on once during an intergalactic war. But in any case, what do you say?"

Ranma became silent as he started to digest the information that Koga had told him. A lot of it made sense. It couldn't really hurt to give his suggestions a try. And Koga did promise that he and the other Ranmas would keep the rest of the Nerima Wrecking Crew from interfering. Still, it sounded so unlikely that it would work. However, the words of the Captain of the Soyokaze came back to him. He did want to live by his own choices. Finally, he decided that this would be his first real step toward a future of his own making.

"Okay, I'll give it a try."

----------

"Oh, that was wonderful! Simply marvelous!" Kasumi said as she and T-Ranma walked down the path in the city park. After spending an enjoyable afternoon of dinner, a movie and dancing, the eldest Tendo daughter felt light on her feet. She sidled up even closer to her companion and let off a contented sigh.

"I'm glad that you're enjoying yourself, Kasumi." The oldest of Ranma's counterparts said with a smile. "You deserve to live it up every now and then and forget all your troubles. You only get one life, so you should live it. I certainly hope that you will keep that in mind and not take it so hard." He gestured to a park bench and they both sat down.

"I've... never felt so... so..." She couldn't describe the feeling of total abandonment and rapture that she was experiencing. Her heart didn't feel the burdens that her usual drudgery caused, nor did her soul feel as bound. And it was all because of this man! Yes, she considered Prototype as a TRUE man. He was not the immature native Ranma, nor was he the nice, but hopeless Dr. Tofu. He was confident and bold, yet sensitive and caring. He was firm and direct, but also carried a sense of intrigue. He was everything that she had ever dreamed for in a man, and much, much more. And she could just see herself now, in a beautiful white dress and he in an elegant suit, walking along down an aisle...

However, for T-Ranma, it was different. Though Kasumi was a woman that any man would be proud to call as his own, he did not think of himself as deserving such an angel. And a life with her, though would be Heaven on Earth, was an impossible dream. He wasn't going to be in this world forever. There was the fact that someone else already held his heart and was waiting for him back in his own universe. And there was the fact that he also led an extremely dangerous lifestyle.

He had taken Kasumi from her life of unending chores so that she could experience life to the fullest. However, he had not expected things to go this far. As the silence between them wore on, he began to feel guiltier. He could already see the signs in Kasumi's eyes. She was starting to fall in love with him. Though he feared that it would break her heart, he knew that it was time to set the record straight.

"Kasumi... there's something that I need to tell you."

"Yes?"

"Kasumi... you are a very special and a VERY beautiful woman. I'm certain that soon, dozens, if not hundreds of men will be beating on your door every day, just to be near you. And who am I to deprive them of that?"

"W-W-What are you saying?" Kasumi became a bit confused. "I thought that..."

"Kasumi, when I first met up with you, I saw a very hard-working, honest and very attractive person, who had nothing but utter devotion to her family. Now that in itself is very commendable, but in order to care for your family's well being, you had to sacrifice your own freedom and perhaps your very future. I wanted to give you a chance at living life as it was meant to be. That's why I had Care Bot Number 7 take over your duties. I also took into account that you didn't have much experience outside of the managing the house, nor with just enjoying yourself. Like Ranma with his martial arts is everything attitude, that will not do. Therefore, I decided to take you out so that you could experience these things."

"And it has been wonderful with you." Kasumi said.

"And I've enjoyed my times with you and perhaps we can share some more experiences. However, I do not think that you should consider me as your ONLY option."

"What... are you saying?" Kasumi asked in a trembling voice.

"There are many men out there, Kasumi, and there is someone just waiting to make you happy forever. I feel that I'm not worthy for someone like you."

"But Father said that..."

T-Ranma immediately held up a hand. "No Kasumi. I'm afraid that your father is under a GRAVE misconception." Most likely because of that idiot Genma and that Pledge "I will talk with him. However, I must be honest with you. I have enjoyed being with you, and under different circumstances, it would have been an easy choice. However, you DO know that I won't be here forever, remember?"

Soun's eldest daughter became silent as that one fact sunk in. T-Ranma was right. He was going to be gone in a few months. She had been enjoying herself so much, that she had even begun to dream of an eventual life with Prototype. With her father making silly dances and going on drinking binges every time he saw them together, Nabiki and Akane's sister had thought that she and Ranma's counterpart were meant for each other. Now...

T-Ranma felt his own heart breaking as he saw the first signs of moisture welling up in her eyes. He quickly raised a hand to wipe it away and then gently used it to turn her head so that they were face to face. Giving her a small smile, he then said in a reassuring voice, "I don't like to see a pretty butterfly shed tears."

Calling her a butterfly made Kasumi's spirits rise a bit as she remembered the time he had called her that. At that time, she had felt truly alive. However, she realized what T-Ranma was trying to tell her. Taking a deep breath, she nodded and said, "I understand, Prototype. I suppose... it was just wishful thinking and you will HAVE to go and..."

"And that doesn't mean that you'll be going BACK to how things were."

"What?" The oldest Ranma counterpart nodded. "I mean it. You've already used up a good portion of your life to care for your family, and that's more than enough."

"But what about my..."

"Care Bot Number 7-A will take care of them."

"Who?"

The technological Ranma gave off a series of short, sharp whistles on a specific frequency. A minute later, the telltale hum of a Care Bot's repulsor field was heard. The little machine was followed by another one, as they suddenly appeared and stopped before the couple. The first one raised up its upper portions and saluted.

"Care Bot Unit 7 is online."

The second machine followed suit and saluted. Kasumi noted that it had a number seven plus a letter A imprinted on its head.

"Care Bot Unit 7-A is online."

Kasumi was surprised to hear that the new automaton sound exactly like Unit Seven as T-Ranma explained with a smile.

"Kasumi, I would like to introduce you to your very own Care Bot. "

"My Care Bot?"

"Yes. I had instructed Unit Seven to replicate itself, so that you will no longer have to worry about the household duties, when my counterparts and I leave this world. Unit 7-A is my gift to you and it shall be the Tendo family's permanent retainer."

"I... don't know what to say."

"Don't say anything. No thanks are needed and you don't have to worry about maintenance or anything. Seven A is fully equipped. It has its own self-repair systems and a proton reactor that will last for centuries. It shall make certain that your family will want for nothing and you Kasumi, will be free... to fully enjoy what life has to offer."

Kasumi couldn't believe her good fortune. After Prototype had told her that they were not to be, she had begun to think that things would revert back to the way things were. Now with the addition of Unit 7-A, things were now looking brighter again. She could go out and have fun. She could go to college if she wished to further her education. She could even...find that certain someone who could make her as happy as Prototype had. She then began to reconsider Dr. Tofu.

Tears began to well up in her eyes again, but this time, they were tears of joy as she suddenly looped her arms around his neck and held him tight. "Thank you!"

----------

Evening at the Tendo home...

Both Kasumi and her date were in high spirits as they came in through the door. After giving the eldest Tendo daughter a small kiss on the cheek, T-Ranma headed for the broom closet as Kasumi went off to her room. As he neared the closet, he frowned a bit as he saw Soun, who was obviously ecstatic at seeing his daughter happy, and assumed incorrectly that the future of the Anything Goes was assured.

"Well son, I see that Kasumi had enjoyed herself today." Soun said with glee.

"Yes, she's quite the dancer." T-Ranma admitted.

"Good! So now I have wonderful news!"

"Really?" And I wonder just what that might be? As if I didn't know.

"I've decided that we don't need to wait any longer, so I've called for a priest to arrive in the morning. We'll be having the ceremony right away!"

"No." T-Ranma said simply, though he knew that Soun wasn't listening.

"Oh how wonderful it will be! The Schools of the Anything Goes will be joined and..."

"No." He repeated, this time a little more forcefully.

This time, Soun caught his response and stopped gushing at how his lifelong dream was going to be fulfilled. "Ah... I beg your pardon? It sounded like you said..."

"You heard me correctly, Tendo-san. I said no. I thought you got the message the first time I said it at that restaurant."

"W-W-What do you mean no? I thought that..."

"You thought wrong, Tendo-san."

"But the Pledge to unite the schools!"

"Means absolutely nothing to me, and it doesn't apply to me anyway."

"What do you mean?!" Soun began to form the first vestiges of his Dreaded Demon Head. (Not that it would have affected Prototype in the slightest).

"I mean that it doesn't apply to myself, nor my counterparts. Fact: the Genma Saotome here is NOT our father, therefore the promise that he made to you does not include us. Fact: each one of us has his own separate reason why Genma's vow to you is meaningless. Koga was adopted by the Amazons and holds no ties to his original family. Draco's mother is the head of HIS family and therefore, Genma's oath means nothing if she does not approve of it. Kojiro has long since renounced his family name of Saotome, so the promise means squat to him. Ash doesn't even live on his own planet, and has no intention of ever going back. As for me, well I'm over 21, so I'm considered an adult and I can make my own decisions. Besides, I think Kasumi would also have something to say in this matter of you trying to force her into a marriage. She's free to make her own choices."

"WHY YOU!!!" Soun's Demon Head of Outrage went full blast at T-Ranma's defiance.

However, just before he was about to retaliate, a stern female voice was heard.

"Father! Behave yourself!"

The Demon Head turned in shock to see... a very irritated Kasumi? She was standing with her arms crossed over her chest and with one foot tapping on the floor. What was most surprising was that her features were furrowed into a honest-to-goodness expression of anger.

"Daughter!" Soun gasped out in a monstrous voice.

"Is this how we treat our guests? What would mother think if she were still here?" Kasumi demanded in a tone that was not at all sweet.

"Er..." Soun began deflating back into his normal appearance, unsure of what was causing his daughter to act like this. When he began seeing an angry image of his dead wife superimposing over his daughter's, his body trembled.

T-Ranma felt even more proud of her. Not only was she starting to open up, but also she was being more assertive and aware, rather than just being oblivious to the world around her.

"She's right." He commented. "That was BAD manners."

Soun hung his head in shame as he walked dejected out of the room. Kasumi nodded to T-Ranma and gave him a slight bow. "Please forgive my father's lack of courtesy. I'll call the priest in the morning and tell him not to come." Though she would have loved to have the ceremony, she respected Prototype's feelings in the matter.

"No offense taken, Kasumi. Good evening to you."

The eldest Tendo girl bowed as she went back to her room.

----------

Kasumi certainly has grown a lot in the last few days, and I hope to see the same with Ranma, once he starts dating the other girls. T-Ranma thought as he headed toward his own quarters in the complex. He then stopped and snapped his fingers as he just remembered something. Oh yeah! That's right! I have to take them out of storage! They need to stretch their legs. I almost forgot about them ever since we left that universe!

He then made an about-face and went to where his cloaked ship was parked. He entered the craft and went toward the stern. In the rear storage area in a small compartment were four cylinders, three of which were about six inches in length, while the fourth was about half that size. Punching in a few key codes on a nearby panel, he started accessing the ship's menu database.

Let's see... I'll bring them up to full size. I only shrunk them to their 1/6th-scale bodies to save room and power. Activating molecular expansion fields...

----------

A few minutes later, T-Ranma exited his ship, followed by Cyberdoll May, Kei, Rena and Mami II. (1) The group headed toward the complex.

----------

Somewhere else...

Curse those five! I've waited for a very long time for this! A figure in the darkness thought as he watched the events unfolding on a mystic portal. Ranma should be DEAD by now, but those meddling Chosen Twins sent those five alternates to safeguard him! Well, no matter. I WILL have the power that was denied to me and Ranma Saotome shall die!

To be continued...

Author's Notes

Whoa! It's been a long while since I updated this as I am now working to finish some of the stories that are nearing their ends. As I had promised, GCC will have a climax... it's just a matter of me getting to it. I had to reread the whole thing and get some new inspiration from Skysaber's Mirrors Multiplied fic. In any case, it's good to be back on this story again.

(1) I'm also working on finishing the Side Stories and the explanation of the Cyberdolls will be included.