TAKAHASHI SUBNODE: 4322117638-8764552-8732465-01


Dragon's Destiny by: John Tannius


The streets of Nerima were empty and lifeless as the rain poured down. Most everyone had run for shelter at the first sign of raindrops. The quiet sound of rainfall was broken suddenly by a voice. The voice did not shout or in any way show anger or malice. This would have been a shock to anyone who had met the owner of said voice years before.

"You claim this is a matter of honor?" The voice said. The owner, a redheaded man appeared out the haze of the downpour.

His companion a large Chinese Panda held up a sign, "Yes! You were engaged before you were born!"

"Hmmm, fine. This is the last time I save you from yourself. If I find you've gotten me into any more trouble over 'honor' I'll flay you alive. And don't think I won't or can't," the redhead stated calmly.

The panda noticeably sweated even through the fur and rain.

Seeing his father nearly panic, the redhead sighed and shook his head, "C'mon, where's this Tendo place anyway?"

* * * * * * * * * *

Soun Tendo sat back with a nervous laugh, "I wouldn't know, I've never met him."

Nabiki, the middle of three sisters frowned. Her father had engaged them, sight unseen, to some guy who supposedly was the son of his best friend. She wasn't adverse to a relationship, even one chosen for her as long as it met her terms. She realized her father however was the type of person who often bought items sight unseen. Nabiki glanced at her younger sister Akane, if things didn't work out, she could unload the guy on her and Akane would drive him off in a week.

Suddenly there was a knocking at the front door. Soun jumped up shouting, "That must be them! Genma my old friend!"

*Well, might as well see what the big deal is.* Nabiki thought. Out loud she said, "Ooh, maybe he's cute?"

She arrived as the door opened to reveal a boy slightly taller than her. He had deep emerald eyes and red hair that looked like finely spun copper. He was dressed in a green silk tunic with a brown leather vest and black silk pants. Everything about him said relaxed wealth. He looked from her father to herself and she felt herself being judged. Judgment seemed waived for the moment when Soun began to cry and tried to hug the boy. As the redhead skillfully moved out of the way, Nabiki realized something else was standing there. A large panda was on its hind legs as if it were a person. As it seemed docile, Nabiki ignored it but kept a mental note to ask about it later.

"You wouldn't be..." She began to ask.

"Ranma Saotome, pleased to meet you," He said with a respectful bow.

Soun collected himself and said, "It is good to finally see you boy. Where is your father?"

Ranma's eyes narrowed slightly and Nabiki could almost swear there was something inhuman about them. "If I could get some hot water I would be more than happy to let him speak with you," he replied.

That was an odd request.

"Of course, come with me. Nabiki, go and get some hot water for our guest."

Nabiki turned and headed into the house. She saw her sisters standing at the end of the hallway with puzzled looks. She just shook her head and went to the kitchen. When she returned with a steaming kettle that had been set aside for tea, she saw the boy sitting at one end of the table with the panda sitting behind and to the left of him. She looked over his handsome features once again as she handed him the kettle. If he was smart and had a good personality maybe this could be a good match. She smiled at him and cheered inwardly as she noticed a bare glimpse of a crack in the mask he appeared to be wearing. So he wasn't completely immune to a woman's charms after all.

Ranma turned and poured the steaming water over the panda, which shrank (Not by much) into a rather portly man wearing a dirty white gi and white bandanna over his bald head. Readjusting his glasses he glared at the boy.

"You heated that water to boiling on purpose," He accused. Ranma gave him a satisfied smirk and shrugged.

Soun was the first one to find his voice, "Genma? Wha..? How?"

"A tragic tale Soun my friend. A tragic tale indeed," Genma replied.

Soon everyone was sitting awaiting the duo's tale.

"It began almost four month's ago in Western China, specifically the Bankalla mountain range in the Quinhai province. We were coming to the final stop in a ten year training trip for Ranma here, the cursed springs of Jusenkyou. If I knew then what I know now, we would have skipped it and gone home. To tell the truth, the place didn't look so bad when we first arrived. There were over a hundred different pools with bamboo of varying height sticking out. All in all it looked like a pretty basic training site and I was curious why it was considered so dangerous."

"If you could read Chinese you would have known why," Ranma interrupted.

"Anyway, the guide who brought us tried warning us but we leapt to the bamboo and began the aerial combat that was the specialty of our school. Ranma was getting better almost daily recently and managed to get in a good shot early on, knocking me into one of the pools. I heard the guide screaming something about drowned pandas but ignored it. I was of course furious for leaving myself so open to an attack. I leapt to the bamboo intent on sending the boy into the water. Ranma was just standing there, staring, so I took advantage of the opening sending him off out into the middle of a group of pools. That was when I realized I was no longer human. Apparently I had fallen into the pool of a panda that had drowned twelve hundred years ago. Something had drowned, on purpose or accidentally, over thousands of years in each pool of the valley. Whatever fell in afterwards is cursed to take the form of the creature that originally drowned there."

"So what pool did you fall into Ranma?" Nabiki asked curiously.

Ranma gave her a knowing smile and said, "That I'm afraid is a secret for now. Suffice to say, I am in cursed form now and at this moment I look exactly the same as my original form. Only my hair and eye color are different."

Nabiki noted the way he said his sentence and vowed to keep an eye on him.

Soun stood up with a smile announcing, "Your problem isn't so bad at all then. Ranma, these are my daughters. Kasumi, she's nineteen. Nabiki, she's seventeen, and Akane, she'd sixteen. Choose any one and she will be your fiancé."

All three girls seemed to want to explode into conversation at once but Ranma held up a hand before saying, "Any one? Let me see, this is a matter of honor right?" Soun nodded and Ranma sighed.

He walked over to the girls and looked them over, he seemed to sniff the air as he circled them. Nabiki felt like she was being graded as produce. Akane was sure he was doing something perverted. Kasumi felt the barest twinge of fear as he met her eyes.

Finally he stopped in front of the girls and crossed his arms. "Kasumi is unacceptable, she is already in love with someone else," he said as if stating a fact.

Kasumi gasped in shock and started thinking frantically, who could she possibly be in love with? The Doctor? She blushed at the thought.

"Akane is also unacceptable, she has no control of her baser emotions and has a aversion to males as well."

"What?! You jerk! You're just a pervert like all boys, just cause you can't get into my pants you have to start making up stuff!" Akane yelled.

Nabiki shook her head saying, "Akane, you just proved his point." Akane huffed but shut up.

Ranma turned to Nabiki and said, "Nabiki is unattached, and has a sharp mind and keen wit. She can assist me in acquiring what I need. She is acceptable. When do you wish the wedding?"

Nabiki gulped nervously, things were getting out of hand quickly and decided to intervene, "Ah, maybe we should hold it off for a while, get to know each other. You know maybe date and such just to make sure we're compatible?"

Ranma hesitated for a second before responding, "That... is acceptable. I do not wish to cause any discomfort."

Genma was ready to call a priest right then but held off at Nabiki's comment. Obviously it was a bit much to expect the girl to cave in so quickly, especially if she was sensing the aura the boy exuded. The fact Ranma agreed was good enough for now. He could see Soun's look of confusion at events moving so quickly as well. He'd have to get Ranma's permission to explain the rest of the story to him later.

Soun nodded hesitantly then said, "Good, that's settled then. Kasumi, when will dinner be ready?"

"Oh my! In all the excitement I completely forgot!" Kasumi said getting up.

"Allow me to help," Ranma offered.

"You can cook?" Akane and Nabiki said simultaneously.

"Yeah, just a little something I learned in China," Ranma said grinning a bit.

"Ooh, Chinese sounds good tonight," Nabiki said re-appraising her new fiancé.

"I wouldn't want to impose on a guest," Kasumi stammered.

"It's no problem at all," Ranma countered.

"He's not a guest Kasumi, he's family now right?" Nabiki said, grabbing Ranma by his arm and pulling close so that his upper arm was nestled between her breasts.

Ranma blushed and stuttered as he spoke, "Y-yeah, family. I'll do my breast-I mean best to cook a good meal for everyone." His blush deepened at his slip.

Akane meanwhile was redfaced for a different reason. *How dare he hit on my sister! He wanted to get married right away! I'll bet it was just so he could get into her pants! I mean, look at the way he's hanging off of her! I'll have to protect her somehow...*

"Ranma Saotome, I challenge you!" Akane shouted. Everyone turned to look at the pissed off teenager.

"Hmm?" Ranma seemed almost amused.

"I challenge you, one on one in the dojo. I win, you give up the engagement and leave," Akane issued.

Ranma thought about it before saying, "All right, and if I win... I become your sensei."

Akane smirked. There was no way anyone could beat her, she was the best martial artist in Nerima after all. She beat Kuno and those perverts every morning. She could handle one perverted boy easily.

"Done! Let's go!"

Ranma turned to Kasumi and asked, "If you wouldn't mind getting everything together I'll be in to help you in a moment. Unless you'd like to watch the fight?"

Kasumi shook her head. "No, go ahead and play. I'll start dinner. You should take a bath afterwards anyway," she said.

Ranma grimaced.

"Of course, I should have thought of that earlier. I will cook another night then."

Akane was getting madder. *He's ignoring me and talking like he's still going to be here after this fight! I'll show him!*

Everyone except Kasumi left for the dojo. Akane and Ranma face off against each other. Nabiki stands between them off to the side holding up her hand. The two fathers are sitting in a corner to watch the fight.

Nabiki drops her hand, shouting, "Begin!"

Akane cocks her fist back and prepares to charge... when she suddenly lifts off the ground in immense pain. Her eyes widen when she sees Ranma right in front of her with his fist in her gut. Darkness claims her as the pain becomes too great.

"Pathetic," Ranma says as he lays Akane on the floor and checks to make sure she isn't too injured.

Soun's jaw is hanging open, he never even saw Ranma move. One moment he was across the dojo, the next he had punched his little girl. PUNCHED HIS LITTLE GIRL!

"Ranma! How dare you hit my precious baby!" his head exploded into a full ki charged demonic form. Genma flinched back. Even Nabiki was cowed. Ranma however just ignored it.

"If she had been better trained she could take a hit like that without a problem. She needs work on her speed and needs to learn not to telegraph her moves. You trained her I take it?" Ranma asked, looking directly at Soun.

Soun's demon head attack fizzled under the gaze of the young Saotome. "Urk, well... she is the heir to the Tendo school of anything goes martial arts."

Ranma humpphed and looked at Nabiki out of the corner of his eye. "I could train Nabiki here to be a better martial artist in one month than Akane is now. If this is all your school has to offer, maybe you shouldn't be trying to unite the two family schools," Then Ranma's eyes widened in realization, "Oh, I see, you hope to use the Saotome school to bring up the Tendo school and are using the dojo as dowry. I understand. Hmmm, this bears looking into," Ranma trailed off obviously talking more to himself than anyone else. He then looked down at the prone form of Akane, "She'll be all right in a couple of hours I think, She'll be sore for a while though. Let her know when she wakes up that I will begin her training at five am tomorrow. If anyone needs me, I'll be in the bath."

Everyone in the dojo stares after the departing pigtail.

* * * * * * * * * *

Akane awoke with a groan. Her stomach hurt like hell. Had she been eating her own cooking again? She opened her eyes and moved to sit up when a hand restrained her.

"You should lie and rest a while," Kasumi's voice said.

"Uh, Kasumi? What happened?" Akane groaned.

"You lost to Ranma in the dojo. I wasn't there but apparently he's quite skilled." Kasumi replied as she wet a cloth to place on Akane's forehead.

"What! I lost? I never even saw him move! He must have cheated somehow." The last was said quietly.

"Now it's not nice to be a sore loser Akane. After all he is your new sensei."

Akane sat up quickly, wincing from the pain in her gut. "No Way! There's no way I'll train under some perverted jerk like him!"

"Does family honor mean so little to you Akane?" Kasumi asked.

"But I didn't know he was that good!" Akane complained.

"And that is a reason to go back on your word? Maybe you shouldn't agree to things without knowing what you're getting into. This will probably be a good lesson for you."

Akane didn't care for that but she knew better than to argue with her older sister. Kasumi was almost always right, but that didn't mean she had to like it.

Akane got up, wincing as she did so, "I'm going to take a bath and soak for a while," She said easing her way out of her room and down the hall.

As Kasumi cleaned up from taking care of Akane a thought occurred to her, "Oh my! I do hope Ranma is done with his bath."

Akane made it to the changing room with little difficulty and stripped out of her sweaty gi. Placing it in the hamper she covered up a green shirt and black pants. She looked at the dark blue bruise taking up most of her stomach. This was going to be hard to explain in P.E. tomorrow. Turning towards the door she had just enough warning to look up as the door slid open showing Ranma, nude.

Ranma's eyes narrowed and he glared at Akane and she felt his eyes search hers as if trying to find something in them. Instinctively her hand came up to slap the offending pervert only to find it blocked by Ranma's arm. He snorted at her and grabbed a towel as he moved past her.

"Your training begins at five in the morning, be ready." He said as he left the room.

"AAAUUUGGHHHH!!" Akane screamed in frustration.

* * * * * * * * * *

Nabiki was sitting in her room staring into the mirror behind her desk trying to sort out her feelings. She was engaged. Engaged to be married. Married to a really handsome and talented martial artist. What else did she know about him though? Why had he chosen her? He seemed to know a lot about her for having never met before. It was as if he could see into each of the sisters and tell what was important in their lives. He had said she would be helpful in his plans. What plans? She was worried, she took family honor seriously but not enough to endanger herself or her sisters. Something about Ranma unnerved her. He had a presence about him that made her wary to accept the engagement let alone get married as quick as he seemed ready to. She'd have to be careful, first thing first though was to find out more of his background, then maybe she would have something to plan around. For now she was flying blind and almost had her future decided for her. She sat back, examining her face and schooling it to her ice queen persona that had everyone in school afraid of her. She wouldn't allow this Ranma to get the upper hand on her.

Suddenly she heard Akane's scream of frustration come from the downstairs bathroom and something occurred to her, what could she possibly do if Ranma wanted to do something to her? Akane couldn't even beat him. Then she thought of how he acted, all cool and superior until he was confronted with her overt feminine wiles. Ok, obviously not a pervert. But still, there was something going on that she felt the need to know before she accepted Ranma as an official fiancé.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door.

* * * * * * * * * *

A clothed Ranma knocked on the door hesitantly. He was desperately trying to get the nude image of Akane out of his head. It had taken all his self- control to not stare and drool at her breasts when he came out of the furo. Right now he had more important things to worry about, like his immediate plans and how they would involve one Nabiki Tendo. He hoped what he read in her aura was true, that she was an intelligent, inquisitive, clever, sneaky, slightly greedy woman who was incredibly lonely. To think he might have found 'The One' so soon after beginning his quest and to have been arranged for him before he was even born was almost too much of a coincidence for him to believe. Still, if he was to make any headway and find a secure place for his hoard before the amazons tracked him down...

The door opened to show Nabiki still in her tight tight shorts and loose tank top from earlier. Ranma's thoughts were derailed at the cleavage evident at the top of the shirt.

"Yes?" Nabiki asked neutrally.

"Um... well, that is..." Ranma forced himself to focus and looked Nabiki in the eyes. She almost flinched under the penetrating gaze before Ranma continued, "I was wondering if you'd like to talk until supper is ready?"

Nabiki smiled. Maybe this was the perfect opportunity to find out about the mysterious Ranma Saotome, "Yeah sure, come on in." she said.

Ranma entered the room and Nabiki shut the door. She gestured for him to sit in the chair while she sat on the edge of her bed. "What did you want to talk about?" She asked.

"Well, first I would like to apologize for forcing you into an engagement." He shook his head as if to clear it, "Sometimes I get too high and mighty and act all superior. It's part of the curse I have." He explained.

"Well, we can both walk away from the engagement if we feel it won't work out. I don't want to get married until I'm out of high school at least anyway. So what's up with your curse? You said this is your cursed form right?"

Ranma smiled. It was his cold arrogant smile. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I can no longer turn back with hot water like my father can. Some friends in China made sure of that. As for what my curse is, I can't tell you that. At least not until I'm sure I can trust you with the secret. My father knows, that is why he won't cross me. The only reason I came here was to fulfill family honor, but I think I could come to like you Nabiki."

Nabiki blushed in spite of herself, "So what do you do aside from martial arts?" She asked, hoping to change the subject back to him.

"Not much, although since Jusenkyou, I have been learning everything I can on every subject I can find. I seem to have an aptitude for magic and an affinity for antiques. I find mythology fascinating. I'm learning to draw... Anything else you'd like to know?"

"Well you could tell me about your training trip." Nabiki pressed.

So Ranma began to tell about the last ten years of his life. The places he'd been and seen, the techniques he'd learned and the people he'd met. Nabiki found herself glued to his story and was barely aware when Kasumi called them down for dinner. They both got up to leave.

"Wow Ranma, it sounds almost like something from Dragonball." Nabiki said going to the door.

"What's that?" Ranma asked.

"It's a manga. It's mostly for boys but it's really funny so I own the whole set." Nabiki boasted.

"I've never read much manga. Do you think I could borrow it sometime?" Ranma asked suddenly hesitant like a little kid.

Nabiki wondered at his shifts in personality as she answered, "Sure, I'll even give you a fiancé discount! One kiss per volume!"

Ranma blushed deeply and excused himself downstairs quickly. Nabiki nodded to herself. Definitely not a pervert. No one that shy could be. She found herself liking this Ranma in spite of herself and wondering what their first date would be like.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Akane. Wake up Akane."

"Ngn..g'way." Akane said.

"Wake up Akane, it's time for training."

Akane brushed the hand on her shoulder away. "Don wanna train."

Akane suddenly felt herself in free fall as she flew through her open window, she shot awake just in time to hit the koi pond. Luckily she landed in the shallow end but even then she sank like a rock. Shooting up, she spat out a mouthful of pond water and coughed the rest out of her lungs. She turned and glared up at her bedroom window to see Ranma standing on the sill with that damned superior smirk of his. He jumped down and landed lightly on the grass.

"It's about time you got up, I've only been trying to wake you for ten minutes. Now we're late and have a ton of stuff to make up."

Akane growled and stomped out of the pond, "Just who do you think you are?" She yelled.

"Your sensei. And I think you should address me as such."

Akane may have been up and awake but her brain was still sluggish in the predawn light. How dare he wake her up like that? She'd show him! Completely forgetting about her defeat last night she struck out at Ranma angrily. He causually dodged the slow clumsy blow. She swung again and again, putting in some kicks as she sped up trying to hit the annoying thing that had the gall to wake her up. Ranma dodged them all as he danced around her. When it became apparent Akane was going all out, Ranma began his attacks. They were just small taps at each of her undefended areas. Every time she left a hole in her defense, Ranma exploited it. It was an effort to get her to close up her defense and build up her skill. All Akane saw was Ranma was taunting her and dodging. Why wasn't he taking her seriously!?

Finally Ranma came to a stop, blocking Akane's last attempt to hit him, "It's almost breakfast time, go get cleaned up. You did pretty well today." He acknowledged before turning away.

Akane was stunned. They'd been fighting for almost two hours! Then she realized that while she was just trying to beat the crap out of Ranma, he'd been training her! Now that she had stopped however she realized just how much she had exerted herself and felt a rush of fatigue and sore muscles. With a groan and a shuffling movement she turned to go take a bath.

Ranma hopped into the house and sat down at the breakfast table without a sign of sweat or exertion evident on him. He looked up and smiled as Nabiki stumbled downstairs to eat. She was also half asleep and groaned when she saw Ranma wide awake and ready for the day. Just her luck to be engaged to a morning person.

* * * * * * * * * *

"We need to get a few things straight before we get to school all right?" Nabiki began as the pseudo couple walked to school. She looked up at the fence where Ranma was walking. He seemed to be looking all around as if scanning for threats.

"Sure, I figure you don't want anyone at school to know about the engagement yet. Right?" Ranma responded once he felt the area secure.

"Uh, right." Nabiki confirmed. Ranma was messing with her senses. He seemed to anticipate her thoughts and was much smarter than she assumed a martial arts jock would normally be. Of course her only comparison was the idiots at school. "I figure we just let everyone know that you are staying with us for a while because of the two schools of Anything Goes. As far as they need to know it's a training thing."

"That's acceptable. I apologize for this mess again. It must be horrible to be engaged to someone you don't even know or have a say in. If it wasn't a matter of honor I would have left the old man at the side of the road and you would have never met me." Ranma continued.

"Um, well, that's ok. While I would like to have a say in whom I marry, you don't seem to be a bad person. I just don't know you very well yet." Nabiki had no idea why she was being so open and honest with the guy other than the fact she felt she couldn't hide any secrets from him.

"I make you nervous don't I?" Ranma asked out of nowhere.

Nabiki was caught off guard by the blatant inquiry, "Ah..."

"It'll pass. The fear aura is a byproduct of my curse. Normal people are always scared of me. Strong willed people like you and your sisters just get a feeling of unease." Ranma explained.

"What is your curse anyway? You said you'd tell me later."

"True. But this is now, later is later." Ranma smirked.

"So when will later be now?" Nabiki asked impatiently.


Nabiki gave a grunt of frustration and the two continued to walk along in silence until they reached the school grounds.

Ranma was mildly surprised to see a large crowd of boys loitering in the main schoolyard. Many were dressed in a variety of sporting uniforms and were wielding sporting equipment.

"Is there some sort of sporting rally this morning?" Ranma asked.

Nabiki sighed and shook her head as her assistants started her way. She told him, "No, this is something that happens every morning. A classmate of mine made a stupid proclamation that if anyone wants to date my sister, Akane, they have to beat her in combat. So now almost every boy in school assembles in front of the school to mob her every morning."

Ranma chuckled to himself before telling her, "That's about as stupid as those Amazons I ran into in China. Only there, you have to marry them if you beat them. Unless you're female, then they have to hunt you down and kill you. So where's the moron who started this?"

Nabiki blinked, trying to assimilate that bit of weirdness then responded, "Oh, he usually hides behind that tree over there until everyone else has been beaten."

"Ok, I'll be right back." Ranma said and waved casually as he walked away.

Nabiki's two henchpersons came up to her, "who's the hunk?" One of them asked.

"The son of one of my father's friends. He practices the same school of martial arts so they're staying at our dojo for a while." Nabiki replied.

"Oooh!" the other girl cooed, "That could be romantic!"

"Unless he's already attracted to Akane." The first girl said.

"Heh, that's unlikely. He was less than impressed with my sister's skill in the art. Anyway, standard information fee on who he is and where he's staying. And try not to let any rumors start all right? At most, Ranma is a friend of the family, OK?" There were nods of agreement from the two girls. "Good, let's get bets taken. Akane might be a little sore from her morning workout so lets narrow the odds a bit today."

So informed, the trio split up and began working the crowd before heading indoors.

Meanwhile Ranma had made his way to the tree the insane kendo practitioner was hiding behind and coughed slightly to get his attention.

Tatewaki Kuno looked down at the shorter man. Yet another one of his many fans no doubt. "If you wish an autograph you shall have to wait until after my morning duel with the fair maiden Tendo."

"Actually I need to talk to you about that. You see, it has come to my attention that this morning challenge was not Tendo Akane's idea. She also doesn't seem to appreciate it from what I've heard. I'd really appreciate it if you'd stop harassing her. If you or anyone else wishes to challenge her then issue a formal written challenge to her at the dojo."

Kuno narrowed his eyes and said, "And who are you to demand such a thing?"

Ranma began to respond but was interrupted, "Ah, but is it not custom to give one's own name first? Than I shall! I am Kuno Tatewaki, age seventeen, the rising star of the Kendo world. Blue Thunder of Furinkan High!"

Ranma snorted, "Heh, I am Saotome Ranma of the Saotome school of anything goes martial arts and Akane's sensei."

Kuno turned red in anger, "You? A mere peasant dares to believe he can teach the gifted Akane?"

By this time, Nabiki had made it to her class and was watching over the crowd gathered below. She saw Kuno and Ranma arguing and realized there was soon going to be a fight. "Kaera, Kimu start taking bets on Ranma versus Kuno, Kuno favored to win." The two girls nodded and rushed out to start working the crowd below again. Nabiki grinned, everyone would bet on Kuno to win, so when Ranma trashed him, she'd rake in big money. Even if a couple of people bet on her fiancé, she'd have more than enough money to pay this month's bills from this fight alone.

Down below Ranma was getting a little angry. This manifested as a feeling of dread and uneasiness across the gathered crowd. A couple of weaker willed boys turned and fled towards the school. Kuno suddenly had a strange feeling in his gut. Curiously it was a lot like when his father had tried to shave his head as a child. Kuno gulped and prepared to attack.

Ranma was surprised, Kuno was either stronger willed than he'd expected, or dumber than dryer lint. Either way, Ranma realized, he'd soon have to show the samurai wanna be his place.

"I don't care for your tone Kuno." Ranma said icily.

"You should address your superiors with more respect, it's upperclassman to you." Kuno responded.

"I have no superiors. And I certainly won't bow to a samurai wanna be who hasn't realized the Meiji Revolution was over a hundred years ago. Now, I will say this one last time, while I'm staying at the Tendo's, Akane is my student. These challenges will stop!"

"Staying at the Tendo's? Under the same roof as Akane?" comprehension seemed to dawn on Kuno. "I see your scheme now! Using your position as Sensei to seduce the beautiful Akane! I shall not permit it!"

Ranma growled and everyone watching would later swear his green eyes glowed red as the two martial artists rushed each other. They passed each other and stopped in a strike position. Ranma stood up and turned, as did Kuno. The kendoist however had four parallel cuts in the cloth of his shirt. Thin lines of red welled up on his visible chest.

"A fair strike indeed. You are no mere martial artist." Kuno leveled his boken at Ranma only to have it fall apart in five sections.

"You have no idea. Yield now, before it's too late," Ranma said evenly, "I have no desire to kill you."

Kuno laughed and pulled another boken from his robes. "You have some measure of skill, but you have yet to see my full power. I strike!" With a yell, Kuno began thrusting his boken rapidly. The air pressure alone threw several students off their feet. Ranma evaded each thrust and moved rapidly towards Kuno. With a final dodge, Ranma worked under Kuno's guard and struck with an uppercut to the jaw sending Kuno into the air and onto his back.

Kuno groaned and moved to get up, "I fight on!" he yelled before a foot cut off his windpipe.

Ranma held his foot to Kuno's throat, "Do you yield?" he asked. Kuno glared defiance at the redhead. Ranma applied more pressure cutting off Kuno's air supply.

"I ask again, do you yield?" Ranma was getting frustrated. Kuno had to acknowledge defeat. If the idiot passed out he could come back later to fight again, claiming the challenge unfinished. Ranma was used to this. Some people had even claimed he had cheated and continued to dog his tracks. A certain lost boy came to mind. Ranma turned his attention back to Tatewaki and waited.

His face turning blue, Kuno finally gave a slight nod and slumped in defeat. Ranma released his chokehold and held out a hand. Kuno grimaced but took the offer.

"Now that we're done with the pissing match, let me explain a few things. I practice Anything Goes Martial Arts. So does Akane. As part of our training I am staying at the Tendo dojo. I have no romantic feelings towards Akane whatsoever. As far as our relationship is concerned, I am her sensei. And before you go getting your feathers ruffled, no, I'm not too good for Akane. She's just not my type." Ranma explained.

He turned to the gathered group and spoke, "As of now, this stupid challenge for dating rights to Akane is over! Anyone who wants to fight her can issue a challenge letter to the dojo. Don't expect a date if you beat her, which I highly doubt any of you can. If you want a date, try flowers of candy and ask like normal people do. We're not in China for Kami's sake." There were looks of confusion on the China comment but a lot of the gathered boys nodded in agreement.

Turning to Kuno once more, "If there's nothing else then, I'll be going to class." He left through the front doors followed by the lingering crowd. After another minute passed the schoolyard was empty save for the occasional late arriving student.

Akane came running up a couple minutes later and looked around in confusion, "Where is everyone?"

* * * * * * * * * *