Back to Nerima
X X X
"The guy trying to edge away from Kodachi as quickly as his fingers will allow is Eryn Belmont. Don't splash him with cold water, believe me when I say you don't want to know why."
Eryn gave a brief, and somewhat self-conscious smile.
"The young man with the strange growth on his leg, sitting beside Kuno, is Seishin Taihei."
Sei gave a somewhat shy wave of greeting.
"The guy that looks like Ryoga, well, is Ryoga, but he's not."
Ryoga gave a bright smile, at least until Kari elbowed him twelve times in the ribs.
"As I'm sure you recognize them, these are Tatewaki Kuno and his sister Kodachi, but they are not quite the ones you remember."
Kuno stood up and gave a bow. All the while, his sister had not yet given up on capturing her prey.
As Dai and Kuno sat back down, everyone eyed the remaining guest that Dai had failed to introduce. Nabiki gave her husband the evil eye before standing up herself and finishing, "And our final employee is Kari Umikage. She is a young prodigy in the field of detective work, and a practitioner of the Umikage style of Ninjutsu." As an afterthought, she added, "And that last part is why Dai dislikes her."
As Nabiki sat back down everyone looked uncomfortable for a few minutes before Ranma spoke up, "Umm, but I thought the blue haired... girl, was a guy."
Before anyone knew what happened a mallet and a foot rested atop Ranma's head. Dai eyed Akane, who in turn bit her lip, a slight amount of shame visible on her face for returning to old habits.
After Akane had retrieved her mallet and put it back into whatever pocket dimension unused mallets go to, Ranma pulled himself out of the floor and gulped before asking, "Well... So Kari is a ninja, right? So what are the rest of them?"
Nabiki stood up, taking it upon herself to answer the question. "In the order of introduction... Useless guy who heals really, really fast with no real fighting skills; Practitioner of the Taihei school of Ki based Archery; Same as the other Ryoga, just lacking the special Amazonian training; Same as Tatewaki... and same as Kodachi."
Genma pushed up his glasses and gave Dai an analytical look as Nabiki sat back down. The elder Saotome let a few moments pass before he finally spoke. "Stop beating around the bush, boy. He's Ryoga, but he's not? They are the Kunos, but not the ones we remember? Tell us straight who all these people are and don't give us this bull cocky about them being your new employees for some detective agency you're setting up."
Dai scratched his chin for a few minutes before finally giving in and replying, "Ryoga, Kuno, Kodachi, Seishin, Eryn, and the violent thug are all from alternate realities. Ryoga and the violent thug are from one where, apparently, Ranma and Ryoga's rivalry never got anywhere near as serious it got here. Eryn and the Kunos are from a reality where the Jusenkyo guide got fired. And Seishin is from a reality where the Nerima Wrecking Crew was a bit different then it is here. Does that explain what you wanted to know?"
Genma's eyebrows were raised a little - not much, but a little - as were just about everyone else's in the room but Happosai. Happosai, unfortunately, was eyeing Eryn.
X X X
As the group left the dojo, Kodachi swung her arm around an unsuspecting Eryn's neck and with a call of, "Oh, Eryn, my love, of course I'll go on a date with you!" The two were off; well, Kodachi was off and Eryn was being dragged bodily behind her.
Nabiki spared less then a glance to the departing couple as she left the dojo with her arms tied around the two of the most important men in her life. Smiling up slightly at her father, she said, "Come on, Daddy, we need to go get that paperwork done." With that, the young married couple and aging martial arts master made their way back to the house.
Ranma and Akane surrounded Ryoga on both sides as they left the dojo, inadvertently bumping Kari away. As the three went to the side of the dojo, Kari sat next to the door, a slightly sullen look covering her face.
Boisterous laughter preceded Tatewaki Kuno and Seishin Teihei's exit of the aforementioned dojo, all of the laughter Kuno's, of course. As he found himself outside, Kuno turned to Sei and stated, "Now Seishin, shall we venture forth into Nerima and see what this world has to offer the likes of us?" He really didn't wait for a reply before dragging Sei through the back gate of the Tendo home.
X X X
Being 'befriended' by Kuno was something of a new experience for Sei. Of course, having been the rival of the boy's double in his previous world might of aided in the surprise of the situation.
But what was really surprising was that after leaving the Tendo home, it had only been a matter of a few minutes before Kuno had managed to find trouble.
Apparently Nerimian cheerleaders had something against the boy. Well, that is if he had interpreted the situation correctly, though, honestly, how many ways could you interpret being chased down the street by cheerleaders wielding spear guns?
For about the millionth time, he asked himself why the hell there was an Anything Goes Martial Arts Fishing and Bait shop. Of course, like every other time, the only answer he got was having to dodge another projectile that had nearly hit him instead of its intended target, Tatewaki.
X X X
Kari Umikage sat on the steps of the Tendo dojo. She wasn't in the best of moods, as the rather large collection of kunai sticking against the fence in front of her attested to.
Her best friend hadn't even cared to try to include her in whatever Ranma and Akane had dragged him off to do. She couldn't really blame him, but she was sure having her own kind of fun trying. Once again, a kunai whipped out from apparently nowhere and hit another imaginary Ryoga.
X X X
Eryn Belmont's life was hell. Well, his life was always hell, but it was especially hell today, as his supposed 'girlfriend' was dragging him through the streets of Nerima, very likely giving him road burn, towards some unknown destination for the most dreaded... well, the second most dreaded reason he could think of.
Eryn shuddered at the thought. He probably would've vomited, had it not been for the fact he had yet to have anything to eat. Which was probably the only reason he hadn't chewed off his arm yet.
Starring at the back of the girl who was currently dragging him through the Nerima district, he asked, "Where are we going?"
Smiling, Kodachi replied, "Oh, I don't know, my wonderful knight, we shall see what place strikes my fancy."
Eryn sighed. "God, I wish I had a gun."
X X X
Attempting to abandon an insane kendoist was proving harder then Sei would have thought. So far, every time he attempted to either jump into an alleyway or even just go the other way, he was forced to jump back to dodge one of the projectiles being shot from the spear guns or he was pulled back to Kuno's side by the kendoist himself.
Turning to Kuno as they ran, he managed to ask, "This is starting to seem a rather fruitless path, isn't it?"
Kuno nodded. "Yes, my admirers are rather persistent aren't they?"
"Yeah, admirers, right," Sei sighed.
Kuno's head seemed to dart back and forth for a moment before he turned to Sei with tears ringing his eyes, "Thank you my friend, your sacrifice for the noble house Kuno shall be well remembered."
Sei's head spun back to Kuno, confusion shining upon his face, "Huh? Who in the what, now?"
Sei soon found out what exactly Kuno meant when he was suddenly tripped by the other boy's bokken.
As he was surrounded by enraged females, Sei shouted, to no one in particular, "TATEWAKI KUNO, I'LL CASTRATE YOU FOR THIS!"
Somewhere around the Tombiki district, Ryoga Hibiki sneezed.
X X X
Ryoga wiped his nose as he looked back up to Ranma and Akane. They had dragged him around the dojo as soon as the introductions had been finished.
Ranma seemed a bit more intimidating then he remembered, almost like he had lost some of his innocence since he had last seen him.
Drawing Ryoga out of his thoughts, Ranma grasped the boy's shoulder and pulled him close, saying, "It's good to see you, man. Ya don't have to worry about Nabiki here, tell us what's really going on, dude."
Akane added, "Yeah, you know you can trust us."
Scratching his head, still lost in confusion, Ryoga managed to mumble a response after a couple of awkward moments. "I thought Nabiki and that Dai guy already did?"
Ranma hung his head. Turning to Akane, he whispered, "Is it just me or does he seem denser then before?"
Akane's arm shook, almost as if she wanted to grasp something but was holding herself back. Finally, she whispered back, "Be nice."
Turning back to Ryoga, Akane asked, "Ryoga, whatever Nabiki has on you, you don't have to worry. After all, in time I did come to accept your curse, didn't I?
Ryoga scratched the back of his head, "Uh, I thought I told you about that when I first arrived... Oh yeah, that's right, that Dai guy mentioned that I had kept his curse a secret to most of the people around here for a long time."
Ranma and Akane nodded dumbly at this.
X X X
"Oh, foreign food! How quaint!"
Eryn blinked. It took his mind a few moments to register the fact that, unlike a lot of what he read now a days, that sign was actually written in English. For some reason, he felt an eerie sense of familiarity, though he wasn't sure why... after all he had never been to DesChain Norwegian BBQ before, had he?
As soon as he had been dragged inside, Eryn noted that the place had an odd feel to it. It looked normal enough, for a Nerima district restaurant, that is. It had normal wooden walls, which were lined with an assortment of shields, spears, and plushies.
The plushie part would have gotten him, but since coming to the Ranmaverse, he had seen weirder.
Turning around and finally managing to pull himself free of Kodachi's grasp, he watched as she addressed the hostess.
"Peasant, We have come here to dine. Supply us with a table, suitable to our obvious nobility."
The young hostess, a ten-year-old girl decked out in a pink sundress, with a small nametag, replied, "Okay. Follow me, Ms. Nobility."
As they walked towards the other side of the restaurant the girl started talking... a lot.
"So do you like the decorations? My brothers let me pick it out!"
"Do you like plushies? I love plushies! I'm even developing a... what's it called? Martian Art based on 'em!"
"Ms. Nobility, what's with the weird outfit? Are you some kind of cos... cos... coscoplayer? I have a cousin that's into coscoplaying! He likes to dress up as video game characters! His favorite is Mario. Do you like Mario? I think he's cute, and cuddly, and funny!"
"Do you like Martian arts? My brothers love 'em. Whenever we close shop, they're always practicing. We go through a lot of bricks and wood that way. Do you two practice Martian Arts?"
"You ever been to Ucchans? My brothers won't let me go. They say the owner is in a... what'd they call it? A harem? What's a harem? My big brother Aaron says it means she's a skank. What's a skank?"
"Mister, you look kinda funny, y'know? Is your hair naturally that way? I wish my hair looked like that. It's all nice and shiny. Can I feel your hair? Please, please, please, please, please?"
Finally, at their table, Eryn put his head down on the cold surface. Holding the side of his head, he mumbled, "Oh, why, God? What'd I do to deserve this...?" Looking up at Kodachi, Eryn deadpanned, "Oh yeah, that's right. I'm in hell."
X X X
Ryoga was having a rough time of it convincing Ranma and Akane of his identity and the absurdity of his origin. He had never thought the two were this dense. Ranma maybe, but not Akane.
Looking around, he spotted the koi pond at the very edge of his of his vision and inspiration struck. Turning to Akane, he asked hurriedly, "Get some hot water, quick!"
Rushing headlong at the koi pond, he never spotted Kari, or to be specific her rather strange activity. The fanged boy was about to jump into the air when one of Kari's kunai whizzed by the side of his head. He visibly gulped. Turning to his younger, shorter friend, Ryoga asked cautiously, "Um, are you okay?"
Kari looked at Ryoga and replied in a dull tone, "Just peachy."
"Oh, ok good then. I'll be back in a minute, gotta take a dive to prove I'm not Ryoga."
Kari scratched her head, having to take a moment before figuring out exactly what her friend meant. A moment later and she had to scoot backwards to avoid the large splash her friend caused by jumping into the koi pond.
Walking over, she commented to her friend, "You know, Snuffles, one of these days you and me have to have a talk about proper diving etiquette."
"Ruff!" was all the female ninja got in response.
Coming back outside with a small glass of hot water, looking around, Akane became perplexed, until she noticed the dog. Rushing over to it, she asked, "Hey, where's Ryoga? Oh, look! A cute doggie!" After giving the mutt a hug, she pressed on, "Can we keep him? Huh?"
Everybody present sweat dropped. Kari was about to interject with her story of the mutt being her pet when Akane cut her short, "And I shall call you P-Chan the second!"
Ranma turned to Kari and asked, "Umm... am I seeing things, or is that not a pig?"
Rolling her eyes, Kari mouthed, "Dumbass," before walking over to Akane and asking, "Um... What do you mean by P-chan? It isn't exactly a pig, now is it?"
Akane rubbed her hand over the top of Kari's head playfully and responded, "Silly, it stands for Puppy-Chan!"
Kari massaged the side of her head and mumbled, "Then I'm sure glad he isn't a cat."
X X X
Daisetsu sat back and listened as Nabiki explained the technical situation of the business to her father in minute detail and why it was that they required Soun to sign off on it all. Daisetsu was himself barely able to get the gist of what she was saying. The glazed look in Soun's eyes told him that his adopted father had long ago lost anything resembling a clue about what Nabiki was saying. No doubt that was all part of her plan. As he himself was fond of saying, if you can't dazzle them with dexterity, baffle them with bullshit.
"So you see Daddy, while we would run the company and handle all the day to day details, you'd be the owner in trust until Dai and I were of legal age. In exchange we'd forward to you 2 of the profits after expenses and our own salaries of course. The rest would be reinvested into the company." Nabiki was in her glory. She let her Tiger play man of the house but they both agreed that when it came to financial matters, she was indisputably the boss.
"Okay sweetie, whatever you think is best," Soun agreed as he numbly picked up the pen and signed all the papers Nabiki handed him. He would have signed anything at that point to make the humming in his ears from his middle daughters explanations cease.
Nabiki smiled. It was all so easy.
X X X
He wasn't sure how she had managed it, but she had, and now he, as always, would pay the price. Somehow, with only a few short sentences, Kodachi had managed to start a blood feud between Eryn and the family that ran the restaurant.
Now the waiter and cook demanded a match against him in two weeks. Another handicap match, gods how he wished hehad a gun.
In a way, he thought, Nerima was like the mob. Just when you think you're out, it pulls you back in. It seemed somewhere, someone really bore a grudge against him. Well, either that or he naturally attracted sadists. Likely both.
Looking down, Eryn continued to scrub dishes; paying for the meals, tables, and other such objects Kodachi had destroyed while trying to 'Protect her knight's honor.'
A bellowed echoed from the front of the restaurant, "And don't forget, if they aren't sparkling we'll have you arrested!"
Eryn heard footsteps come up from behind him. "Do you like kitties? My brothers won't let me have one. They say they are foul creatures of the dread night. What's a dread night? I think they say that though because their allergic. Are you allergic to anything? Is that why you have such funny hair?"
X X X
Nabiki and Daisetsu made their way up to Nabiki's room after the signing was over and deal made. The room was much the same as it had been in previous years, with the exception of the larger bed and a few of Daisetsu's things.
The middle Tendo daughter took a seat on the edge of her bed, her husband taking a seat next to her. She began to look through the papers, making sure that her father had gotten everything right. It would be just like him to misspell his name on an important document like this...
Daisetsu grinned, looking over at his wife. "So, Nabiki..." He leaned over, kissing the nape of her neck, his hand finding a spot on her thigh.
His wife scooted over, irritation obvious on her face and in her voice. "Oi, Dai, what's gotten into you?" Couldn't he see that she was trying to work?
Daisetsu seemed momentarily taken aback. "You're usually raring to go after completing a business deal like that."
"Are you saying I'm a whore?"
Daisetsu wondered just where she got that from. "No! Nothing like that!"
Nabiki glared at her husband. "Look, I'm busy, and not with you. So you can go elsewhere right now, all right?"
Daisetsu could take a hint. He left the room.
Dejected and irritable was his mood when Dai arrived downstairs and saw Ranma and Akane gushing over a soaking wet Ryoga. He had probably just demonstrated his curse.
He didn't even notice Kari sulking on the patio until he tripped on her. He almost fell, but he quickly caught himself.
"Watch where the hell you're going!" the ninja shouted. She had been in a bad mood all day, and even now Ryoga, Ranma, and Akane seemed to be excluding her. She was definitely not in the best of moods at the moment.
Daisetsu was feeling much the same. "Hey, you violent, uncouth thug! You shouldn't be sitting right in the middle of the patio! Use that brain of yours for once, it could use the exercise!"
Kari wasn't about to take that abuse sitting down! The girl jumped to her feet and got right into the older boy's face. "Look, do you want a fight? Because I'm not in the mood to put up with any of your 'I hate ninja' crap, and I'm definitely not in the mood to take any of your insults."
"So you respond with your fists? Way to go, just prove yourself to be that uncouth thug I accused you of being." Daisetsu snorted, noticing that the other three teens in the yard were staring at him and Kari, but not caring.
Kari snapped. Her fist shot out in a lightning-quick punch, though Daisetsu was dodging before she had even tightened her muscles. The fight was on, as Daisetsu made his way out into the yard, shouting more insults as he weaved his way around a multitude of punches and kicks. He even threw a few blows of his own, when he could find an opening among Kari's wild yet rapid strikes.
"She's so... violent," Akane muttered as she watched the events unfold.
"Yeah," Ranma agreed, "but Dai could've been more polite, too."
Ryoga groaned. "Look, you're both right. So it's both of their faults. But they just can't keep fighting like this." The lost boy took it upon himself to throw himself in the middle of the fray. Predictably, he got nailed by both fighters as soon as he came near them. He ended up face-down in the koi pond, a dog once more.
"Ryoga!" Ranma and Akane both shouted, rushing over to the boy to see if he was all right.
Kari and Daisetsu hadn't even noticed. Or, if they had, it didn't bother them enough to stop their brawl.
Seeing that Ryoga was indeed okay, Ranma stood and cracked her knuckles, female from dragging the alternate version of his rival out of the koi pond. "Looks like I'll have to stop them the hard way."
A few moments and several blows later, Kari and Daisetsu found themselves glaring at each other, but the fighting had stopped.
Kari couldn't decide whether to be irritated at having the fight end without a decisive victor, or just relieved that she got to take some of her frustrations out.
Daisetsu brushed some dirt off of his clothes. "Well, if the thug is finished, I'll be going back inside." He turned and walked back into the house, patiently ignoring the daggers that Kari was glaring at him. What he couldn't ignore was the mallet that Akane had handed Kari to throw at his head.
X X X
It was a few hours later before the two had calmed downed and those missing from the dojo returned. Nabiki stood behind a podium while she regarded the other occupants of the Dojo. All the members of YEN were present and seated. "I've called this meeting to get an important matter settled. We've just made YEN an official entity with my father as the nominal owner and with Daisetsu and myself as co-presidents. In addition to your salaries, you'll each be given a two percent interest in the company itself. This leaves the bulk of the company available for potential future members as well as for public sale if we ever need the capital. What we need and don't have however is a field leader that the rest of you will follow while on missions. That is the purpose of this meeting, to hash out who has control of the group while in the field."
Tatewaki Kuno immediately stood up to be recognized. "There is no need for this meeting to proceed further. I humbly accept the position of team leader. Fear not, for though our perils may be great I shall be mighty! Surely we can not fail with one as great as me at the helm. Verily, surely riches, fame and glory shall follow."
Pretty much everyone rolled their eyes at that. Kodachi however didn't waste time with such trivial facial expressions. "Nonsense brother dear. The natural leader to this little party is of course my fiancé, Eryn Belmont!" She then proceeded to push the boy forward.
"Err," he muttered as he looked out over the faces of the others. Lead these people? That would require turning his back to them. Better to make sure no one would vote for him. "If I am elected leader then I swear to have nude Tuesdays and Thursdays, Monday's will be optional and Atheists will have to work on Sundays!"
As Eryn returned to his seat, Kari spoke up. "My vote goes to Ryoga. He's likeable and his heart is in the right place. What's more is that he's a powerful martial artist with a great deal of unrealized potential. As it is, he could probably take any of the rest of you."
She had more to say in promotion of her friend, but was interrupted by Daisetsu's mutterings. "Never mind the blind leading the blind, we'd have the misled following the lost."
"I suppose you could do better?" retorted Kari.
"This isn't really necessary," Ryoga was protesting weakly.
Daisetsu was responding to Kari at the same time that Ryoga was speaking, thus drowning out the younger boys protest. "As a matter of a fact, I could."
"Prove it!" countered Kari.
That caused Daisetsu to pause. He couldn't exactly tell them about his previous leadership experience without revealing a whole lot more about his past then he wanted to. Actually, revealing his past would no doubt have Nabiki raising questions about his sanity, although the other SI's might actually buy it. Fortunately, he had more recent experiences to relate. "I don't judge a leader by his ability to fight. So I won't deny that Ryoga is a formidable martial artist. What makes a good leader is the ability to think on your feet and to come up with a plan to that gets the mission accomplished. When we were surrounded by the authorities, I took charge and I got us out of there."
"And now we're outlaws!" Kari realized that Daisetsu had made a valid point, but so was the fact that they were now on the lam.
"It's true that we're wanted, but we would have been captured, arrested, or worse had we stayed put." Daisetsu crossed his arms across his chest. He couldn't believe that the miserable little thug was so ungrateful.
Kari did some quick mental calculations. Tatewaki would vote for himself and Kodachi would vote for Eryn. She had no doubt that Nabiki, Bokkai and Daisetsu would vote for Daisetsu. She would vote for Ryoga and she was pretty sure that she could brow beat the lost boy in doing likewise. That left Eryn and Sei. Both were wild cards and in theory at least, their votes could go either way. That meant that Ryoga had a chance at it. She crossed her own arms. "I say we put it to a vote!"
Nabiki cleared her throat. "You seem to be under a mistaken notion Miss Umikage. This is not a democracy. This is a business and while your two percent shares allow you a say and in theory even a vote, the controlling shares rest squarely with Daisetsu and myself. Even if all the rest of you were united in your stand—and you're not—we'd still be the ones to decide policy for YEN. Daisetsu is the team's field leader. If you don't like it, then you can leave." She glared icily across the faces of the rest of the group. "This goes for the rest of you as well."
Sei stood up. "With all due respect Nabiki, if this is how things are going to be done around here, then I think I'd be better off on my own." He'd actually been thinking about going off on his own for awhile now. Well, at least since the afternoon spent with Kuno. "I'll be leaving the group now. No hard feelings or anything, but I feel that I have to find my own way for now. Hopefully we'll be able to work together again in the future."
Nabiki's eye twitched slightly, but before she could come up with a way to keep Sei in the group, Daisetsu stood up and strode over to Sei to shake his hand. "I understand what you're saying Sei. Good luck and I hope to see you again."
The bow master accepted the proffered hand. "Don't worry guys, if they catch me, they won't get anything from me. Someone else can pilot Tiny Tim. I don't think I could hide it, much less maintain it on my own." With that, he walked out of the Dojo without looking back.
"Now what do we do?" asked Ryoga to ease the tension that was now prevalent in the room.
Nabiki snapped her fingers. "I know! How about we celebrate by going out? I know this great little Karaoke bar."
Daisetsu quailed, he hated Karaoke.
Seeing his distress, Kari immediately put in with a smile. "Sounds like a splendid plan!"
X X X
Damien walked through the wreckage calmly. As soon as the police had been done with the security detail assigned to guard the mecha, they had gotten on a plane to Australia. As a unit they had all been transferred there. The order had not come through him and he was one of three people who could have given it. The other two were the owner of the company, Dr. Matthew Knight, and his assistant, Robyn Synth. Normally either would have cleared such a move with him first, as a courtesy if nothing else. This was highly unusual.
What was alarming was that the plane that the entire team had boarded had crashed due to a freak engine malfunction. It irked Damien that he wouldn't have his chance to discuss matters with the team leader. This had all the signs of a cover up. Who ever was responsible for it was either an amateur or else supremely confident that they wouldn't be caught or otherwise brought to task for this. That more than irked him. It out right infuriated him... not that one could tell by looking at his calm demeanor.
He flipped open his cell phone and hit the speed dial. After only a couple of rings it was answered. "Hello, Mr. Hunter."
Damien noted that Matthew was being unusually formal today. "Good day Matthew. I'm at the sight of the crash."
"Yes," replied Matthew. "I had the team transferred to keep them out of the media. I hope that you don't mind that I went around you on this."
"Of course not." Damien was a little put out, but could understand his friend's position.
Matthew went on. "Do you think it was really an accident?"
"No," Damien immediately replied. "Someone doesn't want me to know what happened."
"Indeed? Well, I trust you'll find out what happened and deal with the situation." There seemed to be an unusual forcefulness in Matthew's voice. No doubt he was being pressured by various forces.
"Naturally, although I'm a little at a loss as to how someone found out about the transfer so fast and managed the sabotage so quickly." Damien was beginning to get distracted. There was something he was missing.
"Well, as I said, I trust you can handle it Mr. Hunter." Matthew sounded as though he was busy and wanted to end the conversation.
"I'll get back to you when I have more answers, sir." It was Damien's turn to be formal. He was thinking he was making a joke.
Apparently Matt missed the punch line. "See that you do. I pay you damn good money for results." And then he hung up.
Damien stared at the phone for a minute until a thought struck him. Matthew hadn't asked how close he was to recovering the stolen Mecha.