1This is a Ranma ½, Sailor Moon, Self-Insertion

Legal Notes: Every thing mentioned in this Fanfic belongs to their respective creators, and no infringement was intended here. This Fanfic is for entertainment use only.

Twilight of the New Senshi

by

Stacko

Edited by Lord Dragonbane

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Part One

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TENDO DOJO, NERIMA WARD, TOKYO

Nabiki peered into the living room as she walked to the kitchen to talk to her older sister. She had been doing some thinking about the announcement that their father made several hours ago, and she couldn't believe her father was dumb enough to engage her, or one of her sister's, to someone that they never met, much less someone he'd never met. At least that was now on hold because the 'son' of her father's friend had turned out to be a redheaded girl. She was mad at her father, he could have at least known for sure about Ranma's true gender. She saw her father sitting silently, tears flowing down his face, staring across the shoji board at a rather bulky spectacled man, who was in a similar state. There was an oppressive, dark ambience to the atmosphere. She turned and entered the kitchen, finding her sister at the counter, cutting some vegetables and cleared her throat.

"Hey Sis, do you know who that old guy with father is?" Nabiki asked.

"No." Replied Kasumi calmly.

"Come on, Sis, aren't you at all curious about him?" Nabiki pressed.

"Not really, no," Kasumi replied calmly. "Father will tell us all about him when the time comes."

She continued preparing a light snack in the kitchen, until there came a furious knock at the front gate. Nabiki, the one closest to the door, noticed that her sister was still busy with dinner, and walked to the front gate and slid it open.

A young girl of about twelve years of age stood there, panting like she'd been running for some distance. She had collar length black hair; violet colored eyes, was about 4' 4'' tall, and wore a black with dark purple striped bandana. She was dressed in a dark purple T-shirt and a pair of black trousers, under a heavy black trench coat that went down pass her ankles. Her shoes were covered in mud, so that it was hard to make out any details about them. She was carrying a backpack that was much too big for her, and had a quarterstaff over the top of it that held a backpack at each end.

"Excuse me," she said between breaths, her accent betraying her as a foreigner, American from what Nabiki could tell, "but is there a rather cute, short, red-haired, pig-tailed, girl who just arrived here with a panda?"

"Umm..." Nabiki stalled. The girl mentioned was unmistakably Ranma Saotome, the "son" of her father's old friend who'd just arrived a little over an hour earlier with her "pet" panda. But she didn't know why the girl wanted to know.

"Who is it, Nabiki-chan?" Kasumi inquired, coming to the gate.

"Is Ranma Saotome here?" the young girl asked Kasumi directly. "I'm still learning how to read Japanese, but I figured that the sign means Tendo Dojo', and that's where h- ... uh, we were headed. Is she here?"

"Why, yes," Kasumi replied. "She and her pet panda came here only a short while ago. She's in the bath right now. Who ..."

"Wait a minute," Nabiki interrupted. "You ran that bath for Ranma? I thought it was for Akane, so I sent her in."

"Oh my. Well, the two of them seemed to be getting along well."

"Excuse me," said the young girl in the doorway, who had a sick expression on her face. "This would be a hot bath, right?"

"Yes, Ranma-chan was very sweaty after her sparring match with Akane-chan, and ... is something wrong?"

Kasumi noticed that the young girl had dropped the quarterstaff that held two of the packs, and closed her eyes, while plugging her ears with her fingers. Kasumi and Nabiki were confused at the girl's actions and were about to ask her what she was doing when an ear-splitting scream reverberated through the air. Kasumi and Nabiki quickly turned to look toward its source. The young girl opened her eyes and unplugged her ears when the scream ended finally.

Akane Tendo ran screaming down the hallway, her long hair streaming behind her. She ran out into the garden, seizing hold of a large piece of stonework that was resting there inoffensively, babbling, "I'll weigh him down! I'll drown him in the bathtub!"

Akane's two elder sister's approached her cautiously, neither aware that the young girl was following them with a resigned expression.

"Akane," Nabiki inquired, "what's wrong? What's that for?" she added, pointing at the stonework that the younger girl was holding.

"There's a pervert in the bathroom," Akane hissed.

"Then ... why didn't you just kill him with your bare hands?" Nabiki prodded.

"Easier said than done," the young girl muttered with a weak chuckle. Nobody noticed.

"Because I got scared." Akane replied defensively.

"That's odd ... Ranma was in the bath just now," Kasumi murmured. "I hope she's all right."

"That's actually less odd than you might think, Miss," the young girl commented with a laugh.

Before Kasumi could reply to that, she saw a young man with dark hair, wearing Ranma's clothes, step out of the house, and start towards them with an embarrassed expression.

"Who..." Kasumi began.

"Who are you?" Nabiki demanded, finishing the thought.

"I'm Ranma Saotome... sorry 'bout this," he replied. Then he noticed the young girl who was standing behind the Tendo sisters with an angry look to her face. "Oh! Hey, sorry we left you back there..."

Ranma was cut off when a backpack slammed into him, knocking him to the floor.

"Not as sorry as you're gonna be, Red." the young girl replied angrily, stealing a look at the still furious, confused expression on Akane's face. Her gaze lingered for just a second longer than it should, but only Nabiki noticed. Then she turned back to the man calling himself Ranma. "You two run off on me and leave your backpacks for me to carry. Not to mention that I don't know where the place is and had to carry all three backpacks all the way here."

"Sorry. We weren't thinking to straight at the time." Ranma said apologetically.

"Yeah, I noticed." The young girl growled. "By the way, is the bath still hot?"

"It is still pretty warm." Ranma told the young girl after he got back to his feet. "Should be enough ... just remember to wash before you get in the tub, okay?"

"I try to avoid repeating my mistakes, Red," she sighed, as she started walking towards the bathroom.

"Just a minute! Who are you?" Kasumi asked forcefully to the young girl, getting a surprised glance from her sisters.

The young girl turned back and smiled. "My name's Steve Stachowicz, miss. Pleased to meet ya."

xxxx

As evening came to the Tendo household, the four current residents and their three guests gathered in the dining room. The young girl who had come to the door that afternoon had never emerged from the bathroom. Instead, a young man, about six feet tall, with brown hair, bluish eyes, wearing her clothes, and glasses sat in the room. The clothes fit him a lot more comfortably Nabiki noted.

He sat with a preoccupied expression beside the other young man who claimed to be Ranma, who in turn sat beside the middle-aged man who had been sitting with Soun Tendo. They were all three sitting in a row across from the three sisters, while Soun sat at the head of the table.

"As I have already said," Soun said, "this is my dear old friend --"

"Genma Saotome," the middle-aged man continued. "And this is my son --"

"Ranma Saotome," the young man finished, glaring at his father.

"Ahem." Coming from the other man.

"Oh. And this is Steve Stachowicz, a friend we met on our trip through China" Genma said.

Akane was staring at Ranma with thinly veiled hatred, while he returned her look with apprehension. Neither of them noticed the curious expression on Steve's face as he gazed from Akane to Ranma.

"What's this all about?" Nabiki asked, bewildered.

"Are you really ... them? Those girls?" Kasumi inquired in confusion.

"Well..." Steve began, trying to figure out how best to answer.

"Where should I begin?" Genma wondered aloud. "Ah! I know." With a single, fluid motion, he grabbed his son by the collar, turned, and threw him out the open door to the pond. With a single startled shriek, Ranma splashed down.

"Y'know, Mr. Saotome ... I think we could've explained this without a demonstration," Steve sighed regretfully.

The red-haired girl rose from the pool with a furious expression. "What the hell you do that for?"

"No, Stacko, it was necessary for them to see the depth of my humiliation! Oh, my son!"

His son leaped from the pool, grabbed her father, and flung him into the pool. Moments later, a large panda arose from the pool, the same panda that had carried Ranma to the dojo.

"Now they see the depths of your humiliation, old man!" the female-Ranma sneered with contempt.

"Father..." Kasumi inquired, delicately, "Why are you friends with these people?"

"They weren't like this before," Soun declared. "Not before they went to China ... and undertook a terrifying training exercise!"

"Actually, it wasn't so much the training exercise that was such a big deal," Steve interjected. "It was more the locale and what they did."

As female-Ranma and panda-Genma went to take another hot bath, the attention of the Tendo family abruptly focused on the Westerner in their midst. "And ... you, also..." Kasumi began.

"Change?" Steve supplied, scratching his head. "Yeah. I hope you'll forgive me, though, if I don't give you a demonstration. It's not too fun for me."

"How did a person from ... where are you from anyway?" Soun inquired.

"America, Tendo-san. Wisconsin, if you're familiar with the ... no? Okay. How I wound up with those two is sort of confusing, even to me, and it really isn't a big part of their story, which is probably what you're most interested in right now. I only hooked up with them about a month before ... IT happened."

"How come you arrived without them?" Kasumi asked.

"Well, when we were entering Tokyo, Genma decided to tell Ranma about this pledge he made to your family." Steve noticed the looks that the three girls were giving their father. "Apparently the three of you were also told about this 'pledge' today, am I right?"

"Yes." Kasumi replied in surprise.

"Well, after Genma told Ranma about this pledge, they dropped their back packs and started fighting each other. Their fight quickly took them out of the area, so I had to carry all three backpacks and followed after them. It was then that it started raining and I lost track of them. So I started asking round for your address, since I remembered Genma saying that this was where we were headed. That was how I ended arriving a little later than they did." Steve said finally.

"So, how did 'IT' happen?" Nabiki asked.

"Well..." Steve started.

Ranma and Genma, now restored to their true forms, marched back into the room, and resumed their seats. Genma had heard the tail end of Steve's "talk", and picked up from there. "Ah yes ... it was a fateful three weeks ago..." He began theatrically.

And he related the very tragic tale of how they had sought to perfect their martial arts techniques at the Training Grounds of Accursed Springs, how Genma had fallen to Ranma's blows into the Spring of Drowned Panda, how Ranma had been knocked into the Spring of Drowned Girl, and how Ranma accidentally knocked Steve into the Spring of Drowned Young Girl.

There was a stunned silence in the room, as Genma finished the tale.

"The legendary training ground of accursed springs," Soun murmured. "Its true horror has always been shrouded in mystery until now..."

"What do you mean, true horror?" Ranma bit out. He had been holding his tremendous anger in while his father had recited the tale. Suddenly, he seized hold of Genma's collar, and bellowed into his face. "Yo! Old man! What's the idea of draggin' me to a place like that anyway?"

Wordlessly, Genma flung Ranma towards the pool. A large splash ensued, then revealed Ranma in female form.

"You sound like a woman!" Genma answered Ranma bellow for bellow, earning himself a dirty look from Akane, and a tired sigh from Steve that he didn't notice. "Were you not prepared to give your life for the sake of the Art?"

"My life, yes..." female-Ranma said quietly. From a corner, she seized a bucket full of water, and flung it at her father, screaming, "My manhood is another story!"

It was probably not her intent to splash Steve with some water in the process. It was the first time that any of the Tendo family had actually seen the process. Steve's body shrunk almost two feet in height, and his shoulders narrowed. The hair on his head darkened to black, and his face got a youthful look to it. He had closed his eyes when he was splashed; now she opened them to reveal that they had turned to violet. Neither Ranma nor Genma, now in panda mode, seemed to have noticed the other transformation, being intent on some sort of fistfight.

"Oh ... what a tragedy!" Soun proclaimed, tears flowing from his eyes.

Kasumi had stood up, and was opening her mouth to say something to the Saotome family, when Steve cut her off.

"ALL RIGHT YOU TWO. KNOCK IT OFF RIGHT NOW!" Steve bellowed, completely fed up. Her tone spoke eloquently of death in the near future, and Ranma slowly turned to stare at her, as did the Panda, both in shock.

"I have been watching the two of you fight about this "thing" for the last three weeks. I've HAD it! Ranma, your father is, beyond a doubt, foolish for having done something like this. HowEVER, like I said when I talked to you, if I was looking for someone to blame for what happened to me, I'd start with you, Ranma. You complain that you lost your manhood due to your father, but because of you, I lost my manhood AND my adulthood. If I can deal with it, you can. Or are either of you going to have it be said that someone with only about four month's training in the martial arts can deal with wild and crazy situations like this better than the Saotome school of Anything Goes Martial Arts?"

Ranma bowed her head, and released her grip on the panda, who also proceeded to release her, without looking in Steve's direction, ashamed.

"But ... what in the world made them do something so dangerous?" Kasumi asked Steve suddenly.

"Well ... truth to tell, Ms. Tendo, I've gathered that Mr. Saotome didn't fully understand what he was getting into at Juthenkyou?"

"Jusenkyo," Ranma said quietly.

"Thanks" Steve said to Ranma. "That would be because he doesn't read Chinese, so he couldn't make heads or tails of the warning signs, understandable, probably. On the other hand, not listening to the Guide's warnings was a dumb move, but on yet another hand, it was a move I also made, so..."

"Well, in any case, any friend of the Saotome family is certainly a friend of the Tendo family," Kasumi said decisively. "Please, Steve-san, stay here as long as you feel comfortable."

"Thanks. But you can call me Stack or Stacko. My friends have been calling me that for years, so it's become like my actual name." Steve replied to Kasumi.

"Okay, Stacko-san." Kasumi said with a smile.

Soun had stepped out of the room and into the kitchen during Steve's story, and now returned, carrying a kettle of boiling water, which he proceeded to pour on the panda. In a twinkling, the panda became Genma once more.

"So. When doused with hot water, you return to human form." Soun said happily.

"Well, it needn't be quite that hot," Genma said, wincing in pain. Soun ignored him completely.

"When doused with cold water, you become a girl, but hot water turns you back into a boy!" Soun told to Ranma. Ranma guessed what he was going to do a second before he did it and kicked the kettle out of Soun's hands when Soun tried to pour the water on him.

"Hot water! Not boiling!" Ranma protested angrily.

Just then there was a high-pitched female scream that suddenly turned to a high-pitched male scream of pain. Everyone turned at the sound and found that the kettle Ranma had kicked had emptied itself all over Steve, who is now in male form with the kettle at his feet. He was giving Ranma a glare as he tried to quickly cool his clothes.

"Oh man, I'm sorry, I didn't see you ..." Ranma started until the kettle hit her in the face and knocked her on the floor, stunned.

"Apology accepted." Steve grumbled, no one noticed the approving look Akane gave Steve, and then Soun laughed as Ranma stood back up. It was not a pleasant sound.

"It's all right! Your problem isn't so big after all!" Soun said smiling as that statement perplexed Ranma. "My daughters. Kasumi, nineteen. Nabiki, seventeen. Akane, sixteen. Pick the one you want. She's your fiancée."

Steve's eyes went wide at this. He cleared his throat and excused himself and went into the kitchen to get a drink of cold water. Kasumi and Nabiki had exchanged a single look while Steve headed to the kitchen.

"Oh, he wants Akane," offered Kasumi, smiling calmly.

"Wha?" Akane asked confused at Kasumi.

"Oh definitely!" Nabiki agreed, her expression indicating that she thought it was settled.

"You gotta be kidding!" Akane shouted. "Why would I be..."

"Well, you hate boys, right?" Nabiki pointed out.

"You're in luck! He's half-girl! You'll be very happy together!" Kasumi predicted.

"Me? With that sex-freak pervert! NEVER!"

"Hey!" Ranma interjected. "Whaddaya mean, sex-freak pervert?"

"You change genders and you looked at my naked body, you sex-freak pervert!"

"You walked in on me!" Ranma pointed out angrily, offended by the injustice of her statement.

"It's different when a girl sees a boy!" Akane sneered knowingly.

"Ah, they're already the perfect couple," Soun commented to Genma, who laughed in agreement.

"He's a couple by himself!" Akane shouted at her father. Ranma's eyes narrowed at that. "And if you ever do anything like that again --"

Ranma started to walk away while Akane was in mid-rant. "Sayonara," she bit out angrily.

"Where are you going, boy?" Genma demanded.

"Back to Jyoketsuzoku. They must know of a way to change back for good!" Ranma angrily retorted. "This is no time for fiancées, old man!"

She paused, then turned back to look at Akane. "And by the way, you took a pretty good look at me back there too. But it's no big deal for me to see a naked girl. I've seen myself, plenty of times." Ranma lifted her collar, and stared down her blouse to demonstrate. What Ranma just said visibly shocked Akane. No one noticed Steve returning into the room. "And besides, your chest is almost flat," Ranma sniffed, turning away.

Big mistake.

Akane silently knelt, grabbed the table, lifted it, and slammed it down on what she thought was Ranma's head, smashing the person into the floor, with only the person's feet sticking out from under the table.

"Take that Ranma." Akane said in satisfaction.

"Hey, sis, that's not Ranma." Nabiki said. Akane looked at Nabiki and then over to where Ranma was standing grinning at her, lifted the table and found Steve laying on the floor unconscious, in his female form.

"What an uncute, tomboy. She can't even hit what she wants to." Ranma said taunting Akane.

"Why you ..." Akane said as she then started chasing after Ranma, carrying the table.

"Looks like Ranma's the flat one now," Genma muttered as he watched Akane finally catch him and pound him flat while Kasumi and Nabiki took care of Steve.

xxxx

Akane had furiously headed for her room after beating up Ranma, while Genma and Soun went off to drown their sorrows and celebrate the imminent union of their houses. This then left Kasumi and Nabiki in the living room with Ranma, after she limped back inside. And Steve, but as he was unconscious, and was now a young girl again because his cup emptied itself on him, he didn't offer a lot to the conversation, at least, not as a participant.

"Uh, Ms. Tendo..." Ranma began.

"Please, Ranma-chan, call me Kasumi, or if you desire formality, Kasumi-san. Either is acceptable."

"Right," Ranma smiled wearily. "Kasumi, is that kettle still hot?"

Kasumi checked the small teakettle that had been replaced after Akane used the table as a club. "Not hot, but very warm."

Ranma sighed. "Hopefully it should work." Her expression was melancholy as she sat down next to Steve and dumped the rest of the kettle over herself and changed back to his male form. Kasumi set Steve in a comfortable position and placed a damp cloth on her forehead. While Steve was unconscious, Nabiki and Kasumi decided to talk to Ranma about the 'curse'.

"What exactly does it feel like?" Kasumi asked.

"The change?" Ranma asked rhetorically. He saw Kasumi and Nabiki nod their heads. He thought a moment. "Well, there's an odd tingling sensation all over the body, especially the face, chest, and ... um ... there. Then there's a sort of empty feeling in the lower regions, and a swelling on the chest, which makes breathing a little odd. But those only last maybe a second, and then ... boom. It's over and I feel completely normal."

"Normal?" Kasumi asked, surprised. He nodded, then shrugged.

"That's the scariest part, I think. Stacko and me can be going along, minding our own business, and bam, someone says something like, Gee, what cute little girls,' I realize that they're referring to us, and I remember that I'm not normally a girl. Going back is, well, it's sort of like the reverse of what I said."

"It all seems so ... incredible. And what did Stacko mean by him losing his adulthood? He looks just as old as you." Nabiki said in confusion.

"Well, he is twenty-four years old. The reason he looks like that as far as we can tell is a side effect of the cursed form he has." Ranma answered as he looked down at Steve. He failed to notice the different looks that the two Tendo sisters were giving Steve. Steve slowly returned to consciousness at about that time, and her eyes slowly opened. Ranma turned to her.

"Stack? Do yourself a favor. Don't lift your head too quickly. You just got knocked a good one, and if you get up too soon, you'll feel even worse. Okay?"

Steve nodded weakly. "'Kay."

"Please don't think too harshly of Akane," Kasumi said kindly. "She's really is a very sweet girl. She's just a violent maniac, sometimes."

"Oh, good, Kasumi, that makes a lot of sense," Nabiki muttered in disbelief.

"I think I get your meaning, do not tease the cute animals', right?" Steve asked, her voice filled with amusement.

Kasumi nodded. "Although I don't think of my little sister as an animal, of course. Well, not usually. Rarely."

Nabiki made a don't-tell-these-weird-people-all-the-family-gossip' gesture at Kasumi, and they both stood up.

"Would you like us to run a hot bath for you?" Kasumi asked Steve.

"Thank you that would be very gracious." Steve replied.

The Tendo sisters left the room and Steve sighed. "Well, Ranma, what caused me to get decked by a table?"

"Akane was calling me a 'sex-freak pervert' and I argued back, and she didn't like what I had to say to her and attacked with the table."

"Why did she call you that?"

"She walked in on me while I was taking a bath, and I saw her naked body."

"So apart from having the unfortunate luck to be naked in the bath when the young lady entered the bathroom, what did you do to her?"

"Nothin'! I didn't do nothin'!"

"Double negative."

"I didn't do anything, okay? I just had a sparring match with her, that's it! She said she wanted to be friends," Ranma spat out. "So much for friends, when she found out I'm a boy!"

"I don't get it. I can understand how she'd be upset about an arranged marriage, hell; I'd probably be upset myself. Well, anyway, how is she?"

"Uh. Some fairly efficient moves, way too slow though. Lot of power behind her blows, but it's just too easy to get out of the way. When she connected with that table..."

"Don't mention the table, I know about the table. Maybe she is a little better than ... you know who?"

Ranma shook his head. "Not even close. But since they're back in China, after we passed their stupid test, you can stop worrying about her anytime now, Stack."

"I'll stop worrying about that when I know for sure that those Amazon's don't want anything else from us, Red," Steve said soberly. "I still think they have something planned for us yet, especially me. Augh ... what kind of girl is she, anyway?" Steve complained as she pulled herself into a seated position and then suddenly grabbed her head.

"The kind that doesn't like a guy to see her naked. Hell, she got a free show from me," Ranma grumbled, and Steve got up to walk. She was a bit unsteady, so Ranma stayed close.

"Well, maybe she's the kind that doesn't enjoy that kind of show," Steve shrugged philosophically.

"What kinda chick wouldn't wanna see a guy's muscle tone?" Ranma asked in incomprehension.

"Do you want to see a guy's muscle tone, Red?" Steve asked with false sweetness.

"No way! I mean ... what do you mean?"

"Let it go, Ranma," Steve sighed, as they headed for the bathroom.

Ranma dropped Steve off at the bathroom and then continued on to the room he was staying in. Steve had started to pull off her clothes and had removed all but her shirt; she was pulling that off over her head, when the sliding door to the bathtub slid open.

On the other side was Akane.

Naked.

"Uh," said Steve as she looked through the opening of her shirt. "Uh. Uh-oh!"

"Why you ... you ... you ..." Akane bit out slowly and raised her hand to slap Steve's face.

All of the sudden, Steve threw off her shirt and dropped to the floor and crawled away from her, on her butt, while saying 'I'm sorry' over and over again. Steve crawled until she ran up against a corner of the room. Her shirt settled on her so it mostly covered her nudity, and Steve placed her arms over her face to ward Akane off, while favoring her left side.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, whatever I did, I'm sorry." Steve said over and over.

Akane was surprised at Steve's actions. Then her anger suddenly left when she noticed a massive bruise on the left side of Steve's body. Quickly wrapping her towel around her body, she put on her robe, and walked over to Steve. As she neared Steve, she tried to get away from her.

"Hey, hey, calm down, I'm not going to hurt you." Akane said trying to calm Steve down.

"Do you promise?" Steve asked while looking over her left arm, fear evident in her eyes.

"Why?"

"Well, Ranma told me on how you reacted when both of you were in the bathroom earlier."

"Oh."

"So are you going to promise, or am I going to have to prepare for another bashing?"

"I promise." Akane said, blushing about the incident that Steve was talking about.

Steve looked over and saw that Akane didn't have her look of anger on her face. Steve calmed down, then suddenly realized she was naked and tried to use her shirt to cover herself and blushed. Steve heard Akane giggle and she turned to glare at Akane. Steve then got a confused look to her face when she laughed harder.

"What's so funny?" Steve asked confused.

"You are. The way you look right now."

"Hey!"

"Don't worry about it."

"Why aren't you mad at me for walking in on you?"

"I'll tell you that if you answer a few questions of mine?"

"You going to hit me if I say something you don't like?"

"No."

"Okay, deal. But can I sit somewhere else, this floor is beginning to get uncomfortable."

"Sure. You were going to take a bath?"

"Yes. Kasumi said that she would start the bath for me."

"Okay, here, follow me."

Akane led Steve into the bathroom part and when Steve commented on that, Akane told her that she could wash down while she answered her questions. Steve blushed but sat down on the stool and started washing herself while Akane sat on the edge of the tub to watch Steve.

"Um, what did you want to know?" Steve said washing herself while waiting for Akane to ask.

"How did you hook up with those two? And how did you get that bruise?" Akane asked, indicating Steve's left side.

"It's a hell of a story," Steve replied. "And if parts of it don't make sense to you, they don't make much more sense to me either. But here it is...it was a month after I graduated college ..." Steve started when Akane interrupted her.

"Wait a minute, you've graduated from college? Just how old are you?" Akane asked in shock.

"I'm 24."

"But you look as old as I am!"

"I guess it is a side effect from my curse. That is all I can think my new appearance would come from."

"Oh, I'm sorry for interrupting you, please continue." Akane said while reevaluating her opinion on Steve.

"As I was saying, it was a month after I graduated when I was exploring around America. I wanted to enjoy my life before I settled down for a while, so I took a flight to the Rocky Mountain area and started hiking around. I was enjoying myself at my campsite, when another hiker came by and asked for directions to this town that sounded Japanese. I invited him to sit and enjoy the fire and some of my food and to rest for a bit, because it looked like he was dead tired.

"Any way, after we were done eating, we started talking. I found out his name was Ryouga Hibiki, a Japanese national out looking for someone who ran out on a challenge. Well, to shorten this section a bit, we talked all night and we agreed I would accompany him until we got to the Pacific Ocean where he would take a flight back to Japan. The next morning I found out he was into Martial Arts, so I asked him if he could teach me some of the Art until we parted company, and he agreed.

"We hiked for two months to get to the West Coast of America, and in that time I found out that he had a slight problem. He had trouble with directions, as in he got lost very easily. I spent most of my time, when I wasn't training, sleeping, or cooking a meal, keeping an eye on him so he wouldn't get lost. We became pretty good friends; he helped me a lot on practicing my Japanese and martial arts. But at the end of the second month, when I was following Ryouga as we were hiking, disaster struck.

"It was raining that day as we were hiking along this trail on this one mountain. We were near the top, when all of the sudden, the trail we were on washed out from right under our feet, and we ended up sliding down the side of the mountain. We lost our map, and some other gear, in that mess and ended up wondering around for several days, until we came across this small village. All of the inhabitants were oriental, so I thought we'd came across a China town type deal, but when Ryouga asked one of the people, we found out we were actually in China. Don't ask me how, I don't even remember crossing the ocean, but somehow we ended up over there.

"We spent about a month wandering around China trying to find where we were. Then one day, Ryouga somehow slipped out of my sight and I lost him. I spent the next several hours trying to find him, but with no luck. So I continued wandering around China, hoping to find a port so I could make my way back to America. Though how I would explain my presence in China to begin with, I have no clue.

"Then one night, while I was cooking my dinner, a person dressed in a dirty white gi, and a cloth over their head to make some sort of mask, came rushing out of the brush and went for my food. When he grabbed my dinner, I tried to stop him, and the person lashed out with a punch. I remembered one of the moves Ryouga taught me and used a judo move on him, and I guess I surprised him because I threw him over my shoulder and into a log next to my bedroll. Needless to say that, when I threw him into the log, that knocked him out cold. I used some rope I had in my pack and tied him up. I then removed the mask and saw Ranma for the first time."

"What! He tried to steal your food? Ohh, that baka!" Akane said getting angry very quickly. Steve quickly turned around on the stool and placed her hands so it looked like a T.

"Time-out Akane. Before you go and hurt Red, let me continue first, please?" Steve asked and waited until she saw Akane nod her head, but still had the angry look to her face.

"I found out that his father had him doing that as part of his 'training', and he was surprised that I was able to beat him. Actually he was pretty upset that he lost to me, and to injure his pride more, he found out that I had only trained in the martial arts for three months. He really hated it that I beat him with three months training when he had over ten years of it, but we talked and soon became friends."

"I can't believe you became friends with him when he tried to steal your food like that." Akane said. Steve had noticed her smile when she heard about how Steve beat Ranma, and then regain her anger when she heard Steve say that he became friends with Ranma.

"Well, it was more out of respect than anything else. After we talked for a bit, I released him and shared my meal with him. I told him about what was going on with me and he told me about most of his life. I felt sorry for him from what he told me, and he offered to help me continue in my training. Later on, Ranma's father came into the campsite to look for Ranma, and when he found out how Ranma had lost to me, he started shouting at Ranma. Ranma later on 'persuaded' his father to bring me along. That was how I met those two."

"I still can't believe you made friends with him."

"I try and look at the good in everyone, sort of my down fall at times."

"Oh, um, how did you come across that bruise?" Akane's anger left her when she saw the look Steve had on her face after she had said her last statement.

"That I got when we were at Jusenkyo. We went there because Genma said it was a great training ground to train in. Since I wasn't that good yet, they were the ones that were going to use the place while I watched to gain pointers. The guide came out and kept trying to talk them out of it, but Genma wouldn't listen. While he was arguing, I struck up another conversation with Ranma.

"He's an interesting guy, not to boost his ego anymore than it already is. He can do things that look like they belong on a Hong Kong movie screen, but he's almost completely socially inept. The only person he's really been close to is his dad, and you've seen how they get along. He doesn't have any concept of small talk, really. I think the most complicated way he knows how to express himself is through a challenge to a duel. Or maybe insults, in my opinion, I think that's why he acts the way he does around you. He's an okay kid, rough around the edges, but then who isn't?

"Anyway, finally, Genma haggled the guide into letting them train on the poles that stuck out of the springs. They jumped up, and started darting about in midair. It was something to see. Ranma, hell, the kid's practically poetry in motion. It was like the second coming of Bruce Lee. His dad went splash. And then he came roaring up, in Panda mode. I was just too freaked by this to do anything more than wonder, "How in hell does he balance like that?"

"Ranma was so shocked at what he saw, that he got decked by his dad. He then started falling towards a spring. I didn't understand why he was belly flopping like that, he should know how to take a fall better, right? Maybe not. I don't think he's been trained in how to lose with grace, but he went splash. I ran over to the spring to see if he was all right and I was surprised when a redheaded girl surfaced instead of him.

"When Ranma came out of the Spring of Drowned Girl, she was practically insane. She stood stock still in the middle of the pond for almost a minute, just staring down at her breasts. Anyway, she turned to look at me with this horrorstruck gaze, and then she looked at the Guide, and then she looked at her father, who just realized that he was a panda. She let out this howling scream when she figured out what had happened. I've never seen anything as frightening as the expression on her face when she stared at the panda. It was like there was a demon in front of me, not a talented martial artist. Ranma was all but out of her skull right afterwards, and she went after her father, who swears that he hadn't realized that he was cursed when he threw Ranma like that, by the way, and I really thought she was going to try and kill the guy.

"Anyway, she shrieked again, and leapt out of the spring, running at her father with murder in her eyes. Genma realized what his "son" was up to and ran off. Now, the smart thing for me to do would have been to let Ranma eviscerate her father and take this opportunity to get the hell away from them, but I didn't, and when Ranma came charging out of the spring, she shoved me into the spring next to the one she'd came out of. At the time, I wasn't to worried that I changed, because of the look I saw on her face. The only thing I noticed at the time was I was still human, but smaller, so I went after them.

"I ran harder than I've ever have before or since that day. Ranma was still getting used to her new body, and so was Genma, so they probably weren't working at a hundred percent, but they were still much faster than I was. I followed them into the mountains, hoping to find some way to get around in front of them so I could talk the kid out of patricide. As I rounded a corner on one of the mountain trails, caught sight of Genma bumping into some guy. Then Ranma smacked into him, knocking him off the cliff. She never even looked back while this poor innocent guy got knocked off the mountain and fell towards the pools. I didn't get a close look at the guy, but I hope whatever he wound up with wasn't too horrible. Nobody deserves to be cursed like this.

"By now, I was really pissed off by what the kid had done to that guy, so I threw everything I had into catching up to them. The chase came to an end high up on the mountain, just a little bit above the timberline. Ranma had caught up with her father, and I think she'd managed to get a few blows in because the panda was fighting back. But the kid was practically berserk and the panda didn't have a prayer. She got in one lucky punch and Genma went sprawling. She stood over him for a few seconds, breathing heavily, and then she reached way back. Before Ranma could let that killing blow fly I jumped in between him and the panda. An instant later, I was wondering if someone had got the number of the truck that had hit me. Then the world went black on me.

"I came to in the Guide's little cabin. If you think this bruise is ugly now you should have seen it then. I'm amazed the kid didn't break any of my ribs, even through it felt like they were, but he claims that even in the full force of his berserk fury he was able to pull his punch to avoid doing that. It was then that I found out what my curse was. Needless to say I was glad I was still human and not an animal. The guide handed me a mirror so I could look at what I now looked like. The guide told me I fell in the Spring of Drowned Young Girl, which is why I look younger in both forms, I guess.

"Anyway, I saw that Ranma was sitting in the corner looking completely horrified when I set the mirror back down. "I hit a girl," she was saying. "I hit a girl." Over and over and over again. "Actually," I muttered, "you didn't hit a..." Then I decided not to lay an even worse load on her. I gave the guide a "c'mere" gesture so I could speak softly enough for just him to hear. Unfortunately he didn't speak Japanese as well as I did, and I guess my accent didn't make things any easier. I got the feeling that he didn't understand what I was saying. "Man, I wish you could speak English," I finally blurted out in frustration.

"He blinked. "Well, why didn't you just ask?" he said in a British accent. I wasted time by saying, "You speak English," and making similar observations. Turns out he was born in Hong Kong and had actually gone to school over in Britain for a few years, before his family moved to the People's Republic when he was twenty. He took over the job of being the guide from his uncle when he was twenty-two. Don't ask me why. I gathered it had something to do with his family's politics.

"Anyway, I told him about the guy and asked him to see if he could find him, which he assured me that he would. I asked him where the Panda was, and he told me that he'd sent Genma off to find dinner, putting his faith in the superior senses of the panda combined with the intelligence of a man. I contemplated telling him what I thought of Genma's intelligence, but I figured that he probably already knew about that. Then I decided to try and get up. It was a bit of an effort but I did come to my feet and walked towards Ranma. Wobbly, but I walked.

""C'mon, kid, we got to have a man-to-man talk." I said to her when I finally made it over to her. "B-but ... I'm not a man..." she muttered to me. "That's one of the things we got to talk about. Let's go." I pulled her up to her feet. I led her out to the two pools where all of this had begun. We stood in silence for a few moments. A wind kicked up some dust. "Ranma," I said finally. "Why were you trying to kill your father?" "I wasn't! I ... I didn't want to..." Ranma started but I cut her off.

""Listen, kid, I know the difference between somebody punching just to lay a hit on somebody and somebody trying to seriously hurt them! Believe me, I've been on the receiving end of enough of them to tell. Now, your dad did a terrible thing knocking you into the pool, when he didn't understand on what would happen, but that doesn't give you the right to go apeshit like that!"

""But it's all his fault!" she shouted. "And whose fault do you think this is?" I roared, pointing at my new body. "If I were looking for somebody to blame, Ranma, I'd start with you! But, Ranma, and this is the key here, a 'man' does not go looking for someone to blame when things go wrong. A 'man' copes with it. A 'man' finds a way to deal with the situation, without going nuts. If you can't do that, Ranma, then by God you've lost your manhood in more ways than one today, and you'll never get it back even if you find a cure for the curse."

"I still can't believe I came up with all that. Don't give me that look, I know what your thinking, but if I told her to be "a grown-up" or maybe "someone mature" it wouldn't have gotten through to the kid, and what I said did, I guess. We stayed out there talking for a bit before we headed back to the cottage. Genma-panda was back, and the Guide told me that they had found the poor fellow that Ranma had knocked into the spring. It was probably just as well that he'd decided to book it before we got back. I get the feeling that it might have been messy if the guy had seen the "woman" responsible for his present condition.

"When we had calmed down a bit, and had a very small meal, I asked the guide about a cure, after I dragged him off to the side. He said that we could try jumping in the Spring of Drowned Man, but that the last person to do that hadn't come out 'quite' right, and I don't want to elaborate. Then we set off after getting our gear ready and changing back with hot water, heading for the nearest port. The guide stayed with us for a while, until certain events made it necessary for us to part company. I hope he's okay, though."

"Why? What happened to him?"

"Uh, that's another long story, Akane. What I can say is that the guide insisted on escorting us to the nearest port so that we could get on the boat to Japan. Unfortunately, what with one thing and another he had to leave before we got there. All I can say is, it's been a very busy three weeks and if I tell you all the nuttiness that we've gotten into we'll be here 'til morning, and I still need to soak in the furo before I freeze to death."

"Okay. See you tomorrow." Akane got up and left the bathroom. But before she left the bathroom, she turned around and walked back over to Steve. "I forgot to finish my half of our deal. The reason I didn't hit you before was that I felt sorry for hitting you when you were not the one that deserved it. That and you look like a little kid at the moment, even if I now know you are really 24, I don't hit little kids. That and you seem to have fun getting back at the baka."

"Well, I wouldn't call it fun." Steve said, as she got ready to step into the furo.

"Oh, just to let you know, I don't like it when people walk in on me in the bath." Akane said smiling as she pushed Steve into the furo and started to walk out of the room.

Steve surfaced in the furo, had changed back to a male, and looked over at Akane as she was leaving the room. As he soaked in the furo, he laughed at what Akane had done, then he got out of the furo, put on his clothes and headed to the guest room that he was sharing with Ranma and Genma.

A PARK IN THE JUUBAN WARD

"Supreme thunder dragon!" Jupiter shouted out in anger.

Jupiter frowned as her attack just bounced off her target. Her enemy was a little over six feet tall, had three inch claws, and a three-toed foot, with one in the back, with claws. It was white and black, except for its eyes and a few gem like parts on its chin and forehead, which were red. The black areas on the monster appeared to be armor plates. The plates on its head made it look like it was wearing a helmet.

Jupiter watched as the others launched their attacks at the monster and winced as they just bounced off as well. Everyone was becoming worried. It had already knocked Saturn, Chibi-Moon, Neptune, and Venus out. Mercury was busy scanning the monster, and having a hard time coming up with anything. Uranus went in with her soul sword, but the monster just grabbed the sword with its left hand and her neck with its right. It lifted her up and threw her into the other Senshi. Uranus landed badly and hissed in pain.

The monster decided that the Senshi were not going to be a problem, so it continued on its mission, and the Senshi saw that the monster was leaving the area and realized that they had to stop it. As they chased after it, the monster saw that they were coming, so it grabbed a nearby trashcan and threw it at them. All of the Senshi dodged out of the way except Mars, and the trashcan knocked her down. Sailor Moon helped her up and they all looked worried as the monster started heading out of the Park.

"What are we going to do? None of our attacks seem to be working at all." Sailor Moon said.

"We've got to stop it before it injures any more people." Jupiter said.

"Mercury, do you have anything yet on this monster?" Mars asked impatiently.

"All I can figure out until I study these readings closer. So far all I've got, is that it is very heavily armored, so we have to hit it with our most powerful attacks all at once. That hopefully should do it." Mercury said uncertainly.

"Okay, let's do it." Moon said then called out to the Monster. "Hey, weirdoid, we are not finished here."

The monster turned around in annoyance and glared at the Senshi like they were a pest that needed to be swatted away. So the monster decided to take out the annoyance. The remaining Senshi saw that the monster was heading towards them with a look to its face saying that if their plan didn't work, they were dead. Just as the monster got near them, they released their most powerful attacks at it in the chest.

The monster looked on in surprise as the attacks hit him. Then he screamed in pain as the attacks overwhelmed his armor and he disappeared in a ray of black light. Once the monster disappeared, the remaining Senshi collapsed to their knees in exhaustion. The injured Senshi regained conscious and walked over to the others, looking around in worry. The others told them that the monster was destroyed, but that it had taken a lot out of them. So they headed away from the park to their own homes to rest.

TSUKINO RESIDENCE, JUUBAN WARD, TOKYO THAT NIGHT

Usagi was in her bed sleeping, with Luna sleeping at her feet. She'd had her average day of barely making it to class on time, having detention because of falling asleep in class, and then being a few minutes late to meet her friends at Rei's shrine, and then having an argument with her parents about her grade on a test. Then fighting a monster that had forced them to use their most powerful attacks just to hurt it. When all that was over, she'd crawled into bed and fallen asleep, then she started dreaming.

Usagi found herself dressed as Princess Serenity, and standing in some sort of Ball Room. She walked around the room wondering why she was the only one there. She was getting nervous and worried when a female voice called out her name. She turned around and found Queen Serenity, her mother from the Moon kingdom, standing there.

"Mother! What are you doing here?" Usagi asked her mother in surprise.

"I needed to talk to you." Queen Serenity said seriously.

"What is it about?" Usagi asked because she caught the tone of voice her mother used.

"A new enemy is coming, and I'm afraid that you and your fellow Senshi will not be strong enough to face them. They are a deadly force and I fear you will all perish. You need help to face them and survive."

"We already fought one of them and it nearly defeated us. We had to use all of our strongest attacks on it at once and that just defeated it. Who do we need to get to help us, mother?"

"I want you to find the Senshi of the Star Kingdom."

"Star Kingdom? Who are they, I don't remember anything about them."

"They are a Kingdom that didn't get along with us very well. You, and only you, will need to look for them and try and get their help."

"Can you tell me anything about them, to help me find them? And why must it be me alone?"

"All I can tell you is that two of their members are related to two of the Moon Kingdom and they will not be favorable if they meet any of the other Senshi, I'm afraid to say."

"Can't I tell anyone about them?"

"I'm afraid that you can't tell anyone about what I need you to do, not even Luna or Artemis."

"Yes, mother, I'll try my best to find them and get their help by myself."

"I know you will my daughter, but our time here is short. So you must find the Senshi of the Star Kingdom soon. The new enemy is very strong, so be careful my daughter. I love you. I'm sorry I can't be any more helpful."

Before Usagi could ask her mother any more questions, she faded from view. Usagi was confused by what her mother told her, and she was thinking about it as the Ball Room faded from view and replaced with her ceiling of her bedroom. She blinked her eyes a few times and realized that she was awake and the dream was over. She sat up and looked around her room. She found Luna at the foot of her bed and decided to wake her up to talk to her.

"Hey, Luna, wake up." Usagi said nudging the cat.

"What is it, Usagi?" Luna asked sleepily.

"I had a dream with my mother in it." Usagi replied in excitement.

"What is so special about that?" Luna asked, not understanding.

"It was my mother from the Silver Millennium." Usagi said when she saw Luna about to go back to sleep.

"What? It was?" Luna said, now wide-awake.

"Yes."

"What did she want?"

"She told me that we won't be able to defeat the new enemy that we are facing, , but she wouldn't say anything else about them."

"That's bad if she would tell you that."

"Luna, what do you know about the Star Kingdom?" Usagi asked and then saw Luna just staring at her. "Hey Luna? You okay?"

"Did you just say the Star Kingdom?"

"Yes, why? All that I remember is that our Kingdom and theirs were not on good terms."

"That is an understatement. Their views of leadership were very different than ours, and they didn't want to have much to do with us. If they're going to be the ones controlling this new threat, then we need to be ready."

"Why? I really don't think they are the one's controlling the new enemy." Usagi said, knowing that she couldn't tell Luna why she was really asking about the Star Kingdom.

"Even if they aren't, I'll tell all of you at Rei's shrine tomorrow. What I have to say, I would rather say only once."

"Oh, okay, Goodnight then Luna. See you in the morning."

"Goodnight Usagi."

After Usagi fell back asleep, Luna stayed awake to think about what Usagi had just told her. She couldn't believe that Queen Serenity would tell them that they were going to be attacked by the Star Kingdom Senshi, hell; she didn't think they were alive or had been reborn like the Moon Kingdom Senshi were. She knew that the others would be surprised at what she was going to tell them, but if they were the enemy that Queen Serenity said that even she feared was coming, she had to tell them all she knew about them as soon as possible. She hoped that Usagi was correct and they weren't the new threat, but she knew that the Senshi had to know about the Star Kingdom. She drifted off to sleep fearing what the other Senshi would do.

xxxx

TENDO DOJO THE NEXT MORNING

"School?" asked Ranma, saying the word as though it was part of a foreign language. Ranma and Steve were sitting in the living room area in front of Genma. They all had finished breakfast an hour ago, which Steve had surprised the Tendo's by helping Kasumi. Kasumi had told Steve that he didn't need to help, but he had insisted on helping out wherever he could. Both Steve and Ranma were still in their workout clothes since they had done some training before breakfast. After they had finished eating, and the dishes were taken care of, Genma had called both of them over to have a talk with them.

"Well," his father explained, "we are going to be staying here awhile, so I have enrolled both of you in Furinkan High."

"I'm 24, why do I need to go to High School?" Steve asked Genma.

"Your Japanese still needs work, and as you said, you can always still learn more in school."

Nabiki stepped past the door to the living room on her way to the front door. She was dressed in the green and white girls' uniform of Furinkan High School. "It's the same school Akane and I go to," she informed Ranma and Steve with a crooked smile. "See you there."

"Wait oneechan!" came a voice from down the corridor. "I'll go with you!"

Nabiki turned to look down the corridor in surprise. "What're you talking about? Ranma is your fiancée remember? And since Steve is a friend of his, you ought to walk them to school."

Akane stepped into the view of those in the living room. Steve noticed that on Nabiki, the uniform looked utilitarian in a business suit style. Akane, on the other hand, made her school uniform look almost like a party dress. Steve figured that she would probably look good in anything. Akane took a look at Ranma and Steve could see that she still had some hatred for Ranma.

"You two aren't going to school dressed like that are you?" Akane said flatly.

"I am not wearing a uniform." Ranma said. "Especially with this stupid curse."

"Since it appears that I'll be going to school again, and from what I heard about the uniform policy of Japan here, we have to wear something appropriate to school." Steve told Ranma.

"I don't want to wear a uniform." Ranma grumbled.

"Well hurry up, I don't want to be late for school." Akane growled.

"Hey, Red, why don't we wear the clothes we got in Shanghai?"

Ranma grumbled about it for a moment. "Awright. What about that red shirt?"

"Sounds good to me, lets go." Steve replied.

So Steve and Ranma went upstairs to change clothes. A few moments later, Steve and Ranma were more appropriately dressed. Akane saw that Ranma had changed into a set of clothes similar to the one that he had first arrived in. She saw that Steve was dressed in a similar outfit, but it was of a different color. They both are wearing the black pants and the same shoes, but the difference was in the colors of the shirts. While Ranma was wearing a red silk shirt with yellow ties, Steve was wearing a black silk shirt with dark purple ties. After Steve and Ranma picked up the lunches Kasumi made for them and their book bags, they headed out towards school.

While walking to school, Akane noticed that Steve and Ranma were walking on the fence. She also saw that Ranma was walking on it like it was nothing, but she saw that Steve was having a little trouble, but he was maintaining his balance. Akane thought that Ranma was being a showoff, the way he was walking, but she was wondered why they were walking on the fence in the first place.

"Why are you guys walking up there?" Akane asked looking up at them. Ranma and Steve looked back down to her.

"A Tomboy like you wouldn't understand." Ranma told Akane. Akane's anger suddenly started to build.

"Red, chill. How do you know she wouldn't understand?" Steve asked Ranma as if he wasn't making sense.

"She's a Tomboy."

"That is not a good reason, and you know it." Steve said as Ranma just looked away. Steve then looked down to Akane. "To let you know, Genma told me that this was for balance training. He had said that I should take any chance to practice that as I can."

"Oh. Isn't that hard to do?" Akane asked.

"If you're just beginning like I am, but once you now how to maintain your balance, it gets very easy." Steve replied.

"Can you show me how to do that?" Akane asked.

"Well, how about after school?" Steve told her.

"Why then?" She asked.

"Well, right now we need to get to school for us to register, and I don't want you to try it dressed like you are now." Steve said.

"Why not?"

"I don't think you want to try walking on the fence in a dress, do you?"

"No!" Akane stated when she figured out why Steve was reluctant to help her now, and minorly blushed.

"A tomboy like her wouldn't be able to balance herself." Ranma said. Akane's embarrassment suddenly turned to anger and she threw her book bag at Ranma. Unfortunately she missed Ranma and hit Steve instead. Because Steve was still learning to keep his balance, he couldn't stay balanced and fell into the channel on the other side of the fence. Steve crawled out of the channel and over the fence to stand on the road and started to ring as much water out of her clothes as she could.

"I'm sorry, Steve, I didn't mean to hit you." Akane quickly apologized to Steve. She felt sorry for her, because she had been nice to her and Akane really had wanted to hit Ranma, but her aim had been a little off. She had then picked up her school bag again and aimed at Ranma.

"That's alright, Akane. No harm done." Steve replied as she continued to ring water out of her clothes.

"I told you, you couldn't hit what you were aiming for. Some macho chick you are." Ranma said while still on the fence railing. Akane's embarrassment suddenly turned to anger again, but as she was about to throw her book bag at Ranma again, she stopped suddenly when she saw Mr. Saotome run up behind Ranma on the fence railing and hit him in the back of the head.

"Pop! What're you ..." Ranma started to say to his father as he turned to face him, but was interrupted by his father.

"You're in no position to be choosy about women!" Genma shouted at his son. "Listen, Ranma, I'll tell you only once ..."

Genma's explanation was cut short by Ranma kicking his father off the fence, and knocking into the channel below. Genma resurfaced as a panda, and glared at his son as best as he could.

"What's wrong, Pop? Panda got your tongue?" Ranma said teasing his father. Just then, the panda jumped out of the channel and onto the fence. Akane had run behind Steve when the panda jumped out of the channel. Ranma and his father started fighting on the fence railing. Akane was amazed at how well the panda was fighting, and when she turned to face Steve to see how she was reacting to what was happening, Akane saw that Steve had a bored expression on her face. Akane turned back to the fight and saw Ranma jump over a punch from his father, and landed on the street. "Ha, check that out!"

Ranma suddenly was splashed with some cold water. Akane saw the change that Ranma had, as she watched Ranma look down on herself. Water was dripping off of Ranma as she stood there, thinking how she got splashed, and looked over and saw an old woman watering down her walk way to her house.

"Something wrong?" Akane asked after a moment, teasing Ranma.

"Com'on Stacko, let's go take a bath." Ranma said after she tightened her belt on her pants and grabbed Steve's arm and started heading back to the Tendo Dojo.

"Uh, okay." Steve said uncertainly.

"You'll both be late." Akane said.

"Think I want to start school as a girl?" Ranma asked Akane.

"But if we just pour hot water on the both of you, you'll turn back, right?" Akane replied to Ranma.

"She's got a point there, Red, plus we are running short on time to get to school." Steve said.

"Awright." Ranma grumbled after a bit.

The three of them had made their way to a local clinic where Akane said that they could get some hot water. Steve and Ranma stood outside by the outer wall to the clinic while Akane went to get the water. Both of them sighed in relief as they saw Akane go inside the clinic. They leaned against the wall to wait until Akane returned. Ranma started to think then.

"Hooo boy. What a way to start the ..." Ranma's thoughts were interrupted when she heard Steve scream out in fright and looked up and saw Steve up on the top on the wall, looking behind her like there was a scary monster there. Ranma spun around and got into a ready stance. All that Ranma saw was a man in his Mid-twenty's, who was wearing a dark greenish-gray gi, glasses and holding a skeleton. Ranma was surprised that he had been able to sneak up upon the both of them.

"Oh. Pardon me." Said the man. "Nothing to worry about, you two. This is Betty, my skeleton."

Ranma got out of her stance, even though she was a little confused. Steve got down from the wall and Ranma noticed a minor blush of embarrassment on Steve's face. It was at that moment that Akane came out with the hot water.

"Ranma, Stack, here's the hot ..." Akane said, but stopped short when she saw who was with them.

"Well, Akane!" Exclaimed the man.

"Oh, doctor. Um ... Good morning." Akane said as she bowed to the man and set the kettle on top of Ranma's head.

"Good morning to you." Replied the doctor cheerfully.

Ranma and Steve were looking back and forth between the doctor and Akane, in the momentary silence, Ranma and Steve took a look at Akane and saw several things. First they saw that she was looking down at the ground, she had a small blush to her cheeks, and her whole attitude seemed to have taken a whole reversal to what the boys were used to. After a moment, Ranma felt Steve pushing her around the corner and take the kettle off her head. Ranma got the point and they walked around the corner. While they were walking around the corner they heard the doctor and Akane talking again.

"You haven't been by lately. No new injuries?" Asked the doctor.

"No, sir. I mean I haven't been doing anything that would ..." Akane was saying but Ranma and Steve went around the corner and couldn't hear anything else.

"Interesting." Ranma said as he changed back.

"I'll say." Steve said as Ranma poured the remainder of the water on him.

After they were done at the doctor's place, they realized that they were running out of time to make it to school on time, so they ran to school. Akane and Steve are running on the road, while Ranma was running on the fence railing. After a bit, Ranma decided to figure something out.

"Who is that guy?" Ranma asked Akane.

"Dr. Tofu, the Chiropractor." Akane replied happily.

"Martial arts master, too, isn't he?" Ranma asked.

"Huh? How could you tell?" Akane asked in surprise.

"Sneaking up on me and Stack like that. He erased all sense of his presence." Ranma said thoughtfully.

"True, he's very good." Akane started. "But he doesn't look like he'd be, does he? Ever since I was little, he's taken care of my injuries."

Ranma had hopped down on the street because the fence ran out. They ran for a little bit longer until the school's gate was in view, when Steve had a question for Akane.

"So, Akane, isn't he a man?" Steve asked.

"Yes, so?" Akane asked back, confused.

"I thought you said you hate men?" Steve asked.

"...." Was all Akane said as she looked down to the ground. "That's right."

"I..." Akane started saying angrily as they got closer to the gate.

"Despise ... "Steve and Ranma watched as several boys came running towards them in different sports equipment and gear. They were all shouting out their love for Akane and saying how the other's wanted to beat her up.

"Men!" Akane yelled as she went charging into the group of boys and started fighting.

Steve was wondering what was going on when Ranma grabbed the back of his shirt and jumped up to the ledge of the brick wall to watch the fight. Steve and Ranma were surprised at the fierceness of the fight. Steve and Ranma flinched at times at some of the areas where Akane had hit her opponents. The both of them looked at each other and silently agreed to not get in her way. They continued watching as Akane brutally beat up her opponents. On the second floor of the school, a group of girls were also watching the fight.

"Your poor sister. Every single day." One of the girls said to another girl who turned out to be Nabiki.

"Oh, Ranma and Stacko." Nabiki said then yelled down to them. "Ranma, Stacko! Get in this school now!"

Steve and Ranma looked up to find where the voice had came from, and found Nabiki waving to them. Both of them looked back at the fight and saw that Akane was almost finished with her fight. They looked back at Nabiki and pointed at Akane's fight.

"But, but..." Both Ranma and Steve were stuttering.

"Don't worry about Akane!" Nabiki shouted to them.

Both Ranma and Steve looked back at Akane and found that she had finished her fight. All of the boys that were fighting her were on the ground, unconscious, moaning in pain, or covered in bruises. They looked at Akane and saw her breathing hard and a fine sheet of sweat on her forehead. She grabbed her hair and threw it behind her.

"For Pete's sake, every morning. What a drag." Akane said out loud to no one in particular.

"Truly such a boorish lot." Came a male voice from behind a tree.

Akane, Steve, and Ranma looked in that direction and saw a person step out from behind the tree. The person was dressed in a kendo outfit, complete with a bokken in his right hand. He was standing there bare footed and was about as tall as Steve. He has short black hair, and held himself as if he was someone important. He held a rose in his left hand and was smelling it as he walked from behind the tree.

"Evidently each of them intends to ask you out, Akane," The man started saying with a poetic tone to his voice. "On the dawn that he finally defeats you."

"Oh upperclassman Kuno. Good morning." Akane said with a bored tone of voice.

"And now Akane Tendo..." Kuno said as he tossed the rose he was smelling over to Akane, which she caught in her left hand. "Might you fight with me?"

At that moment, Steve got tired of being up on the wall and hopped down to land near Akane. Once he got his balance back, he turned to face Akane and asked a question that popped into his head.

"Man, you're popular here, aren't you?" Steve asked her.

"Stay out of the way. You'll get hurt." Akane warned Steve as she got into a defensive stance.

"What's going on?" Steve asked confused as what was going on.

"You'll see." Was her only answer.

Just then, a wooden sword was thrust into Steve's face and missed him by about a foot. Steve looked along the sword and saw that it was Kuno that was holding it, and had an angry look to his face.

"You there." Kuno asked with a hint of anger in his voice.

"Yes?" Steve asked.

"You are being quite familiar with Akane." Kuno announced.

"Uh, yes, well..." Steve started mumbling trying to figure out what Kuno was getting at, but was interrupted by Kuno.

"Who are you boor? Ah! But it is the custom to give one's own name first. Fine then! Mine I shall give." Kuno said loudly, but with that poetic way of saying it.

"Uh, okay. If you want..." Steve started to say, but got interrupted by Kuno again.

"My name is upperclassmen Kuno. Junior. Group E. Captain of the Kendo club. Undefeated new star in the fencing world. But my peers call me the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High." Kuno said as his introduction. But when he said the 'Blue Thunder' part in his intro, a flash of lightening occurred, that made Ranma and Steve look up in the sky and noticed how gloomy it was getting. But unknown to them all, three girls were talking.

"'Blue Thunder'?" Asked one of Nabiki's friends.

"Have you heard that?" Asked another girl.

"News to me." Nabiki said.

Steve wanting to end this discussion quickly before it rains, and his cursed form, plus Ranma's, was revealed, started to think of what he wanted to say to Kuno.

"Okay, well, at the moment I'm staying at the Tendo practice hall..." Steve started saying, but suddenly he noticed that Kuno was pissed off all of the sudden.

"What! Under the same roof as Akane." Kuno shouted and then struck out at Steve. Steve had enough warning to try and dodge the sword slash that Kuno sent at him.

But Steve wasn't fast enough and the tip of the bokken hit Steve on his left side of his chest. That caused a searing pain to go through him, and he fell to the ground clutching his left side and hissing in pain. Kuno realizing that his opponent was down and easy to take care of, went in for the killing strike. Steve saw the strike coming and held his arms up to lessen the blow. Akane saw what was going to happen, but she was the farthest away and knew she couldn't stop the blow.

Akane watched helplessly as the blade started to come down at Steve, and started towards Steve, even though she knew she was not going to make it on time. Kuno inwardly smiled as he brought down his bokken to smite the villain that was invading Akane's domicile. But just as the bokken was about to hit its target, someone grabbing the blade part of the bokken stopped it.

Kuno looked up from Steve and saw another boy, dressed in Chinese clothing, red silk shirt and black pants, with black hair that was done up in a pigtail. He was surprised that someone had been able to stop his bokken. The boy then kicked Kuno in the stomach and Kuno skidded a few feet away. Kuno looked at him with confusion and mild anger. Akane had just made it over to Steve to see how he was doing.

"Who are you, cur?" Kuno asked as he charged towards the boy. But before he was able to strike the boy with his bokken, the boy flipped back to avoid the bokken strike.

"I am heir to the Saotome Anything-goes martial arts." The boy said as he was flipping back and taking off his school bag. He tossed his bag over to Steve. "Here, watch my bag for a sec."

"I am Ranma Saotome," Ranma said as he landed several feet away and got into a ready stance. "And I accept your challenge."

Lightning flashed in the sky as Ranma made that announcement. The surrounding people that were conscious were surprised that someone would challenge Kuno. Word quickly spread through school and mostly everyone was lined up to the windows to see the fight. The students were saying that the boy must have been living dangerously.

"So, you scoundrel. Hounding Akane, eh?" Kuno asked as he sized up his opponent. "I, Upperclassmen Kuno, shall bring you to justice."

"So who's hounding anybody?" Ranma asked.

"They're only staying with us Kuno." Akane yelled at him.

"Silence fool!" Kuno shouted as he charged Ranma.

Kuno ran towards Ranma with his bokken above his head. Just as Kuno struck at Ranma, Ranma disappeared, and Kuno ended up slashing through the school stone fence wall. Steve was surprised that a wooden sword could go through a stonewall. Kuno was surprised that Ranma was not there to receive his punishment. He looked around and found Ranma standing on the side of a nearby tree, as if he was defying gravity. Akane was impressed at what she was seeing, after she made sure that Steve was all right.

Kuno then slashed out towards Ranma again, and only ended up slicing through the tree. Steve was glad that he was able to dodge that bokken strike with only receiving a glance blow. Kuno realizing he missed his target again, went and looked for his target. He turned around and found Ranma several yards away from him with the tree he just sliced through landing in between them.

"Now hold on." Ranma said as all of a sudden he was standing right in Kuno's face. That caused Kuno to take a few steps back and had Ranma step with him. "Let me make this perfectly clear ..."

"Astounding." Akane thought as she saw Ranma fighting Kuno. "He was there before Kuno could blink."

"... Akane means nothing to me." Ranma finished saying.

"Hmmm. This guy is good." Kuno thought as he was being forced back by Ranma.

"If you want a crazy, violent chick like her ... you can have her." Ranma stated to Kuno.

Akane couldn't believe that Ranma said that. She got angry at him and grabbed his bag and threw it at him.

"Why you baka!" Akane shouted as she threw the bag at Ranma.

"Would you quit calling me a..." Ranma started as his danger sense picked up trouble.

Steve in the mean time had stood up and tried to calm Akane down, but was stopped and stared at the fight that was going on. He watched as Ranma jumped up to avoid the bag and the bokken strike. He heard Kuno talking to Ranma about speaking ill of Akane, and him forbidding it. Steve was still amazed that a wooden sword could cut through anything, because the strike that Steve saw cut through Ranma's bag like it was nothing.

Steve watched as Ranma was coming back down with two fingers extended out towards Kuno. Kuno on the other hand, brought his bokken up in order to strike out at Ranma. It was then that Steve suddenly felt drops of rain hitting him. He realized that it was raining now and that he and Ranma would change if they didn't get out of it in a hurry. He started toward to Ranma as Ranma started coming down. Steve was able to see Ranma point his two fingers at Kuno, and Kuno had brought his bokken up so it was at the side of Ranma's neck.

Steve felt the rain get harder and suddenly started feeling the change begin. Just as Ranma was about to land, Steve heard heavy footsteps and turned and saw Mr. Saotome running in his panda form, with a steaming kettle in paw. Just as Steve was about to make it to Ranma, he felt the change take effect. As he was about to worry about what other might say when they saw the change, a hairy arm grabbed him and he realized that it was Mr. Saotome.

Steve saw Genma run towards Ranma as he landed, pick Ranma up and punch Kuno out of the way. Steve was a little cramped because Genma had place Ranma under the same arm that Steve was under also, but Genma had run off to the far side of the school.

The rest of the school was surprised at what just happened. They had just seen a panda come running into the school grounds, on its hind feet, knock out Kuno and run off with the two new students. Akane was standing there speechless until she regained her senses and followed after the running panda. She found them in the Physical Education equipment room, and went to climb in through the window, as she was climbing in, she heard Ranma talking.

"Dang it." Ranma said as she and Steve were ringing water out of their clothes. Genma was standing by the door coming an eye out for trouble. "If it hadn't rained, I would have nailed that baka with one..."

"I wouldn't be to sure." Akane laughed, making them turn.

The three in the room looked and saw Akane climbing into the room. When Steve looked over at Akane, she noticed something on Ranma.

"Red, your neck." Steve said pointing.

Ranma looked at her neck and noticed that there was a bruise there. Ranma was surprised that she had a bruise from having Kuno's bokken just near her neck. As Ranma was contemplating that, Steve was pouring some of the warm water on herself.

"Wow. And he didn't even touch me." Ranma said with a mild surprised voice. Steve walked over to Ranma and started pouring the remainder of the water on her.

"Looks like a pretty even match, wouldn't you say?" Akane asked Ranma as he gained his male form again.

"Oh, I don't know..." Ranma was saying as he was ringing out the extra water out of his hair.

xxxx

In room 2-E, Kuno was looking at his forehead with a mirror that he had purchased, at a high price, to use from Nabiki. He looked at the Kanji that was written there, which said 'Baka'. Nabiki was sitting next to him watching what he was doing.

"Amazing. And you don't even remember being touched?" Nabiki asked amazed at what Ranma had done to Kuno.

"Humph. And at first I thought Ranma Saotome was good, but he can't even spell." Kuno shouted.

Kuno walked over to the chalkboard and grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote on the board on how the word should be written. Nabiki walked up to the board and told him that it was spelled correctly. Kuno then told her on how much he detested her. Nabiki looked up at him and told him how 'glad' she was.

xxxx

A little while later in room 1-F, Ranma and Steve had returned from the office and were standing in front of the class as the teacher introduce them.

"While it does seem that both of them were in China until recently." The teacher said as a closing statement for the class. "That doesn't excuse the fact that both they and Akane Tendo were late. Stand in the hall."

Steve watched as he saw Akane give Ranma a glare as she walked up to the front of class and grab two buckets filled with water and walk out into the hall. Ranma and Steve followed her after they got their own buckets. Steve, seeing that Akane was angry, stood in between Akane and Ranma, then after a few minutes of standing there, Steve thought that it might not have been such a wise choice to stand between the two of them. Akane kept glancing over at Ranma like she wanted to kill him. A few minutes later, Akane broke the silence.

"This is your fault." Akane accused Ranma.

"My fault? It was your fight, remember." Ranma said back to Akane. Steve felt like he was in a tennis match watching both of them argue with each other.

"What was that all about anyway?" Steve asked Akane, in an attempt to distract her, and was rewarded with both of them being surprised. Apparently they both forgot that he was there.

"Well, Kuno told everyone at the beginning of the semester, that the only way for anyone to date me, was for them to defeat me in battle. If someone didn't follow those directions, Kuno went and beat them up." Akane replied feeling a little guilty for forgetting that Steve was with them.

"If you don't mind my saying, I think I see why you hate my gender." Steve said to Akane, shaking his head sadly.

"Um, you could say that was part of it." Akane said with a small blush to her cheeks. Ranma noticed this and smiled.

xxxx

Back in room 2-E, Nabiki had just sold to Kuno some information about Ranma. When Kuno heard the last bit of information, he stood up in class in surprise.

"What! Fiancée?" Kuno shouted out in the class, but was actually talking to Nabiki.

"Uh-huh, my dad and his dad agreed. Akane is going to marry Ranma." Nabiki replied.

"Ranma Saotome..." Kuno said while shaking his fist in the air with anger.

"Kuno. Stand in the hall." Shouted the teacher after he threw an eraser that bounced off Kuno's forehead.

"Yes sensei." Kuno said, a little shocked.

Kuno walked out of the room with his two buckets. He then changed into his kendo outfit, strapped his bokken to his back and ran out of the locker room. He headed towards the classroom where Akane was, thinking about the evil plot that Ranma had Akane in.

"I forbid it." Kuno said to himself angrily.

To Be Continued