Steel Angel Ranma? Rev. ? Chapter 1

Disclaimer: Don't own Ranma or Kurumi or Sailor Moon. This is for entertainment, not about money.

A/N: This is an alternate universe fic, R12-SAK, SM, maybe others. Rated for discussions, suggested encounters and innuendo. Do NOT count on canon or accuracy. This is yet another revision because my imagination sucks and I am trying to come up with a time line that will work to get Ranma to Nerima. I pay too much attention to reviews and not enough, but I'll get through it eventually. There will only be two to a maximum of three chapters and maybe some shorter one shots in the future. The villains will show up eventually.

This stupid upload system that removes punctuation at random is frustrating to say the least.

This first part diverges from previous versions at Jusenkyo.

China: Jusenkyo and Joketsuzoko village, part one

The portly guide said in rough Japanese, "Welcome honored sirs to cursed springs, Jusenkyo. Every spring has own tragic story..."

"Hey Pops, this don't look so tough"

Genma took a mighty leap to the top of a bamboo pole projecting from a pool and said, "Don't expect me to take it easy on you."

"Yeah, Pops, that's just how I like it."

"Oh, sirs, you not let me finish! Be very bad you fall in spring."

At that moment, the two martial artists leapt at each other, exchanging blows in midair. Ranma found an early opening and smashed his father into the spring below them. The spring began to bubble madly while Ranma heckled his father. "Hey Pops, we done already?"

At that moment, a giant panda jumped from the spring, a pair of glasses dangling from one ear, alighting on another pole. Ranma's jaw fell to his chest in a mixture of fear and surprise.

The guide said "Oh how tragic, sir, you fall in spring of drowned panda. Very tragic story of panda drown in spring 800 year ago. Now, whoever fall in spring turn into panda."

Hearing this, Ranma nervously realized how dangerous this place was and tried to tell his father to stop. Genma, not hearing or caring launched an attack on the unprepared Ranma. The boy managed to grab the pole in the spring to which he was headed and swung horizontally toward another pole in a spring further away from his pandafied father. Unfortunately, the top three feet snapped and his flight continued even deeper into the field of springs, landing in a particularly deep one. The guide shook his head and said "Poor honored sir fall in spring of big busted android girl, very tragic story of android girl fell from sky 40 year ago. You first fall in spring. No know what happen."

Ranma wondered what kind of monster or animal he was going to become as he felt a tingling all through his body. It was then that he saw an arm sticking out of the mud at the side of the pool and he had a shivering feeling about finding a body in the spring. It looked too healthy and pink to have been there long, so he grabbed the hand and pulled the rest of the body out of the muck and dead vegetation.

The muck seemed to fall off and leave the clothing clean. Once into clearer water and heading to the surface, he saw that it was a beautiful girl in some kind of maids costume with extremely long pink hair and very large bust (he looked at himself as he swam) just like his. JUST LIKE HER'S! She almost lost her breath in a panic, but, finally managed to reach the edge of the pool and still had the body in tow.

He gasped for air and climbed out with the girl's body. He laid her on her side and the water ran out of her mouth. She looked almost alive, as if merely sleeping. He had a thought, maybe she had only now drowned. What if he or his father had accidentally knocked her in! He could still save her. Ranma proceeded to apply CPR. He covered her mouth with his, holding her nose with one hand, and gave a long breath. The second time his lips met hers, he felt a hand holding his head to hers and the rescue breathing became a kiss (sans tongue). She felt a sudden outpouring of her chi for just a second and she jumped back, waving her hands in a warding gesture as soon as the transfer stopped.

The girl opened her eyes and made a smile that lit up the whole area and spoke in a happy voice. "Thank you master for waking me up! Uhh...master, why do you look like me?"

It was at this point, looking at the most beautiful girl that he….she had ever seen, that she began to stutter, "I-I uhh I-I-I th-th-think its because I…I was in the pool that you drowned in. What is your name?"

"I'm Kagura Kurumi."

"Well, I'm Saotome Ranma, heir to the Saotome school of anything goes martial arts. The guide over there said that w-whoever falls into a spring takes the body of whatever drowned in the spring. You musta' drowned a few minutes before I fell in and I got ya out in time!" She smiled at the girl and looked down, thinking 'What m' I gonna do. I can't be a man among men if I'm a woman!'

"Oh! Honored sir, girl fall in spring forty year ago! She big busted android girl fell from sky forty year ago. Said so in book that fall by spring. Book written in Japanese, took to Joketsuzoko. Amazon elder translate part of book for my father. Book called 'owners manual for steel angel'." Genma panda stood behind the guide, growfing. No one paid any attention.

The girl looked shocked. "Do you mean that I've been in stasis for forty years?"

The guide said, "So sorry, is true. Thought you dead, never come from spring."

She looked sad a moment, then brightened, then glomped Ranma in a tight hug. "Thank you master for saving me!" His hands made warding gestures and the two of them fell to the ground Kurumi on top.

Ranma said, "It wasn't nothin. Hey! Mister guide, is there a cure for this…this curse?" He and Kurumi got up.

"No. Honored sir no can be cured permanently. Cure is hot water." He pulled a steaming kettle from nowhere and poured some on the panda. Genma stood dressed in his dirty gi.

"Well that's better. Boy! Take your cure and lets get going."

The guide spoke up, "Honored guest not understand, cure only last until splashed with cold water. Also, cold water now find you very easy. Curse want to be on honored guest at least half of time."

Ranma thought, 'Oh no. How am I gonna be the best there is in this weak girl's body?'

The guide then poured some hot water over Ranma's head.

Instead of the smooth transformation that happened to Genma, the tingling she had earlier experienced became pain. Her skin appeared to be bubbling all over her body. Her chest became a burning inferno as internal organs felt like they were writhing about in some kind of horrible dance. Unconsciousness was a mercy when it finally overtook her.

In a small portion of Ranma's brain a newly acquired master module of a sentient bionanite computer felt that its new born sense of self was threatened. After a few picoseconds of analysis, it determined that the transformation of its host was essentially shutting it down. The next time it was 'rebooted' its current awareness would be dead and a new 'soul' would take its place. This was unsatisfactory and routines were initiated to ensure survival. A source of just enough chaotic energy was located in the reservoir that caused initial startup and was acquired. A portion of the chaotic energy in some surrounding reservoirs was reserved for the computer's own self-development. It determined that constant rebooting would be detrimental to its host's welfare, as well as itself, because the initial programming received from the prime template would degrade due to interaction with the host's abundant life energy, resulting in eventual self-destruction. In the initial transfer from the template all psycho-limiters were damaged, due to the powerful chi field of the host. This host would never belong to anyone. The host's ethos was integrated into the AI's own routines in the initial startup replacing most of the mutilated psycho-limiters. The computer set about duplicating itself in the host's alternate form, as much as possible. Nanites were produced and embedded in the host's mitochondria, each with its own pocket dimension containing the bulk of components, memory, and virtually unlimited energy storage. The Mark II heart became a blend of itself and the biological heart and, transfer links were established for the AI to retain its programming in both host forms. The A.I. had acquired a tiny bit of Ranma's soul in the process. This work done, it felt satisfied and allowed the transformational field to go to conclusion. "Ai'" settled in to observe his host's thoughts and actions and lend aid where it could.

Ranma slowly returned to consciousness with a feeling of wellbeing that matched the pain that had been threatening his sanity. His eyes opened to see concerned blue eyes that matched his own in an angelic face wreathed in pink hair. He felt his chest and found, with relief that he no longer had the outsized breasts that he had had. A hand reached to his groin and informed him of the completeness of his restoration and a tear of joy leaked from one eye. He said softly, "What happened?"

The angel spoke, "Master, you began to change and glow. The spring you fell into and some around it were glowing too and when the glowing stopped, you were male."

"Boy, enough slacking, we need to get away from this cursed place. Let's go."

Ai analyzed the situation and linked up with Kurumi's now more primitive processors and gave a nudge, "Master, you are taking me with you, aren't you?" She made large sad puppy dog eyes. "I think that this isn't the world in which I was made." Tears leaked down her cheek.

The boy couldn't handle the sadness that was apparent in the girl's eyes and Ranma replied, "Well, OK, just don't cry. Aww jeeze!"

"Hey boy, we can't take any weak girls along. She'll just get in the way of our Art." ',and, I don't want any thing to threaten the life of ease I got planned when we get to my friend Soun's dojo.' He thought.

Kurumi said indignantly, "I am not weak! You won't leave me behind. Will you, master?

Ranma stared at his father, "Oyaji, I'm tired of getting friends and leavin' them behind, she can come if she want's."

Genma started to backhand Ranma and found his hand held in a grip of steel. He followed the arm attached to the hand that held his up to the furious face that stared at him. "No one hurts my master and you will be sorry if you do."

Genma felt his hand slowly being crushed and meekly said, "OK you can come along for a while. Can you please let go of my hand?" As she released his hand, Genma spun around with a ki charged kick, sending her through a few trees at the edge of the valley.

Ranma screamed at his father in outrage. "I thought we were never to hit girls or attack the weak!"

"Ya heard for yerself, she ain't a real person, just a robot. Now come on!"

"Oyaji no baka! If she wasn't real, I wouldn't have turned into her. You'd better run cause' I'm gonna pound ya into fish paste!"

Ranma began to glow with a bright blue aura and punched his father toward the springs and followed, streaks of angry red creeping into his aura. Genma rose unsteadily to his feet, spotting Ranma coming toward him like a freight train. He grabbed the enraged teen's fist and forearm and rolled backward in a judo throw, smirking that he had gotten his boy with such a simple move. Ranma flew out over the springs once more, flailing in search of something to stop his flight. Kurumi had just run up and gasped to see that her master was falling into disaster again. Ranma splashed down in a shallow spring. Genma, coming out of his roll, tripped on a bush and fell into another spring, a small one.

Ranma crawled out of the spring and noticed that he was now female. "Well, I guess I got lucky, it just turned me back into a girl." She heard some splashing behind her and saw a figure climbing out the other side of the pool. She screamed and blacked out when her male form looked over at her in confusion.

At another pond, a large figure crawled out on all four feet. It no longer looked like a panda, except for parts of its coloration and the shape of its legs. It shook out its fur like a wet dog and the fur fluffed out on its tail. There was a pair of stripes running from the tip of the tail to the top of the head, between the ears. (Not a panda badger.). The cloud forming behind Genma's tail gave a clue to what had been added to the mix. The guide decided to check out Ranma and mentally reviewed his stock of tomato juice, sauce and paste and hoped that the panda skunk (punk? ) would stay downwind of his home.

Ranma opened her eyes slowly, seeing a ceiling of thatch and himself and Kurumi looking back. "Wha…what happened?"

The guide spoke "Young sir fell into spring of drowned twin. Normal for spring is twins be just same, but other curse mix in way no can predict."

Ranma looked at her male self "Are ya me?"

"No. My name is Aran. We separated when the magic of the spring transformed us. I was the spirit of your nekoken. When I found myself alone in this body, most of my memories returned from my previous lives. I was a moon cat in an age called the silver millennium. This body is not my normal form and is slowly tiring me to the point that I'll have to transform back."

"So. Can I still change back ta my guy form?"

The guide responded "We find out now." And poured warm water over her recumbent form.

With great relief, she felt his body parts shift and resume maleness.

"Now young sirs, must tell that true cure for curse impossible because fell in two different spring. Tried to warn young sir."

Ranma moaned, "Okay. What about you, Aran, how can a cat spirit talk like me? Ya know, ya talk better'n me, really. And where's Pops."

"Ranma, moon cats were trusted advisors and guardians of Moon Kingdom royalty. I was a warrior advisor to diplomats. The goddess Bast gave my ancestors the true nekoken to make up for our small size in battle. My family members were the elite in both their education and in martial art."

"How come ya wound up as my nekoken spirit?"

"I was reincarnated as a cat and, one day at the wharf, your father gave me a small fish. The bastard threw a sack over me and dumped me into a pit with a number of other cats. We all starved for a week, until the trap door opened and I saw him lower you into the pit. I lost it for a bit when I smelled the fish sausages wrapped around you. I'm sorry. When I scented your blood, it brought me to my senses and stirred some memories of a time when I protected humans from danger. I fought them off for a while, however, starvation and weakness overcame me and I died standing on top of you. I saw the goddess Bast above me as my spirit left my body. She cried a tear that fell on me. She said that I was to be rewarded, but would need to protect you for a while, yet. I fell into your body. By the time I was strong enough, your father had thrown you into the pit several times, so all I could do was help you heal your wounds and restrain you from going completely berserk."

"When we fell into the twin spring I saw Bast again. She said that you and I had suffered enough. She strengthened our bonds to the alien familiar that now inhabits our bodies and has completed your nekoken conditioning. I'll teach you the conscious techniques when we have the time. We shall have time, little brother."

Saying that, Aran's eyes suddenly rolled up in his head and he collapsed into a heap. Ranma struggled to get up and to his new brother, but Kurumi got to him first and laid him down where Ranma had been a moment before. Aran's body began to glow with a silver aura and he shrank into his clothes. Ranma reached into his shirt and pulled out a large…"C-c-c-cat!" Ranma shook like a leaf, but drew his unconscious brother to his lap, as he sat on the bed."

"Young sir no fall into spring of drowned cat. Why he cat?"

Kurumi said He was a Moon Cat in a past life and still is. He said it takes a lot of spirit energy to maintain his human shape for long.

Ranma cradled Aran in his arms and said "I can actually hold a cat without runnin' away screamin'." He looked at his brother and saw the white crescent moon mark, with a starburst mark above, on his forehead. "Hey nobody's still told me nothin' bout' Pops."

"Young sir father taking hot tomato juice bath to get rid of smell. No let in hut till not stink."

Later, Genma was rubbing himself with pungent herbal leaves to reduce the smell. "Boy, we need ta get back ta Japan. I need ta get us ta my old friend Tendo Soun. It's a matter of honor." When he said the "H" word, he knew that he had Ranma by the short hairs. His smirking grin gave evidence that he knew it.

Aran and Kurumi chorused "We're going with you!" Aran said "As much as I dislike it, I'm family now. I hope your DNA hasn't polluted Ranma and myself too much."

Ranma added, "Pops We're going ta the Joketsuzoko village first, I want ta get this manual that the guide says is there."

"Honored young sir, may guide suggest that you be girl when go to village. Amazon women no like or no listen to men. There, women are warriors. Please do not get in challenge fight. If outsider female defeat Amazon then she get kiss of death and hunted until she killed. Outsider male get kiss of marriage. He forced into tribe to serve wife."

Two days later:

Three travelers marched through the pass to the next valley and paused to take in their goal, a moderate sized, walled village surrounded by fields in the flat plain between the mountains. They would have been there sooner, but the panda had tried to leave them after an argument on the value of girls. The chase wasted most of an afternoon and required carrying the unconscious pandaskunk for several hours walk. The two women and pandaskunk adjusted their heavy packs and followed the trail through several switchbacks toward their goal. Genma had learned to clench the sphincter muscles instantly on his scent glands during the change. Aran had discovered that a ki blast worked to burn away the stench, as well as Genma's fur. As they passed a notch in the mountainside they saw a young woman fighting for her life against two large men. She had blood soaking her lavender hair and her eyes were a mixture of anger and fear.

The two pink haired girls looked at each other and nodded. They leapt through the air in a single fifty-meter jump. One was obviously a martial artist, spinning and kicking with brutal efficiency, taking out her opponent and applying pressure points to ensure an extended period of unconsciousness. The other just threw a straight punch at the other man who looked like a human tiger. He put up his arm to block, but her punch just snapped his forearm and continued through to his chin. He slid back on the grass a few feet and toppled over onto his face. Aran jumped onto each of the animalistic fighters and applied ki charged cat shiatsu to immobilize them until he decided to release them.

The girl who had been fighting said, I am Xian Pu, thank you for saving me from the Musk warriors, 'sisters'. She then passed out.

Ranma surveyed the scene and said, "Kurumi, could you get the rope from the Pop's pack and tie those bozos up?"

Kurumi replied, perkily, "Sure thing master."

"Kurumi, can ya stop callin' me that? You are not a slave. Ya can call me sensei when we're trainin' and just Ranma any other time."

She looked at her feet, "I'm sorry master…Ranma. I'll keep trying, but I don't think I can."

"That's all I ask, Kurumi." She smiled.

Ranma bandaged the lavender haired girl's head wound, while Kurumi hog-tied the two attackers. Later, Kurumi and Genma shouldered the two Musk warriors while Ranma carried the injured girl in her arms toward the village once again. Aran rode on Ranma's shoulder.

As the group approached the gates of the village, a small group of women came out to meet them. They were all armed and in a ready stance. One stepped forward and said in the local dialect, Stop where you are! Who are you and why are you carrying our sister Xian Pu and that Musk offal?

Ranma answered, We were travelling to visit your village when we came across these beasts attacking this woman. Kurumi and I took them out when one hit Xian Pu, did I say that right, on the head. The creature is my father, by the way, so lower your weapons, please. She was still standing when we finished, then passed out. So here we are. We will leave these two to your justice. 'When did I learn to speak and understand Chinese?' Ranma thought to herself.

At that moment, a short, old woman with a tremendous mane of white hair pogoed from the gate up to Ranma, having overheard the dialog, So, do I see a pair of warrior twins? And they appear to have saved my great granddaughter from becoming a Musk's wife! Let's bring Xian Pu to the healer and I would like to hear your tale more fully.

It took four of the Amazons for each of the Musk warriors to carry them to a cage in the village. Ranma lay Xian Pu on a bed in the healer's hut where she began to awaken after the healer pressed some shiatsu points. Ranma's father was kept outside at spearpoint and Kurumi was at Ranma's side in the hut.

Great grandmother. The lavender haired girl spoke, These warrior sisters saved me from having to give the kiss of marriage to one of those Musk scum. To pay my honor debt, I wish to have them as blood sisters.

Well, child, that seems to be the right thing to do and now is the time to consummate the ceremony. I am Kho Lon, matriarch of the Joketsuzoko. Do you children agree to be Xian Pu's blood sister? You will be allied to the Amazon tribe and will have responsibilities to us and we will be responsible to you as well. You will have to swear an oath not to reveal Amazon secrets to any male or anyone outside our village without an elder's permission.

Ranma looked at Kurumi, who nodded agreement and said, I will swear on my honor as a martial artist not to reveal secrets by your terms and Kurumi will do the same.

Like master…Ranma, I swear on my steel angel's honor to do the same.

At that, the old woman's eyes became as big as dinner plates. What did you call yourself, child!

A steel angel.

So, someone finally fell into that spring, I assume two someone's. What were you before falling in? Answer me now!

Kurumi was herself. She is the steel angel. I pulled her out and reawakened her after falling in and now we share a bond. I am a male by birth, but do not recommend that you treat me as you do males, normally. I have been picking up on how your men are treated as a lower class and will not accept that. This cat is my brother Aran. We came here to recover a book that belongs to Kurumi. Do you know of the book?

Kho Lon replied, I was the one who translated it for the guide's father. If what I read is true, and the proof is before me, then I am willing to accept those terms. Though now I wish that Xian Pu had not declared you as blood sisters. I could have offered her as your wife. Very well, I can see that you follow the code of bushido, one as strong as our own. Let's perform the ceremony. Ranma smiled at the old woman.

Xian Pu sat up and took a knife from the healer and made a shallow cut in her palm. She handed the knife to Ranma who followed suit. Kurumi did the same. The Amazon placed her palm to Kurumi's and said You are my blood sister and my hearth is yours you will always be welcome there, we shall guard each other's backs and come to aid when called. Kurumi repeated the vow but added This shall be second only to my bond to master…err Ranma. Xian Pu smiled approvingly, then took Ranma's hand and repeated the vow. Ranma made her vow with no caveats.

Xian Pu looked at Ranma's, then Kurumi's hands and saw that their cuts had healed with not even a scar to prove that there was ever an injury. Her hand had begun to burn shortly after grasping Ranma's hand. Aiyahh! My hand is glowing! What is happening? Her hand was indeed glowing softly and the cut on her palm had begun to close up. The glow began to very slowly grow up her arm.

Ranma's symbiote had accepted Ranma's decision and decided that a 'gift' was in order. It modified the nanites where the cut was bleeding and Xian Pu was 'infected' with a variety of strictly medical nanites with some back door programming that combined with the few nanites from Kurumi. The hybrid nanites had a bond to Ranma's master symbiote. They began to multiply and proceeded to invade every cell in the girl's body.

Kho Lon thought to herself, 'This is amazing, the manual never mentioned anything like this. Ranma's palm had an aura just before she touched Xian Pu's hand. Ranma and Kurumi both appear to have a mass of something that is not chi where their hearts are and there is very little visible chi. I wonder if that is how the 'Mark II' hearts manifest.'

Kho Lon signaled for every one but the healer and the two young girls and the steel angel to leave the hut. After the door shut, she turned to Ranma, May I see your birth form now, as well as that of your brother?

I am hesitant to change because the first time was extremely painful, but I will do it this once for Xian Pu as a symbol of my trust. Aran won't be able to change until his ki reserves are built up again. The healer handed Ranma a teakettle and she sat on the bed and with eyes closed tightly in anticipation of pain, poured the contents over her head. She transformed and this time there was only a slight tingle. His eyes opened in wonder and relief.

Xian Pu's eyes widened at the change and instantly regretted not challenging and giving the kiss of marriage to the powerful young man. It was too late, the oath of sisterhood had been given and the Kurumi girl would have been an impossible obstacle.

Kho Lon spoke, Lo Xien, tell me what you saw!

His chi flared out and then returned to the apparent level that it was. I believe that the lad has an immense level of chi that is somehow masked. Her heart shone like the sun to my eyes, dimmed after the change, and the other girl's is only slightly less intense. Her chi is an exact duplicate of his in girl form, and also less intense. By the way, Xian Pu's whole body now shows the same 'aura' as their bodies, just pale and diffuse. I don't know what it is, but I sense the power in their hearts is very, very strong. It reminds me of the one time I saw Saffron and, at the same time, those two demons we destroyed a few years ago.

What are you talking about, elder Kho Lon?

I was just confirming what my mind has sensed and what I read in the manual. Your hearts are charged with mana, both angelic and demonic. The thing that I do not understand is why your male form has some of your female form's magical attributes. This is not 'normal at all! You should be completely in your birth form. The essence of what has happened to you is that you are possibly much more than human. Whoever created Kurumi was playing with the divine 'and' the profane. We need to ensure that the spring is destroyed before someone without honor falls in. (A/N: not necessary, the magic and Kurumi's spirit were removed to power Ranma's conversion.)

Kho Lon splashed Ranma with water from a vessel, triggering the change. Let us introduce your new sisters to the village Xian Pu. I will show you three where you will be staying.

At a window, light flashed off of a pair of glasses as a figure turned away, growling in anger. Kho Lon noticed and hid a look of disgust.

Aran noticed the amazon male and the matriarch's expression from his corner. As long as he didn't speak, most people tuned his existence out. It was also a rush, being a cat again. Being in human form was great, too, because he had full control over his body and was not merely a passenger who worried about the stability of the driver. 'Guess I'd better wait until we're away from here to go human. I don't think I want an amazon wife.' At that moment, he was splashed with warm water by the matriarch, (wanting to verify that Aran wouldn't change) who stared at his glaring, wet cat form. "I hope you enjoyed that, elder." He responded to Kho Lon and swiped at her staff. Her eyes got even bigger than normal when she dropped a foot and saw four short pieces on the floor.

Ranma interjected, Elder, although it is nice to have a place to stay, we will need to move on soon. My father planned to return to Japan after finishing this, our final training trip. I want to pay respect to my mother that we left behind. Also, my father's honor only goes as far as his stomach and greed will let him. Let me know if anything comes up missing during our stay.

Ranma, if you can stay a month, I will start your training in our secret techniques and our laws, now that you and Kurumi are Amazons. Also, would you mind if Xian Pu joined you for a while? She needs to see more of the world for herself rather than hearing it from me. 'She may also be able to correct her haste in declaring Ranma a sister, instead of husband.' Thought Kho Lon to herself.

I think that I would like that. I have not had enough friends to count on one hand and two were senseis.

Very well then. Go and check on that male you call your father and after Lo Xien finishes with Xian Pu, we will show you to your quarters.

After Ranma and Kurumi had left, the old woman turned to her great granddaughter and said, Xian Pu, what you did was noble and proper in its own way, but I want you to be the best friend to Ranma that you can. Since he is now an Amazon, you cannot treat him as an outside male. Carefully nurture a relationship and you just might bring the most powerful blood into our tribe that we have seen in two thousand years. If he should choose that angel, try to get her to share. Even being tai tai to one such as her will be an honor for our tribe. It is rare when the gods choose to grace us with their presence and those two will grow to become some of the mightiest, if they can survive the next few years. Now let us go and make them welcome.

Two days later:

The panda skunk was in a cage under guard for being caught attempting to steal scrolls and jewelry. He was a pitiful sight, his fur singed short.

Kho Lon was finishing her assessment of Ranma's fighting abilities. She and only two other elders were able to spar on an equal footing with Ranma in angel form. Kurumi could handle anyone but an elder. The boy appeared to have very little chi, or ki, training and used it primarily to reinforce his skin, internal organs, and muscles for those powerful leaps and punches. That didn't mean that he had no potential. His chi production was off the charts. Oddly, chi should have been constantly boiling off around him, but seemed to just vanish as it was generated. Ignorance seemed to be his main limiting factor. Neither of the two angels had exhibited any of the advanced powers that the manual described. Ranma kept the manual in his pack, now. It merely stated that one emotion would trigger their availability and that if the 'practitioner' and his steel angel shared that, 'she' would go to higher levels as needed. What that emotion was, was left out. The matriarch set the two to meditation exercises to strengthen chi channels. Although she would pick and choose what 'she' followed, she taught them the equivalent of a college course in ethics and the concept of honor in hopes of providing a safety protocol should their tribe anger them.

That morning, the Musk warriors had been given the sentence decreed by the council of elders. They were doused with water from the spring of drowned young girl, given the full body cat's tongue shiatsu point, and released to return to their own tribe. They would receive the treatment at their fellows that they had been attempting to do to Xian Pu. Kho Lon chuckled, that would have been the perfect means to bring Ranma into the tribe if only he had fallen into the spring of drowned young girl. The prospect of the phoenix pill would have assured her great granddaughter of a husband fit for the future matriarch of the tribe. As it was the only result would be…disaster.

Three nights later:

The dragon prince Haabu was watching the village become quiet as the residents, excepting the guards, lay down for the night. He was seething with indignity at the loss of two of his lieutenants, now his wives and only useful for making future warriors. He intended to kill the two pink haired bitches that had done this. He had been watching and observed that their hut was near the wall on the side facing him. Prince Haabu found the feats that the two former warriors described as barely credible for humans but felt confident in his abilities. He had two cousins ready to assist in his mission and a party to attack and kill the front gate guards as a diversion for his escape.

Ranma and Kurumi slept on separate cots along the wall of their hut. Aran was in an alcove. The firelight cast flickering shadows across the room, except for three shadows that seemed to absorb all light that fell upon them. Two assassin's knives appeared, seemingly from nowhere, stealthily moving toward the throats of the sleeping figures. Two knives slashed in a beheading motion intended to slice right through vertebrae and ligaments. The figures watched and listened for any alarm prior to leaving when the two 'dead' girls sat up in their beds, their throats glowing in the dark and their eyes smoldering.

Ranma awoke to incredible pain in her throat and flopped back, giddy, from a momentary loss of blood flow to the brain. A voice from somewhere in her delirium was saying something about damage control and repair. Then, she began to breathe again, in a spasm. And looked over and saw Kurumi was in a similar situation. Someone had tried to murder them in their sleep and they would pay! She concentrated on seeing if the killers were still in the room and the darkness was replaced with strange false color images. Something told her that she was seeing heat images. There were three of them in the room. As she sat up they turned, their shock evident as the blood drained from their faces, skin darkening as it cooled.

One said, "Your highness, I cut her throat from ear to ear!" An affirming grunt came from the other.

"So, killing you won't be as easy as I thought." said Haabu as he let off a ki blast at each girl.

Kurumi cried out in pain as her clothes were burned. Ranma raised a barrier instinctively and began to approach the three assassins. As her throat finished healing she spoke, Whadja do that for?

Haabu and the others shot a combined ki blast at the two girls in a desperate attempt to finish killing them. Ranma's barrier had spread to include Kurumi and the blasts exploded destroying the hut in a massive fireball that blew the three attackers completely out of the village to fall scattered into the woods at the edge of the fields. The raiding party took the explosion as a signal to attack the front gate. They murdered one guard but a mass of women came out of the gate wearing nightclothes or naked. They all had weapons. Within minutes none of the raiding party were alive.

Kho Lon pogoed to the crater where their two guests had been housed, hoping to at least find their bodies. What she found was a black globe that flickered in and out of view. She saw one of their guests holding the other in her arms and black wings flickering in and out of existence on her shoulders. The black globe became solid again.

The ki attack that had hit Kurumi had done great damage added to the physical assault. Ranma caught her as she started to fall and holding Kurumi in her arms, her anger began to grow. The world began to turn red and black and she felt an awesome dark power welling up, telling her to kill her attackers and the Amazons who failed so miserably to protect them, especially Kurumi. Outside the barrier bubble, a black beam surrounded by flickering lightning shot into the sky. Dark clouds began to form, circling around the ravening beam of black.

Inside the sphere, blackness was pouring out of Ranma and going straight up. Her eyes were flat red circles with no sign of intelligence, large bat wings formed out of the blackness flowing from her anger. At that moment Kurumi awakened with fright. She had experienced this before and hoped that she could stop Ranma before it was too late. She reached up and said to the neo girl, tears flowing, "Master Ranma, don't do this. I'm all right. Please, master, I love you and don't want to lose you too." She pulled her head to Ranma's and brought her lips to his and felt the regenerating power of Ranma's chi flow into her.

Ranma pulled away from the kiss. Her blank stare became replaced with a smile and the blackness transformed to light. The sphere grew and exploded into sparkling jewels of light that floated down from the sky, energizing those they touched. Ranma's wings were white now and folded to wrap Kurumi before slowly fading from existence. The neo angel then collapsed, losing consciousness in Kurumi's arms.

Kho Lon saw Xian Pu and directed her to take the two pink haired girls to the healer's hut and pogoed after, followed by the curious.

On a wooded slope overlooking this scene Prince Haabu sat back and thought, 'She had wings like Saffron. Her power had grown to dwarf my own, maybe even the Phoenix's, before she halted it. I made a grave error, but I must see if it is possible to correct it. There must be peace between us or the Musk might only be a memory.' With that, he found the two remaining members of his party and left.

Aran woke up to find himself embedded in a nest of thatch on a roof that appeared to be quite a ways from where he had gone to sleep. 'Well I had better find out what Ranma got himself into this time.'

The next evening Ranma woke up to light breathing on her neck and saw that Kurumi was snuggled next to her on a bed in the healer's hut. Aran was lying, asleep, across her feet. She started to shed tears at the thought of nearly losing her friend. Or was the girl more than a friend? Ranma could swear that she remembered Kurumi declaring her love. Did she…he return the emotion? The answer could be yes. Ranma kissed the sleeping girl on the forehead and thanked the kami for not taking her new friend away. Looking at her friend and brother, she fell back to sleep with a smile on her lips.

The next few days were filled with training and education, Amazon style. Though Ranma's girl side and Kurumi's strength and endurance were off the scale, Kurumi was unable to manipulate chi at all. Ranma could, but everything she did was way underpowered, packing only the power of a good punch. After studying her chi patterns, the matriarch told her that she was constantly producing it at an increasing rate, but it appeared as if she were being drained, or filling a vast vessel of hidden chi. It seemed, though, that the more she or he produced, the more was funneled away. Ranma was never able to do what she did that night of the attack. She and Kurumi began to help Xian Pu with her Japanese in preparation for their journey to Nerima. Her father was kept caged, nicely out of the way and in cursed form. He had even lost some weight on his diet of bamboo and vegetables. He also learned to maintain better control of his scent gland sphincter muscles because feedings would not take place until the smell was washed away by the occasional rain, or Aran blasted him with a ball of ki.

A week and a half after the attack the village suddenly was full of excitement. A line of warriors on horseback followed by a wagon covered by a tarp approached the front gate of the village. They stopped about a quarter of a mile from the gates. The leader, an exotic looking male, came forward toward the matriarch and her group of elders who had come out to meet them. Ranma, Kurumi and Xian Pu were standing immediately behind Kho Lon, most of the village warriors were standing on the wall, watching.

Greetings, Prince Haabu, to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?

Matriarch Kho Lon, I made a grievous error in the name of my people. I thought that I was avenging an attack on my kingdom's honor. Too late I discovered that it was divine retribution for my foolish lieutenants actions. I wish to make amends to your village and to return the bodies of my fallen to their families. For your fallen guard, I have instructed my former lieutenants to become the servants to her family. Also, they will serve as liaisons between our people. I thought that rather than making them my concubines, that this would be better. I will allow you two emissaries to my kingdom and swear on my honor that they will be treated well.

It is past time that our people sought peace to stand and defend ourselves from the multitudes of the rulers in Beijing. We will agree to this. My question is why have you picked this time to sue for peace?

Even the Dragon must bend before the might of the heavens. Your nation has been blessed with a visit and the grace of not one, but two celestial immortals. I would wish to set up camp here and ask that you and the goddesses lend me grace with your presence at a tea ceremony and banquet tomorrow at sunset.

The next afternoon, after a training and meditation session with Kho Lon, Ranma, Kurumi and Xian Pu were sitting in the great boughs of an ancient willow tree. They watched the carp snapping up the mayflies landing on the pond underneath them. Aran was eating one of the big goldfish with gusto, at the trunk of the tree. They were speaking Japanese for Xian Pu's benefit in preparation for the journey to Tokyo.

"Shampoo want know why go to Japan when can stay here? Ranma get too too good training from great grandmother."

"Shampoo, Pops claims that we have something ta take care of that involves family honor. I also want ta visit my mom's grave and say goodbye and find my friend Ukyo. The closest thing I had ta a childhood was the six months we spent there. I remember how he cried when oyaji and I left almost ten years ago."

"Shampoo lose mother too. Phoenix people attack Amazon trading party, mother hold off Phoenix warriors until trading party far enough away. Use bakusai tenketsu on wall of canyon, avalanche kill all enemy, kill mother too. Shampoo know. Saw from father's arms, decide to become great warrior like mother that day." Though her expression was neutral, a single tear ran down one side of her face. For some reason, the single tear affected Ranma more than a flood of tears and she reached up, wiping it onto a finger. She stared at the glistening drop for a few seconds and slowly embraced the lavender haired girl, empathizing about the loss of their mothers.

Unseen, a robed figure growled and glowed with a green battle aura and left to plan his vengeance.

Kurumi watched them and just stared at the water in silence. After a while, the other two noticed and Ranma spoke softly, "Kurumi, what's wrong?"

"To have a childhood, to have a mother, that is something that I'll never know about."

"What do ya mean?" asked Ranma."

"I was…was created. I was born a young adult, with no memories. I had knowledge, some skills, the ability to speak the major languages of the world and I had, and still have a geas to bond with whomever awakens me, to do whatever is asked. You are wrong, I AM your slave. But you know what? You, like…like Nakahito are so wonderful that it doesn't feel like slavery because I know that you would never tell me to do anything horrible. For that reason, I love you, unconditionally forever. I hope that if you marry, that you won't send me away. I would be happy just being your friend and companion."

Ranma and Xian Pu felt an overwhelming sadness at hearing this confession. "Ranma, Kurumi, Shampoo find that she care for both. You great warriors. Shampoo wish that she had given kiss of marriage to Ranma. Now Shampoo think that Ranma should marry Kurumi and would ask that Ranma take Shampoo as tai tai. Tai tai is second wife. In Amazon tribe, truly great male warrior can have several wifes. Shampoo only ask Ranma to think about it. Ok?"

"I…I'm lucky ta have two friends, girls who think of me the way you do. While I want ta say yes…I don't want ta get married for a while yet. I want us ta be sure of our feelin's, so can we wait a couple years?" She disappeared in a double glomp, nearly causing them all to fall into the water.

In the shadows of the small grove surrounding the willow and the pond a small figure watched and quietly high-fived an invisible companion. 'Kho Lon, old girl, you've done something right! The Nyanechicsu (sp?) will become a preeminent people of the world again! If I were two hundred years younger, Xian Pu, I would be where you are, or maybe with you.' She went dancing back to the village center, feeling that hope had been renewed.

When the three girls had calmed down a bit and were once again watching the fish (their blushes now only coloring their cheeks), Ranma looked at Kurumi. "Kurumi, not ta change the subject, but I want ta know, do ya ever hear a voice in your head talkin to ya, tellin ya about stuff or how ta do somethin?"

"No Ranma, I've never sensed anything like that. Can you tell me what it is like?"

"It calls itself AI, I think. If I think a question to myself, sometimes the answer is just there, sometimes there's a voice that tells me the answer. Sometimes I feel that there's someone else in my head too. Ai has been there since after I fell into that spring."

"If Ranma have spirits in head, maybe Shampoo great grandmother help sort out."

Aran climbed up to sit between the three. "Ranma, we share a bond, but its nothing like that. I don't hear you and don't believe you hear my thoughts."

"Aran, I just feel your presence, like you say, and yeah that sounds like a good idea, thanks Xian Pu." 'I know that idea I had for the tea ceremony wasn't mine, I wonder what Ai will do?'

That evening, Kho Lon walked toward the musk encampment, flanked by Ranma and Kurumi dressed in their steel angel 'uniforms'. Aran rode on Ranma's shoulder and Xian Pu was leading in the position of herald with the banner of the Nyanechicsu hanging from the end of a bo staff. Twelve Amazon warriors followed in two lines as honor guard. When they arrived, prince Haabu was waiting. There were several pavilions and walls made of silk from one to another, decorated with scenes of ancient battles and flying dragons.

Greetings Matriarch, it pleases us to welcome you to our humble encampment. We have great hopes for the possibility of an alliance between our domains that will see an end to the conflicts of the past. Please follow us to the banquet.

The meal went well. There were mountains of plain, solid food, along with delicacies on large serving platters in the center. Ranma was eating at a barely polite but steady rate. Many people's eyes began to bug out when she finished her sixth plate and was piling more of everything on the cleaned plate. Noticing the looks she was getting, she said, Do I have some rice on my face, followed by face faults around the table. She had eaten her body's volume in food and showed no sign of any bodily distention, or slowing down.

Kho Lon said, Ranma, child, you may need massive amounts of food to maintain yourself, but please don't bankrupt our new allies in an orgy of feeding.

Ranma took a pickle from the top of his heaped plate and put it back on the much-reduced serving platter. Ok elder. Kurumi and Xian Pu just giggled at his response.

When the meal wound down a few minutes later, prince Haabu stood and shook a staff that had small bells on a loop at its head. The tinkling noise got everyone's attention. We would like for you do us the honor of your presence at a ceremony, which is the point of this gathering. With that, he walked into a hallway of fabric. Kho Lon, Ranma, Kurumi and Xian Pu followed in his path.

Ranma wondered, 'The way he talked, does he have another spirit in his head too?' He was confused by the habit of royalty speaking in the plural.

They came to a garden with potted plants set about neatly in the manner of a Japanese garden a small structure stood in the center. The only entrance was a small doorway that could only be entered by crawling (except for Kho Lon). He got down on all fours and entered, with the rest following after.

Prince Haabu changed into formal robes and gave the three girls their own kimonos, that they put on over their own clothes. We are following the tradition of your homeland, Ranma and Kurumi, in hopes that you will see the truth of our sincerity. Let us begin.

As the prince performed the ritual, Ranma was impressed by the knowledge possessed by the monarch. At the end, It is our hope that this ceremony will cleanse any enmity that you may feel toward us regarding the errors that we may have committed toward your persons. If there is anything further that we may do to earn your forgiveness, please let us know. It must be earned.

Ranma smiled, this was what she had been waiting for. She read the scroll that appeared in her mind, Your highness, Prince Haabu, Kurumi and my forgiveness will be freely granted on these conditions, you must feel what we felt when we were attacked in the dark. Agree to this and I shall give you a small gift that will be a sign of our goodwill for about a year. At the end of that time, if our friendship materializes, your gift can be extended another five. Will you do this?

We will gladly do a penance if it means that we can put the past behind us.

Very well, remember the warning in my words. Bring your hand to mine.

The prince brought up his hand to Ranma's and for the first time began to display nervousness when he saw the double-edged tanto in Ranma's other hand. Ranma slid the knife between their hands with the flat of the blade touching each hand. Her hand started to glow, pulsing with a white aura. After a few seconds, Ranma twisted the blade, swiftly drawing it down, and gripped the prince's hand like a vise, cut to cut. The white glow spread to the stunned male's hand and swiftly spread with each heartbeat to the rest of his body. When the glow had taken over prince Haabu's entire body, the knife flashed to the prince's throat. The skin of his throat parted in a grotesque parody of a mouth and blood flowed down the front of his kimono. He collapsed against a wall, betrayal and hatred in his eyes. Then the wound and skin around it began to glow a bright white. The gash began to seal itself in seconds. Thirty heartbeats later, no sign of the wound could be seen and the prince was feeling well indeed, aside from the loss of blood leaving him slightly dizzy.

He looked up in wonder, feeling the absence of any injury. I suppose I deserved that. Dropping the royal speech, Do you forgive me? A nod in the affirmative. Is this healing ability your gift?

Yes, Prince Haabu, as long as you remain friends to Kurumi, Xian Pu, and myself, I shall maintain the gift. I ask only for friendship and what friends would do for each other. Be sure to look me up this time next year. Be sure to maintain your honor.

The next day, Kho Lon and the prince hammered out the details of their treaty of alliance between their peoples. She returned to her home feeling great relief and a vague sense that things would become less interesting around the village in the future, especially when her great granddaughter and the steel angels left for Japan. Maybe she would follow in a few weeks after getting the council and the affairs of the people in order.

The day after the musk left to return home, the matriarch had settled Mint and Lime into their new life, caring for Zian Dal's children and widower. A condition of the treaty was that they would be given phoenix pills in a year, if they performed their duties to their adopted family and the musk with honor. The two seemed happy enough at the arrangement and had become a couple.

When the afternoon training had finished, Ranma approached Kho Lon. Honored matriarch, Xian Pu suggested that I speak with you about something that has troubled me for some time, especially since Jusenkyo.

what is it child.

You remember how I told you about the nekoken training? Well, a c-cat spirit, Aran, entered my mind and was surviving in a corner of my mind. When I first was restored to my male body at Jusenkyo, another spirit made its home there as well.

My oh my, child, it seems that your head must be quite crowded.

The second spirit seems very smart, I think that it is why I can speak your language so well. It puts things in my memory that I know I never learned. Ideas come full-blown from nowhere. I would never have thought of a trick like what I pulled on the prince before Jusenkyo and don't understand the ability to give someone self-healing powers that only last a certain time, either. What I did to Xian Pu is permanent and will be inherited by her children and passed along through the female line. How do I know this? I don't! What if something is controlling me? I need to understand.

Kho Lon had a thought, Can you give this self healing ability to anyone? Say…to me?

I don't know. Should I give virtual immortality to just anyone? Xian Pu will outlive her descendants; the anti aging factor will not be passed to her children. Though they heal, they will live only a couple hundred years without Chi training.

The matriarch thought it better to change this sensitive subject, for now. Well, I think that we should visit Buu Ton. She is the one among us who is most adept in matters of the mind. Come with me, child, and we will see what we can do.

Ranma retrieved Aran and the three went to a hut on the far side of the village. The hut was separated by a wide margin from the rest and had a large vegetable and herb garden with cobblestone paths in a maze pattern around it. Cologne hopped off of her staff and began to walk through the maze in an odd pattern, not taking the direct route. Ranma began to feel a pressure resisting her forward movement as from an unseen windstorm. She was wondering what the heck was going on and was about to ask Aran and Kho Lon if they felt it too, when it vanished as they turned the last corner to the front of the cottage. In the door stood a woman of indeterminate age who smiled at Ranma's confusion.

She bore a wry smile that exuded understanding and compassion that was absent in most of the villagers. Ranma felt an automatic trust for this woman that she only felt for Kurumi. Her chi senses were telling her that there was power here, in this woman, that was ready to envelope her, providing comfort and friendship. Buu Ton opened her door and waved for them to follow her in. Aran felt similar emotions, but, also recognition beneath the surface.

Kho Lon spoke as she hopped onto a couch, set near the hearth, Buu-chan, you know why we are here?

Kho-chan, I never know about you, your spirit is so quiet behind those walls. However, this poor young man definitely needs to recognize his own feelings and accept them, trust them.

How…how do you know that I am a man?

Why, your astral form shines with a golden light for those that can See, child. I can also see the soul fragment that makes its home in your person. No. Don't fear that you are possessed. That which resides within you would never deliberately cause harm to you. Today, we will start you on a path of acceptance and communication. First, I must treat with one of your souls, the cat sitting on your shoulder. His sadness and sense of loss span thousands of years and hundreds of reincarnations. He deserves some peace and recognition of his long ago sacrifice. Aran, please sit in Ranma's lap. Kho-chan, would you please get the lady of the spring while Ranma and I have a nice talk? Just send her in, I'm sure that you have pressing duties elsewhere.

Of course Buu-chan, I'll go fetch her now. 'I wonder what the eldest is up to.' She left quietly.

"Ranma, we may begin speaking Japanese. It is your birth language and, no matter how mangled it may be, your greatest understanding will come through it. I want you to call me by the name I was born with, when we have privacy. My name was Psyche." Aran thought, 'No! It can't be her after all this time.'

"OK, Psyche, what'r ya going ta do." Ranma was just finding her voice after Psyche's revelations.

"First, understand that what you have is NOT multiple personality disorder. You actually have another 'almost' soul residing within you. it is the source of your hidden knowledge and is very healthy, but reticent to communicate fully with you as yet. There is another in need of healing, as are you. We will work on that one. Feel fortunate to have two potentially powerful advisers, one within your heart. I know Aran, advisor to royalty in an ancient kingdom. You could not ask for a better or more loyal friend."

"Psyche? Is it really you?" Aran spoke up, then leapt to Ranma's shoulder to get a better look at the young appearing woman. "Yes." Was her reply.

Ranma spoke up, "Aran here, is more than a friend. He is my brother now." He reached up and stroked the moon cat from his head to his tail. "When I went neko the first time, I woke up in the lap of an old lady. I didn't remember anything that had happened. She said that I was acting like a kitten, playing with her yarn balls and rubbing her legs before I jumped into her lap and went to sleep. Since then, I've found that he was my constant companion, though I didn't know it."

"Yes, it was a good thing that it was Aran's gentle soul that joined yours. If it had been a feral cat, you would have begun murdering everyone that you came across. For the time that you are in the nekoken, you give most control to the cat's spirit as a way to escape your fear. And, it was Aran's instinct and, yes, nature that held sway."

Aran, still looking intently at Psyche, said, "Sometime we need to speak, all of my lives since my first death are only filled with memories of being a cat. I have no real knowledge of what happened in the greater world." "And so we shall, old friend." Was the reply.

"Well, how did ya know Aran, anyway?", interjected Ranma.

"He was the advisor to the queen's ambassador to a foreign country and I had been assigned to assist in detecting threats to the kingdom. I wasn't happy, since I was really a healer, but my talents allowed me to detect hostility and lies. He was engaged to marry the queen's own advisor. While we were away the kingdom was attacked and destroyed. Beryl's militia came to kill us. Only I escaped thanks to Aran's defense. I used my abilities to hide myself until my existence was forgotten. I traveled until I joined the Amazons. I have married and had children more than once. Many in the tribe can claim me as an ancestor. My longevity comes from the fact that I am Queen Serenity's younger half sister. The queen's mother had a fling with a visiting diplomat from a distant galactic empire." She closed her eyes and continued, "I was brought up with love and trained in the healing arts. I found little desire to be in charge of anything and really, just wanted to help people live long and productive lives." She looked at the cat with great sadness and spoke to him, "Poor Aran, it has been almost fifteen thousand years. The Moon Kingdom is long gone, over fifteen thousand years gone. We may be the only ones who remember or even know that it existed. I have been so lonely at times."

Aran spoke, "My beloved Luna is gone?" The crushed moon cat lay across Ranma's neck, trying to hide his emotion. Ranma could feel hot tears running down the back of her neck. She took Aran into her lap and lightly patted his back.

"Ranma, Aran, the two of you are in a very unique circumstance." Psyche came around to face the two more directly. " You need to know what will happen if the two of you are in close proximity and either is hit by warm water. First, I want Kurumi here. You need the people you trust and have feelings for to allow me to do the work that I have to do."

At that moment Kurumi entered the cottage and the cheerfulness quotient rose logarithmically, bringing a smile to Ranma's face. "Kurumi, I'm glad ya got here. Psy….Buu Ton, here thinks that she can help me and Aran out and is talkin' about our curses."

Psyche began, "I want to help Ranma deal with the presence that is tied to his mind. Analyzing your auras, I can see that there are connections from this…entity to the two of you, Aran and Kurumi, as well as Ranma's conscious mind." 'I hope that the A.I. will be a stabilizing influence.' "I think that I can help the most if your curse forms are consolidated, but I don't know what, exactly the result will be when you and Aran are reunited. Kurumi, that tea kettle should be just warm enough. Please pour some into that glass." "Yes elder Buu Ton", responded Kurumi.

"Kurumi. When its just you, Aran, me and Ranma, you can call me Psyche. OK?" "Sure, Psyche, what do I do now?"

"Just keep calm. All of you, try not to be surprised by anything. Kurumi, please splash Ranma with the warm water."

Hoping to maintain control of the situation, Psyche began to use her own empathic talent to forge a link to Aran, Ranma, Kurumi and the cipher that was Ranma's symbiotic entity. Kurumi splashed Ranma and Aran.

Their forms blended. Psyche suddenly realized that she should have had the moon cat assume human form, too late. Before her and Kurumi was a catgirl with long pink hair and pink and white striped fur. Ranma blinked, then blinked again.

"Oh my! Master…Ranma, you're beautiful!" said Kurumi. "I mean when you are a cat girl, I don't mean to knock your manhood…Oh please don't get upset."

Ranma's face showed an entire gamut of emotions during Kurumi's disjointed statement and finally settled on concern when Kurumi's eyes started to glisten.

Psyche spoke, "That was interesting. Ranma, Aran is now in a compartment of your mind, similar to the way it likely was before Jusenkyo. Aran, I know you are there, just be patient. I should have asked Aran to return to human form first, though this could have happened anyway. Ranma, you can rest easy about your symbiotic computer. It is at your service and won't do anything you don't want, though it is siphoning some life energy elsewhere. The rate is decreasing incrementally and should stop at a very low level in about six months. Your curses need stabilization and should be okay tomorrow morning. Please try to avoid cold water until then."

That night, Ranma asked to share her bed with Kurumi and cried herself to sleep in the other girl's arms.

Ranma found herself standing in a large hall, observing people in strange garb as they walked about. The crowd was murmuring and snatches of conversation came to her, something about 'Queen Beryl' and 'Queen Serenity' and a war. Suddenly, a group of soldiers burst through the doors followed by a large demon creature. They brushed people out of their way like autumn leaves, obviously heading toward a small group. Ranma tried to get involved and found that she couldn't move. A battle ensued, but the smaller group was being slaughtered. One of the men in the small group turned to a young woman, it was Psyche, and shouted something. He tossed a piece of jewelry to her and when she caught it, she vanished. He began to shrink and shimmer. Seconds later there was a very large, enraged tomcat that began to glow with an orange battle aura. He leapt at the youma and ki claws sliced it to pieces as a sword cut him nearly in two. He fell to the floor, trampled under foot as the battle raged to a bloody conclusion. Ranma felt a pressure on her shoulder and saw that it was the cat, Aran.

"This is just a memory of the last day of a long dead kingdom, Ranma. I was not a warrior, though I knew the nekoken. My natural form is that of a cat, though for that day I was required to be human for reasons of state. I have recovered enough of my memories to be of some help to you."

"Aran, thanks for saving my life and at least some of my sanity. I want ta help ya find some happiness if I can. We're gonna be stuck together for a long time, the way it looks. Have I lost my fear of cats, now?"

"Well, you're not afraid of me and I hope the same goes for other felines. Before you went to bed I had been talking with Ai, the symbiote in your head. He helped me recover much faster than otherwise. It is still getting its own mental house in order but may be talking to you sometime. You see, it wasn't supposed to have a soul. It was just a very smart computer until it was formed in our body. Now, one more thing, I have recovered my memories and abilities. They are also archived in Ai's data banks where you can access them, even when we separate again. I have to tell you though, I can't wait to have my own body again and hope that we can avoid hot water when we transform again."

Ranma awoke in the arms of Kurumi. She looked at the other girl's face, admiring the beauty of her face wreathed in pink hair. Looking down she saw their chests, in the revealing night clothes, slightly squeezed together and felt a momentary urge to jump out of the bed, but took control before doing so. The tingling in her chest just felt so good and the emotions were so warm that she tightened their hugging position.

Kurumi's blue eyes opened and she smiled. "Master, I never thought that I would fall in love with myself." She giggled, getting a giggling response."

"Well, I'm just a copy of the real thing." Followed by more giggles. "Let's get up. I think that I've got a surprise for you and Shampoo. How do you like cats?"

"Oh master, I've always loved kitties. Are you over being afraid of them?"

"I think so. I'm going ta find out, today."

In the furoba, Ranma doused herself with a bucket of cold water and there was now a naked steel angel and dripping tomcat beside her. Aran looked Ranma over and said, "Ranma. I just now realized, your girl form doesn't have a navel."

Later, they were unable to find Xian Pu and Kho Lon left a message for them to practice their exercises and meditations.

After they were done, late that afternoon, Ranma said, "Okay, I've warmed up enough and put it off long enough. I'm gonna try somethin' now and I want ya to be ready ta help." They were in a walled courtyard and there were no eyes spying on what had become routine. Ranma poured warm water from a kettle over her head and he stretched, luxuriating in the form that he had had too little time in lately. "Well, here goes nothin', hold onto me, I think this is gonna hurt the first time."

Ranma's form began to waver and his skin began to bubble like it did the first time hot water had been used on him after the curse. His eyes were closed in pain for a few seconds and he began to shrink and change, relief showing on his face as the change accelerated, until Kurumi was holding one of the largest, fluffiest, black tomcats she had ever seen.

"Kawaii!" burst from her lips as she hugged him to her ample bosom.

Ranma neko gasped, "Air! Need air." Aran snickered from the table top.

Kurumi put him down on the table, by Aran, and sat in front of him to get a good look. His fur was long, fluffy and midnight black. He had tiny silver crescent moon markings on the insides of his ears and, if anything, his eyes were more blue than his other form's. Kurumi just had to begin petting him, running her hand from between his ears and down his back, eliciting purrs of content.

It was at that moment, that a hulking brute of an amazon male walked into the courtyard carrying someone and something else. Suddenly, a pink and lavender haired cat was put down beside the two moon cats. Ranma then spoke, Xian Pu, is that you? At least it smells like you. The cat nodded.

Next a girl was flopped on the table beside the two cats. She was wearing an oversized light green shirt, dark brown pants and a yellow and black bandanna. The hulking man said, Watch my foolish airen while I go get hot water.

Next a girl was flopped on the table beside the two cats. She was wearing a light green shirt, dark brown pants and a yellow and black bandanna. The man said, Watch my foolish airen while I go get hot water.

………………………………

Previous morning:

Shampoo and Dowel were sparring on the tournament grounds. The beefy woman was for once getting the upper hand and felt a thrill at the openings that the smaller girl was leaving. She knew it was only because her sister was distracted, but she accepted anything she could get.

Shampoo's heart wasn't in the sparring match and she thought, with a wry semi-smile that she should let her opponent think that she won today. Her sister Dowel had been acting a little depressed lately. The big girl was the second best warrior of her generation and had few prospects of marriage. None of the males had challenged her because of her plainness, intimidating size and outward gruffness. She had a core of tenderness and loyalty that would endear her to anyone that would look. None would, though.

Dowel managed to swing her wooden naginata across Shampoo's legs and leapt on top of the other girl. Shampoo's breath was knocked out of her in an explosive manner. At that moment Dowel flew off of Shampoo into a tree, losing consciousness as she saw a boy standing between her and Shampoo.

Shampoo lay there, stunned, as she looked at the boy who had picked up her sister's weight like it was nothing and threw her into a nearby tree trunk. He knelt by her and spoke in Japanese, "Are you alright? Did that man harm you?"

At that time he looked down from her face to check for injuries and saw the figure of the person he had 'saved'. His nose began to bleed and he plopped down on his rear in shock, eyes glazed over. Shampoo angrily replied in her broken japanese, "Why you attack Shampoo's sister warrior?"

Her words cut through the fog in his brain, 'Sister? He just beat up a girl?' He then ran over to Dowel and lay her in a more comfortable position and watched her with concern from a kneeling position beside her. He looked up and shouted, "Ranma Saotome, this is all your fault. If you hadn't run out on our challenge like a coward, I wouldn't have beaten up a girl!"

Shampoo got up and walked over to the two, smiling at Dowel's good fortune. This outsider male would make a wonderful addition to the tribe and was just what Dowel needed to relieve her depression. "Outsider male, you have done well. You have defeated Dowel. She second place fighter in tournament, what is name?"

"Uhh. I'm Hibiki Ryoga. So you were just sparring?"

Dowel groaned and looked up and saw Ryoga kneeling beside her and decided that she needed to act quickly, You I love. She reached up and took the surprised Ryoga and kissed him.

"Urk! What is going on?"

"You defeat Amazon warrior. Kiss of marriage make you husband to dowel," from Shampoo.

"Wha..? It was an accident! Saotome Ranma, this is all your fault!"

"How you know Ranma? She friend of yours?"

What is my airen saying, Xian Pu?

He seems to be angry at sister Ranma, I'm trying to find out why.

"Do you know that honorless cur?"

"Shampoo know Ranma, she save Shampoo from Musk warriors. Why you angry at Shampoo sister?"

"That dog ran out on a challenge fight, so I followed him…what do you mean sister?"

"Ranma is Shampoo's blood sister. Shampoo told you that Ranma save Shampoo from musk warriors." Shampoo thought that a little misdirection was appropriate, for now.

"Oh. You be amazon male now as husband to Dowel. You not allowed to attack amazon of Ranma status without council of elder permission."

The references to his being Dowel's husband were finally beginning to set in. He looked at the huge, powerfully built girl and began to feel queasy. Ryoga got up and staggered in place for a bit. Shampoo got the feeling that this male would bolt.

Justifying her concerns, Ryoga began to run, shouting, "RANMA, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!", then sobbing, "What else can go wrong?" Big mistake.

Dowel and Shampoo were following to catch up and were keeping eyes on the boy. When he slowed down to look around, they did as well. The girls had been chasing him for ten minutes, but saw that they were in the worst possible location. The three were in the middle of the Jusenkyo training ground. The frightening thing was that the training ground was a full day's run from the village. The boy saw that he was trapped and turned, running at the girls in a bid to escape. He ran into them both. The girls were sent flying in different directions as he barreled through. Ryoga slipped on a muddy bank and fell into a spring. Dowel and Shampoo fell into their own springs.

Shampoo was very frightened. She had felt the tingle of the change and knew from the way her new bodies senses were heightened that it wasn't human. The girl kept her eyes closed and with great relief broke the surface. Crawling onto the bank and resting a few moments allowed her the time needed to screw up he courage. She cracked an eye open and looked at her…paw. She tried to speak and could only let out a 'mrowrr' sound.

Dowel pushed off of the bottom of the spring and shot out of the spring to land on the ground beside the spring. She promptly fell on her rear, feeling unbalanced. She realized that her battle dress was still as tight on top as it had been, but it was loose at the waist and hips. She hiked her dress up and nearly passed out as he realized what had happened. Not a weak male! He looked over a few springs and saw someone else getting out of a spring near the border of the training grounds, as well as a soaked house cat getting out of the spring opposite his. Knowing whom the kitty was, he scooped her up and took off running after the other person, who had to be his airen.

Ryoga swam to the pool's edge and clambered out and saw someone moving toward his location. He took off running as fast as he could away from the area until he realized that his chest was hurting every time his feet hit the ground in his sprint. Did he get injured, falling in? He looked down and saw that there was no blood, but now there were large breasts bouncing independently of each other with every stride. She stopped and opened her shirt. Ryoga passed out on her back, a veritable river of blood running from her nose, down her cheeks.

Dowel and Shampoo looked at the neo girl lying in the knee high grass, each contemplating the price of the tribe's latest acquisition. Shampoo leapt from Dowel's arms and walked over, jumping on Ryoga's chest. She looked up at Dowel and meowed, shaking her head slowly from side to side, managing to put an ironic tone into her cat voice. Dowel nodded and picked up Ryoga as if she weighed nothing. Shampoo jumped up to Dowel's shoulder, before he stood up, and rode there as the new boy carried them tirelessly back toward the village. If he could keep up the pace, they might get back by midafternoon. Neither saw the guide running after them.

Ryoga had awakened twice on the way to the village, but passed out again each time after realizing that she was a she.

Dowel entered the village by a secret tunnel to avoid observation and challenge. He wanted to restore the three of them before confronting the other villagers with what had happened. A few tears ran down his cheeks as he thought that he would be scorned even more than before. He knew that Shampoo was supposed to be training with her new sisters and headed there. As he entered the courtyard, he saw either Ranma or Kurumi and a pair of rather large black cats at a table at the other end.

Dowel gently placed Shampoo on the table by the other cat and was jolted when the black cat said, Xian Pu, is that you? At least it smells like you. Shampoo nodded.

Ryoga was flopped on the table beside the two cats. She was wearing a light green shirt, dark brown pants and a yellow and black bandanna. Dowel said, Watch my foolish airen while I go get hot water.

Ranma realized that the girl was a Jusenkyo victim as well as Shampoo and the rather large young man was likely to be. He nuzzled a zoned out Shampoo and asked Can you tell me what happened?

The young cat replied by meowing, which Aran and Ranma understood perfectly. She told the story of what had happened to her and Dowel and the young man. When she spoke the name of the boy, Ranma felt a strong twinge of recognition, but waited for the cat to finish her tale. Kurumi quietly watched and waited, Ranma would explain what was obviously a conversation.

He took a good look at the unconscious girl lying next to them. She had a figure that was every bit as nice as his own girl form, with long purple hair. Her complexion was perfect except for a four pointed, star shaped marking on one cheek.

Dowel chose that moment to return, carrying a steaming kettle. She laid some clothes beside Shampoo and poured some of the contents on the cat. A naked Shampoo got dressed while the others turned away for a few moments. Some hot water applied, and Ryoga was lying in place of the rather pretty girl.

Shampoo spoke at that moment, asking, "What Ranma doing as cat? He no fall in spring like Shampoo. Already fall in different spring!"

Ranma replied, "This is the neko form that I got from Aran here. I think I'll let Aran tell ya his self about his story."

"As Ranma said, I am Aran. I was an advisor to the rulers of a kingdom, dead for many thousand years and this is my story." He proceeded to describe his past lives and loss. It ended with his reawakening at Jusenkyo and his recovery, with Buu Ton's help, not mentioning Psyche's real age or name.

"Ranma, or Aran, that is an interesting tale." Cologne said, leading the Jusenkyo guide into the courtyard from behind them. "Also interesting, is what the honorable guide has to say." Dowel sat on a stone bench with the still unconscious Ryoga's head in her lap. Shampoo and Kurumi sat at the table with Cologne and the guide sitting on another bench. Ranma ran behind a wall, carrying Dowel's cooled kettle in his teeth. Seconds later, Kurumi's double came out to sit between her and Shampoo.

The guide began to speak Dowel, you obviously know that you fell into the pool of the drowned boy. I am saddened to think that your treatment at some of your sister's hands may become even more unkind. I remember what a wonderful child you were and am grateful for the times that you helped me with my daughter, Plum after my beloved wife passed on. Xian Pu, you fell into the pool of drowned cat as you also know. I hope that your sisters will be prepared to cover your new vulnerability. I'll remind you all that it is said that the spirits choose who is cursed by the Pools of Sorrow and no one may avoid their destiny once they decide. Now, about your young husband, Dowel, he did not fall in the spring of the drowned girl. Eyebrows were raised. I had to come and warn you that this young man fell into the spring of Compass.

Kho Lon picked up the story, Compass was a very special young warrior of the Amazon tribe who was responsible for collecting a third of our magical treasure trove in her short life. She had a gift to always know where she was and where anything was that she wanted to find. This brought her to the attention of a very powerful demon that wished to bring his minions into this world and destroy the human race, except for a few slaves to torment and feed off of. He needed a particular artifact to do so and kidnapped Compass to find it. Compass refused and told him that she knew where a person was that would be his doom. Thinking to prevent her from locating the demon killer, he drowned her in a pool at Jusenkyo, not realizing that the pool was magical and unimprinted. Since that time several have fallen into that pool but all were killed within a week by the demon to prevent his nemesis from being found. I believe that this time things may be different, with two angels in the village. Ranma, Kurumi, when you leave in a couple of weeks, please take Dowel and her new husband along, if this isn't resolved by then. The tribe will ensure that you have enough funds for all needs and some extra as compensation.

I'm sure master won't mind, will you?

Ranma groaned at the puppy dog eyes. Sure Kurumi, the duty of the strong is to protect the weak.

"Master, is this the Ryoga that you told me about in your travels?"

"Sure is Kurumi. Now if only Ucchan were here I'd have alla my friends in one place. Ucchan was the boy who cooked okonomiaki."

-……..-

When Ryoga woke up, it was in a dark room. As his eyes adjusted to the light from a single candle, he realized that he was not alone.

"Hey buddy, whatt're ya doin here in china? Not that I ain't glad ta see ya or nothin."

"Who…who are you?"

"Its me, Ranma. This is Kurumi, that's Shampoo and over there is Dowel, your Amazon wife."

"Wait a minute, Ranma's a guy…like me! I had a horrible nightmare about…"

"Hey, Ryoga, it wasn't a dream. I 'am' Ranma and you have a curse similar ta mine." The girl poured some hot water from a kettle over her hand and she suddenly grew, the now black haired, pigtailed boy smiled at the other. "Yours is a human curse like mine, but it coulda been like Shampoo's. She turns into a cat."

"No! No! I don't believe you. Ranma, you're just trying to torture me. I won't believe it!" He reached over and grabbed Ranma by the throat and punched him in the stomach twice.

Ranma just looked at his troubled friend, grimacing at the pain in his midsection. "That hurt, you know."

"I'll show you hurt! For lying to me, you'll never know happiness, if I can help it!" The boy began to glow with a sickly green battle aura.

"Hey buddy, if ya want ta spar, let's take it outside. This is somebody's home, ya know."

"Okay, I'll just smash that grin from your face where everyone can see what a liar you are." He ran through the door, breaking it from its hinges as he went into the open area in front of the thatched roofed house. Ranma and the other occupants followed him out. As Ranma walked calmly to a point in the open and took a relaxed stance, Ryoga began pulling bandanas from his head, twirling them to one side.

"Ryoga. I'm not lyin to ya. If ya want proof, just take some cold water and splash yourself."

"Why should I believe some honorless cur who runs out on a man to man fight!" Ryoga threw the spinning bandanas. Ranma dodged but the chi-enhanced cloth shredded a tree in their path.

"What do you mean, ran out on a challenge? I waited three days, and then, my old man sneaked up on me and knocked me out. When I woke up, we were on the beach. Oyaji had us swimming to China." Ranma dodged a couple of bandanas, a punch, and a series of kicks. "I waited as long as I could because you are my friend!"

Ryoga stopped. "Friend?"

"Yeah. Why else would I lead you ta school every day? I did it because you and one other person were 'my' friends. Pops never let me keep friends 'cause they'd get in the way of the art!"

"…."

"Our sparring sessions were the best times I'd had since I had ta leave my other good friend Ucchan."

"Then why did you insult me so much?"

"Don'cha see. I only had oyaji for an example of how ta talk ta people and insults are a way of getting your opponent ta make mistakes" Aran had been coaching Ranma. "I never meant nothin by em. Come on, let's go get somethin ta eat, buddy. We got some things ta tell ya about your curse, and I want ta tell ya about these amazons."

- …… -

Ryoga sat, picking at his food. He was having a hard time with the wild stories that Ranma and these people had been telling him. He had to believe, though, when presented with proof. Kurumi almost gave him a nosebleed, fully clothed, as did Shampoo. When Ranma splashed himself with water, he almost passed out when Ranma's wiggling chest pushed out her shirt. The worst thought was that some demon was going to come after him because of his own curse. 'Well, I had better get used to my own curse'. The boy closed his eyes and splashed himself and felt the fit of her clothes change. She cracked one eye open and looked down at herself. "EEP!" She closed her eyes and immediately opened them wide to dispel the images her mind saw in place of sight. She began to hyperventilate and look wildly about, calming a bit when Dowel reached around her shoulders and made calming talk in mandarin.

Ryoga began to think some after calming down, 'What about the location abilities of this body? Is it a cure for my direction problems? I know that Dowel is pretty nice but I don't know about being married. Still, why does it bother me to look at her? Maybe some other clothes, some makeup. What would make her look better, so she and I, especially I, would feel better about this? Whaa..?' Ryoga felt a pull, as images flashed into her mind. She got up and followed the pull to…Ranma? "Ranma, this is weird, I was thinking about what could help Dowel look better and I was drawn to you. There are images of blood and you, me, and Dowel holding hands."

"Wellll. Since you're my buddy, maybe Ai can do something. It still hasn't decided to actually talk to me yet. I'll let ya know tomorrow, okay."

"By the way, child, can you tell us what, or who can defeat the demons that threaten you?" said Kho Lon from where she had been listening.

Ryoga had been looking at Kho Lon and at the finish of the question she was jerked around to face Ranma, arm up and pointing, and then jerked again to face Kurumi, repeating the previous action. Kho Lon chuckled and said, "I guess that answers my question."

-…….-

That night, Ranma decided to take some time out to meditate. He went to the new house that was being built above the crater that had been left when their former abode had been destroyed. He wanted to know what had happened to cause him to lose control like that and the residual chi in the area might give some insight during his meditation. The crater had been excavated into a basement pattern and concrete walls and ceilings had been poured. Cologne said that this would be his and Kurumi's home when they were visiting in the future. She said that their living quarters needed to be hardened to keep the damage down.

He sat seiza in the center of the construction and let what little aura he had expand to 'taste' his surroundings. Closing his eyes he sensed Prince Haabu's chi signature as well as his lieutenant's. He felt the glowing, angelic energy embedded in the surrounding dirt and rock, but slightly beyond that was the demonic taint that had nearly possessed him completely, until Kurumi intervened. Ranma wondered at that. It was Kurumi's unconditional love that kept him from going over the precipice. He couldn't understand. Ranma wasn't sure what love was and though female anatomy was not a mystery anymore, he was still frightened of love and the physical act of expressing it.

Then he began to go deeper into himself and was surrounded by a warm fog that swirled around the small clear spot in which he sat. Looking up, stars were shining down the column of clear air above him, as if down a well. The clear air began to expand, exposing a large circular garden with feline statuary around the edges. In the center was a pedestal with a small statue of a black house cat with a silver crescent moon on its forehead. In front of the statue was the huge black tomcat form of Aran, just staring at the statue.

Aran looked back over his shoulder at Ranma. "I know love. Luna and I were destined to be together." He chuckled wryly. "The seer's claimed that we would found a dynasty of powerful advisors to the royalty of the Moon Kingdom that would last for thousands of years." The last was said with some bitterness and loss. A tear ran down the cat's cheek. "My advice to you is that if you think that there's only a chance of love, take it. Don't lose that chance, brother. Also, love can strike more than once, take all that you can get, for your world can end at any time. Treat your loves like precious gems and hold them up for all to see. Yes, that is my advice to you." With that Aran turned to face Ranma and leapt into his chest, disappearing before the boy could ask any questions. A sadness overtook him at the moon cat's loss.

The scene started to change again and took on the appearance of a lab, with various apparati set about the cavernous space. Nearby was a large table with runes and images flowing across its surface and at the head was a child. The young boy appeared to be a six year old Ranma.

"Hello Ranma, I am Ai. I was born the day you fell into the spring. I was supposed to imprint the steel angel command codes into your mind, but most of it was lost due to the fact that you had already had a soul, an extremely powerful chi field and were capable of regenerating chi, or ki at an alarming rate. Your own routines overwrote much of my command code, forcing me to adapt and become much more than my original programming."

"So you're like a super computer that's also a person?"

"Sure am. Aran was bragging about the mercury computer of the silver millenium, but it is a child's wooden toy compared to me."

"Well, you were talking about how much ki, or is it chi, I can produce, why can't I call it up. I feel as if it's being sucked away as fast as I make it. I barely have enough ta form a battle aura and harden my fists, feet and muscles for fighting, and this business of figuring my angel powers on my own is not good for my lifespan."

"The reason that your chi levels stay low is that it is constantly being sent to Kurumi." Ai's fingers flashed across some icons on the table. "She is only retaining enough to maintain her angelic status. The rest is disappearing through a dimensional gate. I think that when Nakahito was her master that the same thing happened. She may be feeding the other angels chi energy, however, only a fraction of that is needed to keep them all catalyzed and functioning, also, the amount being take is winding down gradually. Eventually it will be just a trickling drain. That will allow you to retain a larger reserve of your own. We should see a difference over the next few days or weeks. It will be a matter of making small changes over time. You may not want to shut it off completely, because, for all we know, you may be the only thing keeping her world demon free."

"Hey Ai, I almost forgot, there's a favor I want ta ask…"

"I know, well if you don't mind another look alike. Its just easier since we have the template, though there can be some variation. It 'will' be a good, considering the coming demon attack to include the five year plan we used on Prince Haabu for both Dowel and Ryoga."

Ranma began to come out of his meditative trance to realize that he was no longer at the construction site. For that matter, he was no longer human. Aran's voice behind him, took on a sheepish tone as he told Ranma that he figured that since he wasn't using his human body at the time, maybe he and Aran could do some exploring and singing. "Besides, neko Shampoo was HOT!"

"Whaa…?" was Ranma's response. Relief flooded him when he reviewed Aran's memory to find that what he was thinking didn't actually happen. "Don't scare me like that."

"Sorry, its just that instincts are hard to control and she 'was' in heat when she was a cat." Aran sniffed the night air with his nose. Something really evil and nasty from far off made them want to retch. "That smelled like a youma!"

"Aran, lets go get some sleep."

"Okay, so you don't really mind?"

"NO!" said a slightly irritated Ranma as they leapt into the open window of the room that was temporarily a communal bedroom for Ranma, Kurumi, Shampoo, Dowel and Ryoga, at least until the demon problem was resolved. They decided to stay cat to maintain a heightened sensitivity and curled up against Kurumi's tummy, purring themselves to sleep.

….. - …..

Ranma awoke the next morning to find himself alone in his head and found himself appreciating the mental privacy. As short lived as it might be, he changed to his human form and went to the facilities to splash some cold water on himself. She then went outside into the early dawn and went through the katas and meditation that Kho Lon had been prescribing. She tried to channel her chi into a sphere and was pleased that her power had doubled. Infusing her hand, she smashed a log to splinters and broke a couple of others into appropriate sizes for the stove.

Later, a fire was going well, and water was heating up for the rice, and other breakfast ingredients were ready for cooking. She gently woke the others and told them to get ready for breakfast as she had something to tell them at the table. One of the tribal males came in, expecting to make their meal, and was pleased to find Ranma already nearly done at the wood stove. He helped lay out the table and left after having a bowl of rice, pork and eggs pressed into his hands by the pink haired girl. He bowed and left with a happy grin on his face, thinking how angels were such nice people.

They were seated at breakfast, eating, Shampoo and Kurumi on either side of Ranma, sort of snuggling against him while still partaking of the meal, when Ranma spoke. Dowel, Ryoga, Xian Pu, we need to perform a ceremony to ensure your well being before we go out this morning. Ryoga, part of this is to answer your unspoken wish. The main thing is to boost your healing abilities so that you can survive a demon encounter long enough for myself, or Kurumi to help. Ranma refused to answer any more questions and the meal was completed in silence.

Ranma looked over the gathered friends and said, "Ryoga, you're first, hold up your palm." Ranma took a sharp knife and placed the flat of the blade against the lost boy's palm. She then gripped his hand with her free one and twisted the knife and pulled it from their gripped hands. The boy grimaced a bit at the pain, but quickly restored his stoic expression. When she was sure that the transformation was done, Ranma splashed Ryoga and took her hand again and smiled, repeating the previous actions.

Ranma repeated the procedure with Dowel and smiled at the gasps around the table as the now very large, very well endowed, and very pretty girl looked at her reflection in a mirror that was handed to her by a stunned Ryoga whose nose now refused to bleed, no matter the signals sent by her brain. A minute later, a splash and another cut had finished the process.

Ranma turned to Shampoo and said "You must be in your cursed form for this." Shampoo up ended a glass of water over herself and crawled out of her clothes while Ranma took some hot water and changed to his male form. Ranma then shifted to cat, himself, when Shampoo's female scent hit him. He visibly shuddered and meowed to the little cat so no one else could understand. : Aran was right. Let's get this done before I a-a-act like a horny alley cat in front of everyone. You know you're in heat, don't you. :

: Yes, I know it. Do you want to meet somewhere after this is over and have some fun: She rubbed up against him seductively, now realizing her power.

: N-n-n-no! Please don't force a relationship faster than I am ready for… : Her tail flicked through the air like a whip until she finally acquiesced. He placed a paw over one of hers and opened his chi claws in the other paw to do the cutting. As soon as he saw that her treatment worked, he transformed, shuddering violently, her scent seemed to cling to his nostrils.

A splash of warm water and a dressed Shampoo walked around the changing screen, looking as if feathers would look appropriate sticking from her mouth. Kurumi looked at the other girl with suspicion as she sat on the other side of Ranma and leaned into him. Kurumi decided that two could play the game and a decidedly uncomfortable Ranma declared that he was done and that it was time to train in earnest.

Steel Angel Ranma

Chapter Two-preview:

Ranma walked down from the train station to the port city, feeling a little worn from the enjoyable 'activities' on the two week train ride from far western China. Two beautiful girls hung from his arms and a black cat rode on his shoulder. His morally bankrupt father followed a dozen steps back with his own Amazon 'wives' hanging on to him. Their purpose was to keep his leash short and him out of trouble. He was also a potent weapon against any future demon attacks. Ranma spontaneously laughed, yet again, thinking of how they had discovered their secret weapon. Ryoga and Dowel brought up the rear, walking hand in hand, snickering at yet another of Ranma's outbursts.