Yes, It's me again. I am finally back and able to update. For those of you who thoguth I was dead and gone: Sorry no such luck. Dark Descent and You'll never be gone will be updated soon as well as another chapter of Hogwarts 1/2 and Ranma Unplugged, all within the next two or three weeks. As usual, I make no money off of these stories. Have fun.
TRIALS OF LOVE
CH 2: Leaving Home
Nabiki awoke as the first rays of the day streamed through her windows and landed on her eyes. Immediately, she shut them again, a warm smile on her face as she tried to revisit the dream she had had the night before. A wave of warmth fell over her that had nothing to do with the sunlight pouring through her window.
It was a dream she had been having for quite a while now, ever since Ranma had first left. It always left her with a sense of hope, knowing that he was somewhere out there, looking for her. The first few times, whenever she woke, she would look around to see if he had really come back. After a while, she had come to accept that they were only dreams.
This one was different, however. Nabiki thought that she had actually been able to feel his arms around her. As she tried to roll over away from the sunlight, she found her progress impeded for some reason.
That's when it hit her. She could still feel a pair of arms holding her tightly.
But I'm awake now, aren't I? How can I still be having this dream when I'm awake?
Slowly, she opened her eyes and looked down to her waist. There was indeed a pair of arms wrapped around her, hands flat against her stomach. There was something different about them, though. They were smaller and not as well defined as Ranma's arms. Still, the muscles were perfectly toned for their size. It took Nabiki a full minute before she realized where she had seen them before.
Carefully, she rolled to her other side to face the person lying against her back. Instead of jet black hair, however, what she met was a mane of the fieriest red. The trademark pigtail was gone, pulled back instead into a long ponytail which appeared as though it would fall down past her shoulders. A look of infinite peace adorned the petite face in front of Nabiki. As she reached out a hand to caress her cheek, Nabiki felt Ranma begin to stir.
"Morning, Biki," she said as she smiled dreamily at her.
Nabiki brought back her shaking hand from her lover's face and gripped it with her other to steady it. Ranma sat up and drew her close against her chest so that Nabiki could hear the heartbeat that confirmed the redhead's existence. Slowly, Nabiki drew back and took in the person in front of her. Her voice was unsteady as she finally spoke.
"It really wasn't a dream," Nabiki said as the tears poured from her eyes. "You're really here."
Ranma reached up and began to wipe the tears away from Nabiki's face. "Now come on, Biki, you know I don't like to see you cry," she said. "It just messes up that lovely face of yours." Ranma grinned as he saw Nabiki's face brighten into a series of giggles. "Yes, I'm really here. Can you feel me?"
Nabiki reached up and took hold of the hand on her cheek. The warmth she felt no longer left any doubt in her mind that what she was seeing was, in fact, real. Memories of the previous night's dream flooded back to her in such detail that she soon realized that it hadn't been a dream at all. She looked around and realized that it wasn't her room she was in. This one was sparsely decorated with hardly any furniture at all. In fact, other than a few posters of martial arts movies plus a dresser in a corner, it was just like the room that Ranma had shared with his father back in Nerima. Nabiki turned back to look once more into the eyes of her fiancé.
"You really do live here," She stated. Ranma nodded at this. "But this is an all-girl's dorm. If you've been living here for the past three months, then that means…"
"I've had to do so in my cursed form," Ranma confirmed.
Nabiki noted the fact that, unlike all the other times she had been forced to stay in her cursed form, this time Ranma didn't show any signs of resentment to the situation. "Maybe you'd better start from the beginning."
"It is a long story and, if I'm not mistaken, you still have to complete your registration at Tokyo University." Ranma leaned in and placed a quick kiss on Nabiki's forehead. "Congratulations, by the way. I always knew that you could do it."
Nabiki looked down at her watch and yelped as she saw what time it was. "You're right; I need to leave soon if I am going to make my appointments." She rushed to her room with Ranma following close behind. Nabiki reached her suitcase and began rummaging through it, looking for a clean outfit to wear for the day. As she began to undress, she suddenly paused and turned back towards Ranma. "Um, Ranma, could I please have a little privacy?"
Ranma grinned and walked over to her, slipping her arms around Nabiki's waist and holding her close. "Now don't you think you're being a little silly," she whispered in Nabiki's ear. "After all, we're both girls right now and it has been a while since we've seen each other." As her voice wavered off, Ranma began to lightly nibble on the ear she had been whispering into. Nabiki just grinned.
"That's exactly my point: We're both girls right now and unless I'm wrong, which I'm usually not, nobody here knows about your curse or rather the fact that you are really a guy. How would it look if someone were to come in and see us like this?" Nabiki felt she had gotten her point across adequately when Ranma released her and began moving to the door, a mock look of disappointment on her face.
"By the way, I've been going by the name Ranko here."
Nabiki kept her grin. "Well, that solves a potential problem."
Ranma stopped and turned to face her. "What do you mean?"
Nabiki pointed at her suitcase as she moved over to the closet since it was apparent that neither one of them really wanted Ranma to leave. "Take a look in the bottom." She quickly changed and came out of the closet to find Ranma standing by her suitcase holding the silver picture frame against her chest. Tears were streaming down her face. Nabiki came up to her and wiped away Ranma's tears just as Ranma had done for her earlier. "Tears don't exactly make you look any better either."
Ranma smiled. "So what was the problem that was solved?"
Nabiki chuckled. "Naru saw me looking at that last night and I told her the female you was my fiancé's twin sister, Ranko." She took the frame from her love's grasp and replaced it in the bottom of her case. "Why were you crying anyway?"
Ranma reached into her shirt, withdrawing a golden heart-shaped locket and opening it. "Because I found it amazing how much we think alike." She showed Nabiki the pictures inside. On one side was a small photo of Ranma in his male form, flashing a V sign with his fingers. The other one was of Nabiki herself making the same gesture. "This way I figured I would have a reminder that no matter what happened, we would always be with each other in our hearts."
Nabiki could feel the tears threatening to come to her eyes. She quickly blinked them away as she remembered that she had to get started with her day. She turned to Ranma as an inspiration hit her. "Are you doing anything today?"
Ranma thought for a moment before answering. "Well, I was going to see if Haruka needed any help in her teahouse today," she replied. Slipping a hand around onto Nabiki's hip, a sly grin came to her face. "Did you have a something in mind?"
"Down, girl. I was thinking that perhaps my fiancé would like to go with me to my new school while I finish my registration. You can tell me that long story of yours on the train ride."
Ranma kissed her cheek. "Give me a few minutes to change. I'll meet you out front." She quickly left as Nabiki headed downstairs, a warm feeling washing over her for the first time in months.
An hour later, a now male Ranma grasped the bar overhead as he shifted his weight with the movements of the train taking him to Tokyo. The reason he was male stood beside him, one arm raised to hold onto the bar over her own head while the other was wrapped around the waist of the aforementioned martial artist. Nabiki held tight to Ranma for more than just balance. She had three months of lost time to make up for and she fully intended to do so as completely as possible.
The train ride was an hour and a half from Hinata to the campus of Tokyo University. Thankfully for Nabiki, after the first thirty minutes the train pulled into one of the stations on its route and two people vacated the seats right next to where she was standing. Nabiki wasted no time in claiming the valued places for herself and Ranma. Once they started moving again, she grasped her fiancé's hand, causing him to look in her direction.
"I believe you still have a story to tell me, Ranma-kun."
Ranma could see by the look in her eyes that she wasn't going to be letting this go any time soon and figured now was as good a time as any to tell his tale.
"I guess I should start with the night I left. Truth is I was almost convinced to stay."
"Oh?" Nabiki asked. "Why is that?"
Ranma smiled. "Did you know that you sometimes talk in your sleep?"
FLASHBACK: THREE MONTHS AGO
Ranma stirred as he woke up to a soft voice in his ear. Looking around, he realized he was still in Nabiki's room. The clock by her bedside told him it was already three in the morning, well past the time he had planned on leaving. He knew that Kasumi would be waking in a few hours in order to make breakfast for the family and, despite the fact that she wasn't a martial artist or had any kind of real training, she still seemed to hear every little sound that was made in the house. That is, whenever she was awake she did. For that reason Ranma knew he had to leave now if he wasn't going to be discovered. Thoughts of leaving temporarily left his head as a voice by his side drew his attention.
"Mmmm…Ranma, I need you so much." Nabiki's words were soft and quiet. This was no surprise seeing as how she was still asleep in Ranma's arms. Ranma could feel the warm breath coming from her mouth against his neck as she spoke. It was such a comfortable feeling that he soon felt himself starting to drift away once more. It was only at the last second that he snapped himself awake. It wouldn't do for two reasons. The first being the fact that if any of the other residents of the Tendo compound found him asleep in Nabiki's bed, the resulting chaos would be impossible to contain.
The second reason was the one that put the most fear into his heart. Ranma knew that if any of his official fiancées, plus one slightly deranged unofficial one, ever found out that he and Nabiki were a couple, while he would not receive any permanent injury, the woman he loved would not be as lucky. Despite the fact that Ranma had been secretly training her in his Art, he knew that Nabiki was still nowhere near the skill level necessary to defend herself for a sufficient period of time against his other suitors, let alone defeat them. Ranma knew for a fact that Shampoo would attack Nabiki, either with or without warning, for his hand as per her Amazon law. There was no guarantee that she would stop at hurting, maiming or even killing Nabiki. Ukyo would be the same, although probably not as extreme. She would more than likely stop after breaking a few bones. Despite her sweet nature, when it came to Ranma, Ukyo was as fierce as any Amazon. As for Kodachi, Ranma didn't even want to think of the kind of torture that she would put his Biki-chan through.
Ranma wasn't too worried about Akane harming Nabiki physically unless she found out that Nabiki had once more taken up the Art. For reasons that Ranma had yet to discover, Nabiki had given up the Art when she was twelve. The only thing he knew was that it had something to do with Akane and that Nabiki literally feared her finding out that she had restarted. Despite the danger, she had thrown herself into her training with a passion Ranma had never seen from her, save a few private moments they had spent together in the evenings. The only reason that their relationship was kept a secret from Akane was that Nabiki was convinced that the short-tempered girl really was in love with the pig-tailed Martial Artist even if she wouldn't admit it, not even to herself. Nabiki was sure that, while her sister would never physically harm her, there was nothing to stop her from saying something out of anger. Eventually, such words would reach the ears of the other fiancées. Ranma knew that he couldn't always be there to protect his newest and, in his mind, only fiancée from harm. This one thought was enough to steel himself to his course.
Gently, he removed his arms from around Nabiki and laid her back down on the bed. Ranma looked down on her angelic face as it was bathed in the light of the full moon. A sad look came across his face as he realized that he really didn't know when he would ever be able to see her again. It was almost enough to make him stay, but he knew that was no longer an option. They would never be able to even acknowledge their love, let alone live in peace, until he had found a way to deal with the other fiancées for good.
The Tendo agreement was easy enough to take care of; all he had to do was switch his engagement to Nabiki. Ranma just wanted to be able to do so in a way that wouldn't destroy Akane. Despite the way she abused him, he still cared about her and didn't want to see her hurt too badly.
His engagement to Ukyo could be solved by adopting her into the Saotome clan. Ranma had discovered this when he had searched his father's pack for a solution to his various problems. Fortune had smiled on him when he found the original document signed by his and Ukyo's father. Instead of specifying marriage, the agreement was worded so that Ukyo was to be made a Saotome. Thus, adoption would seem the most obvious solution. Ranma knew, however, that this would be unacceptable to Ukyo as she was too smitten with him to accept anything short of marriage. Ranma's honor would not allow him to force her to walk a path that she didn't wish to any more than it would allow him to do the same.
The Amazons would be the hardest to deal with. Simply because of the way their society was structured, the majority of their laws were unknown to him, both as a male and as an outsider. This led Ranma to believe that somewhere buried with them was a provision that would release him from the marriage law while still enabling Shampoo to return to China with her honor intact. Literally hundreds of hours of searching by both himself and Nabiki had thus far failed to find an available source for the laws. Nabiki had at one time suggested requesting help from someone within the Amazon tribe itself without Cologne's knowledge. The problem with that idea was that they had no way of knowing if anybody would help them. The idea was not without merit, however, so they decided to keep that option open.
Ranma shook his head and banished his thoughts. Another look at the bedside clock revealed that dawn was fast approaching. If he was to leave, it was to be now. He knew this. Ranma turned back to Nabiki. She looked so peaceful lying in her bed. It pained Ranma to see her with such a pleasant smile on her face knowing that in the morning her heart would be torn. There was simply no other choice. Ranma covered her with the blanket on the foot of her bed and bent down to kiss her forehead, eliciting a sigh from her. Walking back to the window, he stopped and took on last look back before he climbed up to the roof and grabbed his pack. When he reached the gate, he took one last look back at what had been his only home in his entire life. Giving a final sigh, he turned and walked away.
TWO DAYS LATER
Ranma dug into his pack to find his stash of money that he had been saving for just such an occasion. Despite his desire to always keep his honor true, he knew there would be times when a greater good would have to be served by performing acts that were less than desirable. Being a martial artist, he had, of course, heard of these underground fights where the whole point was merely to pound your opponent and provide an event for others to gamble on. He never thought he would ever enter one. Of course, Ranma had never thought that his life would have come to the point where he would be on his own so early on.
Ranma pulled out a wad of bills and counted them out. He hadn't had time to do so before he left and he wanted to be sure that he still had the same amount as when he had last checked the previous month. It hadn't been easy to save up his earnings from working at the Nekohanten. It had proven even harder to hide his stash from his old man. Sometimes it seemed like his pop had an ingrained and inhuman ability to find money the same way that the old freak could find even the most carefully hidden piece of women's underwear. After he had confirmed that he still had the 150,000 yen he started with, he stowed his pack and walked towards the entrance of the warehouse that the 'tournament' was being held in. He had made it about halfway before he caught his reflection in a window and was hit by a sudden inspiration.
Ranma quickly ran back to his pack and pulled out one of two thermoses that he kept filled at all times. This one had cold water while the other held hot. As he was about to pour it over himself, he found that his mind was debating with his conscious on the details of whether his actions were honorable. Finally after a few minutes, he unscrewed the top and doused himself, quickly changing from a he to a she. After all, if there was one thing that his father had taught him, it was that one should take any advantage that they have for they never knew when they would truly need it. After quickly drying herself off, Ranma hid her pack once more and walked into the warehouse.
When Ranma walked in, she could feel eyes immediately turn in her direction. While it was not uncommon for pretty women to be at these events, they were always accompanying some wealthy gentleman who had come to place bets on the matches. The fact that she was dressed to fight made Ranma stand out even more. The stares were ignored as Ranma made her way to the registration table.
When it came her turn to sign up, the guy behind the table merely gave her a disapproving sneer. On the inside, Ranma was smiling. This was exactly the kind of reaction she had been hoping for. It was obvious from the grins on the faces of the other fighters that they were not seriously considering her a threat to their chances. For appearances, Ranma contorted her face into a stern frown that even Nabiki would have been proud of as she addressed the guy behind the table.
"Is there a problem with me entering this thing?" she asked with a hint of anger in her voice. The flunky was not impressed.
"For you, yes. You see, we don't have a featherweight division here." This comment drew laughs from the other fighters and caused Ranma's face to a shade of red that rivaled her own hair. "Why don't you go home before you get hurt or something?"
"What if I gave you a small demonstration? After that you can decide whether or not I am capable of entering," Ranma growled.
Before he could give an answer, Ranma reached across the table and grabbed the stooge by the collar of his shirt. Pivoting her body 180 degrees, she flipped him over her shoulder and imbedded him in the nearby wall, where he slumped down unconscious. Ranma turned to face the small crowd of fighters around her.
"Does anyone else have an objection?" The way she said this made it clear that it was more of a challenge than a question. When no one spoke up, Ranma reached over the table and signed her name on the registration sheet, placing 100,000 in the money tin. On the table was a short list of rules that the fighters had to agree to abide by before being allowed to enter. Glancing over these she learned that it was a winner take all fight with thirty fighters total. This meant that the final winner would receive three million yen. It was a number Ranma could live with, but she also knew that there was another chance to make even more.
She made her way to the other side of the warehouse where various bookies were taking bets on the fighters. Since a final roster was still not available, things were a little slow at the time although there were a few people betting on which match would draw first blood and, to Ranma's horror, what the chances were of a death occurring. Despite the lack of a final list of fighters, Ranma was sure she could get her bet in now. She singled out the best dressed bookie out of the bunch and walked up to him. When she reached him, Ranma could see that she had made the right choice. Not only was this guy the best dressed, he was also the most protected. No less than three thugs were around him and those were the ones that were easily visible. Ranma, however, was able to pick out at least two others in the shadows.
"And what can I do for a pretty thing like yourself?" the bookie asked. The sneer was plainly heard in his voice as he spoke. Ranma frowned.
"I want to place a small wager," she replied.
"Sorry, little girl, I don't do small. Why don't you go see if your boyfriend can give you some more money? I also don't take bets before I see a roster of fighters. It's just bad for business."
"What's the minimum for a bet with you?" Ranma chose to ignore the way the bookie had said boyfriend. It just wouldn't do for him to pound the guy and tip everyone off as to his skill. Not that it would have taken that much to lay this guy out, but why take the chance.
"It's 50,000 minimum." The smirk he had plastered on his face quickly disappeared when Ranma reached into her shirt and pulled out the last of her money. She made sure that she also gave this guy a small hint of a show when she did so. Keeping this guy dumb would be to her advantage, after all.
"I don't know about the rest of the fighters, so I'm taking a big chance betting on this for me to win it all," Ranma remarked. "How about giving me some good odds?" The look on the guy's face was almost worth the trouble in itself.
"YOU entered the tournament?" he asked incredulously. Seeing Ranma's nod, he quickly sent one of his people to verify this. "Assuming you're telling me the truth, I think we could give you some odds. You obviously haven't seen what kind of people participate in this tournament. What kind of odds were you thinking of?"
Ranma merely stared back in a way that could have bore right through the bookie. "How much can you afford?"
Before he could answer, the bookie's attention was grabbed by a shrill whistle. Looking over, he caught sight of the lackey he had sent to the registration table. The lackey in turn gave a single thumbs-up that was quickly followed by a second one with his other hand. Smiling broadly, the bookie turned back to Ranma.
"I can afford quite a bit. Since you are such a pretty little thing, I think I can be nice and give you say 100-1 odds."
"You will understand if I want that in writing." One thing Ranma had learned from Nabiki was always get it in writing. It makes it harder for the other person to back out. Not that Ranma didn't expect this person wouldn't try to anyway.
"Always do. Like I said before, to do otherwise would just be bad for business." Ranma couldn't help but feel a little uneasy about the way this guy in front of him kept repeating that same phrase. He was sure that something else Nabiki had told him before was trying to reach the conscious part of his mind. Further speculation was cut off as an announcement was heard calling the fighters together for their first match assignments. Ranma grabbed the betting slip from the bookie and headed back to the registration table. Once she got there, she got the line-up for the first set of matches.
As she looked at the others who had signed up for the tournament, Ranma found it hard to suppress the grin she felt rising inside of her. Just by looking, she could tell that none of these guys had any experience channeling their ki. Ranma knew this would give him a great advantage in both speed and strength. In fact, most of those entered could not even be called true martial artists. They were mostly thugs. Guys who were looking to make themselves feel big simply by pounding the blood out of someone else.
While Ranma waited for her first match, she read up on what few rules there were. She breathed a small sigh of relief when she noticed that weapons of any kind were forbidden in the fights. Apparently, they tended to end the matches way too soon for the crowds liking. Among other things, there was also a twenty minute time limit in all but the final match (this was a no time limit fight) and victory was claimed by either a knockout or submission of your opponent. Ranma decided to go for the latter as much as possible. Despite what she was doing, she had no desire to hurt anyone more than was necessary.
When she entered the ring for her first match and saw her opponent however, Ranma realized this would not always be the case. The man was HUGE. Obviously a gaijin, more likely American by the accent, he had arms and legs that were about as big around as Ranma's entire body. A heavy plaid shirt covered his overly developed chest while a pair of blue jeans struggled to remain intact around his lower body. He towered over Ranma and sneered at her as he tried to decide if this was some kind of a joke.
"You gotta be kiddin' me," he yelled. "I thought I told youse guys I wanted some kinda challenge this time. Now you stick me with a girl and a weak one at that."
Ranma felt her anger rise as she heard this giant oaf's ranting. It wasn't so much that he had called her a girl. After having the curse for over a year and a half now, she had become more accepting, although grudgingly, of it. It wasn't even the fact that he was calling her weak just based on her appearance. Ranma knew how strong she was and that appearances never gave you the entire story. The Old Ghoul had proven that lesson to him many times as had the perverted master.
No, what really pulled at Ranma's temper was the fact that her opponent was calling her weak because she WAS a girl right now. Despite all the times her baka father had told her that girls were weaklings, Ranma had come to realize just how untrue that was. She knew of at least three girls, not including herself, who had vast amounts of strength. Many times feeling the impacts of various mallets, bonbori, and spatulas had more than proven that. Her mother also had strength though it was strength of honor. Kasumi had shown Ranma how duty was also a great strength when you stuck to it all costs.
The last person she thought about was Nabiki. With the training she had been getting from Ranma, she had slowly built her body up to a formidable level. She still couldn't go toe to toe with any of the "unwanted" fiancées but it was still a great improvement over what she had started with. That wasn't what was her true strength, though. It was her mind and her focus of will that was truly a force to contend with. There probably wasn't a single situation for which Nabiki was unprepared or could talk herself out of. It was just another reason Ranma loved her so much. She let out a small sigh as she thought about the woman she loved. It didn't go unnoticed though it was misinterpreted.
"I see ya agree with me," the giant smirked. "I tells ya what, little girl. Why don't ya just walk out now so I don't have to damage that pretty little face of yers."
Ranma quickly stowed her anger with her Soul of Ice technique and cracked her knuckles. "Funny, I was just about to offer you the same thing though I doubt the pretty part would fit you."
That was all that was needed as the man in front of her charged in a blind rage, aiming a fist directly to her nose. "That's it, bitch. I did warn ya. Now it's time for a lesson in respect."
To Ranma it was as if he was moving in slow motion. A feral grin appeared on her face. "I couldn't agree more."
Just when it seemed like the match was going to end with a broken nose, Ranma leaped into the air and allowed the freight train to run by beneath her. She landed on his shoulders, quickly used two fingers to jab at certain points on the back of the guy's neck, and jumped off. Her opponent whirled around to face her again and began to stalk towards her. He only made it two steps when his legs gave out as well as the use of his arms. As he collapsed down to his knees, Ranma approached him.
"A couple of useful pressure points I learned from a certain doctor. Right now, I've just immobilized your legs and arms because I wanted to be sure you didn't miss the lesson."
Ranma reared back with her leg and planted a foot dead-center between the giant's legs. His eyes bugged out as the pain registered in his mind.
"The lesson is just because someone's a girl doesn't mean they are weak." Ranma stuck two fingers out at her opponent. "Nighty-night." With a quick poke to the chest, the giant's eyes rolled back before closing as he fell in a heap.
Ranma left the ring and took a seat on one of the bleachers. She then surveyed the crowd in front of her and noted with some satisfaction that the other fighters were no longer sneering at her. Instead there was look that seemed to be a mixture of fear and respect. Inside, Ranma smiled at this. It meant that they would take her more seriously now.
The rest of her matches found Ranma against several opponents who treated her with increasing respect. The first of her opponents even bowed to her before the match. For the most part, Ranma would attempt to win by either a submission or through the use of pressure points. As much as she needed to win this tournament, her sense of honor still prevented her from inflicting more pain than she thought was necessary. As she progressed through the tournament, however, she found that this was not always a possibility.
Despite this, Ranma was able to quickly move up until she found herself in the final match. She entered the ring feeling extremely confident. She hadn't even yet had to fight at half her best speed so she believed that she would soon be able to finish this episode and move on in her journey. Those ideas immediately foundered as she saw the person entering the ring opposite from her.
"Of all people I thought I would see here, Saotome, you were the last I ever imagined."
Mousse wore an appraising smirk on his face while Ranma recovered somewhat from her initial shock.
"I could say the same for you," Ranma replied. "I take it Cologne doesn't know you're here. I mean this isn't exactly the sort of thing an "honorable Amazon" should be doing."
"That is true. In fact, I could probably be banished from the tribe for this."
"So why do it?"
"I have my reasons. That's all you need to know. Besides I could very well ask the same of you."
Ranma put her finger onto her chin and rolled her eyes upward, putting on a thoughtful gaze. "Hmmmm, I think I hear an echo in here." She turned a more serious face towards her opponent. "And I would give you the very answer you gave me. I have my reasons as well."
Ranma assumed an opening stance, something she had hardly done with the others she had fought thus far. Everybody who was watching took note of this fact and immediately began placing last minute bets on the final match. Most were for the young redhead though there were some who were feeling adventurous enough to place the odd bet on the mysterious Chinese boy that the fast-riser was taking so seriously.
Mousse took on his own stance as both Nerimans waited for the signal to begin. When the order was given, Ranma moved in quickly, hoping to end this battle as soon as possible. She wanted to move on to the next stage of his escape, even though she didn't exactly know what that was. In addition to that there was the fact that in spite of all the times Ranma had beaten Mousse in combat, the fact remained that he was still a superb Martial Artist, despite his other shortcomings. For that, the Amazon male had earned Ranma's respect if not a tenuous relationship.
As Ranma began to move in, she noted that Mousse seemed unconcerned with her attack. In fact, he didn't move at all. The slight smirk he wore was also a bit unnerving as well. Ranma pushed these thoughts out of her mind as she began to throw several lightning fast punch and kick combinations at her opponent. They would only serve to distract her.
Unfortunately, doubt was forced back into Ranma's mind as Mousse not only appeared to see the attack coming but let go with his own series of rapid moves blocking every one of the blows aimed at his body. He even managed to throw a countermove or two in as well. One of these connected to Ranma's gut and sent her staggering back, both in pain and surprise. The shock was also evident on her face. Mousse chuckled at this.
"Surprised, are we?" he taunted. "Well then, let's see how you handle this."
Ranma barely had time to react as Mousse launched an all too familiar attack accompanied by an even more familiar battle cry.
"KACHU TENSHIN AMIGURIKEN!"
Ranma began to fall back as the Amazon before her let fly a barrage of punches that went for the most part unseen by those witnessing the match. With her own cry, Ranma set forth a series of blocks that kept her from being pummeled. As she neared the edge of the ring, Ranma leaped into the air, flipping over Mousse and landing behind him. When he turned to face the fiery redhead, the Chinese boy was met by a look of confidence. For a moment he was confused until he realized that his own face felt a little lighter.
"Having a little trouble seeing, Duck Boy?" Ranma grinned as she twirled a pair of large lenses on her finger. Tossing them out of the ring, she immediately leaped into a flying kick aimed at her opponent's head.
Her confident smirk was soon replaced with a look of utter shock as Mousse deftly avoided the strike and even grabbed the outstretched leg and used it to slam his opponent into the ground. As the young Amazon attempted to end the match with an elbow strike to the fallen girl, Ranma rolled her body from the blow, regained her feet, and assumed a defensive stance. As she appraised her opponent once more, Mousse came back with a confident smile of his own.
"Actually, Saotome, I can see you just fine." At Ranma's confused look, he continued. "It's amazing the things doctor's can do these days especially with lasers. I had my eyes fixed last week."
With this bit of information, Ranma began to consider a different battle strategy. She had already tried a quick win and using her extreme speed to break through her opponent's defenses. Neither had worked too well and now it seemed the young Amazon had overcome his greatest handicap as well.
OK, so the old stuff isn't effective anymore. Guess that means I'll just have to come up with something new.
With those thoughts, Ranma threw herself once more at the Chinese youth in front of her, bringing on him another round of punches and kicks. Though it didn't seem like it to anyone else watching, however, anyone that truly knew the capabilities of this girl would have noted that the blows were being delivered at a much slower pace than was normal. Not only that but they would have also remarked that Ranma was also leaving herself more open than usual.
Mousse, not being one to let an advantage slip away, quickly capitalized on this and began slipping blows in through the openings. He smiled in satisfaction as he heard Ranma grunt in pain as his strikes connected with flesh. After about ten minutes of this, however, he began to realize that his limbs were slowly becoming numb. By the time Ranma finally broke away, he male Amazon no longer had use of his arms as they were hanging limply at his side. Not only that but he was barely able to stand. The only reason he could was that he was using all his ki reserves to add strength to his legs.
"How?" the formerly blinded man asked his opponent.
"Lessons from Dr. Tofu," Ranma stated through clenched teeth. Despite the success of her strategy, she hadn't gotten off lightly. Her body was covered with several bruises that were giving her immense pain. "I've been studying with him for some time now whenever I could get away. One of the things he taught me was how to use certain points to immobilize arms and legs so that broken bones could be set without a lot of pain for the victim."
Mousse finally understood. "And you adapted that to incapacitate an opponent during a fight."
Ranma grinned even though it was painful to do so. "Exactly. I knew you wouldn't miss the openings I left so I hit the points whenever you threw a punch or kick. With the speed you were moving though it took a few strikes before they would take full effect."
Mousse nodded then turned to face the crowd watching them. "I am unable to continue this match and therefore give my submission." As he said this, he felt fingers poking points on his shoulders and hips. Looking over he found Ranma carefully undoing the damage she had done. As soon as he was able to, Mousse exited the ring and left the building.
When the crowd finally realized what had occurred a great roar of applause went up. Of course this was also accompanied by the groans of many of the bookies as they had given her quite long-shot odds. Besides Ranma, the only ones who made a profit that night had been those who bet on her to win.
Ranma gathered her winnings and was just about to leave when she remembered one last piece of unfinished business. She quickly made her way back to where she had made her original bet and wasn't to surprised to see the bookie trying to make a discreet exit. Of course said attempt was soon halted as one of his bodyguards flew over his head and impacted the door he had been about to go through. Gulping, he turned around to face an extremely irate red head who actually seemed to be glowing.
Ranma stormed up to the bookie and grabbed him by his collar. "Since I am a nice little girl and all, I'm just going to pretend you had to obtain my winnings from a supervisor, especially seeing as how you owe me so much. After all, I wouldn't want to think you would be running out on me." She emphasized her last sentence by raising him a few inches off the ground.
"O-of course not," the bookie stammered as he snapped his fingers. "After all it would be bad for business."
Without letting go of him or even taking her eyes off of him, Ranma held out her hand to take the satchel that another of the man's goons offered her. She hefted it up and down a few times before dropping the punk and checking the contents. Satisfied that all the money was there, she walked out the very door the bookies had been trying to leave through. She didn't see him signal to his men behind her back nor did she see them exit out another way.
After a few minutes, Ranma came upon his pack that he had stowed away as well as the thermos of hot water he had left with it. She was just about to pour it on herself when her instincts kicked in. Ducking, she narrowly missed the brick that impacted the wall next to where her head had been. Looking around she found herself surrounded by five rather large gentlemen, all of which were carrying a weapon of some sort. The biggest one stepped forward.
"Oh, good, we have your attention," he sneered as he flashed a rather sharp looking blade at her. "It seems you have a little money that belongs to Boss Tanaka. He also said you had some that you owed him for the mental anguish you just caused him."
BOSS TANAKA! KUSO! Ranma yelled in her mind. That guy was Yakuza. Now I remember why all that "bad for business" talk was bothering me. Nabs said it was practically a catchphrase for them.
Ranma brought herself into a fighting stance before pain racked her body.
Too soon. I haven't had a chance to recover yet.
The head goon noticed this and sneered at her. "You ain't in no condition to take us on. I doubt it will keep you from going through another 'workout' however once we get what we came for." He stepped forward to deliver a jab with his knife to Ranma to drive home his point.
At least, he would have if he hadn't found his hand wrapped up in a chain that flew from nowhere. Looking around for the source of the attack, he finally followed the chain to a young man with flowing robes.
"Five against one is hardly fair odds. Especially after what she has just been through." That was all the man said before he threw himself into an attack.
Did you like? Please let me know. By the way, what happens when a Ranma fanfiction author gets a hold of and listens to two Linkin Park cd's. Lots of inspiration. Walking in the Park is coming soon. Look for it.