My Ranma ½!
No Need for Wishes!
Forward: The Tenchi universe has no less than three alternate timelines to choose from, so be advised I'm going to play fast and loose with all of them from here on out. Don't expect strict adherence to any one since you can't make everybody happy all the time. I'll make every attempt to keep the core plot surrounding Tenchi intact, however. Don't forget the encrypted preview! ;)
Ranma popped out of the lake with ease and floated lightly onto the property of the Masaki shrine. It really was a beautifully place, she decided. Secluded on a nice hillside with the house and lake below, surrounded by forest. You could get used to it, she thought agreeably and poked her head into one of the structures.
Tenchi Masaki scampered across the wooden floor he had been sweeping with a small start, but recovered his wits when he recognized Ranma. The student gave the floor another swipe and wiped the sweat from his brow. He noticed she was in her casual Chinese attire and Tenchi smiled at the Goddess as she stepped closer.
"So what's up, Tenchi?"
"I don't think that wish thing worked. Not that I need it, I guess," He added hastily, "But it would be a shame after all the trouble I put you through."
Ranma shrugged. "Well that's why I'm here. To make sure it does work." …And that you don't get abducted by aliens or something, she amended as an afterthought.
"Really?" Tenchi seemed taken back. "I mean, I don't want to keep you from something important, you know."
Well I'd love to do that, she thought sarcastically, but you had to go and wish that stupid— She stopped that train of thought short and began to examine her attitude very carefully.
This was her job. Granting wishes. It was important. A matter of honor even, if she wanted to put it into a martial arts context. Maybe things hadn't turned out the way she would like them to, but it was still her job to make sure it turned out right. Quit yer whining Ranma, she rebuked herself. You knew full well what you were getting into when you signed on the dotted line with Kami-sama. This was the sacrifice He was talking about. This was the servant's duty Urd had explained. If you can't perform these duties with the same honor as The Art, you probably shouldn't be teaching it either!
Mentally redressed, Ranma favored Tenchi with her trademark roguish grin.
"Hey, don't worry 'bout it. I'll just stick around here with you and see what we can dig up, kay?" …And still make sure you don't get abducted my space aliens, she smiled quietly. Tenchi nodded with enthusiasm. "So where's your grandfather, anyway?"
"Probably on the other side of the lake…" Tenchi replied, setting aside the broom. Even as he finished, the mischievous gleam of realization gleamed in his eyes. "And that means now's my chance!" Ranma looked at him curiously as he ran over to the desk and began rifling through its contents.
Ranma bent over beside him as he flipped through another folder. "Whatcha looking for?"
He paused momentarily. "Keys. I'm going to finally see what we've been keeping in that old shrine."
"And what's supposed to be in there?"
"A demon slaying blade!" Tenchi replied, pulling open another drawer. "Gramps keeps going on about this old legend about how an ancient warrior named Yosho defeated a demon that could destroy mountains with the thing."
The Goddess of Luck watched him hurry through his search and weighed her options. She could either sit around and watch him do chores all day, waiting for some alien to come along and marry him or… She smiled mischievously. "What do ya need a key for?" Tenchi paused in his search. "I am a Goddess after all."
Tenchi's eyes widened momentarily before the implication set it "Alright! Let's go then!" Tenchi quickly abandoned his chores and the two vacated the room with haste.
Less than ten minutes later Katsuhito Masaki stood in the doorway of the empty room, finding his charge noticeably absent from his duties. He stroked his bearded gray chin, absently wondering where he had ran off to. The grandfather knew it wouldn't be the temple since he had the keys, so Tenchi was probably off taking a break somewhere. Suspicions mollified for the moment, Katsuhito went to kitchen to grab a snack.
Ranma watched Tenchi yank the sword out of the ancient shrine with some curiosity. Masaki flipped it around to test its balance, both examined it carefully. Definitely not a katana, Ranma decided. The strait lines of the scabbard and the oddly designed hilt were evidence enough of that. While the Anything Goes School didn't necessarily emphasis the use of edged weaponry, it didn't neglect it either. The student growled with strain as he attempted to pull the scabbard free. Wasn't Chinese either, she realized. Infact, the entire hilt design was much too exotic to be—The blade finally snapped free and in Tenchi's hands rested the weapon that once slew mighty demons. Both teens frowned.
"Your sword's a piece of junk, Tenchi." The dejected Goddess commented upon seeing the rust eaten stick of metal that was once a blade.
Tenchi wasn't exactly happy either. "Give me a break… This thing is supposed to cut through rock?" He gave it a careless slice and shattered the ancient blade across one of the warding stones, which promptly split clean in two. Ranma only had a moment to be surprised when a small pebble bounced off her head and the entire cave began to rumble. She looked up in time to find a huge boulder in freefall. A quick sidestep saw the stone imbed itself into the earth beside her and she twitched visibly at the thought of becoming a Saotome pancake.
Tenchi abandoned the stone he was attempting to piece back together just as the boulder slammed home. Both looked at one another, then the now broken sword in his hand. A light breeze brushed by them and Ranma's brush with death was forgotten as they sought the source, a wide fissure in the far cave wall that definitely hadn't been there before. The redhead shrugged and Tenchi squeezed through, Ranma following close behind. The only illumination came from a shaft of light that had somehow managed to piece the cave's ceiling, but it wasn't enough to see the standing water the boy promptly stepped in. Or the stalactite that jumped in front of his forehead. Or the slippery section of the finely machined incline he now tried to stand upright on, with little success. The hilt of the ruined sword clattered into the pit as he flailed wildly to maintain his balance, grabbing on to the first object within reach.
Unfortunately that just happened to be Ranma's arm and the two hit the ground, sliding wildly down the dark shaft where they were deposited a hundred feet later in a most compromising position. It would have been a great position had they been lovers. Urd would have approved. Maybe even watched. Tenchi covered the redhead like a blanket and there was no body part not left touching one another. The pair's eyes were locked on to one another as both faces began to progress through multiple shades of pink. Tenchi, being the passive sort simply laid their in shock on top of her while Ranma was still trying to decide exactly why she was letting him do so. The Boy part of her psyche voted to snap his neck. The girl, Ranma noted with some surprise was a bit of a hentai. She voted in favor of pulling the handsome student into something more than just a kiss. The goddess winced and ruthlessly suppressed her before settling for something diplomatic, yet to the point.
"Get off me before I snap yer neck."
Tenchi's eyes widened and somehow instantly teleported himself to a standing position against the stone wall. If it hadn't been for the ambient lighting, his red face would have lit the small cavern with its own glow. The embarrassment was short lived as he found the source of the ambient lighting; A pit in the center of the cavern. Student and Goddess peered over the edge into the luminance body of water and the flesh and bone remains therein.
"Is that…?" Ranma stared down at the badly decomposed corpse that obviously wasn't quite human.
"…The demon sealed by my ancestors?" Tenchi wondered aloud, completing her thought. The body barely broke the surface of the small crystalline reservoir. He had recovered the hilt only to let it slip out of his hands as another wave of surprise rippled through him. All this time and grandfather's legends were… true? The artifact clattered to the ground, startling both boy and girl out of their trances.
"Eep!" Ranma squeaked as Tenchi flinched. She shot an accusing glare at her partner. "Don't do that!" Sure, she had already been to hell and back during her two month tenure as the Norn Goddess of Luck, but this entire situation was just creepy. Good ol' Tenchi's ancestors have been hiding corpses in weird looking underground catacombs that had aged surprisingly well for being over seven hundred years old. Pretty decent construction given the fact that they should have been working with, oh, I dunno… Pick axes? That revelation alone set her mind on another track entirely… His grandfather was an alien after all. Would explain the weird angular groves in the impossibly smooth tiling that made of the ground they now stood on. She leaned into the pit a bit further for a better view as Tenchi bent over to retrieve the exotic, if ruined sword. The thing reeked of power while the demon didn't exactly taste like a demon in her mind.
The Goddesses coherent thoughts were rudely interrupted when the corpse shuddered and moved. Tenchi's hand locked around the hilt of the sword and a shriveled hand locked around his wrist. He snatched his hand back only to find the grip of iron yank back at him, and the demon slowly rose from its watery tomb.
"Ack! Let go of me!" the student protested in horror as monster drew him closer. Even as the scene played out in front of her, part of Ranma rejoiced as she once again found herself on familiar ground; that being kicking ass and taking names. Aliens were still a bit of a gray area for her as she only learned of their existence yesterday. Super villains and demons however were pretty clear-cut. She knew exactly how to handle those. The ball of super-charged energy forming in her hand was preempted by a flash of light. Tenchi's souvenir glowed for a brief moment and dumped raw power into his new friend, forcibly separating both in a blinding flash of light. The boy landed on his butt and quickly scampered to his feet while the demon drifted back into the middle of its tomb, dazed and groaning. Its eyes glowed brightly and that was it for Tenchi. He grabbed Ranma's hand on reflex and ran back for the shaft, dragging her up the entire length.
"Do you practice with the blade, Goddess?" Katsuhito Masaki asked after he put Tenchi back to work, apparently none the wiser of their little excursion. He tossed her a bokken, which she whipped through the air to test its balance.
"A little." Seemed the old man wanted to spar. On any other day, she would have dismissed him as over the hill, but this old man was an alien and she could feel the power bubbling within if she probed deep enough.
"Then let's have a little match, shall we?"
Ranma whipped the blade around one more time before bringing it to an offensive strike position in front of her. She also knew from her conversations with Tenchi that he was a master, and truth be told, her skills with the blade were getting a bit rusty. Kuno didn't exactly make for a decent match, after all. The elder moved into his own stance and now the Goddess was intrigued. It was one she had never seen before and she resolved to pay very close attention to this particular match.
She nodded and that was all it took to set Kasuhito on the offensive. Ranma was barely able to bring the bokken up in time to defect his first strike and she was firmly on the defensive as he hammered away at her guard. Three strikes later and she saw her opening, only to have her head nearly taken off in a feint. Damn, he's good! Ranma brought the blade up and desperately tried to retake the offense through a series of aerial flips, bringing her own practice blade down hard overhead. Deflected. She retained the momentum of that attack and continued to probe his style, which seemed impenetrable. Even as her next probe knifed in, she had a wicked idea. Ranma Saotome, Heir(ess) of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts and Goddess of Luck wasn't called a martial arts prodigy for nothing, and Kasuhito Masaki was about to find out exactly why. He continued to deflect her probes and analyzed her style, storing tactics and preparing his counterattack when he saw it—A hole in her offense. The master decided that was a good place to start her lesson.
He took advantage of the fault and instantly realized his mistake as his attack was deflected away and Ranma's blade arced around in the same corkscrew maneuver he himself had initiated only moments ago. Kasuhito countered before the attack even came close, but the successful save did nothing to lessen his shock. The girl had just devised and incorporated a Jurai combat technique into her own style after witnessing its execution merely once! With her trap failed, he watched as the goddess flipped away to avoid the inevitable counterattack. He was about to press that counterattack, but stopped short as she fell back into a defensive guard. Even her stance was different now, showing hints of its Jurai heritage. She didn't have enough to use it potently, but the fact the fact that she was even trying was incredible. The grandfather's hesitation broke, and he launched himself at the girl, determined to show her the fullest measure of the Jurai art he practiced.
She didn't last another five minutes.
"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!" Ranma fumed, glaring at the old man. "You hit hard for an old guy!"
"You're holding back." Katsuhito stated with a frown, looking down at his opponent.
Ranma stood back up and tossed the blade back to Tenchi's grandfather. "Well, yeah and no." She rubbed the knot on her head once more. "I could tap my power, but that'd be cheatin'.'Cides, that's some technique you got there."
Katsuhito nodded. "It has been in our family for… generations." He seemed to smile faintly at his own joke and Ranma smiled back in mischief.
"Yeah. It's kinda out of this world."
The grandfather's mental process stopped momentarily and suffered through a quick reboot. Of course she would know. She's a Goddess of this planet after all. Kind of short sighted of me for not realizing it before. But he could give as good as he got.
"So how was your visit to the cave?" He inquired casually.
"Jeez, you wouldn't belie—" Ranma stopped suddenly, gazing on the elder with intent. His mask remained one of placid neutrality. "I see. Sneaky old guy too."
The elder took a small bow. "I'll take that as a compliment from one such as yourself." His tone grew serious. "You do realize he breached the seal?"
Ranma sighed. "Yeah, somehow I didn't think that vine knot job around the stone would work." She looked at the grandfather and grinned. "Couldn't be helped anyway." Katsuhito Masaki favored her a questioning look. "I'm not sure how, but it has something to do with his wish. We probably couldn't have stopped it even if we tried."
The elder considered the Goddess in front of him a moment longer and began to chuckle. "Somebody out of this world?"
She too chuckled at the running joke. "Yep."
The chuckles rapidly grew into full laughter. "Then let me tell you a little story about a demon named Ryoko…"
Skuld tapped her foot impatiently. She didn't need to consult a clock for the time as she was getting a continuous feed from the Yggradsil, and it was telling her one thing—Sensei was late. "You sure you haven't seen her, A-chan?"
Akane finished the last of her stretches and tightened her gi. "I don't think she came home last night." She looked at Nabiki, wondering if she knew where Ranma had wandered off to.
Nabiki saw the look and shrugged. "Haven't seen her either.." Secretly, she couldn't be more pleased. Now granted, the Goddess was the focus of her affections as of late, but the brutal workout Ranma had put her through yesterday was more than enough for her to hope for a day off. Even as the middle Tendo began to count her blessings, the air around the trio began to shudder with pressure.
All three girls jumped at the sound, light flashing around them. Skuld shook her head clear and a smell tickled her nose. Ozone? They all turned and found the source instantly. The center of the dojo now held a tallish boy in his late teens. The bandanna and tiny fangs identified him instantly.
"Ryoga!" Akane blurted with a smile. It was a shock to be sure, but a pleasant one nonetheless.
Nabiki looked over the lost boy curiously. "Did you just…?"
"My Personal Dimensional Transporter!" Skuld's eyes widened, noticing the bulky watch device on his wrist. "Where'd you get that?"
Ryoga scratched his head sheepishly. "Um, Ranma gave it to me." Skuld scrutinized him for a moment and shrugged, unable to discern any falsehood. "I guess I should explain…"
"Yeah," Nabiki agreed dryly. "Explain to us why you just appeared out of nowhere."
"Actually, Ranma asked me to do a favor for him…"
"Her." Skuld pointed out, sticking up for her sister.
"Er, right." Ryoga amended, still adjusting to the new facts of life concerning Ranma. He was now locked as a she and had been more than happy to accept him as a friend. Even helped him with his directional curse. And now this… "She already told you there might occasions where her, um, job would keep her occupied at times, right?" The girls nodded. "Well, Ranma was worried about her ability to teach your classes properly."
"Meaning..?" Akane asked.
"Meaning my name is Ryoga Hibiki." He formally introduced himself with a lopsided grin. "I'll be your instructor for the next few days."
The trio of girls blinked. Skuld didn't mind, but then, she didn't have a clue. Akane and Nabiki definitely had one, having witnessed the numerous Ranma-Ryoga brawls over the last two and a half years first hand. Both girls paled slightly. Akane loved Ryoga like a brother and all, but this was Ranma's idea of a substitute! They were so dead.
"Boy, Saotome can sure pick 'em…" Nabiki remarked with no small measure of depression in her voice.
Ryoga turned to the middle Tendo, an unpleasant smile creeping across his face. "Speaking of which, Ranma left special instructions with me on how to train you."
Nabiki gulped. Today was starting off to be a really bad day.
In front of Urd sat the most ineligible bachelor in all of existence. The thirty something had a crop of blond hair, sharp features and an absolutely perfect physique; all wrapped in casual, yet trendy business attire. He took another puff of his pipe and leaned back into the rich brown leather chair, and she couldn't help but to smile… Like she was in the presence of her older brother, somebody that would always be there and look out for her.
"So how is our protégé doing, Urd-chan?" God inquired with a friendly smile and the Goddess sat down in the chair opposite of him.
Urd brushed a errant strand of white hair from her face and returned the smile. "Quite well. In over her head sometimes, but that seems to be where Ran-chan thrives."
"Indeed." Kami-sama agreed. "Still a bit rough around the edges, I see."
She smiled at the private joke. Ranma wasn't the only one 'rough around the edges'. "Would you have it any other way?"
God's smile turned into a smirk. "Of course not. I guess I can let it slide given the fact that she's only been on the job for two months."
Urd rolled her eyes, then continued in a slightly more serious tone. "I don't suppose you've given any thought to her request…?"
Kami-sama took a puff of His pipe and gained a thoughtful countenance. "I have indeed, daughter. Unfortunately I must decline the request."
"…At this time." He added gently. "Miss Saotome still has her road to walk, much like you when you were still a child, Urd-chan." She blinked at the direct correlation and Kami-sama continued. "And like you before, her path is fraught with shadows and many darkened ends because of her precarious balance. Strength and healing are what she needs right now, not a crutch. If she turns to her birth form, she will not heal and her spirit will not strengthen. As it is, Ranma will need both for the project I am about to give her."
Urd looked at well-dressed man in front of her, considering His words carefully. It didn't seem fair, but Kami-sama was right. Ranma's former life was a shambling nightmare and directly associated with that nightmare was her gender. It bound his fiancées to him. His rivals. His family's ideals. And it all relentlessly pounded away at him like a jackhammer. It didn't take a psychologist to realize something would have to give if it continued, but her promotion to Goddess changed all that. The removal of her birth form had gone a long way towards alleviating the burden placed upon her sister, Urd realized. So many problems had simply evaporated with that fact alone, allowing a significant amount of stress to up and disappear while the healing took place. It also promoted balance. Eighteen years of Ranma's life had not merely been spent as a man, but his parents twisted parody of a man's man and that simply wouldn't do for a deity, especially a first class, category one deity. Her job would bring her into contact with every race, religion and sex imaginable, and over the course of that mission she was sure to assume many forms. Not simply that—
"Project?" Urd's attention focused suddenly, realizing there was more to this meeting than she had originally anticipated. "Doesn't she already have a project?"
Kami-sama nodded. "Indeed, but I'm afraid this one can't wait." Urd didn't bother to hide the puzzled look on her face and God obliged with a single word.
Urd's eyes widened as she sucked in an involuntary breath. The word hung forebodingly between father and daughter like a curse or some forbidden epithet. She did not like where this conversation was heading. Saffron had been a god once; A Phoenix god, but somewhere along the way he had strayed. His focus turned inward and it wasn't long before the only person he served was himself. Inevitably, that power hungry megalomania brought him head to head with another whose first goal above all else was to protect those who could not protect themselves; someone who would do so with unflinching resolve. That day Saffron made several mistakes. He kidnapped Ranma's fiancée. He enslaved a friend. He threatened his family. And he woefully underestimated just how far Saotome would go to safeguard the ones he loved. That day Saffron learned the hard way that there were boundaries to arrogance and not every mortal was to be trifled with. But rebirth was a cycle of life concerning deities and Urd was instantly tracking Kami-sama's logic. Even so…
"He has fallen from the path once, daughter." God explained with a hint of sorrow. "I cannot allow that to happen again."
Urd shook her head. "Ranma's not going to be a happy camper."
God chuckled. "So why do you think I brought her best friend to see me first?"
The Goddess of the Past blinked and a frown spread across her face. The words "shoot the messenger" just didn't quite cover this situation, so she settled for a labored sighed. Some days it just didn't pay to get out of bed.
"Yo, wake up." Ranma gave Tenchi a light kick to the ribs, inciting a surprised snort from the student. "Whatcha doing up here anyway? Pass out or something?"
Tenchi yawned and turned over. Above him stood Ranma with an expression of curiosity on her face, and beyond that, the evening sky. Evening sky? I'm still on the school roof, Tenchi thought with some annoyance. "Oh great… I fell asleep."
"Missed all your classes this afternoon, too." She pointed out with light concern. "Was gettin' worried about ya." For better or worse, she was going to have to play guardian angel until his wife came along and abducted him, and that meant going to school. At least it wasn't as bad as Furikan, she noted. Besides, she could feel the wish in her blood and its power was beginning to peak. Won't be too much longer before—
Tenchi turned and the Goddess froze, hair sticking up on end. Pleasedontletitbeacat PleasedontletitbeacatPleasedont— Ranma's mantra of survival was interrupted as the student only managed to confirm her worst fears. "Kitty! How did you get up here?" She now watched in horror as he knelt down to coax it over and it happily obliged him by running in their direction. The approaching sound of a cat bell signified her impending doom.
"NononononONONONONOOOO!" Ranma panicked, flailing wildly in panic as the feline approached, her eyes wide as saucers. Tenchi simply stared at the hyperventilating woman before him. "CAAAAATTTTT!" With that final proclamation he watched with incredulity as she jumped over the guard fence and off the rooftop, disappearing from sight
Tenchi shook his head. What kind of Goddess is afraid of a… He looked around the vacant roof …Cat? The cat was gone, spirited away as if it had never existed. In its place however was something slightly more sinister. A slight giggle attracted his attention and on the air conditioning unit sat a woman. A wild mane of cyan hair framed her sharp features and orange-yellow eyes. Another giggle issued from the woman and she threw Tenchi a bell that sang through the air until it caught by him.
Tenchi gaped for a moment then replied with his vast intellect. "Huh?"
She favored him with a smile. "That's my name."
If she would have left it at that, things would have been fine. She was cute. Proper introductions could be made and Tenchi could go home. Sadly, the glow in her eyes told him otherwise. No, this wasn't some sort of emotional attachment on the part of the air conditioner-borne cat girl. Tenchi watched as her eyes as they began to honest-to-God glow. A glow he had seen somewhere before. A demonic glow. Orange points of energy began to form around him and running was beginning to seem like a very good idea.
"It was cold and dark in there," She began, her voice carrying the weight of sorrow behind it. "Seven hundred yeas have passed since I was trapped in that cave." Fire began to creep into those incandescent eyes with each spoken word. "You'll never know how much pain I had to suffer."
It was obvious now, Tenchi realized. "So you came back for... revenge!" Not that it mattered when he tried to explain that it wasn't his fault. Or that he had nothing to do with the Yosho character that trapped her there in the first place. Of course, the freeze-dried demon comment hadn't helped matters either.
The orange points of light were sucked into her hand to form what looked to be a light saber and it was at that moment that Tenchi decided that running was, in fact, an excellent idea indeed.
It took five miles for Ranma's brain to recover from its cat-induced crash and recover her wits. She slid to a halt just outside a small all night convenience store and mentally reviewed what had just happened. Letsee, she thought. Um… Roof, Tenchi, cat. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's all of—
The noise was distorted by distance, but the low rumbling throb caught Ranma's attention easily. If that weren't enough, an accompanying spike of power pulsed through her brain and she knew it for what it was and where it came from—A powerful discharge of energy directly from where she just came. The school. And Tenchi. She took to the air and hovered at an altitude of a hundred feet. Even from five miles out she could see bolts of power lance across the campus and Ranma fumed. Dammit, he would have to pick now to get abducted! First she'd take care of Tenchi. Then she'd find whoever let that damn cat onto the roof!
The distance only took seconds to transverse at high-speed flight and Ranma looked down on the situation—A cyan haired woman floating around throwing energy bolts at her Tenchi! Ranma barely noticed her feminine aspect creep in as she powered up for an energy blast of her own. The nerve--!
Ryoko was having a grand time. Free for the first time in seven hundred years and living out the dream that had occupied so much of that time… Revenge on clan Masaki-Jurai! Oh, sure, it wasn't that prick Yosho, but the boy would do just fine in his place. She brought her hand to bear on the running teen once again and an orange ball formed—A warning blasted through Ryoko and she cut right on instinct, narrowly avoiding being impaled by a sizzling bright blue energy bolt that passed through her altitude and obliterated a good chunk of the school below in a plume of holy fire. She spun around and found the newcomer hovering fifty feet above her and away, menace glittering in the redhead's eyes.
"Leave him alone."
Ryoko stared at teen with incredulity. Tenchi's girlfriend! The same girl who had jumped off the roof ten minutes ago, she realized. Only now she's dressed funny and lobbing energy bolts. What the hell…? She tried to read the floating girl but turned up nothing. Definitely not Juraian, Ryoko decided. But she could fly, so not human either. Oh well. Ryoko powered up her next energy blast, aiming it at the redhead. I'll just have to torture the information out of Tenchi after I dispose of her...
The orange bolt streaked in and Ranma tried a neat little trick she had learned since her last visit to hell. The blast hit dead on, terminating abruptly three feet from her person as its power crackled off an invisible barrier. She tasted the energy strength as it rebounded on her shielding. The cyan haired girl was powerful. Powerful enough to cause Skuld some problems, but she was a Goddess first class, Category One unlimited. Ranma smiled. Ryoko frowned.
It wasn't even going to be close to fair.
She felt the girl's power levels spike and Ryoko decided right there that her only chance rested in an unrelenting offense. She snatched at the air, plucking orange balls from it and heaving them at the girl four and five at a time, only to have them crash off that ridiculous energy barrier of hers. Fine! Let's see how she likes hand to hand! The glowing orange bolts coalesced in her hands to form an energy sword and she closed the distance rapidly. Time to hack the floating little redhead in—
--half? An glowing ivory staff whipped out of nowhere and cracked against her energy sword and now Ryoko stared into her mischievous grin. Who the HELL was this girl!
"Well I WAS watching out for Tenchi, but I missed my practice today, so…" Ranma flipped Phoenix Wind around and the two were engaged, cracking at one another's guard as they darted through the sky.
The object of the female's attention was currently lying prone, watching the two dance across the sky in combat. Lightening shrieked as blade struck staff and the occasional energy blast tore down range. Tenchi watched them arc into the school, destroying yet another wing of classrooms. The building burned and Tenchi silently thanked God he had made it out with book bag in hand before the gas line ruptured. What Ranma and the demon were doing was simply icing on the cake after that. If the rest of the structure survived the night it would positively be a miracle.
Somehow he didn't see Ranma being that generous.
Ryoko was having a bad millennium. First she was defeated by that damned Yosho. Then she was sealed in a tomb for the next seven hundred years. And THEN when it was finally time to exact her vengeance, the person she had chosen to hack into little bits had a damned magical girl body guard! Her energy sword wavered as the staff bit into its field once more. And what the hell was that thing made out of anyway! It radiated power as easily as the litle girl floating in front of her and it sure wasn't of Jurian origin. Ryoko lost altitude as the redheaded guardian pressed her guard, leaning nose to nose.
"I think it's time to end this little—" Ranma blinked as he stared into the demon's eyes. Those weren't just eyes… They were cat's eyes! She stiffened and pulled back. It was all the opportunity Ryoko needed. The sword instantly transformed into an energy bolt while another formed in her off hand. She was going to make her pay for that lapse.
Her concentration shattered, Ranma's divine shielding was non-existent as the bolts impacted from point-blank range, followed by a vicious uppercut and savage kick to the gut. What Ryoko lacked in finesse, she more than made up in brute force and raw firepower, and the dazed goddess took every single hit on the chin. The cyan demon shoved another orange bolt strait into Ranma's face and she went down in a long, tumbling arc. Ryoko took stock of her handiwork. Her opponent's power levels was still far too high and active for that to have been a knockout blow, let alone anything close to lethal. That had to mean she's only stunned, Ryoko surmised and locked onto Tenchi below. An evil grin crept across her exhausted face. The red wouldn't be down for long, so she'd better make the moment count. The sword formed in her hand once again.
"Don't be scared Sweetie Pie, here I come!"
Ryoko powered into her dive, sword sweeping in high from on high and the only thing Tenchi could do was hold his book bag up in pathetic defense. Needless to say both were surprised when it began to bleed light on the downward stroke. The bag was consumed and Ryoko phased back to avoid the shockwave of light. No! The girl might not have had the power of Jurai, but there was no mistaken THIS! The antique hilt floated in the air before Tenchi and the woman knew she couldn't afford for him to touch it.
Ryoko was well and truly pissed now. Did everybody have energy shielding today? She threw another blast into him, only to have it crackle off the barrier of light that now interposed itself between her and Tenchi.
"Shit!" The demon spat and formed her energy sword as she plummeted in. She'd chop the boy into kibble if it was the last thing she— Tenchi grasped the hilt and even as the strike arced home. Lightening crackled against her blade and the hilt came to life for the first time in seven hundred years. The blue edge flickered to life and Ryoko despaired once more.
"That's not playing fair, Tenchi!" She tried to force the blade in further and continued to meet impossible resistance.
While he couldn't believe it himself, the notion of playing fair with this woman was absolutely ludicrous. "Give me a break!" The sword's power coursed through his body and made a connection. It recognized his royal linage its energy levels spiked, throwing Ryoko away in a movement almost of its own violation. It was all the incentive Tenchi Masaki need to awaken his own training and he instinctive fell into the Jurian combat form drilled into him by his grandfather. The student pressed the sword's opening, driving the demon back with a series of hard, desperate slashes. He was doing pretty well too until he opened his mouth again. "Nobody wants to fight a monster like you!"
Sure Ryoko was a space pirate. And yeah, she was wanted dead or alive on eighty-seven different worlds. Of course, there was that bit about destroying half the Jurian main battle fleet too, but beyond all that Ryoko was a woman. A crude, crass and incredibly powerful woman to be sure, but woman nonetheless. You just don't call women monsters …Even if they were sealed and mummified in a tomb for over seven hundred years.
"MONSTER?" Tenchi's blade hit a solid block and Ryoko's temper climaxed violently. The next sword strike never came and the next thing he felt was a fist applied forcefully to the side of his head, sending him into the nearby fence. "How DARE you call me a MONSTER!" Even as she raged forward, another spike of warning drove itself through her anger and she threw herself aside at the last minute. A shockwave slapped against her as another bright blue energy ball by her and into the what little remained of the school. Ryoko hit the ground and recovered, her towering rage now replaced by nervous apprehension. The redhead was back up and radiating enough power to light a solar system. She took a step back. It was exactly the distraction Tenchi needed and the sword sensed the advantage, eager to score a desperate blow. Torn between the need to defend against Tenchi's insanely powerful bodyguard and the sword bearer himself, Ryoko twisted around wildly, hoping to remover herself from both. She'd have to be content with one out of two.
The move neatly removed her from any fatal blows courtesy of Tenchi's blade, but brought her arm into play which was promptly lopped off at the wrist. The small jewel worn there separated and fell to the ground, producing an explosion on impact. Both combatants froze and Ranma simply watched the two from a distance. She was tempted to throw another energy blast in, but something in the back of her mind was nagging her not to. It took her only a moment to recognize it… The power of his wish coming to fruition.
Ryoko's anger vanished suddenly and her face turned rather thoughtful as she sighed. "Oh well. Another battle lost. My miserable lot, I guess." Tenchi stared and she finally noticed the stump where her hand used to be. Ranma was slightly surprised that she seemed remarkably unconcerned.
Tenchi on the other hand was horrified. "Sorry! The sword did it! I didn't mean to cut off your hand!" The student produced a stiff, formal bow while Ryoko giggled lightly and proceeded to regenerate her hand right there on the spot with next to no effort. The amazed Tenchi stared as she bowed like stager performer and smiled before sinking into the ground from sight. Ranma stepped over to the student, both staring at the patch of concrete that had consumed her. He looked at the Goddess of Luck with equal parts shock and amazement playing across his face. "Do you think we'll see her again?"
Unfortunately, Ranma knew the answer to that one all too well. If the demon was bound that tightly by his wish and The Ultimate Force… "Yeah, I think we can count on it."
The Goddess of the Past ticked her nails into the oaken wood bar impatiently, noting the clock on the far wall of the establishment. Despite the antiquated appearance and oversized gears driving a large, brass pendulum, the clock was, in fact, tied directly to the Yggradsil and thus one of the most accurate time pieces in all of creation. All of this meant only one thing to the white maned woman alternately known as the Goddess of Love…
…Her friend and protégé was late.
A tan finger traced an errant droplet of water across the oak countertop that managed to escape the glass of ice water she was nursing, which was a crime in and of itself. The water ought to have been sake and should have been consumed in mass quantities over cavorting and laughter if a certain redhead decided to grace her with her with her presence. Well, it wouldn't all be laughter, she Urd amended silently as her eyes swept across the crowded room of gods and goddess enjoying themselves. No, she was the bearer of bad news tonight, bad news that began with a capital 'Saffron'. All the more reason to soften the blow with a few shots, she smiled internally.
She was just about to engage in another round of mental grousing when the bar door opened, allowing brighter daylight to infiltrate the softly lit establishment. The silhouetted profile stood in the light, apparently searching the bar for somebody in particular. To Urd, the shadow was unmistakable, and she waved a hand to get its attention. The figure locked on to her and made its way through the bustling crowd. The closer Ranma got, the wider Urd's eyes became.
She was a mess.
"Do I even want to know?" Urd asked without preamble, and the Goddess of Luck frowned. Her hair was frazzled, robes slightly on the worn side, with a burn mark here and there. Whatever it was, it wouldn't be good and she'd obviously forgotten to tidy up.
"Tenchi and his rotten wish!" She growled. Urd cocked her head and listened as the redhead unloaded. "He unsealed an alien demon-woman, for cryin' out loud! Tried her best to turn him sausage with her freakin' lightsaber!"
"…lightsaber?" Urd blinked, then motioned for the bartending cherub to start rolling the sake.
"Oh, that ain't the half of it." Ranma's wings quivered slightly, agitation that didn't go unnoticed by the Goddess of the Past. "Get this… She followed him home of all places, tried to seduce him, managed to call down another vengeful alien, ran me over with a meowing starship and kidnapped Tenchi!"
Urd stared in silence for a moment, then simply shook her head. "Are you sure your domain isn't chaos?"
"Just lucky I guess." Ranma deadpanned the deliberate joke. "So I get aboard Ryoko's ship to rescue Tenchi, only to have him kidnapped again by the other alien."
"Did her ship meow too?" Urd asked skeptically, and Ranma shrugged.
"No, hers was made of wood." The redhead replied offhandedly and continued. "So I go off after Tenchi, and Ayeka- the second alien's name –attacks us with these logs…"
"Talking logs," Ranma emphasized. "Talking logs with blasters. Apparently, Ryoko and Ayeka got some bad blood between 'em and the two start blowing the crap out of each other in low earth orbit. They roasted one another and fell into the mountains near Tenchi's house. Ported 'em out before the crash, told Tenchi to call me if they acted up and got the heck out of there."
Urd handed Ranma a shot glass, which she eagerly downed. "You know, for a goddess one-one, subtly isn't your strong suite."
The redhead's glass was already on the bar and her fingers curling round another sake. "Talk to my teacher." She replied, prompting a pained expression from her white haired counterpart. "Did I mention we blew up a school?"
"Definitely your sister." The cherub bartender winked at Urd before continuing to serve his patrons.
"So how about you?" Ranma asked, grinning at the jab. "Anything exciting happen to you today?"
"Oh, the usual." Urd shrugged. "Just a meeting with Kami-sama.
Ranma's third glass of sake paused on it's ascent up to her lips. 'The usual' didn't quite cover meetings with God himself. That, and she had some questions for Kami-sama, namely those involving the reinstatement of his male-form. "Yeah, and?"
Urd took a deep breath. She wasn't going to enjoy this. "Well, first He says there are some things that need worked out before you can assume your male form." The Goddess of Luck visibly deflated with the reply, but kept listening. "The second was, well… Um… Here, have another drink." Ranma took the proffered glass of sake wearily. "The second has to do with another project He has in mind."
"What… project?" The redhead asked carefully.
"There's somebody in desperate need of guidance." Urd explained, talking around the subject. "Somebody in desperate need of your guidance."
Ranma scowled. "Alright, alright. I get the idea. Who?"
The Goddess of Luck went deathly still. The only indication that there was any emotion roiling beneath the calm exterior was a thin hairline fracture creeping up the side of the sake glass she was gripping. "I can't."
"He needs help, Ra-chan." Urd returned gently. "When you took him out, he was reborn. Unless someone intervenes, he may very well turn back to his former path. The consequences of that…"
"But me." Ranma replied bitterly, finishing off the sake. "Why me? Don't I have enough drama in my life?" Even as the words fell from her lips, she knew why. She had the most recent contact with him, watched him ascend to his most destructive potential and finally dealt him the decisive blow that would reincarnate the immortal as a child. It was a circle of rather sickening irony. She was there for his end and now had been apparently chosen to see him through a new beginning.
"Kami-sama wouldn't give something this important to you if He didn't think you could handle it." Urd pointed out gently, then smiled. "Tell ya what. I'll even tag along if it'll make you feel any better."
Ranma stared out into the bustling crowed without actually seeing anything. "Yeah, I guess." Then, with a heavy sigh, "Screw the sake. I seriously need a donut."
Nabiki Tendo stepped out of the furo, loathing her existence despite the long soaking. The reason for that loathing was quite simple-- Ryoga Hibiki. It wasn't so much that Hibiki was a bad guy per se. In fact, once you got past his idiosyncrasies and the fact that he was a small black piglet when immersed in cold water, he was found to be a really nice guy.
Except when he was Ranma Saotome's stand-in as their instructor.
The middle Tendo rubbed her sore muscles and sighed wearily. What in the world had possessed her to become a part of the Nerima martial arts madness anyway? Ah yes, now she remembered. Hormones. That, and the realization that there was far more depth to Ranma than just being a martial arts jock. An attractive depth. As if her ascension to goddess didn't speak volumes on that particular topic. The girl rubbed a sore muscles as she pulled a towel from the rack and wrapped it around her person, exiting the bathroom.
Akane had endured the harder regiment with relative ease. Oh, she was still tired, but unlike herself, could still function at the end of the day. Skuld was fairing the best of all. Being a goddess did have its benefits, after all, and one of those was virtually limitless endurance. In fact, the only way Hibiki had to tire her was by forcing her to tap her magical potential while doing martial arts. Making mundane objects float across the room while having to dodge Ryoga's pummeling was an exceedingly good way to tax the goddesses limits. But unlike the little goddess, they had to go to school after practice.
All in all, they looked like death warmed over by the end of the day.
"And now this late breaking report…!" The sound of the television drew her from the stairs up to her room, and she peered into the living room, finding Akane staring rapt at a smartly dressed suit with the caption 'Gas Explosion!' cycling below him. "The fire department is currently responding to a five alarm fire occurring less than an hour ago. The Soushikisei High School was apparently reduced to flame and rubble when a gas main ruptured, destroying the entire campus. Authorities have yet to assertain…"
"You seeing this!" Akane stared into the television with wide eyes as the picture cut from the news anchor to live footage of what looked to be a flaming warzone.
"Oh my…" Even Kasumi had been coaxed to put down her book and watch the spectacle.
Akane continued to shake her head. "That's insane…" Then as an afterthought, "Why can't something like that happen to our high school?"
Nabiki's brain, however, was hard at work putting two and two together. Nerima was quiet. Ranma was at 'work'. Another part of Tokyo just spontaneously blew up in a most violent fashion. Ergo, there was only one place the Martial Arts Goddess of Luck could be. Sure, she'd have to make a few calls just to be sure, the middle Tendo thought, but she was all but certain…
"Say, Akane… How'd you like to take a trip to Chuugoku this weekend?"
Two robed women overlooked the majesty of the Byankala mountain range and the valley below from their own mountainous vantage point. The first was familiar with the area, having traveled off and on within the Quinghai providence of China for well over the last millennia. In fact, there were few places on Earth she hadn't been at one time or another. The second was a relative newcomer to the region. Her experience stemmed mostly from a number of unfortunate incidents, in part due to her father while the rest could be attributed to just plain bad luck. Both now stood atop the second tallest peak in the range, looking out upon the first.
"I ain't looking forward to this." Ranma grumbled, frowning out at the peak. Above it, small figures seemed to float around the hollowed out cone. At this distance, discerning their identity was marginal at best, but the redhead didn't need guess work to know who and what the winged figures represented.
Urd nodded, keeping an even expression. Of course she wasn't looking forward to this. These were only the people that threatened her friends and family as a mortal, not to mention the home of her one-time adversary. The Goddess of the Past squinted slightly. "I think they've noticed us."
The redhead nodded as three of the specs separated from the wandering cloud, angling down toward them. At least there was one good thing to come of the situation, Ranma thought as the winged figures moved into their airspace. They were in one hellva rude surprise when they found out exactly what she had become. The trio of armed Phoenix people made a shallow decent onto their peak, kicking up a light cloud of dust and causing their robes to flutter with their landings. Two winged men and one woman clad in light golden body armor stepped up to the pair with haughty expressions plastered across their face. Yeah, Ranma thought with amusement. She was so looking forward to dropping this bomb.
"And just who are you to trespass into the territory of the Phoenix, mortals?" The bird woman sneered, prompting Urd to roll her eyes.
"Pretty arrogant, eh Ran-chan?" She smiled pleasantly.
"Same ol', same ol'." Ranma shrugged. Clearly, their reactions had been expected.
"You mock us, Landling?" One of the bird men took a step forward, but failed to move the aforementioned landlings to any sort of fear of panic.
"No, we're saving that for later." The Goddess of the Past stated matter-of-factly, causing Ranma to barely suppress a smile.
"Here to see Kiima and Saffron." The Goddess of Luck stated, fiddling with her long red braid in bordom. "Tell 'em Ranma Saotome sent ya."
The birdman instantly dropped any pretense of threat and took a step back. "Ranma…?"
"…Saotome?" His bird woman compatriot finished, her fearsome mask cracking completely.
"They seem to know you Ran-chan!" Urd grinned, nudging her redheaded friend.
Ranma took the nudges in stride. "Yeah, that's me, mister famous." Her stare into the trio hardened. "So ya gonna go and announce us or something? Would really hate for there to be another misunderstanding… Like last time."
All three Phoenix people paled. They clearly remembered the last misunderstanding with Ranma Saotome and vacated the area abruptly.
Captain Kiima studied her uninvited guests warily, especially the redheaded one. Ranma Saotome she knew and knew well. After all, the Slayer of Saffron wasn't a person to easily slip from ones recollection. She adjusted the long sword at her hip, knowing full well that if it came down to using it, she would come up well short- armed or not -against the martial artist. Saffron had been the best of them, after all. Kiima knew she was good, but not that good. Still, there was something different about the Saotome today. While she hadn't had a lot of exposure to his cursed form, she had to wonder why he hadn't come as a male. Nearly half of the mountain's population knew that face on sight and the outer sentries wouldn't have challenged him in such a matter had they know this girl was he in the first place. Then there was her state of dress. Last she had known, the Ranma Saotome she knew wasn't so well adjusted to her female form to be wearing the fine robes she currently sported, let alone jewelry, and a long, waist length ponytail. Grudging acceptance? Yes. Indulgence? Definitely not. It was oddness only compounded by the fact that her long white haired friend was in nearly the same style of elaborate robbing, with minor differences; namely in the fact that she had no problems showing off her well endowed body. They even shared facial tattooing. The Captain shrugged mentally. Not that any of those thoughts really mattered to her. The only thing that did was to find out what the Saotome wanted and to send him on his way before he caused more trouble.
"I must admit to some surprise," The Captain admitted aloud as she strode into the room that contained the waiting women. Ranma put down a intricately carved decorative tusk she had found on a table while the tanned stranger set aside a brightly colored magazine. "As you are the last person I'd expect to see, and so soon."
Ranma set the horn down and nodded. "You and me both."
Ranma glanced over to Urd, who was smiling pleasantly. "Oh, don't mind me. I'm just here to make sure Ran-chan here doesn't level your quaint little mountain."
The Phoenix woman stiffened and her serious face masked turned to one of irritation. "If you think threats will endear yourself to our graces, you are sadly mistaken." Koruma and Masara behind her rested taloned hands on their weapons as she continued. "You had best tell us the purpose of your visit before things become… unpleasant."
"Already are…" Ranma grumbled, then addressed her directly. "Where's Saffron?"
Kiima studied the martial artist carefully. "Why do you want to know?"
"Got business with him." Ranma replied tersely, irritation creeping into her voice.
"Then your business is with me." The winged woman returned sharply. "Lest you forget the results of your own battle. Saffron is neither mentally or physically capable to deal with 'business."
Ranma ground her teeth down. "Yeah, well then if I remember right, you're the person in charge of raising him again?"
"Of course." Kiima replied. Her face clearly indicated it wasn't one of her favorite duties. "But what does that have to do with your business?"
Ranma took a deep breath and looked back to Urd, who simply nodded in support. It took a moment to gather the force of will necessary to say her next words.
"I'll be taking that over from now on."
Kiima blinked. She couldn't have just heard what she thought she heard and certainly not from Ranma. "I'm… I'm afraid I don't understand."
Ranma simply shook her head and sighed wearily. "I'll be takin' over teachin' the kid."
More blinking ensued as the Captain tried to determine if Ranma was actually serious. Granted, she tired of playing nursemaid and tutor to the future ruler of the Phoenix, but foisting him off on the person who nearly killed him…? "Please don't tell me you traveled from Japan just to humor me. The real purpose of your visit. Now."
A slight growl rose from Ranma's throat. "That is the real purpose of my visit."
Another moment of silence ensued as Kiima tried to wrap her brain around the statement and the serious tone the pony-tailed martial artist issued it in. He was serious! He thought he was going to just walk into the fortress of the Phoenix and walk out with its leader! "And what makes you think I'd allow such an event take place? You may be able to best any one of us in single combat, but you would fall to attrition one way or the other."
"Show her your credentials, Ran-chan." Urd remarked, stepping up to her side. With her words, a sheet of white feathers faded into reality and unfolded from Ranma's back. With the wings, a wave of tangible power slapped into the Phoenix. Urd did the same and the room occupants stepped back in collective shock. Kiima's eye began to twitch.
"You… You're a Phoenix!" Kiima gasped with incredulity. Her friend too! The question of 'how' raced through her brain as she struggled to cope with the sight in front of her. While she wouldn't go so far as to say it was outright impossible, highly unlikely did come to mind as there was no Spring of Drowned Phoenix, nor any magic that she knew of that would transform one into such a creature. Moreover, their forms were wrong. Slight details were amiss, such as the total lack of talons on their fingertips or fangs. Regardless, she was pretty sure that Ranma didn't have wings or the potential to grow them when they last parted company.
Ranma simply shook her head and allowed a small smile to form. "Nope. Let me introduce Urd, Goddess of the Love and the Past…"
The white haired goddess inclined her head slightly and Kiima's twitch continued. "Which would make you…"
"Ranma Saotome, Goddess of Luck." Kiima nearly staggered back, as if she had been physically struck. "We're on a mission from God."
The Phoenix woman was literally speechless. She had known that Saffron was some form of divinity, but to have others actually step in and manifest themselves in front of her… And Ranma Saotome, no less! "Have… have you always been like this? Hiding your true form?"
"Heh," Ranma chuckled dryly. "Nope, just my luck hard at work."
Kiima chewed on the enigmatic comment for a moment before Urd cut it off by shaking her head. "Don't ask."
The Captain of the Phoenix guard nodded dumbly and moved on to the next question. "And Lord Saffron?"
Ranma's good mood at having surprised her audience evaporated. "I broke him, I get to fix him."
"Meaning that Kami-sama has decided that Ranma is the best person for the task of raising Saffron." Urd supplied. "Think of Ran-chan here as his new tutor."
"His… tutor?" Kiima boggled, her wings shifting with uncertainty. "Here?"
"Ha!" Ranma guwuffed suddenly. "Ain't now way I'm sticken' around here, especially considerin' how he turned out last time. If I'm gonna be stuck with the kid, I'm gonna make sure he turns out right."
Kiima's eyes widened and her face indicated she had taken offense to the comment, but the emotion only lasted as long as it took Urd to take a step forward, leaning into the women's nose. It also helped she was glowing blue with divine power. "Don't forget who you're dealing with, little girl."
The Captain nodded shakily, having received the message loud and clear. Ranma smiled a patronizing smile. "How about you get Saffron out here? Now."
"Um, ah… My apologies, High Ones!" She stammered, and nodded to the guards. Her only consolation as they left to fetch their leader was the fact that he would be in familiar company. That, and she wouldn't be the one taking care of him. "He will require an armed escort at all--"
"Alone." Ranma shook her head, casuing the Phoenix Captain further constrenation. "I already have to babysit one kid. Don't need to babysit your guards as well." Kiima was thinking about pushing her protest, but one look back into the glittering eyes of Ranma's friend squashed the objection outright. She hated it. Really hated sending Saffron with them without a platoon of royal guard, but the women in front of her now were divinity, after all..."I demand an explanation for interrupting Lord Saffron's… lesson!" The guard's return was marked by the bluster of an elderly voice, its objection cut short as he and his student were ushered into the waiting room. The robed hunchback stood there staring at the vision before him like Kiima before—Two women, one hated enemy, both wearing wings. "What…! They…What is he doing here?"
Kiima winced at his tone, especially now that she was painfully aware that both women actually could take there mountain apart with absolute impunity. "Mind yourself, Muskrat. You are in the presence of High Ones."
Ranma Saotome paid the pair no mind, her focus consumed entirely by the young Saffron. He definitely wasn't the monster she remembered. Even before he had ascended, the Phoenix God looked something close to ten years old. Now he was six, tops. He was eerily familiar, but a stranger at the same time, and she watched as his red eyes wandered across the room and locked onto hers.
He recognizes me?
No, she realized. Not quite. The young Phoenix God cocked his head, as if trying to recall something about her that was just beyond his grasp. He looked from her, to Urd, his tutor and finally settled on Kiima. "Who're they, Kiima-chan?"
An indecisive look settled across Kiima's face. "Um, they're your new teachers…"
"New teachers?" Muskrat squealed, practically quivering with rage. "But I'm—!"
"SILENCE!" Kiima cast a hard stare into him, cutting his rage off abruptly and causing the wrinkled elder to quiver. The last thing she was going to do was piss off divinity, let alone give the Saotome an excuse to take apart their mountain. No, if Kami-sama wanted Ranma to teach Saffron, he could damn well have him. She took the godling by his hand and smiled at his surprised expression. "Saffron, this is…"
"Urd." The bronze skinned goddess smiled broadly, taking over introductions. "And this is your Auntie Ranma." Ranma's eyes widened at the title, and Saffron stared at the redhead with fascination. "You two are going to be best friends."
Ranma twisted around to stare a hole into her best friend, who in turn favored her with a malicious smile. Then she turned back to Saffron, who was already stepping toward her.
"You're my Auntie?"
It was all the Goddess of Luck could do not to puke right then and there as she looked into young Saffron's hopeful eyes. She sighed internally and knelt down to the boy's height. "Uh, yeah. Sure kiddo."
The boy immediately lurched forward in delight, wrapping his diminutive stature around the redhead, who was already thinking of the numerous ways she could pay best friend back …with a vengeance.
Akane, Nabiki and Skuld waited in the Tendo dojo by dawns early light, fully expecting Ryoga Hibiki to once again take over their lessons. This was of little surprise to the long, black haired Goddess of the Future, as she knew from the experience of her sisters that pulling wish duty could be a long, drawn out process. Her thoughts then wandered inxonerably to Belldandy, whose wish was looking to last a lifetime, if not more.
Sure enough, the Hibiki stepped in right on schedule, unexpectedly followed by a redhead clad in traditional red and black Chinese silks. Neither looked too happy at the moment.
"Ranma!" Akane's eyes widened, also having expected not to see the martial artist for a couple of days. She was about ready to step up to her former fiancée when she noticed the faces and jumped to an entirely too familiar conclusion. "You haven't been fighting with Ryoga-kun have you?"
Ranma was about to open her mouth when Nabiki pre-empted her response. "Ranma's a goddess now, Akane. I think she's got better things to do."
Akane looked from Ranma, to her older sister with a light glare, making it obvious that the opinion of her perverted sister wasn't necessarily a welcome one. It seemed to quiet her down, regardless. Skuld, however, had one.
"The wish done already , Onee-chan?"
Ranma shook her head with a bland expression on her face. "If only. I'll probably be ducking in and out for the next few weeks, so yas better be getting used to Ryoga here." The groans that accompanied the statement made the lost Boy produce a fanged grin. "But I got some important news. We have a forth student."
"Forth?" Akane blinked, while Nabiki began racking her brain as to who this person might be. Hell, the way Ranma's life has been going lately, it could very well be Kuno, and believably so. Even so, she hadn't heard even a whisper through her intelligence network concerning him or any other students at Furinkan, which could mean--
"Another Goddess?" Skuld piped out the question hopefully. Ranma nodded.
"Almost." Ranma answered. Still, her reply was far from the enthusiastic response with which he announced his last student. "First, some ground rules." Nabiki began to get a sinking pit in her stomach. Ground rules? For a student? Something wasn't right… "The most important of which is that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all."
"Um, Ranma? What's the name of our student?"
The redhead studiously ignored the question. "Second, this is not the same person you knew. If ya can't handle it, you're free to quit." The pit in Nabiki's stomache grew, and even the other two students were beginning to feel a sense of foreboding. Ryoga's stone, emotionless face wasn't helping matters. This isn't going to be good. "Finally, any problems ya have with him go through me. He's my responsibility, assigned by Kami-sama Himself."
Skuld's eyes widened as the implication rained home. Not a goddess, but a god? Was it anybody she knew? Assigned by God himself? Who could be--
"Come on in."
All eyes shifted to the doorway where a boy in exotic pasteled silks walked into the dojo. As exotic as the wardrobe was, it was easily eclipsed by his fiery mane of orange and red hair. Skuld merely stared without comprehension, as did Nabiki. Neither recognized the boy. Akane did, however, and her jaw nearly dropped off its hinge right then and there.
"It's… He's… HE'S…!"
Ranma Saotome, Goddess of Luck First Class, Category One nodded to the boy, who took a step forward to the waiting girls. His red eyes flicked curiously from one to the other in quick succession.
"My name's Saffron. Auntie Ranma said we're going to train together?"
Yeah, I know pt5 has been a long time in coming, so I hope it delivers. It's also a tad shorter than the other parts, but I felt that was the best place to leave off. No guarantees when the next part is coming up, but rest assured, I fully intend on finishing the AMR ½ saga. The preview URL is all lower case, BTW.
Masaki property; I'm talking license here and starting them off next to one another. Hardcore fans need not worry as the oxygen masks will deploy in case of a sudden depressurization of the plot.
Saffron; I'm assuming an accelerated age rate, since he is a divine being. That said, I have to point out that Saffron being a creature of divinity is pure fandom and has no basis in the Manga. Feel free to check books #37 and #38 as reference.
Special thanks to Akuma for nailing down the name and location of Tenchi's school.
Thanks to the Fukufic crew for editing services rendered.